Archive for the ‘Borneo’ Tag

2014 – what a great year!   Leave a comment

2014 has been a great year, full of foreign travel, great birding/ringing and social events. Fortunately there have been no serious issues, so the year has passed without major problems.

This post just summarises some of the highlights; more photos and discussion of each subject can be found on the blog.

During the year the companionship of my family (see the Christmas photo below) and my many friends (be they from school or university days, or birders and ringers here at home or people I have met on foreign trips) has greatly added to the quality of life. There have been a number of social events and musical concerts, many of which I have illustrated on this site.

 

IMG_4075 unwrapping presents

When at home much of my time has been taken up with bird ringing, either around Poole or at Durlston Country Park. We have ringed well over 5000 birds in this area and have amassed a lot of useful data. We have been notified of lots of interesting recoveries some of which I intend to post here in due course. The photo shows a male Bearded Tit photographed at Lytchett Bay.

IMG_1303 beardie

British birding and twitching has taken a bit of a back seat this year. I recorded 223 species in the UK, quite a bit less than usual and most of my birding has been following up other peoples sightings. I have only added one species to my British list – this Baikal Teal seen in Cambridgeshire in March, one to my Dorset list – a Hooded Crow on Portland and one to my Poole Harbour list – a Great White Egret.

IMG_1272 Baikal Teal

Foreign travel has dominated the year. I did eight tours through the year, although this was just seven trips from home as two were taken back to back, and birded in eleven different countries. I recorded 1515 species in total and had 199 life birds. This brings my life list to 7870 following the IOC checklist or 74.5% of the world’s birds. According to the ‘list of lists’ on the Surfbirds website this gives me the 27th highest life in the world, but I know that there are quite a number of birders who do not submit their lists and think I’m more like 50th in the world. Even so, I consider that to be a great achievement and well worth the cost and physical effort involved, and although it hasn’t required much skill on my part, as I have mainly seen these birds on guided tours, I am very pleased to have progressed so far.

For each tour taken in 2014 I have included two photos below, one of the scenery and one of a notable  species.

The first trip was in February to Oman to search for the newly described Omani Owl, wonderful scenery, although long hours were spent in the dark before we eventually got good views. No photos were obtained of the owl so I have included a shot of two critically endangered Sociable Lapwings that were also seen on the tour.

 

IMG_0101-Sayq-Plateau

IMG_5787-Sociable-Lapwing

 

In March I did two trips to Mexico back to back. The first was to the delightful El Triunfo cloud forest reserve in Chiapas. The first photo shows dawn at the clearing where we stayed, the second the incredible Horned Guan, which was the 10,000th bird species Birdquest had seen on their tours.

IMG_0176 El triunfo

IMG_0074-Horned-Guan-b

 

The second Mexico tour was to the Yucatan where we enjoyed the Mardi Gras festival and climbed to the top of some Mayan ruins as well as some stunning birds like the Ocellated Turkey.

IMG_1084 Anne and Martin at Calakmul

IMG_1033 Ocellated Turkey

 

The most varied trip and in some ways the most enjoyable was the drive from North Carolina to the Canadian border that Margaret and I did in May/June. We enjoyed birding in southern woodland and the Appalachians, did pelagic trips off Cape Hatteras, went sightseeing in Washington and New York, birded in the boreal forests of New Hampshire and the coast of Maine as well as visiting a number of friends. I have yet to edit all these photos so I there should be more posts from this most photogenic trip still to come. Below – the Statue of Liberty and a Black Bear seen in North Carolina.

IMG_0094 Statue of Liberty

IMG_0210 Black Bear

 

In May/June I had another great trip, this time to Borneo. One of the highlights was seeing the last bird family for my list, Bornean Bristlehead, but the four new species of Pitta came a close second. There was a really good selection of mammals too. The photos show dawn at Danum Valley and Blue-banded Pitta.

P1120162 Danum

P1120091 Blue-banded Pitta2

 

In late August my friend Roger and I had a week in the Azores concentrating on pelagic trips off the island of Graciosa. The highlight for me was seeing two new species of storm-petrel, Monteiro’s and Swinhoe’s The former is shown below along with storm clouds off the coast of Graciosa.

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IMG_5609 Monteiro's SP

 

The longest and hardest tip of the year was to northern Madagascar and the Comoros in September/October.  Good birds and mammals abounded but roads were poor in places, transport unreliable, journeys were long and accommodation was variable. The photos below shows sunset over Lake Kincloy, the site of the rare Sakhalava Rail, but the bird of the trip was the wonderful Helmeted Vanga seen earlier on the trip on the Masoala Peninsula.

IMG_0759 Kincloy Sunset

IMG_0329 Helmet Vanga

 

The final trip in November/December was to southern Argentina. This highly scenic trip was most enjoyable and produced some great birds. The photos show the Moreno Glacier in Glacier National Park and the critically endangered Hooded Grebe. I have still to upload the final installment of this trip but will be on this blog within a few days.

IMG_3559 Glacier NP

IMG_3885 Hooded Grebes

 

All of these trips are illustrated in more detail on the blog. Feel free to scroll back through the year. Happy New Year – here’s to a successful and enjoyable 2015.

Posted January 3, 2015 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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29th June – 5th July 2014: Borneo – Tabin and Danum Valley   Leave a comment

 

The final part of the Borneo account covers two lowland rainforest areas in eastern Sabah. Danum Valley is a superb area of virgin rainforest but it can be rather hard to bird; on the other hand Tabin has been selectively logged and much of it is secondary growth surrounded by oil palm, so although it does not have as many key species as Danum, a lot of them are easier to see. Tabin is particularly good for night drives as owls, civets and Leopard Cats leave the forest and go into the oil palm to hunt the many rats that occur there. We spent two nights at Tabin and four at Danum.

 

P1120019 Oriental Pied Hornbill

Our lodge at Tabin was right by a river and abutted the forest, various wildlife could be seen on the balcony such as these Oriental Pied Hornbills ……

P1110936 Pig-tailed Macaque

… and this male Pig-tailed Macaque

P1110949 Pig-tailed Macaque

A large troop of Pig-tailed Macaques patrolled the area behind the chalets. The females often took to sitting on the rocks mid-stream, keeping their youngsters out of trouble.

P1110930 Storm's Stork

Normally seen only in flight or perched high in a tree, we were amazed to see this Storm’s Stork walking around in the open near the lodge.

P1120029 Danum Valley

Early morning mist at Tabin

P1110967 Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrels, including this Thomas’ Flying Squirrel were common at Tabin and Danum. We even got to see them in flight.

P1110941 Plain Pygmy Squirrel

Far smaller was this diminutive Plain Pygmy Squirrel, perhaps the smallest squirrel in the world.

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One trail led to the ‘mud volcano’. Heat from volcanic action pushes mud to the surface like a slow motion geysir.

P1110881 Helmeted Hornbill

Of all the hornbills the Helmeted is the most spectacular, both visually and acoustically. This one flew over whilst we were at the mud volcano …

P1110895 Helmeted Hornbill

.. and perched up nicely for photos.

P1120047 Danum Valley lodge

Danum Valley Lodge gives great accommodation and superb food – at a price!

P1120063 aerial walkway

One of the features of Danum reserve is the canopy walkway …..

P1120183 from aerial walkway

… which allows you to get great views into the tree tops, although moving around a swaying bridge to get good views is fraught with difficulty.

P1120087 Danum Valley

One day we climbed the coffin cliff trail on the far side of the river, named as an ancient burial site of indigenous people was found there. Climbing several hundred metres of elevation in the near 100% humidity was exhausting but was most rewarding – see photo of Blue Banded Pitta below.

P1120083 Danum Valley

From here we could get a great view down onto the lodge

P1120162 Danum

In such a hot and humid environment the early morning mists produced spectacular effects.

P1120039 Danum Valley

Most days followed the same pattern, early morning along the roads then along the narrow trails once the birds became active.

P1120044 leech

Along with heat and humidity, Asian tropical forests have another unpleasant feature –  leechs. Initially they caused some consternation within the group but we soon got used to their presence and flicked most off before they could start blood sucking. I only got three leech bites but they took three or four weeks to completely heal.

P1120037 butterfly

As well as wonderful birds and mammals Danum has a range of exquisite butterflies, I’m afraid I don’t know their names.

P1120175 Ferruginous Babbler

We saw many birds and I photographed what I could. Here is a selection – Ferruginous Babbler

P1120032 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

P1120179 Whiskered Treeswift

Whiskered Treeswift

P1120232 Banded Broadbill

Banded Broadbill

P1110867 Grey & Buff Woodpecker female

Female Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker

P1120073 Banded Palm Civet

We did a night drive on each of our four nights at Danum. They weren’t as productive as at Tabin but we did come across this Banded Palm Civet.

P1120070 Rhino Hornbill at roost

… this huge roosting Rhinoceros Hornbill …

P1120218 YB Prinia

and a tiny roosting Yellow-bellied Prinia.

P1120091 Blue-banded Pitta2

But the best birds of Danum where the Pittas. Not needing to spend hours waiting for Bristleheads to appear gave us time to locate these mega elusive dwellers of the forest floor. Borneo has four endemic species of Pitta and either here or at Tabin and we saw them all. This Blue-banded Pitta required an exhausting hike up the coffin cliff trail but after a bit of effort we finally got great views of this seldom seen species.

P1120146 Blue-headed Pitta

Near the lodge we came across this Blue-headed Pitta but light levels were very low and this was the best I could do.

P1110912 Black-headed Pitta

This murky shot of the another endemic, the Black-headed Pitta, pushes the definition of a ‘record shot’ to its limits. The final endemic Pitta is Bornean Banded Pitta which we saw (but couldn’t photograph) at Tabin.

P1120311 Crested HB

One of the final birds of the trip was this Crested Honey-buzzard soaring over the lodge on our final morning.

 

And so concluded an excellent trip to Sabah in Borneo. I had about 50 life birds and 25 life mammals including some megas like Orang Utan, Bornean Gibbon, Proboscis Monkey, Colugo, Binturong, Leopard Cat, Bearded Pig. Of course on a trip like this you don’t see all the endemics, that would take multiple trips and require visits to the province of Sarawak and Indonesian Kalimantan, but we did very well indeed. Will I go back? I can’t say for sure as there are so many wonderful places in the tropics to visit, but I highly recommend it to anyone with a love of wildlife.

Posted August 11, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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26th – 29th June 2014: Borneo – Gomantong Caves and the Kinabatanga River.   Leave a comment

This post covers two nearby sites in the lowlands. Gomantong Caves, famed for its bat colonies plus large numbers of nesting echo-locating swiftlets and  the lodge at Sukau on the Kinabatanga River where a series of boat trips on the river and its narrow tributaries gave multiple opportunities to see and photograph the wildlife. Whilst at Kinabalu we got caught in as severe rain storm and my bridge camera got wet. Although it could still take photos I couldn’t use the zoom function, or change any of the settings, so it was effectively useless. Fortunately leader Chris Kehoe offered me the use of his camera when we got to Sukau, as he only carried one to obtain photos for the tour report, a commitment he was happy to pass on to me. So thanks to Chris’ generosity I was able to continue to document this excellent trip. After some last minute birding on Mount Kinabalu we crossed a sea of unbroken oil palm plantations on our way to Sukau and the Kinabatanga River. Unlike the parts of the Sunda region, Borneo has very poor soil and is unsuitable for large scale rice production. As a result as recently as the late 40s the island had a small population and was an almost unbroken expanse of virgin rainforest. The development of a strain of oil palm that could grow on poor soils has changed all that and now almost all lowland forest has been converted to plantation. Even along the Kinabatanga River with its wonderful range of wildlife, oil palm crowds in and even the narrow strip of riverine forest is broken in parts by plantations. Before we got to the river we stopped at the famous Gomantong Caves. Featured on BBC wildlife programs, this is the place to see all three species of echo-locating swiftlets on the nest, which is the only safe way to tell them apart, as each species nest is highly distinctive.

IMG_0766 Gomantong caves

The entrance to Gomantong Caves.

IMG_0784 Gomantong caves

There is a boardwalk around the main chamber but it is covered with bat and swiftlet droppings.

IMG_0779 Gomantong caves

The entire floor of the chamber consists of a huge pile of bat poo several metres high, as a result the entire place, including the boardwalk and hand rail is covered in cockroaches.

IMG_0783 Gomantong

Harvesting swiftlet nests for birds nest soup is highly lucrative.  As the commercial value of the caves is so high the owners guard against poachers. The smell of ammonia from the huge mound of bat poo behind the guards shelter is overwhelming, so this cannot be a pleasant place to make a living.

different_kinds_of_bird_nests_malaysia

Edible nest swiftlet nests.  A single white pure spittle nest of a  Edible-nest Swiftlet retails at about US$50. Those of Black-nest Swiftlets are worth less as they include feathers . Those of Mossy-nest Swiftlets, composed  of moss bound with spit, are worthless. These days  many locals try to’farm’ swiftlets in towns by converting upper floors of buildings into swiftlet caves by blacking them out and playing recordings to attract them.  As I didn’t have a camera with telephoto capability until after the visit to the caves this photo was taken from the internet, see  louisdigital.com

IMG_0770 Gomantong caves

At long last, a breath of fresh air.

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As we left the caves we came across a mother and baby Orang Utan, part of a small group marooned in this island of forest in a sea of oil palm . I only had my pocket camera so this highly magnified shot is the best I could do. I think it was my obvious disappointment of not being able to properly photograph this amazing animal that led Chris to lend me this camera.

P1110348 Wrinkle-lipped Bats

At dusk many thousands of Wrinkle-lipped Bats emerge but from our viewpoint we could only see a few.

P1110349 Bat Hawk

… and we saw the shadowy shapes of a Bat Hawk chasing it’s supper.

P1110669 Sukau

Our lodge in this area was at Sukau on the bank of the Kinabatenga River. From here we did five half day trips on the main river and its tributaries. It was often misty in the early morning …

P1110686 Sukau

…  but soon the mist cleared and by the time we had entered the quiet backwaters the sun was up. Our main target in these side channels was the mega-elusive Bornean Ground Cuckoo, which we heard but did not see.

P1110598 Proboscis Monkey

The bizarre Proboscis Monkey was common in the riparian vegetation but they moved quickly and seldom sat in the open for long and so were difficult to photograph …

P1110391 Proboscis Monkey male

… but I did get this shot of a mature male with his enormous nose and white underpants.

P1110754 Wrinkled Hornbill

The area was a mecca for hornbills with five species being seen. This is a Wrinkled Hornbill.

P1110567 Oriental Pied Hornbill

Oriental Pied Hornbill

P1110624 Black Hornbill

Asian Black Hornbill.  The white stripe  on the head is only seen in a minority of male birds.

P1110756 Rhino Hornbill

The enormous Rhinoceros Hornbill

P1110403 Grey-headed Fish Eagle

There were plenty of raptors along the river such as this Grey-headed Fish Eagle.

P1110367 Oriental Darter

Oriental Darters were common.

P1110633 Purple Heron & Gt Egret modesta

Purple Heron and the resident modesta race of Great Egret. Considerably smaller than the migrant race from mainland Asia (no bigger than the Purple Heron), this form has been considered a separate species.

P1110546 Storm's Stork

I was particularly pleased to get such good views of Storm’s Stork. This species has declined greatly and the riverine forests of Borneo are it’s last stronghold. It was the last of the world’s 17 species of stork for my list.

P1110528 Long-tailed Macaque

Long-tailed Macaques were common ….

P1110826 Monitor Lizard

as were Monitor Lizards ….

P1110458 Estuarine Croc

… and even the occasional Estuarine Crocodile was seen.

P1110814 Masked Palm Civet

This Masked Palm Civet swam across the river in front of our boat ….

P1110818 Masked Palm Civet

and emerged rather bedraggled on the far bank.

P1110732 Bornen Pygmy Elephant

Along the bank of the main river we saw several Bornean Pygmy Elephants. They differ considerably in size from Asian Elephants of the mainland and maybe should be treated as a different species.

P1110693 Borneo Bristlehead 2

But by far the best observation along the river was a flock of Bornean Bristleheads which qualified as my ‘bird of the trip’. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bristleheads are a monotypic Family and are indeed the last family I needed to see. We did see some later at Danum Valley but not so well and this fortuitous encounter along the river saved us lots of time at Danum which was put to good use.  As an aside, contra to my earlier post on the bird Families, the new checklist by Lynx/BLI did NOT treat the New Zealand Kakapo as a monotypic family and their cover illustration has been changed accordingly.

P1110766 Sukau

So after two and half days we said goodbye to Sukau, the Kinabatenga River and its glorious vistas and headed off for rainforest lodges to the south.

19th – 25th June: Borneo – Kota Kinabalu and Mount KInabalu   Leave a comment

This is the first of three posts about my June/July trip to Borneo. This post covers the Kota Kinabalu area, the Crocker Range and the Mount Kinabalu area.

The tour was organised by Birdquest and led by Borneo expert Chris Kehoe and visited the state of Sabah in the Malaysian portion of the island.

 

 

 

IMG_0610 Reef Heron

I flew out a day before the tour started, mainly to get over the jet lag but only did a bit of birding along the bay opposite the hotel in the capital Kota Kinabalu. This dark morph Pacific Reef Egret was only about 100m from the hotel.

IMG_0639 rice fields

The first afternoon was spent near the city looking at ponds adjacent to some rice paddies. As well as wetland birds we saw many munias, including the endemic Dusky Munia and and the seldom seen Pin-tailed Parrotfinch.

IMG_0616 Wandering Whistling Duck

Wandering Whistling Ducks (above), Cinnamon Bitterns and other herons and egrets, Buff-banded Rails and White-winged Terns could all be seen in these marshy areas.

IMG_0647 Sunset

As dusk approached we stopped by a beach to look for Malaysian Plovers ….

IMG_0653 Malaysian Plover

…. which we soon located. What wasn’t expected was in June was Siberian breeding Whimbrels, Grey-tailed Tattlers and Greater Sandplovers.

IMG_0657 Crocker range

The following day we stopped at the Rafflesia reserve in the Crocker range, inland from Kota Kinabalu.

IMG_0665 Grey-chinned Minivet

Here we saw our first montane species, like this Grey-chinned Minivet and ….

IMG_0675 Bornean Leafbird

…  our only Bornean Leafbird of the trip. This completes my set of Leafbirds, a group of eleven species found only in southern and south-eastern Asia.

IMG_0674 Blyth's Hawk-eagle

Overhead Blyth’s Hawk-eagles showed well.

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We continued on to Mount Kinabalu, at 4101m the highest peak between the Himalayas and the Snow Mountains of New Guinea. Our hotel, where we were to stay for five nights was situated just outside the national park and gave a wonderful view of the mountain in the evening.

IMG_0733 Whitehead's Broadbill

There are many montane specialities in Kinabalu NP, some are easy to see but many are not. This Whitehead’s Broadbill was a particular target, we only saw a pair. It was voted bird of the trip, but not by me – more of that later.

P1110248 Whitehead's Trogon

John Whitehead (1860 – 1899) was an ornithologist who collected in Borneo. He has three birds named after him, all are difficult to see: the Broadbill, this Whitehead’s Trogon and the mega elusive Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, which we failed to see. Once again I will quote Meat Loaf  ‘two out of three ain’t bad’!

IMG_0691 Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel

If it is any compensation for dipping on his spiderhunter, we did see the cute little Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel – its about the size of a mouse!

IMG_0681 Fruithunter

Another mega we tracked down at Kinabalu was this Fruithunter, a member of the thrush family.

P1110280 Indigo Fly

Another montane speciality (although not a Borneo endemic) is Indigo Flycatcher.

IMG_0743 Pitcher plant

Carnivorous pitcher plants could be seen along the higher trails but we never saw a Rafflesia, the biggest flower in the world.

IMG_0746 Mt Kinabalu summit trail

One day half the group did the strenuous hike up the Mt Kinabalu summit trail. The hike to the top, which is very popular, involves a 2000m ascent, we did about a 500m ascent but that was enough to leave me knackered.

P1110003 Mountain Blackeye

This is a Mountain Blackeye, a type of white-eye found mainly on the higher trail. Our main target was the increasingly rare Kinabalu Friendly Warbler, which is quite approachable once actually found. It seems that global warming is pushing the species further and further up the mountain every year. At one stage it will run out of mountain to retreat to.

IMG_0760 Summit trail Mt Kinabalu

In view of the erosion caused by the thousands who ascend the mountain on a regular basis, much of the trail has been converted to a series of steps. Each step is somewhat irregular and rather higher than I would have liked and this resulted in considerable knee discomfort.  It is disconcerting when you read that on the Kinabalu Summit Race, participants can run from the park gate (4km and 500m lower than where we started) to the top and back again in two hours and fifty minutes.

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It must be emphasised that although Borneo has the reputation of being a wild, remote place this is far from the truth. Places like Kinabalu National Park are the exception. Away from these islands of natural habitat Borneo is a sea of oil palm plantation. Ignore the construction in the foreground. The background shows oil palm to the horizon.




Posted August 9, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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An ambition realised: all the world’s bird Families have now been seen.   Leave a comment

On 28th June I was part of a birding group in a small boat, slowly drifting down a tributary of the Kinabatenga River in Sabah, Borneo when our leader Chris Kehoe exclaimed that he could hear Bristleheads, a few minutes later a small flock of five or more bizarrely shaped red, black and yellow birds appeared in the tops of the riverine forest. Our first Bornean Bristleheads of the tour and the end of a thirty five year quest to see all the bird Families of the world!

Well what is a bird Family; well I don’t mean this!

 

Wood Duck and ducklings – photo from the internet.

 

A bird Family is a taxonomic unit above that of Genus and below that of Order. For the uninitiated I’d better summarise the essential, but sometimes confusing, subject of the classification of life.

To make sense of the many million types of organisms in existence a classification methodology based on Latin nomenclature was introduced by Linnaeus in 1735, which has been refined into the current system. It is universally applicable to all forms of life and strict rules govern its application, so that particular name is applicable to a single species and to no other.

All life is divided into six Kingdoms, three of microscopic organisms, plus fungi, plants and animals. Each Kingdom is divided into Phyla for example in animals all vertebrates are in the Phylum Chordata. Each Phylum is in turn divided into a number of Classes, in Chordata there are 6 Classes of fish, plus one each of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Each Class is divided into Orders and each Order into Families. In birds the huge group known as the passerines is a single Order Passeriformes and this is composed of 129 Families. For example the tits and chickadees form the Family Paridae and this in turn is divided into 61 Species in 14 Genera. Species can be further subdivided into subspecies where there is variation within a single species.

So the classification of our familiar Marsh Tit from the UK would be

Kingdom – Animalia – animals

Phylum – Chordata – vertebrates and allies

Class – Aves – birds

Order – Passeriformes – passerines or ‘perching birds’

Family – Paridae – tits and chickadees

Genus – Poecile – a collection of 15 mainly black, brown and white tits from the northern hemisphere

Species – Poecile pallustris – Marsh Tit

Subspecies – Poecile pallustris dresseri – the subspecies or race of Marsh Tit occurring in the UK

So what has all this to do with my recent trip to Sabah in Borneo. Of course I have been trying to see as many of the world’s bird species over the past 35 years (and, as sometimes subspecies are ‘upgraded’ to full species when new information about their breeding biology and genetics becomes available, I’ve been taking note of them as well) but many birders have realised is that to see as wide a range of bird groups as possible it is necessary to see the bird Families of the world. In total there are 232 extant Families (plus 5 uncertain groups or Incertae sedis that have still to be decided on).

The trouble is that whilst many Families are obvious to anyone interested in birds, for example all duck, geese and swans (except one) form one Family, grebes another and divers yet another, other groups are more obscure and changes are continually made as DNA evidence reveals relationships that morphology alone cannot; owls fall into two Families, Old World warblers have been placed in about six different Families and a few oddities like Przevalski’s Rosefinch and Spotted Wren-babbler are so unique that they have been placed in Families all of their own (the latter only a few months ago after DNA evidence showed it was only distant related to other Wren-babblers)

It is relatively easy to see the bulk of the Families once you have travelled to the major faunal regions of the world, it these oddball Families that present the challenge, for example Shoebill in Africa, Kagu in New Caledonia, Picathartes in West Africa or Przevalski’s Rosefinch in Tibet, not necessarily because they are hard to see but because it takes a lot of travel to get round to see them all. In recent years I have concentrated on seeing the last few and the Bornean Bristlehead, the sole member of its Family, was the last.

 

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Some Families are obvious, even to the non-birder. All Hummingbirds are clearly related and all 345 species are in a single Family the Trochilidae.  Peacock Coquette – photo from the Internet Bird Collection

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Birds of prey or raptors however fall across five Families, New World vultures form one, hawks, eagles, kites and Old World vultures form another, the Osprey and Secretary Bird are in Families of its own, whilst the fifth, the Falcons aren’t even closely related to other raptors and are now count the passerines and parrots as their nearest relatives. Bonelli’s Eagle:  photo from Internet Bird Collection

 

11741935

There are many monospecific Families, birds that have no close living relatives. This Przevalski’s Rosefinch or Pink-tailed Bunting from Tibet, is neither a finch nor a bunting but dates from a time before those two Families diverged. Photo from the Internet Bird Collection.

 

Iiwi

There have losses as well as gains, the diverse Hawaiian Honeycreepers were once considered to constitute a Family but now they are know to be just aberrant finches, most closely related to the Asian rosefinches.  Iiwi -photo from the Internet Bird Collection.

P1110693 Borneo Bristlehead 2

Its a bit of a rubbish photo but it was taken at some distance, from a moving boat and on a borrowed camera! Borneo Bristlehead, Kinabatenga River, Sabah, Borneo

xbristleheaddanumvalley.jpg.pagespeed.ic.2II01ld2L3

To get a better idea what this mega looks like, here is a close up shot by James Eaton from the Internet Bird Collection.


But although I am very happy to have fulfilled my ambition to see all the world’s bird Families I cannot be complacent. I follow the species and Family list as produced by the IOC (International Bird Committee) which treats the Sapayoa of the Choco region of northern South America and Panama (below) as a member of the Old World Broadbills. This species has been treated as a Manakin then a  Tyrant Flycatcher, before DNA evidence showed conclusively it was a New World representative of the Broadbills. The Clements/Cornell checklist agrees in principle but places it in its own Family next to the Broadbills. I have heard, but not seen this species in Colombia.

 

Sapayoa

The enigmatic Sapayoa:  Photo from the Internet Bird Collection

The Zeledonia or Wrenthrush was once considered in its own Family but then got moved to the Parulidae, the New World Warblers and then to the limbo of Incertae Sedis. There have been suggestions recently that it may again regain monospecific Family status. A trip to Costa Rica would be needed to see this beauty.

ZeledoniaWrenthrush

Zeledonia: Photo from the Internet Bird Collection.

 

And finally and most worryingly of all, the publisher Lynx Editions, in conjunction with Birdlife International are producing an Illustrated Checklist of Birds of the World. This is a wholly new concept for a checklist, the validity of each species being determined by a mathematical ranking. The first volume, due in a month or so, covers the non-passerines and the advertising blurb of the cover shows the non-passerine Families they recognise. This appears to show that they recognise the enigmatic flightless New Zealand parrot, the Kakapo as a monospecific Family. The Kakapo is on the brink of extinction and the few remaining birds have been translocated to an island where no-one but the wardens/researches are allowed to go. All TV film/video of this species appears to be of a captive individual known as Sirocco. The chances of ever seeing a wild individual of this species/Family would appear to be zero.

Of course the Family or species list produced by Birdlife International may not be accepted by the mainstream checklists of Clements/Cornell and the IOC, but even if the Kakapo does eventually get universally accepted as a new Family, I will have at least been able to say that at one stage in my life I had seen all the world’s bird Families!

 

16-SiroccoKS1 (1)

Sirocco – the tame Kakapo. Photo from the Internet

sobrecoberta-Checklist-arbre-03.ai

The 232 Bird Familes plus 5 Icertae sedis as recognised by the IOC. The Hawaiian Oo’s are now extinct and are not included in the total.

 

Family Tinamidae Tinamous
Family Struthionidae Ostriches
Family Rheidae Rheas
Family Casuariidae Cassowaries
Family Dromaiidae Emu
Family Apterygidae Kiwis
Family Anhimidae Screamers
Family Anseranatidae Magpie Goose
Family Anatidae Wildfowl
Family Megapodiidae Megapodes
Family Cracidae Cracids
Family Numididae Guineafowl
Family Odontophoridae NW Quail
Family Phasianidae Game birds
Family Gaviidae Loons
Family Spheniscidae Penguins
Family Diomedeidae Albatrosses
Family Procellariidae Petrels/Shearwaters
Family Hydrobatidae Storm Petrels
Family Pelecanoididae Diving Petrels
Family Podicipedidae Grebes
Family Phoenicopteridae Flamingos
Family Ciconiidae Storks
Family Threskiornithidae Ibises/Spoonbills
Family Ardeidae Herons
Family Scopidae Hammerkop
Family Balaenicipitidae Shoebill
Family Pelecanidae Pelicans
Family Fregatidae Frigatebirds
Family Sulidae Gannets
Family Phalacrocoracidae Cormorants
Family Anhingidae Darters
Family Cathartidae NW Vultures
Family Sagittariidae Secretarybird
Family Pandionidae Ospreys
Family Accipitridae Hawks, Eagles etc
Family Otididae Bustards
Family Eurypygidae Sunbittern
Family Sarothruridae Flufftails
Family Heliornithidae Finfoots
Family Rallidae Rails
Family Psophiidae Trumpeters
Family Gruidae Cranes
Family Aramidae Limpkin
Family Turnicidae Buttonquails
Family Burhinidae Thick-knees
Family Chionidae Sheathbills
Family Pluvianellidae Magellanic Plover
Family Haematopodidae Oystercatchers
Family Dromadidae Crab-plover
Family Ibidorhynchidae Ibisbill
Family Recurvirostridae Stilts, Avocets
Family Charadriidae Plovers
Family Pluvianidae Egyptian Plover
Family Rostratulidae Painted-snipes
Family Jacanidae Jacanas
Family Pedionomidae Plains Wanderer
Family Thinocoridae Seedsnipes
Family Scolopacidae Sandpipers
Family Glareolidae Coursers, Pratincoles
Family Laridae Terns, Gulls, Skimmers
Family Stercorariidae Skuas
Family Alcidae Auks
Family Pteroclidae Sandgrouse
Family Columbidae Pigeons
Family Phaethontidae Tropicbirds
Family Mesitornithidae Mesites
Family Rhynochetidae Kagu
Family Opisthocomidae Hoatzin
Family Musophagidae Turacos
Family Podargidae Frogmouths
Family Steatornithidae Oilbird
Family Nyctibiidae Potoos
Family Caprimulgidae Nightjars
Family Aegothelidae Owlet-nightjars
Family Hemiprocnidae Treeswifts
Family Apodidae Swifts
Family Trochilidae Hummingbirds
Family Cuculidae Cuckoos
Family Tytonidae Barn Owls
Family Strigidae Owls
Family Coliidae Mousebirds
Family Trogonidae Trogons
Family Leptosomidae Cuckoo Roller
Family Coraciidae Rollers
Family Brachypteraciidae Ground Rollers
Family Alcedinidae Kingfishers
Family Todidae Todies
Family Momotidae Motmots
Family Meropidae Bee-eaters
Family Upupidae Hoopoes
Family Phoeniculidae Woodhoopoes
Family Bucerotidae Hornbills
Family Bucorvidae Ground Hornbills
Family Galbulidae Jacamars
Family Bucconidae Puffbirds
Family Capitonidae New World Barbets
Family Semnornithidae Prong-billed & Toucan Barbet
Family Ramphastidae Toucans
Family Megalaimidae Asian Barbets
Family Lybiidae African Barbets
Family Indicatoridae Honeyguides
Family Picidae Woodpeckers
Family Cariamidae Seriemas
Family Falconidae Falcons/Caracaras
Family Strigopidae NZ Parrots
Family Cacatuidae Cockatoos
Family Psittacidae Parrots
Family Acanthisittidae New Zealand Wrens
Family Eurylaimidae Broadbills, Asities, Sapayoa
Family Pittidae Pittas
Family Furnariidae Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers
Family Thamnophilidae Antbirds
Family Formicariidae Ant-thrushes
Family Grallariidae Antpittas
Family Conopophagidae Gnateaters
Family Rhinocryptidae Tapaculos
Family Melanopareiidae Crescentchests
Family Tyrannidae Tyrant Flycatchers
Family Cotingidae Cotingas, Plantcutters
Family Pipridae Manakins
Family Tityridae Tityras, Sharpbill, Becards
Family Incertae Sedis 1 Uncertain 1 (Swallow-tailed Cotinga)
Family Menuridae Lyrebirds
Family Atrichornithidae Scrubbirds
Family Ptilonorhynchidae Bowerbirds
Family Climacteridae Australasian Treecreepers
Family Maluridae Australasian Wrens
Family Meliphagidae Honeyeaters
Family Dasyornithidae Bristlebirds
Family Pardalotidae Pardalotes
Family Acanthizidae Australian Warblers
Family Pomatostomidae Australian Babblers
Family Orthonychidae Logrunners
Family Cnemophilidae Satinbirds
Family Melanocharitidae Berrypeckers, NG Longbills
Family Paramythiidae Painted Berrypeckers
Family Callaeidae NZ Wattlebirds
Family Notiomystidae Stitchbird
Family Psophodidae Quail-thrushes etc
Family Platysteiridae Wattle-eyes, Batises
Family Tephrodornithidae Woodshrikes and allies
Family Prionopidae Helmetshrikes
Family Malaconotidae Bushshrikes
Family Machaerirhynchidae Boatbills
Family Vangidae Vangas
Family Cracticidae Butcherbirds and Allies
Family Pityriaseidae Bristlehead
Family Artamidae Woodswallows
Family Aegithinidae Ioras
Family Campephagidae Cuckooshrikes
Family Mohouidae Whiteheads
Family Neosittidae Sittellas
Family Incertae Sedis 2 Uncertain 2
Family Pachycephalidae Whistlers
Family Laniidae True Shrikes
Family Vireonidae Vireos, Greenlets
Family Oriolidae Figbirds, OW Orioles
Family Dicruridae Drongos
Family Rhipiduridae Fantails
Family Monarchidae Monarchs
Family Corvidae Crows, Jays
Family Corcoracidae Australian Mudnesters
Family Incertae Sedis 3 Uncertain 3
Family Paradisaeidae Birds-of-paradise
Family Petroicidae Australian Robins
Family Picathartidae Picathartes
Family Chaetopidae Rockjumpers
Family Eupetidae Rail-babbler
Family Bombycillidae Waxwings
Family Ptilogonatidae Silky-flycatchers
Family Hypocoliidae Hypocolius
Family Dulidae Palmchat
Family Mohoidae Oos (recently extinct)
Family Hylocitreidae Hylocitrea
Family Stenostiridae Fairy Flycatchers
Family Paridae Tits
Family Remizidae Penduline Tits
Family Panuridae Bearded Reedling
Family Nicatoridae Nicators
Family Alaudidae Larks
Family Pycnonotidae Bulbuls
Family Hirundinidae Swallows, Martins
Family Pnoepygidae Wren-babblers
Family Macrosphenidae Crombecs, African warblers
Family Cettiidae Cettia bush warblers & allies
Family Scotocercidae Streaked Scrub Warbler
Family Erythrocercidae Yellow Flycatchers
Family Incertae Sedis 4 Uncertain 4
Family Aegithalidae Bushtits
Family Phylloscopidae Leaf warblers and allies
Family Acrocephalidae Reed warblers and allies
Family Locustellidae Grassbirds and allies
Family Donacobiidae Black-capped Donacobius
Family Bernieridae Malagasy warblers
Family Cisticolidae Cisticolas and allies
Family Timaliidae Core Babblers
Family Elachuridae Spotted Wren-babbler
Family Pellorneidae Fulvettas, Ground Babblers
Family Leiothrichidae Laughingthrushes
Family Sylvidae Sylviid Babblers
Family Zosteropidae White-eyes and Yuhinas
Family Arcanatoridae Dapplethroat & allies
Family Promeropidae Sugarbirds and allies
Family Irenidae Fairy-bluebirds
Family Regulidae Goldcrests, kinglets
Family Hyliotidae Hyliotas
Family Troglodytidae Wrens
Family Polioptilidae Gnatcatchers
Family Sittidae Nuthatches
Family Tichodromidae Wallcreeper
Family Certhiidae Treecreepers
Family Mimidae Mockingbirds, Thrashers
Family Sturnidae Starlings
Family Buphagidae Oxpeckers
Family Turdidae Thrushes
Family Muscicapidae Chats, OW Flycatchers
Family Cinclidae Dippers
Family Chloropseidae Leafbirds
Family Dicaeidae Flowerpeckers
Family Nectariniidae Sunbirds
Family Passeridae Old World Sparrows
Family Ploceidae Weavers, Widowbirds
Family Estrildidae Waxbills, Munias & Allies
Family Viduidae Indigobirds, Whydahs
Family Peucedramidae Olive Warbler
Family Prunellidae Accentors
Family Motacillidae Wagtails, Pipits
Family Urocynchramidae Przevalski’s Finch
Family Fringillidae Finches
Family Parulidae New World Warblers
Family Incertae Sedis 5 Family Uncertain 5
Family Icteridae NW Orioles & Blackbirds
Family Coerebidae Bananaquit
Family Emberizidae Buntings, NW Sparrows etc
Family Thraupidae Tanagers
Family Calcariidae Longspurs, snow buntings
Family Cardinalidae Cardinals, Grosbeaks & Allies

 

Posted July 9, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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