Waders, Teluk Air Tawar, Penang, 28 Jan 2013

The Greenshanks and herons were just the appetizer before the main course, which was served up as the tide rose with the midday sun.hide_2801131_IMG_0381

My rudimentary hide kept a bit of the heat off.

Teluk Air Tawar low tide_280113_IMG_0283And had the effect of making my partner in crime, Aziz, look as if he had been painted up in full camo!

The birds were pretty distant from a photography point of view, but the numbers were quite spectacular!

wader flock_280113_IMG_4222 wader flock_280113_IMG_4127 wader flock_280113_IMG_4140Best viewed by clicking on the image and enlarging! I managed a reasonable count of the birds on the deck at low tide today – 12,600 birds! This was limited by my optics’ ability to pierce the haze, as the bay stretches further than I can see, and my count was certainly only a fraction of what was there.

wader flock_280113_IMG_4246

The headland in the distance is Kuala Muda, which is where the mudflats stretch up to!

wader flock_280113_IMG_4545 wader flock_280113_IMG_4562 wader flock_280113_IMG_4594 wader flock_280113_IMG_4597As the tide rose, the birds retreated into baylets formed by stands of accreting mangroves, where they were largely invisible. Occasionally, the advancing tide or a threat invisible to me would put all the birds up, and only then give me an idea of how many there actually were – I would say – “a lot!”. Again, worth clicking on!

Pacific Golden Plover_280113_IMG_4112 wader flock_280113_IMG_4491 wader flock_280113_IMG_4520 A couple of flock shots taken as the tide rose – Pacific Golden Plovers (top) and a nice mix of larger waders (bottom two) (all the species from the Quiz, plus Eurasian Curlews, Grey Plovers, Common Greenshank and probably a Whimbrel or two).

The full count is here (registration (free!) is needed to view), but in brief, the highlights were:

Asian Dowitcher_280113_IMG_4420












1 Asian Dowitcher, here helpfully showing its underwing in comparison with Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits!Bar-tailed Godwit_280113_IMG_4348

700 Bar-tailed Godwits, including some already coming into breeding plumage (left).leg-flagged Great Knot_280113_IMG_0372

1,000 Great Knot, including this Ko Libong-flagged bird (perhaps the same as this one).Nordmann's Greenshank_280113_IMG_0318

52 Nordmann’s Greenshanks (and 300 Common Greenshanks – both are shown here). The NG number smashes my previous high count here (and indeed, anywhere – my first half century!), but there is no logical reason why there were not more than this – if only I could see the whole bay!

Nordmann's Greenshank_280113_IMG_0343The thin white line! Nordmann’s live on the edge, in more ways than one. Twelve of them are here, as well as a Grey Plover, of which there were 120 today (less significant globally, but more than double my previous best count last visit).

There’s a video here of 32 roosting NGs (as well as a Common Greenshank).

wader flock_280113_IMG_4669The nearest inlet to us was full of birds as we left at high tide. Many, many more birds roosted in similar inlets to the north, between us and the headland at Kuala Muda.


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