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Blue Rock-thrush around Ipoh’s limestone hills

on 10th June 2010

Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius madoci) is easy to spot at many of the limestone hills surrounding Ipoh City, in the Malaysia state of Perak.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS first made the acquaintance of these shy birds on 9th June 1986 when he and his wife were living near a limestone outcrop. They were then having breakfast at a corner coffee shop, sitting in the open air section, when this nondescript bird hopped by to scavenge scraps fallen to the ground.

At firs4 glance it was easy to mistake it for a starling but on close scrutiny it turned out to be a Madoc’s Blue Rock Thrush. Since then they have returned intermittently to these limestone hills to observe these fascinating birds – their plumage colour is very dependent on lighting.

“On this day I spotted six of them over a 1 km stretch of broken limestone hills – four adults two of whom had partners,” wrote Amar on 8th May 2010. “Songs recorded. They love to hop on the ground looking for scraps. They are generally shy except for some pairs that have got used to the many human visitors to the cave temples. The f%male I am posting here is a regular at this cave temple with her mate. She is in breeding plumage… (above).

“Occasionally we all have these magical moment when birds extend some trust to us and allow us to observe them at close range. One of the six Madoc’s Blue Rock-thrush… did that for me. I arrived just at the right moment (required permission to enter this limestone hill religious sanctuary). This male in full breeding plumage arrived at the same spot just as I did (above). He was after some fallen Ficus benjamina fruit – they forage on the ground and do not seem to pick fruit off the tree. He saw me just 2-3 meter away at the base of the tree but the call of the fruit was too strong. He hopped down almost at my feet to forage, initially too close for pictures. The change in plumage in different lighting was dramatic. In the shade he looks rich blue like the M. solitarius pandoo (above left). But in strong light he looks speckled blue with brighter patches on the forehead (above right).”

The two calls recorded can be heard HERE and HERE.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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