Monday, 23 August 2010

20/08/2010: Permatang Nibong (Penang)

When Terrence reported that the Asian Openbills were back last week, I knew that I had to pay these old friends a visit soon. When the chance finally came this faithful morning, there were no signs of the openbills at all upon my arrival.

However, something much smaller stole the limelight for the trip momentarily – Zitting Cisticolas. The entire vicinity seems to be filled with their presence as well as their diagnostic calls. And most of them were certainly in the mood to be photographed.

These adorable little birds really put on a terrific performance for me today.
They were not the least bothered by my presence and I just went on shooting them as they go about their daily routine.
In fact, I suspect the birds were trying to outdo each other to gain my undivided attention and some individuals even took extreme measures just to do that.
It is a little too early in the year for the mighty Aquila Eagles so it comes as no surprise that the only raptor I managed to capture today was a resting Brahminy Kite.
This would have been a great photo of an adult Purple Heron if the sun was not in front of it. I guess that’s the challenge of wildlife photography. It’s not like you can just politely request the big fellow to change its position, you know.
This immature bird, on the other hand, was in a better position and had the sun behind it. But unfortunately, it was a little camera-shy.
Bitterns are never easy subjects to photograph due to their usual elusive nature. It was a lucky break for me when I managed to capture images of this 2 somewhat confiding Yellow Bitterns.
I could hardly believe my luck when I came across more bitterns later on and this time in the form of a pair of Cinnamon Bitterns foraging right out in the open.
There was even a third bird in the vicinity, which was another striking male. He kept a distance from the earlier pair and foraged on the far side of this recently harvested patch of the fields. Today was definitely a good day for bitterns.
A small crake foraging among the dense paddy stalks caught my immediate attention because there is a certain little migratory crake that I would certainly love to have under my (photography) belt. I know that the migrants have only started to trickle in but one can always hope, right? The crake kept itself quite hidden and all I could do was followed its movements while using my car as a mobile hide. But when an all too familiar nasal chattering started to come out from the vicinity of the foraging crake, the possibility of having a Baillon’s Crake slowly slithered away. I was still in denial that the crake was not the much commoner resident White-browed Crake (which deep inside I knew it was) until the bird finally showed itself long enough for me to capture a record shot.
As soon as I jotted down the words White-browed Crake into my notebook, a second bird came into view and rested on top of some paddy stalks – in full view.
The egrets were back though not in their usual strong numbers yet. Quite a handful of them were the Little Egrets.
Male Watercocks in breeding plumage are one of the handsomest waterbirds around but they are also one of the shyest. This species will not hesitate to take flight or dive to safety at the slightest sign of danger. I have been trying for years to obtain reasonable shots of the breeding plumage male but without much success…until today that is.
Although there is still room for improvement, I am rather delighted with how the images turned out in the end. I know very well that most photography opportunities with a Watercock will usually…
end up…
like this.
This immature Striated Heron was simply asking to be photographed as it was a bit more confiding than most of my other encounters with this particular species.
This lone female Pink-necked Green-pigeon looked a little out of place as she rested on some low scrub vegetation along a bund dividing the paddy fields. Female Green-pigeons can be difficult be tell apart at times but in this case, I had all the time in the world to check her out as she was extremely confiding.
After the initial disappointment with the openbills, I did swing by their favourite resting area again later in the morning. This rewarding trip just got even better when I could make out the distinctive silhouettes of the openbills on a distant tree – all five of them. So for the second consecutive season, these fascinating water birds will spend their winter in this paddy planting district of my home state. Welcome back to Penang my dear distinguished guests…

When the storks suddenly took flight after a few minutes, I’m not sure if the presence of my stationery car as well as all the camera action that was going on was a little too much for their tolerance level. However, when they just circled the vicinity once and alighted back at the very same perch, I thought to myself maybe I was not the actual cause.

Anyhow, I was at the right place, at the right time to capture their descent.
When the storks finally settled down, I got out of my car and slowly made my way closer. The storks appeared were pretty cool with my slight intrusion into their space and allowed me to capture their images to my heart’s content.
Now I’m pretty sure if that they could put up with me here, my earlier position should not be the reason why they were spooked.


holdingmoments said...

Stunning images Choy, and an excellent day out. Such a wide variety of birds; none of which I've ever seen before, except the Little Egrets.
You live in a real paradise. And I'm really pleased for you that the Openbills have returned again.

Wilma said...

You got such beautiful golden light for so many of the photos today, just lovely. I love to see the storks. I get excited when I see just one flying by; the group you got is very impressive!

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks all for your compliments.