Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Choo Tse Chien, Birding Maestro and Buddy

Today, 24th Aug 2011, we lost a birding maestro and good friend, a major player in the Malaysian bird photography scene.

Tse Chien helped us celebrate our first World Migratory Bird Day in Miri, our very first in Sarawak. He has been a constant inspiration to our own birding work here in Miri, supportive and forever ready to coach, goad, instigate and inspire birdwatching and bird photography activities locally. He was with MNS Miri on several occasions traversing rural villages talking to and inspiring little birders with his amazing bird images.

Always remembered as the kind and jovial person by whomever he meets, he helped us set up our very first Bird Photography Exhibition with his enthusiasm and beautiful bird imagery at Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort on occasion of MNS National AGM 2009 in Miri, also a first such exhibition in Miri if not the Northern Division.

His mark was not only left in Miri. He actively contributed to the first Langkawi Bird Festival together with Irshad Mubarak, MNS Langkawi and others. He was also a regular contributor to the Sabah's Borneo Bird Festival ever since it's inception. He has inspired us and his many other photographer friends to the beauty of birds; turning photographers to birders from Perlis to Sabah. His images are almost always up close, personal and with his signature heavenly bokeh as background.

Choo Tse Chien, buddy, may you rest in peace surrounded by all that is beautiful and heavenly in creation.

We will miss you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kuala Baram Morning

The little spot which looks ideal for a hide to watch waders this season. The question is whether there'll be water enough this year to create a good roosting spot in front of the casuarina within the lagoon. The flats been looking rather dry all year, the sand is building up.

Kuala Baram Beach looking north, it's somewhat sandy here as opposed to the muddier conditions in the lagoons to the right.

After Erwin and Marten's visit to KB last Saturday which I had to give miss on account of the MNS Miri Branch AGM, I decided to pop by this morning while the tide is still manageable. Though I didn't go as far as the guys did (they went loop around Pulau Bawai); I only slow walked to the tip of the lagoon. They tides weren't too high but the flats connecting the lagoon and Pulau Bawai was underwater.

It was quiet at the usual spot by the hut, only Collared Kingfisher and a Common Sandpiper bobbing his way on the dried up mudflat. I headed straight to the clump of casuarina trees that are nicely taking hold of the beach. In front of it is a nice wet spot frequently used last year by waders as a day roost site when the tides are high. It might be useful to put a temporary hide at the location this year.

At the beach approaching the tip of the lagoon, there's about 150-200 birds roosting by the water's edge. Further out across the channel there were a few more.

Erwin reported sightings of Oriental Darter last week. It was't the first sighting, I was trying to ensure that indeed the birds are regulars here ... perhaps an opportunity to photograph them up close. We first saw a pair here at the beginning of the year, we thought it was quite strange since the lagoon isn't very deep and it's next to the sea. Indeed upon scanning the the water's edge, there was a single OD on the sand, wings fully spread out. It's probably has just gotten out of the water by the time I got there.

The next few minutes were spent scanning the horizons for other birds. Other than the waders than a number of terns, they weren't anything else. A raptor or two would have been a nice treat!

Birds sighted today:
Oriental Darter, Greenshank, Little Tern, Greater Sandplover, Kentish Plover, Malaysian Plover, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Godwit sp., Collared Kingfisher, Olive-winged Sunbird, Pacific Reef Egret, Striated Grassbird.

Birds sighted by Erwin and Marten last week (including sightings on Pulau Bawai):
Litte Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Malaysian Plover, Greater Sandplover, Far Eastern Curlew, Common Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern and Black-naped Tern.

It's still early in the wader migration season, there could be more birds which hasn't arrive on our shores yet. The great thing about looking for them early is the opportunity to get those early birds who are still decked in their summer feathers.

Greater Sandplover.

A group of terns.

Ruddy Turnstone in his upbeat summer feathers.


Olive-backed Sunbird, male.

Nazeri Abghani/Miri