Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Still quiet at the Kuala Baram mudflats

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

June birdwatching in Miri with Liz and Richard King

Place: Niah National Park
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.

Bird list
Blue-eared Barbet
Red-crowned Barbet
Banded BroadbillB
lack and Red Broadbill
Cream-vented Bulbul
Hairy-backed Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Changeable Hawk-Eagle
Bat HawkBlack Kite
Spotted Fantail
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Rufous-backed Kingfisher)
Black-bellied Malkoha
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha
Raffle’s Malkoha
Black-headed Munia
Black-naped Monarch
Rufous Piculet
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Little Spiderhunter
Asian Glossy-Starling
Pacific Swallow
Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike
Cinnamon-rumped Trogon
Scarlet-rumped Trogon
Buff-necked Woodpecker
Olive-backed Woodpecker
White-breasted Woodswallow
White-bellied Yuhina (Erpornis)

Mammal/Reptile list
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.

Bird list
Chestnut-winged Babbler
Banded Broadbill
Buff-vented Bulbul
Crested Serpent Eagle
Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Silver-rumped Spinetail (Needletail)
Plain Sunbird
Pacific SwallowAshy Tailorbird
White-breasted Woodswallow

Place: Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort
9 - 11 June 2010
Participants: Richard

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.

Bird list
Chestnut-winged Babler
Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler
Blue-eared Barbet
Brown Barbet
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Black and Red Broadbill
Grey-bellied Bulbul
Hairy-backed Bulbul
Red-eyed Bulbul
Spectacled Bulbul
Yellow-bellied Bulbul
Emerald Dove
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Changeable Hawk-Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Crested Goshawk
Black Hornbill
White-crowned Hornbill
Green Iora
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha
Red-billed Malkoha
Black-naped Monarch
Dusky MuniaHill Myna
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Oriental Magpie-Robin
White-rumped Shama
Little Spiderhunter
Silver-rumped Spinetail (Needletail)
Purple-naped Sunbird
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
Glossy Swiftlet
Ashy Tailorbird
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
Crimson-winged Woodpecker
Maroon Woodpecker
Rufous Woodpecker
White-breasted Woodswallow

Mammal/Reptile list
Plantain Squirrel
Prevost’s Squirrel (subspecies caroli)
Treeshrew Sp.
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.

Bird list
Cinnamon Bittern
Greater Coucal
Plaintive Cuckoo
Spotted Dove
Cattle Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Striated Grassbird
Black-headed Munia
Common Moorhen
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Wandering Whistling-Duck
White-breasted Waterhen
White-breasted Woodswallow

Place: Brunei
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.

Bird list
Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler
Blue-eared Barbet
Brown Barbet
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Black and White Bulbul
Black-headed Bulbul
Red-eyed Bulbul
Yellow-vented BulbulGrater Coucal
Slender-billed Crow
Jambu Fruit-Dove
Spotted Dove
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Black Hornbill
Collared Kingfisher
Brahminy Kite
Black-bellied Malkoha
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha
Dusky Munia
Black-headed Munia
Hill Myna
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Long-tailed Parakeet
Cinnamon-headed Green-Pigeon
Thick-billed Green-Pigeon
Green Imperial-Pigeon
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Asian Glossy-Starling
Purple-throated Sunbird (van Hasselt’s)
Copper-throated Sunbird
Pacific Swallow
Little Swift
Grey-rumped Tree-Swift
Whiskered Tree-Swift
White-breasted Waterhen
Great Slaty Woodpecker
Grey-capped Woodpecker
White-breasted Woodswallow

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.

Bird list
Red-crowned Barbet
Blue-eared Barbet
Red-throated Barbet
Asian Fairy-Bluebird
Red-eyed Bulbul
DollarbirdRufous-bellied Eagle
Black Hornbill
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha
Black-bellied Malkoha
Dusky Munia
White-breasted Woodswallow

Video of birds at Lambir Hills by Richard King.

Written by:
Liz and Richard King,
MNS Miri Members in Australia
June 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Volunteer for Taiping Raptor Count 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.
Thank you!
K C Lim
Project co-ordinator

Note :

MNS Miri members interested to volunteer for the Taiping Raptor Count 2010 to please email We will put you in contact with KC to get more details as well as to sign up.

Report on the 6th ARRCN Symposium on Asian Raptors

The 6th Asian Raptor Research & Conservation Network (ARRCN) Symposium, held in Mongolia from 23 – 27 June 2010, was jointly organized by the Mongolian Ornithological Society and National University of Mongolia, with support from ARRCN, Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, Mongolian Academy of Science, the Peregrine Fund and several Japanese corporate sponsors.

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.

Reported by:

Lim Kim Chye
Raptor Study Group

12 July 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

MNS Hornbill Conservation Project : Hornbill Volunteer Program 2010

Title page of MNS Hornbill Project website Please checkout the url to find our more about MNS Hornbill Project in Belum-Temengor and how you can make a direct contribution to hornbill conservation efforts.

Older than the Congo; richer in biodiversity. The Belum-Temengor (BT) Forest Complex in Perak is a 130 million year old forest. The BT Forest Complex consists primarily of the Royal Belum State Park and the Temengor Forest Reserve, an area of 288,000 ha in size. It is home to some of Asia’s most spectacular wildlife including tigers, elephants and rhinoceros, and something very special; possibly the world’s largest seasonal congregations of hornbills.

In 2006, the MNS Belum-Temengor Campaign was launched, aimed at securing this large expanse of forested landscape. The Perak Government responded to one of the five actions and gazetted Royal Belum State Park (117,500 ha) in 2007.

MNS continues to advocate for the protection of Temengor Forest Reserve, part of which forms the site for MNS Hornbill Conservation Project. Due to continued disturbance to the forest, logging being one of the main ones, the hornbills of Belum-Temengor are under threat as they require large areas of forested land to feed on fruiting trees as well as large mature trees to nest in.

MNS led the first heritage and scientific expedition to Belum-Temengor in 1993 to document its rich biodiversity. Through this expedition, the mass movement of Aceros hornbills was documented. Over 2,365 individuals in flight were counted on 25 November 1993. In September 2008, the highest count ever recorded was 3,261 birds.

During the second expedition in 1998 (at Sg. Tan Hain, Belum Forest Reserve), the identity of these Aceros hornbills was confirmed as the Plain-pouched Hornbills Aceros subruficollis. This confirmed the presence of a previously unrecorded species of hornbill in Malaysia, making Belum-Temengor the only site in the country with 10 hornbill species to date.

Marking a new country record in 1999, the Plain-pouched Hornbill became a fascinating species needing attention, simply because the numbers in this biologically diverse site were unprecedented anywhere else in the world, putting Belum-Temengor on the map as one of global conservation importance. This served as a catalyst for the MNS Hornbill Conservation Project which strives to gain knowledge and information on hornbills in order to conserve their home, the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.

For more details, visit


We have initiated a volunteer programme to provide the public an opportunity to assist MNS monitor the Plain-pouched Hornbill. This is the first volunteer programme of its kind in the country. In August and September, the season for the Plain-pouched Hornbill, thousands of these birds flock in Temengor, perhaps in search of food. The reasons why they migrate here during certain times of the year are uncertain yet, which is the main reason for this programme – to answer the many unanswered questions as to why these birds are here.

Here volunteers can help conduct the important daily flight census and be a part of a national conservation effort, aiding our staff and experienced members in collecting data. Hornbill census is conducted twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. This flight census will offer valuable information on population numbers which in turn will be used to advocate for the protection of Belum-Temengor, especially in addressing the logging threats. Join us in our effort to tell the world that the hornbills are a prized asset of our Belum-Temengor forest that must be protected for future generations.

A briefing will be held during which responsibilities and duties are explained and assigned. There are also other duties related to the set up and maintenance of the site.

[Abbreviation: B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner]

Day 1 [D]
1500hrs Arrival in Banding Island Jetty, Gerik, Perak, Boat transfer from Banding Island to Kampung Tebang
1700hrs Introduction and familiarization with the indigenous Jahai community at villageHornbill monitoring in Kampung Tebang

Day 2 [B/L/D]
0645-0900 hrs Hornbill monitoring
0900-1730 hrsActivities in Kg Tebang or excursion
1730-1930 hrs Hornbill monitoring in Kampung Tebang

Day 3 [B/L/D]
0645-0900 hrs Hornbill monitoring
0900-1730 hrsActivities in Kg Tebang or excursion
1730-1930 hrs Hornbill monitoring in Kampung Tebang

Day 4 [B]
0645-0900 hrs Hornbill monitoring
0900-1200 hrs Debrief by Group Leader and Coordinator , Departure to Banding Island Jetty

The local Orang Aslis have helped MNS for years in search for hornbill nests and also guiding and transporting members and guests through unfamiliar territory. Learn what the Orang Asli eat, how they live and what they know about the rainforest they have lived in for centuries.

Activities in Temengor may include camp crafts, hut enhancement and raft building. Excursions in Temengor may include visits to nearby waterfall and Rafflesia sites.

Please note that the programme itinerary above is subject to change due to local weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances.

Obviously you must love nature and the wild outdoors. Facilities in Belum-Temengor are basic and you’re as close to nature as it gets. There are NO shops within the vicinity of the village, so please purchase whatever you need and bring it along with you. The nearest town is Gerik and once you pass through this town, you will be heading on a highway to the Banding Island Jetty, 40 minutes away from town.

Accommodation is in the form of a wooden shelter. Bathing and toilet facilities are provided in the village area and the water source is from the lake surrounding the village. Those uncomfortable with this source of water may resort to baby wipes or use a damp towel to ‘wash up’.

There is no electricity in this village.

Local daily temperatures range from 21 – 30 degrees C.

We provide:
• kerosene lamps
• foam mat (for sleeping)
• mosquito nets• stationery
• cooking and eating utensils

First and foremost you must be ...
• Enthusiastic and open minded
• Interested in Malaysian natural history and biodiversity
• Nature appreciators
• Fit and adventurous
• Able to live under very basic conditions
• 18 and above of age
• Willing to work with others

Note: To get out of this area for any emergency purposes requires a minimum of two (2) hours.

• Gather and report data as required as accurately as possible
• Act as tally counter
• Participate in available activities when off-duty in order to fully enjoy the opportunity/ experience
• Provide constructive feedback to coordinator/ review experience with media and other volunteers (if requested)
• Cooperate and coordinate with other volunteers/ group leader with regards to travel arrangements/ duties on-site OR arrange for own transport to transfer site (or car-pool with other volunteers if available)
• Take responsibility for own supplies/ needs/ safety/ health
• Prepare for volunteer stint: attend/read guidelines provided

(Package 1 [4D/3N])

Category and Price
Malaysian students RM170.00 per person
MNS Members RM230.00 per person
Malaysian residents (non-MNS members) RM300.00 per person + 1 year MNS membership
International residents (visiting volunteers) USD150.00 per person + 1 year MNS membership

(Package 2 [5D/4N])

Category and Price
Malaysian students RM220.00 per person
MNS Members RM280.00 per person
Malaysian residents (non-MNS members) RM350.00 per person + 1 year MNS membership
International residents (visiting volunteers) USD180.00 per person + 1 year MNS membership

Book a slot on the Volunteer Application form, downloadable on the MNS Hornbil Website:


Please note that expenses relating to getting to Gerik and Banding Jetty including transportation, meals, etc are NOT covered in volunteer price.

Please also make sure you are properly insured. Payments made are non-refundable and will be donated to MNS Hornbill Conservation project. Should there be unavoidable cancellations, please let MNS know four (4) days in advance so we can find suitable replacements to fill vital slots.

Binoculars (essential)
CamerasExtra batteries
Good walking shoes or hiking boots
Leech proof socks (can be purchased at MNS headquarters)
Long sleeves and pants (earthy colors as bright colors can scare birds away)
Sweater for night and early morning and cooling clothes for the afternoon
Medication you are currently taking. (A basic medical kit is available on site)
Mosquito spray/insect repellent
Reading material
Sleeping bag or blanket
Sun hat
Sunscreen lotion

Optional items:
Fishing rod
Inflatable sleeping mat (e.g. Thermarest)
Inflatable pillow
Spotting scope
Video camera
Wet towels or baby wipes

1. There is no electricity supply in Kampung Tebang. Please keep this in mind when bringing any electronic equipment in.
2. Cell phone reception not available in Kampung Tebang. Cell phone reception is available at the Banding jetty.
3. Ensure your belongings fit into one rugged piece of luggage preferably waterproof backpack.
4. Please note all volunteers who join our programme will be given a limited edition Plain-pouched Hornbill T-shirt and Hornbill poster, as well as a certificate of appreciation for the work they have done for the MNS Hornbill Conservation Project at MNS.

We hope to see you in Kampung Tebang!

Special note to employees of Shell:
Shell Malaysia has adopted this program as part of Project Better World - Malaysia program, Shell staff are eligible to apply for a stint at Belum-Temenggor counting hornbills with other volunteers under supervision of MNS. All expenses for the program are covered by Shell as part of Shell's commitment to Project Better World.

To apply please contact Shell Malaysia focal point Yoong, Agnes via Shell internal email.

Some details are provided at the Shell's internal PBW-MY website.

[All the information above is taken from the Hornbill Volunteer Program 2010 Factsheet provided by the Malaysian Nature Society.]
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Jul 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Birds in Miri's very own patch of wetlands.

The reeds are growing quite well, so well that the open space previously are all overgrown with them making viewing not as easy because all the are making use of the great cover. One tiny snag is that it makes it hard for birders to see our quarry. You can definitely hear them though.

Wandering Whistling Duck doing a fly-by, the only site we know where the species is breeding in northern Sarawak.

The ducks flies in groups from the south west lake, settles in the Curtin Lake and later seen heading towards the Curtin Lakeside with the Curtin University gates, there's still hope yet for these ducks albeit not within the confines of their original habitat.

A duck spooked out of it's cover. Other birds commonly sighted in this area : White-browed Crake, Cinnamon Bittern, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Intermediate Egret, Common Moorhen. Only regular full time monitoring will tell whether this habitat also harbours Common Coot (high on the wishlist) and jacanas (a very long shot). Raptors such as Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle have all been sighted here before, similarly for Grey Heron and Purple Heron.

A large footprint of a waterbird in comparison with a 10 cent coins, within the same habitat we have previously sited a female watercock. This same day a Black-backed Swamphen sigthing was made as it flew over the tall reeds after being spooked by a motorcylist. One other sighting of the same bird was made way back in 1996 near Beluru. With large segments of peatswamp forest and wetlands habitat converted to agriculture (main oil palm in the northern region), sightings of this beautiful bird has been most infrequent. We don't know how long this particular patch of wetlands will stay intact as it is now.

A beautiful healthy looking cattails, a type of reeds common at the edges of the lake. There have documentation on how lowly cattail is emerging as the weapon of choice against water contamination, and perhaps even global warming. In addition to its use in large phytoremediation projects to absorb contamination from groundwater and wetlands, the cattail could also work in on a small, inexpensive scale, helping to reduce arsenic contamination in impoverished areas. One side effect is the cattails themselves overwhelming the wetlands if not properly managed. It is also capable of converting wetlands into drylands by: 1)sucking out water; and 2) building up soil until the land is too far above the water table to remain a wetland.

One lone Oriental Darter seen drying itself on top of a dead tree trunk in the Southwest Lake nearby.

Apparently there were others nearby, the highest number we've seen so far in the same area was 11 darters back in April 2010. Though most of the lakes are man-made via sandmining activities, it has created habitats ideally suited to wetland birds in some parts. And with the onslaught of development in Kuala Baram, this could well be the best that there is for the wildlife, for the time being.

What would be great for this sort of "temporary" sites is perhaps to have 24/7 monitoring via a close-circuit tv at a few selected ideal locations coupled with regular monitoring. Sightings via pure luck doesn't actually rate too high up on the reliability scale; video playback could very well be.

By Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Jul 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Birds on Campus, Curtin University Miri

Curtin Lakeside, the biggest expanse of water on campus, beautiful setting should soon be ideal for waterbirds.

Next door, just outside the fence tall reeds and cattails which harbour several species of interesting waterbirds.

Between 01-30th July, birders from MNS Miri are trying to record as many birds on Curtin Miri campus and showcase them here in images and/or videos. What previously was peat swamp forest is now well manicured compound of higher learning. Fields with well manicured lawns, avenues lined with verdant leafy trees, some flowering species as well wide expanse of water bodies in and around campus are welcoming back all manner of bird species. Nesting birds (Pink-necked Pigeon, Dusky Munia, Chestnut Munia, Pied Triller, White-breasted Woodswallow et al) can be located all around campus. Will Curtin be the final haven for our feathered friends in Kuala Baram?

White-bellied Sea Eagle

Oriental Darter

Pacific Golden Plover

Pied Triller

Blue-throated Bee Eater

Striated Grassbird

Curtin Birdlist from 1999 EIA:
Crested Serpent Eagle
Jambu Fruit Dove (Near Threatened)
Spotted Dove
Greater Coucal
Common Kingfisher
Black-capped Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-Eater
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Oriental Magpie Robin
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
Asian Glossy Starling
Spectacled Spiderhunter
Eurasian Treesparrow

Additional since:
Wandering Whistling Duck
Black-backed Swamphen
Cinnamon Bittern
White-browed Crake
Oriental Darter (Near Threatened)
White-bellied Sea Eagle
Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Near Threatened)
Oriental White-eye
Pied Triller
Lesser Coucal
Wood Sandpiper
Little Ringed Plover
Pacific Golden Plover
Striated Grassbird
Brown-throated Sunbird
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Intermediate Egret
Little Green Pigeon
Pink-necked Pigeon
Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
White-breasted Waterhen
White-breasted Woodswallow
Collared Kingfisher
Oriental Pratincole
Black-headed Munia
Dusky Munia
Common Moorhen
Black-winged Kite
Yellow Bittern
Blue-breasted Quail
Common Snipe
Common Iora
Pied Fantail
Yellow Wagtail
Paddyfield Pipit
Little Tern
Olive-backed Sunbird
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Plaintive Cuckoo
Large-billed Crow
Cattle Egret
Chinese/Javan Pond Heron
Ashy Tailorbird
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Oriental Reed Warbler
Eastern Marsh Harrier
Brahminy Kite

Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Jul 2010