Quacking around… in search of a face behind the “quacks”

on 6th January 2022

Correspondence between Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh, bird watcher extraordinaire and Mike HN Chong, freelance/independent naturalist.

  1. Letter by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia 

I wonder if anyone can help me with these “Quacking Calls” that I heard in the primary jungle. I have heard them occasionally over the many years I have watched birds but have yet to see a bird. The calls are made both as a single “quack” as well as run of them (4-5 notes in a bunch). The ‘bird’ (or creature) calls in the early mornings (7.30-9am) and will carry on for quite a while.

These were recorded on 3rd January 2019 at the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia (below).

There appeared to be movement in the vegetation on the slope in front of me where the calls came from but no visibility due to the dense growth.

The sounds moved about, indicating a creature on the ground.

This was adjacent to a rushing stream (sounds of the stream edited out).

A colleague suggested a Crake but none seem to fit.

I also considered non-bird creatures making the calls like the:

  1. Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) – but calls are different
  2. Four-lined Tree Frog (Polypedates leucomystax) – it is said to have a call that is a duck-like ‘quack’, but listening to it it also different.

Quacked-out, Amar.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

2. Response from Mike HN Chong, Selangor, Malaysia

Interesting. I have also heard this quacking call many times mostly in swampy areas and ponds at forest edges. Have even heard it in one swampy area at putrajaya wetlands and more recently in vegetated fish ponds next to forest near my area.

The call is very unique as it’s not very frog like but may sound like an animal, as you suggested, and I agree! At the ex-fish ponds near my area, standing at the pond edges, the calls can be quite deafening! especially in late evening although they call throughout the day…the call when heard close up sounds more liike “kuong, kuong” rather than a mere quacking :-). The series of 4-5 calls are the deafening ones heard up close, and can be intimidating for people not accustomed to forest calls and noises!

This is apparently Rough-sided Frog Hylarana glandulosa. Found the call in Ecology Asia website under its other Frogs & calls section HERE. There are other frog calls in this section as well, useful for future references. It’s quite difficult to find frog calls refs in Malaysia even by our local experts, so this website is very helpful!

Hope this helps in your quacking mystery. I should record frog calls also for ID, even though my bird calls ID is quite good.

Fellow quacking birder, Mike Chong.


3. Acknowledgement by Amar-Singh

Thanks Mike. That’s just right: Rough-sided Frog (Hylarana glandulosa). Sounds just the same in the Ecology Asia website HERE. I can now lay my quacks to rest.







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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