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Monday, 3 December 2012

A day in Brunei and some casual birding

My baby boy has attracted a lot of family visits recently and these two weeks my dad is over from Holland. Initially we had planned a little trip to Temburong during his stay, but later decided to stay closer to home and make a little day-trip to Bandar instead. The trip was not intended as a birding trip, but perhaps I could still casually 'score' a bird or two.

So yesterday we took out the car for a little "tour de Brunei". Our first stop was at the Wasan rice fields. The paddy fields must have been recently harvested. Most plots where either flooded or a had a new crop growing. I soon noticed a couple of wandering whistling ducks in one of the side canals.
Wandering whistling-duck (Dendrocygna arcuata).
The wet patches provided some good foraging grounds for plenty of birds. I counted more than 20 black-winged stilts and also noticed some marsh sandpipers.
Marsh sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis).
This great egret was very busy trying to swallow it's prey and hardly minded me getting any closer. The fluffy, drenched ball between the egret's bill is a common moorhen chick. The chick got dunked frequently back in the water and it took several minutes before the meal finally went down the hatch, whole.
Great egret (Ardea alba).
Great egret (Ardea alba).
Great egret (Ardea alba).
Despite the heat there seemed to be plenty of birds around. We didn't stay however and headed to Bandar for some lunch. My dad needed little persuasion to try KB's sister sushi-outfit in Bandar and the fish was very tasty!

After lunch we made our way to some viewpoints overlooking Brunei bay. Along the road I noticed this Common myna. I did know there was a feral population in Bandar and I suspect that these birds are not that uncommon around the capital. Still, I had yet to see one and this is a new species for my Brunei list.
Common myna (Acridotheres tristis)
I promised my dad a boat ride on the Brunei river. Despite having lived 3 years in Brunei, I had actually never taken a boat trip along Kampong Ayer and the Sungai Brunei mangroves. This was finally going to change!

There are plenty of boat-taxis around to ferry people back and to Kampung Ayer and take tourists out to the mangroves looking for Proboscis monkeys. Unfortunately these monkeys are classified as endangered due to, primarily, habitat loss, but there is still a small population around Bandar. The Proboscis is also known as Orang Belanda ("Dutchman") in Malay because of the likeness to the big bellies and noses of my ancestors. Luckily nowadays me and my fellow countrymen are all very slim with tiny, petite noses... 
Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus).
There was more to see along the riverbanks. This little heron did not mind the approaching boat and I got some good close-ups, even though the rocking boat meant I could delete most of the pics.

little heron (Butorides striata).
little heron (Butorides striata).
The boatman was a little too enthusiastic in his approach when I spotted a common kingfisher and asked if we could try to get a little closer. The kingfisher immediately bolted. The shapes in a couple of bare distant trees appeared to be two uncommon winter visitors: a female Osprey and a Peregrine falcon enjoying some leisure time in the afternoon sun.

Peregrine falcon and Osprey.
On our way back to Bandar we passed a group of terns sitting on a small wooden construction in the water providing some great picture opportunities. I struggled a little with a quick identification, but am fairly certain these are whiskered terns. Primarily because of the relatively heavy bill and lack of distinct "headphones" that can be expected on white-winged black tern. Of course I should also have payed a little more attention to the color of the rump when some birds flew of...
Whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida).
Whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida).
Whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida).
I am planning a trip to Bukit Pagon (highest peak in Brunei) with some friends in two weeks from now.  Very much looking forward to that!

Folkert, 03/12/2012


  1. Hi, Folkert, Wat geniet ik van je blog. Prachtige foto's. Leuk al je beschrijvingen waar en hoe je de vogels opspoort. Ik heb er al een klein beetje van mogen proeven. Heel graag zou ik nog een keer zo'n tripje je met je doen!? Het kan natuurlijk ook als jullie in Nederland zijn. Hier op het wad zijn ook de meest mooie vogels, maar ze kunnen niet tippen aan met de vogels van Brunei/borneo met hun prachtige verenkleed

  2. Dank ma! We zien je over een paar weekjes :-)