Words, video and images by Chan Kai Soon
My wife and I went for the eight in this series of MNS events organized at Kuala Selangor Nature Park. We drove off from Ipoh at about 7am in the morning, exited the Sungei Buloh toll and travelled along route 54. The latter is a narrow winding road with fair numbers of lorries along the way and so by the time we reached the car park of KSNP, it was already 10am. All parking lots were occupied and like many who arrived around the same time, we had to park our cars along the road in the adjacent housing estate.
By the time we walked to the amphitheatre where the opening ceremony was held, we saw the recently elected new MNS president and others leaving the place. We just missed the opening ceremony!!
Anyway, we promptly registered ourselves for the Kapar Birdwatching slotted for 2-4pm and the morning River Cruise for the following morning. The event appeared to be well received by the public and supported by privatae corporations. MEPS sent a large contingent complete with banners. Most of the participants are from various schools and they had been slotted for various talks, mangrove planting and river cruise etc. It was a long long time since I last visited the park and it is obvious that there had been a lot of changes to the facilities, thanks to the many corporate sponsorships.
We walked round the exhibition booths and briefly listerned to the talks by David Bakewell (on bird migration) and by Balu Perumal (on mangrove system). Since our stomach were protesting, we had to go back to Kuala Selangor town to check into Melawati Ria Hotel, and then to lunch.
There were about 40 people going for the Kapar birdwatching event, including our recently elected president. The bus started off late and the driver had to slow down to ask people where exactly to turn into the power station. Naturally we arrived later than intended and were further held up by the security because of inadequate documentation.
When we eventually reached the ash pond, we were pleasantly greeted by a friendly team of staff from the station, and everyone received a gift pack with snacks, drinking water and towers. Such a considerate gesture by the station management! Following a short briefing by the station staff, we were off to watch the birds nearby. Another pleasant surprise was that we were allowed to take photographs of the birds but not the station facilities.
Unfortunately, we were way too late in relation to the timing of the high tide. By the time we started watching, almost all the waders were already roosting in the ash pond and we missed the sight of thousands of birds coming in to roost. Nonetheless, the bare ash pond surface carpetted with thousands of waders was a sight to behold, especially for first timers there. These birds consist mostly of whimbrels, curlews, godwits and terns.
In the evening, we walked round the lake in the park. Lighting was poor due to the overcast sky. There were not much activity or birds. The only migrant waders we saw were the Common Sandpiper and the Great Egret. Two accipiters briefly whizzed over the trail, causing some alarm among the roosting Pink-necked Pigeons and Yellow-vented Bulbuls. At night, the watchman at KSNP showed us a very friendly Buffy Fishowl which stay put even though cars and motorbikes dashed past under it. Later, we realized that it was actually a family of three birds and one bird was actually holding a catfish.
The next morning, it was the much awaited River Cruise but it turned out to be a big disappointment. It was actually not much of a cruise but just a short journey to the river mouth. Some waders were seen on the shallow, muddy river banks. About 10 Lesser Adjutants were also seen and these appeared to be used to human presence too. However, there was practically nothing to see or learn once we reach the rivermouth except for a few boats harvesting cockles.
The boatman seems intent on getting us nauseated and wet. He just made the boat turned round and round at the same spots, sometimes riding into the waves so that the boat will rock more violently. He indeed succeeded in getting some of us wet. There was not much to learn from this cruise and I would not recommend it to anyone.
After the cruise, we rushed back to our hotel to take a bath and then went home.