When news broke out of an Indian Roller returning to this locality for the second time, I felt like I was given a second chance after missing out on it the first time round. This species is a locally common resident in the north-eastern region of Peninsula Malaysia but elsewhere, it is quite a rare migrant. I have seen this species only once before and better images of this gorgeous bird will be a much welcomed addition to my collection of bird images.
My search came to a sudden halt when I spotted a roller-like bird alighting on a tall dead tree not too far from me. Unfortunately, I got all excited over a false alarm as it turned out to be the closely related Asian Dollarbird – the second and much commoner roller that occurs in Malaysia. This is a real classic case of so close and yet, so far.
Crested Mynas have recently started to colonize mainland Penang as well and they seemed to have settled in very well at this locality.
Here are a few good reasons why it is best to bird from your car at this locality. Although these Water Buffaloes are domesticated animals, I still find them rather intimating and rather not chance encountering them on foot.
Any thoughts of dipping out on the reason I am here in the first place vanished when I caught flashes of turquoise and purple from the corner of my eye. True enough, it was an Indian Roller utilizing a coconut tree stump as a vantage point to hunt. From my previous encounter, I know that this species is rather tame and I confidently but slowly, made my way closer using my car as a mobile hide.
The colouration of this open country species is simply vibrant and outstanding but can only be truly appreciated in good light. I was in luck as the coconut stump and electrical poles that it frequently alighted upon after every hunting attempt were easily accessible from all sides. For once, the direction of the sun was not an issue.
Occasionally, it alighted on the lower hanging electrical cables and this provided me with the best photographic opportunities of the day. It was totally comfortable with my presence and went about its satisfying its appetite. And for me, I was totally mesmerized by its presence and enjoying every minute of it.
I really admire the skills of this efficient hunter as it made quite a number of successful attempts at catching insect prey from the ground during my observation. However, I could not capture the actual hunt as it was a little too quick for me. As soon as it catches the prey, it will fly back to one of its regular perches to feed.