Monday, 29 November 2010

27/11/2010: Pulau Burung & Kubang Semang (Penang)

I was back at the Pulau Burung marshlands again to check on the Red-necked Phalarope but upon arrival, the celebrity bird was no where in sight. So, I diverted my attention to this confiding young little Grebe that was foraging nearby.

I headed to the adjacent mangroves to see if anything else was about and was truly entertained by the antics of this loving couple. Love was certainly in the air for this pair of Zebra Doves.

They took turns to preen each other with such intimacy that even a non-romantic guy like me was moved by this show of affection. I know that I relish obtaining images of rare species but when commoner species like these Zebra Doves are able to provide images like these, who needs rarities...

Gradually, I headed back to the marshlands again. It has been quite a while since I last took close-up portraits of the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters at this locality. The maintenance works have removed most of their favourite perches by the edge of the marsh which were most ideal for photography. I guess I have to get used to photographing them from this distance for the time being.

Reflections of wings and inspiration courtesy of a foraging Common Sandpiper…

A Common Moorhen resting near the water’s edge made me stop to observe and do some photography.

After a few minutes, my heart skipped a beat as the Red-necked Phalarope casually swam into view.

Although it was not close to the water’s edge, I still managed to capture quite a number of delightful shots. I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Glad you can join me today, buddy…

The Little Grebes was also in the vicinity and one of them did harassed the phalarope once but unlike the previous occasion, the later just flew a few meters before alighting on the water again.

However, the grebes were the least of the phalarope’s worries this morning as there was a bigger and deadlier threat looming around – a juvenile White-bellied Sea on the hunt. As I was observing the phalarope, this eagle was circling low above the marshland looking for any potential prey. A confiding winter visitor like the phalarope would have made a very good snack.

Its presence did not go well with the others as well - especially the Whiskered Terns.
Anyway, the eagle did not make any kill during my observation and it frequently returned to the same perch to assess the situation in between its rounds around the marsh. I took note of the perch and when the opportunity to capture a landing eagle finally came, I took full advantage of it.

This eagle is the largest resident eagle in Malaysia and is truly a magnificent sight to admire - both in flight and at rest.

My next destination was the paddy fields at Kubang Semang. Despite searching high and low, not a single aquila eagle was seen. My disappointment soon faded away when a male Common Stonechat provided a few photography opportunities.

When the stonechat alighted further away, I continued my search again. However it came to a halt again when I saw a stunning male Red Collared-dove foraging on a recently planted patch. For the second life in my life, I was given the opportunity to observe this species in the wild and this time, I knew I had to obtain some photographic records. I am not sure how the Records Committee will react to this sighting as my first one was dismissed as an escapee because this species happens to be a popular cage bird. Through natural expansion or escaped stock, this species has been sporadically recorded in a few other states as well. This individual certainly does not look or behave like an escaped pet bird as it kept to the cover of the paddy stalks most of time. It was quite alert and wary and will stop foraging whenever there were any signs of potential threats like a passing motorcycle or an observing birder.

Anyway using my car as a hide, I remained as still as possible and after a while the dove went about its foraging again. I patiently waited until it foraged on slightly more open areas and took as many shots as possible. My efforts did not end up in vain as I managed to obtain quite a number of decent shots in the end.


Ari said...

Wow! must be a rewarding outing for you! The zebra dove and the red-collared dove were lovely..

M. A. Muin said...

Nice pahalarope n red collared dove! After the openbill, indian roller, dowitcher, pahalarope, aquilas and now we got black headed ibis to chase...

Yuyun@HanLeeYun a.k.a. KuLaT_NaKaL said...

nice pics!!

Anonymous said...

Your pictures make me dreaming.
Wonderful !
Birding is so fun through your camera. Thanks.

a french birder living in Vietnam

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks all for your compliments

Paul Wu said...

What an awesome series! Suddenly i have this urge to look for a job in the North! :)