The mining ponds at Malim Nawar in Perak always look as if they have great potential, and over the years, they’ve proved to be quite a rarity magnet, with ‘firsts’ like Long-billed Plover and Eurasian Wryneck, and other rarities like the Tufted Duck earlier this year. If only they weren’t a two and a half hour drive away!
But I bit the bullet and got up very early, tempted by the carrot of plenty of Long-toed Stints and a Little Stint photographed by Amar a few days previously.
I set my hide up in an empty fishpond where there seemed to be quite a lot of wader action. Before long I spotted the Little Stint in among a bevy of Long-toed.
I won’t go into the details of Little Stint identification again (see previous post), but this is an extraordinarily long-billed individual, and it shows the distiinctive fine tip and slight downward curvature well.
It was noticeably larger than the accompanying Long-toed Stints. So why is it called “Little” you may ask? The same reason that Common Kingfisher is called “Common” and Oriental Magpie-robin has its name. Basically, most English bird names are UK-centric, named by British ornithologists of yesteryear, and I guess it is “little” when compared to other common waders in Britain (e.g. Dunlin).
It came a bit closer eventually, and this helped me pick out a few breeding feathers – a median covert on the right side and one or two rear scapulars – all showing nice large black centres and broad orangey edges. The leg length, bill length and shape, and overall structure (see last post) clearly ruled out Red-necked Stint, but it’s always nice to have one or two breeding feathers as ‘clinchers’! This is the second Little Stint I’ve seen at Malim Nawar (here‘s the first), and I’ve still yet to see a Red-necked there. While Red-necked is a true intertidal bird, my experience of Little Stints in Malaysia is that, though they do occur on mudflats, they seem to prefer freshwater environments.
Creepy! That’s how I’d describe Long-toed Stints. They creep about on constantly flexed legs, always looking hunched and furtive. All the birds I saw today were adults, and this one’s still growing out its new tertials, so you can clearly see the extent of the primary moult – still the outer 2 or 3 to go.
More birds in moult from breeding to non-breeding plumage.
An adult (sexed as a male by the narrow breastband) Little Ringed Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage. The new scapulars have quite rusty brown fringes.
Another adult, well through its wing and tail moult already. All the primaries are new (the outer one is still growing), and only the outer secondaries are new. There’s a fantastic resource here. If you click on Little Ringed Plover, you’ll download a fully-illustrated article showing how to age and sex LRPs. They show the curonicus race, which is the same one we have here.
In addition to tons of Long-toed Stints, Wood Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts and Oriental Pratincoles, this pool had an adult Black-tailed Godwit. The bird had an injured leg, and possibly spent the summer here.
Some appeared more richly toned than others, but as far as I could see, all were adults. I think the one above has partially moulted into non-breeding plumage, so has some fresh coverts and scapulars. The one below appears to be in very worn breeding plumage.
I took plenty of shots, more in hope than anything, but I got lucky. This one shows the pin-like outer tail feathers which identify it as a Pintail Snipe. This kind of habitat is rare in Penang, where I see most of my snipe. There, all the “Swintail” Snipes which I’ve been able to identify to species (by photographing the outer tail) have been Swinhoe’s, and all have been in wet paddyfields or at the edge of marshy pools. Here the habitat was much drier. Could habitat preference be one key to identification I wonder? Too early to say, but worth following up on. There’s a good resource on Asian snipes here by the way, especially if you can read Japanese!
On my way back home I checked out the Pulau Burung Landfill site, now a sad shadow of its former glory. I snapped this juvenile moulting to first non-breeding Red-wattled Lapwing moments before it took off. It seems to have replaced it mantle and scapulars and one median covert.
The colours are nice but the conditions are appalling! A few Little Grebes are hanging on amid the filth.