Words & images by Lim Kim Chye
The official schedule for the 2010 Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC) was for 8 – 25 January. The following sites, similar to the previous year, were surveyed by Bird Group Committee and members from the Perak branch: Kinta Nature Park (Chan Kai Soon, Susan Cheong, Ho Kum Leng, Chiu Sein Chiong on 24 Jan), Kamunting (Lim Kim Chye, Lim Swee Yian on 8 Jan), Malim Nawar (Ooi Beng Yean, Avril McLeod on 23 Jan), Sg Buaya/Ulu Dedap (Chiu Sein Chiong, Ooi Beng Yean, A S Nanda on 10 Jan) and Taiping Lake Gardens (Ng Kok Keong, Lim Swee Yian, Lim Kim Chye on 10 Jan).
Kinta Nature Park (KNP) continued to hold its position as our best site in terms of waterbird species. Thanks to more eyes and greater efforts, 18 species out of a total of 1381 birds were counted, more than double the total for 2009 and also the highest count since 2004. Five species of breeding herons and egrets in the heronry made up about 94% of the total counted. Highlights here included 2 Intermediate Egrets, new for KNP and a single Cotton Pygmy Goose, now quite uncommon.
Malim Nawar, a former mining area, has basically similar habitats to KNP. However, the presence of aquaculture activities in Malim Nawar has resulted in a slightly different group of specialist species, among them Black-winged Stilts (high count of 52 birds), Little Egret (178), Little Grebe (10), White-winged Black Tern (77) and Little Tern (30).
The Ulu Dedap counts fell slightly compared to last year, with a total of 2021 birds (2400 in 2009) of 17 species (19 species in 2009) recorded. This is an important site for egret species, with 87% of the total comprising this group. Due perhaps to the prevailing padiland conditions, no Lesser Adjutant were recorded this year. However, the team added White-winged Black Tern to this site and recorded nine species of raptors, including 2 day-roosting Barn Owls.
A new strategy for Kamunting South proved rewarding. Having noticed more shorebirds coming to roost in the late hours of the day, the counters decided to survey in the evening. High numbers of shorebirds were found roosting in the open, unoccupied factory lots, including 139 Wood Sandpipers, 60 Long-toed Stints and 53 Little Ringed Plovers. A lone Lesser Whistling Teal, flying out from wetlands, was a new species for this site.
Taiping Lake Gardens held the usual species, with 6 species positively identified. The focus of the survey at the secluded pond beside the zoo produced 26 roosting Black-crowned Night Herons. However, no egrets were observed here although at other times the counters have seen large numbers of egrets coming to roost in the evenings. A total of 28 unidentified pond-herons were seen foraging in the wet fields and water edges.
As is the practice for the past few years, I joined PERHILITAN staff to do the Kuala Gula census. The land survey was carried out on 3 February, covering the Ban Chu Kau and the Sg. Gula trails. Eighteen species of waterbirds were recorded, highlights being Lesser Adjutant, Slaty-breasted Rail and Black-winged Stilt. Due to other commitments, I could not join the boat surveys to Pulau Terong and Pulau Kalumpang to check for the threatened Milky Stork.