Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda IBA, mainland Penang: 11 March 2013

I spent about 6 hours in my hide today waiting for the birds to be pushed up by the tide.

Hide_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1921 Hide_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1919I have to say it was quite a disappointment. Despite the tide being high, the heat caused a haze that affected visibility and photography, and after waiting hours for the birds to get pushed up in front of the hide, they were spooked at the critical moment and roosted either side of me rather than right in front. Oh well, it made me realize how fortunate I had been the previous couple of visits!

Lesser Sand Plover_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1824Few birds came close enough to avoid the heat haze – this Lesser Sand Plover coming into breeding plumage was one that did.

Pacific Golden Plover_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1917And a wary Pacific Golden Plover.Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8343

An extremely suspicious Common Greenshank. This bird is still growing its outermost primaries, so looks  a bit truncated.Marsh Sandpiper_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8354

And a Marsh Sandpiper coming into nice plumage.Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1831

Numbers of everything were well down, including Nordmann’s Greenshanks – only about 20 present today, and this is the closest they came.

Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1852 Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1866Waiting till the last moment at high tide before going to roost.

Great Knot_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1814There were at least 2 leg-flagged birds – this Ko Libong-flagged Great Knot,

leg-flag_Curlew Sandpiper_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_7950and this Curlew Sandpiper, which I only saw when going through my photos. Not sure what the flag combination is, which is frustrating.

Little Stint_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_1886This is typical of the conditions today! A Little Stint (right) at the roost in the heat haze. Note the much longer legs than the Red-necked on the left and the bill shape, which is slightly accentuated by the angle in this pic. There were 2-3 Little Stints today, all identified on leg length and bill, head and body shape. None are yet showing distinctive plumage characters.Eurasian Curlew_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8155

Part of a flock of Eurasian Curlews.

Great Knot_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8080Great Knots and Bar-tailed Godwits.

Pacific Golden Plover_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8096Pacific Golden Plovers.

waders_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_7999Mainly small calidrids – Red-necked Stints, Broad-billed Sandpipers and Curlew Sandpipers (the latter in the minority). Broad-billed have a distinctive dark leading edge to the wing in flight (above and below).waders_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_7937

Great Knots and Bar-tailed Godwits incoming.

waders_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8184Thes two dogs (leash still attached!) had great fun chasing the waders at the roost. In truth the waders weren’t that bothered, only flying when absolutely necessary and landing again just out of reach.

Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8206I took a lot of pictures of flying Tringas today. They could have been closer, but were still interesting. Here’s a Marsh Sandpiper (top left) with two Common Greenshanks. The overall paleness of Marsh Sandpiper, including the whitish underwing, makes them more of a confusion possibility with Nordmann’s at a distance than Common Greenshank in some ways.Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8227

The upperparts of Marsh Sand are generally paler and greyer than Common Greenshank.

Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8246Lined up for handy comparison! The easiest way to tell Marsh Sandpiper from Common Greenshank (apart from size) is to look at the overall structure and bill, not just the leg projection beyond the tail, which can be difficult to judge.

Marsh Sandpiper_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8248It’s interesting to notice the variation in underwing colour of the three Marsh Sandpipers here. The bird in breeding plumage has duskier greater underwing coverts.

Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8328 Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8315 Common Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8313Common Greenshanks have well-barred underwing coverts.Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8039

Nordmann’s (right) look legless alongside the much more attentuated Common (left).

Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8048Apart from the difference in leg length and underwing covert colour, Nordmann’s are fatter- bodied and shorter-necked than Common (left).

Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8054One Common Greenshank (right) and four Nordmann’s.

Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8173 Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8175Two Nordmann’s. The bird on the left is still growing its outermost primary, and is in very drab plain ‘non-breeding’ plumage. I wonder if this makes it a second winter bird?

Nordmann's Greenshank_Teluk Air Tawar_110313_IMG_8020A couple of apparent adults going the other way.

I had a good look at the stints today on the rising and falling tide and during the high tide roost, and feel pretty sure I would have seen the Spoon-billed Sand piper if it had been there.


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