Tuesday 8 December 2015

Langkawi Bird Watching: Of Rain and Frogs

My target for this morning was the elusive Ruddy-breasted crake Porzana fusca at a reed bed. Arriving at the spot where this crake's hideaway is, I noticed the rain clouds have followed me all the way from town. I quickly set up my camera and tripod while hoping the wind will blow the rain clouds away. As if the waders knew a storm was about to arrive, the mudflat has no visitors. I waited for five minutes while the Common Mynas, Spotted Doves were looking kinda busy with their own thing on the other side and a cool looking Collared Kingfisher perched contently on the lamp post.

The storm was brewing up very quickly and it started to drizzle.  Reluctantly, I was forced to pack up and a few minutes later, the reed bed and its surrounding were rained on. A good roti canai breakfast would be an ideal activity then. Thanks to the wind, the rain didn't last too long and the sun peeped out from the clouds. The rain slowed down to drizzle. Off I went for the Ruddy-breasted crake! 

While I noticed the water was slowing rising and covering the mudflat, besides the lone Common Sandpiper on the mudflat, there were no other birds. No crake.

A whistling call came and I knew it was the Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica at the scrubby forest by the mudflat. Time to chase this bird as I yet to have a nice photo for this species in Langkawi. It went back and forth, flitting in and out of the bush. I got it alas!
This Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica descended to the ground and picked up an odonata sp.
The odonata was devoured very quickly by the Pied Fantail
Closely with the Pied Fantail were two Dark-necked Tailorbirds.
A very shy Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis; possibly a female
And a pair of Brown-throated Sunbird came along making a lot of noise. 
A female Brown-throated sunbird Anthreptes malaccensis checking out the flower that looks like from a Clitoria genus
More common colourful birds came out to dry their feathers and to feed.
A Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier checking out the fruits of Flueggea virosa  plant

Yellow-vented Bulbul is a very common garden bird and yet it has its own beauty. Do you know why it is called a Yellow-vented?
One of the prettiest common garden bird, a Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis juvenile arrived  
Heading back to the road, a quiet fella was enjoying its meal quietly. This coucal must have thought that no one was watching.
A Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis with a flatten frog
The Common Mynas and Spotted Doves were almost everywhere and the Ruddy-breasted crake was still reluctant to show up. I decided to change my venue and checked out the rice paddy field.

There were a couple of heads sticking out of the rice field resembling a snake.
A snake-like head sticking out
A cropped image from the above showing the head of a Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Purple herons Ardea purpurea are the largest resident herons in Langkawi and can be found in the rice paddy fields, reed beds and freshwater marshes. They can be seen on flight near above the rice fields near the airport. When they are on flight, they look like a huge and skinny raptor. 

While I was observing this individual, it had its neck kinked and disappeared into the grass for a second. It came out with a surprise...a huge frog!
I was about 10 meter away from this Purple Heron. This cropped image showed a huge frog clamped in between the mandibles of this heron. There is no way this Freddy could escaped.
The Purple Heron took off very quickly with Freddy
It landed further away and there was a Purple Heron juvenile nearby (on the right)
Have a good time with Freddy, Purple Heron!
This is what I love about Langkawi - her rice fields with the hilly landscape as a backdrop
And I was in the middle of this rice field!
Somewhere from a distant, a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva were spotted. These plovers are our winter visitors.
Can you spot the plovers?
Our migrants - a flock of Pacific Golden plovers Pluvialis fulva
...and I spotted another migrant...a shy one 
A Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis managed to escape from my camera
And more migrants were there and they are the common ones. Scores of Barn swallows Hirundo rustica hunting for tiny insects above the field. 
A Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica in non-breeding plumage

The weather started to change again and lunch time was calling me. I was very pleased with such pleasant weather today which was not too hot for birdwatching. Thank you rain! Although I didn't manage to get my Ruddy-breasted crake, I was contented with the captured images of the common birds with their preys. I will be back for you, Ruddy-breasted crake.

The last common migrant before packing up my camera.
A lone Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus at a far distance
1. A field guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson
2. Credit to Gary Ruben for his assistance in identifying the Flueggea virosa plant.


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