Reports of an interesting falcon from Hakim send me over the bridge to the paddyfields at Kampung Permatang Nibong at first light. The falcon was not immediately evident, so I scoured the area, ending up at the ponds where the Asian Openbills roost. This is a superb little spot for marsh birds, and would make a perfect ringing site - hmmm - something for the pipeline perhaps!
The openbills were soon located in the early morning light, roosting separately on some low trees.
A couple of birds are now in pretty smart plumage.
Once the sun was well up, they went for a bit of morning exercise!
Interesting to see the exposed red skin on the underwing.
The inner primaries and outer secondaries of this bird are glossed with a beautiful green-bronze sheen.
A bristling reception from an Intermediate Egret!
The video gives a flavour of the other birds in the area - Oriental Reed Warbler, Asian Koel, House Crow and Black-crowned Night-heron can be heard in the background.
A few juv Black-crowned Night-herons were perched on the bushes. I don't often photograph these, so took the opportunity today.
A female Pink-necked Green Pigeon indulging in an early morning sunbathe!
The vegetated ponds looked very 'crakey', but all I could see were Slaty-breasted Rails and this White-browed Crake and its mate.
There were also some Greater Painted-snipes. Unfortunately I didn't get a sharp shot while they were in the open, but amazingly, the camera locked on when they went behind the bushes!
Hakim alerted me to an interesting-looking biscuit-coloured Aquila eagle soaring some distance away, but, while I was driving to get closer to it, he called to say that he had relocated the falcon, so I did a quick U-turn.
The bird was still present on my arrival, but very wary indeed! It turned out to be a fine juvenile Peregrine.
Having had a good look at the Peregrine, I decided to resume my Aquila-hunt, and got lucky when I relocated the 'biscuit-coloured' eagle on the other side of the highway.
I was hoping it might be a Steppe Eagle, but was happy enough to find that it was an Eastern Imperial - my guess is that it is a second calendar year bird. I'm not sure if this is the same bird that was seen regularly in the area a month or more ago.
Before long a second Eastern Imperial appeared - an adult this time. I couldn't see any white on the scapulars of this bird, but couldn't be sure that it was a different bird from the earlier adult.
The long, rectangular, parallel-sided wing and longish tail and head projection of Eastern Imperial are markedly different from the shorter, rounder wings and shorter tail and neck of Greater Spotted. This is a juv. At one point we had 2 Eastern Imperial and 3 Greater Spotted Eagles in the air together - quite a sight!
The differences are quite apparent in this picture of the adult Eastern Imperial (above) and a Greater Spotted together.
The young Eastern Imperial landed in a field, but it soon flew off as we approached. None of these pictures are particularly sharp unfortunately.
Still, I was pretty happy with the morning's birding overall!