I took the opportunity to arrange a visit to Kapar Power Station (thanks Swee Seng!) since I was in the area.
The high tide was before dawn, so I didn't have a lot of time to count birds before they started to head for the mudflats. Nevertheless, the roost on the ashponds was a truly astounding experience, and made our few thousand birds up in Penang seem quite paltry by comparison!
The light wasn't good for photography, and in any case, how do you convey the spectacle of twenty thousand birds in photographs?! This video, though not great quality, gives an idea of the sights and sounds. The flock in flight are curlews, having been spooked by a marauding Brahminy Kite. The birds in the water are mainly Bar-tailed Godwits, Great Knot and Whimbrel.
To take a panoramic shot of this entire flock on the ground took me 30 frames! Here's just one.
I estimated that there were about 14,000 birds at this end of the ash ponds. They were mainly the larger waders - curlews, Bar-tailed Godwits, Great Knots, Whimbrels and 'shanks'.
At the other end of the ponds was another large roost - around 6,000 or more birds - mainly the smaller species - sand plovers, Curlew Sandpipers and stints.
Here is my full count:
Grey Heron 4
Purple Heron 2
Little Egret 10
Great Egret 4
Intermediate Egret 1
Grey Plover 14
Pacific Golden Plover 1
Lesser Sand Plover 4,850
Greater Sand Plover 150
Eurasian Curlew 6,400
Far Eastern Curlew 1
Black-tailed Godwit 30
Bar-tailed Godwit 2,180
Common Redshank 900
Marsh Sandpiper 300
Common Greenshank 500
Terek Sandpiper 50
Common Sandpiper 10
Asian Dowitcher 4
Great Knot 1,800
Red-necked Stint 1,650
Curlew Sandpiper 370
Broad-billed Sandpiper 10
White-winged Black Tern 40
Gull-billed Tern 100
Caspian Tern 20
Little Tern 20
An Asian Dowitcher flying with a flock of Black-tailed Godwits.
Grey Herons are rather uncommon in Penang, so it was nice to see many on the Selangor coast.
Three Gull-billed Terns fly over, showing their strangely proportioned heads
The waders were constantly harassed by several marauding Brahminy Kites.
After watching the last of the roosting waders leave for the mudlfats, I travelled north along the coast to this little fishing village.
A reflection and a shadow! This Whiskered Tern was part of a flock of marsh terns picking prey off the river surface.
White-winged Black Terns were less numerous.
This is what I was really waiting for though - and at last one dropped out of the sky - a Lesser Adjutant, perhaps more aptly named in Malay as 'Small Bald-headed Bird' though it's hardly small!
In fact, it dwarfs the Grey Herons when it finally lands on the river edge
A view over the mudflats at low tide. There are 20,000 waders out there somewhere! The 'boats' in the foreground are mudsleds, used by local folks at low tide for catching shellfish, and the next 'must-have' item for dedicated wader watchers everywhere I reckon!