Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oriental Darters in Sandakan.

Oriental Darter is lifer in Sandakan, it is an interesting waterbird that I have ever seen. They are really magnificent birds that not only can fly, but can also swim and dive into the water effectively. I spotted nine Oriental Darters at the same spot in Batu Lima, Sandakan. I spent whole day (20-May) there to observe their interesting behavior.

let's take a closer look of the darters, from the front view, to side and back view. Do you notice that they have a pair of wings with very shinny and beautiful feathers:

Darter is a good swimmer and a good diver, it can dive in the water for minutes, it swims only with its head and long neck emerge out from the water, like a snake swimming in the water. View the video clip HERE. (will be uploaded soon)

Due to the wet feathers after the dive, the darter couldn't effectively fly out from the water. In order to come out from the water, the bird has to slowly crawl up the river band to reach a safe spot. Once it reaches the safe spot, it would then spread its wings under the sun to keep their feathers dry.

warning call from the darter:

Three darters spread their wings under the shed of a coconut tree, and not necessary must be directly under the sun. The purpose of spreading their wings is obviously to drain the excessive water out from their feathers.

Another lifer on that day was a beautiful White-bellied Woodswallow. It is one of the common birds in Sandakan. 
White-bellied Woodswallow

Besides the Oriental Darter and Woodswallow, I also spotted four species of raptors in Batu Lima, Sandakan, namely the Changeable Hawk-Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and Brahminy Kite, but I only managed to digiscope three species of raptors except the Crested Serpent Eagle.

Changeable Hawk-Eagle, black morph.

White-bellied Sea Eagle, juvenile.

The sea eagle can turn its head 180 degree to have a better view of me

A beautiful Brahminy Kite

Click HERE if you would like to go back to the main blog of Birding in Sandakan, Sabah.

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