December is an exciting month. It is a month full of celebrations and fun. With the school holidays and of course, Christmas and New Year, it does not get any better than this. Coincidentally, December has always been a great month for me – in terms of birding. In recent years, it has produced quite a number of outstanding birding experiences and a few lifers in between. A short visit to the paddy fields of Bandar PERDA in Penang this morning, unfortunately, yielded nothing out of the ordinary. A mixed group of waders foraging and resting on a slightly flooded patch was given their due attention – just in case. Towering above the rest of the group were the Grey-headed Lapwings.
The presence of a lone adult Imperial Eagle, the first record for the season, hopefully is a sign of better things to come in the following days. This majestic raptor was once considered a vagrant to Malaysia but in recent years, a few individuals have been wintering at this locality regularly. Although this morning’s encounter was only a distanced observation, I still took the time to enjoy the moment. I have learned not to take rare species for granted as you just do not know what the future may hold. For instance, there are no signs so far this season of the Asian Openbills - another rare visitor that has been wintering here in small numbers for the past 3 seasons. And I am afraid that last season’s encounter was my last with this enigmatic stork here. Their presence will be sorely missed and I can only hope that they have found a better wintering ground.