Thursday, March 12, 2009

9th March 2009: Tanjung Tokong, Penang

I'd just got back home when I had a call from Andy Adcock asking if I could take him to look for White-faced Plovers.

Their usual site was deserted, so maybe they have left for the breeding grounds already, but some consolation was had (at least for me!) in getting some great looks at a flock of Common Redshanks.


The four races of Common Redshank that occur in South-east Asia are best separated by the pattern of their breeding plumage tertials. This bird shows a tertial pattern typical of the race 'craggi', with very thin dark transverse bars and almost nothing of a central shaft streak.


Here are two adult 'craggi' coming into breeding plumage.


And another.


This adult is still in full non-breeding plumage.


And this bird, with the white fringed coverts, is a first winter.


The very worn juvenile lesser coverts on this bird, and some whitish fringed lesser and median coverts enable this bird to be aged as a first summer. The colour of the fresh breeding feathers is much greyer and colder brown than the adults.


A group of 'craggi' Redshanks in various plumages. From right to left: adult non-breeding; first winter moulting to first summer; adult breeding; adult non-breeding; first winter; adult non-breeding.


The foxy red colour of some breeding feathers is quite distinctive of 'craggi'.

The flock was extremely nervous, and kept flying closer and closer to me!

Eventually the reason became apparent, when this adult Peregrine came swooping low over the mudflats. They had already been aware of it for several minutes beforehand. How, I wonder?

No success this time!


Now that the pond herons are beginning to moult into breeding plumage we can tell what they are again! This one's a Chinese Pond Heron.

A Great Egret among Little Egrets is like a battleship among cruisers!

A Great Egret coming in to land.

Here's a Little Egret showing off its distinctive yellow toes.

And a Little or Striated Heron to finish off. The brown-fringed lesser coverts and brownish tinge to the ear coverts and chin reveal that this bird is in its first 'summer' after hatching.

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