Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sg Balang :: Siberian Stonechat

31st Dec 2010 

Sg Balang @ 7am

"Must get the Russian before new year"  - that was the motto i had in mind few weeks ago after news that the Siberian Stonechats were sighted in Nov. I am not really sure if they are from Russia but generally speaking migratory species are the priority, for most birds photographers.

My previous visits were too obsessed to get something big and rare, like a vulture! So all the little ones were basically ignored.

Being small they are not easy to spot, but luckily they are tame and only perch clean and low, and as long as you maintain a safe distance of around 20', you could have whole day to photograph them.

I was lucky to find the male and female roughly 100' apart. Lighting was extremely harsh and the male was not that tame compared to the female. It always looked  cautious and nervous, almost every shot that I have shows a watchful eye at me. Getting a bit too near would see him fleeing away and perch another 30' away. 

Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
Murai Sawah * 黑喉石 * ノビタキSẻ bụi đầu đen
Tarier pâtreprhlaviar ciernohlavýЧекан черноголовыйนกยอดหญ้าหัวดำ

Not so much drama on the female, she would land on the paddyfield not far in front and come back to the same perch again if I had back off a little.  So it was a real joy to shoot the couple. Every time one flies away I would walk to look for the other one! Simple and effective works almost every time!

And after shooting the Stonechats I was getting really hungry because my usual restaurant for breakfast and Nasi Lemak bungkus store were both closed on my way to Balang. In fact many shops and food stalls along the main road were closed...

female Siberian Stonechat

And Corn/peanut pancake for breakfast and lunch was not something i had in mind, but that was the only food i could get without venturing far from the paddyfield. The whole town was celebrating the winning of the soccer match against Indonesia and little did i know that 31st of Dec was declared as public holidays! 

RM1.50 (US40cents) for both breakfast and lunch! That must be my cheapest meal for the record!

Farmers are flooding the fields in broader scale now, with many pumps used at severalt locations to help speed up the flooding.

Sandpiper, Snipe, and PG Plover were sighted in many areas but all in very small flocks or as an individual in a single field. Perhaps the spaying of pesticide might explain that. 

"STOP spraying pesticide, we are eating here!!"

A few flocks of Tern came by and left without feeding. Besides the single BSK I saw near the entrance in the morning, and a Brahminy Kite came hovering for a few mins at noon, no other raptors were seen for the whole day. 

Common Greenshank

Pacific Golden Plover

Pintail/Swinhoe Snipe?

This probalby giveaway its true ID! So, Ah Swin or Ah Pin?

Little-ringed Plover

Friends who came last week reported the sighting of GH Lapwing and scores of Long-toed stints but unfortunately they were not celebrating their holiday here. 

I don't really know how to do bird count but if my fingers and toes were telling the truth, the no. of Paddyfield Pipit and Wagtail were about 50each and mostly occurred at the S Eastern part of the paddy fields, in a group of 4-6 for the wagtail.

The Pipits would flee long before you are in the 20' vicinity, unless you caught them doing the stunt of "sand massage" on the dirt road which happened to me twice.

Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)
Ciak Bendang * 田鹨 *ヒメマミジロタヒバリ
 Pipit roussetlabtuška ryžováนกเด้าดินทุ่งเล็ก

This particular pipit was having a complete/full-course rub of its neck, sides and bottom, for a full 5mins before I was allowed to pass thru the dirt road. 

"Not so fast! My bottom is not finished yet!"

And the mixed flock of Munias were having some leftovers so don't expect to see them next month i guess. 

Can you spot the sarcastic smile of the white-headed munia right 
in the centre? I am still unable to get a good shot of it yet! Arrrg!

And Wei Luen, in case you are reading this, I have checked every nest box and banana tree in Sg Balang, no Barn Owl for me again........ :(

And some common birds of Sg Balang

Lesser Adjutant

 White-breasted Waterhen

 Yellow Bitten


 Purple Heron

White-throated Kingfisher


  1. lovely...just lovely and have a great birding year ahead.

  2. Hi Paul,
    Good outing and excellent catch of the S Stonechats.

  3. Hi Paul,
    What an outstanding collection you got! I loved the stonechat shots, but man, you got a really great collection there. Happy new year to you and your family...

  4. Thank you Chris! Good to see you back in action again!:)

  5. Great report Paul - glad you managed to get the Stonechat couple ! Congrats !
    I still need improvement shots of the male ! :p
    and please do let me know if you spot the GH Lapwing and especially the Barn ! Me WANT too.. :)