Monday, February 09, 2009

4th February 2009: Sungai Burung, Penang Island

I took a couple of hours off work this afternoon in an unashamed attempt to twitch a Booted Eagle which was present at the site yesterday afternoon. This is a rare species in Pensinsular Malaysia, and one that I've yet to see in the country.

When I got to the area of paddyfields where the Booted Eagle had been, there were dozens of Brahminy Kites in the air...

...As well as a couple of White-bellied Sea Eagles. Sadly though, the Booted Eagle did not put in an appearance.

I searched the whole area without success, as far as the Eagle was concerned, but it gave me a good opportunity to snap some of the typical paddyfield species which I often see but rarely photograph!

The Farmer's Friend! This lucionensis race Brown Shrike obviously thought this post was put up specially for it to hunt from, and it lost no time polishing off the caterpillars in the paddy.

Usually I have a bit of difficulty getting close enough to White-throated Kingfishers to get a shot. With these two birds I held my camera at the ready with both hands, eye to the viewfinder and drove slowly up to them using my knees to steer and trusting that there would be no oncoming vehicles! It seemed to do the trick! (It was a farm track Mum, don't worry, I wouldn't do this on a main road!)

A herd of cows inevitably means a flock of mynas (the Malay name for them translates 'cowherd birds')!

But a calf doesn't mean baby mynas!

The Common Myna may be the commonest of the lot, but it has a case for being the most attractive, and the colours are surprisingly variable, depending on the light.

Crested Myna is a feral import to Penang Island, but has become something of a local celebrity, as it is seen nowhere else in Malaysia.

Here's one behind a local Jungle Myna (check out the differences in colour of the bill, legs and eye).

Jungle Myna is supposed to have a cobalt blue bill base, but in the field it always looks black to me. Field guide illustrations tend to exaggerate this feature. There is also a small area of bare skin behind the eye on this bird, and on several others I've seen well. I'm not sure if this is a feature of pure Jungle Myna or evidence of some Common Myna genes.

Giving it everything from the back of a cow!

This composite shows a Javan Myna (top) taken in Singapore, and a Jungle Myna taken today. Aside from the colour of the body they are pretty similar!

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