Monday, October 19, 2009

16th October: Mainland Penang

I planned to combine an early morning revisit to the Kg Pertama ricefields with a trip to the high tide roost at Teluk Air Tawar.

No sign of the Riparia martin, but this was made up for by some wonderful early morning lighting.

An Intermediate Egret with a juv Purple Heron.

Some early morning Wood Sandpipers.

And a nice comparison of Common (left) and Wood Sandpiper. The barring on the upperparts of the Common is quite different from the speckling on the Wood. Note also the shorter, duller legs, the duller head pattern and the white mark in front of the wing on the Common Sandpiper.

The light was great for birds on the left of the road, but terrible for the ones on the right, which included a nice flock of Long-toed Stints, so I made a mental note to return later in the day. The high tide wasn't high enough to push birds off the mud onto the roost, so I drew a blank there. However, lunch at the roadside at Bagan Belat was served with a plateful of excellent opportunities to photograph birds feeding on the mud almost under the restaurant!

A cat sharing my table - more interested in eating 'ais kacang' than birds fortunately. Ais kacang is basically ice, coated with sugar, drowned in condensed milk and buried in syrup.

A Common Greenshank kept at a discreet distance.

As did this smart juvenile Whimbrel.

This Common Sandpiper had no such qualms.

It was all a matter of choosing the right-sized meal!

This one seemed about right!

I aged this Terek Sandpiper as a first winter,...

...on the basis of the juvenile upper tail coverts, showing dark subterminal markings...

There was one worn juvenile tertial remaining, but the other tertials and body plumage were fresh non-breeding feathers. The unmoulted tails feathers were starting to look a bit ragged.

Like the Common Sandpiper, the Terek was after crabs.

The crabs were not happy!

This one's defiance saved it - as least for today!

Collared Kingfishers are also crab lovers!

It chose a muddy look-out from which to pounce.

It's behind you!

As if threats from avian predators weren't enough, there were crab turf-wars going on all over the place - and some real martial arts experts!

There were some which went for a more civilized form of rivalry - high fashion!

This is why there no birds at the roost, they were all roosting on the tideline!

Common Redshank and Terek sandpiper show a similar colour scheme in flight but very different proportions.

Back at the paddyfields in the late afternoon, the light was now much better for those Long-toed Stints. They really are long-toed! This is a first winter bird. It can be aged by the few unmoulted whitish-edged lesser coverts.

Keep your eyes on the sky! Waders frequently cock their heads sideways to look at raptors passing overhead - it's a good way to spot them!

Those first winter body feathers were in pristine condition!

Here's a juvenile that hasn't yet completed the head and body moult into first winter. Notice the lesser covert pattern is the same as on the bird above.

And an adult - like the first winter bird but lacking the pale-edged juvenile lesser coverts.

A couple of Long-toed Stints in flight.

And one doing aerobatics!

Little Ringed Plovers are tricky to age in non-breeding plumage, as adults and juvs both show buff tips to the upperpart feathers. This one can be aged as a juvenile by the dark subterminal crescents on the lesser coverts.

Grey-headed Lapwing numbers had increased dramatically from 1 to 51 in two days!

I started photographing this smart juvenile Pacific Golden Plover, but quickly noticed that its primary tips were coated in mud, and it seemed unable to fly.

This proved to be the case, and it was easily captured. I popped it into my camera bag - birds are calmer when kept in a dark place!

Full circle - egrets at dusk!

Des res! The plover was given the run of our en suite bathroom! There were no visible injuries, but the bird was badly undernourished - weighing only 85g compared to the mean of 102-138g given in Wells. I force fed it garden worms on the first evening, then bought some marine worms the following day (sold as bait and expensive!). Reading in Wells that the preferred diet is a shellfish locally known as siput lala, we bought some fresh the next day, but found them very difficult to open! So now, on the third day, I've resorted to mealworms. These have the advantage of living longer than worms, and they can crawl about happily on the bathroom floor till the bird decides it's hungry! It is now much stronger, though no heavier, and is able to feed itself, so should be ready for release in a day or two.

No comments: