Monday, May 25, 2009

Easy Birdwatching in Kuala Baram

The old road to Kampong Masjid in Kuala Baram is a nice quiet place for birdwatching. On a good day you can get quite a number of interesting ticks to be added to your birdlist.

The road used to be a busy road when the Kuala Baram ferry was still in operation, serving Sarawakians and Bruneians alike for their daily and weekend commute across Sungai Baram and then across the border for shopping, entertainment and what not. These days with the opening of the ASEAN Bridge, the trunk road is practically deserted saved for a few motorists plying the route from Kampong Masjid and the odd one or two anglers fishing Kuala Baram estuary at the fisheries jetty at the end of the village.

Bird seen 24-05-2009:
Oriental Darter, Dollarbird, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Olive-backed Sunbird, Pied Thriller, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Striated Grassbird, Collared Kingfisher, Spotted Dove, Zebra Dove, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Common Iora, Green Pigeons, Black-headed Munia, Dusky Munia.

The marshes between the road and beach has also provided some very interesting waterbirds over the past year.

Oriental Darter, extinct in West Malaysia, howver still holding on precariously this side of the pond, can be regularly seen feeding, flying over or resting in the marshes fronting South China Sea. There's a healthy breeding population across the border. There's less than ten of these birds sighted this side of the check-point since 2007. Clearing of peatswamps for plantation, farming, development, and hunting are a few of the main reasons which attribute to it's decline in population numbers.

Blue-throated Bee Eater. This is very common allong the powerlines along the Kpg Masjid road feeding on the abundant insects in the area. The more common Chestnut-headed Bee Eater is commonly seen inside the peatswamps itself.

Dollarbird. At least ten of these pretty birds were seen resting on the powerlines and bare trees of the peatswamps during the weekend. Their distinctive orange bill and beautifully indigo mantle is a sight to behold, color details are nicely accentuated in frontlit natural morning light.

The quiet trunk road leading to Kampung Masjid which has seen busier days. The verdant trees along the road provided plenty of shade and cover for the avid birder and birds alike. Throughout the day, smaller birds can be seen in search of caterpillars and other juicy snacks. Velvet-fronted nuthatch, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Common Iora, Olive-backed Sunbird, Pied Thriller are a few birds sighted over the weekend right in these here trees.

A casual birder would only need a good hat, foldable chair, a good birdbook and a flask of tea to enjoy an easy day of birdwatching at Kuala Baram. With luck you may just tick that rare bird or Borneo endemic that's been eluding you all this while.

All photos by MNS Miri.

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