Saturday, August 15, 2009

Birdwatching at Pantu Buri

This place is just off the road to Lambir Hills NP, right after Bukit Song. These days there are plenty of 4WD roads connecting a few of the smaller villagers in the backwaters of Lambir as well as to the various newly opened farms, and oil palm plantations.

Steve Dexter, Musa Musbah, Marijke Jannsens and yours truly piled up in Steve's Dmax and off we went on a bumpy ride on a dirt road to Pantu Buri. We were already in beautiful setting surrounded by prime rainforest even before we reached the main dirt track to Buri. Along the road down the side of Bukit Song, we heard and saw plenty of birds: 6 Slender billed crows, 4 Red-bearded bee-eater, 1 Black and yellow broadbill, 2 Blue-throated bee eater, 4 Hill Mynas, 2 Large woodshrike and several unidentified little sunbirds ... they were fleeting too fast for us to bother.

The dirt track with a view of the forested (prime) back of Bukit Song.

Barn Swallow on a wire! The other 20+ not in the picture.

Off we went on our way to Buri after ticking of the bee eaters. We stopped by a little pond where Musa last enjoyed close-up views of Oriental Darter. Te bird wasn't there today. Instead we were happy with 20+ Barn swallows and Pacific swallows perched on telephone lines all along the track to the kampung. We heard Pied fantails and another group of Hill nearby, the mynas later flew past.

Pantu Buri is located along the Bakong River ... there are 2 clusters of longhouses, the traditional massive woodenand zinc types. There were several more modern individual houses to located alongside. LAKU's waterpump is located at the end of the dirt track. What's more interesting is the expanse of swamp (used to be paddy fields but were left fallow after this year's massive flooding in the area). The huge expanse of open space with numerous blackened dead tree trunks seemed ideal perching place for raptors and darters. Other smaller typical small birds were also seen in the area.

The paddy field left fallow located across from the longhouses. The dark shadow on the horizon marked the water level from last February massive flooding, the village was left cut-off from Miri for several days.

A little stream leading to Sg Bakong from the longhouse.

Sampan in a row at the bank of Sg Bakong. Those interested to go for a boat ride along Bakong can make arrangement with the longhouse folks, apparent you can go all the way to Marudi this way. Imagine the birdwatching and crocodile watching that can be made along this route.

A beautiful longboat parked in the sun, a perfect mode to experience riverine community of rural Sarawak.

Bakong River looks massive with the amount of water flowing through it. The banks were crowded with not so tall trees that looks perfect as perches for kingfishers, darters, raptors and others. Crocodiles are also residents here according to the kampung folks we spoke to, though we didn't see any today.

Our friendly new buddies from Buri, the two girls are both 10 years old and the bigger boy is 7. They all go to a school located not far away from the longhouse.

We saw 4 Black-thighed falconets right in front of the smaller longhouse! This could be the closest all of us had been to one ... did I say four! The family unit were seen busy handling butterflies on the telephone wire. The area in front of the longhouse was overgrown with tall grasses and flowering shrubs, which explains the presence of butterflies and maybe the falconets. Upon closer scrutiny we noticed that the birds kept flying back and forth to a bare branch nearby. This might be the falconet's nest hole. Other birds we saw here were Dusky munia and numerous Chestnut Munia.

The closest we've gotten to a family unit of Black-thighed Falconet, a possible nest tree is located nearby.

Feasting on a bountiful supply of butterfflies from the open area in front of the longhouse.

Two of the falconets on the same wire. We were completely stoked at the "friendliness" of the falconets, they must have been accustomed to the presence of humans in the area.

After the excitement with the falconet we moved on to the back of Bukit Song, another ideal spot for quiet birding. Here we saw Black -headed bulbul, Hairy-backed bulbul, Cream vented bulbul, Pale bulbul, female leafbird sp., a family of 4 woodpeckers sp. One interesting sighting was that of the Purple-naped sunbird!

It wasn't such a hassle to get to this new birding location, it's a nice quite corner for birding with quite a few nice birds, perhaps we'll come here more often. The kids from the longhouse too seems excited with the birds we showed them, maybe next time we'll cart along a slide projector and laptop for a bit of show and tell for the youngins : surely with the nice birds in the neighbourhood they should pick up some birdwatching.


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