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Monday, 22 April 2013

Migrants in the Seria grasslands, April 2013

The Seria grasslands around Panaga form a good wintering ground for many waders and it pays off to drive around here as something interesting can almost always be seen. Even in April you can still spot a fair number of migrant birds on the fields and in the ditches surrounding these.
Snipe are typically not easily encountered as they are exceptionally well camouflaged. Most views are of birds flying of from a foot in front of you, leaving you wondering how you could have possibly missed it before it took to the sky. And when you then do finally see them getting a positive ID is also not straight forward.
The bird below was providing me with a brief and clear view; a possible Swinhoe's or Pintail snipe.
Snipe species
This grey heron was see sitting on a lamp post next to the main road connecting the cities of Kuala Belait and Seria. The grey heron is an uncommon visitor to Brunei, though every winter a few birds are usually seen. The Tutong sewage works in Brunei especially are a good place to find them. 
Grey heron
Even though it was drizzling and lighting conditions were far from perfect I somehow felt compelled to get this bird on camera - and am still questioning myself why: it seems rather strange to fill your memory card with pictures of a bird that is one of the very common sights back in Holland. 

A little later I found a flock of pacific golden plovers in the grasslands, nicely coming into breeding plumage - perhaps I may still get lucky and find some birds in full breeding plumage before they've all headed up north.
Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva).
Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva).
The pond herons are also still around - I suspect that the below individual is a chinese pond heron; but until the breeding plumage is developed further I can't fully rule out that this bird is a javan pond heron.
Chines pond heron (Ardeola bacchus).
The most familiar migrants to the Seria grasslands are the egrets. Every year between September and May the Sungai Seria estuary and surrounding grasslands are home to a couple of thousand birds. Of the white egrets that winter here, the cattle egret is the most common. Right now the adult birds are also coming into breeding plumage - with the distinctive orange head and plumes on the back.
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).
This individual was vigorously defending a little wet patch that was created after extensive morning rains. I noticed some other birds doing the same.
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).
The bird would become quite aggressive every time other birds came too close. Others egrets seemed more relaxed and just used the water-logged field to simply lie down in.
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).
While driving back home through the grasslands this Sunday, like in October, I saw another small falcon flying fast across the road. Frustratingly I again couldn't get good enough views for a positive ID. As Kolbjorn got the same frustrating glimpse from the passenger seat at least this time the frustration was shared.

Folkert, 22/04/2013

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