Monday 12 September 2011

10/09/2011: Mainland Penang

A predawn tropical downpour altered my plans for some forest birding later in the morning and I visited the marshlands at Pulau Burung instead. Unfortunately, things were rather slow at this locality and I diverted my attention to the commoner species. The Pacific Swallow is certainly a regular here and today it provided quite a number of excellent shots like this one.

A pair of Little Grebes was more obliging than usual on this wet and gloomy morning. I noticed a particular piece of drift wood where the Grebes frequently return to rest. So, I positioned my car nearby and just observe and photograph these adorable water birds from a reasonably close distance.

Much to my delight, the pair carried on their routine despite my presence and I had a very rewarding photo session.

On my way out of the marshland, I made one last stop to photograph a Paddyfield Pipit that was resting next to the access road. Since the discovery of the Blyth’s Pipit, every pipit that I come across nowadays deserves a second look – just to be sure.

My next destination was the mudflats at Batu Kawan. A small number of migratory waders have made their way here and to enjoy their tropical vacation. These two Lesser Sand-plovers were squabbling over a small piece of exposed mud when there was more than enough mud banks to go around. Come on, guys!

A flock of large birds circling low above the nearby mangroves caught my immediate attention. Besides, there was not much about anyways. When the flock turned out to 14 Lesser Adjutants, this mundane trip suddenly became a lot more interesting. I must admit that I have a soft spot for waterbirds – especially the big ones. And the Lesser Adjutant is the tallest (second only to the Sarus Crane, once a winter visitor but sadly not anymore) in Malaysia which only means that this stork is right up there among my all-time favourites.

I really had to put my driving skills to the test because the storks were circling away from me and I desperately needed to reduce the distance between us in order to get into a better position for photography. To accomplish that I had to maneuver around potholes and trenches in the fastest time possible while keeping an eye on my quarry. Luckily, I managed to in the end and obtained some my best shots of this species to date.

Although it can be locally common at a few other localities, it is seldom encountered in my home state of Penang and this number is by far the highest count as well. Some may find this species rather unattractive but I, on the other hand, find it to be most impressive and majestic – especially in flight. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to me there is no such thing as an ugly bird – even if it has a bald head.

Just before I called it a day, I made a detour into Juru to see if there was anything about and I bumped into an old friend and from previous encounters, happens to be one of the most confiding Crested Serpent-eagles ever.

Every bird photographer yearns to capture their subjects on a natural perch and the eagle must have read my mind and shifted to a nearby mangrove tree.

Ideally that natural perch should not obstruct any part of the subject. And like a model taking hints from a photographer, my subject moved to a more exposed perch. I guess asking it to move one last time to a clean background would be pushing it a little too far.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

07/09/2011: Permatang Nibong (Penang)

With the migratory season about to go into full swing, I was quite eager to check if there are any rarities among the early arrivals to the paddy fields here. However, only the commoner migrants were encountered today like this Common Sandpiper. The migrants are certainly starting to trickle in and I am looking forward to a fruitful season – hopefully.

This male Cinnamon Bittern is doing what he does best – trying to conceal himself from an immediate threat and this time, an approaching birder.

A flock of White-rumped Munias was helping themselves to the ripe paddy seeds when I managed to capture a few shots of this particular individual that came closest to my stationery car.

The highlight of this short excursion was a male Pink-necked Pigeons that was resting among the scrub vegetation. He was quite confiding and the low perch provided a good photographic opportunity.

He may be common but still, a very handsome fellow indeed.