Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spoon-billed Sand Project: new video

Worth a watch!

Now I know what to listen out for when I'm at Kapar next weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

15 March 2012: Bukit Larut, Perak

This was a bare-faced twitch!

A male White-throated Rock-thrush has been showing well for photographers since it was found by Mun on 25 Feb, and, since it's a species I'd yet to connect with in Malaysia, I had been tempted to go for quite a while.

Things finally came together yesterday, and Choo Eng, James and I took the hour or so trip south. It proved to be a good decision!

This was my first view of the bird as it alighted momentarily, in full sunlight, on an overhead wire. It proved to be the only shot I got of it in sunlight the whole day!

As I watched the bird sit motionless for long periods, I realized I've probably walked past more of these than I've had hot dinners - well - you get the point!

People have regularly been putting mealworms out for this bird, and even set up a perch for it to land on! Well - these shots look a bit 'staged' to my eyes, but I'm not complaining too much!

This is how it spent most of its time, just sitting quietly in the undergrowth.

A few other birds did distract my attention too!

Ashy Minivets got a good grilling, but proved to be just Ashy!

There were lots of Eastern Crowned-warblers about, and several were singing their 'fizzy' songs - delightful!

The warblers were roaming around with a pack of Everett's White-eyes...

... and White-bellied Yuhinas (which I should really call Erpornises, except that I find that difficult to do without conjuring up an image of some kind of dinosaur!)

And finally, a Golden Babbler peered into my lens to check me out!

So - thanks to Mun for finding this bird - you might want to make another visit to finally get some pictures! Oh - there's a video of it here.

10 - 13th March 2012: Raptor Watch, Tanjung Tuan

Compared to last year, this year's pilgrimage was a decidedly low key affair. The weather conditions conspired against getting many good photos, so, for a better idea of the event and its birds, have a browse through 12-13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th March 2011.

On the 10th, the entire day produced only 17 Grey-faced Buzzards, including this juvenile.

We were glad of the opportunity to watch any bird that would show itself, such as this immature Black-naped Oriole...

...and a Blue-throated Bee-eater.

After a while, even these disappeared, so we resorted to looking at pictures of raptors...

...And people HOPING to get pictures of raptors!

Thankfully, the 11th was a lot better! We counted over 5,300 Oriental Honey-buzzards, though wind and lighting conditions were still not in favour of the photographers!

The best of a bad bunch - a male, two females and a juv. I got much better pics last year!

The star of the day was a dark morph Booted Eagle.

The pictures would have been a lot better if I hadn't had the camera on the wrong settings! Still - it happens, and there will be others...

This Barn Swallow seemed to think it was hilarious!

The 12th was a new low - just one OHB all day, but fortunately, we had made the decision not to sit at the lighthouse. Instead we had a lazy day in the garden and by the beach, when I trained my camera on some of the common birds I usually overlook.

Asian Glossy Starling, Brown Shrike, Spotted Dove and Yellow-vented Bulbul, all taken with coffee in John and Ting Howes' front garden!

A pair of Oriental Magpie-robins coming to take scraps as we lunched at the Yacht Club!

At dusk we went to check out a green-pigeon roost hoping for Orange-breasted. No luck, but we did observe this male Pink-necked apparently eating mud from the foreshore - can anyone explain it? Perhaps taking mineral supplements?

A female Pink-necked Green-pigeon preparing to roost in Rhizophora.

So that was it for Raptor Watch this year. We were fortunate to have one 'big day', and it made us realize what exceptional fortune we'd had last year!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

7 March 2012: Pelagic off Tanjung Dawai, Kedah

It's been a long, almost 4-month break since I last set foot on the boat, and on this trip, I was hoping for some early Pomarine Jaeger action.

On the way out of the river, we passed this White-bellied Sea-eagle. As I watched, it swooped down and picked up this sea-snake.

I think it was a Banded Sea-snake - extremely venomous, but with little defence against the scaled and feathered talons of a Sea-eagle.

The eagle seemed in no hurry to consume its catch, so I wasn't able to see the conclusion of this encounter.

Quantity, rather than quality, was the order of the day. Commonest of all were White-winged Terns - I estimated at least 4,000 birds, and things got pretty congested when the net went out!

This reminds me of trying to find a parking spot in Penang!

At times, they would soar up high - most un-ternlike.

And at others, they would fly by all friendly-like, which was just what I wanted!

These are in chronological order, so they give a snapshot of what the lighting was like between 11am (the first photo) and 5.30pm (the last).

Spot the odd one out! You should be able to find a Little Tern in amongst this flock of Commons.

A first year Common Tern minus tail streamers.

Note the very much narrower wings of this (similarly-aged) Little Tern. This helps explain why Little Terns flap very rapidly, almost like bats, while Common Terns have a much slower, more relaxed wing action.

This adult Little Tern was one of about 50 present.

There were about 2,000 Common Terns, but I've already taken more than enough pics of these on other trips, so I restrained myself (ish!).

Very few were in breeding plumage yet (or maybe breeders have mostly already left?). Common Terns, for all their 'commonness' are stunningly graceful, well-proportioned birds!

Perhaps a second year bird.

More in-flight entertainment!

Surprisingly perhaps, no Poms today, but I was not entirely disappointed...

This graceful adult Long-tailed Jaeger gave a brief fly-by.

It was a bit lacking in the tail streamer department - early days still.

And a juv Sooty Tern eventually gave reasonably close views, having spent some time harassing the other terns jaeger-style, at a distance.

It's interesting to note that it's already in primary moult. This is a distinguishing feature of young Sooty Terns - their first post-juvenile moult is a full one, whereas Bridled only has a post-juv body moult, and doesn't start to renew its wing and tail feathers till its second moult, when it's approximately a year old.

Incidentally, there were only about 3 Bridled Terns today - it's still early for them, and for the jaegers. I expect in a couple of weeks it will be a different story!