Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oct 20th, Juru, Penang and Malim Nawar, Perak

I wanted to attend a talk by David Li of Wetlands International on the Asian Waterbird Census in Ipoh in the evening, so decided to go early and do some birding on the way.

First stop was Juru, on the mainland of Penang state, where last year there was a flock of 250 Grey-headed Lapwings. The numbers haven't yet built up yet, but there were about 14 birds on a marshy field that is used for cow pasturing.

An adult bird with a grey breast and dark grey pectoral band.

Juveniles have a pale buff breast without the darker breast band.

I flushed this Cinnamon Bittern when I got out of the car.

After this brief stop I travelled about 150km southward to Malim Nawar, just south of Ipoh. I used the directions in the book The Birds of Perak and Where to See Them and found them accurate and helpful.

This is an area of abandoned tin mining pools, which have now largely been taken over by duck and fish farmers. The first birds I photographed at the site were a sad sight.

This is a Yellow Bittern. I also saw Grey Heron, egrets, White-throated Kingfishers and numerous other unidentified dessicated corpses strung up in this way.

Nets like this have been placed around and over fish ponds, and there were corpses in almost every net. I also witnessed dozens of spent shotgun cartridges around the pools, and heard gunshots while I was there. It seems that the birds are being killed for the crime of wanting to use the ponds to feed in rather than for food.

Little Egrets using one of the few unnetted ponds. This one has already been drained and emptied of fish.

In another drained pond I cam across a small flock of Long-toed Stints and Little Ringed Plovers, and something else ...

The banana-shaped body, short legs, shuffling feeding action and smokey-grey plumage are all typical of Temminck's Stint, an inland freshwater specialist that is rather rare in Malaysia; in fact, it was a new Malaysian bird for me.

Back in my youth, when I used to visit my 'local patch', Alton Reservoir in Suffolk, UK, Little Ringed Plover and Temminck's Stint were two species that would brighten up any spring day, so seeing them together here was a nice reminiscence!

A lucky flight shot showing the white outer tail feathers. Temminck's is the only stint to show this feature.

A short drive further, another empty pond, and I came across another Temminck's, this time much closer and in the company of a Long-toed, enabling a nice comparison of two yellow-legged stints.

Actually, apart from that one feature, Long-toed and Temminck's don't really have that much in common, as can be seen here. Structurally, Temminck's (left) is larger-headed, shorter-legged, shorter-winged, and has a long, slender, horizontal body shape. The upperparts are an almost completely featureless smoke-grey in non-breeding plumage, and there is a distinctive unstreaked grey throat and breast.

Some people say that Temminck's (right) looks more like a miniature version of a Common Sandpiper (rear). Well, you can decide for yourself. The Long-toed Stint in these pics is a first-winter, as can be seen from the whitish-edged coverts.

Another shot of those white outer tail feathers.

Across the other side of this pond I came across another or the same Temminck's Stint among a flock of 30 or so Long-toed. However, by this time the clouds had opened, and the rain effectively brought the days birding to a close. It didn't stop raining till after midnight!!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for you very educational website.

Unknown said...

Did you see how they managed to remove all the 80 nets found at the Yonok wetlands in Northern Thailand.
That is the way to go.
I find this utter human disregard for animals very unsettling.