Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bak Kelalan Birdwatching III 30 Aug - 1 Sep 2014

In Flight to Bak Kelalan Lake Merimbun Brunei MNS team happy to arrive in Bak Kelaln airport party welcome by Cikgu Sang Sigar Even at the least possible place there are also friends around Improved Sang Homestay A welcome sight of padi Field of Bak Kelalan Getting Ready to make presentation to SKK bak Kelalan Cikgu sang introducing MNS Miri Branch Peter Pillai giving Presentation of Tracking and Nature around the track In the trail with SKK bak kelalan student Ashy Drongo Black and Yellow Broadbill Cikgu Sang with his pencil Drawing masterpiece Cikgu Sang drawing of Clouded lepord from Bak kelalan Yellow vented Bulbul Ashy Drongo White Brested Wood Swallow Oriental Magpie Robin Himilayan Cockoo Barn Swallow Violet Flowers Daisy A shaking bridge Pied Fantail A dead Cobra House sparrow Gold wiskered barbet Birdwatching at Dulit range Unidentify Cockoo A very spacious Homestay White brested waterhen Spoted Dove Yellow bitten Mushroom Touch me not flower Flower Bunga pasir Buduk Nur Church Bak Kelaln fire engine for the airport Violet buter cup A young Berawan Lady MNS Bird watcher 2014 We will be back to Bak Kelalan

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Walk and Birdwatching at Bawai Island 24 Aug 2014

Bawai Island as we called it was formed by great Baram River by dumping tons of sediment in front of the river mouth. It circumference is about 3 km and 2 km from the river mouth beaches. The island is connected to the main land by a strip of sandbar. This sandbar is exposed for 3 hours twice a year for a week. At that the time this island is accessible by walking.
Bawai island Situated 2 km from the river mouth. The island is occupied by casuarinas trees and mangroves trees and small shrubs. It is the temporary home of migrating birds as the huge sandy mudflats provides plenty of food for their summer holiday here. Crocodiles have been observed basking on the beach of this island. A family of large tailed nightjar was seen during our camping trip to island. People reported plenty of rats but none seen during our two camping sessions. Erwin Adams discovered the week end of 22nd Aug 2014 was the perfect time to walk to the island. A trip was organized to walk from 3 pm when the tide was falling rapidly and to be back by 6 pm when the tide rose quickly. This is the window during which we are planning to reach the island. Two earlier attempts by MNS in 2010 and 2012 failed to reach the island on foot. Our two camping trips were by boat.
Tide of 24th. Aug 2014 Baram River. We gathered at Shell office Lutong at 2:30pm and left at 2:45 by car pooling to the area where we disembarked from the road to the beach. When we move along the beach at 2:50 I saw along the beach the water level was still high close to the vegetation area. I presumed we cannot go the island. However Erwin told me that it the tide would fall fast as the graph I sent him illustrated. We reached the area where we parked our car close to the beach. Then we used a makeshift wooden bridge to cross a muddy lagoon. We carefully scaled a carbonate rock from Niah quarry retaining wall. The rock displayed many larger fossils. We had to drop off the front of the retaining wall to the beach and crossed a bush area. As we entered the beach we saw the beach is lined with peat bog. It consisted of black peat woody and leaf material that has been carried out to sea by Baram River. This peat bog has been clearly identified and describe by Anderson (1961, 1964, 1976, 1983) and Anderson and Muller (1975). The peat leaks out to the environment due to monsoon changes that excavate the beaches at Baram River mouth. We walked along the peat bog and we sometimes saw large pieces of resin too.
Peat bog: The finer materials are leaves and larger were branches.
We have to cross a knee deep delta channel. The water subsided rapidly and we managed to cross a small delta channel. From that we saw a huge mud flat – so extensive that we that we cannot not see the water’s edge. We saw Bawai Island with standing casuarinas trees. Behind it there is an oil platform called Baram B.
These locals are taking advantage of the low tide and casting their drift net for small fish.
Trekkers stopping for a while enjoying the birdwatching. We stopped for a while counting the water birds that came very early this year. I counted more than 70 little terns of which some might be common terns. There we also another group of terns, maybe 100 individuals, coming from Bawai island flying high toward the sea to the South West. There are Kentish plovers and Shanks on the mud. We could not identify them due to them being silhouettes in the sun.
Some of the terns
Mr Phui a diehard bird photographer getting closer to the terns to get a better photograph. MNS have been aggressively counting water birds in the area. We have camped on the island twice and also the beach that we crossed now, to intercept water birds that flew across south from the north. Other birds seen previously were the long legged stint, Curlew, Caspian terns, the turnstones and frigate birds.
Many terns flying around the fisherman waiting for small leftovers. I went another one a half kilometer and realised that Steve was sitting on a log a kilometers behind me. The rest of the team was already another half kilometer ahead of me. I took photograph of some of the large tree trunks I believe to be the larger parts of the peat bog.
The tree trunk I believe to be the large part of the peat bog.
Here is another one of the larger part of the peat bog.
Some scary looking large peat bog material.
Bawai Island looks close but is far from reach - I zoomed in with bridge camera 1000mm. Then I decided to turn back and joined Steve in case he need some help. Sure enough he was dehydrated because the water was with Susan up in front. I gave him my bottle of water. Thus I stayed with him watching other waders like the red stint, Malaysian Plovers, Mongolian plover which is now called Kentish plover. Very far to the South East was an intermediate egret.
The trekker team moved on as me and Steve just sat and watched the waders. I scan with my binocular the rest of the team disappeared at the East side of Bawai Island behind the casuarinas trees. Another half hour I saw their silhouette appearing on the West side of the island, behind them is Baram B platform.
The trekkers appeared in the East side of the island. Seen with 2400mm cannon bridge camera. As we saw them approaching we started to move back too. In just minutes the group reaches us. We choose to cross to the road using a new water way.. Previously this area cannot be accessed, because there was a mud lagoon where the waders were feeding. , The mud lagoon has moved to the south now. As we walked back we saw many flat-fish resting marks. A dead hermit-crab was seen on the sand which exposed its soft part probably bitten by other crabs. As we walked back we saw many flat-fish resting marks and a dead hermit-crab that grabed a smaller shell which exposed his soft part and dead bitted by other crabs.
This indentation is more than a meter diameter probably of a large ray.
A dead hermit-crab with a shell of garden snail removed. We reach our car at six o’clock in the evening. The GPS that Dave brought along the trek showed 5.5 miles of track, with an average speed of 3.5 mile per hour and took 2.5 hours to complete. The weather was fine with a cloud cover most of the time. Erwin offer to have a break at PBC but I was rushing to a family dinner at Niah thus we left the area about 6:15 pm. Thank you. Written by Musa Musbah, Chairman MNS Miri Branch. Erwin Adam (the organizer) and friends. Dave Paton, Steve Dexter and Susan, Joyce, Khuzaimi and friends.