Saturday, April 05, 2008
3rd April, 2008 (Part 3): Kuala Muda and Taman Robina, mainland Penang
From Pasir Debu I went north again to the mouth of the River Muda, on the border between Penang and Kedah. Kuala Muda has a small inshore fishing fleet. Fresh from my pelagic trip, I went in the wild hope that perhaps a Pomarine Skua might follow one of the boats into the harbour.
Salted fish drying in the sun.
Kuala Muda has one of the few sandy beaches on the west coast of the mainland, even though it's only small!
I sat in the shade of a small bush and began scanning the sea.
First to appear was a small group of Common Terns.
They were interested in the dead and dying fish thrown away by the fishermen.
This one looks rather large!
I'm not sure I could do that!
Ouch! That's got to be painful! You can still see the tip of the fish's tail sticking out of the side of the bill.
This bird had a deformed and discoloured lower mandible.
Amazingly, so did this one! Two out of six birds.
While this one seems to have had the outer three primaries on the left wing bitten off!
Not far offshore I could see a flock of around 20 Brown-headed Gulls, the highest number I've ever seen in Malaysia, but none seemed interested in coming to feed on the plentiful fish supply. However, ...
...this Black-headed Gull suddenly appeared, flying along the beach! I never thought I'd get excited about seeing a Black-headed Gull, but they are really quite rare here!
This is a first summer bird. The wing and tail feathers are unmoulted since last breeding season, when it hatched, so are extremely worn. The tail should have a black terminal band, but this has almost completely worn off. Most of the wing coverts, primaries and secondaries are also in a terrible state.
Eventually the bird decided to land, enabling me to get some 'gripping' shots! Not really a substitute for a Pom Skua, but it would have to do.
While waiting for the seabirds to show up, I was entertained by this handsome summer plumage Common Sandpiper.
I have a lot of time for this maverick species; there so different from other waders!
The breeding plumage is a rather attractive khaki olive above, slightly iridescent, like shot silk.
They have a unique wing and tail pattern.
On landing, the entire scapulars lift up, a bit like a cape.
Then the brakes come one, to bring the bird to a halt.
One final call on my way home, at Taman Robina, just south of Bagan Belat. There at last I found reasonable numbers of waders - about 400 Whimbrel, 3 Far Eastern Curlews and a similar number of Eurasian Curlews. Also, another flock of Brown-headed Gulls - this time around 25! So, about 50 gulls of 2 species in the day - an unprecedented number for me.