Malim Nawar, Perak: 1 September 2013

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.

Little Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5102A bit distant, but distinctively different!

Little Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5094I 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.Little Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5123

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).

Little Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5138It 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.

Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5168 Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5166Creepy! 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.Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5190 Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5195

More birds in moult from breeding to non-breeding plumage.

Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5201They have such a tiny head and narrow bill, quite different from all other stints. This one still has some breeding plumage crown feathers.Little Ringed Plover_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5150

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.

Little Ringed Plover_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5221Another 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.

Little Ringed Plover_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5222An adult female (judging by the width of the breastband) which has all but completed its moult into non-breeding plumage.

Malim Nawar habitat_010913_IMG_5240Pools like this are what makes Malim Nawar such a haven for waders.

Black-tailed Godwit_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5239In 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.

Pintail Snipe_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5251I found a grassy field with plenty of “Swintail” Snipes.

Pintail Snipe_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5250Some 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.

Pintail Snipe_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5275As the sun got warmer, some of them went into the thicker, taller vegetation to preen and sunbathe.

Pintail Snipe_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5274This one spent a good deal of time sunbathing.

Pintail Snipe_Malim Nawar_010913_IMG_5255I 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!

Red-wattled Lapwing_Pulau Burung_010913_IMG_3472On 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.Little Grebe_Pulau Burung_010913_IMG_3542

The colours are nice but the conditions are appalling! A few Little Grebes are hanging on amid the filth.

White-throated Kingfisher_Pulau Burung_010913_IMG_3468The day ended with an unusually confiding White-throated Kingfisher.

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2 thoughts on “Malim Nawar, Perak: 1 September 2013

  1. Super nice photos of the snipes, Dave! The habitat looks similar to where I photographed lots of Pintail Snipes sunbathing many years back. From my observation, I think that’s the kind of habitat where you’d find only Pintail but not Swinhoe’s which seems to prefer rice field over grassy area.

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