Monday, November 30, 2009

Face to face with the Lesser Adjutant storks

After touched down from my Japan trip for less than 24 hours, I'm on my way to another short trip. This time round, I was on a short trip to Malacca with few nature friends over the Hari Raya holiday. The trip to Parit Jawa was an impromptu and I decided to pay a visit there while I was on my way back to SIngapore in the plane after my fantastic experience at Japan watching the Whooper Swans.
Since Parit Jawa was not too far from Malacca, it took just about an hour by car from Malacca so I felt that this is the best opportunity to visit there.
It was about a decade ago since I last visited Parit Jawa known as a haven for the lesser adjutant.
The minute I get out of the car, I saw this big bird with a bold head - unmistakable appearance of Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) undeterred by the construction of the new jetty. Thanks to the protector of the Lesser Adjutant - Mr Mansur Poh. Mr. Poh has for many years been speaking/fighting for the Lesser Adjutant to be protected and make Parit Jawa their home. His passion that gave Lesser Adjutant a place to live freely and that we get to see Lesser Adjutant in the wild year after year.
The tide is not very low when we arrive yet we get to see at one point 6 of them at one corner. From what we hear from the resident there, the best time to watch Lesser Adjutant is during low tide. That's when they feed actively and will come close to the shore/jetty area.
Series of photos of this rare birds. I took this photo which comprises of Lesser Adjutant, Black-caped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) & the Pacific Swallow so that you is easier to visualise the size of Lesser Adjutant.
Other than Lesser Adjutant, I saw 3 Collared Kingfisher not too far from one another. This show that the population there is very healthy.
This Little Egret is having a big meal-look at the size of the Giant Mud Skipper! The Egret just swallow the whole fish.
There are lots of Pacific Swallow too perched on many pole that are available there.
Just as every thing was so calm, suddenly an eagle appear and all birds just 'run' fly for their life. However, the eagle did not manage to get any birds on the first 2 attempts.
I have no idea what eagle is this. The sky getting darker and starts to pour heavily after few minutes.
How can we miss the famous food of Parit Jawa - Assam Fish. Asam fish is dish where fish is cooked in tamarind (asam) fruit juice. While waiting for our food to be served, HW try her luck at the lottery.
For PT, this is the first time she come face to face with the Lesser Adjutant.My favourate 'Teh Peng' (iced tea with milk).
These are some of the dishes that we ordered, Sambal sotong!Special tofu of Part Jawa
The main dish - the Asam Fish!
Look at HW face you know this is one of the best fish we ever had.
The fish almost gone..... look at the empty plate behind, the foods are really fantastic!
The fish is gone!
HW try to get every piece and bits of meet out from the fish.
What a fantastic outing we had!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Whooper Swan Watching at Hyoko Lake (Japan)

It was a fantastic experience to watch beautiful Whooper Swan in Japan during autumn. We depart from Changi Airport to KLIA for transit and took another 6 hrs to Narita Airport, Japan. From the airport, took another 6 to 8 hours train to Lake Hyoko via Nigatta. It was a long and tiring journey, but is worth it!
The Whooper swans are the autumn visitors to Lake Hyoko and they flew here to avoid the cold winter from the north. The Whooper swan looks so elegance and really stands out among all other birds there. There more than another 10 species of different birds(ducks) living at the Lake Hyoko.
Understand that Whooper swan stay with their mate for life! These 2 pairs of couple are showing each other their strength!
We often see this in martial art movie...walking on water! Whooper swan have no problem doing that.
I like to hear they sing...is like a car trumpet! Their singing melodies are made of 6 or 7 rising and descending notes.The wing span can up to 2.3m and can live up to eight years!
The juveniles stays with their parents and can be easily recognise by their grayish plumage.
The lake are also support more than 10 different spicies of birds.
Including these raptors.
The local authority take pride with their rare migrant and embrace it with lots of activities! Is a win-win both for the birds & also locals to turn this annual event to eco tourism.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mass Runaway

One of the die, die must visit during this time of the year will be Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. There are lots of migratory birds will stop here for refueling and this will be a good opportunity to spot all the rare visitors.
Those who are equipped with long lens will zoom in to take the close up shots of the birds especially those rare visitors. Since I don't have a a big canon, I just sit back to watch different species of birds sharing the same piece of land and feed on different foods that are available. Different species of birds feed on different foods based on the shape/length of their bill. Those with longer bill will be able to reach deeper into the mud to feed on burrowing animals such as bivalves.
Once a while all the birds will fly away almost at the same time and several time I observed that it usually starts with Red Shank.What a magnificent view to see thousands of birds take off at the same time where usually only get to watch on TVs!... But, what causes all the birds panic and send them to take-off at the same time?The answer is their predator... I managed to spot this bird of prey, White-bellied Sea eagle flew pass. Thanks to this sea eagle I got to watch this mass runaway at Sungei Buloh.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shower in public

It was a very hot afternoon at the northern part of Singapore, after feeding frenzy in the morning this Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) decided to cool down by taking a bath in the water.

First using both leg to kick the water to wet the bottom part of the body.

Follow by flapping the wings to wet it. The Whimbrel looks irritated by the action of this neighbour and walk away.

Kicking & flapping simultaneously and the bird is enjoying it. The Whimbrel is further away now.

After kicking, flapping & now is time to wash the face & head.The Golden plover repeat the process and the Whimbrel just watch from a distance.
After enough fun in the water, is time to shake the water away. The water droplet must have hit the Whimbrel eyes?

Flap even harder to remove more water before the plover head to dry area for preening.

video

I also took video of the bathing/shower process. One question remains...do this bird need to rinse with fresh water as other mammals do?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Can He Stick?

After the wet Saturday, the weather on Sunday is good so I went back to SBWR for exploration. Managed to see some interesting animals & some rare migratory birds such as the Broadbill sandpiper.
It was about 1pm and I was on my way back to the main bridge area suddenly heard some noise like some thing is falling from the tree just not far from me. A monitor lizard dash out from the bush and on the way crossing to the water over the other side of the path. Immediately I use my camera to take the first photo and to zoom in to check what is happening.
Apparently, the monitor lizard caught a big grasshopper and trying to swallow it. The grasshopper is still alive and the leg is still kicking.

The monitor lizard open and close the mouth very rapidly to adjust the position so that is easier to swallow the grasshopper and at the same time to ensure the grasshopper do not escape.
Water monitor lizard eat almost anything that they can find and swallow. From small insect, crabs, snakes, birds, even rubbish and human feces.
I didn't know they can hunt grasshopper too. They use their purple colour forked tongue to taste the air for food. I'm not sure if their tongue can be double up as sticky stick to catch insect like other lizards do. They can climb well, so as the grasshopper can jump in a split of a second. Water monitor lizard was not known to ambush for food. So how can the grasshopper end up in the monitor lizard's mouth? Has anyone seen a monitor lizard ambush and/or use their tongue to catch fast flying insect? It will be very interesting to find out.