David Wells, author of the 2 volume Bible of Malaysian avifauna, The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula (ubiquitously known simply as ‘Wells’) is spending an extended time in the region, and we arranged a short tour of the north for him to catch up on some of the many recent birding phenomena in our area.
After an overnight bus trip from Singapore, he was ready and raring to go, so we headed across the bridge to see what we could find on mainland Penang. First stop was the Manchurian Reed-warbler site, and the birds performed brilliantly, though not for the camera (i.e. I was too slow!).
It was interesting to see that they had completed their moult. The site was much drier than the last time I visited, and where there had been a deep pool previously, there was now a muddy puddle, out of which we flushed a black-and-white-looking wader with a distinctive, ringing call ‘t-veet-aveet-aveet‘. It flew directly away from us, and was gone too fast for a photo, but there was no mistaking the call or the appearance – a Green Sandpiper! This is a bird that’s familiar enought to me from the UK and further north in Asia, but it is truly a rarity in Malaysia, and one I have hunted for for many years. So that was a Malaysian lifer apiece for David and I – he had seen a Green Sandpiper many years previously, but the warbler was, of course, new for him. We soon added a second Malaysian lifer for him in the shape of a couple of Asian Openbills in the paddyfields.
Later in the evening we went sniping. This is one of many swiftlets hawking overhead – one of the domesticated variety of ‘white-nest swiftlet’ – which a recent Forktail paper has suggested may be a hybrid of imported taxa and native Germain’s.
We turned in at a reasonable hour in anticipation of an early morning start the next day, when we would be heading north to Perlis.