Tuesday, February 17, 2009

17th February 2009: Sungai Burung, Penang

A quick hour and a half's excursion to the paddyfields in late afternoon brought SUCCESS in the form of two dark phase Booted Eagles. YES!

As soon as I arrived on site there were a number of raptors circling overhead, and the third one I checked turned out to be a Booted Eagle. It was however, gliding rapidly away from me, and I was torn between watching it and turning to get the camera set up. By the time I did the latter, the bird was getting ever more distant.

The light was terrible, etc, etc! Actually, the main problem was that the camera was still set up to photograph the Malaysian Night Heron, so the shutter speed was too slow. These pics do, however, show the difference in structure from a Brahminy Kite - the longer, straight-sided and square-cornered tail, the larger head and longer wings with straightish trailing edge. The birds were extremely dark below in the poor light, with only the vent and undertail showing any colour. Overhead, the bright yellow cere was quite evident, and the pale 'landing'lights', upper wing covert bar and uppertail coverts were visible when the birds briefly banked toward me.

After watching the first bird disappear into the distance, a second one surprised me by gliding past quite close. However, I had arrived just as the tractors had finished their work in the fields for the day, and, within minutes, the sky emptied itself of raptors. I'll try to go earlier next time!

A Peregrine zoomed in to have a go at some feral pigeons.

What a waste! The local farmers have put up mist nets - whether to catch birds for food or to protect their crops I am not sure, but either way, this Large-tailed Nightjar and a number of bats had met a senseless and needless end.

The farmers have also taken away the small trees along the bund which the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were so fond of. So now they perch on the bare earth...

...unless they can find something else to perch on - in this case a dead oil palm frond. Not a sharp pic - digiscoped at 60x, but I like the colours!


Jason Bugay Reyes said...

Dave, digiscoped at 60x !

That's sharp !!!

pandachris said...

Fascinating stuff and some stunning images. We're coming to Malaysia in a months time, for two weeks birding - almost on a whim. I'll be dropping in to check your updates frequently. Thanks.