Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SMK Lutong Birdwatching Club : First in Miri, Sarawak

Anura Dason of MNS Miri Branch introducing the Malaysian Nature Society to our young club members at the school's library.

Nazeri Abghani of MNS Miri Branch explaining the objectives of the birdclub to club members atteding the session. Image by Anura Dason.

Club members and teachers listening intently to the planned programs in store for them for 2011 and beyond. The Club will draw it's activities from experienced birdwatching resource from the Branch with Branch Chairperson and SMK Lutong KPA teacher in advisory roles.

It's official : Today, Friday 25th March, MNS Miri launched the Shell We Care We Share funded SMK Lutong Birdwatching Club. Through the funding, MNS Miri Branch will be responsible to manage, plan and provide birdwatching awareness training and programs for local children enrolled in the club for the next three years with support from the school's co-curricular coordinator.

In conjunction with it's Centennial celebration last year, Sarawak Shell Berhad awarded funding to 36 community-based projects to be run by it's staff through it's long standing "We Care We Share" initiatives, the Club was one of the recipients though MNS Miri Branch.

Thirty students ages 13-17 years old stand to benefit from the setting of the Birdwatching Club at their school, membership to the club is expected to grow to 100 students at the end of the funding period. The Club will be managed by MNS Miri Branch with Branch Chairperson and SMK Lutong's Kelab Pencinta Alam teacher as advisors; Miri Branch birdwatchers as resource persons.

Among the activities planned are birdwatching training sessions in May to cover garden birds in conjunction with MY Garden Birdwatch every June; as well as training session in waterbirds in November before school holidays in preparation for Asian Waterbirds Census that takes place every January. There will also be two away trips nearby for the students to gain practical experience in birdwatching.

Grey-headed Fish Eagle location is only 45 minutes drive away for the students.

Visiting migrants is an annual occurence at Lutong Beach and Kuala Baram, literally at the schools doorstep including this Chinese Egret. Increased awareness about birds, their habitats and active involvement of club members in AWC activities are among several important premises to the setting up of the birdwatching club.

To this end, MNS Miri Branch birdwatching resource has acquired a number of Field Guides to the Birds of Borneo by Susan Myers as well as quality binoculars for them to conduct their club activities. These hardware will be handed over to the Club at the end of the three year term as stipulated by the project.

With excellent birding locations dotted within short distances from the school : Chinese Egret at Lutong Beach, a variety of migrant waders and raptors at Kuala Baram; not to mention four Important Bird Areas within two hours drive (Niah Caves National Park, Lambir Hills National Park, Loagan Bunut National Park and Similajau National Park), members of SMK Lutong Birdwatching Club are poised to learn much about birds and bird conservation.

Increased awareness about birds will help us inculcate greater love for our feathered friends as well as care for the habitats that these birds depend on.

Here's looking at our feathered friends and our young birdwatchers!

Words and images by Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri

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