After leaving Bagan Belat I did a quick tour of the rice paddies at Penaga. Apart from a few pond herons and Red-rumped Swallows, these were quite birdless.
A photogenic Scaly-breasted Munia
And, from the same fence, I got a scolding from a 'lucionensis' Brown Shrike.
From Penaga I drove north to an area of abandoned fish ponds at Pasir Debu. The area is surrounded by a high fence and a padlocked gate, but I was able to borrow the key from a nearby house.
When I last came here, the ponds were still being managed, and the empty pools were a magnet for waders. Now all the pools were full of water and getting rather overgrown. I was immediately struck by how few birds there were - fewer than I would expect at a place that is supposedly undisturbed. The few birds I did see were very wary.
Here is the probable reason! I found several holes in the fence, and more than one of these spent shotgun cartridges.
There were 8 or 9 Grey Herons, a couple of Purple Herons and some egrets in the mangroves behind the ponds - a possible heronry in the future? No sign of nests at the moment though.
A Dollarbird was making use of the lamp posts to hunt for insects
I flushed this Watercock from the edge of one of the ponds
Fish fry skitter out of the path of this Common Kingfisher, even though it was more interested in getting away from me!
When returning the key, I asked about the owner's plans for the ponds. Apparently he intends to start operating them again "soon". If there are any wealthy environmentalists out there, I think the place has great potential to be managed as a wetland reserve. Now if you'd like to make him an offer...!