Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 17th, Bagan Tambang

Yesterday I splashed out almost RM50 on a new wardrobe:

Here is my fine new acquisition. Note the colour - a fetching green. Just right for ...

... a shorebird-watching hide! So, I've graduated from a coffin to a cupboard!

Today was a 2.9 metre high tide, so was the ideal opportunity to try it out. Since Tanjung Tokong is now a sad shadow of its former self, I decided to try it out at Bagan Tambang.

I set everything up and climbed in at about 9am, and began a long, steamy wait! High tide was due at 1pm. Despite cutting a few air holes in the material, it was mind-numbingly hot and humid in that thing! Plenty of water and a towel are essential if you are ever crazy enough to want to try it!

By about 11am, the birds were within photographing range.

This Red-necked Stint provided an interesting comparison with the Little Stint I saw last time I was here. Although the scapulars are very bright, these contrast with the dull grey-brown lower tertials and wing coverts. On the Little Stint, both the lower tertials and coverts have bright chestnut fringes.

Whenever a potential predator appears, such as a raptor, all the waders quietly crouch down. I once saw them do this fully a minute before a Peregrine came racing through. They must have amazing eyesight.

Most of the waders have gone through now, and only about six or seven hundred were at the roost. Most of these are non-breeders, taking a more leisurely journey northward than those that need to get back to claim territories and start breeding. A lot of these late birds will be last year's young, not yet ready to breed.

Crab-grabber extraordinaire! A Greater Sand Plover in action.

By contrast a male Lesser Sand Plover in full breeding dress. What a cracker! The all black forehead shows that this bird is the 'schaeferi' race - the commonest race occurring in Malaysia.

This non-breeding plumaged Lesser is interesting in that it appears to have yellowish legs. Most Lessers show dark grey legs, and most Greaters have yellowish legs, but there are exceptions as this picture shows.

A Broad-billed Sandpiper in breeding plumage. These can be quite variable. Some, like this bird, are quite a cold dark brown. Others can be quite rich chestnut.

The closest I could get to a Curlew Sandpiper today, looking resplendent in its deep reddish plumage.

A trio of Lesser Sand Plovers. The duller bird on the right is probably a female.

Some Whimbrels keep a wary eye on a Water Monitor that emerged from the sea to forage on the shore.

I'd like to propose renaming Common Sandpiper as 'Sensible Sandpiper' - it was the only bird to make use of the shade available under this log!

The rest of the birds, like this Whimbrel, just sat under the sun and panted...

... though this one seemed to be seeking other possibilities.

As the tide rose rapidly, the Sand Plovers moved off to the right hand side of my hide, and new arrivals took their place - a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers in an array of different plumages.

Some looked very smart in their black waistcoats...

Others were just starting to moult into breeding dress...

Yet others were neither one nor the other!

A lone Great Knot arrived with the Pacific Goldies - several weeks late!

By now the tide was pushing birds very close, but also making me think about a swift exit!

A quick shot of the Sand Plovers out of a hole cut in the side of the hide.

Poised for flight, just like me!

One last shot and then it really is time to move - quickly - as the tide is just inches from my hide.

A roar of wings as I leave my hide. The birds would have had to leave anyway, as their roost site is rapidly being submerged.

The very last bit of mud!

A look at the rice fields revealed that the hirundines and most of the Yellow Wagtails have moved on too.

I did manage to find this young Yellow Bittern trying to be invisible in very sparse cover!


Minnsy said...

Hey Dave

Some beautiful images in recent weeks. Especially love the owls.

Don't know if you saw, but re your comments on Great Tits being a different species to the ones back home..well they soon will be split.

The complex is being split into 3 species - Parus major, Parus minor and a third species not sure what the latin or English name will be yet...but your bird I think falls into that category!

There is a note on it on Birdforums.

Happy Birding


digdeep said...

Thanks Sean,

Yes, I heard that the one we get here will change from Great Tit to Grey Tit!

Anonymous said...

Basically I hate shorebirds (they're always confusing to identified),
but your pics, it's fascinating! and entertaining!