Thursday, November 3, 2011

Birding with Sifu Karim Madoya on 29th October 2011

Went to KK for a seminar on 28th October, took the opportunity to do some birding in Penampang paddy fields with sifu Karim on 29th October before coming back to Tawau. I was lucky to record three lifers on that day.

Penampang paddy fields has been very very "hot" in October with sighting of some very very rare vagrants of Borneo. They are Oriental Plover Charadrius veredusSharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus,   Little Curlew Numenius minutus, and Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata. Most of them are passage migrants and only stopping by for refuel, they will continue their journey southward after refueling.The window to take pictures of them is, therefore,  only a few days at the most, sometimes even shorter.

Thanks to Karim who took the trouble to fetch me from my hotel at 6.00 am and spent the whole day with me. 

The morning started quite slowly with plenty of Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareola around the area while we were scanning for Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata which was photographed the day before,  but we could not locate it.

While scanning, I took photo of this small group of endemic Dusky Munia Lonchura fuscan. They are everywhere around the paddy fields here but not as common in Tawau due to shortage of similar habitats there.
Dusky Munia

Greater Painted Snipe Rostrayula benghalensis is also a common bird here but I have yet to see one in Tawau, the scarcity is also due to lack of suitable habitats. Even though they are common, to get a clear photograph of this species is easier said than done as it is a very shy bird and seldom come to the open.My best effort was this pair partly hidden behind some long grass, this was my first lifer for the day.
Greater Painted Snipe Female
Greater Painted Snipe Male

We later tried to photograph the ever popular Red Avadavat Amandava amandava, where a small feral population has established here and I think they should be doing fine as evidence by a juvenile with an adult male, furthermore, I also found them here in April this year.

An immature Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus came to perch on the wire which was shared with the Red Avadavat.
Plaintive Cuckoo

While we were leaving, we spotted this rare 1st winter Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus foraging in a shallow drain, it was feeding there for a good 3 to 5 minutes, affording us some good photographic opportunities to get a sharp image. This was of my second lifer.
Red-necked Phalarope
We continued to Sugud Penampang to try our luck, hoping to photograph the elusive Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella, but the place was very quiet and I only saw some young Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trogonostigma and a Yellow-eared Spiderhunter Arachnothera chrysogenys feeding on a fruiting tree.
 Yellow-eared Spiderhunter
Immature Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

We went back to the paddy fields in the afternoon and saw this group of Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus on an overhead cable. This species originates from caged birds and is evidently well established in this area, however, I have not seen one of this in Tawau yet.
Crested Myna

We were rewarded not so long after with this rare Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, my third lifer. Sharp-tailed Sandpiper is a scarce winter passage migrant here, two birds were seen that day.
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo.

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