Recently I went up to the rice fields at Batang Tiga on the outskirts of Melaka to check out the reported trio of Aquila eagles. I planned to spend one night to break up the driving.
Leaving at about 4:30 am on January 8, I made pretty good time and arrived at the rice fields at about 7:45 am. The weather report had me very hopeful, and the sky at dawn looked like it might turn into a clear day. But it wasn’t to be, the morning was rather misty. On arrival I drove all around the available tracks, which aren’t many as compared to Sungai Balang. I guess maybe one fourth the size of Sg Balang and a lot fewer tracks. Still I got to see a stunning male Pied Harrier …
and soon after a Greater-spotted Eagle.
As great as these birds are, they weren’t the reason I made the trip. Soon however I came across a smaller track I had initially bypassed. And there I saw a digiscoper from Melaka who quickly put me straight about the less common eagles. In fact he had lined up both in his scope. But they were rather far. Later however I would be able to catch some flight shots of both the Steppe Eagle …
and the Eastern Imperial Eagle.
The rice was just in the process of being harvested, this left a lot of stubble that the raptors could see prey within. In conversation with other birders it seems that this field had seen these species of raptors before, but almost a decade ago, so it was quite special that all three species turned up in one relatively small area. Even more interesting all three species had the same favorite tree for roosting a night or roosting during the day when it got too hot.
Later that morning some more birders turned up and we all had a dinner that evening.
It was a real good idea to spend the night, as the next morning something rather unbelieveable happened. A flock of about 240 Asian Openbills turned up, adding to the coincidence Graeme and others had seen large flocks near Penang the day before. This was the first time such large numbers of this species had been seen in peninsular Malaysia, and the furthest South they had ever been seen. Among the comments made to each other that day was wondering if some of these birds would travel to Singapore, and surprise surpise, a week later at least six of them did!
And so, it was a rather happy group of bird watchers that day to have seen not only several uncommon eagles, but also a first large flock of storks this far South.