A text from Mun on Sunday evening about a ‘large, all brown snipe’ flushed off the forest floor at Sungai Sedim on Saturday sent me scuttling over there first thing in the morning in the hope of finding what must surely have been a Eurasian Woodcock.
Before dawn in the car park, there were a number of swiftlets flying around, including three or four of these…
I realized I was watching what were presumably newly-fledged Black-nest Swiftlets. I identified them as such on the basis of the well-capped appearance and grey-brown underparts and rump. Besides, I doubt they could have flown this far if they were from a ‘swiftlet hotel’ somewhere.
These swiftlets were distinctive, not only in that they had long, broad-based, well-forked tails, but in their manner of flight. This was a series of shallow, stiff-winged, fluttering wingbeats, followed by long glides. The flight mode was reminiscent of a treeswift (but lacked the deep wingbeats) and enabled them to be picked out with the naked eye.
The tail fork was noticeable at all times, even when the tail was well-spread, and I found the breadth of the tail striking. It seemed broader at the base than the Black-nest Swiftlets. I have no doubt that these were Himalayn Swiftlets, and was pleased that they were more distinctive than I had expected. Unfortunately, they cleared off well before it got properly light, so I was unable to see any colour on them.
My Woodcock search proved fruitless, so I decided to head home. While driving through Kulim Hi-Tech Park I noticed a weir with water flowing over it on my left. The drought since January has been so severe that anywhere with water is worth a look, so I did a U-turn and made my way eventually to a manmade flood mitigation lagoon with a stream running through it. It looked promising!
The weir I had spotted from the road is at the far end of this photo, and when I reached it, I flushed this…
Until almost exactly a month ago, I had searched without success for a Green Sandpiper in Malaysia (for eighteen years!). The very next day, I saw my second, and now here was the third of the month! They’re like buses! This bird was coming into breeding plumage, and had less marking on the tail than the bird in Chuping.
It eventually returned to the weir, but the heat haze bouncing off the pvc lining of the stream made it impossible to get really crisp shots.
So, the potential superstar did not put in an appearance, but a very creditable supporting cast made the morning’s trip worthwhile.