Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Birding Hotspot at Langkawi Island - Part 2

On June 1st 2007, 3 sites in Langkawi was being listed in UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks. This is the first in Southeast Asia and Malaysia. Langkawi island is rich with geological, archaelogical, unique flora and fauna that many of them are of scientific value. These 3 Geoparks in Langkawi are

Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest
The Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park hosts the oldest geological formation in Malaysia dating from the Cambrian Period some 510 million years ago, when the earth was populated by an extensive invertebrate life form. Among the attractions created by recent geological processes are the Temurun and Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls, remnant islands of Anak Burau and Anak Datai and the tranquil beaches in Teluk Datai and Pantai Kok. Gunung Machinchang Forest Reserve hosts a treasure trove of unique flora and fauna. Visitors can chose to either trek on foot or take an exhilarating ride up in the cable car over the forest canopy, to the summit 709 metres above. From here, one can enjoy a panoramic view of Langkawi, Kedah on the mainland, and on a clear day, parts of southern Thailand. The Machinchang peak itself exhibits peculiarly chipped sandstone and the ridges are among the most beautiful landscapes on the island.

Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest
One of the most unique features of the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest is the Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden) that was formed when a huge limestone cave collapsed. The name is derived from the combination of marble and granite bedrocks, which formed into a figure resembling a pregnant woman lying on her back. Locals believe that the waters of the lake possess mystical powers that would enable a barren woman to be impregnated. The large mangrove forest flourishes along Selat Dayang Bunting (Dayang Bunting Straits) is another ecological attraction. Gua Langsuir (Cave of the Banshee) located on the western coast of Pulau Dayang Bunting is recommended only for experienced cavers. Negotiating its steep ascend demands great climbing skills and absolute physical fitness. The cave was thought to be the abode of the langsuir (banshee) because of the shrilling sound that emanates from its depth. It is shunned by the locals. The huge and gloomy chambers in the cave are actually home to thousands of bats.

Dayang Bunting is about the legend of a fairy princes married to a earthly prince. Her first child died, she burried her death child in that crystal clear waters of that lake. She also blessed the water so that whoever barren maiden bath in that lake would able to conceive.

Kilim Karst Geoforest
Karst topography is a landscape created by groundwater dissolving sedimentary rock such as limestone. This creates landforms such as shafts, tunnels, caves, and sinkholes. Groundwater seeps into and through these landforms. The result is a scenic landscape that is beautiful but fragile, and vulnerable to erosion and pollution. The Kilim Geoforest Park showcases a magnificent limestone formation, which dominates the eastern part of the island and those adjacent to it. Also in the area are the three river basins of Kilim, Air Hangat and Kisap and islands of Langgun and Tanjung Dendang. At certain spots along the river, they feed the eagles, which are found in great numbers here. Species include the white-bellied fish eagle, brahminy kite and the gigantic sea eagles. Kilim River is the perfect place for birdwatching during the migratory seasons from September till March. Caves are plentiful within the Kilim Geoforest and there are numerous ways to access them. Gua Buaya (Crocodile Cave) can be explored by boat, as the Kilim River flows into the cave. Visitors can walk on a wooden platform that cuts through the mangrove swamp to get into Gua Kelawar (Bat Cave), named after its inhabitants, the Malaysian Fruit Bats. Langkawi’s most famous cave Gua Cerita (Cave of Legends) is easily accessible by boat from Tanjung Rhu. On the walls of this cave are ancient Arabic inscriptions, believed to be verses from the Quran. Gua Pinang is located in an area which was submerged thousands of years ago, as indicated by an abundance of ancient seashells embedded in the cave walls.
The natural landscape of Langkawi are the results of ancient geological processes that has made the Langkawi Geopark what it is today -- a land where facts and fables, myths and history, culture and folklore; intertwined to mystify even to the seasoned traveller.

My field trip report birding at Kilim Karst Geoforest on 8th November.

Great chances to look out for Langkawi specialties birds are only in Kilim Karst Geoforest, therefore can omit the other 2 Geopark. Birding on this unique mangrove forest is on boat cruise. We booked Northern Rainforest Sdn Bhd contact person Rosli 019-4739158, 019-2076668, 017-4217912. Be advisable to pack along drinking water, wear long sleeves, hat to shed you from the hot sun. When you are there while waiting for the boat do take a look at some information available at the jetty.
You would be cruising along this river.
We heard of the Brown-Winged Kingfisher's call my heart was excited that is one of the target spp that I'm coming for. Not long after that someone said.. Look ... Look Brown Winged.....It is hard to take birds photos on a rocky boat. This migrant Common Kingfisher have indeed tremendous level of tolerance with us. The first boat was so near to it. This bird caught a prawn. Food processing it will hit it's prey to a hard surface numerous times. There after numerous time of hit it to a hard surface... finally it is ready to gulp down.
Not to frighten this bird. The first boat's man instruct his passengers to stay still with less movement.. I'm on the second boat... neverthless even though it is very hard to takes photo on a rocky boat.. I managed to takes some record shots. The only waders there is the Common Sandpiper. We encountered a few small flocks of the Red-Wattled Lapwing. In november the Mangrove Pit Viper is quite easily to be seen. They would twine up of it's glory for courtship display. As I'm aware that this is a very deadly poisonous to human. That moment I was very afraid that the boat accidentaly hit the base of the branches and the Mangrove Pit Viper is being invited in to the boat... We encountered 3 of them. as we cruise along this mangrove forest. Rare chance able to see this, I took a few shot even though I have snake phobia.. Brahminy Kite perched to display all of it's beauty. This is Jerdon's Baza. Chances of seeing Jerdon's Baza is much more easy here than Gunung Raya.
Another record shot of the Jerdon's Baza This intresting fruit is in cucumber/gourd family of plant that Dr Ruth Kiew is about to bring it back to the lab.
This is how the inside of the fruit looks like. Spent about 2+ hrs on the boat, Birds we saw and heard are as below
Brown-Winged Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Little Heron, Dollar Bird, Greater Flameback Woodpecker, Black-Caped Kingfisher, Red-Wattled Lapwing, White-Collared Kingfisher, Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo, Jerdon's Baza, Brahminy Kite.


ML said...

nice! I will be going to Langkawi for birding. ^0^

Anonymous said...

In Langkawi at moment from Ireland birdwatching. Great birding and I have got some great shots.
The whole environment here depends on the forest and the mangroves and I fear for north especially the exploitation of the forest by vandals and developers.
Otherwise it's just the most serene place to watch with really locally people.
William Joyce