Kuala Gula, Perak, 20 January 2014

On my way home from Malim Nawar I decided to detour to Kuala Gula to take a look for Rosy Starlings, None have been reported so far this season, but they are irregularly seen at the site during the northern winter months.

Javan and Jungle Myna_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0160The place to look, apparently, is an area of dead mangrove trees near the coastal bund, near dawn or dusk, when the birds gather before and after roosting. Inland of this is an oil palm plantation, where I found a few mynas in the late afternoon, including both Javan (left) and Jungle (right) in mixed flocks. This is about the northern limit of the current range of Javan Myna, which has pushed northwards over the past few decades, quickly becoming the dominant species and eradicating Jungle Myna almost completely in many areas. The easiest way to differentiate the two is the pattern of yellow at the bill base.

Jungle Myna_Sg Burung_040209_IMG_6487

On Jungle, the bill looks dipped in yellow-orange paint, with a straight cut-off where it meets the dark grey/black of the head. This impression is caused by a blackish base to the bill (the gape area) which is absent on Javan, on which the yellow-orange on the bill includes the gape. Typically, Jungle has a browner tone to the grey of the under and upperbody, but this is somewhat variable.

Javan and Jungle Myna_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0343A Javan (left) and two Jungle Mynas.

Javan and Jungle Myna_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0362One of each. There seems to be a subtle difference in headshape too, with Jungle typically having a flatter, less domed crown (caused by the crown peaking further toward the nape than on Javan).

Jungle and Javan MynaI stuck these two together in Photoshop!

Jungle Myna_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0192Here’s a much greyer Jungle Myna. Evidence of Javan genes or just natural variation?

Jungle Myna_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0213Mynas show quite a high incidence of leucism. This was a different-looking Jungle Myna!Common Myna_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0359

Of course, there were Common Mynas too, instantly told at a distance by their white underwing coverts.

Little Bronze-cuckoo_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0174The dead trees turned out to be a good place to observe other birds too, like Little Bronze-cuckoos. This is a male.

Little Bronze-cuckoo_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0207And a female. Sadly, the light was not ideal!

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0223There were no Rosy Starlings, but some compensation was provided by a very showy Osprey, which first appeared in heraldic pose above one of the fishponds.

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0272 Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0276 Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0280 Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0281Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0284It proceeded to make several unsuccessful attempts to catch fish. Too bad about the green barbed wire in the foreground!

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0245After each dive it would shake itself like a dog in mid-flight to get rid of the excess weight of water.

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0254 Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0304Then turn round for another go!

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_1366 Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_1364Later I found it hanging its wings out to dry in the sun.

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_1377

It became suddenly alert, peering around, and 10 seconds later, a Japanese Sparrowhawk came whizzing past. I wondered how on earth it had detected its presence so early. It could not have seen it – perhaps it could hear the wingbeats?

Osprey_Kuala Gula_200114_IMG_0328After being buzzed by the Japanese Sparrowhawk it chose a more open perch.

The day ended with no Small Pratincole or Rosy Starlings, but plenty of other good birds and interesting experiences!

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6 thoughts on “Kuala Gula, Perak, 20 January 2014

  1. Nice comparison shots of the mynas. Recently, Javan Myna has spread northward to southern Thailand and now can be seen pretty easily. Some people are worrying that it might wipe away the local Jungle Myna. But seems like both of them are living together just fine there in Malaysia.

    • Well, for now anyway. It does seem that once Javan moves in, Jungle eventually disappears. It’s interesting that Javan has arrived in southern Thailand, because, so far, I’m not aware of any records in Peninsular Malaysia north of Perak. Perhaps they jumped right over!

      • Thanks, Dave for more information. Then it seems very likely that Jungle will slowly disappear. That doesn’t sound very good. Another competing pair that I’ve noticed in the recent years in northern Thailand are the Chestnut-capped/Yellow-eyed Babbler. YEB used to be more common but now they’re replaced by CCB in many places especially around my local patch.

      • Very likely situation is that southern Thailand had establish their own source population either at the Thailand side or Malaysian side from an isolated population from cagebirds, that explains how you get them in Empangan Bukit Kwong years ago, it is now indeed extremely worrying in terms of the actual distribution of Javan Mynas in Peninsular Malaysia today and to an extend, the Malay Peninsular beyond Malaysia.

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