“Members of the family of Trogonidae with eleven worldwide species are much sort after by birders and bird-photographers alike for their regimental like colours in their striking anatomical variations and patterns in their under-tail feathers.
“Once their variable calls are learnt, it is not too difficult to locate them and often they remain motionless on their perch if not disturbed- and that… is a bonus for photographers in bringing them close for very smart views and alive in videography.
“To get a visual response when calling to these colourful birds- without the use of call back tape-recordings is anything but utmost satisfaction. It is sheer joy to feel that bonding with the birds when they choose to respond positively, out of curiosity perhaps and both enjoy a rapport conversation without our feathered friends fearing predation.
“Six species are represented in the P. Malaysia and not too difficult for a seasoned twitcher a decade ago to tick them off. Declining populations of trogons is inversely proportionate to the increase destruction of habitats in developing countries. It is bad news and don’t look too favourable in the near future that the next generation or so birders be guaranteed of such sightings in frequencies and in quantities. Here is an assortment of them (above).
“I decided to take a second trip to Panti Forest Reserve in Johor, P. Malaysia – a lapse of five years from my first 2007 with KC Tsang et al. then to see the changes.
“While the trail no longer deserves to be called, ‘Trogon Avenue,’ I was in luck to have an adult female Scarlet- rumped Trogon (Harpactes duvaucelli) flew right in front of me and settled for a perch across the main trail (below left).
“Accelerating calls were distinctively heard and upon closer binocular examination, it wasn’t the female that was calling. It was a male hiding behind a mid-storey, leafy tree with a green grasshopper prey, fluttering its freedom wings on its last breath.
“Was courtship feeding to take place…?
“Likely not as the window period of breeding season for Scarlet-rumped Trogons falls between February–June and my visit was in early July… a bit late perhaps.
“The male still calling then flew into full view and perched onto a horizontal branch – a feeding stage high up on a tree another 100 feet away.
“Suddenly, a yellow bird responded and flew from a total hidden perch and landed next to the parenting male (above right).
“It was breakfast call for a juvenile female.
“Feeding of the juvenile took place in a jiffy as I cranked my neck and watched.
“I had to be quick with my Fieldscope if I was to be rewarded with documentary images during this small window of opportunity.
“Here are the sequential shots showing the parenting male leaving the juvenile bird to chew her breakfast snack….. all in less than one minute (left and below).
“A family of three seen in a birding sighting don’t come often. The female I suspect was also foraging nearby and or on sentry duty. My presence could have prompted the parenting male to fly away for safety with prey and took to new feeding stage calling after the juvenile. Indeed, it was the appropriate time to observe juveniles during end of breeding season.
“Travel Advisory: While public transport is available, the return journey by bus or taxis are not reliable. I took a 12 hour train ride earlier and had planned to stay and car hire from Kota Tinggi instead of a long drive from North. My chances of car hire would have been better from Johor Baru.
“In view that public amenities are shamefully shoddy at the Reserve, to cover the 8 km trail and view birds properly, a vehicle is necessary.
“My appreciation and thanks to bird-photographers Allen Seah and newly made friends who extended their kind Singaporean hospitality and to those who have also shared their vehicles during my 8 day bird survey trip.
“My thanks go to Kenneth, my nephew for hosting my stay in Johor Baru, arranged my entry permit and recee trip to Panti Forest Reserve.”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
8th March 2013
Copyright article and all copy images: Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund