Monday, 1 October 2012

Finally, some birding time...(29/09/2012)

I have not been out on the field for about a month now and when I finally found myself with some time to spare, I was at the marshland of Pulau Burung, Penang just after the break of dawn. With the migratory season coming into full swing, the timing could not have been any better. This first rarity of the season has been recorded by Madi in the eastern state of Trengganu. It was a Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo and a probable second record for Malaysia. With that in mind, I started scanning the marshlands full of optimism and anxiety. However, the level of bird activity was well below par but the flocks of resting Lesser Whistling-ducks did keep my spirit up and provided quite a few lovely images.

The migrants have certainly arrived but not quite in their usual numbers yet. There was nothing suspicious about this lone Yellow Wagtail because it was, after all, only a Yellow Wagtail. I have been without a lifer for many months now and I guess it is kind of getting to me.

A dark raptor perched on a distant dead tree provided a much needed boost of excitement to this morning’s excursion. However once the distant between me and my quarry was reduced, it turned out to be only a dark-morph Changeable Hawk-eagle. Since it totally ignored the presence of my car, I decided to capture a few images as best as I could in the harsh lighting conditions at the time. 

Nevertheless, it was a Changeable Hawk-eagle and once the twitcher in me was no longer in the driver’s seat, I took the time to observe and admire this powerful raptor from such a close range.

My next destination was another marshland habitat – Batu Kawan. Much to my dismay, a thorough search did produce anything extraordinary or exciting. But at the adjacent mudflats, I bumped into a wader species that I have longed to photograph but was never given any good opportunities. Well, not until today that is. Even from a distance the sheer size of the Eurasian Curlew made it stood out from the rest and I have not even come to the fact about its wickedly long bill. Distant record shots are not what my heart truly desired and so, I slowly reduced the distance between us by using my car as a mobile hide. Lady luck was certainly on my side today as I managed to get into a position that was within the reach of my gear. It may not be rare but I had to wait all these years to finally obtain some reasonable images of the impressive wader.

Unfortunately, it was slightly perturbed by my presence and gradually made its way further onto the mudflats. It found some sanctuary in the company of another large wader, the Whimbrel and the two of them resting so close to each provided me with an opportunity to capture a comparison shot.

My final destination of the day was the scrublands at Juru. Nothing much here as well except for a Brown Shrike giving me the evil eye for driving too close to her vantage point.

The resident Crested Serpent-eagles of Juru are so accustomed to human presence that I think they are probably the friendliest eagles I have ever encountered before. For them, it is not a matter of whether you can get close enough but whether the perch and lighting is optimum.


digdeep said...

Wah - you made it into the field! A rare sight! I am even more of a rarity in the field these days!

Phil said...

A great selection of birds there. Interesting to compare your Yellow Wagtail with our own and of course hard to understand how you see so few Curlews when I can go out and see several hundred together. Nice comparison sgot with the Whimbrel too.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Dave, you better start to get yourself out there - the vagrants are waiting.

Thanks, Phil. The Curlew does occur in big numbers in other states but not in my home state of Penang.