Tuesday, March 25, 2008

24th March, 2008: Pulau Burung Landfill site

Today I made another visit to the landfill site to try to get better pictures of the stints. Unfortunately I arrived rather late, so the birds had arrived before me, and it proved difficult to get close to the bulk of the birds.

Most migrants seemed to have gone anyway, and the number and variety of birds is well down. I estimated totals of:

Redshank 350
Marsh Sandpiper 100
Greenshank 2
Wood Sandpiper 40
Common Sandpiper 2
Curlew Sandpiper 25
Red-necked Stint 2
Little Stint 2
Pacific Golden Plover 1
Greater Sand Plover 2

The resident birds appear to be either breeding or preparing to do so. I found this Greater Painted-Snipe nest with four eggs,*

The Red-wattled Lapwings anxiously saw me off whenever I got too close to their nest or young, which I made no effort to find, and I observed three pairs of stilts copulating.

A romantic couple! After copulation, the pair crossed bills and then walked side by side before parting. Rather graceful and romantic I thought! It's worth clicking on this image to see the large version!

Throughout the mating ritual the birds' eyes were blazing red. I thought at first the irides changed colour, but I think the effect was caused by the dilation of the pupils.

I was trying to think what other bird species has fluorescent pink legs! Looking at the bill shape of this bird, perhaps I should take back what I said about the possible difference in shape between Black-winged and White-headed Stilts. This seems as long as as upturned as the White-headed I photographed in Sydney.

It seems amazing that this water contains anything edible, yet clearly the birds are thriving. This prey looks like a larva of some kind.

One more stilt incoming!

Redshanks were the most numerous wader, but also the most difficult to get close to. Only this one obliged, and I was amazed to see how rufescent the wing coverts were. Not sure what race this is. That's a Marsh Sandpiper on the left, of which more anon. EDIT: According to Bill Hale, this is the race 'craggi', one of the first ever photographs of this race in the field apparently!

A nice flight comparison between Redshank (below) and Common Greenshank

In contrast to both Redshank and Greenshank, the white on the rump of Wood Sandpipers doesn't go up the back.

A pair of Paddyfield Pipits were clearly nesting nearby, and kept a watchful eye on me.

A Marsh Sandpiper in breeding plumage arriving.

With a thunderstorm approaching, numbers of Marsh Sandpipers started dropping in in front of my hide. I was torn between staying to photograph the birds in exquisite lighting, and making a dash to the car before the heavens opened.

Time for a few more!

As the storm approaches, the wind picks up, ruffling feathers.

Definitely time to go! I made it back to the car just as the first drops hit the windscreen - perfect timing!

* I normally wouldn't publish details of an active nest, but since this is on private property I feel it's safe to do so.

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