Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend Events

Our weekend events started off tame enough with a short session on sunset photography at Bungai Beach. It later evolved to searching and making photographs of fireflies at Kpg Pajuang Kelulit neat Kpg Kuala Suai after a short dinner in quaint Bekenu town.

Other than the blinking fireflies, we also spotted two crocodiles at the edge of the water in the same canal, a juvenile and perhaps that of a young adult. The river's lined with healthy looking mangoves, several trees had displaying fireflies. The first day ended quite late in drizzling rain on the way back to Bungai Lodge, our abode for the nite.

The morning started off very early with another session on landscape photography. A few short minutes of breakfast followed by a portrait session with several local villages willing to pose for us. We continued the session in Bekenu town market, some folks were curious others thought we were filming for a Korean tv series perhaps prompted by the gear we were lugging with us.

We arrived Niah NP about lunchtime and set to get ready for a bit of trekking in the park when the afternoon light gets softer. The walk into the park was leisurely and pleasant. We reached the trinkets shelter around 5.30pm. Another photography session continued at the longhouse 20minutes away followed by a short foray into the main caves, by then it was already close to 6.30pm.

We hurriedly walked back in the direction of the jetty in completed darkness aided only by our little torchlights, a few last chirping of birds returning to roost and the occasional skylight when the canopy opens up to a glorious clear nite sky filled with stars.

We reached the jetty shy of 8:30pm, we made frequent stops along the way to appreciate the dark nite in the forest fully.

We continued with stargazing and watching a resplendent half moon at our hostel all the way into the morning, 3am to be exact!

Bleary-eyed the next day, we conclude our weekend event with a hearty breakfast at Batu Niah town, a 20minutes drive away.

The compounds of Niah National Park. The Park is undergoing some upgrades to further improve the facilities available for tourists and local visitors.

A star trail at Niah National Park, we were shooting into the late hours of the nite.

Rock formation fronting Bungai Lodge, operated by Pak Bujang of Kpg Bungai who lives across the road from the lodge.

Danish and Pak Gabak who's approaching 80 years of age though not many family members are aware exactly the date he was born. He is eldest of seven siblings, youngest is Pak Lamat who is 64 years old who was also at the tamu.

The view from Bungai Lodge.

Sunset on Bakam Beach on the way to Bungai.

Written and photographed by Nazeri Abghani/Nov 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Checking out the birds at Kuala Baram Lagoon, 2009.

Asian Waterbird Census, AWC is an annual waterbird census carried out by volunteers every January (sometimes starts mid December and spills over to February) at various sites thoughout Asia.

Analysis of data collected during AWC help Wetlands International, the organizer, in long term planning for the conservation of waterbirds and their wetland habitats.

The census has 3 major objectives:

1) to obtain information on an annual basis of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region during non-breeding period of most species, as a basis for reviewing of sites and monitoring populations

2) to monitor on an anuual basis the status and condition of wetlands

3) to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst the public and thereby promote the conservation of wetlands and waterbirds in the region.

The census is mainly undertaken by volunteers from various sources with the community. The sites covered include rivers, lakes, reservoirs, tanks, swamps, coastal areas, mangrove and mudflats, reefs or beaches.

Waterbirds counted during the census include all waterbirds and birds associated with the wetlands habitat.

The census is coordinated in each country by a volunteer national or regional organisation, in Malaysia it's the Malaysian Nature Society. The coordinator is responsible for building up the network of volunteers, sends out count forms, liase with participants, receives and collate forms after the census and compiles and disseminates national reports.

The official dates for AWC are any dates between 9-31st January, however counts from December and February are still accepted from poorly known areas.

MNS Miri Branch has a small band of birdwatchers who will be participating in AWC this year covering the following tentative sites listed below, participation in the census is sought from all branch members and the public interested to know more about waterbirds and birds in general.

MNS Miri Branch AWC tentative sites for 2011:

25-26th Dec Kuala Sg Niah, Kuala Sg Sibuti,
31st Dec-02nd Jan Kpg Awat-awat, Lawas,
08-09th Jan Pujut 7-Go-Kart Lakes Area,
15-16th Jan Curtin University Lakes Area,
22-23rd Jan Kuala Sg Baram-Kpg Masjid Prawn Farms,
29-30th Jan Kuala Sg Baram-Kpg Batu Satu ,
05-06th Feb Pulau Bawai
12-13th Feb Loagan Bunut National Park
19-20th Feb Sibuti WS

Most of these sites are revisits from past year's census (an important monitoring component of AWC) with two new sites (Kuala Sg Niah, and Kpg Kuala Sg Sibuti) added for 2011.

Some of our past AWC highlights :
Lesser Adjutant in Sundar, 2010.
Malaysian Plover, Grey Plover, Wandering Whistling Duck, Oriental Darter in Miri, 2009.
Plovers in general in Kuala Baram, 2008.
Lesser Adjutant in Lutong, 2002.
Storm's Stork in Loagan Bunut, 2001.

This year we are spending a bit more time over at the coastal wetlands in and around the greater Miri area, we are hoping to include schools and some youngsters into our survey team this year as part of awareness raising on AWC amongst schoolchildren.

Members and the public who are interested to participate in this largely citizen's effort can email for further details.

Schools interested to participate as part of a school project are encouraged to send enquiries.

Please check AWC updates on

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MNS Firefly Survey and Monitoring Workshop

CFZ Firefly Survey team after having concluded a survey of Sg Nyalau, Kpg Kuala Nyalau last October. Photo by Sara Wong.

The MNS Miri Branch together with MNS Conservation Division, would like to invite participants to the MNS Miri Firefly Survey and Monitoring Workshop to be held in Miri, Sarawak from 11-12th December 2010.

Venue : Kelab Shell Petroleum, Lutong
Date : 11 and 12th December 2010

Our main resource for the course will be Sonny Wong, Senior Conservation Officer, MNS Conservation Division and Dr Mahadimenakbar Mohamed Dawood, Institute of Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation, University Malaysia Sabah. Musa Musbah, Project Executor for CFZ Survey Northern Sarawak will also share his experiences to date with Sarawak fireflies.

Participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses for the duration of the course, they will be provided materials and relevant group meals. Transport to and from fieldsites will be provided by the organisers.

MNS Miri Branch under the funding of the Congregating Firefly Zone Survey Northern Sarawak 2010 by MNS Merdeka Fund, is currently compiling a baseline data on congregating firefly zones (CFZ) of the mangrove lined rivers in Northern Sarawak.

The project started in August 2010 at the branch level and will continue until April 2010. The project aims to create a CFZ directory for Northern Sarawak which hopefully will eventually culminate in a number of candidate locations suitable as targets for conservation or rural eco-tourism development.

MNS Miri Branch welcomes contribution from other Branch members in East Malaysia, UNIMAS, UMS, government agencies as well as members of the public to help in the compilation of the CFZ in Northern Sarawak. It is also hoped that this work will be replicated to other regions in Sarawak as well as in Sabah. The directory will be made available to the respective State Governments for conservation of the firefly and the mangroves habitat or potential eco-tourism activities.

This particular workshop organised in Miri hopes to share the experiences and enthusiasm to date on the firefly survey and monitoring work in a two day classroom sessions and one evening fieldwork session.

We hope at the conclusion of the course participants will have had good exposure about firefly conservation in Malaysia and several concrete ideas and steps to further improve the collective work in CFZ in Malaysia in general.

It is also our fervent hope that the sharing of experiences on methodology and practical learnings during the course will spur further activities in firefly survey and monitoring in Sabah and Sarawak.

Please contact the organiser for further information:

Nazeri Abghani, MNS Miri Branch or please call 085-453185/016-8542212

(Program details are available upon request).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November News and Updates

Dear Valued Members,

Two more months till the end of 2010, and we're going full steam ahead with our activities! Here's what we've planned for this month:

Nov 6: Congregating Firefly Zones + Miri Reef Check Community Outreach

We will be educating the general public on two of Miri's least known secrets: fireflies and coral reefs. There will be art and coloring activities for children, presentations from our resident firefly and reef experts plus lucky draw prizes to be won. This event will be held at Pustaka Miri. The program is as follows:

1000 - 1200 hrs: Children's Art and Coloring Contest
1400 - 1515 hrs: Talk on Congregating Firefly Zones by Musa Musbah
1515 - 1600 hrs: Talk on Miri Reef Check by Lim Yung Lin

There is also a firefly photography session at Kampung Pejuang Kelulit at 6 - 10 pm. Places are limited and open to members only. Kindly liase with Nazeri or Musa after the outreach event.

Nov 11: Wildlife in the Garden: Appreciating the Flora and Fauna of Piasau and Panaga Camps

Time: 7pm
Venue: Hornbill House, Piasau Camp

Hans Dols, a member of the Panaga Natural History Society with years of experience in observing, documenting and conserving wildlife, will share a photo presentation of the wildlife he and his colleagues have observed over the years on the Panaga camp just over the border in Brunei. Come join us to learn how to tell a magpie robin from a bulbul, or a cobra from a wolfsnake. Various Piasau camp "nature nuts" will also be on hand to answer questions about the camp's nesting pair of hornbills, and observations of wildlife closer to home.

Nov 27: Overnight Stay at Niah National Park

We will be spending one weekend at Niah National Park for a day of birdwatching and a night of collecting firefly larvae and also searching for other nocturnal denizens of the park among other things.

Sat, 27th November
0800 hrs Birdwatching along the likely very wet Madu Trail
1600 hrs Trek to Caves and back returning late in the dark
2100 hrs Late dinner at Batu Niah Town

Sun, 28th November
0630 hrs Early morning walk to Batu Niah town for brunch
1200 hrs Checkout and return to Miri

This trip will be at cost, participants equaly share cost of accomodation and other expenses. Open to members and non-members. Non-members are encouraged to make a small donation to the Branch activity fund.


More details will be furnished in our December update:

Dec 11-12: Congregating Firefly Zone Workshop

Sat 11th Dec
Saturday morning arrival or participants, registration at KRP
1400 - 1800 hrs: Classroom Session
1800 - 2200 hrs: CFZ Survey Sg Adong (tentative)

Sun 12th Dec
0800 - 1200 hrs: Classroom Session/Discussion
1400 - 1700 hrs: Way forward

Dec 25-26: Camping at Kuala Niah

We'll be spending a weekend camping at Kuala Niah at the estuary of Sungai Niah, one of several major rivers in Miri. There's a small village nearby so we won't be all too lonely if it gets too quiet.

Sat 25th December
1200 hrs Travel by road to Kuala Niah (4WD recommended, carpool is an option)
1600 hrs Set up Camp
1800 hrs Dinner (BBQ Siakap if we are lucky)
2000 hrs Explore the beach or watch out for bright eyes on the sandbar or in
the murky waters of Sg Niah or try our luck at estuary fishing or just stargaze if the nite sky is especially clear

Sun 26th December
0600 hrs Early morning beachwalk in a Southerly direction and back
1200 hrs Lunch and break camp
Return to Miri.

This will be a shared cost trip, particpants share equally all expenses incurred for the trip. Participants are expected to bring their own sleeping bag and maybe share tents. Suitable for children.

If you have any inquiries, kindly e-mail us at mnsmiri (at)

To all our Hindu members and friends, MNS Miri would like to wish you a Happy Deepavali!