Thursday, October 16, 2008

15th October 2008, Tanjung Tokong

Full moon and a high high tide to push the birds up onto the sandbar today. I messed up by arriving about an hour too late, and as a consequence some of the birds were already on the spit. Putting my hide up late meant that the godwits and Great Knots pushed off elsewhere, but the other birds soon came back. The experience of being in the midst of a high tide wader roost takes some beating!

An early view from the hide.

Later the birds surrounded the hide on three sides!

Room for one more? A late-arriving Greater Sand Plover finds seafront property at a premium!

A lone Whimbrel towers over the crowd.

The sun was more or less right overhead, creating harsh lighting conditions and searing heat. The birds kept lifting alternate feet off the sand as it was obviously too hot for prolonged contact. This Pacific Golden Plover and Lesser Sand Plover found a novel solution!

Another Pacific Goldie braved the sand.

And kept a gracefully eye-lashed eye out for the marauding crows overhead.

Lesser Sand Plovers were the commonest and often closest waders, but I resisted taking many pics of them, having taken so many in recent weeks.Couldn't resist this 1st winter though!

The Greater Sand Plover in the foreground looks positively hulking compared the the Lesser behind.

They're not too difficult when you see them like this!

I've not yet been able to get a satisfying pic of a Terek Sandpiper, but this is getting closer!

Sunbathers! Something made me peek out of the side window of my hide, and I was astonished to see this pair of Smooth Otters just 6 metres away, rolling in the sand!

These pics were taken with my point and shoot camera on 3x zoom!

And this one with my lens pulled back to 100mm - that's why I prefer the zoom over the prime lens!

The pair stayed for about 5 minutes or more, rolling around in the sand. The waders seemed completely unperturbed.

Enjoying the sun! Smooth Otters are one of the larger otter species, being the length of a moderately-sized dog.

Time to go!

I took a short video. Excuse the handshake, I was at a rather uncomfortable angle!

Back to the waders! It was difficult to judge leg length on the stints today. Being on hot sand, the birds seemed to hold their feathers compressed tight to the body, which had the effect of accentuating leg length. It also made all the birds seem similarly slim, rendering body shape of little use to distinguish Little Stints. There are 2 Little Stints in this pic, one on the extreme left, facing right, and the other on the extreme right, facing left. The fine-tipped bill, smaller head, more upright stance, longer tibia length and overall browner upperparts on these individuals helped them stand out, but they weren't easy.

The left hand bird here is the left hand Little Stint of the previous photo. This bird did actually look little - smaller than the Red-neckeds around it.

A handy comparison of leg length with the Red-necked on the right.

This pic gives a good view of the fine-tipped bill structure.

The single old breeding feather on the right side of the mantle enabled me to be pretty sure that this was the same individual that I photographed here on 7th October - compare with this pic taken on that day.

I was pleased to have the identity of this not-so-straightforward individual confirmed when it stretched its wing, revealing three or four chestnut-fringed lesser coverts, diagnostic of Little.

This is the right hand bird in the picture of 2 Little Stints above. Quite similar to the first one, but with a row of pale-tipped, grey upper scapulars.

The third Little Stint of the day was such a classic long-legged bird that it stood out a mile! It also had very distinctive pale-edged scapulars, creating a scaly appearance.

Head-on, the leg length difference is striking!

Seen alongside a Red-necked (left) it is apparent that the Little Stint is actually smaller.

So, a pair of Smooth Otters, 3 Little Stints, and the icing on the cake was when two White-faced Plovers re-appeared after an absence of over a week!

First, the juvenile...

...then the adult male stepped forward to have their pictures taken!

This was certainly the closest I've ever been to one of these birds - a shame the light was so direct - but it would be churlish to complain after such a fantastic experience!


kjpweb said...

Excellent - as always! Enjoyed the otters, too!
Cheers, Klaus

John Holmes said...

And otters on the beach - fab !

John Holmes, HK

Jason Bugay Reyes said...

i like the otters and white-faced plover dave !

Unknown said...

WOW...Staying in a hide with birds coming this close should have been an awesome experience. The otters are sure a bonus for the time spent in the hide.

Beautiful pictures as well