“Previous observations and images suggest excavation of nesting site commenced on 21st May 2014. It was carried out mainly by the female at Itam Dalam Forest Reserve (IDFR).
“Ticky and Tippy, the pair of Blue-winged Pittas (Pitta moluccensis) continued foraging and discreetly they were seen collecting nesting materials at intervals (below left).
“My presence was well tolerated by Ticky- the male. He responded frequently to my whistle calls and at times flew in to check me out (above right).
“Progressively over the next few days, female Tippy while remaining shy, would still show whenever foraging was needed.
“It was observed on 26th May, feathers on her chest and belly had been cleaned; suggesting excavating duties had stopped.
“She was also seen prospecting a discarded mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) that was maggot infested (below left).
“Occasionally, their breeding calls would have the pair met up on a rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) tree branch (above right).
“On 29th May, a fly pass by Ticky with a beakful of nesting material was observed heading from mangrove swamp towards a dark, under storey forest of mixed growth and ground cover.
“Flight patterns by Pitta pair changed to one of urgency and focus, as they took on straight paths.
“When all was quiet, my observation had me waiting under cover for the breeding pair in the heavily mosquito infested forest.
“Soon, Ticky flew in with nesting material, perched and paused for clearance before he disappeared swiftly into base of a decapitated tree of sprouted multiple branches (below left).
“The nest was located under root cover, camouflaged by twigs and withered branch foliages used as roofing exterior (above right).
“As soon as opportunity arose, during their absence, I made haste to reposition my hideout for better monitoring views.
“Female Tippy flew in, made entry into the nest and attended to finishing touches before she flew off (above).
“Ticky followed suit and stood at nest’s entrance momentarily before entering for a chamber inspection (above, below left).
“All observations were carried out undetected by breeding pair at distance no less than twenty feet with binoculars 8×32 and Fieldscope x30 magnification.
“They were executed very briefly and one time only to avoid detection. Continuous swamping by mosquitoes were simply too intolerable also to stay on.
“I am not optimistic at all that Ticky and Tippy would have a successful breeding season this year; considering the many predators – feline and feral cats, monitor lizards and packs of uncontrolled population of Long-tailed Macaques that menace and forage at the Forest Reserve edge of a village (above right).
“The birding choice area and location of nesting site provided easy access. The presence of constant flow of overly keen circuit of bird-photographers would only compromise further, the Pitta pair’s chance if any, to fledge their chicks.
“I returned seventy-two hours later and found…
“Join Avian Writer to read the finale Part6 episode!”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
29th August 2014
Copyright article and all copy images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund