Today Kolbjorn and Folkert joined us again to survey Badas Forest Reserve, an area of degraded but regenerating kerangas forest where there has been some tree planting effort (even Prince Charles has planted a tree there!). The intact forest proved very difficult to get into without a lot of crashing about, so we returned to the regenerating area and were duly rewarded with some good, if distant birds.
When we saw 4 Black Hornbills in a dead tree, Folkert remarked “That’s unusual, we usually only see them in pairs.” So we were even more surprised when the 4 were joined by 2 more, then another, and another, until we counted 17 birds using the tree (not all at the same time), presumably as the first port of call after emerging from a communal overnight roost.
We spent quite a while observing birds feeding around and flying across the clearing, and added some good birds – Black-and-white Bulbul, Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker and Long-billed Spiderhunter among them – to our list.
We also met with this subadult Lesser Fish Eagle. Though classed as Near Threatened along with Grey-headed Fish Eagle in the Red Data Book, in my experience this species is far scarcer than Grey-headed, and would probably be better classed as Vulnerable. Apart from the shorter, all dark tail, Lesser differs from Grey-headed in being shorter-necked and larger-headed. These structural differences are distinctive, but poorly illustrated/described in field guides.
These photos may be the first ever taken of juvenile HBB. As well as a prominent yellow gape, the cutting edges of the bill were yellow, though they don’t show up well in these photos, which were taken against the light.