Thursday, March 19, 2009

Regional AWC Waterbird Workshop 2009

MNS Miri notched up another birding related workshop! After a successful run of our DIY Kota Kinabalu Wader Workshop in October 2008, we organised a larger get-together of birders, wader watchers, and AWC volunteers for a waterbird workshop in Miri, 27th Feb-01st Mar 2009, the Regional AWC Waterbirds Workshop 2009. The workshop was successfully co-organised with Wetlands International with David Bakewell, MNS BCC facilitating.

The workshop gave special emphasis to waterbirds identification and AWC techniques. Waders, shorebirds and birds of the wetlands took center stage. A total of thirty-five participants took part in this 3D-2N residential workshop which took place at Imperial Hotel and Suites, Miri. Participation came from volunteers and practitioners from the following organisations: Wetlands Malaysia (2), Wetlands Indonesia (6), MNS Sabah Branch (3), MNS Miri Branch (5), Panaga Natural History Society (2), Grand Perfect (2) and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (15). The workshop alsmost became an international do with representations from the UK, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Holland ... even Dave had some difficulty switching birdnames from English, Latin and Indonesia. We didn't even try Dutch!

The workshop comprised of three classroom segments and three fieldwork segments. Field locations visited were Kuala Baram Mudflats, Senadin-Pujut 7 Lakes, Seria Loop in Brunei and Bawai Island at Kuala Batam rivermouth. Thru the classroom sessions participants learnt basics of equipment handling, sketching and making fieldnotes, using fieldguides as well as key identification features of waterbirds, their habitat and counting techniques.

The field session which took place on the second and third day allowed further fine-tuning of some of the techniques and methodologies learnt in the classroom but executed in the field. Participants were taken thru correct best practices (ie. sketch and make field notes!!!), counting as well as filling in the details of the AWC form. And yes, we learnt that even with the latest bird-i-witness facility of entering all your sigthings onto an online database, one must still SUBMIT the hardcopy AWC forms!

After all the hardwork in the class-room and the fieldsites, participants were feted to two scrumptious Chinese dinner at Imperial Hotel Restaurant on the first evening and Yee Ha Hai Seafood on the second nite. Well, one can't very well go birding in Miri without sampling the great seafood goodies that local eateries have to offer. Two thumbs up all around from the participants.

All in all, the workshop achieved it's objectives of exposing AWC tecniques and waterbirds as well as emphasising the importance of waterbird census to participating representatives of the various bodies involved.

A special thanks to Dave Bakewell (MNS BCC) for facilitating the sessions and being a great mentor; Gabriel Chong (WI) for making it all happen; Oswald Bracken (SFC), Abang Arabi Abang Imran (SFC-Miri) and Mohd Jirin (SFC-Bintulu) for their tireless support and encouragement to kick-start AWC efforts in Sarawak. Thank you Molly of Borneo Mainland Tours for our transport arrangement, Darren Lo and Audrey of Imperial Hotels and Suites for our excellent accomodation.

To all participants, thank you for making this a successful workshop ... who knows we may just make this kind of workshop a regular feature for the wader and waterbirds watching fraternity here this side of Borneo, with your support!

Workshop opening remarks from Gabriel Chong.

Dave Bakewell doing his thing.

Participants of the workshop.

Classroom birding in session.

Birding in the classroom will never be the same as in Camperduin in winter!

MNS Miri birder Musa, with Ekin and Dayang of Mulu NP and Niah NP respectively ... which birdie could it be.

One happy birder!

Practice time at Kuala Baram mudflats, the weather was fabulous!

Mmm ... let's see ... bill length vs. head length ... Kentish?

Was it a plane ... was it a bird, it was Wandering Whistling Duck with ducklings!

Tucking in the great seafood during the grouo dinner at Yee-Ha-Hai!

The trip to Bawai Island.

Making notes on Bawai waders.

More images are available from MNS Miri Facebook AWC album 1; album 2 and album 3.

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