Birdwatching in West Malaysia (part 1)

Birdwatching in West Malaysia (part 1)

by Mat Wilson

In March 2005, I went birdwatching in West Malaysia for the second time in 16 months accompanied by my dad John, with the view of filling some of the holes in our birding lists without straining ourselves too much, as my dad is 72 now and not in the best of health.

We aimed to visit five major sites, as well as attend the Raptor Watch 2005 at Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson.  We aimed to cover several major habitat environments, and the associated altitudinal variations that feature so heavily in Malaysian birding, namely paddy fields, mangroves, lowland dipterous forest and lowland peat forest and highland rainforest.

We teamed up with several other people whilst we were over and had a thoroughly enjoyable and social time and still managed to see or hear over 300 species in 17 days.

Here follows my account of the first three days…

Day 1 and Day 2 of Birdwatching in West Malaysia  (3rd/4th March 2005)

Flew from Heathrow at 11.50 and landed the following day at 07.20. Went straight to the hotel and were allocated a very plush hotel room on the 9th floor of the pan Pacific hotel at the airport and made contact with Carl Clifford.

Not much sleep had as the birding out of the window revealed a lot of activity on the roof of the airport multi-storey car-park with Orioles and Shrike’s aplenty and some really good close up view of House and Fork-tailed Swifts as they flew past the window.

Up at 12.30, showered and strolled into the lobby and met Carl. We drove up the freeway to the Dengkil rest area on the E1 at Putrajaya, but found that being the middle of the day, there was not much activity as it was very hot. We retired to the shade and had the first of many cups of tea ( we were given ‘pulled tea’ with condensed milk and is incredibly sweet. We later found that Teh Kosong is weak black tea without sugar or milk and is a lot better. If you want sugar I believe it is called Teh O.).

From Dengkil we took the freeways into Putrajaya and went for a  wander around the wetland centre where again as it was till quite hot, activity was muted, but there were still a few good birds about including a couple of ticks (Purple backed Starling and White-headed Munia). There was also a pelican (looked like at Eastern but was flying and I thought all the birds there were clipped – still trying to establish this birds status).

White-headed Munia from birdwatching in West Malaysia on
White-headed Munia

From Putrajaya were delayed getting to FRIM by an incredible amount of traffic on the freeways around Kuala Lumpur as it was well into the rush hour and it took as over 60 minutes to get to the front gate. On arrival we were told that they were shut and to come back tomorrow, but it was quite obvious that they were still open judging by the number of vehicles that were in front of us and had disappeared into the complex. We just said that we couldn’t come tomorrow and were charged the RM5 entrance fee and waved in!

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I had arranged to meet Banard Lau, who I had been speaking to via the Birders Group for some time, and he had agreed to meet us at FRIM, and accompany us to the Pasoh Forest reserve later in the month.

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We arrived at the main pond after flapping about for 15 minutes trying to find it, (during which time we found a pair of red and Black Broadbills on a smaller chain of ponds beside the road), to find Banard sitting beside the pond staring intently into some trees on the far side of the pool. He managed to point the Masked Finfoot out to us as she was preparing for bed (she roosts in the trees on the far side of the pond).

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We spend a very pleasant 45 minutes standing beside the pond, which revealed Cinnamon Bittern, Striated Heron, Blue-eared, Stork-billed and White Throated KF’s, Crested Serpent Eagle, Blue-tailed and Blue-throated Bee-Eaters, Black & Red Broadbills, several calling barbets (not seen) and a multitude of other common birds.

Blue-throated Bee-Eaters from birdwatching in West Malaysia on
Blue-throated Bee-Eaters

After it had become dark, we walked along the road away from the pond and had good views of a Flying Lemur and Large-tailed Nightjar.

Large-tailed Nightjar from birdwatching in West Malaysia on
Large-tailed Nightjar

Drove back to the airport hotel and crashed out after supper.

Day 3 of Birdwatching in West Malaysia (5th March).

Setting a trend for the rest of the holiday, we were up early and breakfasted, picking up Carl in the hotel lobby, we headed for Tanjung Tuan and the Raptor watch in the ground of the Ilham Resort hotel where we were to spend the night.

We weren’t in too much hurry so were able to stop several times on route as we felt like it. We pulled in at a kampong (name not noted) on highway below the plateau that has the F1 circuit at Sepang on it and walked about and picked up the only Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, numerous Pink-necked Pigeons, and Orioles and good look a male Koel which was calling non-stop.

From here we stopped in the numerous oil palm plantations that surround the road all the way to Port Dickson. We managed to see several Black Baza’s and a lot of Black-shouldered kites, which by far the most numerous raptor around the plantations. We saw lots of other raptors but were unable to ID them.

At Tanjung Tuan we dropped Carl off at his hotel and proceeded to our hotel only to find that they didn’t have our reservation, or so they thought. A few sheets of paper waved under their noses (my reservation confirmation) eventually worked and we had our room (but not until 14.30 after it had been cleaned). We parked the car in the basement car park, and almost immediately found a Coppersmith’s Barbet in trees next to the hotel.

We strolled down to the area by the beach where the MNS had set up the tented village for the raptor watch and mingled with the crowds meeting several people from Yahoo birders group, I had e-mailed prior to coming on the holiday. It was a very social afternoon, which made up for the complete absence of birds.

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The day was very warm and there was a strong North-easterly wind blowing which everyone agreed was keeping the birds on the far side of the Straits. I wandered into the woods behind the beach and manage to find Crimson and Purple-throated Sunbird’s but very little else.

At about 4pm clouds started to build and come inland from the Straits and with them came the birds. There were several large waves of Oriental honey Buzzards and in two hours some 300 passed overhead as well as huge flocks of Fork-tailed Swifts.

We had a walk up the road to the lighthouse in the evening but left it a bit late and it was dark before we had got too far and without seeing anything of significance.

During the day there had been several appearances of a pair of a pair of Black-thighed Falconets on the roof of the hotel, a bird which I had really hoped to see and it was nice to get it out of the way early. We had numerous good looks at it through the scope and it very obligingly sat on the lightening conductor for up to 5 minutes at a time.

The next day… continue reading Birding in Malaysia here.

About by Mat Wilson, who is a member of the Birding Planet Facebook group I started bird watching in Canada in 1977, when my dad, who was a pilot in the RAF, was posted out to CFB Trenton in Ontario, as an exchange posting with the Canadian Air Force. I was fascinated by all the different species that were around and bought my first bird book when we moved out there for 3 years.

I have subsequently birded in Canada , USA, Malaysia , Bali, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Spain, Greece, and of course the UK and Ireland. I suffer from several illnesses which restrict my travel now, so I’m confined to what are deemed to be safe countries (that is, not tropical), as my immune system is compromised.

Still I’ve managed to see over 350 species in the UK since I re-started birding in the UK. My favourite birding location in the world, has to be Fraser’s Hill in Malaysia.

All the photos above are taken by the author.

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By the end of our birdwatching in West Malaysia my complete bird list looked like this:

1Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)  
2Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
3Striated Heron (Butorides striatus)  [Little Heron]
4Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus)  
5Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
6Plumed Egret (Egretta intermedia)  [Intermediate Egret]
7Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
8Great Egret (Casmerodius albus)
9Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus)
10Schrenck’s Bittern (Ixobrychus eurhythmus)
11Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)
12Black Bittern (Dupetor flavicollis)
13Painted Stork (Mycteria leuchocephela)
14Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus)
15Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes)
16Crested Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus)
17Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)  
18Black Kite (Milvus migrans)  
19Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)  
20White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
21Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
22Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus)
23Northern (Hen) Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
24Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis)
25Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis)
26Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
27Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
28Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus)
29Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus alboniger)
30Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus nanus)
31Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
32Ferruginous Wood-Partridge (Caloperdix oculea)
33Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus)
34White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)  
35Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)  
36Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
37Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personata)
38Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
39Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
40Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)
41Whimbrel (Numenius arquata)
42Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
43Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
44Nordmann’s Greenshank (Tringa guttifer)
45Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
46Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos)
47Pintailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
48Swinhoe’s Snipe (Gallinago megala)
49Oriental Pratincole (Glareola maldivarun)
50White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
51Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
52Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
53Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
54Yellow-vented (Green) Pigeon (Treron seimundi)
55Pink-necked (Green) Pigeon (Treron vernans)
56Jambu Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus jambu)
57Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)
58Mountain Imperial Pigeon (Ducula badia)
59Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
60Little Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia ruficeps)
61Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
62Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata)
63Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)
64Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda)
65Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus)
66Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot (Loriculus galgulus)
67Large Hawk-Cuckoo (Cuculus sparveriodes)
68Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus)
69Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) VO
70Banded Bay Cuckoo (Cacomantis sonneratii)
71Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus)  VO
72Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis sepulcralis)
73Malayan (Little) Bronzed Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx minutillus)
74Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris)
75Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea)
76Black-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus diardii)
77Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus)
78Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) 
79Raffles’ Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus chlorophaeus) 
80Red-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus javanicus)
81Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curviostris)
82Short-toed Coucal (Centropus rectunguis)
83Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)  
84Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis)
85Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
86Barred Eagle-Owl  (Bubo sumatranus)
87Collared Owlet (Glaucidium brodiei)
88Malaysian Eared-Nightjar (Eurostopodus temminckii)
89Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus)
90Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus)
91Edible-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphaga)
92Black-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus maxima)
93White-bellied Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta)
94Brown Needletail (Hirundapus giganteus) 
95Silver-rumped Spinetail (Rhaphidura leucopygialis)  
96Fork-tailed Swift (Apus pacificus)  
97Little Swift (Apus affinis) [House Swift]
98Asian Palm-Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
99Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis)  
100Whiskered Treeswift (Hemiprocne comata)
101Red-naped Trogon (Harpactes kasumba)
102Orange-breasted Trogon (Harpactes oreskios)
103Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus)
104Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
105Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting)  
106Black-backed Kingfisher (Ceyx erithacus)
107Rufous-backed Kingfisher (Ceyx rufidorsa)
108Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella)
109Stork-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis)
110White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
111Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)
112Collared Kingfisher (Todirhamphus chloris)  
113Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
114Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis)  
115Red-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyormis amictus)
116Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)  
117Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus)
118Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus)
119Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros)  
120Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplas vigil)
121Fire-tufted Barbet (Psilopogon pyrolophus)
122Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata)
123Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon)
124Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos)
125Golden-throated Barbet (Megalaima franinii)  VO
126Black-browed Barbet (Megalaima oorti)
127Yellow-crowned Barbet (Megalaima henricii)
128Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima australis)
129Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)
130Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosus)
131Speckled Piculet (Picumnus innominatus)
132Rufous Piculet (Sasia abnormis)
133Rufous Woodpecker (Celeus brachyurus)
134Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus)
135Greater Yellownape (Picus flavinucha)
136Crimson-winged Woodpecker (Picus piniceus)
137Lesser Yellownape (Picus chlorolophus)
138Common Goldenback (Dinopium javanense)
139Bamboo Woodpecker (Gecinulus viridis)
140Buff-rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tristis)
141Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos moluccensis)
142Bay Woodpecker (Blythipicus pyrrhotis)
143Maroon Woodpecker (Blythipicus rubiginosus) 
144Greater Goldenback (Chrysocolaptes lucidus)
145Black-and-Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macroryhchus)
146Banded Broadbill (Eurylaimus javanicus)
147Silver-breasted Broadbill (Serilophus lunatus)
148Long-tailed Broadbill (Psarisomus dalhousiae)
149Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
150Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)
151Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
152Rufous-bellied Swallow (Cecropis badia)
153Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike (Hemipus picatus)  
154Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike (Hemipus hirundinaceus)
155Large Woodshrike (Tephrodornis virgatus)
156Malaysian Cuckoo-Shrike (Coracina macei)   
157Pied Triller (Lalage nigra)
158Ashy Minivet (Pericrocotus divaricatus)
159Fiery Minivet (Pericroctus igneus)
160Grey-chinned Minivet (Pericrocotus solaris)
161Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus)
162Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia)
163Great Iora (Aegithina lafresnayei)
164Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati)  
165Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)  
166Orange-bellied Leafbird (Chloropsis hardwickii)
167Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylandicus)
168Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps)
169Black-crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus)
170Scaly-breasted Bulbul (Pycnonotus squamatus)
171Grey-bellied Bulbul (Pycnonotus cyaniventris)
172Stripe-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus finlaysoni)
173Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)
174Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus)
175Cream-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex)
176Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus)
177Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythrophthalmos)
178Finsch’s Bulbul (Criniger finschii)
179Ochraceous (Olivaceous) Bulbul (Alophoixus ochraceus)
180Yellow-bellied Bulbul (Alophoixus phaeocephalus)
181Hairy-backed Bulbul (Hypsipetes criniger)
182Buff-vented Bulbul (Hypsipetes charlottae)
183Mountain Bulbul (Hypsipetes mcclellandii)
184Streaked Bulbul (Hypsipetes malaccensis)
185Ashy Bulbul (Hypsipetes flavala)
186Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)
187Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus ssp. nigriescens)
188Crow-billed Drongo (Dicrurus annectans)
189Bronzed Drongo (Dicrurus aeneus)
190Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer)
191Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
192Dark-throated Oriole (Oriolus xanthonotus)
193Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)
194Black-and-crimson Oriole (Oriolus cruentus)
195Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella)
196Green Magpie (Cissa chinensis)
197House Crow (Corvus splendens)
198Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
199Great Tit (Parus major)
200Sultan Tit (Melanochlora sultanea)
201Blue Nuthatch (Sitta azurea)
202Buff-breasted Babbler (Trichastoma tickelli)
203Horsfield’s Babbler (Malacocincla sepiarium)
204Abbott’s Babbler (Trichastoma abbotti)
205Marbled Wren-Babbler (Napothera marmorata)
206Golden Babbler (Stachyris chrysaea)
207Grey-throated Babbler (Stachyris nigriceps)
208Grey-headed Babbler (Stachyris poliocephala)
209Striped Tit-Babbler (Macronous gularis)
210Black Laughingthrush (Garrulax lugubris)
211Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus)  
212Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush (Garrulax erythrocephalus)  FH on the Telekom Loop, and Hhemmant trail. Very inconspicuous bird.  
213Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris)
214White-browed Shrike-Babbler (Pteruthius flaviscapis)
215Black-eared Shrike-Babbler (Pteruthius melanotis)
216White-hooded Babbler (Gampsorhynchus rufulus)
217Blue-winged Minla (Minla cyanouroptera)
218Mountain Fulvetta (Alcippe peracensis)
219Long-tailed Sibia (Heterophasia picaoides)  
220White-bellied Yuhina (Yuhina zantholeuca)
221Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis)
222White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus)  
223White-tailed Robin (Cinclidium leucurum)
224Slaty-backed Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus)
225Malayan Whistling-Thrush (Myiophoneus robinsoni)
226Golden-bellied Gerygone (Flyeater) (Gerygone sulphurea)
227Chestnut-crowned Warbler (Seicerus castaniceps)
228Yellow-bellied Warbler (Abroscopus superciliaris)  
229Inornate Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 
230Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)
231Eastern-crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus coronatus)
232Mountain Leaf-Warbler (Phylloscopus trivirgatus)
233Oriental Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis)
234Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata)
235Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)
236Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis)
237Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps)  
238Rufescent Prinia (Prinia rufescens)
239Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
240Dark-sided Flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica)
241Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica)
242Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassina)
243Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia)
244Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki)
245Rufous-browed Flycatcher (Ficedula solitaria)
246Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni)  
247Blue-and-White Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cyanomelana)
248Large Niltava (Niltava grandis)  
249Pale Blue-Flycatcher (Cyornis unicolor)
250Hill Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis banyumas)
251Pygmy Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapella hodgsoni)
252Grey-headed Flycatcher (Culicicapa ceylonensis)
253White-throated Fantail (Rhipidura albicollis)  
254Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica)
255Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone atrocaudata)
256Asian Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi)
257Mangrove Whistler (Pachycephela grisola)
258Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
259Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
260Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus)
261Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)
262White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorhyncus)
263Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)
264Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus)
265Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)
266Philippine Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)
267Purple-backed Starling (Sternus sterninus)
268Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
269Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus)  
270Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus)
271Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa)
272Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)  
273Red-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes rhodolaema)
274Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (Anthreptes singalensis)  
275Purple-naped Sunbird (Hypogramma hypogrammicum)
276Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperta)
277Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis)
278Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja)
279Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra) VO
280Long-billed Spiderhunter (Arachnothera robusta)
281Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster)
282Yellow-eared Spiderhunter (Arachnothera chrysogenys)
283Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera affinis)
284Streaked Spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna)  
285Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus maculatus)
286Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus percissus)
287Thick-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum agile)
288Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrusorrheum)
289Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Diceaum trigonostigma)
290Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum)
291Buff-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum ignipectus) 
292Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosa)
293Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti)
294Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
295Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus)
296White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata)
297Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)
298Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca)
299White-headed Munia (Lonchura maja)
300Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) (Feral)
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Reader Comments

  1. What an accomplishment! I’m so glad that you were able to go with your dad. What a special memory for both of you. Thank you for sharing your story!

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