This two-day workshop was organized by Kenneth Kee, Alan Ow Yong and Lim Kim Seng of Nature Society Singapore at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and during my time in Singapore I was hosted and fed (sumptuously!) by good friends Dan and Mel Ong from A Rocha, so a big thanks to all of you!
Having the workshop at SBWR meant that we could literally walk from the indoor classroom straight to the outdoor classroom, which was a brilliant arrangement! I'd never been to SBWR before, but was hugely impressed with the way that it is laid out and managed.
Birds were so close that we barely needed binoculars, let alone a scope!
It was great to meet up with former AWC Coordinator David Li (now Conservation Officer at SBWR) again.
Participants trying to take field notes and ignore me spouting on about lesser coverts and tertials!
Those who made it to the end of the course without suffering plumage overdose! Thanks to Kenneth and Ben Lee for the extra pics.
Some of the commonest birds were Pacific Golden Plovers. SBWR has a very active ringing group (to judge by the number of leg-flagged birds! It was a case of 'spot the bird without the leg-flag rather than the other way around.)
Told you they were close!
A couple of other birds. Despite the large numbers we couldn't find any juvenile 'PGPs' - all adults at various stages of moult into non-breeding plumage.
Whimbrels were also numerous. The great thing about the Reserve is that birds can keep on feeding right through high tide, as the water levels at the tidal pools are controlled.
This one's an adult in pretty fresh non-breeding plumage.
This is a fairly worn juvenile (compare with a fresh one here).
This exceedingly worn individual is, I think, a first summer/first breeding bird.
Although the visible primaries on the near wing look fairly fresh, the outermost visible primary on the far wing and the tail feathers are extremely worn, suggesting that they are one-year old juvenile feathers. First summer birds which don't return to the breeding grounds seem to undergo a fairly leisurely wing and tail moult (see this pic taken in June).
There was a lot of bathing and preening going on, as the videos show. I couldn't help thinking how fortunate these birds were to be bathing in the litter-free and relatively clean water of Singapore, compared to the junk-infested and filthy water where I see most of my waders!
Two different Common Redshanks.
Very different, on closer inspection! The lower bird (with the white feather) is an adult. It still retains some worn breeding lesser coverts and tertials, but most of the wing coverts are fresh non-breeding feathers. The upper bird is a juvenile, and is rather an odd variant (see separate post - A Tale of Two Redshanks).
Here's a nice easy juvenile, rather worn already.
A couple more with their own 'Singapore visa' on the legs.
This Curlew Sandpiper is in first winter/non-breeding plumage - by virtue of its juvenile wing feathers and new non-breeding lower scapulars and mantle feathers.
A Red-necked Stint and a Broad-billed Sandpiper at almost exactly the same stage of moult as the Curlew Sandpiper.
I thought the streaks at the sides of the breast of this first winter Lesser Sand Plover were interesting.
The long bill is quite typical of the 'schaeferi' race and illustrates how the shape of the bill is more critical for id than the length.
After the course was over I was invited to visit Changi Cove, where we had tried to catch White-faced Plovers last year. There were plenty of Malaysian Plovers about.
The latest in my series of portraits of waders in power drill mode!
It was great to see that there were three White-faced Plovers in residence on the sandflats, beetling about like supercharged clockwork toys in search of crabs - the small ones that is - some crabs out there were bigger than the plovers!
I managed to get some shaky video of the typical hunting behaviour. I love the way they dash along with that sideways look! Apologies for the standard of video, but the wind was pretty strong and my tripod (Manfrotto no less) had just inexplicably shed one of its legs - sheared off at the top.
It was good to see the Lesser Sand Plover we ringed on 16th Feb 2008 (with the metal ring on the same leg as the leg flags to distinguish it from Sungei Buloh-ringed birds), still looking fit and well. I wonder if it remembered me with similar affection??!