Thursday, 26 August 2010

23/08/2010: Permatang Nibong (Penang)

I decided to swing by this locality again hoping to obtain more images of the Asian Openbills. I arrived just after dawn and much to my delight, the level of bird activity had already started to build up. The Cinnamon Bitterns were still around but unfortunately, I did not manage to get as close to them as my last visit.

The Zitting Cisticolas were also in high numbers but unlike the bitterns, they were just as confiding as the last trip. I could not resist taking a few shots before making my way to the storks’ favourite resting area. I made a mental note to come back this way for more “zitting” actions on my way out.
All five of the Asian Openbills were on the exact same tree that I last saw them and from the looks of things, the storks have only started to stir and stretch after a night’s rest.
I immediately, but carefully, got myself into a good position with the sun gradually rising from my back and patiently waited for the beautiful golden light of morning to work its magic over my intended subjects. I was truly disheartened when I missed out on the first single specimen that was recorded in Malaysia about a few years back in Perlis. At that time, I never expected this rarity to turn up in one of my usual birding spots. But here they are and now, this locality is the best place in the country to see them.The wait proved to be most rewarding as I managed to capture some of my best images of these storks to date.
I took a breather from shooting in order to really cherish the experience. Right in front of me, a flock of one of the rarest migratory waterbirds, in all their glory, is basking in the soothing rays of the early morning sun. Now if that is not an inspiration moment, then I sincerely do not know what is.
The flock was rather at ease despite my presence and started to preen and prepare themselves for the new day ahead.
I guess one of the reasons why the Asian Openbills are wintering here is the availability of food in the form of snails – Golden Apple Snails to more precise. This snail is one of the paddy farmer’s worst enemies and these storks are actually doing the farmers a big favour. I hope the farmers know this too and start to appreciate the presence of these natural pest controllers. Anyway this is the tell-tale sign of their presence, the brightly coloured eggs.
I left the storks as they were and made my way back to the “cisticola patch”. Along the way, I simply had to stop for a White-browed Crake that was moving along the top part of the paddy stalks.
The number of egrets is noticeably higher today and there was quite a concentration of these graceful waterbirds on a recently harvested area of the paddy field.
In fact, all four species that is known to occur in freshwater habitats are around and the smallest of them all are the Cattle Egrets.
Little Egrets are a regular sight in this locality and their numbers have significantly increased since my last visit.
The Intermediate Egrets, on the other hand, were still in small numbers.
There was only a single lone Great Egret today but I’m sure more will come in the following weeks.
My earlier gut feeling about the Zitting Cisticolas turned out to be quite true as the birds provided yet another memorable performance and wrapped things up for this short but most rewarding excursion.


Wilma said...

Impossible to get enough of those storks. They did seem quite comfortable with you and your camera. Nice to see the comparison shots of the white egrets. And you have a perfect finish with the sweet looking Zitting Cisticolas.

Costea Andrea Mihai said...

superb captures!! thank you for share

digdeep said...

superb set Mun!


Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks all for your compliments