Monday, 26 May 2014

Sea, sun and skuas (24/05/2014)

You know the saying how time really flies? Well, it really does. I found it hard to believe that it has been two years since my last pelagic trip. Since it is now that time of the year when the sea-faring rarities are about, I found myself aboard the anchovy fishing boat and my companions for this time's maritime adventure were Choo Eng and Hor Kee. As usual, it is another dawn to dusk excursion as we follow the fishermen out to reap the rewards from the sea off Tanjung Dawai in Kedah. 

It was a bright and sunny day and when the boat casted the first net after a couple of hours’ "hunt", the birds came in from all directions and breakfast was served. The majority of the patrons today were Bridled Terns. Identification for this species is rather straightforward due to its brownish upperparts contrasting greatly with its whitish underparts.

The usually abundant Common Terns are greatly outnumbered this time of the year. However, some of them were sporting their beautiful breeding plumages and some were rather confiding, coming quite close to our boat. And I found it hard to resist taking a few shots.

Like angels floating around the boats, the Black-naped Terns are truly a sight for sore eyes. Graceful and beautiful, I do not think I will ever grow tired of this. 

The arrival of a lone juvenile Sooty Tern caused some excitement as it was a lifer for Hor Kee. In fact if it was not for our forays to sea in this fishing boat, most of the pelagic lifers would not have found their way into our life lists. 

The Short-tailed Shearwater certainly know how to make an entrance - skimming just above the water surface at great speeds. It is always good to see this pelagic species and today, three of them were present. 

I may be a novice when it comes to pelagic birding because after all, I have only done it a handful of times. But I am experienced enough to know that this incoming brownish seabird was something different. Something new. When it finally got close enough, we found ourselves staring at a Brown Noddy - a lifer for all of us!

It was a shame that the noddy did not stay around for long. I would have loved to be able to observe it with my binoculars but we only had time to photograph it a few times. That was its one and only appearance for the day. Anyway, just being able to record this rare off-shore resident alone was worth the trip. 

I have had the good fortune of recording all the 3 species of jaegers (or skuas as some prefer to call them. Honestly, I think both names are quite accepted and it really depends on which part of the world you come from) that occur in our waters in the past. The presence of two birds floating on the water still got my adrenalin pumping. I have yet to obtain any really good images of jaegers but these Parasitic Jaegers did not answer my prayers and flew off as our got within optimum shooting distance. 


Phil Slade said...

You got some fantastic pics there Choy, especially the terns in flight. In fact the Common Tern ones are as good as I've ever seen. Congrats on the lifer too- it's a good one.

John Holmes said...

Looks like you had a great day ! Congratulations on your "lifer" Brown Booby.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Phil and John. It was certainly an exciting and rewarding trip for the three of us.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

What a great pelagic trip! I love the shearwater and the noddy is sure the winner.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thank you, Ayuwat. We were very lucky indeed to see the noddy.

KC Chu said...

Wai Mun, nice one U have there :)
keep up the great jobs.

I'm still a newbie in birding, live& working in Penang isle.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, KC.

Welcome to the wonderful world of birding. You should consider joining the Malaysian Nature Society as they do organize birding trips and other nature related activities.