The MNS Penang Bird Group holds a wader count annually at the northern coastline of mainland Penang. I have to admit that I have missed out on a couple of counts due to other commitments but I try my best to do my part. The Teluk Ayer Tawar mudflats is considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) as it plays host to a few wintering rarities like the globally endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank. But through the years, the habitat has changed and quite a vast area of mudflats is now overgrown with mangroves. The number of wintering waders now is also a pale shadow from its past glory days.
The tide line at Bagan Belat (part of the IBA) was quite acceptable when we arrive at the site. However, most of the waders were beyond the reach of my gear. There were an estimated 500 waders along the stretch and we soon got down to the tedious task of making positive identification of the individual species.
And some are near impossible. A smaller looking stint foraging among the Red-necked Stints could very well be the rare and much overlooked Little Stint. However, back home Dave identified both stints as Red-necked Stints after scrutinizing the photograph.
There were no signs of the rarer Nordmann’s Greenshank from the flocks of Common Greenshanks present today.
This Collared Kingfisher was quite confiding and rested on this perch for quite a long period despite the presence of a group of birders intruding into its domain. Somewhere in between the counting, identifying and confusion, I took a breather and diverted my attention to it.
Yours truly, Kanda and James – three quarters of the underdog team that won the Selangor Bird Race back in 1994. Andrew Ponnampalam from KL completed the winning combination. Quite a few feathers were certainly ruffled when the outcome of the race was finally announced. It was certainly one of the main highlights of my birding life. We even got a Short-toed Eagle along the way!