Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Checking out the birds at Kuala Baram Lagoon, 2009.

Asian Waterbird Census, AWC is an annual waterbird census carried out by volunteers every January (sometimes starts mid December and spills over to February) at various sites thoughout Asia.

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:

25-26th Dec Kuala Sg Niah, Kuala Sg Sibuti,
31st Dec-02nd Jan Kpg Awat-awat, Lawas,
08-09th Jan Pujut 7-Go-Kart Lakes Area,
15-16th Jan Curtin University Lakes Area,
22-23rd Jan Kuala Sg Baram-Kpg Masjid Prawn Farms,
29-30th Jan Kuala Sg Baram-Kpg Batu Satu ,
05-06th Feb Pulau Bawai
12-13th Feb Loagan Bunut National Park
19-20th Feb Sibuti WS

Most of these sites are revisits from past year's census (an important monitoring component of AWC) with two new sites (Kuala Sg Niah, and Kpg Kuala Sg Sibuti) added for 2011.

Some of our past AWC highlights :
Lesser Adjutant in Sundar, 2010.
Malaysian Plover, Grey Plover, Wandering Whistling Duck, Oriental Darter in Miri, 2009.
Plovers in general in Kuala Baram, 2008.
Lesser Adjutant in Lutong, 2002.
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 nabghani@yahoo.com for further details.

Schools interested to participate as part of a school project are encouraged to send enquiries.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update on Piasau Camp's Pied Hornbill Family

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.

Fieldnotes and photos by:
Dr Gianna Minton/MNS Miri/Resident Piasau Camp/Nov 2010