Sunday, February 21, 2010

AWC Loagan Bunut 20-21st Feb 2010

AWC Loagan Bunut 20-21st Feb 2010
From 10:00 am 20 Feb to 9:30 am 21 Feb.
Air temperature 27.0 ° Centigrade in the morning and 30.5 ° Centigrade in the mid morning.
A Short drizzling at night, with dim moonlight and
Cloudy morning
Participant: Nazeri, Majelah, Clare, Sian, Ali, Aisha, Remli (SFC), Baiee (SFC) and Musa (writer).


14 Kilometers boat ride around the lake, Makes 4 KM square.


Getting there, some say the journey itself is half the fun ... the rest is without a doubt the Oriental Darter sightings.

We went to Loagan Bunut this time with two 4WD trucks. We started our journey in the wee hours of the morning, 0555 hrs to be exact after picking up Rembli, Sian and meeting up with Nazeri and family at Taman Awam. By 0630hrs we were already in Bakong, roaming the markets for grilled bishop's nose and pulut bakar for breakfast.

Our first bird of the morning was a noisy Rufous Woodpecker at Bakong market, silhouetted nicely against a tree branch. We quickly headed out to Loagan Bunut National Park after getting some favorite junk food aka comfort snacks near the market. Our second bird was the smallest raptor in the world in these parts, the Black-thighed Faolconette having it's breakfast.

Other than the extremely bumpy ride on the dirt road (it's been such since we first knew of Loagan Bunut since 1999) there weren't that much more along the way. By 0745hrs we were already at the LBNP scenic viewpoint on top of the highest hill in the area.

As we moved downhill towards LBNP HQ we spotted two Black Hornbills perching on dead branches very far from us. We also encountered ten Hill Myna flying to our left as we progressed further downhill. We reached park HQ at 0815hrs.

The water level was really low this year, we estimated some 5 feet diffrence towards the low side below the highest level mark on the belian post at the boat jetty. During our survey of the lake area the next day, most parts were only slightly deeper than 4-5feet. It's safe to assume that the lake would probably be completely dry by May sometime.


A comparation of water height of Pak Meran's Jetty from AWC 2009 and AWC 2010.

Noting this I remembered years ago of friends who used to enter this area to collect stranded fish during the dry season. The lake area is so huge and outside people do not understand that this area is being the native area to the Berawan ethnic group. When the lake dries up everyone, local Berawans and those from outside the area came collect the stranded fish with out asking permission from the Berawans living around the lake area. In some cases, outsiders who got caught collecting fish without authorisation were made to pay a heavy fine, in the form of pigs and sometimes sums of money by the headman. The headman usually isn't reluctant to share the bounty with outsiders if proper permission was sought.


High water mark on jetty's posts.

We sat on a high ground overseeing the lake. We scan the area and found a purple heron far in the swamp. It stayed there for minutes and finally flew off. We saw many terns in the distance circling just above the lake surface.

Our first day wasn't too productive. Not having secured a boat for the afternoon cruise around the lake were resorted to birdwatch from a high vantage point behind the VIP chalet. Fom here we we could make out Purple Heron, Common Sandpiper, Intermediate Egret, Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, and a few smaller birds such us the Black-bellied Malkoha, Pied Fantail, Common Iora, Green Iora, Crimson Sunbird and Dusky Munia.

Around 1700hrs we decided to take a ride behind the Dmax and cruise slowly for birds along the access road to the park. We saw several Purple throated Bee Eater, Black Hornbill, Changeable Hawk Eagle and a pair of Black-thighed Falconette.

After a scrumptious dinner at the canteen (fish, chicken and two veggies), we decided on a short nitewalk along the same access road and areas within the park HQ. Other then for the incessant crickets and the odd frogs, we didnot pick up anything significant. There were 3 lonely fireflies. We walked back to the hostel around 2000 hrs feeling a tad dejected.

The next morning we woke up by 0500hrs looking forward to the morning's boatcruise around the lake. We took a light breakfasts and quickly waited at the jetty for our boatman for the morning session.

We started our boat ride at 6:30 am. The boatman Mr Baiee of SFC is sure to be careful to go along the side the lake with a paddle on is right hand and also steer the boat engine. We tracked 14 kilometers by boat a around the lake. By calculating the inner area made by the GPS, we made good 4 square kilometres.


Our favorite time at the lake, early morning where the birds are a plenty. Loagan Bunut is one of Sarawak's most unique and a well guarded secret.

This year we saw many more Oriental Darter than the previous year (AWC 2009 yielded 0 Oriental Darter). This year as well we sighted more Stork-billed Kingfisher, last year's figure was 1 SBKF. Two Blue-eared Kingfisher was sighted this year in addition to an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher.

There were also more Purple Heron sighted this year.

On one occasion we witnessed an Oriental Darter in action, it flew low above the water, dived in, poked it's head out momentarily and dissappeared. We waited for the bird to come back out with a fish, but it never did.

We made a loop around the lake and reached our starting point at the jetty at 0930hrs. While manauevering into a small jetty to get to the jetty we spotted our 2nd Blue-eared Kingfisher and a Yellow Bittern. It was a very productive morning.

MNS Miri would like to thank Baie Hassan, Kamil Tahir, and Remli Adenan of Sarawak Forestry Corporation for arranging for a boat to take us birdwatching around Loagan Bunut for this year's AWC at the Park. Most rewarding was perhaps our opportunity to observe Oriental Darter back in good numbers for our AWC at loagan this year. We'll be back next year ... and maybe even several more visits in between.


Oriental Darter sunning itself, there were 10 other birds sighted along the shores of the loagan.


Changeable Hawk Eagle we spotted along the access road to the Park HQ.

Bird list:
Wood Sandpiper 5
Eurasian Sparrow 15
Black-thighed Falconet 3
Black Hornbill 3
Hill Myna 8
Dusky Munia 7
Purple-throated Sunbird 2
Tern (many) sp.
Purple Heron 7
Black-bellied Malkoha 2
Pied Fantail 3
Ashy Tailorbird 3
Crimson Sunbird 1
Osprey 2
Common Iora 4
Intermediate Egret 2
Cattle Egret 3
Changeable Hawk Eagle 3
Common Sandpiper 3
Yellow Bittern 2
Slender-billed Crow 5
Little Egret +50
Pacific swallow (many)
Oriental Darter 11
Striated Heron 2
Grey Heron 2
Stork-billed Kingfisher 6
Raptor sp. 1
Blue-eared Kingfisher 2
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 10
Long-tailed Parakeet 5
Green Imperial Pigeon 2
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 1
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha 2
White-bellied Sea Eagle 2

Musa Musbah, February 2010

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