Wednesday, 11 May 2011

10/05/2011: Sea off Tanjung Dawai (Kedah) - Part One

With some fantastic records coming in recently from this locality, it was only a matter of time before I finally managed to arrange a day off from work and together with Choo Eng, headed into the deep blue yonder for our maritime adventure. However, the rough sea conditions and drizzle threatened to cut short our much-anticipated excursion. Suddenly out of nowhere, hope came blazing through the gloom in the form of a Short-tailed Shearwater.

Coincidentally or divine intervention, the arrival of the Shearwater marked a significant change in the weather. As the conditions improved, more and more Short-tailed Shearwaters started to glide into view and follow the fishing vessels.

Pretty soon our vessel was surrounded by Short-tailed Shearwaters – all 13 of them. Back in the days if anyone was to report a double-digit figure of any Shearwater on Malaysian waters, I would be very skeptical. I might not even take the report seriously. But now, here I am, observing this occurrence in the flesh. This is a sight that is certainly very foreign to me and will take some getting used to.

The Shearwaters hunt by floating on the water surface and dipping their head under the surface to catch unwary fishes.

Their movement can get quite vigorously when excitement builds up and prey is aplenty.
Sometimes, they do dive completely underwater and can remain under for almost half a minute.

It is unbelievable just how tame these pelagic birds are and they will come extremely close to the fishing nets and the vessels. In the past, the fishermen could literally swim up to them and capture them for the cooking pot. Dave and Choo Eng have been educating the fishermen about conservation and this practice is now a thing of the past. Anyway, the confiding nature of the Shearwaters provided some great close-up images.

This is probably the closest I will ever get to seeing Penguins in our waters…

Most of the migratory Terns would have made their way back north by now and the sight of thousands of Common Terns following the fishing vessels was sorely missed. Only about a hundred of them were recorded during this trip.

There were a couple of the migratory White-winged Terns in the vicinity as well and they were sporting their striking breeding plumages. Unfortunately, good photographic opportunities were far and few.

With far less “distractions” flying about, I had plenty of time and opportunity to observe and photograph one of our resident terns – the Bridled Tern.

Sometimes, the Terns will rest on the fishing net’s buoys and this image shows an adult in the background with an immature in the foreground.

I’m saving the best of the trip for my next post because it certainly deserves a post of its own!


Kah-Wai Lin said...

Great capture!

digdeep said...

Nice pics Mun - especially the flying shearwaters!

Phil said...

That was some trip, excellent shots of the shearwaters and their feeding technique.

Choy Wai Mun said...

My apologies, Phil. This is an old post and how it ended up being my latest post is beyond me. Perhaps there's a phantom in my blogspot!