“From a far distance I saw a bird perched on a tree branch at eye level, grooming itself constantly. I wasn’t quite sure it was a finfoot because of many branches obstructing the view of the whole bird. Watching through the binoculars I initially thought that it was a White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus). After careful checking all the details I noticed the feet and bill looked rather bigger than the normal waterhen. I quickly checked through the scope and was extremely excited as it was an immature male Masked Finfoot (Heliopais personata)!
“Checking back on a few videos captured, I saw he caught a big moth and a snail, held the snail between his bill, broke the shell then driving into the water and emerging with the meat in his bill. He was occasionally seen jumping up or constantly poking his head up for something like an insect (damselfly?) from the overhanging vegetation.
“Once he regurgitated an oblong black pellet. It was a pity I could not collect it because it dropped straight into the pond. One marking I did observe was that his underfoot was very yellowish, like the colour of the bill.
“I observed him jumping up to the lowest branch of the tree before starting to run-climb up higher onto another branch. He spent most of his time preening, stretching his legs and wings before going to sleep. I did not see him walking or flying up to the branch to rest.”
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Date: 23rd December 2012
Habitat: Ex-mining pool near forest edge, with limestone hills nearby, Ipoh.