Mainland Penang, 3 December 2013

With the identity of the buzzard still in the balance, I decided to go back to try to get another look and more photos.

Greater Painted-snipe_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0175

I started off pre-dawn at the snipe marsh. There was lots of bouncing going on in the gloom, but the birds retired to the reeds before it became light enough for photography. Other birds on view included Yellow Bittern, Watercock and Slaty-breasted Rail, Common and ‘Swintail’ Snipes, Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler and Oriental Reed Warbler.

Once it was properly light I headed over to the small copse where I guessed the buzzard might have roosted overnight. At about 9.15 a.m. the bird came out of the woods, followed by an ‘escort’ of Brahminy Kites and House Crows.

Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6260 Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6261 Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6262I estimated that it was about 30% larger than the Brahminy Kites in attendance – a big bird!

Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6273 Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6271 Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6266 Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6265 I got better views of the underside this time, and noted that the greater coverts were dark.Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6264

Buteo sp_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6286Sadly, the ferocious harassment forced the bird to leave, and it flew south till I lost it to view through the telescope.

Greater Spotted Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0194The ‘3rd plumage’ Greater Spotted Eagle was in its usual spot on pylon 320, and also not enjoying the attention of the local House Crows.

Greater Spotted Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0200 Greater Spotted Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0202I missed a good chance to record the call – it was very vocal.

Greater Spotted Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0203I wonder how many more raptors we’d have around if there were no House Crows?

Greater Spotted Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0232 Greater Spotted Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0242Greater Spotted Eagles were almost abundant – three 1st plumage birds in the same tree, another with greyer spots, and a sixth bird in heavy moult which I saw only briefly.

Eastern Imperial Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0265There was also a fine Eastern Imperial Eagle – what I’d call a near-adult – others may wish to determine its age more precisely.

Eastern Imperial Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0282 Eastern Imperial Eagle_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_0294Anyway, a majestic bird.

Red-thoated Pipit_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6292While waiting for the buzzard to emerge, I was distracted by a few Red-throated Pipits flying about.

Red-thoated Pipit_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6307This was one seemed to still be in full breeding plumage.IMG_6310

Also in the distance I could see a lot of mist-nets, so I drove over there to get the precise location to send to the Wildlife Department.

Chestnut-cheeked Starling_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6326This took me to an area I’d never visited before. A large flock of Purple-backed Starlings landed nearby, so I stopped to check for a vagrant Chestnut-cheeked as I usually do. BINGO! A stunning adult male!

Chestnut-cheeked Starling_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6318 Chestnut-cheeked Starling_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6323Given how difficult starlings are to view normally, I was exceptionally fortunate to be able to get some photos of the bird more or less in the open.

Chestnut-cheeked Starling_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6382It even posed for some digiscoped shots! I contacted the Hums and Terence who were birding nearby and we came back for another look, but the rain had begun in earnest and we were not able to relocate the bird. I would estimate that there are about 300 starlings in the area though, so I’m sure it’s still there, and perhaps there are others too. Well worth a look.

Chestnut-cheeked Starling_Kg Permatang Nibong_031213_IMG_6399A good way to find a Chestnut-cheeked is to photograph the flock in flight, then check them carefully.

starlingsChestnut-cheeked (right) lacks the white scapular line running from mid to rear wing.

So, two more ‘lifers’ to add to my Peninsular Malaysia list in two half days of birding – I’m going through quite a purple patch at the moment!

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6 thoughts on “Mainland Penang, 3 December 2013

  1. Lovely records. Would Himalayan Buzzard be counted as a distinct species or a subspecies of the Common Buzzard complex? Time to dig out all those shots of ‘Common’ Buzzards of years past!

    • Currently Himalayan is part of the Common Buzzard complex on the Malaysian list. Hopefully we will do a proper upgrade in the next 12 months. According to Robson, Himalayan should be the commoner of the two in PM, so I expect you’ve seen it. The trick will be to identify a ‘vulpinus’.

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