Saturday, June 18, 2011

16th June 2011: At sea, off Tanjung Dawai, Kedah

I had made arrangements to take a Star reporter and photographer on the boat today, so it was a good excuse to go out and see what was still around. There had been a major storm the previous day and there was still quite a swell for most of today, and I think it brought the birds in too!

The first interesting bird of the day approached the boat from the rear, and for quite a while I had no idea what it was!

Fortunately it kept coming closer, and eventually revealed itself to be an immature Sooty Tern. What was interesting was that the bird apparently showed white in areas where even adults don't normally show white. For example, the extent of white on the forehead and crown was way more than would appear on an adult (being suggestive of a Noddy sp).

The white colouration on the outer primary coverts on the distant shots proved, on closer inspection, to be light reflecting off dark feathers.

The apparent pale grey on the inner primaries visible on the distant shots was the effect of light reflecting off freshly moulted adult-type inner primaries, which are covered with a lustrous silvery sheen (see the pics of adults on this post). I judged this bird to be a different individual from the one seen last on 4th May, as that bird was in pretty fresh plumage - I doubt so much wear could take place in the space of just over a month.

When the net was put out, I saw what I initially took to be another imm Sooty.

On getting better views, I realized that it was a Bridled, unfortunately oiled on its head and underwing.

Bridled Terns were overwhelmingly the commonest species in evidence today - around 200 at the net.

There was an interesting array of plumages on view; the lower of these two has lost most of its greater coverts and some lesser and primary coverts, exposing the white bases of the feathers beneath, leading to a very piebald appearance. Glad to see it has started to moult - otherwise it might soon be flightless!

Adults breeding-types had all but completed wing and tail moult (p10 and the outermost right hand tail feathers were still growing).

Most of the non-breeding plumaged Bridled were at a similar stage of wing moult to this bird, with all but the outer one or two primaries replaced (compared to 5-6 unmoulted on 4th May).

I was very surprised when the Brown Booby showed up again! Undoubtedly the same bird as the one first seen by me on 27th April (but probably present since February according to fishermen's reports) and last seen on 10th May.

It put on a superb show today, doing several close fly-pasts and joining the terns to feast on the fish in the net.

It has started its tail and wing moult, and seems to have replaced the central pair and the outermost pair of tail feathers - odd!

It's replacing some nape feathers too by the look of it.

A few more!

Two of the Short-tailed Shearwaters were still around - perhaps they'll stay to complete their moult.

The adult Roseate Tern was another 'old friend'. It still seems very much warier than the other terns, but it did come a little closer today.

Check out the out-sized conk and long black mane!

There were three Common Terns today - one of each age class. This is an adult - showing surprisingly dark underparts.

A 2nd summer...

And a 1st year bird.

The biggest surprise of the day was not one, but four jaegers! I thought that these would have long departed, but there were two first year Long-tailed Jaegers and 2 2nd yr or adult Parasitic. This is the first Long-tailed.

A second, pale-headed Long-tailed.

The first Parasitic, with tail extensions!

The second, with none.

The last jaegers of any description were seen on 10th May, so these are pretty late.

So all in all, an excellent day, with a surprising variety of birds on show for so late in the northern spring migration season.


Choy Wai Mun said...

Great shots of the booby and the roseate.

John Holmes said...

Can't get enough of the Brown Booby !

Ike said...

What a great turnout you had there! Great shots of the brown booby too!