Thursday, February 11, 2010

10th February 2010: Kampung Permatang Nibong, mainland Penang

After my pitstop in Perak, I ended up in the late afternoon back at the Openbill site, where the bird, true to form, was sat in its favourite clump of trees.

It seems to have been making friends with the locals since my last visit. Note the unmistakably Malaysian backdrop!

An interesting postscript to this record is a comment from Ike Suriwong on my last Openbill post:

"We only started getting them in Phuket a few years ago. I think they are moving south so you may start seeing them reguarly in a decade or so ...
Once persecuted to near oblivion by local farmers thinking they were ruining the rice crops, these birds are now the farmers' best friend (since they prey on cherry snails which eat the rice) resulting in an explosion in their numbers. I was in the central plains of Thailand last year and every morning flocks of hundreds would fly overhead to get to their feeding fields.

-Thank God for a bit of education which helped these farmers to make the right choice and spare these helpful and beautiful birds!"

Thanks Ike. I predict that this could become Malaysia's next breeding species - you read it here first!

This rather interesting harrier flew over the stork. The shape tells me it isn't an Eastern Marsh (the head and bill are too small), but the plumage is not typical for a juv Pied, which would normally have a uniformly chestnut brown body and vent. The whitish streaking on the breast and white areas on the thighs are what make the bird interesting. I'm guessing that this is a juv Pied starting to show some signs of adult plumage, perhaps a female? Any one got any insights? Later on there was a more 'normal' Pied Harrier in the same area.

While waiting for the harrier to reappear, this Intermediate Egret gave me a chance to snap a few flight shots.

I went looking for snipes again and managed to find a few. This one scuttled off into the paddy before I could identify it.

This one - partly obscured I'm afraid - is a Common Snipe. I'm finding that the pattern of the wing coverts is the first thing I look at these days. Common Snipe's coverts have these distinctive twin whitish spots near the tips of the feathers, which are otherwise rather dull.

Youtube and I are friends again, which means you can see a video of the same bird above.

This Swinhoe's or Pintail Snipe is very buff by comparison. The coverts are evenly barred with no obviously paler spots. Unfortunately the bird was flushed by some kids playing nearby before I could determine the species.


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Terence Ang said...

Dear Dave,

I took a look on your harrier and it is the juv female pied harrier but i'm not so sure about the age. Need to do more reading on the age. You can still see white lining surrounding the eye (very typical among juv pied harrier) but not pale head (marsh have pale head though not all) . On the other hand, hen harrier is much more heavier streak compare to pied and the hen -often though sometimes we dont see it- show streak till the thigh . White vent is a marking for adult female pied and also the male so this is in between the ages.
I have never see one in this age before and hope to get it.