Thursday, May 22, 2008

22nd May 2008: Bukit Panchor and Pulau Burung, Penang state

Bukit Panchor State Park is the only site in Penang where Giant Pitta has been recorded, though there have been no records for a few years now. The park is quite well maintained, and is well-known for its several bat-caves.

On my visit this morning, I didn't manage a single bird photograph! It was drenchingly humid, and the birds weren't co-operating. Here are some other bits and pieces I did manage to snap.

The first was this dragonfly, along a forest trail on a small ridge, far away from any water source. It was very faithful to the same spot. I can't find anything that looks like this in my dragonfly books, so perhaps someone can help me out here. [This is a female Lyriothemis biappendiculata. Thanks to Ian Choong for the id]

Something else I need help with is the identification of this flying lizard, perfectly camouflaged against the tree.

A couple I did manage to identify! This one is Devadatta argyoides - a rather reclusive creature that was perched near a small waterfall.

This one is pretty common, or should I say pretty and common! Heliocypha biforata. A couple of males were battling it out head to head in the same area as the Devadatta.

A pair of Banded Yeoman (or Yeomen?)- Cirrochroa orissa.

Having exhausted myself and the possibilities at Bukit Panchor, I drove the relatively short distance to Pulau Burung. On the way I went past some of my favourite local place names: a couple of cul de sacs named Taman Camar Jaya ('Successful Seagull Park' or 'Successful Glutton Park', depending on your preference), and Taman Penting ('Important Park'), and a small town called 'Badak Mati' ('Dead Rhinoceros'). Some day perhaps I will have an address like that - 47 Successful Seagull Park, Dead Rhinoceros, Penang! Mind you, perhaps we shouldn't try to translate local terms - 'cul de sac' doesn't come out too well in English either!

This is what Pulau Burung (Site B) looks like now. It's gradually drying out, and is evidently rich in invertebrate life, if the numbers of Whiskered Terns are anything to go by.

There were at least 200 birds present in a variety of plumages.

The end of May seems late for such a large number of these terns to still be around, but most were not in full breeding plumage, so perhaps these are first year birds. Robson notes that Whiskered Terns have been seen in summer in southern Thailand.

Coming in to land...

Getting rid of some pesky cobwebs!

Keeping an eye on the sky!

And with good reason! This subadult White-bellied Sea Eagle drops in to see if there's any food to be had.

Uh-oh! Stilts at 9 o'clock! This might not be as easy as I thought!

Surrounded! Time to beat a hasty retreat.

A White-breasted Waterhen warily emerges.

And one of the stilts returns from seeing off the eagle. She looks in need of a wash - perhaps soiled from sitting on her nest?

A small group of Oriental Pratincoles are feeding on the road. This one has found a small yellow grub.

This one looks like it's wearing false eyelashes and mascara, not forgetting the lipstick!

Here's a close-up of the head, showing the distinctive nostril shape. There's an interesting write-up of the difference between this species and Collared Pratincole (as well as some stunning pictures!) here

Here's a second bird. The yellow leg colouration seems to be mud. I saw some similarly attired Red-necked Stints at Kapar last month.

Finally, near home, I managed to grab a couple of shots of the hybrid Crested x Common Myna. It's paired with a Common Myna, and has been around for at least the last five years. For more pictures of this bird, see here (scroll down to Sept 9th).

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