Monday, April 5, 2010

Tanjung Tuan/Rachado Cape - Important Bird Area

Tanjung Tuan or Rachado Cape as it was formally known. It is with the cor-ordinate of N 02 24 468 E 101 51 130 is the site of the oldest lighthouse in Malaysia.

After Portugal conquered Malacca, Cape Rachado this strategic place was chosen to build a lighthouse facing straits of Malacca to guide it's ships. Sometimes between 1528 and 1529 a lighthouse was built. Till to date this lighthouse is still functioning and it is use to guide the heavy sea traffic at straits of Malacca. Straits of Malacca is a narrow stretch of sea that divide West Malaysia and Indonesia.

Besides being a historical place it is also of the last remaining coastal forest on west coat of Peninsular of Malaysia. It was first gazetted in 1921 with the areas of 80.97. However by year 2002 re gazetted has been made and the actual area were 75.92 hectares.Due to it is situated in the East Asian-Australia flyway for Raptors migrations. This very small remaining patch it is being recognized as an Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The IBA Programme of BirdLife International is a worldwide initiative aimed at identifying and protecting a network of sites, critical for the conservation of the world's birds.
An Important Bird Area (IBA) is an area recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations. Currently there are about 10,000 IBAs worldwide. The program was developed by Bird Life International. IBA sites are determined by an internationally-agreed set of criteria.

Every year around February till early April on an average each day there are about 1,000 to 2,600 raptors fly past Tanjung Tuan as a seasonal movements from Pulau Rupat (Indonesia).
The reasons they migrate are due to escape from the cold winter where their food sources disappear. Some will wintering along their fly path and the furthest place they choose will be Indonesia. When spring are approaching these Raptors will make their annual migration back to their breeding ground in Japan, Northern China, Siberia, Korea and Mongolia due to the food source to raise their young.

Due to their huge and heavy body is quite a cumbersome task for this annual event that they must undertake, they will choose the easier and most flapping economical methods. Tanjung Tuan facing Pulau Rupat Indonesia is the shortest distance to the next mainland. It is also a small green lung that can provide a brief rest for them if the situation arise.

Importance to Conserve Raptors.
Raptors are good indicators of the health of our ecosystem environment. For example the decline of Brahminy Kite will linked to the disappearance of mangrove forest. The disappearance of mangrove forest will also resulted harm to mankind as there is no protection from the strong tidal waves such as Tsunami. Many raptors diets are rats and snakes therefore they are our natural pest control.

Realising the importance of raptors with the uniqueness migration phenomena at Tanjung Tuan, Malaysia Nature Society Bird conservation council held the first raptor watch week in 2000 to create public awareness and educate the importance of raptors. This annual event that normally held on the 2nd weekend of March since then is also aimed to highlight the importance of conserving Tanjung Tuan as a migration site. The annual Raptor Watch event is also a eco-tourism event and it has attracted foreign and local naturalist and bird watchers to congregate together to witness the beauty and awesome Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black Baza, Grey Faced Buzzard, Chinese Sparrowhawk and Japanese Sparrowhawk as they journey thousand of miles back to their breeding ground.

In line with the other raptor watch sites throughout the world, we also do raptors migrations census at Tanjung tuan to contribute to the study and behaviours of migratory raptors.

As of 4th of April 2010 the final figure is 73,152 raptors
As of 31st of March the total number of raptors 71,000
As of 25th of March the total number of raptors 67,593
As of 19th of March the total number of raptors 55,629
As of 16th of March the total number of raptors 40,656
As of 14th of March the total number of raptors 33,883
As of 13th of March the total number of raptors 31,405
As of 8th of March the total number of raptors 27,210

My field trip reports
I utilised part of my 7 days brought forward last year annual leave as a raptor counter at Tanjung Tuan from 23rd of March till 29th of March. This past 7 days at the lighthouse is indeed a total switch from the busy schedule at office to the relaxing duties of look out for raptors fly past. Some days where the weather are not favourable there would be no Raptors fly past. Below are some of my photos that I managed to take. I miss a lot of golden photography opportunities cause I discovered that the Auto Focus from my lens is not functioning.

This particular fruiting tree attracted Plantain Squirrels, Black Banded Squirrels, Olive Winged Bulbul, Yellow Vented Bulbul.
During the time of my volunteering for raptor counting is actually near to the tailed end of raptors migratory, therefore we noticed less Oriental Honey Buzzard. We have a few flocks of Black Baza. I do recall we got a surprise as we look through our binoculars cause in one of the flock it is actually a mixture of a few Oriental Honey Buzzard, majorities of Black Baza and a few Chinese Sparrowhawk. Lucky on that particular day we have a few Raptors Counters cause some of us can count on different species.
Oriental Honey Buzzard comes in variant of colours eg Pale morph, Dark Morph.

Occasionally we have a few fly past within a zoom lens reach. We even can noticed the colours of it's eyes as well eg red eyes or yellow eyes. This bird have yellow eyes.
OOps ... AAARgh a long big snake ????While we looking out for raptors in the sky one of our teammates spotted a “long big snake” Look through the binoculars OOOOh My is a crocodile. Sungei Linggi is where crocodile can be found., this being stray one could have cause by disturbance that make it wonder out from it’s cozy home. Have we ever ponder why a wild crocodile need to escape out from it's comfort zone ?

The list of birds I heard and saw at Tg Tuan.
Black Naped Oriole, Purple Throated Sunbird, Olive Backed Sunbird, Black Baza, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Grey-Faced Buzzard, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Frigatebird, Common Tailorbird, Banded Kingfisher, Olive-Winged Bulbul, Yellow-Vented Bulbul, Brahminy Kite, White Bellied Sea Eagle (Adult and Juvenile), Common Myna, Javan Myna, Changeable Hawk Eagle (dark & pale morph), Common Iora, Black Headed Munia, Blue Throated Bee eater, Blue Tailed Bee eater, Red Eyed Bulbul.

My lifer is the Lanceloted Warbler sighted on 24/3/2010 @ 10:16am –field mark
Grey in colour (maybe due it is perched under the shade of leaves), scally back, frontal straight stripe like juvenile asian glossy starling, white eye browed. Call is a cat-cat -cat-cat (continuously), There is no photograph opportunities at that moments.


terence said...

Nice raptor photo and observation.

wondersf said...

After a long search, I've found you and linked. Cannot run away this time!

squirrelprof said...

Great pictures! I am a coauthor of a new book through a non-profit University press titled Squirrels of the World. We are hoping to get photos of every species of tree, ground and flying squirrel, chipmunk, marmot and prairie dog worldwide. We have more than half of the 280+ species but lack many of the moderate to small species from SE Asia...we have the giant squirrels and the large flying squirrels already. We do not have have funds to pay nor provide free books to the 300+ photographers but are looking for people who might wish to contribute a photo for a credit in the book and a digital copy of the pages on which they our incredible gratitude. If you are interested and would like to see a list of the species for which we still need species, please email me at my University of Arizona address:


No matter what...thanks for the wonderful photographs.

John Koprowski, Professor
School of Natural Resources and the Environment

Siti said...

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