Sunday, September 21, 2008

19th September 2008: Tanjung Tokong, Penang, Part 1: Whimbrels

The tide was perfect for photographing waders this afternoon, and as a result I took just under a thousand pics. Yikes! I think the best way to approach putting the best ones here is to split it into a few posts.

This first one will be dedicated to the antics of a Whimbrel.

This adult flew in on the rising tide and began to very gently probe crab holes.

It inserted its bill incredibly slowly and carefully...

... just like a heron stalking a fish.

Here's the moment when, with a swift jerk of the head, it seized the crab.

Et voila!

You can see this sequence animated here.

As I've seen Common Sandpiper do in similar fashion, the Whimbrel then spent some time shaking most of the legs off the unfortunate crab...

... till there were only a couple left.

I suppose swallowing a live crab legs and all might cause a bit of indigestion!

After dinner it was a short walk to the nearest watering hole...

A quick drink to chase the crab down. Waders almost always do this after swallowing large prey.

And then time for a wash and brush-up.

The arrival of two fresh juveniles in the adult's feeding territory provoked this odd threat display. To me this pose looked rather passive, but it was to lead to something much more aggressive.

New kid on the block - beautiful fresh juvenile feathers - but not very streetwise!

The adult spread its tail and rump feathers and began to utter a bubbling, curlew-like call.

It then slowly got to its feet, flashing its rump and tail toward the further of the two birds, still calling.

Picking up speed, taking a line diagonally past the intruder, it suddenly spread its wings and tail, tilting toward the juvenile to maximize the effect of the pale rump flash.

This proved too much for the juvenile, and it flew off. Even this Red-necked Stint had to jump out of the way!

It then turned its attention to the nearer bird, still calling and fluffing out its rump feathers.

The juv decides its time to leave!

This fella isn't messing around!

A final shake of victory!

The last I saw of the juveniles.


Anonymous said...

Most excellent! You provide a real sense for these birds and their behaviour!
Cheers, Klaus

digdeep said...

Thanks for your kind comments Klaus!