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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Back in Brunei

I have been a little quiet the last couple of weeks, primarily because I was on leave. We spend some time in Europe with family and friends, which was very enjoyable. The winter weather was a nice change from the Bornean heat and humidity and even being snowed in for a day in the UK was fun.  Of course it is hard to complain with views like this:
View from our window, Cumbria (UK).
Maybe I ought to bring a proper camera next time: the snowy background could have made some pretty pictures of the local finches and robins!

Yesterday Kolbjorn and I went for some early morning birding in Teraja. Birding wise the morning was a hard going. There was loads of activity, but we only recorded very few species. The dense forest cover makes for difficult bird watching and the only reasonable picture I got is of this cicada.
Cicada sp.
This morning I spend some hours at KB road and around the Seria grasslands. This cinnamon bittern was trying hard not to be noticed!
Cinnamon bittern (Isobrychus cinnamomeus).
Usually there are some little ringed plovers around the ditches of the Seria estuary between September-April. This male is already in nice breeding plumage.
Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)
Another update is on the Malayan night heron. Since the encounter mentioned in a previous post I have now seen two other individuals around Panaga, all 3 birds within a 15 km. radius. This was the first one:
Juvenile Malaysian night-heron (Gorsachius melanolophus).
A second bird, also a juvenile, I saw a couple of days later roughly a kilometer away from the locality where I saw the first bird. Upon scrutinizing the pictures I am convinced that these are 2 different birds.
Juvenile Malaysian night-heron (Gorsachius melanolophus).
A third bird, an adult this time, was already seen by some friends of ours in their garden. Robert was kind enough to call me when he saw it one late afternoon. As soon as I arrived at his doorstep I noticed the bird running for cover. Despite some later attempts I never got the bird on camera. Luckily Kolbjorn did get a very good picture!
Adult Malaysian night-heron (Gorsachius melanolophus).
Picture by Kolbjorn Schjolberg, published with his permission.
The Malaysian night heron is normally considered a relatively rare migrant, and I had always thought that this species was a real specialty of Panaga. With 3 observations and reasonable certainty that it is still under sampled, this may actually be a fairly common migrant in the coastal areas of Brunei and Sarawak. Due to it's skulking and secretive behavior it is still a very tough bird though!

Coming weeks I'll likely support Wetlands International, see link, a couple of times as field assistant. The biodiversity surveys in support of an overarching wetlands conservation study for the Kuala Belait peatswamp will start this week. Hope that will turn up some good species!

Folkert, 03/03/2013.


  1. Hi Folkert, welcome back, I agree with your observation on Malaysian Night Heron being a rather common winter visitor. One in Tanjung Aru, Sabah was photographed recently.

  2. Hio sifu Wong,

    Fairly common in Brunei I think but not in Sabah ...

  3. Dag Folkert,
    Weer met plezier naar je foto's gekeken. Denk vaak terug aan de 2 tripjes langs de KB road.

  4. I may indeed have been a little too bold in my conclusion - this is probably still an uncommon to rare migrant, but it seems that some localities attract a couple birds - perhaps this is linked to the way they migrate? Rare, but locally uncommon may be a better qualification.

  5. Hi Folkert, yes, locally common along the northeast coast of Borneo. Cheers.