Monday, 7 January 2013

Spontaneous Saturday Birding (05/01/2013)

I found myself with a couple of hours to spare last Saturday afternoon and a quick check online of the tidal forecast revealed that it was a good time for waders. So, off I went to the nearest coastal mudflats to my home which is alongside the coastal road on the southeastern side of Penang Island now known as the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway. I soon found myself a spot slightly hidden by vegetation and not too far from the water's edge. As the tide was still moderately low at that time, I made myself comfortable and waited for the rising tide to push waders closer. There were also a few egrets present at the location as well - Great and Little Egrets to be more precise. 

After about half an hour, the waders started to move in closer. Only a handful of species were present and the one that caught my immediate attention were the Whimbrels. 

Three of them were present within the vicinity but one was extremely aggressive and chased away the others whenever they wandered close. But the aggressor was quite accommodating to my presence and this was the closest I have been with this beautiful but shy wader. 

In the absence of any other more notable species, I devoted most of the time to the Whimbrels. It is not easy to gain their trust. In fact, most waders that I know of are rather difficult to approach. Sadly in Penang, there are hardly any birding sites now where you can have easy access to waders. And wader watching is something that I relish. Anyway, the blue waters of the sea provided a soothing effect to some of the images taken today. 

The Whimbrel, despite its size advantage, was rather tolerant towards the flocks of Common Redshanks. There was the occasional barging-through-the-center-of-the-flock incident but other than that, they seemed to get along pretty well. 

The Common Redshanks formed the majority of the waders present here today and numbered about eighty individuals. Like the Whimbrel, this species is also usually quite wary of human presence and is easily spooked. Lucky for me, they were quite adamant of making this a memorable afternoon by the beach for me. 

Some of them were really making themselves comfortable just beyond the tide's reach. 

With the sun really scorching down on the mudflats, bathing is certainly one way to keep cool. As for me, the spot that I have chosen was in the shade and that itself, was a luxury one rarely gets to enjoy during a wader watch. In fact, it would have been perfect if I did not have to endure the onslaught of mosquitoes. Funny thing though that after a while it seemed like the bloodsuckers have left me alone. Maybe they have had their fill or I have just gone numb from the constant biting. 

When the tide finally came up all the way, the waders were forced to take flight and roost among the nearby mangroves. So, a spontaneous excursion turned out to be quite enjoyable in the end. Despite the ever encroaching blocks of luxury condominiums and bungalows, this degrading local patch still has some (bird) life left in it to keep a local birder happy.


holdingmoments said...

Fantastic shots.
Whimbrels are a bird I seldom see here; usually I see their cousins Curlews.
Both beautiful birds.

Choy Wai Mun said...

It's quite the opposite here in Penang and Whimbrels are the commoner of the two.

John said...

Nice to see that there are still a few birds about, despite man's incursions !

deep_end said...

I'm so glad I came back to your blog since December 2012 .. Your Whimbrel reminds me of those guys I saw at Singapore's Sungai Buloh Mangroves.

And the best news from your latest post is the hopeful turnaround of Pulau Burung .. that left me grinning !

Thank you!