Wednesday 24 February 2010

18/02/2010: Penanti & Permatang Nibong (Penang)

After a great outing at Pulau Burung, I decided to visit the scrub lands at Penanti later in the morning.

The resident Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters have started breeding and honestly, I am still puzzled why these birds choose to make a motor-cross track their breeding ground. Although the lighting was a little harsh by now, I still managed to capture some great shots.

These birds are in their element when they hawk for insects in mid-air but on the ground, they lose some of their of their grace and all of their agility.

There were a few Red-wattled Lapwings in the vicinity also showing signs of breeding as well.

With nothing much else about, I made my way to the nearby Oriental Pratincole breeding ground.

The Oriental Pratincoles were almost absent from the locality except for a handful flying in the sky above. However, the Red-wattled Lapwings' breeding season was in full swing and they did not appreciate my intrusion one bit. So, I didn't linger there for too long.

A few Paddyfield Pipits were foraging in the vicinity as well...

As I was making my way out, I noticed a small raptor soaring in a distance. I quickly reduce the distance and when I was close, I could tell by the dark subterminal tail band that it was a kestrel. I managed to take a few record shots before this rather scarce migrant disappeared from sight. A female Common Kestrel is a real good find for my home state of Penang. However, the distance and the lighting conditions prevented me from capturing better images.

Before calling it a day, I decided to make a short visit to the paddy fields at Permatang Nibong. I was elated to find the celebrity bird, the Asian Openbill, resting on a tree quite close to the access road. Using my car as mobile hide, I slowly inch my way to as close as I could get to the stork. The stork did not pay much attention to my presence and was more than happy to pose my camera. After several failed attempts in the past weeks, I finally managed to capture good shots of this stork at rest.

Once I had obtained more than enough images of the stork, I left the fellow to enjoy its afternoon rest. Suddenly, a pair of immature Eastern Marsh-harriers swooped into view and started to quarter the fields for an afternoon snack. What a way to end a terrific time out in the field...

18/02/2010: Pulau Burung (Penang)

There have been quite a few vagrants popping up in my home state of Penang recently like the Pied Cuckoo and Asian Openbill. The latest celebrity visitor is the Red-throated Thrush - photographed at Pulau Burung (a new record for Malaysia). I have the rest of the week to bird as part of my Chinese New Year break and the thrush was a very good reason for me to visit this locality.

The first bird that greeted me was this rather confiding Common Snipe…

I managed to photograph, most probably the same bird, at the same location again later in the morning and the lighting was much better this time.

I searched extensively for the thrush but without any success. However, the other birds put on quite a show for me and I had quite a great time observing and photographing the commoner species like this stunning Common Kingfisher. Pulau Burung weaves its magic once again...

I can always count on the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters here to cheer me up even after dipping out on a mega rarity….

This lone Brahminy Kite was circling quite low above the marshlands…

And talking about the marshlands, it was teeming with birds this beautiful morning. A pair of Lesser Whistling-ducks was foraging quite close to the water’s edge and provided me with ample opportunity to capture their images.

This Little Grebe in non-breeding plumage particularly ignored my presence and went about its daily routine.

I was quite surprised to find this juvenile Common Moorhen so tolerant of my presence and this is certainly the closest I have ever been to this species.

The confiding nature of the Wood Sandpipers here must be very contagious indeed…

White-browed Crakes are usually shy and elusive creatures...but not here. This individual was foraging right out in the open just next to my stationery vehicle.

Why did the Slaty-breasted Rail cross the road?
It wanted to give this birder a chance to capture its images.

Anyway, I followed the trail of the rail and waited patiently for it to show itself again. Gradually it did…for a second or so anyway.

I also managed to pick out a White-winged Tern from the usual Whiskered Terns. For some reason the former is greatly outnumbered by the latter at this locality.

Here’s a Whiskered Tern for comparison and in non-breeding plumage, the differences between their plumages are quite subtle.

Monday 22 February 2010

17/02/2010: Sungai Sedim (Kedah)

Choo Eng and I decided to make a trip to this locality on the 4th day of Chinese New Year. When compared to my childhood days, Chinese New Year has lost much of its "feel" to me now and it is more like a long break from from work more than anything else. Anyway, things were rather slow in terms of bird photography although we did managed to record quite a number of bird species. I finally managed to observe the Bat Hawk at this locality when it surprising soared around the late morning sky.

A few lizards kept me entertained in the absence of the birds like this handsome fellow...

We also came across the Flying Lizard performing its territorial display...

Who needs birds when you have stunning lizards like this. I'm only kidding but the colours of this lizard are striking indeed.

On our way back, we came across a nesting Changeable Hawk-eagle at the outskirts of Kulim town and it was using one of the pylons at the edge of a palm oil estate. However, it was rather puzzling to see no signs of any nesting materials. Although raptors like Peregrine Falcons do not have extensive nest structures but it is most unusual for this species.

Thursday 11 February 2010

11/02/2010: Sungai Burung (Penang)

I spend the first hour of morning at this local patch before starting off my working day. Thing were rather slow and when a Common Myna basking in the golden rays of the morning sun came into view, I took the effort and time to capture its image.

The ripe paddy attracted a lot of munias as well as weavers but they remained well hidden among the paddy stalks. However, one Scaly-breasted Munia alighted on an exposed perch long enough for me to capture a few shots in the golden light.

As I was making my way out of the paddy fields, I came across a female Common Kingfisher hunting from a concrete embankment of a canal. I have tried on numerous occasions in the past to capture images of this adorable kingfisher at this vicinity but all my results so far had much room for improvement. Although this lovely gal was quite close to my car, the same golden light that provided me with those wonderful images earlier was now shining directly into my lens.

As I was about to give up, the kingfisher flew to the other side of the canal and this time, the lighting was just right. Thank you, girl!

I even managed to see her taking a tiny fish from the canal. Well, it was a happy ending in the end for the both of us.