Friday, May 5, 2023

WBCM Daytrip to FRIM in conjunction with the Citizen Science Project

On the 25th of March, about 20 WBCM members participated in a birdwatching collaboration with 4 staffs from FRIM Research Unit as part of the Citizen Science Project collaboration that has been ongoing between WBCM and FRIM for the past year. WBCM has been assisting FRIM by conducting monthly bird surveys in a targeted area in FRIM called Paya Burung since August of 2022. The bird survey on 25th of March included Paya Burung as well.

Our members gathered at about 7.15 am at a carpark in FRIM. We started our birdwatching session at 7.30am accompanied by staff from FRIM. This trip was being led and coordinated by Andy and myself. At the start of the birding session, we came across a mini bird wave with some interesting sightings. Among the notable sightings were that of the Buff-necked Woodpecker, Buff-vented Bulbul, Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker and Stripe-throated Bulbul. A number of cuckoo species were active as well. The Plaintive Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo were heard very frequently and a Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo was seen.

As we headed deeper into FRIM, we came across several other birds such as the Blue-winged Leafbird, Chestnut Breasted Malkoha and Banded Woodpecker. At one point in our walk, everyone suddenly saw a raptor flying by. Many members rushed to take photos of the flying raptor. After a short discussion based on the photos taken, our raptor expert Terence Ang confirmed that the bird was none other than the Osprey! Many members obtained their first lifer of the day! Most likely the Osprey was a passer by going to another place as there are no large water bodies in the surrounding area. It was a good find indeed!

Deeper inside, we came across a fruiting tree where several more bird species were seen. However, the trees were quite high up, so our views were limited. As we went deeper, we came across another fruiting tree. This tree was much better as it was lower and we had better views of the birds here. There was a short rain spell of about 10 minutes. During this time, many of us took shelter under the buildings at FRIM while some members brought out their umbrellas. After the rain, there was a bird wave with many birds heading to the fruiting tree. Here, we managed to get some good views of some really beautiful birds including the Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet and Scaly-breasted Bulbul. The star bird of the day was the elusive Yellow-crowned Barbet. Many members saw a lifer after seeing this rare and elusive bird!

After the good bird wave, we decided to head back to the carpark. During the journey, as luck would have it, we will come across another major sighting. Perched on a bare branch, we managed to see a Rufous-bellied Eagle! Everyone had a good look of the bird. Many members managed to get some photos and videos of the bird in different angles. We finally gathered near the carpark at one of the huts to do our bird list for the day. As we counted the number of birds seen, we were quite happy to have seen and heard around 60 species for the trip. We also agreed to submit the data to FRIM in order for them to use the data for their conservation efforts! 

The ebird checklist for the survey can be found in the below link:

In conclusion, it was a very fruitful session in FRIM. Many of our Wild Bird Club Members were very happy to be involved in a Citizen Science Project. We were also happy to exchange our knowledge and experience with the staff from FRIM who also benefitted a lot from this session. We look forward for more collaboration with FRIM for future projects.

Photo credits : Lee Yue Teng, Mah Foong Sein, Teoh Teik Hoon, Terence Ang Wai Sheng

Report by Ashwin Kalai Chelvan