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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Badas, Sungai Seria and some migrants

On Friday, October 19th, I spend a morning with Merijn in the field. Merijn was over from KL to align the planning for a possible future bio-diversity study in the south of Brunei. Merijn, a fellow countrymen and a keen birder, had asked me to accompany him to some of my favorite sites.

We started the morning at Badas, and highlights included a substantial flock of cinnamon-headed green pigeons, a blue-rumped parrot disappearing into a tree-hole, a grey-headed fish-eagle and a couple of hard-to-see shrikes (that we settled on to be tiger-shrikes). As usual there were plenty of dollarbirds and long-tailed parakeets about.

Male Long-tailed parakeet (Psittacula longicauda)
Male Long-tailed parakeet (Psittacula longicauda)
As it was low tide I also wanted to spend some time at the Sungai Seria estuary. The estuary underwent some big, manmade changes last year with the aim to make the water management more efficient in preventing small floods during the wet season. As a side affect the estuary now seems far less attractive to migrant waders and the exposed tidal flat during low tide has substantially decreased. the number of waders we saw was limited and a little disappointing.

We still saw some nice birds though. There were were a couple of common kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) on the lookout for fish. Every year a few of these kingfishers can be found around the estuary. This is however the only locality where I have seen this species thus far. I did get some good pictures of the female.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
One of Merijn's co-workers had found a dead von Schrenk's bittern earlier in the week in Lumut. No rare bittern's around today, but we did see several little heron's and this yellow bittern flew straight into our view. This is by far the most common bittern in the greater Seria area.

Yellow bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)
Another regular winter visitor to Sungai Seria is the Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes) and as luck would have it one flew over and landed nearby as we were about to leave. This species is listed as vulnerable by IUCN and the total global population is estimated to be less than 3500. Every year still one or two of these egrets call the Seria estuary their winter home. I can only hope this will continue in the coming years. The bird today did a good job in keeping it's distance, so no close-ups.

Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes)
The past two weeks some very good observations have been made in Brunei. Unfortunately I didn't see most of them! The special ones:
  • Brown-backed flowerpecker (Dicaeum everetti), October 13, Panaga. Kolbjorn saw this species in his garden. This species of flowerpecker is very rarely recorded and might only be patchily distributed in Borneo. This is a great find and a very nice addition to the Panaga species list. For some good pictures of this species check Con Foley's website:
  • Grey-headed lapwing (Vanellus cinereus), October 16, Wasan ricefields. Bird seen in flight by Merijn. This is a very scarce winter vagrant. The PNHS sighting list has only one other recording in Brunei, which dates back to 1995. Merijn also saw a pair of Common sand martin's (Riparia riparia), another scarce winter visitor, during this visit.
  • Chestnut-cheeked starling (Sturnus philippensis). October 11 and October 13, Panaga. Seen by Kolbjorn in his garden. An uncommon winter visitor, though not as rare as the previous two species. A little envious of this one, as I was trying hard the last two winters to add this species to my list. Good thing is that this sighting does present me with a glimmer of hope for the next couple of weeks!
I did manage to add one new species to my Bruneian list as well:
  • Crested myna (Acridotheres cristatellus). Two birds in the car park at the Bandar airport on October 20.
Also am fairly certain I saw a Common kestrel flying over the Seria grasslands. As I only got brief naked-eyed views from the car I am a little hesitant claiming this one, even though it's hard to imagine it being any other bird.

Folkert, 21/10/2012


  1. Nice records of sightings from Brunei.

  2. Thanks Wong. Weather permitting, I'll be checking out Wasan on Friday. Secretly hoping the lapwing is still around and will show itself... Also reminds me I still need to send you some pics!