A third trip to the marshlands of Pulau Burung for the Garganey was inevitable when the Selangor birders reported not one but two of them a few days back. If that is not a strong enough reason, they also reported a Pectoral Sandpiper – a wader that is high on my wanted list since it was first recorded in Malaysia back in 2007 at this exact location. It was a beautiful morning when I arrived at the site and the resident Black-winged Stilts, which have been avoiding the marshlands lately, are back to grace the area with their poise and beauty.
Once I set my priorities straight, I went after the Pectoral Sandpiper first and stationed myself at the “Little Stint Corner”. The stints have been showing themselves quite well to most birder and today was no different. However, they remained at a distance throughout my time there.
While waiting for my would-be lifer to show, I took a few images of the commoner waders like this Common Sandpiper to ease the tension and to help pass the time.
A Little Ringed Plover admiring its reflection on the water and so did I.
There was also a couple of Yellow Wagtails foraging around but unfortunately, there were no signs of the much rarer White Wagtail that was recorded by others including the Selangor birders.
When I finally came to terms that I will not be having a lifer here, I decided to try my luck with the Garganeys. Unlike my previous attempts, I had lady luck on my side this time and managed to pick out two slightly different looking ducks from the regular Lesser Whistling-ducks. Initially, the Garganeys were paddling near the center of the marshlands. I then decided to adopt the sit-and-wait approach and hope for the best. Much to my delight, I managed to gain their trust and they gradually wandered much closer to the water’s edge. So finally, after seven long years since my first sighting, I have been given the opportunity to capture the images of these scarce migrants.
It is often difficult to separate the eclipse male, female and juvenile from each other and the two of them looked quite similar to me at first. Upon further scrutiny, I found one of them showing a darker face region and undertail as well as with a darker and more diffused breast pattern. Since it is also the one that usually follows the other paler duck, I can only assume that it is the eclipse male identified by Dave when he first discovered the duck. As I do not have enough field experience on the species to come to a conclusion, I decided to leave things as they are and just enjoy the moment. And it is moments like this that will be reflected upon for a lifetime.
One thing I did notice during my observation is that when they yawn or open their bills; it looked like they were laughing and I can’t help but to smile back. This short visit turned out to be quite rewarding in the end despite the earlier disappointments.