Saturday, November 14, 2009

Branch (Early) December Updates and News

Dear Members,

With the risk of being regarded as SPAM, I'd like to apologise to members for this 2 weeks earlier that usual December update.


1. Birdwatching Walkabout in Curtin, October
Curtin students were extremely busy with exams and now they are all ready to go on break! Wish them all good grades!

This event is now officially taken off the list until further notice.

2. Birdwatching in Niah, 01st November
A small troupe went to check out the trails alongside the river. Several great sightings especially of teh colorful Scarlet Minivet, Diard's Trogon and Scarlet-rumped Trogon as well as the not so colorful but interesting Chestnut-winged Babbler with chicks.

Checkout the write-up :
3. Nature Camp for Children in Lambir, 07th November
Cancelled until further notice, we did not managed to rake up the number of participants to run this camp.

4. Branch Committee Meeting, 11th November
Main discussions were events leading up MNS 70th Anniversary, 70th Anniversary Constitution Roadshow, 70th Anniversary Coffeetable Book. Sara Wong is our appointed liasson for all items related to the MNS 70th Anniversary. Members are encouraged to contribute articles, pictures and write-ups to the international congress exhibition as part of the anniversary celebration as well as for the coffee table book.

Read more about it here:
We also discussed AWC 2010 coming up as well as several other major events in the next 6 months including our "KK Birdwatching, Astronomy, Climbing Do" end April. You'll hear more of this soonish.

Those interested to climb KK around May, please email us.


1. Discussions on MNS Miri Strategic Plans 2010-2012, 18th Nov 2009
Members are invited to discuss MNS Miri Strategic Plans in line with the MNS Strategic 12 year Plan. An opportunity to focus our efforts and initiatives in Sarawak.

Date : 18th November 2009
Venue : Kelab Rekreasi Petroleum
Time : 1730-1900 hrs

Read up on our proposed (draft) strategies and plans and our objectives for having one:
All members are welcomed.

2. Presentation to members, "Blood in the Water-Mini Expedition to Ulu Baram"
We sent Tony and Rabani on a 10 day mini expedition to Penan Country to check out the last remaining intact virgin rainforest up in Ulu Baram. They've come back with first impressions and photographs from a place not many have been to before.

Venue : Kelab Rekreasi Petroleum
Date : Wednesday, 2nd December 2009
Time : 1800-2000hrs

The slideshow will be presented by Nazeri.

3. Talk and Slideshow " Introduction to Coral Reefs in Miri", 05th Dec
Some of our members are avid divers with PBC Diving, and they have been working with Reefcheck to check out and survey the reefs off the coast of Miri. This is the first of their planned community outreach programs as part of the proposed MNS Miri-Reefcheck program.

Venue : Pustaka Miri, Audio-visual Room
Date : Saturday, 05th December 2009
Time : 1400-1600 hrs

Amer, Tisha and Kumar will be presenting. This event is brought to you by MNS Miri and Pustaka Miri.

4. Fireflies Survey and Training, Kuching, 5-6th Dec
We are sending Musa on a fireflies training in Kuching with Sonny from our Conservation Division. Hopefully upon successfull completion Musa can help us get more intimate with fireflies and conduct surveys in and around Miri.

Announcement and program:

5. AWC 2010 Recce Bungai Swamps, 6th Dec
an early to to AWC 2010, this is our first recce of a new AWC candidate site. The area is located just behind the high tide water mark at Bungai Beach. Involves a bit of beachwalking at low-tide and trudging amongst tall grass, could be wet.

Meeting place : Taman Awam
Date : 06th December 2009
Time : 06:00-10:00 hrs

We will met at Taman Awam and promtly leave for Bungai Beach, late starters might want to meet up at Bungai Chalet before 0700 hrs. Please bring your hat bino, birdbooks, plenty of drinking water and snacks.

We are expecting to see egrets, darters and other waterbirds.

6. Basic Photoshop and Web-publishing Workshop For Committee and Members
An informal introduction to image processing with photo-shop or any one of your favorite imaging tools, facebook, blogspot and the rest. This is meant as a sharing session between members to encourage more sharing of images, articles and write-up on the new media.

Venue : Kelab Rekreasi Petroleum
Date : 09th December 2009
Time : 1800-2000hrs

Bring your laptop, your favorite imaging software and images ... we'll postproc it, crop it, enhance it, flickr it, fb it and blog about it. A session on reaching out with the new media.

7. Bakakalan Short Jaunt, 12-14th Dec
To those who've got their tickets, we'll see you at the airport 12th December bright and early.

8. Long Lamai X-Mas and New Year, 26th Dec-03rd Jan
We are flying to Long Banga after Xmas and checkout the surrounding area, amking new friends, enjying new sights and sounds. There'll be trekking, photography and birdwatching.

We will be flying in to Long Banga 26th Dec, return 03rd Jan. The 2nd group will fly in 29th Dec and fly out 03rd January.

Several routes are being planned at the moment, and this will be shared with participants.

If you are interested to go, please book your MASWINGS tickets now. And yes, fruit salad WILL NOT be on the menu in all those 7 days.

This event replaces initially proposed Niah-Suai Walk and Camp over the same period.

9. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Go-Kart Lakes, 9-10th January
10. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Curtin Lakes, 16-17th January
11. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Kpg Masjid Prawn Farms, 23-24th January
12. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Kuala Baram, 30-31st January
13. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Sundar, Lawas, 5-8th February
14. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Loagan Bunut, 13-14th February
15. [Tentative] AWC 2010 Pulau Bawai Camping, 27-28th February

16. [Tentative] Long Weekend at a Longhouse along Batang Baram
One of our member has extended an ivitation to members of MNS Miri to visit a longhouse along Batang Baram for a quiet weekend. Expressions of interest is duly sought from members who'd like to spend a couple days relaxing with a longhouse community by the riverside, the Tuai Rumah will be our host.

Since the dates have not yet been set, members can specify "best" dates based on their preferences.


1. A big THANK YOU to members who've taken the time to renew their membership.

Those who haven't, please do so at your earliest convenience. Please revert to this email if you require assistance or more information on how to renew your membership painlessly and hassle free. You can now bank in to either MNS Maybank or HSBC accounts.

Membership for the following members are expiring 31st October:
Adrienne Marcus Raja
Bejay Ugon
Jia Jiun Law
Nurhazwani Abdul Munaf
Elisabet Wee Siew Siew
Yong Kah Hian
Sim Yuh Thin

Membership of the following members are expiring 30th November:
Ellen Macarthur,
Richard Kho,
Lucas Johny

Membership of the following members are expiring 31st December:
Anura Dason,
Samantha Kwan
Charlie Lee,
Musa Musbah,
Nurziana Abdullah Sani,
Rosie Kassim

We will be updating our mailing list to reflect current membership 01st Jan 2010. Your Society needs your continued support.

2. Keep updated with Branch activities via our blog
( and Facebook (search for "MNS Miri").

We need writers and pictures for our blogs, Pencinta Alam, Malaysian Naturalists ... contributors welcomed. If you've articles, write-ups and pictures to share on our blog, please send them to us.

Please email any comments, suggestions to or leave a comment below.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

MNS Miri Branch Strategic Plans 2010-2012

The MNS-Miri Branch Strategic Plan 20010-2012 [DRAFT]

1. The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is the oldest and largest nature conservation organisation in Malaysia. MNS was established in 1940 by a group of naturalists to record and exchange information on, and to promote awareness about the diverse and abundant natural heritage of Malaya.

2. Since its early days, the MNS and its members have undertaken nature conservation projects, programmes and campaigns with a strong focus on education and public awareness to mobilize Malaysians to do their part for the protection and wise management of our natural heritage. Today, the MNS is recognized as one of the premier nature conservation organizations in the country, and works closely with government and other partners to advance nature conservation at the policy, planning, and implementation levels throughout the country.

3. The MNS operates through state-level branches and a permanent Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur. The Miri Branch was established March 1996. Programme planning and implementation at branch level is guided by a Branch Committee, comprising volunteer members of the branch. Our current Branch Committee members were elected at the annual Branch AGM held July 2009. Branch AGM is held annually in July.

4. The MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020 is adopted to guide the implementation of the Society’s mission and to ensure that its actions are in line with existing government policies and plans, and with Malaysia’s international nature conservation-related commitments.

This Strategic Plan
This draft Plan has been prepared to cover three (3) years of the Branch’s work, from 1 Jan 2010 to 31 Dec 2012.

The vision, mission and goals of this Plan are the same as that of the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020. The strategies and actions in this Plan were formulated based on an assessment of the priorities and challenges for nature conservation in Sarawak Northern Division, and on the strengths and opportunities of the MNS Miri Branch (hereinafter referred to as ‘MNS-Miri’) in terms of its existing programmes, members’ capability, skills and expertise, and partnerships.

The order of presentation of the Strategies and Actions in this Plan are not indicative of their priority. It will be the task of each incoming Committee to assess and decide on priority actions for the year based on the opportunities, strengths and challenges which exist at the time they take office, and from Year 2 of implementation, after reviewing the progress to date.

It is important to note that not each and every issue that is or could be of relevance to nature conservation in Sarawak’s Northern Division has been included in this Plan. This Plan deals with those issues that have been identified, through the consultative process, as being the immediate key issues that MNS-Miri is in a position to address in the next three years.

For the purposes of this Plan, the geographical scope for site-based nature conservation projects undertaken by the MNS-Miri is defined as the areas of Sarawak Northern Division only.

This Plan is, and will remain an organic document, i.e. it will be reviewed periodically and revised accordingly in response to emerging challenges and opportunities.

The Purpose of this Plan
1. This Plan is intended to provide a framework for MNS-Miri to define its direction in the next three years, to make decisions on allocating its financial and manpower resources, and to monitor and assess the impacts and outcomes of its actions.

2. It is also intended to inform key partners and other interested parties about the Branch’s priorities, and to provide the opportunity to enhance existing partnerships and to create new partnerships with like-minded organizations.

3. Finally, it is intended to communicate to the MNS Secretariat, MNS Council and other MNS branches how MNS-Miri proposes to contribute to the implementation of the MNS Strategic Plan 2008 – 2020. In doing so, MNS-Miri hopes to be able to solicit support from, and promote greater exchange and sharing of information and experiences within the Society.

Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles of the Plan


Our Vision is for Malaysia’s natural heritage and rich biological diversity to be effectively protected, managed and conserved for the benefit and appreciation of all Malaysians.

“To promote the study, appreciation, conservation and protection of Malaysia’s natural heritage.

The above Mission may be represented briefly by the following motto:

“Know Nature, Value Nature and Act for Nature.”

Our Guiding Principles

In working towards the vision and mission above, the MNS-Miri is guided by the following principles:

a) Member-driven. MNS shall always be a member-based and member-driven society, deriving its strength from a committed and active membership.

b) Independent. MNS is a self-governing and non-partisan organisation.

c) Non-profit. MNS is a properly constituted and registered society under Malaysian law, whose objective is to carry out its mission in the interests of its members without the intent of commercial or monetary profit.

d) Transparent. MNS shall maintain transparency and accountability in all its dealings with its members, as well as with its external supporters and partners such as donor agencies, sponsors, government agencies, and the public.

Our Approach

a) Knowledge-based and multi-disciplinary. MNS’s analysis of conservation problems and solutions is objective, multi-disciplinary and based on the best available scientific information and knowledge.

b) Communications, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA). MNS uses CEPA as an important tool to recruit, empower and partner with people to act for conservation while taking into account their social and economic realities. MNS endeavours to practice effective communications within its organization, and with partners and interested parties outside the organization.

c) Capacity building. MNS organises or assists in training and other capacity building initiatives for those involved in, and responsible for the conservation and management of nature, including members, local communities and decision-makers.

d) Volunteerism. MNS shall always value the spirit of volunteerism and strongly encourage the participation of volunteers in its activities.

e) Best Practice. MNS seeks to demonstrate best practices in all its activities with the intention of being innovative, efficient and effective.

f) Results-driven. MNS stresses results by formulating strategic plans that assess policy/programme feasibility and include realistic short- and long-term goals and objectives.

g) Partnership. MNS subscribes to an inclusive spirit of partnership and willingness to work with all who support our nature conservation agenda, recognizing that sustainable conservation efforts are only possible through the involvement and support of all stakeholders including local communities and the general public.

h) Advocacy. MNS’s advocacy initiatives seek to communicate its findings and recommendations to decision-makers, at the national, state and local government levels, so as to influence or effect remedial nature conservation action.

i) Facilitation. MNS provides technical advice and acts in a facilitation role to encourage the active involvement of all stakeholders in discussing nature conservation-related challenges, and arriving at agreed solutions.

MNS MIRI BRANCH Goals, Strategies and Actions.

To secure the conservation of environmentally sensitive areas, key habitats and species in Malaysia.


Strategy 1.1 : Advocate for the effective management of the existing protected areas and the establishment of new protected areas, as a means to secure an integrated, comprehensive and representative Protected Area System in the state.

Action 1.1.1: Monitor the NP within the Northern Division geographical area for management effectiveness and potential threats from development.
Action 1.1.2: Promote awareness about the nature conservation values of the area, and advocate for its protection, effective management and recognition as a site of global conservation importance through nature based activities in situ.

Action 1.1.3: Identify priority natural heritage sites, maintain a database of information on these areas, and take actions to advocate for their effective protection and management.
Action 1.1.4: Participate in Asian Wetland Census drawing participation from immediate community and MNS network.

Strategy 1.2 : Advocate for the establishment of a centralised database of information with the help of MNS HQ on key habitats and species, and for this information to be disseminated, in the appropriate format, to aid development planning and raise awareness about the natural heritage of Sarawak.

Action 1.2.1: Engage with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation Conservation Unit to advocate for the establishment of a publicly-accessible database on key sites and species.
Action 1.2.2: Engage with relevant research body who are currently conducting on-site research in Sarawak’s Northern Division.

Strategy 1.3 : Lobby and maintain active involvement in Special Park’s Committee for selected National Parks within the Northern Division.

Action 1.3.1: Engage with SPC Lambir, Niah, Mulu and Loagan Bunut to discuss opportunities to provide input to activities and initiatives within the purview of MNS-Miri membership in the SPC for these parks. Encourage the awareness of the importance of conservation of Sarawak natural heritage.
Action 1.3.2: Support SPC efforts, particularly in terms of input to community presentations, workshops and discussions, and their potential impact on the natural heritage of Sarawak. Work with other NP (those on whose SPC committee that we do not sit on ie. Similajau National Park) to engage communities.
Action 1.3.3: Train, encourage and support MNS-Miri members and Person In Charge of Northern Division National Parks and SPC to be involved with the maintenance of “Friends of Lambir”, “Friends of Similajau”, “Friends of Mulu”, and “Friends of Niah”. Populate these sites with relevant information for the public in a collaborative manner with stakeholders.
Action 1.3.4: Develop internet portals for Northern Division Nationa Park (blogspot and facebook) and populate with articles and relevant information for the public.

Strategy 1.4 : Identify threats to the survival of natural habitats and species in Sarawak Northern Divison and take appropriate actions to address these threats.

Action 1.4.1: Compile write-ups, findings, discoveries made during MNS-Miri excursions, trips and outings to a holding portal. Collect credible information on threats to endangered species and habitats and forward them to the relevant policy and decision-makers.
Action 1.4.2: Engage with the relevant stakeholders to identify actions which can be taken jointly to address threats to endangered species and habitats.
Action 1.4.3: Publicise findings on relevant portals.

To empower current and future generations of Malaysians to act for the protection of our natural heritage.

Strategy 2.1 : Work towards the establishment of an affiliate MNS Nature Education Centre (NEC) in Sarawak Northern Division to serve as a site for educational programmes and activities and as a ‘home’ for the MNS-Miri; this centre to also act as a focal point for disseminating information about the natural heritage of Sarawak Northern Division.

Action 2.1.1: Conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of an affiliate MNS-Miri NEC in the Northern Division.
Action 2.1.2: Identifying sources of funding (from the government and private sectors) to support the establishment.
Action 2.1.3: Conduct Nature Education Camps at relevant NP.

Strategy 2.2 : Enhance the existing partnership with Shell’s Kem Mesra Alam and SFC Community Education Programme as a way to increase the involvement of stakeholders, teachers and students in MNS-Miri projects and activities.

Action 2.2.1: Contribute, participate and engage KMA in their yearly nature education camps.
Action 2.2.2: Contribute, participate and engage CEP in their yearly nature education camps.

Strategy 2.3 : Empower and mobilize the public through awareness raising and capacity building actions, and public campaigns to enable them to participate actively in the decision-making process for the management and conservation of nature and the environment.

Action 2.3.1: Build on the existing SMART Partnership with Pustaka Negeri Sarawak as a public outreach vehicle for MNS-Miri and to provide increased opportunities for the public to be involved in nature conservation activities.
Action 2.3.2: Continue to include a nature-based conservation education component in all MNS-Miri activities (including nature education camps for children, site visits and nature trips) to increase member awareness about nature conservation issues, and mobilize support for our actions.

GOAL No. 3:
To strengthen the institutional capacity of the Society towards achieving its mission and goals.

Strategy 3.1 : Secure the financial resources required to enable MNS-Miri to achieve the objectives of this Plan.

Action 3.1.1: Develop new and innovative means of raising funds, as necessary, to support the implementation of the strategies and actions identified in this Plan.
Action 3.1.2: Impress on stakeholders of our continued exploration of opportunities for funds.
Action 3.1.3:Submit small project proposals from known venue with help of HQ to raise funds.

Strategy 3.2 : Strengthen existing partnerships, and build new partnerships with like-minded organizations at the local levels to magnify the impact of conservation initiatives and programmes.

Action 3.2.1: Focus on corporate partnerships as a means to get more organized groups to volunteer/participate in MNS-Miri activities, and potentially, to secure funding to support the implementation of the actions identified in this Plan.
Action 3.2.2: Collaborate with Sarawak Forestry Corporation Parks Division, or PIC to ensure that the information disseminated to national nature park visitors is scientifically-credible and helps educates visitors about nature conservation.

Strategy 3.3 : Raise the image and profile of MNS to every segment of society so as to be recognized as a leading organization working to promote nature conservation.

Action 3.3.1: Establish an MNS-Miri presence (posters, displays, etc.) at public places (e.g. national parks) as a way to increase awareness about our activities and programmes.
Action 3.3.2: Compile a database of quality presentations on MNS and on key conservation issues to be presented to government agencies, organized groups and organizations as a way to ensure consistency in terms of the messages that we deliver.
Action 3.3.3: Enhance efforts to communicate our successes to a wide audience to increase recognition of our contribution to nature conservation efforts through public forum, media and internet.

GOAL No. 4:
To grow and to effectively and efficiently mobilise membership resources towards achieving the Society’s mission and goals.

Strategy 4.1 : Engage, maintain and expand the membership of MNS-Miri through targeted membership drives, and through ongoing projects and programmes.

Action 4.1.1: Focus on actively engaging existing members in our activities and programmes, e.g. by regularly communicating information to them about our projects and programmes, and organizing “MNS Recruitment Drive” events at institutions of higher learning and schools open days and such.
Action 4.1.2: SIGs to continue to organize high quality trips and events with appropriate nature interpretation components as a means to retain current members and expand membership.
Action 4.1.3: Continue to maintain a database on MNS-Miri members, including information about each member’s skills, expertise and areas of interest.
Action 4.1.4: Develop and maintain MNS-Miri Blogspot, Facebook websites as a means to communicate effectively with our members, and to attract potential new members.

Strategy 4.2 : Build the capacity of members to enable them to contribute effectively to our projects and programmes, and to ensure the sustainability of the Branch.

Action 4.2.1: Organize training workshops for members to enhance their skills in the nature conservation planning and management, including communications and advocacy. Draw synergies from other more experienced branches (ie MNS Kuching, MNS Selangor).
Action 4.2.2: Continue to explore opportunities for MNS-Miri members to be involved in workshops, seminars, and training and volunteer programmes organized by the MNS Secretariat or other MNS branches, or by institutions and organizations that work in nature conservation.
Action 4.2.3: Draw on the skills, expertise and interests of members to plan, develop and implement nature conservation projects and programmes.

Strategy 4.3 : Promote and foster links between MNS-Miri and the MNS Secretariat, and between MNS-Miri and other MNS branches, to promote greater sharing of expertise, knowledge and experience.

Action 4.3.1: Explore opportunities for MNS-Miri members to be involved in the nature conservation projects and events undertaken by MNS in other parts of the country.
Action 4.3.2: Explore opportunities for the MNS Secretariat staff and members from other MNS branches to be involved in MNS-Miri conservation projects. Nurture positive relationships between committee members and Secretariat.
Action 4.3.3 Explore greater synergy between MNS Kuching, MNS Miri and MNS Sabah through projects, workshops or trips.

End of Document.

As this plan is still at a draft stage, members are encourage to give feedback and discussions on the above. The final Branch endorsed plan will be presented to MNS Council 16th January 2010.

MNS Miri Branch members are invited for a discussion on the above draft strategies and actions Wednesday 18th November, Kelab Rekreasi Petroleum 1730-1900 hrs. All members are welcomed. Come shape MNS Miri and our contribution the immediate community we are in.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Litte Egret and Chinese Egret at Lutong Beach

Little Egret and Chinese Egret hunting collaboratively for breakfast at Lutong Beach. They share the same stretch of beach and sometimes even chase after the same prey. They definitely don't share the prize though. The only time they both got a taste of the same fish was when the Chinese Egret dropped it's catch, the prey swam away but was quickly picked up by the Little Egret. He quickly gobbled it up obviously with a smug on his face ... the fish tasted that much sweeter perhaps for the Little Egret.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday birdwatching at Niah NP, IBA

For those who are not aware, Niah NP is one of the IBA in Northern Division, MY50. The others are Lambir Hills NP (MY51), Similajau NP (MY49) , Mulu NP (MY53), Loagan Bunut NP (MY52) and the Kelabit Highlands (MY54).

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are sites of international importance for bird conservation at the global, regional or national level, based upon standard, internationally recognised criteria. IBAs are not only important for birds, but typically support awide range of other important flora and fauna species. Furthermore, many IBAs are also significant for human welfare and economic well being through protecting catchments, providing flood control or as a source of natural resources.

Google map of a section of Niah Caves National Park. We birdwatched along the river from Park HQ to Batu Niah town, a distance of 3km on relatively flat concrete pathway.

The following few paragraphs are from the "Directory of Important Bird Areas in Malaysia", MNS Conservation Publication No. 8.

Niah NP itself supports 7 globally threatened species. The Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Grey-headed Ichthyophaga ichthyaetusand Lesser Fish-Eagles I. humilis (all near-threatened) have also been recorded in the area. The following is from "Directory of Important Bird Areas in Malaysia".

Globally Threatened species which has been recorded in the park:

a) Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle (VU) Spizaetus nanus (SFD 2002a).
b) Large Green Pigeon (VU) Treron capellei (Sebastian 1984-1987 ).
c) Short-toed Coucal (VU) Centropus rectunguis (Sebastian 1984-87, 2002)
d) Blue-headed Pitta (VU) Pitta baudii (SFD 2002a).
e) Straw-headed Bulbul (VU) Pycnonotus zeylanicus (SFD 2002a).
f) Hook-billed Bulbul (VU) Setornis criniger (SFD 2002a).
g) Large-billed Blue Flycatcher (VU) Cyornis caerulatus (SFD 2002a).

Two hundred and forty-one (241) species of birds have been recorded in and within the immediate vicinity of the national park (Gregory-Smith 1996; Marduka 2001; Sarawak Forest Department 2002; Smythies 1999). Niah Caves itself harbour great populations of swiftlets in its chambers. The swiftlet population, consists of the White-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphaga, Black-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus maximus and Mossy-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus salaganus.

Come to think of it, our group has not quite done a proper job of birdwatching at Niah NP. It's always either to go to Niah Caves NP to explore the limestone caves, check out the insects along the plankwalk or climb Bukit Kasut ... and birdwatch along the way, on the side, never the main event. Perhaps we are just spoilt for choice as far as birdwatching locations are concerned.

Past Sunday, we tried to gather as many of our small Miri Branch birdgroup for a spot of birdwatching-only outing at the park. "As many" didn't turn out to be as many as we had expected.

Sian's got work, Sara's away, Musa's off possibly fishing, Steve's away to attend to some major snafu in Labuan. None of the Curtin birders were anywhere to seen or heard from ... possibly stumped with homework. We ended up with a motley crew of Clare, Rosie, Amer and yours truly. And not to forget, two very junior birders in the form of pint size Aisya and not so pintsize Ali.

Since we were birdwatching on this side of the river ie. along it, outside the park per say, we didn't have to pay the required entrance fee to the park! Yes, it was free!!!

Niah River meanders thru the park to form the boundary between park headquarters and the park grounds proper. There's a well-used (used to be) path from the park hq to Batu Niah town right alongside the river banks, it's concrete all the way to Batu Niah. This path was our target this time around. All 3 kms of it.

The trailhead from Batu Niah entrance ... concrete all the way to the park, interspersed with fruit orchards and a few village houses.

... and friendly dogs.

Having birdwatched in Niah before, we noticed how much harder it was to pick out birds from dense foliage within the park itself, you can always hear the birds but hardly ever see them without putting a real effort. The Chestnut-rumped Babbler we ticked off previously on a preivious visit was called out before we had a good positive look at it.

Along this path however, they are numerous breaks in the forest cover along the way, the first kilometer is probably the most fruitful for birds being a distance away from the kampung and still retaining some of the original riverine cover. The rest is an easy trek to Batu Niah.

We took almost two hours to complete the full trail, spending time spying for birds along the way. The walk back to the park from Batu Niah took us a full 20 minutes to the park headquarters, without the birdwatching of course.

The first patch just outside the back fences of the park boundary was actually a cleared forest planted with fruit trees such as nangka, cempedak, tarap and the like. There were still a few stands of large original cover. This was perhaps the most productive spot being rather bright.

We have spotted the following birds in this area: broadbills, spiderhunter, drongos (2 species), treeswift, bulbul, hornbill, barbet, fantail and numerous sunbirds.

On this particular outing we sighted Scarlet minivet (a group of 3 individuals male, female and a likely juvenile); Pacific swallow, Cream-vented bulbul, and Yellow-vented bulbul. We heard Common tailorbird, barbet sp., fantail sp., drongo sp. and broadbill sp. but were unable to locate where they were calling from. The barbet was definitely high up in the tall trees.

As we moved further into the shadier trails, we spotted a bird we have not seen before for a while. After much peering into the dark foliage, we made out at least three birds. Upon further examination we had a good look at two of the birds. One individual decided to fly across the Niah river.

The ones that stayed behind were positively id as a resplendent male Diarde's Trogon and a slightly smaller Scarlet-rumped Trogon. We surmised that the third that flew away was also a Scarlet-rumped Trogon based on it's call. What are the odds of that? Both birds were lifers for Rosie and Amer.

As we walked on further thinking the day could not get any better we stumbled upon a group of babblers stealthily moving inside the fairly dense foliage next to the trail. We almost did not bother until we heard the sounds of juveniles nearby.

Upon closer look indeed it was confirmed that one of the adults birds was feeding young inconspicously hidden behind some leaves inside a nest. The bird kept flying in and out of something which looked more like a clump of brown dead leaves than a babbler's nest. We confirmed id as Chestnut-winged Babbler having been given full view of the adult birds as it flew in and out to feed the youngins. We were completely stoked by then.

In that clump of dry leaves precariously hanging on live twigs is a Chestnut-winged Babler's nest. Juveniles were heard from inside as adults birds flit in and out bringing morsels of food.

The rest of the walk to Batu Niah was not as eventful other than several squirels playing catch and several appearances of the ever present Cream-vented Bulbul across our path. As we moved closer towards Batu Niah, the vegetation turned to oil palm, and more fruit trees mostly of rambutan, durians and tarap.

The short but sweet birdwatching outing at Niah NP ended with hearty lunch and ABC for desert at Batu Niah town.

Though we did not tick any of the globally threatened species listed above this time around, we will definitely do this trail again if only for the trogons and babblers we spotted! On second thoughts, the Blue headed Pitta could just be the reason to go back and soon.

MNS Miri, Nov 2009

November Branch Updates and News

Dear Members,

The wet season is upon us again ... those walking in the woods, do watch out overhead for falling branches and below for slippery footholds (and leeches). Those walking on the beach, do keep a nose-up on the rising tides, the waves too can be quite ferocious this time of year.

1. Lambir Hills NP Nitewalk, 17th October
We didn't see any major reptiles or mammals, only the usual insects, geckos and spiders. The sounds of the rainforest at night however is always enchanting.

Checkout write-up:

2. Birdwatching along the Lambir Logging Trail, 18th October
Slender-billed crows (12 of them!!!) making quite a ruckus on tall tree across from our ridge. We also got front seat eye-to-eye view of the Grey-rumped threeswift. Several Hill Myna made a fly pass.

The call of Argus Pheasant was unmistakable.

Absent were the falconets, barbets, and woodpeckers.

To make up for it we had a very close encounter with a very beautiful little snake sunny itself in the middle of the track. And of course there was that enigmatic birdcall which we weren't able to positively id or locate the source of! We'll be back!

Checkout write-up:

3. Council Meeting, 23-24th October.
MNS Kuching and MNS Miri presented Action in Sarawak and "Blood in the Water-Expedition to Ulu Baram" detailing the situation and strategy to be adopted in Sarawak.

4. KMA Camp at Niah NP, 24-25th October
This camp was cancelled by KMA organisers.

1. Birdwatching Walkabout in Curtin, October
Aju to pencil in a date for a short early morning or late afternoon walkabout on campus to initiate the Curtin Birdlists. Announcement will be made soon as we've got a firm date from Aju and teh Curtin birders. Those interested to participate, please revert.

2. Birdwatching in Niah, 01st November
Our small birdgroup will be descending onto Niah NP for a spot of birdwatching near the surrounding area. Please revert if you are interested to participate.

Meet 7-7.30 AM at Taman Awam

We'll be back before lunch or may lunch in Bekenu.

3. Nature Camp for Children in Lambir, 07th November
After a long hiatus, we are embarking to a nature camp for children again this November led by Amer and Grace from the NEC group. It'll be a day camp at Lambir Hills NP and we are trying to arrange for transport, insurance and speakers for the program.

This is now firm and participation is invited from all segments of the branch and Miri community. If you have kids or know someone who have kids who'd benefit spending a day in a natural forest with fullfilling activities, please call us.

Checkout announcement:

4. Presentation to members, "Blood in the Water-Expedition to Ulu Baram" November
Date and venue to be announced at a later date. Find out what went on during a 10 day mini expedition by two of our members deep into Penan country.

5. Discussions on MNS Miri Strategic Plans 2010-2012, November
Members are invited to discuss MNS Miri Strategic Plans in line with the MNS Strategic 12 year Plan. Our opportunity to focus our efforts and initiatives in Sarawak.

Date and venue to be announced at a later date.

Further afield to close 2009:
6. Bakakalan Short Jaunt 12-14th December
For those who managed to secure tickets, the trip is ON!

Sara will be making accomodation arrangement and suss out all the other finer details. To those who didn't manage to get ticket, we'll try again next time or perhaps you'd like to give Long Lamai a go (see below).

7. Long Lamai X-Mas and New Year 26th Dec
Plans are afoot to spend 1 week in Long Lamai to get acquainted with the area, the people and the rural landscape. They will some walking but you'll be guaranteed plenty of photography, birdwatching and getting to know the locals.

We will be flying in to Long Banga 26th Dec, return 03rd Jan.

(Depending on availability of tickets, if this event pulls thru, it replaces our original planned Niah-Suai Weeklong Walk and Camp.)

8. Long Weekend at a longhouse along Batang Baram
One of our member has extended to members of MNS Miri a quite weekend longhouse experience. Expressions of interest is duly sought from members who'd like to spend a couple days relaxing with a longhouse community by the riverside, the Tuai Rumah will be our host. Since the dates have not yet been set, members can specify "best" dates based on their preferences.

Though MNS Miri has only clocked up 13+ years in Sarawak, we will be head to head with the older branches such as Penang, Perak and Selangor Branches to celebrate MNS 70th year Anniversary.

Some of our original members from Mar 1996 : Charlie Lee, Lucas Johny, Jim Warburton, Sim Wan Chee, Wendy Langga, Clements Lim are still with us today. Betcha they've got plenty of stories to tell about MNS Miri, it's original members and their first few outings.

Members are encouraged to read up the details in store as part of the yearlong celebration 2010:

2. Fireflies Survey and Training, Kuching 5-6th December
We are sending Musa on a fireflies training in Kuching with Sonny from our Conservation Division. Hopefully upon successfull completion Musa can help us get more intimate with fireflies and conduct surveys in and around Miri.

Read about it here:

3. A big THANK YOU to those members who've taken the time to renew their membership. Those who havent, please do so at your earliest convenience. Please revert to this email if you require assistance or more information on how to renew your membership painlessly and hassle free.

Membership for the following members expired 31-Oct 2009:
Adrienne Marcus Raja
Bejay Ugon
Jia Jiun Law
Masatoshe Sone
Nurhazwani Abdul Munaf
Elisabet Wee Siew Siew
Yong Kah Hian
Sim Yuh Thin
Lim Teck Huat

Members, please take time to renew your membership. If you need assistance, please contact us. Your Society needs your continued support.

4. We need writers and pictures for our blogs, Pencinta Alam, Malaysian Naturalists ... contributors welcomed.If you've articles, write-ups and pictures to share on our blog, please email

Thank you and kindest regards,
Nazeri Abghani
on behalf of MNS Miri Branch Commt