Friday, December 11, 2009

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.

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