We all know that the sea is the last frontier to be fully explored by man and with many treasures and mysteries yet to be uncovered. So, it was no surprise when the sea off this locality provided me with 5 lifers from a single visit and that to me is as good as discovering any hidden treasure. Seabird watching took off here only about a few years back and since then, we have been encountering more pelagic species than ever before. This was my fourth pelagic trip and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my birding life. And what better way to start off a most memorable trip than with a lifer that I have always wanted to see a in the wild ever since I came to know that of its existence – the Brown Booby. Sadly, the population of this beautiful resident seabird is greatly reduced due to poaching of its young and eggs. I guess that is the price you have to pay for sharing the planet with man.
My next lifer was a Sooty Tern and despite our efforts to search for an adult bird, this young bird was the only one present in the vicinity.
The shape and jizz of the Sooty Tern makes it quite recognizable even in the presence of the smaller, similar looking Bridled Terns.
The Pomarine Jaeger, the biggest of the 3 species that occur in our waters, was the third species to make it into my life list. The presence of the spoon-shaped tail streamers eased our task of concluding the identification of this striking adult bird.
It provided a glimpse of the pirate-like behaviour that all Jaegers are infamous for by virtually landing on top of a few resting Short-tailed Shearwaters at a far distance. It then proceeded to chase them over the water surface with some swimming, some flapping and a whole lot of intimidation. Being beautiful and aggressive, this predatory seabird instantly earned a special place in my heart.
When a slightly smaller Jaeger alighted near the earlier Pomarine, I knew I was looking at my second Jaeger species and my fourth lifer but the question was, which species was it? Jaegers are certainly not one of the easiest of seabirds to tell apart at times and as soon it landed on the water, we realized that resting Jaegers are even more confusing.
Luckily, we did manage to capture a few flight shots and by reviewing the images later, we saw what we needed to see to solve the dilemma. It was a Parasitic Jaeger.
We made history by being the first to see all the 3 species of Jaegers in Malaysia on the same day when a Long-tailed Jaeger flew into view. However, I had to wait for my man Dave’s confirmation of its identity the following day before I could put down my fifth lifer for the trip and it was certainly a wait worth waiting for. The Jaeger turned out to be most probably a first-winter bird and I did not even get a shot of it. Choo Eng again had my back and it was his shots that provided us a second chance to identify the Jaeger. Unfortunately, none of the Jaegers came close enough for us to obtain any really good images. The birder in me was of course more than satisfied but the photographer in me was left yearning for more. Well, until the next time…
PS. I had to re-post this entry because it was simply not showing up in my other blogger friends' blog roll. My apologies to Terrence and Dave for indirectly removing your comments. Thanks for your opinions and compliments.