Sunday, January 15, 2012

AWC Curtin University 14th Jan 2012

The expansive lakeside which could be the main centerpiece to which all birdlife slowly revolves around on Curtin. The island looks perfect to be a sanctuary to several species of waterbirds. In fact, we've reasons to believe that the Wandering Whistling Ducks have taken refuge on this island.

We kicked off our Asian Waterbird Census Curtin University this year later than usual at approximately 0715hrs. Our survey this time has the following participants : Sara Wong, Nicholas, Musa Musbah, Amer Matridi, Erwin Adams, Jacqueline Bradley, Liefer, Nazeri Abghani, Ali and Aisya.

Participants were equipped with 8x40 binoculars and three scopes: Kowa,Swarovski and Leica. Susan Myer's Fieldguide to the Birds of Borneo and Quentin Phillip's Birds of Borneo were both used as field reference.

Located in the greater Kuala Baram area, many of original birds of the Kuala Baram peatswamps are now returning and calling Curtin their "new" home. With tree-lined avenues and ample waterbodies in and around campus, our feathered friends have made a new home here. It is not uncommon to see flocks of Chestnut Munia and Pink-necked Pigeon on campus. Oriental White-Eye has been a common sight over several years since we started birdwatching on campus.

This piece of modified peatswamp could be the only sanctuary left in Kuala Baram where many of the more adaptable species can call home. Most other parts of the area are rapidly being turned into residential and commercial areas, further afield in surrounding areas into permanent cash crop farming, oil palm and fast growing tree (for pulp) plantations.

Zebra Dove, likely the most abundant on campus, found perched on trees along the avenues as well as foraging on sunlit wide open fields on campus.

The Wandering Whistling Ducks, formerly to be found around the many lakes in the area have now largely settled at lakeside where they feel safer and perhaps even more protected on campus. We counted 30 adults, the juveniles were heard however not seen, most likely hiding in the waterlilies surrounding the island.

MNS Miri Branch birders scanning the lakeside for more elusive and shy waterbirds for the count. Younger birders were quick to be at ease relaxing after a walk around campus, enjoying the shade and cool breeze from the lake.

Musa recording Wandering Whistling Ducks on his Kowa+Nikon digiscoping rig.

The team for our Curtin University AWC in a groun photo at Heron 1, from the left : Amer Matridi, Nicholas, Erwin, Liefer, Jacqueline, Musa and Sara. Not pictured: Nazeri, Ali and Aisya.

Our birdlist for the day (actual numbers are being finalised) :
Wandering Whistling Duck (30)
Purple Heron (2)
Intermediate Egret (1)
Cattle Egret (15)
White-breasted Waterhen (5)
Little Ringed Plover (2)
Common Snipe (1)
Common Sandpiper (5)
Wood Sandpiper (1)
Long-toed Stint (1)
Zebra Dove (most numerous +20)
Greater Coucal (1)
Lesser Coucal (1)
Collared Kingfisher (1)
Pied Thriller (10)
Pied Fantail (2)
White-breasted Woodswallow (5)
Olive-backed Sunbird (3)
Chestnut Munia (30)
Tree Sparrow (10)
Paddyfield Pipit (5)
Grey Wagtail (5)
Asian Glossy Starling (10)
Oriental Magpie-Robin (5)
Yellow-vented Bulbul (5)
Oriental White-Eye (10)
Yellow-bellied Prinia (2)
Spotted Dove (5)
Straited Grassbird (2)

We completed our walkabout around campus at approximately 1100hrs.

We'd like to thank Sara Wong for hosting the team, Erwin for fabulous hot home-brewed coffee and Nicholas for the chocolates.

For more birds on Curtin campus, please check-out Birds on Campus an article resulting from a monthlong surveillance on campus carried out by MNS Miri Branch (Nazeri Abghani, Musa Musbah, Nazur Riza Nurkaman, Sara Wong) in 2010. The surveillance activity was made possible by Sara Wong.

Photographs and report by:
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Jan 2012

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