Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pheasant-tailed Jacana on Christmas Eve

Every year, there are thousands of migratory birds visit Pulau Burung, it is also known as the Mecca of migratory birds in Penang. The area has very unique bio diversified environment, it has a huge fresh water pond, river, mangrove coastal forest and peat swamp forest, which provides a wonderful and suitable living environment for the wild birds.

I visited Pulau Burung on Christmas eve, and spotted the Pheasant-tailed Jacana, a handsome Black-capped Kingfisher and many waders and waterbirds. Pheasant-tailed Jacana is my lifer, and I was lucky to spot this rare migrant there.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana, or simply Jacana, is one of the rare migratory waterbird in Malaysia, and this is the first sighted record of this species in Penang. It was first sighted by a young but experienced Penang birder, Terance Ang on 20th December 2009 in Pulau Burung, a great Christmas gift to birders and nature lovers of Penang state.

This picture shows the actual size of the bird as compared to the Little Grebe, it is slightly bigger than the grebe. If you know the size of the grebe, you will be able to estimate how big is the bird.
Let's take a look of the bird, especially that fascinating pheasant tail, but where is the pheasant tail?.
Actually, this visiting Jacana is a non-breeding adult. The long blackish pheasant tail is only appeared in the breeding adult, and can only be seen in Indo-china, South-west China, Taiwan and India. One of the best place to see this breeding adult plumage is in Guantian Jacana Conservation Area in Tainan county, Taiwan.

Look at the leg of the Jacana, it has huge and long toes to help the bird to balance itself when walking on the big leaf in the pond, especially the lily pond. Its nickname is a leaf-walker.

visit this LINK to learn more about Jacana (in Chinese only), or visit this LINK to find out more about Pheasant-tailed Jacana in Taiwan

Another fascinating bird I spotted was the Black-capped Kingfisher, it is one of my favorite Kingfisher, I managed to digiscope it for the first time, it is a handsome Kingfisher:

Other waterbirds that I digiscoped include a pair of Lesser Whistling Duck, juvenile common Moorhen and Black-winged Stilt. Glad to see the new generation of the Common Moorhen are living happily and healthy in Pulau Burung.

After visited Pulau Burung in the morning, I proceeded to Air Hitam Dalam Recreation Park in the afternoon.

Paddy field in Air Hitam Dalam:
Here are what I saw in Air Hitam Dalam. My old avian friend Mangrove Blue Flycatcher:

Green-billed Malkoha shows its enchating tail:

and on the way back, I saw this Black-shouldered Kite, my lifer:

Merry Christmas!


  1. Among the raptors, for me, only the Snowy Owl is more sttractive than the Black-shouldered Kite. A very good pic of a very handsome bird.

  2. Your photos are stunning, I love reading your informative descriptions, thanks alot.