I do not fancy birding where there are lots of people. I prefer the onslaught of leeches and ticks than the stares and ridicule of those who cannot come to terms why a fellow human being can be into birding. Anyway, when another juvenile Malayan Night-heron decided to spend its winter in a landscaped garden at the Penang Botanic Gardens for the second consecutive year, no amount of human irritation could have kept me away. This was not a regular birding excursion. It was a quick visit to this popular tourist destination specifically for this uncommon migrant. Today is New Year’s Eve and as expected, the road leading into the gardens was congested. I took my faithful iron steed and that saved me the frustration of getting stuck in traffic. Unlike last year, it took me, James and Kevin (whom I bumped into at the locality) quite a while to find the bird. I had to admit that at one point during our search, the thought of dipping out on this one as well did creep in. But all ill feelings evaporated when we caught sight of the heron strolled out of hiding and positioned itself underneath a dense clump of bamboo.
The bird showed very little fear of man – just like the one last season. Gradually, it started to hunt and we just made ourselves comfortable and waited for the heron to present better photographic opportunities. In which it did – much to our delight.
This particular spot in the gardens could be a regular wintering location for this heron. I do not spend much time here. I have stated the reason at the starting of the post. Through the years, there may have been others before the discovery of the first one last year. The environment is ideal and food is definitely abundant judging by the rate of the heron’s successful acquisition of prey. Well whatever the reason, I feel blessed that this island home of mine, despite all the destruction to its natural habitat, is still able to provide sanctuary to intriguing birds like the Malayan Night-Heron.
I thought that by now I would be used the sight of a Malayan Night-heron foraging on an open lawn. Last year, I made several short trips here to spend time with the first juvenile. But no. It is still exciting to see it up close and personal. This year has been a roller coaster ride in terms of birding. There are just as many ups as there are downs. But I am glad to able to end the year on a high note and it is courtesy of this confiding Malayan Night-heron.
I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all my followers and readers.