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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Birdrace Programme

Update on Bird Race 2011 - More prizes to be won!

Only 2 days to go before Bird Race 2011, and we have some exciting news!

Our Bird Racers now have a chance to win a pair of top-quality Leica binoculars worth RM3,000! These world-class optics are now part of our prizes as Leica joins us as a sponsor.  The bird race is still open for last-minute entrants.  

We also have a draw worth RM1,900 for a lucky visitor to Permai coming for the Talks and Workshops on the first day of the Event. So come early and register at Permai Rainforest Resort.  Registration starts at the Permai reception desk at 7.30am. The Opening address by YB Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip will begin at 8:30am and the talks will start at 9:15am.

On Saturday, visiting ornithologist  Nils Müller will answer many of your questions about different types of migrating birds.  Come and find out about Bird Migration.  We are very fortunate to be on one of the major migratory flight paths of these wonderful birds.  Flocks of migrating shorebirds can be seen in places like Bako-Buntal Bay, an internationally-recognized Important Bird Area close to Kuching

Our local speaker, Dr Charles Leh, is a recent recipient of the State Award Pegawai Bintang Kenyalang (PBK) for service to the Sarawak Museum as the Department’s Zoologist and Curator of Natural History.  Dr. Leh will talk about one of his areas of interest - The economic value of swiftlets in Sarawak. We invite you to get to know these fascinating little birds. Did you know that swiftlets fly the whole day without landing as they look for food? Did you know that swiftlet colonies can produce over a RM1.0 billion worth of nests a year? Come to find out more!

One of the world’s foremost hornbill conservationists, Dr. Pilai Poonswad, will share her experiences and success stories as leader of the Thailand Hornbill Project, one of the most successful hornbill conservation efforts in the world.  Dr Poonswad is currently a Professor of Biology at Mahidol University, Bangkok. She has received numeroushonors and awards, including the coveted Chevron Conservation Award and the ROLEX Award for Enterprise, for her scientific work and contributions to conservation. We are looking forward to her talk on her ongoing work for hornbill conservation in Thailand .

A famous photographer and writer from Singapore, Mr John Arifrin, will share his expertise on Wildlife picture taking.  His workshop will span two days with a classroom session at Permai on the first day and a practical session at Borneo Highlands Resort on the second day of the event. John Arifin travels across Asia documenting wildlife and culture, in search of a perfect moment to freeze in time. He contributes to local, regional and international magazines. We are very pleased that John has given up his weekend to come to Sarawak and to run a Wildlife and Bird workshop on how to capture those fantastic pictures.

No fees will be charged for the talks and workshops.

The Bird Race takes off on Sunday at Borneo Highlands!

The second day of the bird race will be held on Sunday (30 Oct) at Borneo Highlands.

The Racers will search for different bird species from 8am to 12 noon, recording their sightings in their log books for our three arbitrators to scrutinize.

While the racers are pursuing the birds, Jannie Tan and Dr. Chin will entertain the children. There will be games, arts and crafts, balloon twisting, face painting and many other enjoyable activities, designed so children between 4-10 years old can have fun while learning about nature.  Parents can leave their children with our volunteers in a secured classroom environment while they take part in our other organised activities. Registration starts at 8:00am.

For the general public, we have two types of nature walks (short and long) available for different fitness levels and preferences.  Our short walks will last about one hour, and are suitable for those who prefer to enjoy the beautiful environment and nature of Borneo Highlands along the easier trails.  Our long walks will last about 2 hours, and will be perfect for those who like more challenges and a greater exposure to nature.  Walkers are advised to dress comfortably, wear sturdy shoes and headgear, and bring drinks, sun block and insect repellent. Be prepared for wet weather.  Bring a change of clothes if you like.

Walks will start at 8am, and continue through the morning until 10am when the last walk will leave.

All walks will be led by trained volunteers from the Malaysian Nature Society, Kuching Branch.

Besides nature walks there are other planned activities, including a bird photo exhibition; talks; bird videos; binocular and scope display; and digiscoping demonstration and other events to enjoy throughout the morning.

A special talk on swiftlets will be presented by Dr. Lim Chan Koon at 12 noon.  Dr. Lim has a special interest in swiftlets, and earned his Ph.D working on the sustainable harvest and conservation of edible nest swiftlets (Aerodramus spp.) in Sarawak.  He has also worked in other areas of conservation, and was a senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology at UNIMAS.  Recently, Dr. Lim has decided to put his skills to business use, and has ventured into edible nest trade and production. He will share his experiences with us.

Complimentary return transfers will be available to take bird race participants up to the Resort.  Bird Racers must reach the foothill parking lot for transport to the resort before 7:30am.  Transfers start at 6:30am and continue at hourly intervals.

Non-racers and the general public will be allowed to drive up themselves with no entry charge, and to park their cars at the dedicated car park at the Resort.

For those who do not want to drive up to the resort, the taxi from the foothill parking lot costs RM15 per person each way in car pool system.

Other than the bird race, all the other activities organised will be offered for FREE to general public.

We hope all participants, whether racers or members of the public find our weekend activities worthwhile and enjoyable.  See you at the bird race this weekend!

For registration for the bird race, workshops, talks and other activities please call Susan Teal at 012-8874401 or Bernard Thian at 016-886 0139; you can also email us at sueteal2006@gmail.com or antwong@sareaga.com.  For more details and online registration, visit our facebook page at www.facebook.com/sarawakbirdrace.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sarawak Birdrace 2011, 29th-30th October

We would encourage people to register early for the events. Things begin early! 
Plan to arrive at Permai by 8am and if you are taking part in the Bird Race at Borneo Highlands be at the foothills by 7:30am.
There are scheduled shuttles from Kuching to Permai from all the major hotels. The trip from Kuching to Borneo Highlands : Drive towards Serian and look out for the sign on the road for Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. Turn right at the lights into Padawan town and follow the signs to Borneo Highlands. At the Foothills there will be transport available for RM40 return. If you are wanting to drive up in your own transport - you need to talk to Benard and give him your car number plate and IC . 

There are special group prices at the two Resorts over the Bird Race weekend. 
Contact Ian 013 8626487 and Benard  016 8860139 for the details. 

Looking forward to an interesting and busy weekend.

Conservating Nature 
Celebrating Life 

Susan Teal

MNS Kuching Branch
KBBG Secretary

BECAUSE BIRDS ARE IMPORTANT: Hear it from the experts!

It’s going to be a big weekend for birds when the 4th Sarawak Bird Race kicks-off on 29th October 2011 at the Permai Rainforest Resort, and then ‘migrates’ to the Borneo Highlands Resort on 30th October 2011.

It’s also promises to be a big weekend for bird and nature lovers alike.

John Arifin will run a workshop on using photography to capture wildlife and bird pictures. John is a Singapore-based nature and wildlife photographer and educator who travels across Asia to document wildlife, and the culture of Asia in search of a perfect moment to freeze in time. John had been to various parts of Sarawak & Sabah to explore the nature and birdlife of Borneo. One of the highlights of his trip to Sarawak was to photograph the extremely rare Dulit Frogmouth.

John believes that bird races have tremendous value. “They create awareness about birds and nature, they create fellowship between the keen and new birders, and they build friendships among bird lovers internationally,” he says, adding excitedly, “It’s great for tourism promotion!”

As a young lad, Nils Müller was enthralled by the eerie but fascinating Raptors while travelling through the Pyrenees, and his love for ornithology was sealed forever. A Biology graduate from Lund University in Germany, Nils specializes in Bird migration and Genetics, and will share his knowledge and experience about bird migration: why, when and how far they migrate, and how they orientate themselves along their migration route.

Nils believes that bird Races are a great way to draw attention to the diversity of birds that surrounds us. “Birds have the largest range of species on Earth and many of them are found in our own backyard! I like to think that learning about birds means learning to appreciate nature and its value to the society,” he says. Nils believes that having a majestic bird like the Hornbill on the Sarawak Flag shows the inspirational power birds can give. With their capability to fly and cover great distances, birds can serve as a great indicator of the state of nature for example, the effects of global warming and human impacts to the fragile environment. “As we struggle to save endangered birds, we may find that they could possibly provide solutions to save humankind from ourselves,” he concludes.

Other speakers who will be on hand to share their knowledge and experiences include:

a) Dr Pilai Poonswad from Mahidol University in Thailand who will speak about Hornbill conservation and especially about her work on building artificial nesting boxes for these majestic denizens of the tropical rainforest.
b) Dr. Charles Leh, Curator of Natural History & Zoology at the Sarawak Museum will present a talk about the “Sustainability of Swiftlets”.
c) Dr. Lim Chan Koon, an edible nest trader and producer who will speak about ‘Edible Nest Trading”.

Schedule of nature talks & workshops:

Saturday, 29th October 2011, Permai Rainforest Resort
Nils Müller: Bird Migration
Dr Pilai Poonswad: Hornbill Conservation
Dr Charles Leh: Sustainability of Swiftlets
John Arifin: Workshop on how to capture wildlife and bird photos

Sunday, 30th October 2011, Borneo Highlands Resort
Dr Lim Chan Koon: Edible Nest Trading

Friday, October 7, 2011

Trekking Up Bung Jagoi to the Old Kampong

DATE: Sunday 16th October 2011;  TIME:       08h30 - 14h00
WHERE TO MEET: Parking of Mini-zoo & Café @ Turn Red, Jalan Serikin, Bau

Bung Jagoi is a sandstone hill about 360 meters high, half-way between Kampong Serasot and Kampong Duyoh. The Jagoi Bidayuh tribe used to live at the top of the hill in Kampong Jagoi Gunong. Most of them have now moved down to Serasot and Duyoh. When we first visited Jagoi on Sunday 8th February 2009, there were still two families living up there in the old Kampong, but the Head of the Village, Tua Kampong Jagoi Gunong, Mr Odeka anak Dirop, was very sick and the traditional healer from Kampong Stass was visiting him. At our second visit more than two years later on Sunday 7th August 2011, we learned that he had died in the meantime and there was only one single lady, Jema, left by herself in the old Kampong. However, our friend, Miku from Duyoh, keeps a house next to hers and the villagers from Duyoh and Serasot still visit their orchards around the Old Kampong regularly and come back for the various “Gawia” ceremonies.

The trip is an easy trek, close to Kuching. In 2009, the hill was still a fairly wild place, only rarely visited by school-children, as commemorated by a panel reading “Pandu Puteri SMK Lake was here on 29.8.98”, although concrete steps had already been built as early as 23.9.1989! However, Yung Kong Hardware were known regularly taking their staff on visits to the old village.
On our more recent visit, we found a group of tourists brought by boutique hotels from Kuching. Obviously, the place has tourism potential and it is timely for MNS to visit it. The nearby market at Kampong Duyoh, and the zoo and cave at the Turn Red Café are also worth visiting on the way. 

  • 08.30: Meet on the car park at Mini-zoo & Café @ Turn Red, Jalan Serikin, Bau. Arrange car-pools as required.
  • 08.45 sharp: Leave from the meeting point in a convoy and drive until the SIB Church at Kampong Serasot.
  • 09.00: Regroup and park at the SIB Church. Briefing by William Ding, who will be leading the trek. Safety by Jacinta Wong, Registering of name and car number, signing of indemnity form by Kwan Cheong. From there, we take a small path through the fields to the hill a few minutes walk away. Steep climb up a path with typical Bidayuh wooden steps and rest benches, through tall fruit trees (durian, cempedak) with the occasional majestic tapang. We will also see some pitcher plant along the trail. Near the top, we will refresh at a lovely spring.
  • 10.45: We reach Kampong Jagoi Gunong, take a leisurely stroll in the village and pay our respects at the Shrine of the Skulls.
  • 11.15: Regroup and walk for the last stretch of path (about twenty minutes) to the summit of Bung Jagoi (359 meters) and to the balcony over-looking Kampong Serasot. Enjoy the view of the hills to the North. 
  • 11.45: Walk back to Kampong Jagoi Gunong. Have a well-deserved lunch. Madame Jema has offered to cook us some rice. William will cook Bidayuh delicacies. We will taste the local tuak. Take Group Photo.
  • 12.45: William will lead us back by the same path and on to a lovely stream near Serasot and then back to the car-park. Some of us may prefer to take the easy path direct to Kampong Duyoh and arrange to be picked up there later. The steepest parts on that side have convenient albeit sometimes slippery concrete steps. There is a small waterfall, popular with school-children near the road at Kampong Duyoh. Do not forget to register with Kwan if you choose that option.
  • 14.00: Regroup to check-out, then drive back to the Turn Red Café or go shopping for plants and vegetables at the roadside market in Kampong Duyoh, a typical Bidayuh village near Serikin.

 For your safety, the MNS-KB committee will not leave until all participants are checked out. HOW TO GET THERE
Both Kampong Duyoh and Serasot are easily reached from Kuching since the Serikin Road and the Stass Road have been tarred. The Turn Red Café is at about one hour's drive from Kuching. Take either the old road to Bau from Kota Sentosa or the new N1 road through Batu Kawa and turn left at the T-junction on the Bau-Lundu Road. At the traffic light, where the old and new roads to Bau join, take the Serikin Road (Jalan Station). Keep on the Serikin Road at the junction with the road to Fairy Cave. The Turn Red Café is on the left a few meters after that Junction.

There is ample parking space at the Turn Red Café. The Mini-zoo and the Cave are worth visiting to unwind after climbing Bung Jagoi!

Please bring along your camera, binocular, pocket-size note pad, hat, flip-flops, raincoat, insect repellent, extra clothes, lots of water, your own plates, cups and cutlery, biscuits for the trek.

Participation to expenses of RM5/- will be collected from Members. Non-members may join the trip but will be required to pay a total of RM10/- including that participation and an additional fee to the Society. Free for students.

For registration please contact Kwan at mnskuching@gmail.com. You will need to provide IC numbers and to sign an indemnity form. You will agree that he trip will be reported with photos in the MNS weekly column of the Borneo Post.
For more information about the trip please contact Georges Schneider at 012-886 0033 or Jacinta Wong at 012-886 2911