Wednesday 22 August 2018

Migration Check 2018-2019: Red-Necked Stint

I felt like someone out there has robbed me the hours that I should have for one day. It doesn't feel like twenty four hours in a day anymore. The last birds migration for Langkawi ended towards the end of April 2018, felt like days ago. Time rocketed too quickly and it is scary. I have yet to complete the summary for the last migration and the new season has started. Just barely three months have past, our migrants, a Barn Swallow and a Grey Wagtail were spotted on 15th July 2018 on my birdwatching tour. Then later towards the third week of July was a Common Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper in the first week of August. Early arrival?

Our rainy season is now and it didn't feel like our ordinary rainy season. The weather for the past three weeks was sunny, hot, humid and occasionally hazy. Thankful in a way, otherwise our nature tours will be cancelled. After three weeks of hot and humid, a storm came with a big gust on Sunday 19th August 2018 afternoon. This had helped to cool the temperature down. And as well as an opportunity to check out any birds on migration may be possible blown off course during the storm out at sea.

I headed out to my favourite swampy field and reeds to look for any migrants which have checked in. This vast area is a reclaimed land near the airport runway and I would say it is the final habitat in Langkawi for waterbirds. A shelter and feeding ground and as well as hunting ground for the poachers. 

It was back to hot and humid yesterday and a short walkabout had two Brown-Winged Kingfishers calling from a distance. 
Can you spot it?
Birdwatching Langkawi
Yeah! It finally revealed!

One was seen after coming out from its hideout and the other was calling somewhere. This would be my first time encountering two Brown-Winged Kingfishers in this area at the same time. Good news?
Birds of Langkawi
A Little Heron attempting to camouflage itself by posing like a stick!
As I walked further towards the sea, I startled a huge raptor. I only managed to capture record shots of it flying away. It came back and settled amongst the trees. 
Oriental Honey Buzzard took off
Flew into the trees to take shelter
An early record of this Oriental Honey Buzzard has arrived. According to Lim Aun Tiah, our senior birdwatcher with vast knowledge and experience on Malaysian raptors, it is very early for this Oriental Honey Buzzard to fly in at this time of the year. It is a good record for Langkawi indeed. Did this buzzard got blown off course during the storm?

I arrived at the patch of swampland and expected my Lesser Sand Plovers to be there. They were there! Not many though, about eight of them scattered around the swampy patch. Do bear in mind that Langkawi is extremely poor with waders life as compared to the mainland.
Plovers and sandpipers parading
Bird watching Langkawi
Lesser Sand-Plover
Lesser Sand-Plover

Other waders were Little Ringed Plovers, Wood Sandpipers and Common Sandpipers scattered around the area too.
Little Ringed-Plover
Wood Sandpiper

Suddenly, something big flew in. Guess who has checked in?
Grey Heron in flight
It was close to 10am and already starting to get very hot. Twenty minutes after the Grey Heron has flew past above me, I spotted our local raptor, White-Bellied Sea-Eagle drying its wings. 
White-Bellied Sea-Eagle sunning itself after yesterday's heavy rain
While on the last scan of the area, I spotted something else that looked like new to this neighbourhood. From where I was standing while looking at it with my binoculars, I couldn't work out what it was. It was walking in and out of the grass where a Wood Sandpiper was. I gave it a couple of record shots. And then after, I lost it!

A heavily  cropped photo showed a stint-like. I am not familiar with stints and the only stint I have seen here would be the Long-Toed Stint. As this stint was near to a Wood Sandpiper and just to be sure that I am not photographing another Wood Sandpiper, I asked for help from other birders on the mainland who have done a lot more wadering than me. Dave Bakewell, our wader sifu, responded and threw me couple of questions leaving me to figure out. What did I come out with? A Red-Necked Stint! Woohoo!! My lifer and possibly a new record for Langkawi! Thank you for the id confirmation, Dave. Check out Dave's blogs here and then you will know why he is a wader sifu to me.   
Langkawi Bird guide
A Red-Necked Stint, possibly a new record for Langkawi. 
I probably lost that stint after this big raptor came flying in and distracted me. was just another White-Bellied Sea-Eagle - with a fish in its talons!

White-Bellied Sea-Eagle juvenile with a fish in its talons.

It turned around!

This juvenile White-Bellied Sea-Eagle did a circle above me before it decided to fly past over me.

Looked like it was about to dive!
Then it was pursued by the other White-Bellied Sea-Eagle which was sunning itself earlier. I was ecstatic as my first thought was, it is a courtship? Then I realised it was going for the fish instead. The attacker looked like it is turning to the sub-adult plumage.

Langkawi Birdwatching

The juvenile managed to evade the attacker
This juvenile did not give up easily

Still chasing...
What a stunning performance by these Sea-Eagles before I left the swampy area. And like magic, the Red-Necked Stint disappeared. 
Weather on that morning
A fruitful morning indeed and here is my list from that area:
1. Red-Wattled Lapwing  Vanellus indicus
2. Yellow-Vented Bulbul  Pycnonotus goiavier
3. Lesser-Whistling Duck  Dendrocygna javanica
4. Black-Naped Oriole  Oriolus chinensis
5. Paddyfield Pipit  Anthus rufulus
6. Little Heron  Butorides striata
7. Brown-Winged Kingfisher  Pelargopsis amauroptera
8. Collared Kingfisher  Todiramphus chloris
9. White-Throated Kingfisher  Halcyon smyrnensis
10. White-Bellied Sea-Eagle  Haliaeetus leucogaster
11. Oriental Honey Buzzard  Pernis sp.
12. Wood Sandpiper  Tringa glareola
13. Lesser Sand-Plover  Charadrius mongolus
14. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
15. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 
16. White-Headed Munia  Lonchura maja
17. Cattle Egret  Bubulcus ibis
18. Little Egret  Egretta garzetta
19. Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica
20. Spotted Dove  Spilopelia chinensis
21. Pied Fantail  Rhipidura javanica
22. Brahminy Kite  Haliastur indus
23. Common Myna  Acridotheres tristis
24. Greater Coucal  Centropus sinensis
25. Grey-Headed Swamphen  Porphyrio poliocephalus
26. Purple Heron  Ardea purpurea 
27. Red-Necked Stint  Calidris ruficollis
28. Snipe sp  Gallinago sp.

Looking forward to more interesting migrants this season!