Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tree Swallow in flight, and...

...other signs of spring:

Here in the Willamette Valley the arrival of spring is announced in nature by signs other than those usually mentioned in books and articles. Many writers, apparently reflecting an eastern bias, mention the return of Robins and the migration of Canada Geese. But those birds spend the winter here in large numbers, and the geese we see in March are likely to be flying in any direction other than north, just moving from pond to field or field to river.

We watch for Swallows to begin showing up in February, and for Ospreys to be refurbishing their nests before the end of March. At about the same time, we notice the willow buds bursting into "pussy willows" and on a sunny day, if you're near the river, one is likely to smell the honey aroma of the Black Cottonwood leaves uncurling from their sticky bud cases. Ah, spring. We're thankful that we're not still having to cope with the blizzards and tornadoes that are causing trouble in many areas east of Oregon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Malaysian birds

Black-thighed Falconet

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Dusky Broadbill

At home again, after a two-week trip to Asia, I'm reviewing the birds I happened to see along the way. The Black-thighed Falconet I saw this time was in the same place in Kuala Lumpur where I first saw one in 2003 -- perched on the top bare branches of a tree near the parking area at the Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower). It seems normal to consider a falcon a fierce predator, but when
it's only six inches long it seems more cute than fierce.

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and the Dusky Broadbill were new for me. They each spent a few minutes in the trees outside my hotel window in Penang.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A hike in Penang National Park

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Grey Wagtail

I learned only this week that there is a National Park here on Penang Island, so I decided that was the right place for me to go birding on Saturday morning. The weather was very warm and humid, and the trail was rough, but the sights and sounds made it worthwhile. I saw my first Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, and enjoyed seeing Crimson Sunbird and White-bellied Sea-Eagle again. I hope to return to this rare bit of mostly unspoiled south-Asian jungle.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Common Sandpiper in Malaysia

It's good to be back in Malaysia again, after skipping a year. And among the birds here to welcome me to Penang was this Common Sandpiper in front of my hotel room, finding something to eat on this crustacean-covered rock.