Friday, 25 October 2013

Disappearing Mangroves - 19 Oct 2013

In his book "While Flocks Last", Charlie Elder realised that everyone can make a difference to nature conservation, by simply going out and enjoying the countryside and making it known why. So there's another good reason to go birdwatching more often. We set off to Kuala Selangor Nature Park once again to the Festival of Wings (organised by the Malaysian Nature Society). The weather was not good though and the sky was overcast so I gotta pull myself out of bed literally....

Right at the entrance to the park, we're greeted by these tiny Coppersmith Barbet birds perched high on a dead tree. According to the organisers, they spotted 19 of them. 

Unlike previous years, this festival was a 1-day event only. So, we have all the student groups as well as public activities crammed into the same day. The blaring music and noise from the crowds would make the mission to spot any birds or animals very very hard! More to walking around enjoy the mangrove and creating an appreciation for nature.

Mangrove walkabout with a guide

 A huge water monitor lizard

A little heron on a lake with the versatile mudskippers swim, hop, crawl...and even climb trees!

We didn't manage to finish the mangrove walk last year cos we're rushing to join the river cruise. This year, we made sure we've sufficient time to cover the walk. Maybe it's the noise from the crowds, the overcast weather or poor maintenance, we saw less wildlife and rubbish strewn around the site. Previously, the silver-leaf monkeys were a common sight, but we'd seen none this round, only some macaques.

Colourful fiddler crabs, tree crabs and hermit crabs in snail shells

Look out for pools of water in the mudflat. Mudskipper defends its own territory by creating its own private pool!

We came more prepared this year for Brandon's pit stops. Our dedicated guide waited patiently behind him all the way.....

While Wei busied himself climbing the mangrove tree....

Wei also spotted these cotton stainer bugs. We saw a couple of skinks, small tree birds, and of course a few soaring raptors who're local residents of the park.

The sea hibiscus and mangrove apple are some of the interesting plants in the mangrove. Some insects like ants and cotton stainer bugs feed on the sea hibiscus and the fibres from the plant are also useful for making cords for fishing. These plants provide refuge and food for a variety of flora and fauna, and a natural water filter, thus important to stabilise the coastal and river banks. 

Exotic coffee from civet poop anyone?? I couldn't help but wish I have a cuppa coffee while relaxing here. 

 We're one of the 2 families who have the privilege to join the afternoon river cruise, cos the students have more or less filled up the places. We're almost caught in a heavy downpour. The rain came pouring right after we're in the bus. 

But the wind was strong and tide was very high during the cruise, thus we didn't see any water birds feeding on the shallow water.

 We saw the usual water birds - egrets, herons and storks, and also the common terns and gulls, flying above our heads and looking for shelters before the storm. The school students were more thrilled by the fast boats and racing with one another on the boats. This year, we're a bit disappointed not seeing any waders or plovers despite being the season for such migratory birds.

Here is a Brahminy Kite. A few of the birds of prey including the white-bellied sea eagles are local residents of the  mangrove.

Our only group photo at one of Brandon's pit stops!

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