An invitation from Dave to meet up for some birding at Chuping in Perlis was a little too good to pass despite the fact that I had to leave early for home in the afternoon. The trip certainly did not start off well for me as traffic came to a total standstill along the
Highway just after Sungai Petani. A lorry
transporting concrete beams spilled its load all over the highway. It took more
than an hour to clear up the mess and I was at my boiling point limit by then.
I know that I am not very patient on the road and I guess that is something I
need to work on. A new resolution, perhaps?
Anyway, I reached my destination later than planned and quickly made my way to the ponds where Dave was enjoying a Pheasant-tailed Jacana. Lucky for me, the jacana was still around at that time doing what it was born to do - foraging on floating vegetation. It was partly hidden but with a little patience (which is never an issue when birding), I managed to obtain a few reasonable shots.
There were a few Yellow Bitterns foraging in the same area as well. I had my sight set on one of them but it adopted its defensive posture when I got too close. It was quite confident with this strategy and I was allowed to practically walked till the water's edge. You can't see me...you can't see me...
A Little Cormorant unknowingly alighted near our stationery vehicles to take a breather from the morning hunt. Being the shy creature that it is, the sound of our camera shutter immediately sent it flying to the far side of the pond.
It was certainly a bright and beautiful day and the lighting condition was near perfect when we came across this small flock of Cotton Pygmy-geese foraging in one of the ponds.
Although the flock consisted of youngsters, it was still an exciting experience as this species is not that common. It is absent from my home state of
Penang and I do not have many photographic opportunities
The lone male of the flock was not in his prime yet but he was a handsome bird nevertheless. Inevitably, I paid more attention to him than his slightly drabber companions.
The lighting was even good enough for my modest setup to capture some swiftlets in flight. Well, maybe not some but one image was quite acceptable by my standards. It was a Germain’s Swiftlet, I think…
A Manchurian Reed-warbler had our undivided attention for quite a period of time. Unfortunately, it lived up to its reputation of being one of the most skulking Reed-warblers known to men and only gave the faintest of glimpses as it moved about the reeds. The Oriental Reed-warbler again proved that not all Reed-warblers are such a pain in the posterior and posed long enough for its image to be taken.
It was dry and dusty along the network of trails that cuts through the grasslands. And we have had better days in terms of birding. We did not really try to locate the Brahminy Starling but it was not at its usual haunt. This Asian Pied Starling, on the other hand, was being its usual conspicuous self.
We spent some time flogging the grasslands for rare passerines. The Oriental Skylark continues to elude my life list. Only the common Oriental Pipits were recorded today despite a few exciting moments for would-be Richard's and
Blyth's Pipits. Richard, is that you? Dream on,
As for the raptors, only the usual suspects were present today. I only got round to shooting this female Common Kestrel which glided above us at the noon hour.
The army was conducting training at one end of the grassland and we made sure we avoided that section. A military plane flying low over the vicinity momentarily diverted our attention from the birds. And all of a sudden, the sky was filled with paratroopers. It was raining men at Chuping. This place is just full of surprises. Although it is non bird-related, it was still a first for me. Yes, this is the first time I have seen a parachute in real life. And judging from the crowd that started to form along the side of the main road, I am not the only one.
I still had a bit of time left after lunch and Dave managed to convince me to try for the Dusky Craig Martins at the limestone hills of nearby Bukit Jernih. This martin is the last swallow species missing from my Malaysian life list and after thorough search my life list remains as it is.
I would to take this opportunity to wish all those celebrating the Lunar New Year, GONG XI FA CHAI!