Monday, December 20, 2010
A waderwatcher scanning the flats for interesting waterbirds.
A small segment of our extensive coastline, some are very important resting and refueling points for waterbirds as far as Siberia and other far-flung places of the northern hemisphere.
The extensive coastline of Sarawak is one of the most important wintering grounds for waterbirds in Malaysia. It contains more coastal Important Bird Areas (IBAs) than any other state in Malaysia . Several of these meet the Ramsar criteria as Wetlands of International Importance (Yeap et al. 2007). The west Sarawak coast regularly records some of the highest concentrations of migratory waterbirds in the country during the annual Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) (Li et al. 2009).
Despite this, the status of waterbirds and their habitats on much of the coastline is virtually unknown. There has never been a comprehensive coastal waterbird survey of Sarawak. Most surveys, such as that carried out between January-February 2006 during the annual Asian Waterbird Census (Mizutani, et al. 2006), and earlier studies (Edwards 1985, 1986a, 1986b, Howes, 1986a) have concentrated on the western part of coastal Sarawak. Other sites which have received some coverage include sections of the Kuala Baram coast and Brunei Bay (e.g., Howes, 1986b).There are AWC volunteer teams coordinated by MNS Kuching Branch and MNS Miri Branch members, and these, together with staff from Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) have provided consistent coverage of some sites since 2007.
The Waterbirds and Wetland Habitats Survey of the Sarawak Coast proposes to survey waterbirds and wetlands habitats along the entire Sarawak coast in a comprehensive and systematic way. The results of this survey will provide a definitive account of the state of waterbird populations and wetland habitats in the state; and a baseline for future coastal wetland conservation efforts.
The field surveys will take place between October 2010 and March 2011, and will utilize the existing teams of AWC volunteers, and collaborations with State agencies. In addition, the project will seek increased partnership with State agencies such as Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sarawak Forest Department, Sarawak Drainage and Irrigation Department, IBEC; input from the private sector from such companies as Sarawak Shell Berhad, Brunei Shell Petroleum (for work in Brunei waters); and NGOs such as Wetlands International.
Initial surveys to locate key waterbird concentrations will be done by boat and/or plane. Follow-up counts will be done either by boat, or via land access.
1) Conduct a survey of the entire coastline of the state of Sarawak to identify key waterbird sites and to identify and count waterbird populations during the northern winter period of October 2010 to March 2011.
2) Produce a report on the findings of the survey which can function as a basis for future policy and management strategies for wetlands and waterbirds in Sarawak.
3) Build capacity of members, participating stakeholders and volunteers in waterbird identification and monitoring and wetland habitat surveys.
4) Increase awareness of the importance of the Sarawak coastline for waterbirds and wetland habitats at local, national and international levels through CEPA, training, publications and sharing of output with stakeholders and relevant organisations.
5) Forge working relationships in matters related to waterbird biodiversity and wetland habitat conservation between MNS and other NGOs, government agencies, schools and universities, and private corporations in Sarawak and other areas of Malaysia.
6) Document the process of the survey, from initiation to completion, as a model for replication in other areas of Malaysia.
The project itself is designed to take place within a 12-month period. However, there are several ways in which it will contribute to the ongoing conservation of Sarawak’s coastal wetlands and waterbirds:
1. It will help to improve AWC coverage in future years by:
a. Identifying priority sites
b. Capacity-building skills and experience among volunteers, and by enlarging the volunteer-base
c. Involving more agencies in collaborative surveys
2. It will provide key baseline data for efforts
a. to protect important sites, such as Bako-Buntal Bay
b. to designate new IBAs and
c. to strengthen claims for Ramsar site status
d. by the government to gazette and protect important wetlands
3. It will raise awareness of the importance of wetlands for humans and wildlife in the media, schools and the public. This will have an ongoing positive influence and should lead to increased MNS membership in Sarawak.
4. The project will provide a valuable blueprint for similar coastal surveys of other parts of Malaysia
The Sarawak Waterbirds Survey (SWS) team would like to call on volunteers for the survey of the following sectors (please refer to the survey map):
Trip 1 = 01-05th December 2010 : Sector 1 to 4
Trip 2 = 07-11th December 2010 : Sector 11, 12
Trip 3 = 15-20th December 2010 : Sector 13, 14, 15
Trip 4 = 27-31st December 2010 : Sector 16, 17 based in Pulau Bruit
Trip 5 = 07-12th January 2011 : Sector 29 to 36 based in Miri
Trip 6 = 13-17th January 2011 : Sector 22 to 28 based in Bintulu
Trip 7 = 19-25th January 2011 : Sector 5 to 10
Trip 8 = 05-13th February 2011 : Sector 37 to 40 based in Limbang/Lawas
Trip 9 = 21-27th February 2011 : Sector 18 to 21 based in Mukah
Southwestern sectors, please click on image for a larger version. The circle represents current available data on the presence and numbers of waterbirds in the area. This project will be able to update the distribution map of a significant portion of the coastline of Sarawak.
Northeastern sectors, please click on image for a larger version. The least studied portion of the coastline, this project would enable to contribute significantly to scant existing data in key sectors such as the Limbang-Lawas areas.
For those interested to participate in surveys of sector 1-21, please contact Anthony Wong of MNS Kuching Branch.
For those interested to participate in surveys of sector 22-40, please contact Nazeri Abghani of MNS Miri Branch.
In your email please state the sectors that you are interested in and the dates that you are available, we'll follow-up with the rest of the pertinent questions.
Anthony and Nazeri will answer any relevant questions you may have and put you through to Daniel Kong (Field Coordinator) and/or Rose Ngau (Field Logistics) once you've decided to be a part of the survey team for each sector.
As this is a wide-spread survey covering the entire coast of Sarawak, we'll need as many volunteers we can get.
So, we'll see you in the field!
This project is partly funded by Malaysian Nature Society Merdeka Fund, Shell Malaysia Sustainable Development Grant and Hornbill Skyways.
1. Mizutani, A., Kato K., Tanaka K., Ichikawa, T., Mawek Z., Auby I. (2006) A Report of Wintering Waterbirds Status Along the West Coast of Sarawak – Results of AWC 2006. Sarawak Forestry Kuching, Sarawak
2. Sebastian, A., (2005) Waterbirds Count in Western Sarawak. Suara Enggang 3 (May-June):23-25
3. Gregory-Smith, R., (1999). Status of Waders, Terns and Ardeids in Sarawak, 1994-96. Sarawak Museum Journal LIV(75):276-287
4. Edwards, P. J. and Haxby, J. B. (1989) Evaluation of Sarawak Wetlands and Their Importance to Waterbirds. Report No. 5 – Pulau Bruit Revisited. Report No. 47, AWB, Kuala Lumpur.
5. Edwards, P. J. and Parish, D, and NWPO (1986a) Evaluation of Sarawak Wetlands and Their Importance to Waterbirds. Report No. 2 – Western Sarawak. INTERWADER. Publication No. 6, Kuala Lumpur.
6. Edwards, P. J. and Parish, D, and NWPO (1986b) Survey of the Western Coastline of Sarawak to Evaluate the Status of Wetlands and to Identify Key Sites for Migratory Waterbirds – Preliminary Report INTERWADER. Report No. 3, INTERWADER Kuala Lumpur.
7. Howes, J. and NWPO, (1986a) Evaluation of Sarawak Wetlands and Their Importance to Waterbirds. Report 3: Pulau Bruit. INTERWADER Publication No. 10, INTERWADER,Kuala Lumpur
8. Howes, J. and NWPO, (1986b) Evaluation of Sarawak Wetlands and Their Importance to Waterbirds. Report 4: Limbang-Lawas Districts of Brunei Bay. INTERWADER Publication No.14, INTERWADER, Kuala Lumpur
MNS-BCC Waterbirds Group/Dec 2010
Maps by Anthony Wong
Photographs by Nazeri Abghani
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Checking out the birds at Kuala Baram Lagoon, 2009.
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 are any dates between 9-31st January, however counts from December and February are 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 tentative 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 tentative sites for 2011:
22-23rd Jan Kuala Sg Baram-Kpg Masjid Prawn Farms,
29-30th Jan Kuala Sg Baram-Kpg Batu Satu ,
05-06th Feb Pulau Bawai
19-20th Feb Sibuti WS
Some of our past AWC highlights :
Lesser Adjutant in Sundar, 2010.
Malaysian Plover, Grey Plover, Wandering Whistling Duck, Oriental Darter in Miri, 2009.
Storm's Stork in Loagan Bunut, 2001.
This year we are spending a bit more time over at the coastal wetlands in and around the greater Miri area, we are hoping to include schools and some youngsters into our survey team this year as part of awareness raising on AWC amongst schoolchildren.
Members and the public who are interested to participate in this largely citizen's effort can email email@example.com for further details.
Schools interested to participate as part of a school project are encouraged to send enquiries.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Checking out a tree cavity.
"In September, I was convinced that the Piasasu Camp hornbills were getting ready to nest in their usual place at house no. xx.
Several times I saw the male and the female near the ground level hole in the tree - with the male poking his head in and out, and removing bits of debris. I returned to the site very few days expecting to see her entering the hole and starting to block herself in - but for weeks it never happened.
On one occasion I saw them both together, seemingly inspecting and evaluating a hole about 10m off the ground in a casuarina tree near house 1xx, and I wondered if they were considering"moving house", but I never saw them at that site again.
Yesterday my friends who live at house no. xy told me that for the past 4 days or so the hornbills have been preparing to nest at their house. When we arrived, indeed, we found both the male and the female going in and out of the hole pictured here. It is about 1.5-2m above groundlevel.
Yesterday we saw the male picking out debris - but also apprently collecting bits of wood and bark and putting them into the hole. She was in the hole for a while, but then spent a couple hours perched on a jungle gym or a branch near the house.
At one point the male swooped down into bush just inches away from where the kids were sitting eating ice cream and plucked a sparrow out of the bush. He then spent the next 15 minutes shaking the sparrow and apparently trying to "tenderize it" or make it more appealing to the female who was perched on a branch near the potential nest site. She didn't appear to be interested in the end, and they dropped the (dead) sparrow to the ground.
This morning I went back and as you can see from the two photos attached, she seems to be settling into the hole. I will keepreturning with my camera and video - as I would love to catch some footage of her making the paste that she uses to close up the hole, as I once saw her do it a couple years ago."
Trying out the new home for size.
Dr Gianna Minton/MNS Miri/Resident Piasau Camp/Nov 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Pacific Golden Plover.
It was low tide today when observation was made from 0700-0800hrs. The following birds were observed on the flats ...
1) Far Eastern Curlew
2) Marsh Sandpiper
3) Pacific Golden Plover
4) Lesser Sand Plover
6) Common Sandpiper
7) Red-necked Stint ... close to a hundred birds spread out close to the wet sections, one individual was still sporting breeding colors
8) Common Sandpiper
10) Common Kingfisher ... I've been looking for this chap since I last saw him a long while ago. It was perched near the flats, called out a few times before I finally noticed it. It then flew back to it's favorite perch behind the small hut on the other side of the embankment.
11) Pacific Reef Egret (grey morph)
12) Chinese Egret
13) Little Egret
14) Curlew Sandpiper
15) Terek Sandpiper
17) Grey Plover
18) Grey Wagtail
19) Cattle Egret by the roadside.
20) Collared Kingfisher
There're rather a distance away into the flats, the only option was to shoot using a digiscope
set-up. A hide would be absolutely necessary otherwise.
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Oct 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Black-winged Stilt digiscoped by Musa Musbah 29th Sep 2010, there were a pair foraging at low tide that day.
To date, we got a few new visitors to Kuala Baram Lagoon:
One Asian Dowitcher spotted 09th August foraging together with a Black-tailed Godwit
One Curlew Sandpiper spotted 10th August by Nazeri Abghani
Two Rudddy Turnstone spotted by Musa Musbah 29th September, 3 individuals were spotted 05th October by Musa and Nazeri.
Two Black-winged Stilt by Musa 29th September.
One Far Eastern Curlew spotted by Musa and Nazeri 05th October at Kuala Baram. Musa also spotted the same species at Kuala Sg Bakam a few days earlier.
One Ruff spotted by Musa and Nazeri 05th October at Kuala Baram.
With more pairs of eyes out there on the mudflats, there's sure going to be more species added to the Kuala Baram Lagoon list. If you haven't been wader watching, come and join us one of these days ... who knows, you might enjoy it!
Friday, October 1, 2010
A Little Egret and Chinese Egret at Lutong Beach.
This year should have been called the year of birds just looking at the spike in the number of major birdwatching related activities in the country. We've got activities lining up from Sandakan Sabah and for the first time Langkawi ... talk about good coverage!
What's good for the birds are good for us birdwatchers! May the trend continues and the awareness about birds, their conservation and value to our lives increase many folds!
Some of this year's past events:
MNS Raptor Watch March 2010, Post Dickson/Tanjung Tuan (Annual)
Fraser's Hill Bird Race June 2010, Fraser's Hill (Annual)
Exciting birds and birdwatching related events around the country:
The 3rd Sarawak Birdrace 2010, Kuching, Sarawak
08-10th October, From Sea to Mountain
The Bird Race returns for the 3rd time with more activities and plenty of fun. Dubbed the Sarawak Bird Race 2010, this year bird race is on a bigger scale with the tagline “From the Sea to the Mountain”.
The Bird Race is jointly organised by Borneo Highlands Resort (BHR) together with Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) aiming to promote the love and appreciation of nature including birds’ preservation amongst thecommunity.
More information from the website : http://www.birdrace2010.borneohighlands.com.my/
The 2nd Borneo Bird Festival 2010
15-17th October, Rainforest Discovery Center, Sepilok, Sabah
The Borneo Bird Festival will be held at the Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC), Sepilok Sandakan, Sabah.
This event will take place from 15 – 17 October 2010. The RDC is a centre for environmental education situate within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.
For the birding enthusiasts there will be photography competition, the Borneo Bird Race, daily guided birding tour, childrens’ activities and many more exciting programs at the Festival.
There are minimal fees to attend the Lectures, Workshops and Guided tours. Due to limited capacity, do register early to avoid disappointment.
Please visit their official website for more details : http://www.borneobirdfestival.com/
KSNP Festival of Wings23-24th October, Kuala Selangor Nature Park, Kuala Selangor, Selangor
The Festival of Wings 2009 (FOW09) is an annual event organised to promote the importance of birds as natural indicators of planet Earth's health. The event aim to promote awareness of the environment and is a premier eco-tourism destination in Kuala Selangor
There will be a hosts of activities for you and your family to participate in. It's a great holiday adventure for you and your kids, and meet new friends at the same time both the feathered and non-feathered kind.
Please contact KSNP directly for information on this year's events and activities : call +603-32892294 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
The Inaugural Langkawi Birding and Fotofest 2010
19-21st November, Langkawi
The Langkawi Birding & Fotofest 2010 makes for a most unforgettable outing! Join us in a celebration of all things birds and wildlife set within one of the world’s most beautiful group of islands. The Langkawi Birding & Fotofest 2010 offer a total cash prizes of RM12,000.00 to be won!
Please visit their official website for more details: http://www.birdfestival.wordpress.com/
Maybe we'll see you birders, family and friends at some if not all of these exciting and fun birdwatching events, maybe even a lifer or two!
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Oct 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
It's true what all bird photographers said, even a 600mm is a wee bit short of your desired reach, this considering some of them have already got 600mm stacked with a 1.4x extender AND on a 1.6 crop camera!
With the juvvy MP it was different, the guy was stationery and not likely to run anywhere (it deluded itself in being well hidden), I had to back up a few paces from minimum focus. Today the birds have the upper wings, they just take off when they feel threatened.
Even at 20 feet, you can tell they are cautious of your presence. You'd see them raising up a wing as a sign of alarm. You advance a foot, they'll back away a foot and a half.
A Bar-tailed Godwit foraging ... at least four Whimbrel were spotted on the same beach that day, they took off in haste.
A Gull-billed Tern amongst smaller birds. This year the Caspian Tern (a very large tern) was noticeably absent. Even the Greater Crested Tern and Lesser Crested Tern were scarce this year aside from glimpses on Pulau Bawai. Other waders in the flock were Red-necked Stint.
Greater Sandplover doing a Tai-Chi move ... stretch.
A halfway decent output was achieved with Sanderling on Lutong Beach back in February 2009 shooting with a 300+1.4x from a car window. Unfortunately the hard disk went AWOL, all's lost. These guys never seem to stop feeding and walking and feeding, at 20 feet this guy in Kuala Baram still seemed small.
Malaysian Plover, they were a pair on the beach that day. Highest recent count was five pairs on the same stretch of beach. It's fun watching them get curious and run helter skelter with head looking back all the while.
The day would've probably been a another one of those hum-drum outing had it not been for the ever obliging Little Egret ... it's size was just perfect for the big lens!
Little Egret scaring the little fishes, this is always fun to observe, it's hard work for the hunter and once in a while they are rewarded in a big way: extra large breakfast!
Little Egret pursuing a little fish.
Little Egret the victor.
Perhaps another trick to try is setting up a hide on the beach ... which involves getting up early before the birds arrive, carrying all the gear to the beach, preparing the get-up and shoot when they take up their spot on the beach. Mobility might be an issue though, an alternative ghillie suit on Kuala Baram beach is an option, it just might be a tad too riske for obvious reasons ...
Getting to Kuala Baram:
Almost the whole stretch of Kuala Baram beach has got the ubiquotous erosion control in place (huge boulders neatly piled up along the beach) from Kpg Batu Satu all the way to the Crocodile Farm junction.
Watching for waders can be done in Lutong Beach (almost always there are 2-3 Chinese Egrets there) but most productive would be this site, Kuala Baram Lagoon directly opposite the T-junction to the Crocodile Farm. Parking is just along the Kuala Baram road, most times there are no one else on the beach other that the odd fishermen, the waders and you.
The site is approximately 20 minutes from Miri town or 1o minutes from Lutong in the direction of the old Kuala Baram jetty. Most picturesque in a blue-skies morning.
Write-up and images by:
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Sep 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Initial trepidation about the park being teeming with visitors was completely unfounded. Other than the few construction workers trying to hurry up the new park structures and the odd day trippers to Latak Waterfall, there was no one else about.
The birds were more obliging than as usual.
Over the few days I also learnt how to do a few things I haven't tried before:
shoot from the open windows from INSIDE the lodge, shoot birds without camo at the porch; make video (mostly of bird calls) while lugging my Vaio around the house and then playback; and lastly make halfway decent bird pictures with the Canon tethered to the laptop which in turn was hooked up to a powerpoint from inside the lodge.
The few days didn't all go to waste afterall but I'm not quite sure whether this is a new "high" or new "low" for in the field wildbird photography, truth be told I didn't venture out 20 feet from the lodge!
Purple-naped Sunbird. The fastest of all, they just don't sit still.
Hairy-backed Bulbul, most obliging of all coming in with a party of 3-4 repeatedly throughout the day.
The Pura (local Iban name, common temuda tree) or Macaranga was located 10 feet from the house and it was heavily fruiting, which explained the stream of birds that came around the lodge in successions throughout the day. The birds were mostly made up of smaller bulbuls and sunbirds.
Mornings and evenings were punctuated by babblers skulking around the undergrowth around the lodge.
Other than the birds captured by camera above, there were also a pair of Black Magpie which flew right in front of the lodge one morning with their peculiar calls; a Black-backed Kingfisher (flew right in front of the window I was shooting from); Sooty-capped Babbler and two other species of Babbler sp which was not identified (one with a Balicasio like call with a brownish-chocolate body and grey bluish head); nesting Dusky Munia; a Blue-eared Kingfisher (at a pond nearby); and Asian Fairy Bluebird. There were also a few unrecognisable calls throughout the day, one was a highly suspected Banded Kingfisher.
Sorely missed were the Black-headed Bulbul which on previous occasions had numerous. One large raptor (suspected Crested Serpent Eagle, seen here before) flew low one morning.
It was a good short break with the family at our home away from home, Hilltop Lodge.
For visiting birders:
Lambir Hills National Park is situated 20mins drive from Miri International Airport reachable by taxi and public bus. Several types of accomodation options are available at the Park. AC Chalets (2 rooms with a living room, kitchen area and common bathrooms) are at $150/nite or $75/room; each room can take in 2-3 people. They are situated on a hilly section of the park close to the Park office and canteen.
Non-AC Chalets are $100/nite with similar configuration but with fan cooled rooms. Hilltop Lodge is away from the rest of the chalets at the head of Innoue Trail. The rate is at $80/nite or $40/room complete with living room, common bathroom and kitchenette. Each room fits 2 adults.
For more information on available options at Lambir Hills National Park and other facilities, please contact Kamal Abdullah, Person-in-Charge Lambir Hills National Park, 019-8574363.
Write-up and pictures by:
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Sep 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Going to Bario always felt like going home ... wide green expanse of paddy reminded me of old childhood playgrounds where we spent quite sometime running around (one occasion chased after by a farmer) on the narrow batas with our home made bamboo fishing rod complete with a luckless grasshopper on the hook trying our fishing prowess for puyu and haruan.
We weren't in Bario to fish, but more to check out the waterbirds this time of year and maybe do a bit of leisurely walking in the highlands neighbourhood.
Between us we had a Nikon D90 and 18-200mm; Canon 40d, 18-55mm, 400mm, 600mm; Nikon P5100 and Leica APO 77; and a Gitzo with a Wimberley head. In hindsight the trip seemed to be fully overloaded not to mention the two kids in tow.
On arrival, we were met at the airport by Douglas, and transported back to De Plateau, our home away from home approximately 3km away from the center of Bario.
The birds we saw the next 3 days:
Wood Sandpiper, Common Moorhen, White-breasted Waterhen, Black Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush, Bornean Treepie, Blacksided Flowerpecker with juvenile; Drongo Sp., Cinereous Bulbul, Chestnut Munia, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Zebra Dove, Spotted Dove, Marsh Sandpiper, Cinnamon Bittern, and Little Egret.
Truth be said, we spent more time walking to site rather than actual photographing the birds ... even with all the gear we ported over to the place. One friend proclaimed "gear overkill!" quite early on the trip.
Our first site was a small knoll just 5 minutes walk from the homestay. Much of the ferns along the road which last year harboured quite a few resting and perched Ruddy Cuckoo Dove, this year the spot was completely empty. Half of the area had been cleared on both sides during the ongoing road beautification. Indeed we didn't spot any ruddies this trip.
The laughingtrushes were still there, so were the treepies, fantail, flowerpeckers and a couple of sunbirds. We didn't see nor hear any barbets this time around. A lucky sighting was that of a Black-sided Flowerpecker feeding a juvenile. A parent flew in and out occasionally to check on the young one feeding on mistletoe flowers. The parent was unmistakable with the dark mantle and red front patch; the juvenile however was almost like a female olive sunbird with only little splotches of red under it's chin.
Our second promising site was 3km walk away towards Bario Asal past the little knoll, in the midst of paddyfields to the side of which flows a small river. We were expecting flocks of waders and other waterbirds. What we saw were a good number of Common Moorhen (though less than the year before) and not as many Wood Sandpiper. Approximately 15 moorhens can easily be counted off per paddy square lot. Last year the sandpipers were flying in large groups of 50 birds together with several Little Ringed Plovers. No plovers were seen this year at this site, the sandpipers were however feeding in groups of 5-10 birds separately, shy though they were quite vocal.
The walk to this second site was slightly strenuous on account of the ongoing road construction and muddy paths. Walking was slow and with extreme care, and with all our gear it didn't make the journey there any easier.
We stationed outselves under a well-placed paddy store and shot around the area. There were Little Egrets, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Moorhen, Chestnut Munia, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, and Wood Sandpipers.
A third promising site within easy walking distance was along the road to Pa' Ukat, a small little village an hour's walk from De Plateau. The path crossed a patch of forest which harbors sunbirds, drongos, babblers and bulbuls. An MNS birding party heard Malaysian Rail Babbler along the same path close by. Here we managed a shot of a pair of rather friendly Cinereous Bulbul feeding on a nearby fruiting tree. Sunbirds, drongos, babblers were heard along the same path.
It was here that we saw a Black Eagle and an Oriental Honey Buzzard soaring above. The eagle came down quite low, which would've made a very good photograph (much better than the present version made) had the 400mm actually been attached to the camera! Our five seconds fumbling trying to change lenses lost the shot.
All is well, we came back with only record shots of our target birds but with a better feel of the terrain and perhaps how to better approach it the next birding trip to Bario.
1) drive to site and get stationed there early and wait for the birds
2) perhaps bring camo net (yet more gear) for shooting by the paddyfields.
3) 18-55mm, 400mm, 600mm could work out well, complementing each other.
4) bring just either the scope (too slow for flighty birds anyway) or 600mm (less reach but faster to deploy)
Hiring a more a less knowledgeable local person could possibly also raise our chances to getting to the right spot, at the right time to maximise our opportunities. One of the local guide, Red, as we were told have been taking tourists out birdwatching in the area in the past. He related to us on a previous trip that the Pa' Ukat forested stretch is very lively very early in the morning.
While chatting about birdwatching in remote places to a birder friend after this trip, these thoughts came up to possibly make birdwatching in the Sarawak interior more hassle free; along the way expose the locals to birdwatching as well as make birdwatching a part of the local tourism product.
They are based on this premise: getting local guides already conversant with their local area to be especially conversant with birds in the areal. Develop this capability/product locally in an informal way.
How about this : establish a birding guide network at each of our rural air services site specifically as a birdwatching resource to visiting birder community. Each area will have one or two of the better guides or maybe even a local person vaguely interested in birdwatching.
For each area, the capital outlay would probably be in the form of :
a) suitable fieldguides to the birds of Borneo ($100);
b) reasonably good quality bino if they haven't got one already ($300);
c) subscription to Suara Enggang ($20/year for 3 years=$60) and maybe
d) MNS membership ($70/year for 3 years=$190) for a total investment of $650 over the next 3 years.
The returns would be potential data on birds from the local area and other pertinent information from these remote locations; and of course our defacto guides for birdwatching trips to the area get hands on exposure everytime someone goes birding with them.
There are already individuals with potential in Bario and Bakalalan. Surely we can find one or two interested individuals in Long Banga/Long Lamai; Long Tungan/Long Siut; Long San/Long Akah; and Long Lellang. Or any other remote places for that matter. Bario and Bakalalan can be test cases.
Initial capital expenditure is not extravagant, the small amount can even be funded by donations from the birdwatching community or maybe even MNS. Established birdwatching tour outfit will have a local resource well placed in the community.
This is a win-win situation if there was one. Perhaps in the future, birdwatching trips to these remote places isn't too much of a hit and run as sometimes they are now. Think of all the data coming in ....
Nice rustic scene, gives off a warm feeling everytime.
Digiscoping in Bario.
Cinereous Bulbul, lifer.
Common Moorhen, more in numbers than we have seen in Miri and more approachable too, relatively speaking.
Juvenile male Dark-sided Flowerpecker, seen foraging with a male bird not photographed.
The transport mode of choice in the highlands ... walking for those with less plush lifestyle.
Hilux in the mud, it won't be getting out of this anytime soon 4WD or no 4WD.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
1) Combined CFZ-Owling and other Nitebirds, Kpg Bakam, 04th Sep, 1900-2200hrs
The CFZ Focus Group is checking out fireflies in Kpg Bakam, we are tagging along for possible owls and other interesting nitebirds.
2) Waderwatching Kuala Baram Sunday, 05th Sep, 0700-0900hrs
Our regular vigil for Autumn migrants.
3) Waderwatching Kuala Baram Sunday, 19th Sep, 0700-0900hrs
Our regular vigil for Autumn migrants.
4) Birdwatching Bukit Song, 26th Sep, 0600-1100hrs
We haven't been to this favorite secluded nook of ours for quite sometime. This should be a good revisit to see our regular feathered rainforest friends.
5) Combined CFZ-Owling and other Nitebirds, Lambir, 02nd Oct, 1900-2200hrs
The CFZ Focus Group in checking Lambir this time around specifically for roving fireflies, we are tagging along for owls and other nitebirds.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested to join us in our birdwatching outings.
Friday, August 13, 2010
The Malaysian Nature Society – Bird Conservation Council Waterbirds Group will conduct a survey of the entire coastline of the state of Sarawak to identify key waterbird sites and to identify and count waterbird populations during the northern winter period of October 2010 to March 2011.
Position: Field Coordinator
The Field Coordinator position (Part/Full Time) will run from Aug 2010 – July 2011 and can be based either in Kuching or Miri.
1. Coordinate all aspects of the project, including specific responsibility for:
a) Plan aerial, boat and land-based surveys
b) Set-up and deploy field survey teams
c) Maintain a database of volunteers, survey details, community outreach and training programs
d) Coordinate training and public awareness events
e) Document project
f) Coordinate, store and analyse data
g) Create and maintain good relationship with community representatives within survey sectors
h) Liaise with media and produce press releases, etc
i) Write reports : weekly reports to BCC-WG, coordinate and input to interim reports, final reports
j) Keep accounts for the spending of project funds
2. Answerable and report directly to BCC-WG Chairperson (and/or his representative) on all aspects of the project work
3. Liaise with volunteer bird group coordinators in Kuching, Miri, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Lawas, Seria and Bandar Seri Begawan ( Brunei )
4. Liaise with agencies, institutions and corporations and potential co-funders within and outside Sarawak (attend relevant meetings workshops, etc)
-Previous experience in environmental field survey work, engaging agencies, institutions and corporations at the highest levels, preferably in Malaysia or Southeast Asia.
-Very good strategic and planning/organizational abilities, with an aptitude to work on own initiative with minimum supervision and to stay on task.
-Malaysian national resident in Sarawak
-University degree in a related field or equivalent practical experience. Good written and oral communication skills in English and Bahasa Malaysia . Additional languages will be an advantage.
-Good interpersonal and leadership skills, innovative thinking, versatile ability to work in a team and independently.
-Willingness to travel and work outside office environments, as required.
-Ability to work effectively at all levels, with above-mentioned institutions, governments and non-government agencies and build excellent working relationships.
-Familiarity with and interest in waterbirds and wetland habitats an advantage
-Experience in scientific report-writing an advantage
-Use of GPS in field and storage of GPS data an advantage
Please send your CV to:
BQ204, 1st Floor, Batu Kawah New Township (MJC),
Jalan Batu Kawa ,
Tel: 082-463803 Fax:082-462803
Applications will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
Assorted waders flying in the morning from its roost.
Waders flying about looking for a suitable sandbar to rest during early morning rising tide.
Waiting out the high tide at Kuala Baram.
Red-necked Stints sporting breeding colors.
All pretty in a row.
A Great Knot at the back, still sporting his summer colors.
Waders spooked by a Collared Kingfisher flying past.
A Malaysian Plover, quite a few of them this season, 10 birds at one time just this week.
Little Tern taking off. We did not see any Great-crested Tern yet this season aside from a very distant view of a group on Pulau Bawai at the beginning of the month.
A Lesser Sandplover on the beach.
Nazeri Abghani/Aug 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Greater Sand Plover (30) on this side of the lagoon, some still sporting summer colors
Other birds nearby:
A pair of Pied Triller feeding two juveniles
Due to low tide this morning, the birds were quite a distance away.
Pacific Reef Egret
Plenty of waders morning of the 06th Aug, but the weather was a washout ... drizzling the whole morning. Tide was good but wasn't high enough. Because of the rain I din't bring out the scope, the bino however didn't fare too well ... droplets of rain made it difficult to see anything.
Conditions on 07th Aug was perfect. By the time it was 6:30 am, the tide was just peaking. All the birds were clumped at one place. Skies blue and clear. Birds spotted 06:30-09:00AM:
Some of the birds at the beach today, 07th Aug 2010.
The Common Redshank, Red-necked Stint, Greater Sandplover, Reshank and Great Knot looked stunning in their summer colors. Didn't see a single Great-crested Tern this time around!
Highest tide yet today 09th August, and a couple of new birds to add: Black-tailed Godwit and Asian Dowitcher feeding together!
Birds spotted 06:45-08:30AM:
Little Tern, Red-necked Stint, Greater Sandplover, 09th August
Asian Dowitcher, 09th August
Black-tailed Godwit, 09th August
Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Asian Dowitcher, Terek Sandpiper, Malaysian Plover 09th Aug
Great-crested Tern has yet to make an appearance on the beach as of 09th Aug, aside from really distant views made a week ago off the tip of the sandbar off Pulau Bawai.
This morning 10th Aug, the tide level was rather low to start around 06:45am but slowly (very slowly) rises to a peak at 10am. Unfortunately I can't stay that long ... you have to work sometime. It was worth it, another new bird today : Curlew Sandpiper (1) in breeding colors!
The number of Red-necked Stint was also higher than yesterday, all of them frantically feeding in the soft mud about to be submerged, some of them are still in breeding colors. These are "cutest" when resting while waiting out the tides ... head curled in while the body swings a little to the left and just a little right exactly like a tiny clock movement, back and forth, back and forth. Maybe it's a soothing thing for them ... like sucking thumb for some kids.
Birds spotted 06:45-08:30AM:
Malaysian Plover (10 perched on timber)
Red-necked Stint (many today, close to 30)
Great Knot (1)
Gull-billed Tern (2 at least)
Terek Sandpiper (10)
The tides are looking rather low this weekend, hoping we can venture out to the actual flats to get closer to these fellas this Saturday. We are planning a Wader outing 14th August, 6:30-09:00AM. Expect to get wet and muddy, please email if interested.
Nazeri Abghani/Aug 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The mudflat this morning circa 0630hrs ... seemed deserted, but four Malaysian Plovers were seen running around a short while later.
It was high tide went I reached the spot just a few minutes past 6.30pm. Other than the familiar sounds of the Yellow-bellied Prinia and Pied Triller, all else seems silent today.
At the flats the waders are still noticeably absent, I thought I heard them but after carefull scanning with the scope across the flats, nothing turned up. Only by 0700am there seemed to be some stirring in the distance.
Two Little Egret came out into view, followed by a lone Chinese Egret. Other than the waders, these are the regulars here. A couple of weeks ago a Grey Heron made a brief appearance a couple of mornings, then completely dissappeared.
Then four Malaysian Plover made a move, looks like a family unit of two adults (male and female) and two juveniles. It was here back in April 2010 that we discovered a downy juvenile amongst the flotsam jetsam; perhaps it i snow fully grown.
The plovers were later joined by two very skittish Common Sandpiper, chirping all the way as they hurried madetheir way further from where the scope was stationed.
There were no other waders spotted that morning. At least not till 0745 when I decided to leave the area to get to work. By then the tide was fast receding, exposing the flats further ... perhaps they all started flying in after I had left.
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/21st Jul 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
5 June 2010
Time: 8am – 5.30pm
Participants: Steve, Liz, Richard, Musa
It was an early start to the day with the 4 of us leaving Miri at 5am with the intention of being at Niah National Park for dawn. As we headed towards Niah the weather took a turn for the worse and there was some very heavy rain for quite a while.
At the entrance to the park we met up with Sara, Peter and Faye and the intention had been for Liz to join this group for a trek up Bukit Kasut. The trek was however cancelled due to the earlier heavy downpours, so Sara, Peter and Faye headed towards the caves while the rest of us prepared for a day of birding.
Before we had even crossed the river we were greeted with excellent views of 2 Bat Hawks, who were breaking with convention and coming out in the early morning sunshine, the rain clouds having completely cleared by now.
Once across the river Musa stayed close to the jetty while the rest of us headed along the boardwalk and then ventured off into the forest on a side track. The spot at the bridge was very productive and there were great views of male and female Cinnamon-rumped and Scarlet-rumped Trogons, Banded Broadbill and Buff-necked Woodpecker.
A further split in the group meant that Steve and Liz enjoyed wonderful views of an Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher while Richard got Olive-backed Woodpecker and a Rufous-sided Sticky Frog, which on being picked up, exuded its defensive sticky glue-like substance.
Returning to the jetty and meeting up with Musa, everyone had great views of Pink-necked and Thick-billed Green Pigeons, thanks to Musa’s wonderful new scope, whilst also enjoying an eagerly-anticipated cool beer courtesy of Steve.
We headed back to Miri just as the sun was setting, a really enjoyable day’s birding being had by all.
lack and Red Broadbill
Bat HawkBlack Kite
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Rufous-backed Kingfisher)
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
White-bellied Yuhina (Erpornis)
Rufous-sided Sticky Frog Kalophrynus pleurostigma
Rough-backed Ground Skink Mabuya regifera
Common Ground Skink Mabuya multifasciata
Asian House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus
Place: Lambir – several spots along road to Lambir National Park including Steve’s secret valley
6 June 2010
Time: 10am – 4pm
Participants: Steve, Liz, Richard
A later start this morning saw us making stops at several points along the road to Lambir National Park. Excitement was generated when Steve spotted a Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker but Liz and Richard dipped out on this bird. Late afternoon birding saw us sitting on the cool side of the pipe and there was potential with birds starting to buzz around but we had to head back to Miri earlier than we would have liked for a dinner commitment.
Crested Serpent Eagle
Silver-rumped Spinetail (Needletail)
Pacific SwallowAshy Tailorbird
Place: Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort
9 - 11 June 2010
I arrived at the resort just before midday, not the best time for birding, but after checking-in quickly hit the trails.
The trees around the big pond were fruiting, especially near the resort’s wooden chalets, so attracted lots of flowerpeckers and bulbuls, such as the Grey-bellied Bulbul, which had far more golden wings than any of the field guides show.
The walkway past the campsite to the waterfall and the road from the waterfall to the main carpark turned out to be the best for birds, so the next day was spent mainly on these routes. The walkway near the campsite area provided many of the woodpeckers, such as Crimson-winged, Rufous and Maroon, while the road along the ridge had a pair of White-crowned Hornbills and groups of Black Hornbills, especially in the late afternoon.
The waterfall road was also good in the early morning, with Greater Racket-tailed Drongos chasing a Crested Goshawk from tree to tree and a nesting Red-billed Malkoha. The other rainforest trails were fairly quite for birds, except an area near the end (at the wooden chalet) above the big pond, with nesting Chestnut-winged Babblers and a nice Yellow-bellied Bulbul.
On the road out of the resort a brown Changeable Hawk-Eagle was seen feeding on the road on the same section as it had two days before on the way in. The resort area was very good for birds (and other animals) and I think would be even better at the right time of year.
Black and Red Broadbill
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Crested Serpent Eagle
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Dusky MuniaHill Myna
Silver-rumped Spinetail (Needletail)
Prevost’s Squirrel (subspecies caroli)
Green Crested Lizard Bronchocela cristatella
Smith’s Giant Gecko Gekko smithii
Asian House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus
Three-keeled Ground Skink Mabaya rudis
Many-scaled Litter Skink Sphenomorphus multisquamalus
Horsfield’s Gliding Gecko Ptychozoon horsfieldii
Malayan Softshell Turtle Amyda cartilaginea
Place: Curtin Environs11 June 2010
Time: 4.30 – 6.30pm
Participants: Steve, Liz, Richard
We spent a couple of hours in the late afternoon sussing out the swampy areas around Curtin. The highlight would have to be great views of a Cinnamon Bittern initially in the grass then flying overhead.
12 June 2010
Time:Participants: Steve, Liz, Richard
An early morning meant we were over the border and in Brunei just after 6am. We noticed quite a difference from the birding in Sarawak in that the birds seemed to be less wary and more inclined to come out into the open and give us good views.
There were several spots where we would have been quite content to just pull up chairs and sit for a couple of hours if we had more time because the birding was so good.
The highlight of the day for all of us would have to have been when Steve heard woodpeckers calling and then in front of our very eyes five Great Slaty Woodpeckers appeared and one was seen drinking at a hollow in a tree.
The Great Slaty is the world’s largest woodpecker and they were indeed huge. We also got excellent views of Cinnamon-headed and Thick-billed Green-Pigeons in the same tree, with the former being a new bird for all three of us.
A one-off sighting of a Black and White Bulbul generated interest but unfortunately one of us dipped on this bird. We headed back to Miri as the sun was setting and thunderclouds were starting to build. Huge thanks to Steve for doing all the driving and spotting some great new birds for us.
Black and White Bulbul
Yellow-vented BulbulGrater Coucal
Purple-throated Sunbird (van Hasselt’s)
Great Slaty Woodpecker
Place: Lambir13 June 2010
Time:8.30am – 1.00pm
Participants: Steve, Liz, Richard
Richard spent a couple of hours birding by himself at the pond in Lambir Hills National Park while Sara and Liz did a trek. He was rewarded for his patience with great views of an Asian Fairy-Bluebird and was later joined by Steve. When the girls returned from their trek, Steve, Liz and Richard headed off to look for Richard’s nemesis bird - the Red-bearded Bee-eater. Unfortunately, the Bee-eater was nowhere to be found, but we did get lovely views of the Chestnut-bellied and Black-bellied Malkoha and a Red-crowned Barbet.
Video of birds at Lambir Hills by Richard King.
Liz and Richard King,
MNS Miri Members in Australia
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Raptors of mixed species soaring in the skies.
The Malaysian Nature Society Perak Branch has recently been awarded some funds under the MNS Merdeka Fund to carry out raptor migration monitoring at Taiping in autumn 2010. The objective of this project is to carry out full season count of migratory raptors over Taiping as well promote public awareness through a raptor watch event to be held at Scott's Hill.
In 2009, volunteers carried out 59 days of counting and recorded a total of 52,500 raptors comprising 13 species. On one single day, Lim Aun Tiah witnessed the amazing sight of more than 10,000 Black Bazas passing through! We are hoping to improve on these records this year!
On behalf of MNS Perak Branch, I am inviting volunteers (no need to be experts!) to join the counting teams for the period from 25 September to 21 Nov 2010.
Below are some information on what is involved:
* Counting site is at the residence of K C Lim
* Each team will consist of max 2 persons (not including Co-ordinator)
* Counting will be from 0900hrs - 1700hrs daily
* Official counters (max 2 pax) will be paid RM30 subsistence each per day
* Free accommodation for counters in the residence of K C Lim
* Volunteers are responsible for their own transport to Taiping and all meals
* Subsidy for transport expenses (fuel receipts) is available on a case-by-case basis
For those keen to volunteer, please contact me in private for the username and password to register your dates in google calendar.
Please also pass on this message to others who may be interested.
K C Lim
MNS Miri members interested to volunteer for the Taiping Raptor Count 2010 to please email email@example.com. We will put you in contact with KC to get more details as well as to sign up.
The theme this year was “Science and Conservation for Present and Future”. Some 130 people from 18 countries registered for the symposium, which opened in the capital city Ulaanbaatar and later moved to Hustai Nuruu National Park, about 100 km away.
Following the format of previous editions, this symposium was also divided into three parts: oral presentations, posters and workshops. There were 43 oral and 35 poster presentations covering a wide range of topics that mainly included population and distribution, ecology and habitat use, breeding biology, conservation status and migration. Aun Tiah’s paper “Some aspects of spring raptor migration at Tanjung Tuan, Malaysia” and my own on “Current status and distribution of diurnal raptors in Malaysia” are attached with this report.
The four workshop sessions on Raptor Research and Management Techniques were conducted by several well-known names in the raptor research world. Dr Keith Bildstein from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary spoke about migration watch-site counts and roadside surveys.
The Peregrine Fund was represented by Dr Rick Watson and Lloyd Kiff, with the former discussing the critical elements that are consistently important for successful raptor conservation while the latter introduced us to the raptor literature sources available when researching for raptor information.
Prof Ian Newton, who has authored more than 300 scientific papers and seven books, lectured on the study of population ecology as a tool to assess productivity and survival of raptors. Other sessions included those on investigating raptor mortality, marking and tracking methods for raptors, wildlife tracking using ARGOS system and hands-on demonstration of trapping and marking techniques.
Abstracts of all oral, poster and workshop presentations are available on the ARRCN website:
ARRCN Symposium Program and Abstracts
The five Malaysian participants included Lim Aun Tiah and Lim Kim Chye of the Raptor Study Group, MNS-BCC and three others Dr Jalila Abu, Chong Leong Puan and Mohamed Naim from Universiti Putra Malaysia. ARRCN provided ISGs (International Student Grant) for the air tickets for Mohamed Naim and the two MNS participants. In addition, MNS paid for the registration fee of USD150 each for Aun Tiah and Kim Chye while expenses for accommodation and other costs were borne by themselves.
Apart from presenting oral papers, ISG awardees also had to agree to conduct a raptor workshop upon return to their home country. The format of this workshop in Malaysia, to be held in Kuala Lumpur sometime in September 2010, will generally follow that of the sessions held in Mongolia.
ARRCN has provided USD300 workshop expenses to Dr Jalila Abu who has agreed to organize the event with support from Raptor Study Group.
The Mongolia symposium afforded RSG the opportunity to gain valuable lessons about raptor research field techniques from world experts. The varied topics presented at the symposium and net-working opportunities with the delegates have provided RSG some ideas on how to encourage more raptor research in Malaysia.
One tentative idea that resulted from discussions with the ARGOS delegate is a co-operative project among Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to study raptor migration using satellite tracking.
The next symposium will be held in January 2012 in South Korea, with a focus on spring raptor migration. RSG suggests that members interested in raptors prepare suitable project papers in order to be eligible to apply for the ISG to attend the 7th Symposium.
Lim Kim Chye
Raptor Study Group
12 July 2010