Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda IBA, Penang. 16 Sep 2013

This post could also be titled “Confessions of a Wader Addict”!

The day started pre-dawn with me sitting in my hide in the dark, hoping for the tide to gradually bring birds up close. In fact, by the time it was properly light all the birds had long since been pushed off the mud by the rising water. Still, the sandflies were very glad to see me –  the hide was thick with them (and I am still suffering the consequences!).

I then met up with Hor Kee and we decided to hire a boat to get out to the north bank of the river, where there was still lots of exposed mud. We got to see plenty of birds – an estimated 4,000 of them, but the light was dead against us, and the water was so shallow we could not approach anywhere close.

Whimbrel_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_3815

One of a pair of juvenile Whimbrel – the only birds to fly within shooting range.

We realized that the boat wasn’t going to get us our ‘fix’ of waders, so turned around and headed back to the jetty.

Next we headed out to my “Spoon-billed Sandpiper spot”, though I expected there to be no birds there by this time. Surprisingly, there were some, but hidden amongst the mangrove saplings, and threatening to leave any moment as the tide swamped the place.

Waders_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_5565

I can count six species in this frame – Lesser and Greater Sand Plover (the latter is back right, facing the camera), Common Redshank and Terek Sandpiper (two of each), Curlew Sandpiper and…the bird at the bottom left, facing away, which is…

Red Knot_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_5569A cracking juvenile Red Knot, one of two seen briefly before the flock flew off.

Waders_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_3818

Still not satisfied, we decided to test out the viscosity of the mud! Having managed to ford a small creek which sucked Hor Kee in up to the knees, we made our way on firmer stuff, following the flight of the waders till we came to a mangroveless mudbank with a roosting flock of a couple of hundred birds, which tolerated our approach.

Black-tailed Godwit_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_5577A lone juvenile Black-tailed Godwit stood out from the masses…

Bar-tailed Godwit_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_5590… as did a matching juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_5579The two almost side by side for handy comparison.Pacific Golden Plover_Teluk Air Tawar_160913_IMG_3861

A Great Knot trying to sneak past undetected among a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers (did you spot the one in the photo of the Black-tailed Godwit?).

So, in the end, we just about got our wader fix for the day, but we had to work hard for it!

We managed to scrape and wash the worst of the mud off, but it became increasingly apparent from the powerful stench following us around that I managed to sit in an otter spraint. Sitting in a hot car with the overpowering odour of rotting fish and otter faeces is definitely on the list of 100 Things You Don’t Want To Do Before You Die! Could it get any worse? Well, yes actually, as I had to drive to a meeting with my youngest daughter’s teacher, and getting stuck in traffic meant I had no time to go home to shower and change first… Don’t ask how it went!


5 thoughts on “Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda IBA, Penang. 16 Sep 2013

  1. Nice images of waders familiar to us here to your north-east…..
    Typhoon “Usagi” has damaged Mai Po’s boardwalk hides, so I’ve been dusting off my portable hide, too – but I’ll try to avoid testing mud viscosity if I can !

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