Saturday, April 24, 2010

24th April 2010: Juru, mainland Penang

Around the end of April things go a little bit flat, birdwise, in this part of the world. Most of the migration is over, and as a consequence, you feel that birding gets rather predictable until the end of July, when the waders start arriving from the north.

I had a half day to get out today, so decided to try my luck searching for rare pigeons at Juru. Both Cinnamon-headed and Orange-breasted Green Pigeons are seen there on and off - never regularly - and I have yet to connect with either species.

Baya Weavers are common enough, but this male looked resplendent in fresh breeding plumage, sitting on a frond of dead Acrostichum fern.

After a bit of searching, I managed to find some pigeons, and set my scope up with high hopes...

At first I thought they were all Pink-necked, but then I began to notice some subtle differences! The bird at the bottom, obscured behind the leaves, seemed to have orange and pink on the breast, but a green face and greyish nape.Hmm!

Then I noticed that the middle top bird, which I'd taken to be a male Pink-necked in the awkward light, in fact had a green face.Hmm Hmm! Orange-breasted!

A male Pink-necked for comparison.

Another couple of views of the two males (top and bottom left) next to a male Pink-necked (top right). The male Orange-breasted look distinctly smaller than the male Pink-necked, which makes me wonder whether the upper female bird may be Pink-necked and the lower Orange-breasted...

The uppertail pattern of Orange-breasted is different from Pink-necked. The central tail feathers are all grey, lacking the dark terminal band. You can just about make out the difference in these two tail shots (Orange-breasted on the right.) All in all, these were a lot more difficult to distinguish from each other than I'd anticipated, though in better light the job might have been easier!

Last year an aberrant Jungle Myna was found in Ipoh. I looked for it during the whistling-thrish project visits without success. But today I found one here that looks very similar - with a whitish throat and underparts and a contrasting black breastband.

The Water Buffalos had found a way to stay cool under the hot sun!

Elsewhere I saw another green pigeon in flight with maroon wing coverts. Cinnamon-headed?? Nope - "just" a male Thick-billed!

Another Pink-necked.

Still some migrants about - a nice Tiger Shrike skulking in the shadows!

I was pleased to photograph this Rufescent Prinia; it has quite a localized distribution in Penang.

I spent quite a while trying to photograph bee-eaters - I've not had chance to photograph Chestnut-headed and Blue-throated together before.

A couple of portraits!

I really wanted to try to get some sharp flight shots, but the light was a bit awkward, so my efforts can be improved upon! These were my best Chestnut-headed attempts.

And these were my best Blue-throated.

Getting a good flight shot is a combination of good technique and good fortune! First, you've got to get the bird in frame and in focus (that's where the skill comes in). Then you need to bird to be in a photogenic pose (that's the luck part!). Those three factors don't coincide in the same shot often. And then, when they do...

...Murphy's Law kicks in and the bird flies behind a branch!

I was so frustrated at losing this one that I decided to indulge in a spot of Photoshoppery! It is cheating? Well- I'm not pretending it's a photo ... or a painting - more of a hybrid - a phainting?!


Wong Tsu Shi said...

Lovely flight shot there, Dave.

TS said...

Hi,I'm a birder from S'pore. Have been following your excellent blog.Wonder what lens you are using to take these nice shots



Costea Andrea Mihai said...

hello!! superb captures have here :)

digdeep said...

Thanks guys,

TS, set up for these pics is a canon 40D and 100-400mm L lens