The Black-banded Squirrel resembles our Plantain Squirrel, but it is the only squirrel with a black band across its lower sides. No signs of the Giant Cream Squirrels which used to be a common sight.
It had been sometime since I birded at Panti. So it was with great expectations when Lim Kim Keang suggested to pay the place a visit on 1st July. He brought along Veronica Foo, her husband Milton Tan and friend Patricia Tiang. My old birding buddies Jimmy Chew and Jimmy Lee made up the party. Group photo by Milton Tan (right)
The old entrance was blocked off and we had to use a new entrance to the Bunker Trail The calls of the Gibbons greeted us as we drove in. A Pig-tailed Macaque quietly moved back into the bushes as we drove by.
Rows of invasive Clidemia hirta or Koster’s Curse lined the sides of the trail. They were attracting many of the frugivorous species. Most of us got great eye level shots of the Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (left), Blue-winged Leafbird and Cream-vented Bulbuls.
The Blue-winged Leafbird is the most common leafbird at Panti.
We headed for the Temple trail and met up with Millie Cher and her friends there. This is where the Rufous-backed Kingfishers were nesting recently but we were told that the the chicks were killed by the ants. This trail turned out to be a very birdy stretch. Three Buff-necked Woodpeckers were busy picking up the Weaver ants below its nest.
Female Buff-necked Woodpecker busy picking up the Weaver ants.
Earlier a pair of Checkered-throated Woodpeckers were foraging besides the trail giving us great views. The big bonus was this bathing beauty, a normally sulking Black-capped Babbler having splashing time in the open.
But Panti is not just about birds. The butterflies and dragonflies were also actively fluttering around. With the help of Kim Keang, we learnt to look for them under the leaves and along streams and shallow water puddles. We were not able to identify many of the dragonflies we saw. It was easier for the butterflies. This lovely female Plush is uncommon in the lowland forests of Malaysia.
Dragonflies are especially attracted to the many forest water puddles and streams at Panti.
The uncommon lowland forest female Sithon nedymond and the Malay Viscount are among the many butterflies species found in Panti.
His eagle eyes spotted this tiny Water Scorpion in a small puddle of water. You can just see the water rings on the surface at the end of its tail which it used to breathe.
One of the must stops is the first stream. The opening on the right is always very productive. We had the uncommon Finsch’s Bulbul (below) here. Its small size and yellow throat are diagnostic. My first encounter with this bulbul was at the same place some 20 years ago!
Finsch’s Bulbul, vulnerable to forest disturbance and loss.
Other bulbul species includes the Buff-vented and Hairy-backed ( below) with its distinctive yellow patch around the eyes.
All birding trips to Panti have to end with a yummy lunch. Today it was at the Public Restaurant at Kota Tinggi town where they prepared a delectable assam Ma Yeow Yu ( Ikan Kurau) for us. It was great meeting Ding Li, Nam Siang and their friends there tucking in to their steamed river prawns after their trip to Mersing Forest. Many thanks for the great company and the laughter and sharing the good old stories of Panti.
Reference: Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia. Asia Books Company. Ltd.