Choo Eng’s discovery of a pair of Japanese Paradise-flycatchers at Bagan Belat in mainland Penang yesterday constantly dominated my thoughts throughout the entire day as I have yet to confirm this rather uncommon winter visitor to my life list. Luckily for me, I had a meeting in the mainland the next morning and a visit to the locality was inevitable. I made a quick detour to the locality and much to my delight, the male bird showed enough of himself for me to comfortably include this stunning species in my life list. However, I did not manage to photograph the bird and time constraint prevented me from waiting for a photographic opportunity to arise.
After my meeting, on my way back I made a short visit to the paddy fields at Permatang Nibong to try my luck with another uncommon migrant, the Ruff. Although I had to do a fair bit of searching, I finally saw the waders – all six of them as reported recently. A group this size is a quite rare occurrence in Malaysia. Although the waders were foraging at a distance, I made an effort to photograph them anyway as I do have any images from my previous encounters.
Most waders undergo a plumage change during the breeding season and some of the changes can be pretty extreme. However, no other wader can even come close to the Ruff as a male in full breeding plumage is quite a phenomenon and certainly a sight to behold. Sadly, we only get to see them in non-breeding plumage here in Malaysia.
Another characteristic that sets this wader apart is the notable size difference between the sexes. The males certainly tower over the much smaller females.