Monday, January 9, 2012

2012: Lifer Number 5 & 6

Where have the birds in Sungei Buloh gone to?

Foraging Milky storks (first three from left) watched by a pair of Painted storks. A small Sandpiper fronts the flock.
I guess we were a tad too late to see the rich collection of migratory water birds at Sungei Buloh. This morning, at 7.30 a.m. my niece, Jan, and I presented ourselves at the gates when it opened. We were the only two visitors there and had the whole wetland reserves to us. Bird calls, the sound of the incoming tide and the wind in the trees accompanied our stroll through it. Besides, the air was cool, which made walking easy.

However, at most hideouts, few of the famed water birds were seen and some had none at all except for mudskippers and noisy mynahs. Yet, for the few birds that still lingered here two were lifers for me, both from the stork family.

One was the Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea) and the other, the Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala). They foraged the waters together and there was no competition between them. The Painted Stork looked larger. Occasionally, they made loud "gok gok" sounds. And when in flight, their wings were large and spread out majestically with beautiful white and black markings. Both storks have pinkish faces and pinkish thin legs. Rather odd looking birds, I think.

The elegant Chinese Egret
Further on, a small number of Chinese Egrets (Egretta eulophotes) were blissfully having breakfast of shore fish and crustaceans in the shallow waters. They were snowy white, had long elegant necks and moved about quietly and elegantly.

We did see herons and the White-collared Kingfisher, plus two sea otters and two juvenile monitor lizards. The latter showed no fear of humans as we walked past them.  What an experience.

Hopefully, the migratory birds will make another pit stop on their way back to the north when spring comes. I would certainly like to see them.

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