Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sg Balang :: 6th Nov 2010

Ducks are often seen at the stream opp the dump site before 7am

The feeding frenzy of the WW Terns continues at the rice fields, but the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were not amused this time. Morning we saw just about 10 WWTs but later in the noon, another 40-50 joined the flock and the BTBEs simply gave up on chasing them away.

White-winged Tern

Luenny, was grinning ear-to-ear after capturing some awesome shots of Lesser Adjutants in mid-air fight on this pole here.

Quite a few Ashy Drongos were sighted in Sg Balang.

Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
Cecawi Kelabuv *  灰卷尾ハイイロオウチュウChèo bẻo xám

The Pied Harrier was sighted not long after we arrived @ 6:45am. It wasn’t difficult to spot as i was prepared for it this time, but getting a close shot was tough, as it always moves away from approaching vehicle, and we spent more that 3 hours following it around the paddy fields and so photographing anything that came along. Tiring, but fun!

Pied Harrier

Most of my shots of the Pied Harrier were from very far distance and required 80-100% cropped, but the img quality was further deteriorated by the intense heat wave from the ground. 

I was extremely delighted to sight the Greater Spotted Eagle in flight while the Harrier was playing seek-and-hide with us, unfortunately, in the absence of White-bellied Sea-eagles, the little Black Kites rule the sky in Sg Balang, so the GSE was forced to the ground and attacked repeatedly by two Black Kites. 

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)
Helang Bintik *  * カラフトワシ * Đại bàng đen

Physically larger than the Black Kite and looks more fearsome too, but in a scene i recalled witnessing last year the GSE was forced to perch on the ground for hours while two Black Kites were circling high over it.

The Spotted Eagle is probably the most beautiful eagle in Sg Balang!

Black Kite dives in for attack while the GSE stretches its wing to defense

While the Blue-taileds bully the terns, they were frequently seen being chased away by BSKs when  perched on the pole.

This immature Brahminy Kite was roosting on a nest box and we got really close before it flew off. One of the basic trick of getting close to the raptors is never point your bazooka at them while approach them, and do not use your finger to point at them on sighting even though they are 100s of meter away. They are extremely sensitive to our movement, and of course lenses/binoculars are just monster eyes to them.

 immature Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
Helang Merah * 栗鸢 * シロガシラトビ  *  Diều lửa

we were about 30' when it flew off, the bottom pic is min cropped.

I kept telling myself not to shoot the BTBEs again, but how could one resist not to shoot this gorgeous BTBE on such a clean perch? Don't blame the camera if you are unable to get a clean shot of the Blue-taileds!

We were taking a break here and ready to set up our gear for a flock of egrets roosting nearby, an Oriental Pratincole was spotted by Luenny, guai-guai perching across the stream. I must thank him for that because the Pratincole just looked like a lump of mud to me, and i was very much amused being repeated told that "look, look, over there, over there, look at the mud over there!" 

I couldn't see anything honestly except mud for 5 mins, while he kept firing! Luckily the Pratincole was not disturbed by our presence, It fact it spent much of the time tilting his head sideway watching the raptors circling on top. I suppose it looked like a lump of mud to the raptors too!

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Bangau Kerbau  *  牛背鹭/黃頭鷺 * アマサギCò ruồi

Go find this bridge, the Pratincole should be guai-guai squatting here full time!

The Oriental Pratincole was just across the stream when spotted. We shot from car initially and venture out after acquiring some decent shots, just to see how much we could be tolerated by the visitor. It didn't fly away when we approached it slowly, but it would always maintain a cautious 30' distance from us.

Oriental Pratincole (Glareola maldivarum)
Kedidi Padang * 普通燕鸻ツバメチドリDô nách nâu

Another delightful sighting was this juvenile white morph Changeable Hawk Eagle. Again, it was "grounded" and perched tamely on the ledge by a Black Kite. The poor juvenile almost fell into the drain several times while stretching its wings on defense. Grounded for almost 20mins, hence giving us the chance to approach it slowly for a decent shot. Eventually the juvy went towards the oil palm plantation and was not seen again. Pity!

juvenile pale morph, Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus)
Helang Hindek * 凤头鹰  * カワリクマタカDiều đầu nâu

I stopped for Luenny to shoot a flock of munias on a feeding frenzy on the rice grains, and this lovely white-rumped (I think the same guy as my last report) gave us a surprise clean perch at the last min, about 12' away. I just couldn't resist.....ok, no more munias, Blue-taileds in my next trip!

White-rumped Munia

And thanks to Ah Long for sponsoring this beautiful truck for our trip!  谢谢阿龙

Reliable, comfortable and economical! Nothing to fault on this truck really except the 2.5D is slightly underpowered even w/o much load, so, go trade-in for the 3.0D 阿龙! :)



I do receive a lot of mails/calls regarding the accessibility of the paddy fields by car. the main dirt road leading from the entrance is perfectly level and you can even drift your Lexus at high speed. The 3rd t-junction where a hut was built by the side should be avoided, that stretch of road is muddy all year round. Unless of course you spot a bigfoot squatting in the middle of the paddy fields......

Avoid this stretch at all cost, even you drive a 4WD truck, lots of potholes in the middle.

Generally it is safe to drive along the infield dirt roads that run along the irrigation conc drain but just watch out for a few potholes that are 1-foot deep. 

Smoother than PIE/NS Highway! Safe to clock your 0-400m in under 10s here!

Driving across the conc drain may be a problem for those equipped with Eibach Springs and Kamikaze body kits.

So be extra nice to your birding friends who owns a 4WD!


  1. Hi Paul,
    Fantastic captures of so many species, particularly love the close ups of the Kite and the flight shot of the cattle egrets. Well done.

  2. Nice ! Nice ! Lau nuah already..
    please don't torture us like this ! :p

  3. What a good catch for a single trip! Wonderful photography..

  4. What a splendid collection Paul.. I can't even say which on I prefer. All of them are superb!