Thursday, October 01, 2009

Matang with Nparks Volunteers - Day 2

It's Day 2 of the Matang Trip! We woke up rather early (around 6am) as we were going on a boat ride to do some bird-watching!

As we stepped into the jetty area, an Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) flew over our heads! While I had seen this hornbill before back in Singapore, it's still nice to see it here at Matang. Certainly a good start for our bird-watching trip!

At the jetty, we were divided into 3 groups for the boat ride. The boats we sat on were rather colourful actually.

We passed by rows of stilt houses as we headed out to the mangrove area.

There were a few fish farms along the way too.

One of the more common birds we saw was the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus). This bird of prey is usually a scavenger of dead fish and crustaceans, but sometimes hunts for fish and other small animals too.

According to some of the more seasoned bird-watchers, this was a juvenile Brahminy Kite.

As the boat moved on, we saw a few other birds, such as this Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos moluccensis). It was a rather active bird, pecking on the log while jumping around.

At one point, we saw at least 3 Lesser Adjutants (Leptoptilos javanicus) perching on the tall mangrove trees! This stork is called Burung Botak in Malay - "burung" means bird, while "botak" means bald. It's not difficult to tell how it got its name by looking at the photo above.

We saw many shore birds too, such as the redshanks, whimbrels, sandpipers, egrets and many kingfishers. Unfortunately, they were mostly too far away or too quick for my camera to capture.

At some parts of the river, Api-api Jambu (Avicennia marina) was the dominant mangrove tree. It just felt weird to see them every where, when back in Singapore they were so uncommon!

On our way back to the jetty, we saw a boat full of Blood Cockles (Anadara granosa) harvested by the villagers! Interestingly, Blood Cockles are not true cockles (Cardiidae), but belong to group of shells called ark shells (Arcidae). Apparently the angmos felt that these ark shells look like cockles when they first saw them. Anyway, taking a leaf out of Romeo and Juliet, a "see-ham" by any other name will taste just as good. I simply love blood cockles :P

After the boat ride, we went to the compound of a primary school for a break, before heading to the Wildlife Department for a talk.

Gary (the guide) had told us that he saw Milky Storks (Mycteria cinerea) a few days ago here. It appeared that the people here had been feeding them, so these uncommon birds have been returning. This one was just standing on the roof with a rather "stunted" look, like it's thinking, "Opps, where did I drop the baby?" Haha...

At the Wildlife Department, we were given a rather interesting talk on bird-watching and mangrove conservation at Matang, and also got to chat with a very enthusiastic nature volunteer (Mr Tan).

After the talk, we had lunch back at the primary school, and some of the volunteers noticed that the Milky Storks had decided to come down from the roof to feed! There were 6 of them altogether.

Their feeding behaviour was rather interesting. They dipped their beaks into the water, appearing to be feeling for things in the murky water. Once in a while, they would suddenly stop for quite a while, like they were waiting for something to happen. Eventually, when they found something to feed on, they will start pulling and munching.

This stork was busy scratching its head after feeding for a while. Not sure if something in the water got up into its feathers.

After lunch, Gary decided to change the programme and we were brought to Taiping to visit a war memorial for World War 2.

Then we headed to the foot of Maxwell Hill. This was certainly a nice detour, as we spotted a few interesting animals here, including a pair of majestic Rhinoceros Hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros)!

There was also a troupe of Dusky Leaf Monkeys (Trachypithecus obscurus), which looked like they were wearing white-framed spectacles! Haha...

Gary also brought us to visit the fishing village, and we were just in time to see the boats coming in, bringing with them loads of fresh prawns and other seafood.

We went into one of the shops, and saw these villagers busy sorting out the prawns, closely "supervised" by a black dog. Ok, was kidding about the dog :P

Outside the shops, all kinds of seafood were being dried under the sun, ranging from all kinds of fishes to shells and octopuses.

The visit to the fishing village certainly got us salivating for seafood! And we were brought to this popular Mee Udang shop! "Mee" means "noodles", and "udang" means "prawn". Just look at the bowl of Mee Udang I ordered! There were altogether 7 huge fresh prawns!

After the very satisfying meal of Mee Udang, we walked back to our chalets, only to find a Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) on a nearby tree! What a pleasant surprise! Unfortunately, somehow my camera can't seem to focus properly, and I only ended up with a few ok shots. This huge bird of prey is said to hunt for snakes and other reptiles to feed on, thus the common name "serpent eagle".

After dinner that evening, Angie wanted to take photos of the blooming Gedabu (Sonneratia ovata), and so I brought her to the area that I took the photos the night before. Some of the flowers had already bloomed, while others were only starting to bloom, like the one above. And even so, it had already attracted a potential pollinator - a moth!

Being a Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) lover, I decided to go to the boardwalk where I found a bud earlier that morning. It has bloomed too! But somehow, instead of having pinkish stamens like the one I saw last night, they were of a rich maroon. Could it be that this tree was on higher ground away from the brackish water, thus the difference in colour? Hmm... Guess only the experts will know...

I tried looking for more flower buds, and noticed that even the flower buds were more maroon than pink, compared to the ones I saw near the river.

Later, a few of us decided to wait near the Berembang, hoping to grab some photos of bats visiting the flowers. I saw a total of 3 bats visiting the flowers, but they were all too quick for us to properly focus and take any photos! Still, we were quite satisfied seeing the bats in action!

We eventually decided to go back to our rooms after waiting for a long while. Fortunately, the night was a much more peaceful ones, as Gary got us some mosquito coils this time round.

It was certainly a great day, completed with a good night's sleep! :P

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1 comment:

Jane said...

Ron, very good pics and observations. Thank you for sharing.