A stroke of luck!

After spending days, if not weeks, spent searching for and staking out pittas in the steamy, leech infested jungles of Taman Negara for very little return, I was cursing all those who had written trip reports boasting of ‘mind-boggling views of a confiding pitta’.

Pittas must be on the shortlist of all birders visiting South East Asia and the quest to find them has even warranted some to write a book.  Despite their bold, brash  colors, they are however highly secretive and hard to find in the gloom of a rainforest.

Whilst at the Rainforest Discovery Centre (near Sepilok, Sabah, Malaysia) in March 2013, I had heard a Black & Crimson Pitta mournfully whistling one morning and eventually found it high up in the canopy – too high for any decent shots though.  Consoling myself that I had at least seen this little beauty, I resolved to try back in the area another time.

Walking back from an afternoon up of one of the towers, I heard a faint whistle close to the path and I offered up a whistle of my own.  It did the trick as I then caught a glimpse of something dark moving right by the edge of the path in front of me.  Another whistle from me then had the dark shape bound out of the gloom – a stunning pitta.

It then proceeded to call and forage in front of me, reassured by a whistle from me every so often.  Time seemed to go quickly but the time stamps on my first and last photographs was 5:40pm and 6:10pm – so I was watching the pitta for a full 30 minutes!  And in that time I took over 180 shots, most unusable due to errant leaves and twigs and from being forced to handhold at speeds of 1/8 to 1/25 in the fading light (no flash).  No bait or playback was used at all.

The below are some of my favorites – all just under full frame with a 300mm (minor cropping only to aid composition).

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

Black and Crimson Pitta (Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia)

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