Trevor Ford had been planning to come to Penang to see White-faced (aka Swinhoe's Plover) for about two years, and today he finally arrived en route between the UK and Australia. I hadn't even been to Tanjung Tokong this autumn to check if the birds were here, so it was a bit of a risk from his point of view.
In the event, we needn't have worried. Six birds put on a great show for us at high tide!
A female type.
A first-winter male.
This female Swinhoe's definitely wasn't getting along with a nearby Kentish Plover!
This male, on the other hand, seemed quite companionable with the nearby Kentish.
Later on they did a bit of synchronized head-turning!
Some flight shots...
With a Kentish Plover (front)
And Greater Sand Plover
Apart from the Swinhoe's Plovers there was a nice selection of other waders present, including a Little Stint (no photo). As the tide rose I got lots of opportunities to photograph flocks flying back and forth.
There were three Broad-billed Sandpipers...
A first winter Kentish Plover - one of 7 or 8 birds present.
There were plenty of opportunities to practise sand plover identification.
Lesser (second left) and three Greater Sand Plovers. 'Schaeferi' race Lessers are so long-billed that the bill thickness is sometimes a more useful differentiating factor than bill length. Note also the difference in leg length and colour. Of the two right-hand Greaters, the rear bird is an adult, the front one is a first winter.
A surprisingly tricky bunch! How many Lessers do you think there are here?
A mixed flock of sand plovers and a lone Pacific Golden.
Note the Greater (bottom) and Lesser (bottom right) which both appear to have white 'collars'.
Another 'white-collared' Greater (left) with a Lesser Sand Plover.
Some more WIFs (waders in flight!)
Lesser Sand Plover
Common Greenshanks (juveniles)
Pacific Golden Plovers.
So you should be able to name the four species in this flock...?
After Tanjung Tokong we took a quick look around some potential roost sites on the mainland and drew a blank in each case. We then called in at Air Itam Dalam, where our attention was soon attracted by the distinctive call of a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher.
We later saw a cracking male, but he was not for having his picture taken!
Over 60 Black (eared) Kites were soaring low over the swamp, at one point flushing a roosting Spotted Wood-owl.
Among them was this bird in wing and tail moult, showing only five primary 'fingers' and an unfamiliar tail shape (see last blog entry). Such birds are occasionally misidentified as Booted Eagles (which should show a much more square-cornered tail), so it's always worth bearing in mind this possibility.
A small selection of an estimated 500 Eastern Yellow Wagtails on show at Kampung Permatang Nibong in late afternoon.
There was a couple of thousand egrets too - Cattle, Little, Intermediate and Great.
A poor photo, but a good bird to end the day with - an adult Greater Spotted Eagle back on last year's roosting pylon.