Monday, March 09, 2009

2nd March 2009: Bako-Buntal Bay, Sarawak

After the workshop I flew back to Kuching. It was my plan to catch the morning high tides at Bako-Buntal Bay, where we had enjoyed stunning views of the wader roost back in January. I was joined by Ron Orenstein, and we headed out to Buntal with much anticipation.

Unfortunately the tide wasn't quite high enough to push the bulk of the birds up onto the sandbar, so we had to be content with about 300 birds close, and the rest miles away!

Pushing my digiscoping set-up to the limit! Here's a group of Red-necked Stints and a Greater Sand Plover. There are also three Broad-billed Sandpipers in here - look out for the distinct 'double supercilium' or 'split eyebrow'.

Since there wasn't much else to look at, I spent a lot of time perusing the Kentish Plovers, which proved to be quite variable. Here's a pink-legged bird that at times appeared to have a complete breastband, much like the birds that breed in Japan.

This individual appeared to have pale fringed scapulars like a recently fledged juvenile, and was very gingery around the head and breast patches.

A Common Sandpiper flew past where we were watching.

Our chances of further wader-watching were scuppered by the arrival of a Peregrine intent on making one of them its breakfast.

A closer view looking into the morning light revealed that the bird was a juvenile.

With the waders departed, we were entertained by a pair of White-breasted Woodswallows coming down to the beach to collect nesting material.

As the tide receded, only one of the 66 roosting Chinese Egrets came to feed close enough for a few digiscoped shots.

With the ensuing days' tides lower than today's, it was obvious that a quick change of plan was in order. With the help of Anthony Wong and Yeo Siew Teck of MNS Kuching, we were able to make arrangements at short notice to spend the next couple of nights at Borneo Highlands Resort, so it was time to bid goodbye to Bako-Buntal Bay - I hope to be back when the tides are higher!

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