Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Amazing wader, West Kalimantan

This photo was taken by Abdurahman Al Qadrie in West Kalimantan in early April this year. Thanks to Pak Abdurahman for permission to post the photo on my blog, and to Bas van Balen for drawing my attention to it.

Pak Abdurahman thought he was looking at a Common Greenshank till the bird flew, when it revealing this amazing wing pattern.

I believe it is a Common Greenshank, showing an extraordinary form of leucism. What do you make of it?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peninsular Malaysia Checklist now online!

A Checklist of the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia was published by the Malaysian Nature Society last year as MNS Conservation Publication no.10. A downloadable.pdf format file of the checklist is now available at the MNS-BCC Records Committee website. Thanks to Wilbur Goh, the RC Secretary, for uploading the pdf!

The online checklist will be updated periodically (there have already been four additions to the list since it was published), so check for revisions from time to time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

16th May 2011: Chartered pelagic, Tanjung Dawai, Kedah

This was the second chartered pelagic trip to go out from Tanjung Dawai in three days. On the first, the group had seen many Short-tailed Shearwaters but little else. However, on the same day, a pelagic off Singapore had recorded good numbers of Swinhoe's Storm-petrels, so we were hoping for greater things!

In the end though, apart from a distant Long-tailed or Parasitic Jaeger, we couldn't improve on the 'catch' of the first trip, and in fact, only saw 3 shearwaters, so it seems that the northward migration is winding down.

Still, we were very happy to get excellent views of the birds we did see. A few pics below:

Of course, the shearwaters were the star attraction, and no one could complain about the views we had!

Seeing them today I realized that the body feathers are worn, not fresh as I'd thought earlier. This last bird was in a particularly worn state, as can be seen by the water-logging of many of the body feathers.

It was instructive to see how their appearance could change with posture. The upper bird is relaxed, and seems to show a rounded, large head and shortish, thick bill. The lower one is alert, and has stretched its neck and flattened its feathers close to the body, giving it a squarish headshape and making it look small-headed and long billed.

Some hunting shots:

This would have been my "National Geographic shot' if only the fish had been in focus!

This was the next frame - so the fish escaped - this time!

Some Black-naped Terns...

There were not many Common Terns around, but this was an interesting bird. I'm guessing it's a 2nd summer - possibly 'tibetana', though it could be 'minussensis', which is supposed to have characteristics intermediate between 'longipennis' and 'tibetana'.

The best of my efforts at the breeding plumaged White-winged Terns.

A nice place to stop for our lunch and a short swim.

Flushed with success! A satisfied (and rather pink!) team head back to port after a full day in the sun!

By the way, for anyone thinking of exploring pelagic birding in new areas, there's an excellent article on how one can go about starting up here.

Great Great Snipe video!

My Monday morning perusal of Surfbirds to see what's been seen in the UK recently brought to light a displaying Great Snipe in Norfolk. Now there's something I'd love to see!

After finding that the video of the bird displaying had the sound removed (too many expletives being uttered in the hide at the time apparently!), I cast about a bit on YouTube and came across this video of birds displaying at night in Sweden. Even if you're not a waderphile, I can guarantee that this is worth a watch!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

500 Club - they're all at it!

Following James's five-in-a-day haul, Mun has now followed suit, jumping from 538 to 543 in a mere 12 hours! See how he did it by checking out his blog here.

With more pelagic charters planned for this coming weekend, I'm sure that the Club will have quite a few more 'movers and shakers' soon. How long before we add new members too. I know that there are a few folks in the nervous nineties!

Monday, May 09, 2011

4th May 2011: At sea off Tanjung Dawai, Kedah: Part 3 - Terns

One of my ambitions is to see ten tern species in a day on a pelagic trip. I've seen 8 tern species in a day once before, and we equalled that total today.

At times, Bridled Terns were the most numerous species. This superb photo is by James Eaton.

Common Terns were the other numerous species - this is the rarer, red-billed 'tibetana' race.

There were a few White-winged about - these were taken at last light late in the day. A couple of flocks of Whiskered Terns flew north in high, close-knit flocks, but didn't linger.

The first 'good' tern of the day was this typically solitary Aleutian.

Although it never came close, it did at least remain in view for longer than the usual brief fly-over, enabling us all to get prolonged views of this stunner.

There's something very distinctive about the short-necked, long-winged jizz of this species.

They say one good 'tern' deserves another, and it wasn't long before we had this juv Sooty Tern flying around the boat. Unfortunately, it was rarely in good light.

Another bird with a very distinctive shape - looking like a gigantic 'marsh' tern, and often flying with the body angled downwards towards the front.

They seem to do this a lot too!

James had a brief view of an adult, but it didn't hang around, sadly. Last year, Sootys started showing up in early June, but perhaps they're early this year, like the shearwaters.

Near dusk we saw the juvenile again, not close, but easily 'pickable' by its odd shape.

Peter scanning for petrels! One of the crew reported seeing a very small all-dark bird dancing over the surface of the water the previous day, which sounded very like a petrel. I've been hoping for a Swinhoe's this month, but no joy yet!

The eighth tern of the day (we also had Black-naped) was this stunning adult breeding Roseate.

This is James's version!

Like the juv Sooty, this bird appeared again at dusk, following the boat. Its pale plumage contrasted with a much darker Common Tern (right).

No Little or either of the crested terns today, so I reckon a ten-tern day is definitely possible! Still, we were very happy with having had a superb spread of birds and many close range views. May seems to be THE month for pelagic birding off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia!