Wednesday, March 25, 2009

24th March 2009: Teluk Air Tawar coast and Kubang Semang, mainland Penang

A few years ago the Teluk Air Tawar coastline was regularly hosting ten thousand waders during the non-breeding season, and it was designated an IBA on the basis of this. Nowadays, as the mangroves colonize the accreting mudflats, and the areas of accretion themselves have shifted, there are far fewer birds around. This illustrates the difficulty in applying protection to parts of a coastline. Really, the whole coastline is just one dynamic wetland site, and, as such, it should be protected in its entirety. The birds are still be out there somewhere, but they must have shifted to another part of the coastline which offers them optimal feeding.


As the tide receded at Bagan Belat a few birds did arrive, including this Brown-headed Gull coming into breeding plumage.


Javan Pond Herons were the commonest heron on the mud. They seem to be increasing in numbers every year.


This one is in full breeding dress - beautiful!


There were a couple of Indian Pond Herons too. This species was first recorded in Malaysia in 1999 but is now regular in Penang, and it has even been seen on Langkawi.

Chinese Pond Heron should be the 'common' pond heron here, but there were only two on the mudflats and I couldn't get a good picture of them; this one was taken at Kubang Semang later in the day.


I tried hard to get all three species in the frame at once - here are Javan and Chinese ... but no Indian!


And here are Indian (left) and Javan ... but no Chinese!


Finally I got my chance, but the birds were rather distant and the shot isn't sharp - perhaps someone else can do better! From left to right, they are Javan, Indian and Chinese.


There were still some pond herons in non-breeding dress, including this interesting pallid individual.


A pair of resident Collared Kingfishers were keeping a wary eye out for intruders...


They wouldn't allow this migrant Black-capped Kingfisher anywhere near their territory.


There were one or two waders around as well - this lone Common Greenshank having a mudbath.


One or two Whimbrel.


And a few Terek Sandpipers.


There was a small flock of Redshanks, and I focused on those in breeding plumage to see if I could diagnose any different races. This one, with its slightly rusty tones and thin bars on the tertials, looks like a typical 'craggi'.


This one, however, with its boldly barred tertials and more grey-brown plumage, might be either 'eurhinus'or 'ussuriensis'. I've written to ask Dr W G Hale what he thinks - watch this space!

At Penaga there weren't many birds in the paddy-fields, but I did surprise this male Cinnamon Bittern feeding in a ditch.

When it realized it was being watched, it slowly manoeuvred itself into the 'camouflage position' typical of bitterns.

Where's it gone? All I can see is a few swaying reeds!

This one is using advanced Stealth technology - actually it's a hybrid Cinnamon Bittern x Cheshire Cat!

A quick check of the paddy-fields at Penaga and Kubang Semang wasn't so productive. The commonest birds around were Cattle Egrets, some of which were coming into nice plumage.

There were smaller numbers of Little Egrets.

A few Red-rumped Swallows were feeding amongst the Barn Swallows, but the light was against flight photography.


And the fields were swarming with Yellow Wagtails, but I couldn't find anything else among them.

This makes my blood boil. Did this Zitting Cisticola have to die a lingering death in mist nets strung across the paddyfields because it eats the insects that harm the farmer's crops, or was it necessary to feed his starving children?


Azahari Reyes @ Jason a.k.a horukuru said...

I like the Whimbrel shot Dave hahaha

M. A. Muin said...

Amazing la! Yet to get the javan n indian pond...

Atanasio Fernández García said...

I am impressed with your excellent images obtained with the technique of digiscoping! It is a pleasure to see these birds so alien to me and your explanation. Congratulations on this great work! Greetings from Extremadura, Spain!

A.D.A said...

i love your pictures and i get alot of knowledge on birds!!! The birds are so beautiful!

jupfree said...

nice picture catch bro