By Cheong Ah Kwan
There are thousands of groups dedicated to bird watching all over the world. These birding groups range from small, informal gathering of friends to large organizations that hold annual conventions. There is no doubt that bird watching has become an increasingly popular activity enjoyed by many. In the United States alone, birding is now a hobby for more than 45 million Americans and the number of birders is continuously on the rise.
In Malaysia, birding has become a popular hobby. The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is instrumental in promoting the activity and has even managed to put Fraser’s Hill on the map as an international birding destination. Among the better known birding festivals celebrated in Malaysia each year are the Raptor Watch, Festival of Wings and Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race.
For the past eight years, the Malaysian Nature Society in partnership with the Malacca State Government has organized an event in early March known as Raptor Watch at Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson. The event aimed at raising awareness on the conservation of raptors and their habitats has gained a growing number of followers over the years with bird watchers from all over the world coming to watch the thousands of Oriental Honey Buzzards and Japanese Sparrowhawks make their annual migratory flight home to the north.
Festival of Wings, held in October at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, is hosted by the Malaysian Nature Society in celebration of local and migratory birds. Besides bird watching, the event offers an appealing day out for the family and is fast gaining popularity among the locals.
PRETTY BIRDIE: The pygmy white-eye is one of several
birds found only in mountainous areas. — Photo by Yeo
In 1988, Fraser’s Hill held its inaugural bird race with just five teams of three. Yes, fifteen participants in all. No one could have guessed then that the event would take off to become a top tourism product. The Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race 2008, the 21st in its series, had well over two hundred teams! The event has certainly grown by leaps and bounds and is now a major attraction on the tourism calendar.
Come this October, the Malaysian Nature Society in partnership with the Borneo Highlands Resort will hold their third annual bird race on the island of Borneo. The resort provides birders with easy access to sub-montane bird species found on the Penrissen Range. Now birders will be looking at birds from the sea shore to the mountain ranges – Buntal Estuary is an Important Bird Area for migratory birds and two National parks near Kuching will be included - Kubah and Semenggoh. This will add to the challenge of 3 days of bird watching.
Find out more on www.birdrace2010.borneohighlands.com.my