Monday, April 06, 2009

28th March 2009: Kapar Power Station, Selangor, Malaysia

We spent the first part of the morning at what we call Site B, a smaller and more enclosed ashpond within the power station compound. Here we found all the species that were 'missing' from the main pond - Whimbrels, Bar-tailed Godwits, Great and Red Knots and Terek Sandpipers in abundance.

The clear early morning light made for ideal photographic conditions but it was difficult to approach the pond without the birds seeing us!

Next stop China? Many of the Bar-tailed Godwits are already in peak breeding condition. They'll be spending some time feeding up on the offshore Klang Islands before continuing their journey northward, possibly joining up with the 50,000 bar-tailed Godwits that congregate at Yalu Jiang National Nature Reserve in China, before heading north again to Siberia or Alaska to breed.

The brighter, smaller, shorter-billed birds are the males; this couple seem to be paired up already.

The differences in size and bill length between the males and females is also visible in this pic. The longer bill of the females is thought to give them a competitive edge over males when feeding on mudflats in the non-breeding area.

A male still coming into breeding plumage.

Built to go the distance! With rakish, falcon-like wings and powerful yet streamlined bodies, Bar-tailed Godwits are among the migratory heavyweights of the natural world. In fact, in 2007, a Bar-tailed Godwit named 'E7' after her attached satellite transmitter, flew 10,300km non-stop from New Zealand to northern China, establishing a new non-stop migratory flight record. Then, in August of the same year, she broke her own record by flying the return journey from Alaska to New Zealand. She was continuously airborne for 8 days and flew a staggering 11,700km!

Great Knots (rear bird) are another long-distance migrant, and they associate closely with Bar-tailed Godwits on migration.

This little group contains two Great Knot and a Red Knot.

More pics of godwits and knots just because ...!

...And one of almost two thousand Whimbrel.

Here's a closer pic of a Great Knot.

And a similarly-shaped but much smaller Curlew Sandpiper.

At the afternoon high tide, we watched the waders coming in to roost at the main ashpond. Common Redshanks are always the first to arrive.

As they fly in fast and low, they habitually twist and jink, presumably to make a harder target for any Peregrines that might be loitering with intent in the vicinity.

More shanks - this time greenshanks - slender, long-legged Common Greenshanks, and one tubby-bodied, short-legged Nordmann's flashing pure white underwing coverts near the back.

Black and white but not quite red all over! Whenever I give my wader workshops, people always remember the bird that forgot to bathe - the one with the dirty armpits - Grey Plover! Here they share a similar colour scheme with some moulting White-winged Terns. There are a couple of grey Great Knots, and a splash of colour is provided by a couple of Red Knots living up to their name.


Not many birds were withing digiscoping range today, but I did manage this flock of preening Common Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits, including one showing off its distinctive wing pattern.

"That pond heron" was still around today, and the chances are it's a pale-headed Javan rather than a dark-backed Indian.

We found a communal roost of four Savanna Nightjars at the edge of the ashpond today. One chose this rather optimistic location to remain undetected!

Don't be fooled, it was watching us!

In the evening I celebrated Earth Hour by going on a night walk around Kuala Selangor Nature Park. This toad was the highlight. Can anyone identify it for me? [It's Bufo melanostictus, which goes by the Enlgish name of Asian Black-spined Toad. Thanks to Arnold Meijer for the id!]

If you want to know more about wader migration in East Asia and the critical importance of the region's wetlands, go to this link to download or buy Invisible Connections by Jan van de Kam. It's a brilliantly-written and beautifully-illustrated account of the life cycle of shorebirds along the East Asian-Australasian Migration Flyway, with particular reference to South Korea's vital and threatened wetlands.

1 comment:

Arnold Meijer said...


I think the toad is Bufo melanostictus

Arnold Meijer