Wednesday, August 29, 2007

August 29, Landfill Site, Nibong Tebal, southern mainland Penang

I arrived at the site at dawn today to be in the hide well before the high tide pushed the birds onto the roost. Yesterday's constant rain had caused the water level to rise considerably. The result was that my hide was in the water, so my first task was to move it back a few metres onto dry land.

Thankfully today was dry and the morning started clear. From about 8 o'clock to 10, the "native" waders (ie those that are at the site all the time) were quite actively feeding. Once the sun began to get hot, there was a noticeable lull in activity, as birds rested and preened.

The early morning light and the reflection of the red earth behind the pool made for some colourful images. This Wood Sandpiper was my first catch of the day.

Another view of the same bird.

This juvenile Greater Sand Plover's legs positively shone in the low sun!

Across the other side of the pond, this Grey Heron indulged in a bit of sunbathing!

At 10.50, about two and half hours before high tide was due, suddenly the air was full of the rush of wings, as the first wader flock flew low over my hide and settled on a sand bar some way away. It was an exhilirating spectacle!

A flock of Little Terns drops in to join the Lesser Sand Plovers.

After this, things became quite hectic, as succeeding waves of birds arrived, landing all around my hide! It was difficult to know where to direct my attention with flocks behind, to the side and in front of me. I had to move very slowly to avoid spooking the birds, which resulted in some agonizing leg cramps!

Juvenile Lesser (front) and Greater (right rear) Sand Plovers resting on the sand just behind my hide.

Quite a few of the Lesser Sand Plovers were still in summer plumage, unlike the Greaters, which have all moulted into winter dress.

There were about 40 Terek Sandpipers today, with slightly fewer Lesser Sand Plovers than on the 27th.

Among the 120 or so Redshanks were a number of juveniles - arriving a lot earlier than last year. One of these sported black and green leg flags on the right tibia, indicating that it had been ringed in Thailand.

As I was scanning the Redshanks for more leg flags I came across a nice surprise - a juvenile Asian Dowitcher! A bit distant, but hopefully there will be more!

Finally, a sketch of one of the three Curlew Sandpipers present today. This one spent quite some time feeding just behind my hide.

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