It has been 3 months since my last solemn visit to the marshlands of Pulau Burung, Penang and today, I decided to go and see the extent of the damage caused by the upgrading works of the adjacent landfill. I discovered that about a third of the main pond is converted into landfill and I guess it is not as bad as I had initially expected. No doubt it will take time for the vegetation and bird life to recover but at least there is a chance for recovery. One thing I did notice is that they have paved a cemented trail along the edge of the pond and I think it is possibly for us birders. I mean, they can't seriously be expecting normal folks to have an evening stroll because it is a landfill here after all. The initiative is well noted but if you really want to make it up to us, just let the vegetation grow and allow us to continue driving alongside the ponds. And we will forever be in your debt.
Troops of Long-tailed Macaques are a regular sight along the mangroves. This morning, however, I came across a few Pig-tailed Macaques amongst them. I have trouble recalling if I have seen this species here before. I guess age must be catching up with me and monkeys being mammals, isn't exactly top priority in my system. Although it is greatly outnumbered by the Long-tailed Macaques, I don't think it has anything to fear from its much smaller cousins. Not when you are built like a tank.
With the birding today on a low gear, I paid a lot more attention to the wild mammals that were present instead. This female otter was a little more confiding as she enjoyed her time in the sun.
Things started to pick up when I missed photographing a hepatic female Himalayan Cuckoo (a recent split from the Oriental Cuckoo) which is a rather scarce migrant to Peninsular Malaysia. I was a little slow again to capture some shots of a flying Barn Owl that was being harassed by House Crows. Both the cuckoo and the owl are new records for this locality and despite all that has happened here, Pulau Burung still has some magic and fight left in her.
Seeing an Asian Dollarbird is nothing much to shout about as it is a relatively common species. However, coming across a pair that is perched a little lower than usual and with the light condition just about right is a different matter all together. This is when you can truly appreciate and capture the beauty of this bird. Only in this light, the brilliant bluish-green plumage shows its true splendour.
One of the birds was more confiding and allowed to me approach quite close. Unknowingly, it provided me with my best images of this species so far and helped turn this slow trip around. I personally still prefer its name - the Broad-billed Roller. The conspicuous red bill is probably one of the reasons why I was quite intrigued with this species when I just started birding.
While admiring the Dollarbird, a striking male Greater Flameback decided to alight and forage on the mangrove tree right in front of my stationery vehicle. Although he was quite active, I still managed to capture a few images before he moved deeper into the mangroves.
I went to check on Asian Openbills at Permatang Nibong, Penang and there was a substantial number resting on the trees at their usual haunt. A number of them were in flight - some making their way to join the others at the trees and some circling on the hot air thermals. On the whole, I counted about 80 storks all together and that is an all-time personal high.