© Brown Dipper Shrimping at Tonghou River

Birding Highlight of Taiwan 2017 Series

“On the eve of my final departure from Wulai, a new bird sighting was had from my balcony. A bird observed exhibiting interesting and foraging behaviours that certainly put ‘cherry on the icing cake’ (below, marked Yellow Square).

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“A dark, brown bird was observed walking along the edge of a shallow river flow. It had a jizz of a crake with pointed, black bill and strong, longish legs. I wouldn’t say this water bird to be handsomely flamboyant to raise any eyebrows; for the drab looking bird lacked dramatic features, wore no colourful plumages nor endowed with iridescence to stylishly flash a lover.

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“I recognised this uncommon sighting to be a Brown Dipper (Cincius pallasii) – a fastidious bird whose presence known to only be found living in water habitat of very clean, fast moving streams and rivers (above).

“At 22cm, this lone, aquatic creature was on the constant move. DGscope x30 magnification simply had to follow suit without a blink in order not to lose sight of the moving target.

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“What was lacking in drab plumages was made up in manner by which this water bird foraged (above).

“Let’s call this bird ‘Shrimpy.’

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“Shrimpy was observed, to be capable of walking into shallow waters of pebbled stones and dunking its head underwater, to forage for its favourite crustacean foods, aquatic insects and larvae (above).

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“Always on the go, aqua bird appeared to have thick, droopy, white upper eyelids. How Shrimpy saw underwater through its ‘goggled’ eyelids was a wonder. Perhaps…. their nictitating membranes are also waterproof (above).

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“Do not underestimate the strength of Shrimpy. This shrimp finder had the capacity to overturn stones, no less than four times the size of its head, using its bill as a lever. A composite image from video is shown here (above).

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“Shrimpy’s reward… a whoopee shrimp-catch of the day at Tonghou River in Wulai! (above).”

Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Penang Malaysia
13th August 2017

Copyright article and all copy images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

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