Thursday 31 October 2019

Migratory Check 2019/2020: Where's My Stint?

Whenever we noticed the arrival of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, it is time to watch out for the early check-in of our winter visitors in Langkawi. Barn Swallows were sighted as early as the third week of July.

Barn Swallow
And my first Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on 31 July 2019 though someone else has reported sighting of this sandpiper a week earlier.

It is time to put on my wading boots and head out to my favourite mudflat site.

I headed out on 29th August 2019 to the same mudflat while remembering my sighting of Red-Necked Stint Calidris ruficollis last year. Hoping, yes, hoping and I dislike to use the word "hope". I would like to see this stint again or any other stint will do. Or even better still, a new migrant!

Thank goodness with my wading boots to keep my feet clean from pools of rainwater mixed with cow and buffalo dungs! Even though migrants are my priority, I will also take note of our residents too.
Black Phua Chu Kang boots
Soft high pitch hiccup sounds from the reeds caught my attention and a little bird came out walking around. A White-Browed Crake Amaurornis cinerea which is in the family or Rail birds can be easily missed due to their small size and they don't make big movements. Very often they hide in the tall grass of the reeds bed. They can be also seen in wet rice fields or abandoned rice fields.

White-Browed Crake revealing itself, click the video below to hear its call

Other common resident birds on the fields will be our Paddyfield Pipits Anthus rufulus,

Lesser-Whistling Ducks  Dendrocygna javanica  

and Red-Wattled Lapwings Vanellus indicus.

An immature Red-Wattled Lapwing

Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva were the among first migrants seen on that mudflat and they seem quite comfortable to intrude the space of the resident Red-Wattled Lapwings.
Langkawi Birds
A Pacific Golden Plover coming out of its breeding plumage
Plover sharing space with our Lapwings
Langkawi bird
Birds of the same feathers flock together
Scanning the mudflat, I noticed a common plover that is not so common here which is the Greater Sand-Plover Charadrius leschenaultii. Greater Sand-Plover can be mistaken to be the Lesser Sand-Plover Charadrius mongolus. Note the yellow legs as compared to the Lesser which is black in colour. The thicker stockier bill for Greater comparing to the Lesser. There was only one Greater Sand-Plover on that entire mudflat. This is a good record for me as I have not seen a Greater Sand-Plover on Langkawi until now.
langkawi birdwatching
A lone Greater Sand Plover
And then there were the common andpipers such as the Common Sandpipers 

langkawi birdwatching
Lives by its name, a very common sandpiper call Common Sandpiper
 and Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareola
A Wood Sandpiper which may sometimes be mistaken as a Marsh Sandpiper

No Marsh Sandpiper sighted yet as reported by a foreign birdwatcher via E-bird on the last migratory season.

A small dainty bird caught my eye and it was far across on the other side of the mudflat. A stint! Or really? I cannot be sure from that distance even though the gist of it looked like out. 
A heavily cropped image of a Stint or Plover?

How exciting! I had to suppress my excitement until I get closer to it. After squeezing through the bushes, I managed to get close to it without scaring it away.
What are you peeping at?
 I knew I should not be so excited for it is only the Lesser Sand-Plover coming out of its breeding plumage.

I felt a bit of anti climax and yet at the same time, I am pleased to walk out of this mudflat area with close images of this Lesser Sand-Plover Charadrius mongolus. 
Here are two different types of Plovers side by side. Guess which is which?
Till then I will be back, always seeking always searching.

You may view my Ebird checklist here: