Just when I thought I have seen everything there is to see at Air Hitam Dalam, an image of a male Green-backed Flycatcher taken from this locality was posted on Facebook. I have seen this rare migrant only once at another locality a long time ago but with my digiscoping setup at that time, obtaining a photo was simply out of the question. And if that was not enough, a few birders starting posting images of a roosting Large-tailed Nightjar as well. Common as it may be, it is not easy to locate this nocturnal species in the daytime because its cryptic plumage blends perfectly into the surrounding environment.
Both James Neoh and Peng Seng were kind enough to share the location of the flycatcher and nightjar respectively. The first opportunity I had to try and obtain the photograph of both birds came on a beautiful Friday afternoon. I dipped out on the flycatcher despite much effort but the nightjar, which was the secondary target, performed well. Well enough to almost vanquish my earlier disappointment with the flycatcher.
Although the nightjar was confiding, it was roosting among clumps of Nipah Palms in the swamp with little choice of shooting angles. The harsh lighting at that time was also another hindrance. But it was a memorable experience and I made the best of out of the situation. So, thanks to the guys for their willingness to share. In fact I would to take this opportunity to thank again all those who had in the past, one way or the other, shared their sightings that which some had even ended up as lifers for me.
This goodwill gesture may seem like a natural thing to do but unfortunately for a small minority, it is not. I don't see the harm in sharing sightings, with the exception of sensitive nesting birds, and knowledge. To me, the wonders of birding are meant to be shared. It does not matter if birding is just a hobby or a profession. I do birding tours on my free time but I do not regard the birds as trade secrets and my fellow bird guides as adversaries. Then again, that is me. But I am truly grateful I am not the only one. Now, back to sharing what I encountered on this trip.
The migratory Black Kites are back in good numbers. Although they are known to scavenge among rubbish dumps in other countries, I have not witness this behaviour here in Malaysia. In fact, I find them to be quite elegant with their graceful flight and slender silhouette.
At the car park area later in the afternoon, there was a big convoy of cars that has just arrived. I guess it must be the MNS Selangor Branch Bird Group that were having a long trip up north and when familiar faces got out of the cars, my initial guess was right on the dot. This group had a good mix of experienced and new birders. And what better way to catch up with old friends and greet new ones than to share the top performers of this locality with them. As expected, both the Yellow-rumped and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher put on a great performance and the SBBG got to enjoy some warm Penang hospitality courtesy of my feathered friends.
To wrap up another great trip to this locality for me and the visiting birders was this Buffy Fish-owl that showed itself in the open long enough for everyone to have a good look. For some, this was their first owl sighting in the wild and the excitement on their faces said it all. Who could blame them? Heck, I have been birding for more than 20 years and this sighting still does it for me. I only hope that in the years to come, these new birders will also come to share and contribute towards a better birding community here in Malaysia and I have a good feeling they will.