Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Birdwatching Loagan Bunut

We took the rickety old boat to cruise around the lake for birds, the wooden boat proved comfortable for everyone.

We are at Loagan Bunut National Park almost without fail yearly for our Asian Waterbird Census. We started going there back in 1998 and continued doing so for several years. Activities picked up again when we revisited in 2009, and 2010.

This year, due to commitment to several projects on the coast, our visit to Loagan Bunut was delayed until mid March, way beyond the stipulated to be included for AWC. Our trip was riding on the CFZ Sg Teru that was to take place evening of the 19th March.

We left Miri in two 4WDs approximately 1030 hrs, reached Beluru for lunch around 1130 hrs. We continued our journey along the infamous Beluru-Lapok road and didn't get to the park proper until 1330 hrs, rattling bones and dusty.

Other than fleeting small birds the likes of Black-headed Munia, Dusky Munia, Common Ioras, the usual big birds are noticeablt absent other than the Oriental Pied Hornbill we saw perched on a dead branch on our way in. Since the original purpose of the trip was to conduct CFZ, we relegated out focus to preparing the tools and kits ready for the evening boatride. Birdwatching has to wait till the next day.

James accompanied us throughout the cruise around the lake. What a lucky young man, to be flung to "Walden Pond" to quietly live a life full of contemplation, wild thoughts and wild birds.

Birders assuming the pose, there was contention on what actually flew across at that juncture ... Oriental Darter, Black Hornbill or Purple Heron.

The advantage of the old wooden boat is clearly illustrated here, I wish all the boats we took out on the waters are like this very one with a built-in recliner; and the weather the same blue-skies.

Open air final resting place for the Berawan chieftains of years long gone.

A difficult customer, a very skittish Purple Heron. Image by Sara Wong/MNS Miri

A pair of nesting White-bellied Sea Eagle, heavily cropped. Image by Sara Wong/MNS Miri.

And birdwatching we did the next day after having fully recovered from being drenched the night before while executing CFZ of Sg Teru. Still slightly elated from the 30+ display trees the nite before, we all crawled in our waiting boat as Pak Jalin maneuvered it out into the lake.

We were accompanied by James, a young SFC apprentice stationed at the Park. We made a slow cruise along the perimeter of the lake keeping a sharp eye on anything that might sport feathers.
Though it was rather quiet compared to last year saw three Oriental Darter (as opposed to eleven last year), 2 pairs of White-bellied Sea Eagle (both nesting), an Osprey and a curious looking Changeable Hawk Eagle.

We didn't see any Blue-eared Kingfisher, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher this time. The egrets were also noticeably absent. We had quite a hard time trying to make a quiet approach to photograph Purple Heron from close quarters, seemed like everytime we lifted a finger, it'll fly of it's perched.

Here's the list of the birds we saw during our stay at Loagan Bunut:
1 Black-crowned Night-heron
2 Striated Heron/Little Heron
3 Purple Heron
4 Oriental Darter
5 Osprey
6 White-bellied Sea-eagle
7 Lesser Fish-eagle
8 Changeable Hawk-eagle
9 Spotted Dove
10 Zebra Dove
11 Green Imperial-pigeon
12 Long-tailed Parakeet
13 Indian Cuckoo
14 Greater Coucal
15 Stork-billed Kingfisher
16 Oriental Pied Hornbill
17 Black Hornbill
18 Pacific Swallow
19 Brown-throated Sunbird
20 Olive-backed Sunbird
21 Dusky Munia
22 Black-headed Munia

Words and images by Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri unless specified.


  1. Seem to be a lovely place for birdwatching!

  2. It is ... during the dry season when the water is at it's shallowest, you get thousands of egrets feeding on the fish.