Our final afternoon at Kapar and we were really hoping to see a break in the cycle of afternoon thunderstorms, but it was not to be!
Our first bird of the day was a pond heron that flew up off the grass verge as we drove toward the ash pond. It didn't stick around for long enough for me to take more than one picture, but the clearly maroon back and creamy buff head and neck seem to indicate that this one should be an Indian Pond Heron, after the false alarm two weeks ago.
As there were only three of us today, we set up a makeshift three-man hide under the pipes. We hoped it would be waterproof!
Here's the view from inside. We reckoned that the mud immediately in front of the hide would be too close to us for the waders, but we were very happy to be proven wrong later when the birds arrived.
I snapped this Grey Heron as we were setting up. The sky was already turning lead grey!
This little group of Marsh Sandpipers were the first waders to settle in front of us. They lost no time in getting down to some serious bathing!
Common Redshanks and Terek Sandpipers were the next to arrive; the adult redshanks looked stunning with their postbox red legs and bill bases. Notice the first year bird (behind) has much yellower legs.
This also seems to be a first summer, as the lesser coverts are worn and unmoulted.
All the Common Redshanks we could assign to race today were 'craggi' with very fine tertial barring.
Two Little Stints dropped in early in the afternoon. At least one was a different bird from the four seen two days ago as it was sporting a ring. We saw none at the site yesterday, and at this time of year it is possible that both of these were fresh birds.
We wondered how many waders are banded without being leg-flagged on the flyway these days. The answer I got from AWSG is that many countries don't flag all the waders they catch, only some species. Others flag opportunistically. Our local Wildlife Department bands but doesn't flag birds I believe, so we can't know where this bird was caught unfortunately.
Another shot of the unbanded bird.
Roosting with sand plovers and a Curlew Sandpiper.
Both sand plovers can now be seen in breeding plumage. This Greater is in very fresh plumage, with white tips to the orange breastband feathers still unworn.
As these feathers abrade, the white wears away, making the plumage become brighter.
Here's a Lesser for comparison. Note how long the bill of this 'schaeferi' race is. It is, however, much slighter than that of Greater Sand Plover.
Side by side, it's easy to see that the breastband of the Greater is more orange, narrower and more clearly defined than that of Lesser. The orange colouration of the Greater is more apt to spread onto the crown, mantle and scapulars, while these areas usually remain brown on Lesser. Greater's legs are not only longer and yellower; they also seem to be thicker than Lesser's.
As more waders arrived, so did the rain! This Bar-tailed Godwit is a late straggler.
When it turned round we saw the probable reason - the left eye and side of its head was injured and looked badly infected. Handicapped birds like this are more likely to fall prey to predation and the extreme conditions that they face while on migration.
The rain didn't stop the temporarily resident Peregrine from flipping over the seawall and taking a Common Redshank right in front of us. I only managed this blurry shot of it flying away with the unfortunate redshank in its talons.
Some Curlew Sandpipers photographed at different times during the afternoon - these while it was still relatively bright...
...this one made the most of a light shower to take a bath.
This one started off dry...
...but got wetter and wetter! Click on the pic and you can see the rain bouncing off its head!
In heavy rain, all the waders turn to face the wind.
A Marsh Sandpiper making itself tall and thin but not avoiding the raindrops!
We got wet too! Our hide proved not to be waterproof, so we had to take extra emergency measures!
A first summer (left) and an adult Great Knot.
Unfortunately it didn't want to turn side on and reveal its fiery orange scapulars.
A Broad-billed Sandpiper looking decidedly wet!
A sleepy Terek.
Ten Nordmann's Greenshanks decided not to roost right in front of us, but nevertheless not too far away. This one is a first year bird.
An adult with some breeding plumage feathers coming through.
A more strongly marked adult.
The ghostly-pale Nordmann's were easily visible to the naked eye in the gloom.
The rain gives the birds a welcome opportunity for a drink.
Four Nordmann's Greenshanks together.
This video of a preening bird shows the pure white underwing coverts.
A very soft threat-call can be heard (on my original video at least!) being given by the roosting adult when approached by the first winter bird.
The darkest of the NGs at the darkest period of the rain! A fitting conclusion to a wet but wonderful afternoon!