Monday, March 1, 2010

AWC Pulau Bawai 27-28th February by Musa Musbah

AWC Pulau Bawai
Date :27-28th Feb 2010
Bright Moonlight night and Cloudy morning

Hunting, pollution

Nazeri, Majelah, Remli (SFC), Kamil (SFC), Rosie, Sara, Benjamin and Musa (writer).

Yellow is Benjamin's track 1.28 km long and 59,000 square meters. White is our
Bird watching track is 2.6 km long and 0.3 Km square. Magenta is last year's Bawai AWC track around the island.

It's that time of year again for us to undertake another camping trip to Pulau Bawai. Bawai was a local boy who liked to explore the area around Kuala Baram was fisrt to set foot on this sandbar, thus the island bears his name. The island was created from the massive sediments dumped by the majestic Baram River. It became a small sanctuary for waders, small mammals and crocodiles.

An overview of the island mapped on an outdated Googlemap.

This island is only about 0.3 square kilometres in size according to the GPS track that Benjamin walked during the high tide during this visit. However at lowest tide like that during our trip, the size grew to was around one square kilometre in size. The island seemed to swing from side to side to side according to NE and SW monsoon.

Some of our birdwatchers.

The island is notorious amongs the locals. It is said to be haunted by the pontianaks and hantulaut. Last year we had our closest encounter with a Malaysian Pover as well as an estuarine crocodile, we found out that it visited the beach while we were sleeping and buried a dead fish in the sand. We made our first record of Grey Plover in Kuala Baram on this island as well as got ourselves close views of two White-bellied Sea Eagle hunting on the beach. Not bad at all for a spooky little island.

Susan Myer's Birds of Borneo was used extensively of late by our team.

This year we came back to Bawai for some of the same. Daud told us about "Itek Laut" regularlu hunted by locals in the area. We figure it could be Whimbrel or the larger Eurasian Curlew.

Ben was anxious to explore the island, we gave him the GPS unit to scout around the island.

A beautiful late morning complete with "fingers of god" on the extensive mudflats.

As soon as we've got the tent set-up and campfire going, we had an early dinner. We feasted on bread, tinned food and fruits. Last year was more posh, we had two roasted chicken!

We went straight to brdwatching after everyone was more less finished with the early dinner. We immediately sighted Lesser and Greater Sandplovers and a couple of Malaysian Plover.

Runaway logs ... this tree died in vain.

Due to a small channel separating us and the entended sandbar, we decided to concentrate on the flats where the mangroves were. We saw a pair of Collared Kingfisher on a dead branch. The two bird then flew around us and later gone behind the casuarinas trees. We went back to camp just after sunset.

By the time we reached camp, the sun had already set, but it was totally bright with full moon shining gloriously above us. The night was warm and a little windy, everybody decided to sleep under the stars.

Birders on alert, always quick to spot anything that moves on the distant flats.

We heard a few Nightjar sp. calling from several different spots behind the Casuarinas trees. Remli and Kamil busied themselves scanning the area with their torchlight and the nightvision scope that we brought along for the trip. We spotted a few bright eyes in the nite. It was about 150 meters and not so clear. It was definitely a bird standing high. There are actually two of them. Our first thought it was an owl. Then it flew off to the right into the bushes.

Plenty of small animal tracks, likely that of a rat.

Then suddenly a pair of bird flew above us and then circled back. We could see clearly the white bars on their wings. They were indeed nightjars, curiously investigating us ... another case of birds watching the birdwatchers. They then flew into the bush nearby. Their calls went on throughout the night. We decided against a planned nitewalk due to the hightide expected to be highest around midnite.

The next morning we woke about around 0530hrs and walked around the island. There were no signs of crocodiles this time around. We did see many waders scattered in a huge area of the mudflat. They were mainly Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Kentish Plover, Red-necked Stint, Sanderling and several Malaysian Plovers. One GreenShank was seen as well as a Sandplover in an almost breeding plumage. We saw a few Pacific Golden Plover. A single Great Egret was spotted near the mangroves area.

An estimate of 1.2 sq Km of Pulau Bawai at low tide.

This time of year the tide was so low that local people walked to the island to catch the seasonal shrimps used to make belacan. We saw several groups of people with nets involved in this activity in the shallows around the island.

We returned camp around 1000hrs having completed the loop. We sat down under our canopy and enjoyed our brunch in the cool breeze.

Daud came shortly after and we left the island at 1030hrs.

Musa Musbah, February 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment