Sunday 17 April 2016

Langkawi Birdwatching: Red-Throated Pipit on 10 April 2016

In search of the Grey-Headed Lapwing to photograph, I headed off to Cenang River, Langkawi with another birder, Tom Reynolds. Tom has been there a couple of times and saw this lapwing in that area. 

Grey-Headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus is a migratory lapwing  while our local lapwing is the noisy and shrieky Red-Wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus

Despite the extreme dry season this year, this small river is not completely dried up yet even though its surrounding is almost barren. 

We arrived at 8am and were delighted to see about three Slaty-Breasted Rails Gallirallus striatus running and dashing into the dried reed. The usual migrants are around like the Chinese Pond Herons Ardeola bacchus, Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareloa, Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum and Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva. Some of these migrants have turned to breeding plumage and is about time to head home.

Like those Slaty-Breasted Rails, we walk through the small patches of dried reed to get a bit closer to the waterbirds. 
There are still a lot of patches of short grass everywhere and we realised  that those are fantastic hiding spots for snipes. A snipe or two would suddenly fly out of the patch of short grass and disappeared in another patch of grass after a short flight. We caught a glimpse of a Painted Snipe!

It was starting to get hot at 9am and still no sign of my target bird. A breeding plumage Pacific Golden Plover was standing by the water and I took a few shots of it. Next to it was a little plumpy bird appeared next to the plover. I pointed out to Tom that this bird is unusual. Tom thought it was the usual pipit. However, we quickly took a few shots of it. It had some drink by the river before it flew away. We reviewed our images and it wasn't the usual Paddyfield Pipit. A bird that we have not seen before. Tom says, "Maybe a lark??". A mysterious bird. We will find that out soon.

We continued to wander around until I caught a sight of a raptor. A Peregine Falcon Falco peregrinus! Yes!!
It was so hot by 10am and is time to call it quit. As we were heading back on that path, Tom spotted the migrant lapwing. Finally!
Grey-Headed Lapwing
Lapwing flew away!!
This lapwing didn't stay long for us. Quite skittish.

Tom had to leave while I took fifteen minutes of break in the shade and returned to that same site. I was rewarded with Ruddy-Breasted Crake Porzana fusca and a snipe in the open! What a productive morning!
A Snipe
Tom inspected his images of the pipit and informed that we may have seen a Red-Throated Pipit instead of a lark! As far as I know that Red-Throated Pipit Anthus cervinus is not in the Langkawi birds checklist. Just to be sure of what we have seen, I sent Tom's image to our wader sifu, Dave Bakewells to assist with the identification. Thank you, Dave for your quick confirmation. 

I have submitted our sighting in the e-bird. Hopefully it is a new record for Langkawi. Even if it is not, this pipit is definitely my lifer.

My image is blurry and not sharp at all in comparison to Tom's image. Here are two images to compare:
A simple DSLR cropped sensor camera with 400mm without image stabiliser VS a full frame sensor DSLR camera with 700mm lens with image stabiliser. What a world of difference!
Tom Reynolds
Thank you for the Grey-Headed Lapwing, Tom!

1. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson.

Contact Wendy for Langkawi Birdwatching Tours to learn more about Birds of Langkawi.

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