Saturday, December 17, 2011

First Call : Volunteers for Asian Waterbird Census in Miri Jan 2012

Enjoying the backyard at Kuala Baram Lagoon.

Blue-throated Bee-eater, commonly found in wide open spaces, most interesting to watch.

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.

Great Egret. Come and find out how many species of similar looking white egrets are here in Miri.

MNS Miri Branch has a small band of birdwatchers who will be participating in AWC again 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.

As this is only our first announcement, please keep an eye out for further follow-up as more potential sites are being arranged.

MNS Miri Branch AWC sites for 2012 (no new sites added):

a) Kuala Baram Lagoon South (completed)
07th January : South Kuala Baram Lagoon
Meet in front of Toh Pottery (after the little bridge) 0715hrs
We shall walk in a northerly direction making notes of sightings along the route. Propose to end session 10am. Continue along the stretch the next day.

Kuala Baram Lagoon North (completed)
08th January : North of Kuala Baram Lagoon
Meet at Shell Office Lobby 0700 hrs. We'll carpool to site.
We shall walk in a northerly direction making notes of sightings along the route. Propose to end session 10am.

b) Curtin Lakes Area (completed)
14th January
Meet at Curtin U security gate 0700 hrs
Survey campus area. Survey nearby area by car along area's road network. Propose to end session by lunchtime.

c) Kpg Masjid Kuala Baram
21st January (completed)
Meet after ASEAN Birdge Toll 0730hrs.
We plan to engage Kpg Masjid children to raise awareness about birds around the kampong and conduct AWC at the same time. Half a day session outdoors birdwatching with children along the footpaths in the village.

22nd January (rescheduled)
Meet after ASEAN Bridge Toll 0730hrs.
Survey route starting from roundabout to Jabatan Perikanan Jetty with prolonged stops long the way ie. SY Prawn Farm.

d) Pujut Lakes (completed)
23rd January
Meet in the parking lot in front of the Miri Go-Kart Stadium 0700hrs. We'll traverse the unsurfaced roads in the area to survey the lakes and waterbodies.

e) Pulau Bawai (date changed to 11th Feb)
New date : 11th Feb
Details to be announced once arrangement is confirmed.

f) Loagan Bunut National Park (confirmed)
04-05th February (overnite at NP)
Details to be announced once arrangement is confirmed. We are looking for 4WD drivers, please email us if you can drive your 4WD to Loagan Bunut, this trip will be on cost-sharing basis (fuel, boat, accomodation, group meals).

Most of these sites are revisits from past year's census which forms an important monitoring component of AWC.

White-breasted Waterhen at Kuala Baram, a common sight along Miri's swamp edges and drains.

Some of our past AWC highlights :
Nesting Grey-headed Fish Eagle with juvenile in Kpg Masjid, 2011
Peregrine Falcon in Peliau Cliffs, 2011
Nesting Balck-winged Kite Pujut Lakes, 2011.
Waders, Lesser Adjutant and Chinese Egrets 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.

Members and the public who are interested to participate in this largely citizen's effort can email or for further details.

Schools interested to participate as part of a school project are encouraged to send enquiries, we can tailor made a program to include a 1-2hrs informative slideshow session on waterbirds and a 2hr session in the field watching and identifying birds near your school area.

Able to be outdoors in the sun for 2-4hrs while maintaining good sense of humour throughout. We have Fieldguides to the Birds of Borneo, 8x40 binoculars and scopes for use during this survey.

Be a part of active local conservation, come birdwatching with us this January.

Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Dec 2011
revised 22nd Jan 2012
revised 26th Jan 2012

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