Monday, 19 December 2011

17/12/2011: Mainland Penang

Upon my arrival at the marshlands at Pulau Burung, I spotted the silhouette of a large raptor perched on an electrical cable and it turned out to be one of the resident Changeable Hawk-eagles. Using the cable as a lookout point to hunt, it particularly ignored my presence and concentrated fully on the task at hand. Unfortunately, the lighting conditions prevented me from obtaining better shots and that was a real shame as this is probably the closest I have ever been with this bird of prey.

Whilst photographing the eagle, a second eagle alighted on the cable that was directly above my car but out of my field of view. There was nothing I could do to about it because at that close distance, any movement from me or my car will certainly spook the eagle. After a few minutes, the second eagle probably did not feel comfortable in my presence and flew off. And I continued to admire and photograph the first eagle to my heart’s content.

I was delighted to see the two Garganeys settling in well here and hopefully, in time to come will gradually become less wary. Until then, distance observations like today will just have to do.

Meanwhile at the ‘Little Stint Corner’, there was a high level of bird activity. The Little Stints were foraging along the slightly flooded patches as usual. Unlike my previous visit, the stints came quite close to my stationery car and provided a fair share of good photographic opportunities.

The Long-toed Stints are also another regular at this patch and I guess the condition here really suits both these species of stints.

I find it a little odd that at this time of the year this Little Ringed Plover has not even started to moult into winter plumage. Perhaps it’s just a little reluctant to shed this striking plumage for the much duller one. 

At my second birding locality of the day, the paddy fields of Bandar PERDA, it was again a raptor that started things off. For the third consecutive season, the mighty Eastern Imperial Eagle is spending the winter here. Welcome back, big guy.

When I drove along the adjacent paddy fields of Kubang Semang, the Grey-headed Lapwings certainly made their presence felt with their alarm calls long before I actually laid eyes on the first flock of these uncommon but regular winter visitors.

The graceful Black-winged Stilts are also back for the winter and like the former, filled the locality with their distinct calls as well.

A slightly flooded and muddy patch of the paddy fields certainly appeared quite promising to me. When I got closer, my hunch was right and I noticed several waders foraging in the vicinity. There were the usual Little Ringed Plovers, a few Wood Sandpipers, Common Sandpipers and Long-toed Stints as well. As I was scrutinizing the waders, I thought to myself that I could sure use a Temminck’s Stint now. And one came into view.

I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating until a second bird decided to join the first one. It saved me the task of having to pinch myself. This is my second only sighting of this rather uncommon species and it certainly became the highlight of the day. And just as I thought things can’t get any better, I spotted a lone third Temminck’s Stint foraging slightly further away. I have a feeling this migratory season will be a good one – a very good one indeed.


Russell said...

Wonderful encounter with the hawk-eagle. What beautiful legs they have.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Russell, I guess I was lucky.