Sunday, 18 March 2012

Raptors in the Sky - 15 March 2012

Raptor Watch is an annual event organised and promoted by the Malaysian Nature Society. This marks the return of the raptors or birds of prey on their journey back to their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. The spring migration begins in mid February until mid April and this is the best time to watch these raptors crossing Tanjung Tuan in Port Dickson.

Raptor Watch is celebrated in Tanjung Tuan every year, which is one of the remaining coastal forests on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachado as named by the Portuguese is a cape with a lighthouse facing the Straits of Malacca. It is a very important stop over site for migratory raptors after crossing the Straits of Malacca.

The trek uphill was really pleasant. It was cool to walk under the shady trees and the paved trail made it easy for young and old. Along the way, we looked out for plants, insects and animals and we could hear different sounds from the forest birds.

At the end of the trail, after about half an hour, we came to the oldest lighthouse in Malaysia, the Cape Rachado Lighhouse, originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Today, it is a site for conservation of migratory birds.

There's a narrow path in front of the lighthouse for visitors to stand and the view is so serene. Turquoise sea water. Beautiful scenery. 

A few of the regular birdwatching volunteers. They were so passionate in what they do. Rain or shine from 9am to 5pm, they would be there to do the raptor count. They were so knowledgeable, and able to identify the birds and their habitats and origins. They have a certain technique to count the birds, and developed their communication lingo (eg. '5XL' means 5 birds at extreme left).

No, this was not a shot in Europe.........

We came prepared too......

Raptors in the sky! The best time to watch raptors would be between 11am to 3pm. However, we felt that the best time is between 10am to before noon especially if it is a sunny morning. After noon, it becomes very hot and uncomfortable to stand under the hot sun without shade. If the weather is cloudy or rainy in the morning, then very likely there won't be much to see. Raptors need thermal, ie hot air produced from the land due to the heat of the sun. Thermal will assist the raptors to glide in the sky without the need to use too much energy to flap their wings.

Some species of raptors that we saw - one white bellied sea eagle, one changeable hawk-eagle, two juvenile brahminy kite and more than 40 oriental honey buzzard. We also saw a few other birds like the forktailed swift birds and blue throated birds. Without the help of the birdwatching volunteers, we don't think we would be able to identify them. (Photos extracted from Google Images)

Relaxing on the beach....

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