Saturday, February 27, 2010

Air Itam Dalam in Penang

15th February 2010

Of all the birding destinations that I know in Penang, there are 2 places that I would not miss. The Air Itam Dam and the Air Itam Dalam "Education Park". The former, is next to my house while the latter on the mainland side is easy to reach and relatively productive. Furthermore when it comes to heading for Air Itam Dalam, more salient considerations. First the upside - during this time in February, Pond Heron should be in breeding plumage I love to have more pictures. On the down side, the place had deteriorated over the last few years. I suppose I am still keen is to be there to check on its "existence" - the purpose hence is more to satisfying a question mark rather than a birding trip.

For this years visit, after reading reports of vandalism I got my wife to accompanying me as "jaga kereta".

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the boardwalk who has lost some of its planks. Very disappointing, at this rate of neglect, next year I may not able to walk through this tiny forest anymore. But after having taken just a few steps into the bridge and spending that few moments, my impression of the place changed.

First, with little outsiders to the place and the locals could not intrude what meagre amount of land left, the forested area was left to grow. No littering, no signs of willful destruction - ahh I got a good feeling that the ambience around boardwalk was like long before. It is regaining its previous glory. Imagine the scene - birds gathered in numbers and chirping away continuously as if I was in the midst of a bird wave. There were constant calls of the Lineated plus interjection by the Gold-whiskered and Coppersmith. [none of them seen]. The "Yellow-faced" left its perch for a short flight and an un-ID Raptors stayed hidden at the canopy.

What I had physically saw in terms of bird life were signs of those of the "little" fellows hoping about among the twigs.

Slowly I followed through the foliages. First fellow, the easiest perhaps largest among the lot,  to spot was this Green Iora.
There must be a few of them located by their calls, here and there.
While waiting for the Ashy Tailorbird to stop hopping and the Malkoha to show its face, this pair of Drongo flew in to generate distraction.

These 2 Drongos in contrast with the rest, perched still, busy monitoring my movements, made no attempt to take off when I approached them. Meaning they having nothing in mind beside watching me.
Being many years now now that I have not sighted the Ruddy. This morning the Stork-billed marked its attendance.
No picture of the Stork-billed, so I got one ever-ready Kingfisher to be representative.

I was surprised by a pair of bold Tit-babblers who for a change were foraging in the open. Suddenly this objective for my visit appeared.
This Mangrove-blue is one Flycatcher that I still need more pictures of. Flew out perched very briefly and back into the darkness of the Nipah tree.

The largest bird and one that created constant diversion was inevitably the Fantail.
OK, that's the few types of birds that I have decent pictures of. The balance of the pictures, the Barbet was too far away and the Babbler was shifting too fast.

Just before I close this page, I got the Lineated though very high up at the canopy level.
The Abbott also showed up in the open.
What remained of the forest area of Air Itam Dalam is very confined but compact I must say. I regained a good feeling about the place now after 4/5 years of disappointment. All the "old friends" who should be there, like the 4 types of Kingfishers, excluding the Ruddy already and the 3 types of Woody were there. I think the Mangrove Pitta should still be somewhere hiding. I am not sure whether we will get to see the Broadbill again. Yes, it a park with a short bird list and consistently the same birds seen. Since there is no large forest for miles within sight, it is unlikely other visiting birds, not sighted by me in this park during other previous visit, would drop by.


  1. Nothing exciting but a very satisfying thought that I can once more depend on this fall back for brief birding trip.