Thursday, February 19, 2009

18th February 2009: Sungai Burung, Penang

We had our first rain for many weeks last night and it improved the air quality quite a bit. I decided to make another late afternoon foray to try to get better views of the Booted Eagles.

A lot of the subadult Brahminy Kites are in wing moult at the moment. This pic is a nice contrast to the Booted Eagle photos from yesterday - small head, rounded tail tip and convex trailing edge to the secondaries.

Something different... but not a Booted Eagle - a resident Changeable Hawk-Eagle - also a subadult.

White-bellied Sea-Eagles are always around, but I can never resist taking pictures of them, especially the heraldic adults.

Anyone looking for a logo?!

Another photogenic raptor - a Black-shouldered Kite in characteristic hovering pose. Though small, they harry the eagles fearlessly whenever they come too close - they must have a nest somewhere near.

But no Booted Eagles today!

Once the harvester had finished for the day I moved into position alongside a tiny remnant of uncut paddy and a rare oasis of water.


It was being used by three generations of White-browed Crakes, two Slaty-breasted Rails and some White-breasted Waterhens, though only the former were sufficiently bold to allow photographs.


This was definitely the youngest Crake!

Here it is with a slightly older sibling(?); the head and body feathers are growing but the wing and tail feathers are not yet fully developed.

Digiscoped can be seen here.


There were two older fully-fledged juveniles that must have been from a separate clutch.


One of these was missing two toes on the left foot - the latest in my series of birds with deformed limbs.


The other appeared to have an overgrown lower mandible. I couldn't help wondering whether these aberrations had anything to do with the pesticide-loaded environment in which they live.

Eventually one of the parents showed up, much to the excitement of one of the young birds.

Parent and youngster.

Yuk! Imagine taking a drink of this soup - we'd be lucky to survive!

And fancy having a bath in the stuff!

Getting good and clean!

Bathing in pesticide soup leads to inevitable spontaneous combustion!

But wait - perhaps there's something in this mudpack beauty treatment stuff!

Ta-DA! How do they do that? They bathe in filth and come out glistening.

Today I found out why crows are black... so they can hide in fields of burnt stubble!

I caught a small group of Large-billed Crows feeding in a newly hoed field in the last rays of the sun. Usually these birds are incredibly difficult to approach, but they tolerated me today, and I got my best pics yet of these birds.

Giving me the eye!

This spot has a pair of Asian Pied Starlings nesting, but all I could find was this Asian piebald Common Myna!

And this rather splendid Crested Myna.

During the afternoon I also found this Paddyfield Pipit singing away from one of the few perches available.


zzlaloq said...

ahah...the white browed crake in "who am i" in photomalaysia..

digdeep said...

You found it!

Anonymous said...


Can you tell me what subspecies of Large-billed Crow occurs in Malaysia? Is it nominate Corvus macrorhynchos or C. m. levaillantii or another?

digdeep said...

According to Robson 2008, it should be the nominate form, now known (by some) as Southern Jungle Crow.