Wednesday, February 4, 2009

AWC in Loagan Bunut

Going back to Loagan Bunut is like going back to visit an old friend for MNS Miri. Over the years initiated by our first AWC in the area back in 1999/2000 we have been back numerous times.

Our most successful trip must have been that first small visit to the loagan: it yielded Grey-headed Fisheagle, Storm's Stork, Oriental Darter and several illegal loggers to boot. Following that, several more visits were organised by Saiful-Bahari, Lee Bor Seng and crew as evidenced by several entries in Pak Meran's visitor's logbook.

Our visit this year also coincided with AWC, we were hoping to see at the very least the fish eagle and darters. Undeterred by weekend's forecast of dreary weather and rain, two 4WDs and an Iswara trudged through deplorable road conditions from Beluru to Lapok. Other than slick gravel roads and muddy tracks as well as flooded sections, the team managed to check in at Meran's Mutiara Resort via a boat ride just after lunch. Just in time for a spectacular show of thick rain clouds crossing over the lake followed by a torrential downpour. We had a quiet, cool lunch sheltered under the newly renovated and much improved accomodation.

Just behind the resort, we sighted several Hill Mynas, Imperial Pigeon and Long-tailed Parakeet on top of a fruiting three nearby.

A boat cruise around the lake started prompted just after the downpour navigated by Pak Meran himself. I must say the oldman didn't age by a day since we last saw him. Living alone now after the passing of his wife, Pak Meran is as congenial and jovial as we remembered. MNS Miri donated a new copy of Craig Robson's "Bird of South-East Asia" for his use, adding to his other bird book collection he's acquired over the years.

Perhaps due to the day's heavy rain we did not spot any large squirrels around the forest, but we did clocked up several Striated Herons, a Stork-billed Kingfisher, a Blue-eared Kingfisher, several Black Hornbill as well as Oriental Pied Hornbill. The return trip afforded a a rather muted sunset.

The resort is presently managed by Pak Meran alone with help from relatives now and again. Mutiara Resort has a total of 6 double room and 2 triple room, it comes equipped with detached shower rooms and toilets. The linoleum covered livingroom is very spacious and ready with plastic tables, and chairs. The whole house is decorated with native Berawan handicrafts sourced locally. The kitchen is equipped with gas-cookers and practical utensils sufficient for a small DIY kenduri. For heathens hooked on tv, Astro is available.

The view from and of Pak Meran's place is simply unequalled. Sitting on top of a knoll, the house overlooks almost the entire expanse of the freshwater lake. The view up from the bottom of the 50 wooden steps leading up to the house from the jetty is in itself truly unique.

If one seeks tranquility, quiet calm and serenity, we recommend a couple of days at Pak Meran's Mutiara Resort. Bring a few favorite books, switch off the tv and soak up the Loagan ambience, there's plenty of it to go around. The surrounding sceneries is practically out of an artist's favorite inspiration catalogue.

Back to birds:
Purple Heron (1), Malkoha sp. (1), Long-tailed Parakeet (6), Hill Myna (4), Imperial Pigeon (6),Black Hornbill (20), Oriental Pied Hornbill (4), Grey-headed Fish Eagle (2), Greater Coucal (1),Lesser Coucal (1), Stork-billed Kingfisher (1), Blue-eared Kingfisher (1), Little Heron (4), Osprey (2), Pacific Swallow (numerous), Barn Swallow (numerous), Common Sandpiper (3), Cream-vented Bulbul (4), Magpie-Robin (2, nesting pair), White-bellied Sea Eagle (2), Ashy Tailorbird (1), Red-bearded Bee-eater (heard only)
No Oriental Darters seen.

Sara Wong, Musa Musbah, Nik Nazrin, Faye Osman, Nazeri, Clare, Ali, Aisya, Khairyl, Pak Meran.

The AWC track we covered in Loagan Bunut. Map by Musa Musbah.

View up towards Mutiara Resort.

Water laden clouds passing over the lake.

Members kitting up for a cruise around the lake.

Pak Meran at the back of the boat taking charge.

Stunning view across the lake at mid morning.

A local boat crossing.

Pacific Swallow, most numerous in numbers followed by Barn Swallow.

Please contact
if you require contact details for Pak Meran's Mutiara Resort.

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