Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Sometimes things do go according to plan (18/03/2014)

While guiding a couple of nice folks from Singapore last Saturday, I flushed what can only be a Eurasian Woodcock at one of the access trails at Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest in Kedah. The Woodcock being a mega rarity, meant that there was no way I could submit a sighting report based on a 5-second observation. So, I lamented the incident to my mates and Dave, in turn, had a go at trying to relocate the woodcock two days later. Unfortunately, there were no signs of the bird but on the way back to Penang, he made a spontaneous stop at a patch of wetlands within the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah. And there, he found his third Green Sandpiper of the season.  

There have only been a handful of confirmed sightings of this rare wader in Malaysia prior to this season and with the locality not even an hour’s drive from home, it was only a matter of time before I find myself stalking a Green Sandpiper at the break of dawn. With Dave’s detailed description of the location of the wetlands and the sandpiper, I had very little difficulty in finding both. In fact, the sandpiper was snoozing at one the possible spots indicated in Dave’s description. Thanks, Dave!

As the day got brighter, it decided it was time to start foraging and started moving about. However, it was rather wary of my presence and it took some time for it to finally get used to me. Using my car as a hide, I made myself comfortable and just enjoy the moment. Against a backdrop of factories this is not where one would consider an idyllic setting but to me, it is always about the birds. Always have and always will be.

Eventually, the sandpiper did wander and forage quite close to my position but the access road is elevated from the wetlands below. So, the closer it got, the steeper the angle of my photos became. Nevertheless, it was a fine performance that earned my up most appreciation.

Showing off its signature dark underwing. One of the distinguishing features between the Green Sandpiper and the much commoner Wood Sandpiper.

There are a few Wood Sandpipers about as well and one of them was foraging quite close to the celebrity bird. On a few occasions, I managed to capture both species together in a single frame and a direct comparison showed that they are not that similar after all.

There are quite a number of other waterbirds present today but the species that struck my fancy the most was the Greater Painted-snipe. Elusive and crepuscular in nature, these unique waders are a welcome find anytime. As least three of them were seen but the distance prevented me from obtaining any really good shots.

Long-tailed Shrikes are much commoner south and here in the northern end of the peninsular, it can be considered rare. I have always found this species to be notoriously skittish and you can imagine my joy when this individual allowed me to take a few shots from a reasonable distance before it glided away. The shrike provided a fitting finale to a short but memorable excursion. 


Phil Slade said...

Now i'm really jealous as you may know how difficult it is to photograph a Green Sandpiper in these parts. Now you go and get a Wood Sand in the same frame!

Nice work and bad luck about the Woodcock.

Choy Wai Mun said...

I am under the impression the Green Sandpiper is relatively common over there. Thanks, Phil.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Congrats on the Green Sandpiper. I still haven't seen one in full breeding plumage like that around here. Probably your bird is ready to migrate up north very soon.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Ayuwat.

John Holmes said...

Pity about the Woodcock... I remember a birding friend here stumbling over one and describing it as "the wader of the woods"...

Always useful to see Green and Wood Sands in the same frame... quite different but often confused.

digdeep said...

Nice shots Mun - glad this one stayed!

Choy Wai Mun said...

Well, there's always next time, John (I hope) for the woodcock.

Thanks, Dave! I owe you one.