Part 1 can be found HERE.
“Texts suggest Malayan Whistling Thrush (Myophonus robinsoni) to be an extremely shy bird, occasionally seen to forage along mountain roadside dawn/dusk near to streams in broadleaved evergreen forests.
“Stardust was anything but shy. The Whistling Thrush appeared periodically during day time to investigate presence of humans in the vicinity of its entrance flight path, along roadside.
“My first proper sighting of this bi-annual breeder was, having taken a predawn shadowy, moving target shot into the dark forest and loitered in the vicinity for a while, I intuitively felt being watched at. I turned around only to be surprised by a dark blue, looking bird waiting for me.
“It was Stardust- the Malayan Whistling Thrush – who had flown from the dark into the open and perched on a low tree branch to check me out (above).
“Subsequent observations appeared to have the bird repeatedly seen to descend from familiar fallen tree branch, hopped onto and made thorough inspection of a particular site. The fool hardy bird was seen to linger around the spot for unusual prolonged periods of time (above).
“Stardust was seen to fan its tail occasionally before taking short, foraging flight towards a mossy rock edge and water course (above).
“Why was Stardust behaving in this manner that had allowed me to take posing shots that I thought, they were had too easily?
“The answer came next morning on my return visit. It was 0914hs. 13th October 2013. The smoking gun-bread with pecking holes and crumb remnants were found on site. Stardust had been conditioned and became used to and had been going on ritual rounds prospecting free handouts. When none came from me, it did not take long before Stardust flew empty into hiding.
“From these two images, it is without doubt, visitor/s have been feeding, bird-photographers been baiting the bird (above).
“Such actions only compromise the safety of the endemic bird. With its guard down to receive easy handouts, Stardust was courting death by becoming an easy target to feral/domestic feline population of the resort.
“This is what birds in the wild are supposed to do and live by – forage in the wild like this one opportunity photoshot of Stardust who began morning breakfast with a caterpillar by the roadside (above).
“Hill stations in Peninsula Malaysia have small resident populations as such, friendly community knows who is who, who comes and goes and visitors’ activities don’t go unnoticed to include pilferage of flora produce.
“In this particular incident with Stardust, to such detail, I was informed three bird-photographers were the last seen the evening of 12th October, 2013 at site area where those bread crumbs were located.
“From bird conservation point of view, the practice of feeding and baiting birds especially in feral feline populated areas need serious review. Readers into this blogsite who are members of their respective nature societies, bird and photography forums, communities, bird study groups or individuals etc. would conservatively do best to disseminate this information and initiate a review of such negative practices – at best to outlaw them.
“Residents and landowners of hill stations I would presume have their own committee that meets periodically. To continue enjoying the pristine state of nature and wildlife such as Fraser’s Hill has to offer, I am sure residents would be concerned if they become more aware and be encouraged to take proactive steps to admonish visitors seen baiting wild birds.
“A hobby is only enjoyable, fulfilling and purposeful if one contributes positively. Becoming obsessed to the extent of compromising life forms in creature/s without care, just to satiate ones’ selfishness and goal, is no longer a hobby. The meaning of ‘moderation’ does not quantify in the minds of the obsessed.
“I was delighted to have met up with two nature/bird-photographers on the morning of 12thOctober 2013.
“Consider being new breed of 2nd decade of 21st. century enthusiasts, they had shown exceptional skills and maturing attitude towards bird-photography – only waiting and wanting to photograph Stardust in natural settings.
“It would indeed be lovely to have new bird-photographers emulating such styles and not easily sucked into peer groups, raving about their sightings and photographs resulting from quick draws of playback bird call recordings and bird baits. Seasoned bird-photographers are never too old to learn new positive trends.
“I have not been back to Fraser’s Hill since but in due course I will. I am not aware if Stardust is still around but for now, here is what I have to say to this endemic, blue bird of Peninsula Malaysia (above).
“Look here buddy… you simply cannot keep coming out to prance and pose around anticipating to receive free handouts. One of these days, the cat will eat ya! You need to get back into the forest and do what you’re supposed to eat and live like a bird of the wild. ‘You are so special!'”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson