Birding in Borneo (Sabah)

Mad about Birding and Travel

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. The island of Borneo is politically divided among three countries; Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Being a very large island and holding some of the world’s oldest rainforests it holds a good number of endemic species. So birding in Borneo is high on the list for many birders. It certainly was for me when I was based in Kuala Lumpur for a year.

My trip to Borneo came towards the end of June in 2017. The trip was for 4 days to the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. It was a duration not sufficient to cover all the major hotspots. But that is all I had with me. So I chose to cover two spots; Mount Kinabalu and Sepilok. This would give a chance to cover some montane species as well as some of the lowland species.

I caught an early…

View original post 1,316 more words

Travails of Sunbird Breeding

Mad about Birding and Travel

Travails; the choice of word for the title may sound strange. Well, you will understand as you read on this post.

I was walking out of my house through the front gate at around 10am on a Saturday in late March. As I did so, I noticed a sudden flutter followed by the typical calls of a Purple-rumped Sunbird. Hmm, interesting I thought. I however did not have time to investigate further as I was going on an errand. Reaching back home at noon, the same thing happened as I walked in through the front gate. Now this certainly had me curious. There was no way I was not going to investigate this further, especially since it involved birds 😀 .

There it was, a nest under construction by a female Purple-rumped Sunbird on a low hanging branch of a Bougainville just above the front gate! Curious location I…

View original post 1,055 more words

Nesting in Little Swifts

Mad about Birding and Travel

Nesting of Little Swifts or Indian House Swifts, as they are also called in the Indian Sub-continent, was the last thing I had imagined of witnessing during our trip to Lepakshi Temple. These are birds that I usually see when birding spots around Bangalore, like The Valley School. I had also seen their nests and I had always been curious on how they managed to fly in and out of their nests. Well, my questions on that got answered along with bunch more 😀 .

I was on a visit to Lepakshi Temple along with my wife in the month of June. While walking inside the temple complex, I heard a few bird calling. Looking up I noticed several Little Swifts flying around. I gave them several glances and moved on; nothing unusual caught my eye. After quite a bit later, as I was admiring the Kalyana Mantapa…

View original post 170 more words

Viet Nam: The Birds


What can I say here? Our total bird count was pretty good in Viet Nam: we saw 103 birds, 99 of which were new to us. However, we found the lack of birds amazing. Everywhere we went, whether in the mountains or suburbs, parks or cities, there were fewer birds than we expected; of any kind of bird. We asked a couple of our guides about this and they all said, “Well, the Vietnamese people either catch and eat them or catch and put them in bird cages, so there aren’t that many.”

We found this to be strange but understandable. We pressed on with our bird-watching. Of course, our largest haul was in Cat Tien National Park. We probably saw 80% of our Viet Nam total in Cat Tien and that was over the course of 2 days. Whew.

Striking the professional bird photographer pose.Lost in thought as…

View original post 83 more words

The Birds: Our Big Year!


When we showed up in Belize last year, we decided to do a “Birding Big Year.” If you are not familiar with the concept, you keep track of the total number of birds you’ve seen for an entire year. We started our Big Year on 1 Dec 2017 (the first day we were in Belize) and concluded it on 30 Nov 2018 (in Thailand). We’ve had a grand time tracking all the birds throughout this year … Some of our running totals are:

1) Belize – 200 birds. So many birds migrate here from the USA … it was cool to see them in their winter setting.

2) USA (Arizona/Texas/Other) — Around 170 species … some were duplicates from Belize. A beautiful array of birds.

3) Canada — We saw around 106 different species in Canada. BC produced some great days of viewing this last summer … I think we…

View original post 187 more words

American Coot

Backyard and Beyond

Those toes, though.
Looks like some serration in the upper jaw…
And is this a tongue?

This bird, and a few others, were on terra firms because somebody was feeding them. And it looks like the feeders were not spreading bread, which is actually quite bad for waterfowl. Yes, the time-honored tradition of throwing bread scraps to ducks is deeply wrongheaded. It’s malnutrition as verb. “But they eat it!” Yes, and people eat McDonald’s garbage and mainline heroin. Liking something is no argument for its healthfulness. Endless industrial junk food manufacturers depend on this.

View original post

Dinosaurs Past and Present

Backyard and Beyond

What do we know about dinosaurs now and, perhaps more interestingly, how do we know these things? Michael J. Benton lays it out in Dinosaurs Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution in Paleontology . Origins, taxonomy, intelligence, reproduction, diet, locomotion, and, of course, the cause(s) of extinction are topics covered here.

Surely the most notable and surprising thing in our understanding of dinosaurs in the last couple of decades has been the discovery of dinosaur feathers. Colored feathers! (Good gravy, there were ginger dinosaurs!) With the added brain-expander that these feathered creatures were not fliers. They were using feathers for insulation and/or sexual attraction before feathers for flight.

Those scaly toes, those beaks! Most of the dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago. But not all of them.
Birds in Winter: Surviving the Most Challenging Season by Roger F. Pasquier is a compendium of research. From migration to toughing it out…

View original post 167 more words