Monday, February 8, 2010

Second Day in Punang

Mudflats near Kpg Awat-awat
Date: 06th February
Time 6:30 am – 10:10 am
Air temperature 27.2 ° Centigrade. Total cloud covered sky. Tide is low.
Participants :
Musa (writer) , Nazeri, Sara, Clarissa, Norzie, Ali, Aisya, Syaban, Musli and Sharul Zaimi.

River and Tracks we followed.

We woke up very early and met at Punang Jetty at 6:30 am as promised. The two boats were already waiting and we went out toward the Awat-awat mudflats, the local called it Pulau Sundar Besar. The tide was very low and it was not advisable to go straight to that mudflat from Punang, we got stuck in the mud for nearly 2 hrs. It was fortunate for us that we had two experienced boat drivers with us.

Punang Water front and perhaps the longest wooden jetty in Sarawak.

On the way to Awat-awat we saw some 300 terns flying and diving catching anchovies at sea. While entering Awat-awat river mouth we saw several carb-eating macaques not far from the houses on concrete stilts. Nearby also foraging in the shallows was a Chinese Egret. Villagers were busy carrying out their daily chores : fishing, cleaning nets and going about their business.

Chinese Egret in the mangroves.

We travelled the length of the river and came out further south from Sundar river mouth. The riverbank was thick with nipah and a few places thicj stands of mangroves We approached slowly in a southerly direction towards Brunei, this was when we got stuck in the mud, the waterlevel was too shallow for the boat.

If it weren't for the waders on the flats, we would've been completely bored out of mind while waiting for the water level to rise. There were many waders in sight. These were mixed flocks of Whimbrel, Terek Sandpiper, Chinese Egret, Great Egret, Gull-billed Tern, Black-naped Tern, Crested Tern, Greenshanks, Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Curlew. We had plenty of opportunity to scan the area for birds. There was also a White-bellied Sea Eagle shrieking up high in the sky.

Eurasian Curlew flying.

The local called all the waders as Burong pimping, ungat-ungat and jungkit-jungkit. The huge Whimbrel is called Pimping Surui. The Chinese Egret and Great Egret is called Burong Kenawai, in fact all the white egrets are called Kenawai.

Lesser Adjutant and Great Egret.

We were able to edge further when the tide finally gave us a few inches more of water. Our boat finally managed to enter Sundar river and we were afforded great views of a number of Whimbrel and Terek Sandpiper on the riverbanks. Then far on the north eastern side we saw a Lesser Adjutant flying down to the mudflat. This wildbird is defiinitely a lifer for me, the only other one I saw was caged up in a dinky cage at the infamous Kuala Baram Crocodile Farm in Miri.

Lesser Adjutant flying in.

The boat explored further up Sundar River and we spotted another Lesser Adjutant, making it two for the day! The bird was seen foraging together with two Great Egret on the shores but momentarily flew away.

One main street Sundar Town, was the administrative center of these parts previously.

SInce it's almost high noon, we decided to stop for lunch. We spotted a sulap by the riverbak and headed straight there. All ten of us climbed into the hut and waited for one of our boatman to clean and cook two barramundi they had brough along with them as lunch. It was a simple and most delicious lunch considering the ingredients were really only the barramundi, a few cloves of garlic and onions. After lunch we headed to Sundar.

Eurasian Curlew on the flats, Terek Sandpiper on the right.

We reached Sundar and headed off to nearby coffeshop to find some really cold drinks. By the time we were back in the river, the tide has risen considerably and we were able to cruise back to the mudflats we came from within reasonable speed. All the flats were already submerged when we got there. All the waders were roosting on the few half-submerged logs and branches on the shore. There were mostly Whimbrel, Greenshanks, Terek Sandpiper and Eurasian Curlew.

Waders on a stick.

On the way back to Kpg Punang, we spotted two dolphins jumping far on the left side of our track, they were to fast to be identified, all we could remember was the grey fins and back.

The boatdrivers were very keen to show us the proboscis monkey, said to be common in the area. Several attempts along narrow riverlets yielded on a few macaques and two black birds that could eithet be a drongo or one of the smaller malkoha sp.

Leaving another tributary, we counted 50 waders of mixed flock consisting of Terek Sandpiper, Greater Sandpover and a single Grey Plover.

Wader at Sungai Saban River mouth with a single Grey Plover.

It was a hot 32.7° Centigrade with a cloudless sky. We entered Sg Mengureng but came out empty handed.

Leaving Sg Mengureng we headed straight to Punang jetty for a well deserved rest. We ended the boatride at 6pm but promised to meet again later in the evening for a spot of Fireflies assessment in Punang river.

Musa Musbah/ February 2010

1 comment:

  1. Encuk Musa,
    Interesting to read your narration. Love it. Unfortunately you have had no luck to 'meet' the Bangkatan (proboscis monkey). Perhaps you will come again.

    Anyway, we hope you enjoy staying with the Kampong folks. They are indeed very warm people.

    Nazir administrator.