Malim Nawar, Perak, 20 January 2014

My Monday morning plans were thrown into disarray late on Sunday night, when a casual perusal of Facebook brought me to a picture of an “Oriental Pratincole”. It was not the photo itself which rearranged the following day’s schedule, but the identification of the bird in question – because it was actually a SMALL Pratincole! A little more research uncovered that it had been photographed at Malim Nawar on 11 January – nine days ago. Unfortunately the photographer had not realized the significance of what he had seen – and so had not posted the photo immediately.

There is only one previous record of a Small Pratincole in Malaysia, a single observer record in Johor on Christmas Day 2010, so, even though the trail was somewhat colder than I would have liked, I felt this was something I needed to follow up. After all, Small Pratincole pushes all the right buttons for me – it’s rare, it’s a wader, and it’s a smart-looking bird!

Sunset pond_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1231A pre-dawn start enabled me to complete the 2 hour plus drive and arrive just as the sun was putting in a hazy appearance. The pond where the bird had been was looking perfect – full of birds!

Black-winged Stilt_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1238 Black-winged Stilt_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1247Among the hundreds of Black-winged Stilts were a couple of birds with extensive black on the head and neck. I’m convinced now that this is within the range of ‘normal variation’ and doesn’t signify anything else (like White-headed Stilts or Avocet x stilt hybrid!).

Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0073 Little Ringed Plover_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0119 Grey-headed Lapwing_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0153There were good numbers of egrets, terns and waders about, including very numerous Long-toed Stints (top), Little Ringed Plovers and about 30 Grey-headed Lapwings.

Ruff_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1240 Ruff_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0134I found a Ruff picking its way along the back of the pond – it seems to be a good year for this species.Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0110 Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0113

A couple more flight shots of Long-toed Stints. They have a distinctive dark leading edge to the underside of the wing which is more extensive than that shown by other stints (cf Temminck’s underwing here).

Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1329 Long-toed Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1325Some Long-toed Stints came very close.

Temminck's Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1263 Temminck's Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1259 Temminck's Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1348So did one of the three Temminck’s Stints present.

Their slow, methodical feeding style reminds me of a clockwork toy that’s slowly running out of umph!

Temminck's Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_9993Here’s the same bird with a Long-toed Stint behind.

Temminck's Stint_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0006After being disturbed by approaching cattle.

stint tails_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0012The outer tail feathers of Temminck’s Stint (right) are white, where as all other stints have grey or brown outer tail feathers (like the Long-toed on the left). To be honest, this is not the most useful of field characters but it’s an interesting piece of trivia perhaps!Garganey_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1272

By now it was apparent that there were no pratincoles of any proportions around the pond, so I went to check out a few other places, like the duck pond, where the Garganey couple sat nervously in the fringes.

Northern Shoveler_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1299I noticed that when danger (i.e. me!) threatened, one of the Garganey went and sat by the male Northern Shoveler (which, by the way, is starting to show signs of moulting into decent plumage – wonder how long he’ll stay?).

Northern Shoveler_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1304A quick wing stretch revealed that the Garganey is a female (grey-brown forewing and broad white tips to the greater coverts). The other Garganey preferred to retreat into the thicker vegetation.

Pink-necked Green-pigeon_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1321Pink-necked Green-pigeons are really common, but the chance to take a good look, even at a female, is not to be passed by.

Pintail Snipe_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_1343The snipe field held – well – just snipe. I’m assuming this is a Pintail, on the basis that the snipes which have shown their tails to me in this field before have always been Pintail.

I also visited a stretch of the Kinta River where there are extensive sandbanks. It looks perfect habitat for Small Pratincole and Long-billed Plover, just like the Mekong in northern Thailand (except that it’s not quite as wide and is festooned with plastic bags and other garbage – a peculiarly Malaysian feature of riverbanks – sigh). There were Little Ringed Plovers aplenty, but no Long-billed or pratincoles.Water Buffalo_Malim Nawar_200114_IMG_0055

Giving it one last try, I went back to the original place where the pratincole had been photographed. I decide to walk along the bund around the pool, which nearly proved to be my undoing, as I was followed, and at one point, chased, by this very persistent female Water Buffalo. I had never encountered an aggressive individual before, but I shall certainly be treating this species with more respect henceforth! Before you ask, no, I didn’t take any photographs of her as she was running at full tilt toward me – sorry for being a wimp!

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One thought on “Malim Nawar, Perak, 20 January 2014

  1. Great post and photos as usual. Yes, the Little Pratincole would have been a great tick. I never take my chances with the buffalo – they look too aggressive to me!

    Mun

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