Thursday, January 21, 2016

Asian Waterbird Census 2016 in Johor

Picture of Small Pratincole as taken by Ang Teck Hin
Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2016 was carried out at Sungai Balang and Parit Jawa in Johor by myself and Ang Teck Hin. Worth getting up at 3am in the morning to see the Small Pratincole at Sungai Balang. I drove towards Muar from Kuala Lumpur using AMJ exit at Jasin. Took a short nap just before Jasin/Bemban exit after Ayer Keroh and reached Parit Jawa by 7.30am. We had breakfast at Parit Jawa with me ordering Lontong and Kopi O, Roti Canai and Kopi for Ang before starting our count at Sg Balang. THE BIRD OF THE DAY (probably also OF THE MONTH) for me was the Small Pratincole. Smaller than the Oriental Pratincole, this was a rare bird indeed for me. Birds of Thailand by Craig Robson (2002 edition) cover both these Pratincole species. We spotted three resting on the gravels of the road alongside the green paddyfields of Sungai Balang. Time for me to get a copy of Birds of Peninsular Malaysia Field Guide, to learn about their status in Malaysia.    

Jade Green Paddyfields of Sungai Balang on a hot Sunday morning. Wasn't windy. Comfortably counting the waterbirds in each paddyfield lot, together with Ang in his Four Wheel Isuzu from 9am onwards. Can you see the three Small Pratincoles (two standing and one sitting) in the picture below? These pratincoles were so well-camouflaged against the graveled road but thank goodness they flew off when I started walking towards them, so any cars, motorcycles or bicycles would make them fly out of harm's way.  

The starting point of our count at Parit Utama Parit Yusof. We exited from Parit Sarang Buaya (not sure what the "Kel." stands for).
Second count site was at Parit Jawa, Muar below. Low tide and some fishing boats were coming in from the Straits of Malacca. Total of 23 Species sighted (and counted) in Sungai Balang.

Ended our count at Parit Jawa, with 13 species sighted and counted. We had lunch at Chun Hui Restaurant. Our lunch bill was a whopping RM98, with the red snapper asam pedas at an eye-opening RM58. We manage to do some birdwatching at Pantai Penyengat Laut, Big Pond near Sungai Rambai Recreational Park and Sungai Rambai ricefields. Changeable Hawk-Eagle was perched on tree branch, flock of Bee-eaters with some spreading out their wings and basking in hot sun on the muddy road and flock of Black-Backed (purple) swamphen, common moorhen and egrets were seen within the Big Pond area. The Sungai Rambai ricefields were so peaceful and calm with sightings of the white-browed crake, water cock, lesser whistling duck, zitting cisticola, common sandpiper, cinnamon bittern, harrier (possibly Eastern Marsh), black-backed (purple) swamphen, common moorhen, white-breasted waterhen, egrets and purple heron. Calm and beautiful breeze was blowing in the late afternoon at the ricefields. We officially ended our birdwatching outing at around 5pm.


  1. Second trip to Sungai Rambai. Thanks to Ang Teck Hin, finally found the ricefields!

  2. Whoa the asam fish quite pricey. Must be CNY price since CNY is around the corner.

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  4. I use to go Muar on weekends during my teaching days. Muar bakery had very delicious cream puffs, back then.

  5. Asian Waterbird Census 2017 is around the corner. Dates announced in Wetlands International website at


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