Saturday, December 26, 2009

Congregating Egrets in Sibuti, Bekeu

I am again Lucky today I found this congregating Egrets thousand of them.

This is in Sibuti, I am still keeping it a secret.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bird watching at Off Marudi Road Jakat-Empaling, lambir.

Time and Date: 6:30am - 9am 20th December 2009
Place : Off Marudi Junction to about 5km along Jakat-Empaling road, Lambir
Weather : fine
Participants: Steve, Musa, Sara and Rosie

Friends of mine invited to come and join a night camping at Empaling an area to the left of Marudi road distributary’s. We went out there late evening and set up camp at eight at night. They set up camp with small wood as floor plank and plastic roofing. Mine was easily setup. I place the chicken on a gas burner with an aluminium foil, which I prepare at home.

The three kids that came with us are their children were running around. While waiting the food to cook, I scanned the area with my night scopes. There are plenty of moths flying around. Occasionally a lone huge firefly flew from tree to tree. At a distance tree I saw two sets of bright eyes of possibly a civet cat.

When the foods are ready all of us sat around a cut tree trunk as our dinner table. We enjoyed the food, though it only chicken but the surrounding situation makes all taste nice.

On the previous night Steve called to join him for a bird watching. I have invited him to come and join us. He is not keen to change his plan.

The night was cold and there is no wind blowing. They started fire to deter mosquitoes. The children are playing badminton, while we are discussing of what they are going to do the next day. I told them that my friends are coming to join us tomorrow.

I was already tired and enter my camp about 10. It was warm inside. I could not get into sleep because the children are playing around all night. I could not remember when they got to sleep. But, not until I get into a deep sleep I heard someone was coming to ask for help. He needed a transport to send him to a long house near by. One of my friends sends him there.

I do not remember when my friend came back. It was the sound of the woodpeckers that woke me up. The woodpeckers were scanning the tree above me for insects. When I came out of the camp the two birds flew off.

I boiled some water to prepare an instant mee. The only item for breakfast was not available as we forgotten to buy them yesterday.

My three friends are all sleeping on the wooden plank, while the children in the camp below. I wake up all the kids and the rest. Then we scanned the area for birds. I managed to see a black hornbill some 6 km away with my scope.

Few green hanging parrot call and a few flew by. A pair of Hill Mynas passed by. Steve called if I am in the camping area, and passed his hp to Sara so as to let her know where about we are. They are at this time still waiting for Rosie.

Not within half an hour my friend saw a white Dmax truck some two kilometres down the road. My friend told me that it could be Steve group. I pointed my scope to the truck; indeed it was Steve and the gang. They are stopping looking at a hornbill. According to Sara one of the hornbills had a white stripe down the eye to the nape on both sides, making a V-shape at the back of the nape

They arrived at our camp minutes later. Sara was shouting if there is any breakfast ready. I told her we have forgotten to buy our breakfast.

My friends have been burning the cut area, which they clear to plant Ginger. The land is belonging to his father for generation and has been planted with few Jackfruits and wild mangoes. The smokes from the burning are really suffocating me. Steve is not very happy about the burning.

We saw a Provost Squirrel still sleeping on a branch at a distance tree. Later we see two black hornbills too. Then we saw five long tailed parakeets perching high on a bare tree branches. Hill Mynas flew by.

Steve was not keen to enter a timber track in front of the farm. He suggested we go to Jakat junction road. I brought over my camera and binocular and follow Steve group to do bird watching along the road.

Rosie spotted a black birds like a crow just to the left of our car. Then we stop to find out what they were. We could hear bell like calls and other odd noises. I thought it was an Asian Koel at the first sight. We stop the car and slowly move toward them. We observe them for about 5 - 10 minutes, 3 of them were flitting from tree to tree across the road back and forth, one was somewhere down the ridge in the forest. The birds are totally black, displaying the crest. The birds came out into the open and were identified as Black magpies. Steve was surprised to see the birds here as the forest has been cut down several years ago and is only secondary with large areas already cut down for oil palm and fruit farming. They kept crossing the road into a small clump of bare trees and green bushes, had a good views of the red eye that are very obvious and having a small crest. The birds bowed when calling but no bell calls heard. We heard the low trrrrr. . . sound made by one of the birds. Then came another pair from lower down a wooded slope. This reminded Steve the birds of paradise. A rare encounter indeed

There are also few Little Green Pigeons feeding some fruits between two trees.

Then we went to look for Jakat junction. I thought I knew the area well, but miss the junction. We back track and found the junction. The entrance of the Jakat Junction is of very narrow steep clay road. The road look unpassable but Steve was keen to enter. We saw a flat area on the right some 500 meters from the junction. Not until a kilometre inside we encounter an area that is not passable. We turn the car and stop at the side of the road overseeing the tall tree below.

Then Steve dropped me back to my camping area and they went home.

Bird list
Dusky Munia
Jungle crows at nest
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Asian Black Hornbills
Eurasian Tree Sparrows
Long-tailed Parakeets
Black Magpies
Brown Barbets
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Little Green Pigeons
Barn swallows
Pacific Swallows
Red Eyed Brown Bulbul
Unidentified small falcon flying away
Spotted Doves
Yellow Vented Bulbul
Wood Swallow
Hanging parrot
Rufous woodpecker

Mammal – Provost Squirrel

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Asian Waterbird Census 2010

Come and join us for AWC 2010!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Birdwatching in Bakelalan

Bucolic view of Bakelalan from the one of the smaller hills across from Bakelalan airport.

Bakelalan wasn't meant to be a birdwatching trip, it was meant more as an introduction to Bakelalan, the place. It is more well-known for it's native community the Lun Bawangs, their buffaloes and apple (yes, apple) orchards.

We ended up doing limited birdwatching anyways. We took walks around the village, to the salt licks as well as the view point.

There seemed to be bubbling streams everywhere we look, looks an ideal habitat for forktails though we didn't see any on this visit. Another interesting observation this time around was that we did not spot a single raptor in the paddyfields nor surrounding hills.

Birding from the side of the hill, it was a big job hauling the tripod and scope up this slope, photographically it's an ideal spot providing eye level shots of the quarry.

Birds we saw:
A significant presence of Yellow-vented bulbul. A fair number of Oriental Magpie Robins and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. These three species seemed to be everywhere we where.

There was also a high number of egrets, Cattle Egrets especially around the buffaloes, Little Egrets and in lower numbers Intermediate Egrets.

A family of Ashy Drongo was observed noisily hawking for insects at two separate locations. At one location by a gurgling stream a pair of Crimson-winged Woodpecker were also spotted quietly sharing the same tree as the Ashy Drongo.

A scattered number of White-breasted Waterhen was observed at the fringes of the paddyfields including a single Lesser Coucal.

Tricolor Munia were abundant in the paddyfields as well as in the village gardens. Less conspicious were the Dusky Munia, their sightings were limited to the edges of the paddyfields near the fruit farms.

A gregarious group of Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush were seen from eye-level vantage point hopping from tree to tree in a mid morning birdwave together with several smaller unidentified birds. Their calls were unmistakable.

Five Slender-billed Crow were sighted at the top of the hills returning to roost.

Other birds sighted were : Asian Koel (1), Wood Sandpiper (20), Yellow-bittern (2), White-breasted Woodswallow (2), Pacific Swallow (numerous), Red and black Broadbill (1 heard), Zebra Dove.

Summary birdlist from this visit:
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Oriental Magpie Robins
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Cattle Egrets
Little Egrets
Intermediate Egret
Ashy Drongo
Crimson-winged Woodpecker
White-breasted Waterhen
Lesser Coucal
Tricolor Munia
Dusky Munia
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush
Slender-billed Crow
Asian Koel
Wood Sandpiper
White-breasted Woodswallow
Pacific Swallow
Black and Red Broadbill
Spotted Dove
Paddyfield/Richard's Pipit
Eurasian Sparrow
Olive-backed Sunbird
Pied Fantail
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Ashy Tailorbird

Ashy Drongo taking a rest from hawking for insects.

Slender-billed Crow way yonder from a separate vantage point.

An Olive-backed Sunbird and his unidentified friend, whose markings is unfamiliar.

The lush vegetation alongside the rivers and the winding gurgling streams of Bakelalan seem to hold much more as far as bird life is concerned. The same potential holds for the forests surrounding Bakelalan highlands. Perhaps another visit is called for, perhaps during the harvest or paddy planting season.

Facilities in Bakelalan are better then some (Apple Lodge comes highly recommended) , there is ample accomodation options in the area which offers full board package for visitors. A few coffee shops are scattered in the center of the village, these are stocked with the usual grocery store items.

Till then ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hornbill at Jakat

We went to Jakat, near Lambir Hills NP yesterday. We sighted 4 black hornbills. We werent able to get any decent photographs because of the distance.

Today we went again and this time I was lucky to be able capture the hornbills, as well as a pair of hornbill in love making. They too were far away, so I only managed to capture these images.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sibuti Wildflife Sanctuary for AWC 2010

Site office of the Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary, presently the sanctuary is not open to the public. Access is limited to specialists for research purposes only if any. The sanctuary is under the management of Sarawak Forestry Corporation Northern Region, Miri Office.

The dark green patches are two blocks of protected riverine mangrove ecosystem under the purview of Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is bounded by Sibuti River on the south and east, Bungai farmlands on the north and coastal cash crop seasonal farms on the west, which also the coast.

We stumbled upon Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary from Google Earth, and publications on the web by SFC and others about this mangrove nature reserve. It reported has a healthy estuarine crocodile population. Being a riverine mangrove ecosystem, it also seemed to be choice habitat for waterbirds and others.

Birds of special interest in the sanctuary:
Bat Hawk Machaeramphus alcinus
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda
Hook-billed Bulbul Setornis criniger
Locals have also reported regular annual presence of small numbers of “ducks” at a brackish lake (Danau Tambak) between Sg. Niah and Sg. Sibuti. (unable to locate on current map)

Other cool birds that can be found at the sanctuary:
Japanese Sparrowhawk
Watercock (one record so far of a female in Kuala Baram from AWC 2009)
Black-winged Stilt
Oriental Cuckoo
Indian Cuckoo
Black-bellied Malkoha
Buffy Fish-Owl
Rufous-backed Kingfisher
Common Goldenback
White-bellied Woodpecker
Orange-backed Woodpecker
Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
White-chested Babbler
Short-tailed Babbler
Striped Tit-Babbler
Mangrove Blue-Flycatcher
Mangrove Whistler
Red-throated Sunbird
Purple-throated Sunbird
Dusky Munia

How about an birdwatching in Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary for AWC 2010? We are presently considering the practicalities of a census at this part of the Sibuti River.

This could in fact yield quite handsome finds as far as waterbirds (Black-winged Stilts, Ducks??) are concerned as well as provide continued systematic monitoring to the site via AWC.

Birdwatching at Sundar, Lawas to coincide with AWC

We have heard so much enticing news about Brunei Bay. The bay itself covers a huge area, we plan to pay our first visit there during AWC 2010 to check out the place.

We plan to be in Sundar 5-7th February via Lawas, an extended weekend visit involving a flight to Lawas from Miri, van/car to Kpg Awat-Awat or Kpg Punang, boat rides along the mangroves to checkout wildlife and birds, homestay either at Kpg Punang or Kpg Awat-Awat, more rounds of boatrides the following day. We expect to fly back from Lawas to Miri on Sunday.

Travel details, participants are expected to book the following flights to Lawas and back.

Flights Inbound:
MH3510 Miri-Lawas Fri, 05 Feb 07:50 08:35 MYR 75.00 (recommended)
MH3512 Miri-Lawas Fri, 05 Feb 11:25 12:10 MYR 75.00
MH3516 Miri-Lawas Fri, 05 Feb 14:45 15:30 MYR 75.00
MH3518 Miri-Lawas Fri, 05 Feb 16:50 17:35 MYR 75.00

Flights Outbound:
MH3511 Lawas-Miri Sun, 07 Feb 08:50 09:35 MYR 75.00
MH3513 Lawas-Miri Sun, 07 Feb 13:45 14:30 MYR 75.00
MH3517 Lawas-Miri Sun, 07 Feb 15:45 16:30 MYR 75.00
MH3519 Lawas-Miri Sun, 07 Feb 17:50 18:35 MYR 75.00 (recommended)

We'll arrrange transport, local homestay and boat requirements for the census with our contact in in Lawas. Birdwatchers and volunteer census takers are encouraged to participate, please email for more details.

Visits by other parties recently reported "many plovers", "so many Kentish Plovers", "heronries" and "you'll definitely be bowled over by this place". The following is an excerpt on the area near Sundar which has been slowly peaking up our expectations.

"Site description
The mangroves are orientated in a west-east direction, about 20 km in length, and stretches from Kuala Trusan to Tanjung Perepat. Localised erosion is evident east of the mangrove headland i.e. north-west of Kampung Awat-Awat. Accreting mangrove fringe accompanied by extensive intertidal mudflats occur prominently at the mouth of Sungai Trusan (the area's main river), Kuala Bangau, Kuala Kenaljam and Tanjung Perepat.

At Kuala Trusan, the flats extend up to 3 km offshore at low tide and consist of a complicated series of deep water channels with areas of exposed sediment forming 'islands'. The deposits at the rivermouth consist of pure, fine-grained muds and gradually replaced by course sand particles as it extend seaward. Some of the most seaward deposts consist primarily of pure course grained sands. The estuary is sheltered by Pulau Labuan and peninsular to the north-east (Howes and NPWO, 1986).

The birds
The Trusan-Sundar mudflats and sandflats are important wintering and staging sites for globally threatened waterbirds especially shorebirds and egrets especially at Kuala Trusan and Kampung Awat-Tanjung Perepat stretch.

The Malaysian Plover Charadrius peronii resides along some beach stretches in the estuary (Howes and NPWO, 1986). Four pairs in breeding plumage were seen in November 1995 on the sandy beaches at the mouth of Sg. Kabab (Sebastian, 1995).

Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus was recorded from Sg. Trusan-Sundar and Sg. Kabab (Sebastian, 1995).

Three Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana were observed in Nov 1995 along Sg. Trusan-Sundar and Sg. Kabab (Sebastian, 1995), the only record of this species for Sarawak.

Protection Status
The majority of the Trusan-Sundar mangroves are contained within the Kenalian, Bumbun and Terentang Forest Reserves, where logging has been extremely intensive. Areas up to 1 ha or more have been virtually clear-felled. Only the area between Sungai Sepatai and Sungai Awat-Awat is relatively untouched with a more or less intact canopy.

Howes and NPWO (1986) proposed the creation of a Wildlife Sanctuary and management of the mangrove production forest. Under the proposal, the site forms a link with areas in Brunei Darussalam as an International Coastal Resource Conservation Area.

Salter and MacKenzie (1981) proposed the undisturbed mangroves between Kuala Bangau and Kuala Trusan to be made a Wildlife Sanctuary for the protection of Proboscis Monkeys (Nasalis larvatus).

Conservation issues
Landuse within the Trusan-Sundar mangrove area includes;Large scale production forest (mangrove) for producing cord wood for export to Taiwan.

Other threats:
Local fish smoking industry and small scale fishing for domestic consumption.
Small scale hunting of Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor) and Wild Pig (Sus scrofa).
Fishing, opening up of land for cultivation and settlements.

The continuation of large scale clear-felling of mangrove areas without proper management and sustainability is one of the most prominent threat to the site. Illegal logging have also been reported.

The occurrence of these two activities have impacted the soils here as they are highly susceptible to the acid sulphate condition after clearance. The damming of Sungai Trusan would likely to affect the silt load and continued accretion of intertidal zone. "

Excerpts from :
BirdLife International (2009) Important Bird Area factsheet: Brunei Bay, Malaysia. Downloaded from the Data Zone at on 28/7/2009

If Sundar proves to be a superb place for waterbirds, we may incorporate the area as part of our AWC sites for the years to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The time for counting waterbirds, trudging into swamps and negotiating mudflats is upon us again, how quick time flies ...

Typical haunts for waterbirds.

Not the typical attire for AWC in Kuala Baram, may not be suitable for all sites. Photo (c) Liz King 2009

AWC is an annual waterbird census carried out by volunteers every January (sometimes spills over to February) at various sites thoughout Asia. Analysis of data collected during AWC help Wetlands International, the organizer, in long term planning for the conservation of waterbirds and their wetland habitats.

The census has 3 major objectives:

1) to obtain information on an annual basis of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region during non-breeding period of most species, as a basis for reviewing of sites and monitoring populations

2) to monitor on an anuual basis the status and condition of wetlands

3) to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst the public and thereby promote the conservation of wetlands and waterbirds in the region.

The census is mainly undertaken by volunteers from various sources with the community. The sites covered include rivers, lakes, reservoirs, tanks, swamps, coastal areas, mangrove and mudflats, reefs or beaches.

Waterbirds counted during the census include all waterbirds and birds associated with the wetlands habitat.

The census is coordinated in each country by a volunteer national or regional organisation, in Malaysia it's the Malaysian Nature Society. The coordinator is responsible for building up the network of volunteers, sends out count forms, liase with participants, receives and collate forms after the census and compiles and disseminates national reports.

The official dates for AWC 2010 are 9-31st January, however counts from December and February area still accepted from poorly known areas.

MNS Miri Branch has a small band of birdwatchers who will be participating in AWC this year covering the following sites listed below, participation in the census is sought from all branch members and the public interested to know more about waterbirds and birds in general.

MNS Miri Branch AWC sites for 2010:

09-10th Jan Go-Kart/Senadin Lakes, Daytrip, FP Musa and Sara
16-17th Jan Curtin Lakes, Daytrip, FP Musa and Sara
23-24th Jan Kpg Masjid Prawn Farms, Daytrip, FP Nazeri
30-31th Jan Kuala Baram Lagoon, Daytrip/Overnite, FP Nazeri and Musa
05-07th Feb Sundar, Lawas, extended weekend, Overnite, FP Nazeri
13-14th Feb Bungai Swamps, Daytrip, FP Nazeri, Steve, Musa
20-21st Feb Loagan Bunut, Overnite at LBNP, FP Nazeri and Musa
27-28th Feb Pulau Bawai, Overnite, FP Nazeri and Musa

Most of these sites are revisits from past year's census (an important monitoring component of AWC) with two new sites (Sundar, Lawas and Bungai, Bekenu) added for 2010. Another new site, Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary is currently under discussion.

Some of MNS Miri past AWC highlights : Malaysian Plover, Grey Plover, Wandering Whistling Duck, Oriental Darter for 2009. Storm's Stork for 2001, Lesser Adjutant 2002. This year the branch is aiming for more duck sightings for Miri.

Members and the public who is interested to participate can email for further details.

AWC sites on the map:

Panaga Natural History Society will also be running their AWC over the other side of the border over the same period, they too may also have interesting sites which are convenient for Mirians to take part.

Participation from Sarawak Forestry Conservation Unit is also anticipated in one or two of the above sites.

This one of the main events for birdwatching in Miri, come join the fu, absorb the AWC experience and share the excitement about waterbirds.

Link to MNS Miri's AWC 2009.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I am a Bird Watcher from Miri

I am a Bird Watcher from Miri. My name is Musa. I go birdwatching everyday all over Miri .... I go to Miri Go Kart, Kuala Baram, Curtin Lake, Pantu Buri, Bungai Beach, Brighton Beach . . . oh yeah I go all over Miri for Birdwatching.