Saturday, April 12, 2008
8th April 2008: Kapar Power Station Ash Ponds, Selangor (Part 2)
When the bulk of birds arrived, there was a good number of Great and Red Knots, in contrast to yesterday, when I didn't see many. Most of the Great Knot were dull 1st year birds, suggesting that the main northward passage of breeders had finished. Some of the Red Knot however were in stunning breeding dress, so perhaps they migrate slightly later.
This male Red Knot shows exactly why it is so named!
One of the few Great Knot in breeding plumage.
The predominance of chestnuts, oranges and reds in waders' breeding plumage mirrors the rich colours of the tundra habitats where they will breed. Each shade is subtly different - compare the dark red wine-coloured Curlew sandpiper (left) with the more vivid Red Knot (right) and the orange of the Greater Sand Plovers. Can you spot the Sanderling again?
This Curlew Sandpiper is my tribute to the Swedish master, Lars Jonsson. One common criticism of his paintings is that he draws birds too fat. Well, here's evidence that they really can look like footballs, and this one isn't even cold!
In amongst the Red-necked Stints was this nice Little Stint - with classic rotund body, small head and fine-tipped bill.
Since I couldn't see the left side of this bird, it was difficult to be sure if this was the same bird as yesterday's, though the split supercilium looked fainter, suggesting it was a different individual. There are some nice chestnut fringed coverts on the right side of this bird.
Not one but two Sanderlings today! Something about them reminds me of Nordmann's Greenshank in miniature!
The ghostly winter plumage certainly makes them easy to pick out against the darker Broad-billed and Curlew Sandpipers.
Anyone who says waders are dull obviously hasn't seen a male Bar-tailed Godwit in full summer plumage!
The closest of all the waders to my hide were the Whimbrels.
While the furthest were the Eurasian Curlew, which had their own exclusive club with the Gull-billed Terns (and a Grey Heron as the doorman!).
The light continued to deteriorate, and, together with rumblings of thunder, rain began to fall. Fortunately my hide is waterproof!
The first few drops settled on the bird's backs.
Having a good shake to get dry!
A Great Knot getting wetter!
Those raindrops look big if you're a Red-necked Stint!
A Common and Nordmann's Greenshank tough it out.
Brightening up again.
What's going on here then? A black necklace above the breastband is supposed to be a feature of Lesser Sand Plover in some races, but not Greater. Yet this is clearly a Greater. These birds really should read the field guides more carefully!
This summer plumaged Grey Plover cuts a fine figure among his drabber companions.
A smart Common Greenshank in breeding dress. Note the many bars and small white notches on the tertials and greater coverts, quite different from the pattern of Nordmann's in summer plumage.
An Asian Dowitcher keeps company with a couple of Common Redshanks and a Common Greenshank
The dowitcher showing its prehensile bill tip. It uses this to feel for prey beneath the mud.
An odd couple! There's quite a contrast between the structure of the Marsh Sandpiper in front and the dowitcher.
Two Asian Dowitchers with a Common Redshank.
By now dusk was gathering and the light was fast fading. I had had a fantastic day, but my one slight regret was that the Nordmann's Greenshanks had stayed well out in the deeper water. If only one would come in a bit closer. And then...
It's always worth asking!
Having a bit of trouble with a pesky mosquito! At least it wasn't sitting on an ants' nest!
Because of the light, I was down to shooting at 1/50th of a second. This turned the drops from the preening godwit's bill into a halo for the Nordmann's.
As it was practically dark I decided to call it a day at this point. I was still slapping persistent ants off my body hours later, even after a shower! But I wasn't complaining. What an awesome two days of wader watching!