Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Have you ever experienced this? Just when you decided not to take your camera out for the day, something rare and elusive like this one here appeared right in front of your eyes.
This picture was taken in October 2010, not today..

My aim for this morning was to focus on my walk up the 4,287 steps on Gunung Raya and in wanting to reach the top on time, I decided not to take my camera along. And at the same time I was hoping that nothing special would come along...but that didn't help... Aaarrrrgggghhhh......

On my first 5-minute of the walk, the first birdie greeted me in the morning with a sweet whistling call of a female Tickell's Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae). This small flycatcher does not usually perch for long but she did, for 5 minutes. I could have.... Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

"Whoooppp...whoooppp... whooooppp..." the loud helicopter-like sound made by the flapping wings of hornbills. A flock of Wreathed Hornbill (Aceros undulatus)!! Both males and females! It was alright that I didn't have my camera. They were flying above the trees canopy and I saw them though the gaps with my binoculars. One of them perched on a leafless branch for a short while. Then I heard a call of a Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) and saw a quick glance of that raptor. It seemed to be annoying those hornbills.

While ascending up that steep stairs, I heard the call of another elusive bird, Orange Breasted Trogon (Harpactes oreskios). I imitated its call... but it flew further away...

Not along after, a whitish butterfly with some yellow patches near its abdomen was fluttering in front of me. I was watching it till it landed on a vine. Then it started to open its wings slowly, then closing it slowly, opened again very slowly and repeated the actions many times for five minutes. As if it was saying this to me, "See my beautiful wings... and you don't have your camera with you... neh, neh, neh, neh, neh..." Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

After a good 2-hour workout, Phew!!! up on the hill. I thought I heard a Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) nearby. And I was right, I startled that hornbill with my presence and it flew above me showing its bright yellow bars under its wings. 

It was hot and sunny when I got up there. After I had a quick snack, the mist came in quickly. It cooled the area down and I was reluctant to descend. Such a nice temperature on a hot dry season in Langkawi now. I sat on a rock and savored a 20 minute power nap amidst the cool mist. Not far away on the trees behind me was a group of Long Tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) feeding.

Time was up and I had to descend. After twenty minutes on those steps again, shower came!! Yeeehoooo!! It was strange to have rain in this time of the year. 

About midway down, there was a bit of disturbance at the canopy layer and a bird shrieked. I caught a glimpse of it and followed it. Then it perched. It has a longish tail and I quickly took out my binoculars from my day pack. OMG!! Orange Breasted Trogon (Harpactes oreskios). Yeah! Got it finally! It perched for less than 5 minutes and I could have ... Aaarrrrgggghhhh! And then it flew away.

"Thonk, thonk..." The call of a Dusky Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus) above the last 550 steps of the stairs. I looked up attempting to spot them. Suddenly a bird flew in front of me and perched on a liana about five meters away. Through my naked eyes, I saw a longish bill and I didn't want to believe what I saw. Again, I quickly took out my binoculars to confirm my curiosity, yes indeed that this bird was a male Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella)! This kingfisher is  elusive and a rare sighting bird. This male kingfisher looked up at the monkeys crossing from tree to tree and he didn't seem to be bothered at all. I was drooling over him through my binoculars and at some point, I caught him closing his eyes and he dozed off. He was there for fifteen minutes. And then I thought, "A good fifteen minutes and just five meters away, I could have...." Aaarrrrgggghhhh! 

And so, this was one of those days when you asked, "Where is my camera when I needed it?" Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

About 100 steps to the recreational park, two Greater Racket-Tailed Drongos (Dicrurus paradiseus) came along to say, "Bye bye" by swaying their elongated tails.

Oh well, I must admit that I had a fantastic day out there and the elusive creatures that revealed themselves were the greatest treat for the day. I was also smiling from ear to ear along with my Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

1. A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia - Craig Robson


  1. Ahhh.... I totally understand what that would have felt like!

    Hearing your experience, I voe to never let me cam far away from me on my trips!

    Ahh... I don't know so many of the animals you mentioned... do you have any pictures of them to add to this post? :-)

  2. You blow me away! Thanks for this, very cool.:)

  3. Having a bad experience with Murphy's law, eh?

    I think most photographers will experience these nightmares one way or another. After all, it's been countless times that I have no camera when the most photogenic part of events took place! Really feel like hitting my head on the wall!

    But the worst thing is, whenever those cameras are out of the way, these critters will particularly approach you closer than ever! Now that really makes me want to hit my head even harder!!!

  4. Hi Raoul,
    I can put those pics on this post but I will have to use pic from other people because I didn't get to take those pics myself...Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

    Hi Anonymous Mar 4th,
    Thank you :)

    Hi JK,
    I got an idea! How about designing a high resolution built-in camera at the back of our head or even implanting it into our head?

    That will help take pictures instantly without bringing or lunging that cam. What we see is what we get! Hahaha... dream on...

  5. Hahaha.... Photographic memory, huh? How about adding a print machine too? :)

  6. Hi JK,
    Hmm... good idea.. the print machine will be built-in at the entrance of the mouth. Output-ma...

  7. Aiyah, it is always like that one. Next time, always take yr camera with you.



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