Sunday, January 8, 2012

AWC Kuala Baram Lagoon North 08th Jan 2012

On Sunday, MNS Miri Branch volunteers consisting of Joyce Sivalingam, Sara Wong, Nazeri Abghani, John Yeo, Elizabeth Yeo, Ali Nazeri and Aisya Nazeri conducted a survey on the northern end of Kuala Baram Lagoon.

When we reached the intended site, it was raining heavily. Lucky for us as we parked the car, the rain clouds shifted further south to be hurriedly replaced by glorious sunshine and a band of rainbow.

"They say, there is a pot of gold at the of the rainbow, Dad!", quipped Ali. It didn't sound as ominous at the time.

An early start at the northern end of Kuala Baram lagoon, Ali contemplating the route to our pot of gold.

John and Elizabeth with Yukon on the flats scanning the horizons for waders.

This end of the lagoon held some special sightings for MNS Miri over the years : Great Knot, Peregrine Falcon, Oriental Darter, Osprey, Malaysian Plover (adults and downy chicks), Chinese Egret, Marsh Sandpiper, Asian Dowitcher, Far Eastern Curlew, Black-winged Stilts.

The lagoon holds brackish water which provided a source of side income for the locals living on it's shores. During shrimping season, the patch of beach will be scattered with folks skimming the shallows for shrimps used for making local shrimp paste. The locals here also indulge in harvesting lokan, a type of shellfish, in the lagoon.

The day was sunny with fabulous soft light with scattered clouds above our heads. There were some activities on the beach, mostly fishermen and beachcombers. We started birding from the embankment and proceeded north towards the sandspit, the following birds were observed:

Little Egret (3)
Chinese Egret (1)
Common Greenshank (2)
Striated Grassbird (1)
Collared Kingfisher (2)
Yellow-bellied Prinia (2)
Common Kingfisher (1) heard only

Being the weekend, there was higher activities on the lagoon than usual. There were fishermen setting nets, shrimp catchers on the beach and local children running around having a great time.

We proceeded to cross the lagoon as the water was shallow. On the sandspit the following sightings were made:

Greater Sandplover (10)
Kentish Plover (10)
Sanderling (1)
Common Sandpiper (1)
Collared Kingfisher (1)
Yellow-bellied Prinia (1)
Malaysian Plover (6)

A new rig seemed only a stone throws away from the shores with rich pickings for both locals and birds alike.

Now the pot of gold. While taking a breather by a shady casuarina at the end of the sandspit enjoying the day's blue skies and Kuala Baram cool sea-breeze ... six frigatebirds appeared up above out of thin air. On two occasions that morning John's question about frigatebird was answered with, " The last recorded sigthing in Miri was in 1974." And now it's up above not one but six individuals gracefully coasting the thermals and slowly moving north.

Lesser Frigatebird (6) of various ages as id by Wong Tsu Shi later in the day.

Our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, six Lesser Frigatebird at various age gliding past us.

It was indeed a sterling day, definitely golden, a new bird species for MNS Miri Branch for Kuala Baram.

By Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri Branch/Jan 2012

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