Wednesday, February 8, 2012

AWC Loagan Bunut National Park 4-5th Feb 2012

This year our survey covered the entire width and breadth of the Loagan Bunut without traversing Sg Teru as per previous years. We covered the lakes twice, once in the late afternoon and another in the morning the next day. Map and tracks courtesy of Musa Musbah 2012.

As per last year's visit, our AWC party to Loagan Bunut National Park remained low keyed. We left in two cars, a 4WD Hilux and a rented Unser which not your typical vehicle to be found traversing the adventurous road to the park. Fortunately the weather was with us, we arrived our intended destination on time as planned after a brief stop-over at Beluru.

This year's AWC had the following people tagging along : Musa Musbah, Sara Wong, Grace Len, Sim Yuh Thin, Jane Doe, Amer Matridi, Nazeri Abghani, Edward Ong, Remli Adenan, Ali Nazeri and Aisya Nazeri.

We crammed two boatrides along the lake for $60/boat for 4 persons and $10/head for each additional persons per ride. Evenings are good due to cooling weather and dramatic clouds drifting over till sunset. Morning time is always best for glorious morning clouds and sunny rays of sunshine. We had rain on our morning boatride this year but it was well worth it.

Over the years the resident Oriental Darter has always been the highlight of the the lake. Following closely is the possibility of maybe a Great Heron (listed but we have yet to see it at our normal haunts), Storm's Stork (first recorded 1999 by MNS Miri Branch AWC crew) and Grey-headed Fish Eagle (recorded twice before during the early years but hasn't got onto the list over past 2-3 years).

With the lake habitat, Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Changeable Hawk Eagle are regularly seen coasting over the waters. Hornbills the likes of Asian Black Hornbill and Oriental Pied Hornbill are regulars. Bigger hornbill species are scarce in the area if any due to lack of any major presence of large fruiting trees. Other memorable species are Stork-billed Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Grey Imperial Pigeon and various egrets and herons.

This year Oriental Darter did not fail us : we saw close to 10 darters all around the lake. Several Osprey and Purple Heron also made the list.

Our complete birdlist at this year's AWC is as follows:

Loagan Bunut AWC Saturday 4th Feb 2012 (5.30 pm to 7 pm.)
1. White-bellied Sea Eagle = 1
2. Pacific Swallow = 3
3. Large-billed Crow = 9
4. Tree Swift sp. = 30
5. Olive-backed Sunbird = 2 (heard sound along the lake)
6. Hornbill sp. = 1 (heard sound along the lake)
7. Asian Black Hornbill = 7
8. Flowerpecker sp. = 2
9. Purple Heron = 1
10. Grey Imperial Pigeon = 5
11. Broadbill sp.= 1 (heard sound along the lake)
12. Blue crown Hanging Parrot = 4
13. Black and Red Broadbill = 1
14. Striped Tit Babbler = 1 (heard sound along the lake)
15. Osprey = 1
16. Tern sp. = 35
17. Little Heron = 3
18. Stork-billed Kingfisher = 1

Loagan Bunut AWC Sunday 5th Feb 2012 (7 am to 930 am.)
1. Swiftlet = 63
2. Osprey = 6
3. Large-billed Crow = 2
4. Rufous-backed Kingfisher = 1
5. Hill Myna = 5
6. Yellow-vented Bulbul = 1
7. Little Heron = 1
8. Flowerpecker sp. = 3
9. Pacific Swallow = 1
10. Olive-backed Sunbird = 2
11. Stork-billed Kingfisher = 5
12. Purple Heron = 10
13. Oriental Darter = 10
14. Olive-backed Sunbird = 5
15. Striped Tit Babler =1
16. Great Egret = 1
17. White-bellied Sea Eagle = 2
18. Asian Black Hornbill = 3
19. Tree Swift sp. = 17
20. Black-bellied Malkoha = 1
21. Long-tailed Parakeet = 5
22. Brahminy Kite = 1
23. Owl sp. = 1 (unidentified)

Going back to the lake year after year gives us more than just a list of birds for AWC. The lake exudes a kind of calmness and tranquility that you can take home with you. It's beautiful surroundings despite the oil palm and logging momentarily puts you in a place as close as possible to a hidden eden, not many places these days which can do that. Best part is it's only 3 hours away from Miri on a bumpity dusty road, and 90 percent of the time there's no one else there but you.

Tired out from the bumpity bum ride on the famed Beluru-Lapok gravel highway, members taking a fitful well deserved rest in the spacious living room of our NP dormitory ... best accomodation at the lake. The whole 1st floor is the living room cum dining hall. Sleeping bunks are separated into 14 bunk beds in 4 rooms each with a bathroom equipped with 2 shower stalls and 3 toilets. Theoretically you can have quite a crowd on these two floors, however most of the time it's fairly quiet.

Our team this year comprises MNS Miri Branch AWC regulars and newbies as well as representative from SFC Miri Regional Office, Remli Adenan of Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary. Remli has started to be our AWC guy in SFC for the past several of years.

The cloud formation over this lake has always been very dramatic at any time of day especially on those impending wet stormy weather days.

Living around the lake are the Berawan, original inhabitants in these parts. The Berawans around the lake retain their privilege to harvest fish within the NP boundary. Most are very protective of this special privilege.

Oriental Darter breeds at Loagan Bunut. In Sarawak this is probably the only location where one can view these magnificent snakebirds in abundance. The rookery requires 1 hrs through water logged terrain infested with crocodiles, an undertaking reserved only for the hardy birders.
Purple Heron is also regularly seen around the lake. The Great Heron was recorded here at one time but have not been lucky enough to sight one even after many years of annual visit to the lake. Perhaps it's hanging out at the rookery.

The most common hornbill in these parts has to be the Asian Black Hornbill. These can be seen around the lake at anytime of day during fruiting season, very often also heard.

Stork-billed Kingfisher, a shy species spotted only because of it's large size gaudy coloration. This year we completedly missed out on the ubiquitous Blue-eared Kingfisher but had a glimpse of the Rufous-backed Kingfisher seldom seen at the lake.

We sighted several Osprey this year at separate sectors of the lake. Very distinctive species very fond of the abundant fish at the lake.

The surrounding forest around the lake at the end of the day. Main threats at Loagan Bunut NP would be overfishing, illegal logging an drun-off from oil palm plantation surrounding the NP boundary. Licensed logging ventures are longtime staple activities in these parts.

"We are looking for volunteers to stay 48 hours in a fishing hut to keep an eye on the birds of the lake. Canoe for transport to and from the fishing hut to the canteen can be arranged. Must be able to handle extreme tranquility during the day and completely dark nights. Please enquire within."

Text and images by Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Feb 2012 unless specified.

1 comment:

  1. looks like a beautiful location for some birding.. I wouldn't mind staying there for a while!