Wednesday, January 25, 2012

24 January: Perlis

This morning we started at Kampung Tasoh to the sound of calling Great-eared and Large-tailed Nightjars and a Brown Hawk-owl. We spent the first hour of the day scanning the water's edge for jacanas - to no avail. No minivets either, but we did get a nice flock of 7 Racket-tailed Treepies grunting and wheezing softly to each other - a lifer for Hakim.

But our hearts were elsewhere, and it wasn't long before we headed back to Chuping, and that hallowed patch of earth!

This morning there were about 8 Asian Pied Starlings busily foraging - but it was hard to get them to stand still to have their photos taken in the early light.

A small clump of Mimosa in the middle was a magnet for the Plain-backed Sparrow flock, so we drove the car up and waited to see what else would show up.

I focused on the females today as I had got good pics of the males yesterday.

A male Eastern Marsh-harrier appeared distantly - perhaps the same bird as yesterday - and perched up on a ridge for some sun.

Our attention was drawn back to the bushes by the arrival of an Oriental Reed Warbler.

The white tips to the tail feathers , diagnostic of this species, are practically worn away on this bird.

A couple more pics showing the strong head pattern and faintly streaked breast.

Determined not to be upstaged, the Thick-billed Warbler popped into the same bush and performed outrageously! The distinctive feature of this species is the plain-faced expression, caused by the lack of eyestripe and pale lores. It is also markedly shorter-winged than Oriental Reed.

Shameless behaviour! Get back in the bush and start behaving like a proper Thick-billed!

That's better!

A smart Brown Shrike decided to forage on the ground.

A lone Eastern Yellow Wagtail - a male 'tschutschensis' type.

This prompted us to go back to the Citrine stake-out...

This is the track where it was yesterday, but where was it today? After a desultory walk round, we realized that the clouds of wagtails which had been here yesterday were absent, so we gave up and decided to search elsewhere.

It wasn't long before we noticed two tractors ploughing a strip of harvested sugar cane, and we realized we had hit the motherlode as far as wagtails were concerned!

The problem was, it was a case of 2 Fast 2 Furious, as hundreds of wagtails and other birds constantly moved around, chasing the freshly upturned earth. There was no time for leisurely study - we just had to get what we could before the birds moved off. Hakim spotted the White Wagtail in amongst this lot, but I didn't. Here's a selection of the birds I did get on to.

A couple of 'macronyx' types. Some of these had more of a supercilium than others, with the brighter ones being difficult to separate from 'tschutschensis'.

A couple which are closer to 'tschutschensis' in terms of the extent of the supercilium. The flying bird was the only wagtail we saw in two days which had anything like fresh wing feathers.

The 'taivana' birds, distinguished by having a yellow supercilium, were the ones we were especially interested in. Some of these 'yellow-headed' birds looked quite Citrine-like. This, and several other birds, had a rather pallid appearance.

This was presumably a male - with a much more marked head pattern (darker, olive coloured ear coverts and lores).

The pale bird again. It has several features suggestive of Citrine - an almost complete pale border to the ear coverts, a paler area in the ear coverts, rather grey upperparts. However, the green crown and forehead, reaching the bill, distinctly olive-washed rump and pale yellow vent all rule in favour of it being Eastern Yellow.

Another 'taivana'.

And another. On the left side, this bird appeared to have very yellow ear coverts. However, the combination of dark forehead and lores and very green crown distinguish these birds from yesterday's Citrine. Some pictures of Citrine on OBI appear to have dark lores. However, in all, as far as I can see, the pale superilium extends over the bill, creating the effect of a pale forehead.

This presumed male seems to be half way between 'taivana' and 'tschutschensis'.

As yesterday, pipits were scrutinized carefully, and this one caused a momentary stir, with its bright contrasty coverts.

However, the back and crown streaks were muted, rather than sharply defined (as in Blyth's) and we concluded that it was just a very fresh Paddyfield Pipit. Smart bird though!

The same Black-eared Kite as yesterday, and the same female Eurasian Kestrel were in attendance, creating further havoc for wagtail-watchers.

In the end, no Citrine today, but it was an instructional morning for all that!


Choy Wai Mun said...

The Thick-billed really seems to be in the mood for photography. Great shots.

Ari said...

What a wonderful catch Dave....must be worth the effort...