Tuesday, May 17, 2011

16th May 2011: Chartered pelagic, Tanjung Dawai, Kedah

This was the second chartered pelagic trip to go out from Tanjung Dawai in three days. On the first, the group had seen many Short-tailed Shearwaters but little else. However, on the same day, a pelagic off Singapore had recorded good numbers of Swinhoe's Storm-petrels, so we were hoping for greater things!

In the end though, apart from a distant Long-tailed or Parasitic Jaeger, we couldn't improve on the 'catch' of the first trip, and in fact, only saw 3 shearwaters, so it seems that the northward migration is winding down.

Still, we were very happy to get excellent views of the birds we did see. A few pics below:

Of course, the shearwaters were the star attraction, and no one could complain about the views we had!

Seeing them today I realized that the body feathers are worn, not fresh as I'd thought earlier. This last bird was in a particularly worn state, as can be seen by the water-logging of many of the body feathers.

It was instructive to see how their appearance could change with posture. The upper bird is relaxed, and seems to show a rounded, large head and shortish, thick bill. The lower one is alert, and has stretched its neck and flattened its feathers close to the body, giving it a squarish headshape and making it look small-headed and long billed.

Some hunting shots:

This would have been my "National Geographic shot' if only the fish had been in focus!

This was the next frame - so the fish escaped - this time!

Some Black-naped Terns...

There were not many Common Terns around, but this was an interesting bird. I'm guessing it's a 2nd summer - possibly 'tibetana', though it could be 'minussensis', which is supposed to have characteristics intermediate between 'longipennis' and 'tibetana'.

The best of my efforts at the breeding plumaged White-winged Terns.

A nice place to stop for our lunch and a short swim.

Flushed with success! A satisfied (and rather pink!) team head back to port after a full day in the sun!

By the way, for anyone thinking of exploring pelagic birding in new areas, there's an excellent article on how one can go about starting up here.


Kah-Wai Lin said...

Nice capture on flying tern!

Denis Degullacion said...

Great updates for the shorebirds. Still looking for some volunteers in Sabah to this at Kudat. Not sure what to find. Anyways great shots.

digdeep said...

Go for it Denis! I would imagine the birds off Kudat would put us West Malaysian pelagic enthusiasts all to shame!

John Holmes said...

The Short-tailed Shearwaters have been slipping by largely unseen in HK this spring, although Geoff Welch has been diligently scanning from the rocks on Po Toi.

Interesting pics and discussion, as usual.