WHAT is a Bird Race? It is a race from sea to mountain to see how many different types of birds that teams of two can spot in four sites around Kuching, over a set time. All are invited to join the fun and excitement of Bird Races.
However, there is a serious side. The data collected provides wildlife researchers with background information on bird populations and an understanding of their dynamics, for example fluctuations in populations and species composition.
Our dedicated experts will lead the way beginning with a briefing at the startingpoint, Buntal. After a talk on the water birds to be seen in the area, Bird Racers will head off to Kubah National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and on to the final destination in the Borneo Highlands. Each area has unique flora and fauna — including birds.
Buntal, an Important Bird Area (IBA) is 35km north of Kuching on the way to Damai and Mount Santubong. Recognised IBAs have large numbers of threatened orendemic birds and are key biodiversity areas.
For example, Buntal is a key rest area for migratory shore birds on their way south to overwintering grounds, but resident species, such as the Malaysian plover can be found all year. The shore birds come for the rich feeding grounds because it is a coastal wetland subject to bi-directional tidal currents.
Kubah National Park, the next stop, 20km west of Kuching, is dominated by a sandstone plateau is situated near the Matang Mountains — Serapi, Selang and Sendok. It is Mixed Dipterocarp Forest with an abundance palms and orchids cloaks the mountains. There are four trails. It takes five to six hours to hike to the summit of Mount Serapi. The walk to the waterfall is about two hours. The park is rich in birds including the black hornbill, great slaty woodpecker and the Argus pheasant.
The small 653ha Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is famous for the Orangutan Rehabilitation Programme but it also has a wide range of wildlife including many birds. The main vegetation types are primary Lowland Mixed Dipterocarp Forest with Meranti and Engkabang tree, old secondary forests and patches of kerangas forest.
The palm Areca ahmadeii is endemic to the reserve. There are five nature walks and each has a different theme for example wild fruit gardens featuring cempedak and durian species and an ethnobotanic garden. Birds seen here include black partridge,long-billed partridge, honeyguide and Bonaparte’s nightjar.
The Borneo Highlands, about an hour’s drive south of Kuching, is in the Penrissen Range that is recognised internationally as an IBA by Bird Life International, a global partnership of conservation groups. It sits at 1,000 metres above sea level on the Sarawak-Kalimantan border. The vegetation of the mountain changes as the height above sea level increases. In the foothills, much of the land is farmed or has been farmed, however towards the higher elevations tree ferns and other species that are indicative of Lower Montane Forest become more prevalent. The number of species of birds decreases, but in contrast the endemism increases and some species that lucky Bird Racers may glimpse are fruithunter, Everette’s white-eye, cinnamon rumped trogon and mountain wren-babbler.
For a more complete list of possible birds that Bird Racers might see go to
www.worldbirds.org/ malaysia. Are you up to the challenge? To join the Bird Race or to get more information go to www.birdrace2010.borneohighlands.com.my
or contact Bernard via benard@borneohighlands. com.my.