Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Global Big Day 2018 in Malaysia

Hadada Ibis at KL Lake Gardens on 5th May 2018
Red Junglefowl (Male)
Red Junglefowl (Female)
Woke up to an exceptionally sunny Saturday morning, 5th May 2018, which was just another weekend for us birdwatchers in Malaysia you might say, but that date would become globally significant for birdwatchers all over the world as it was celebrated as the Global Big Day. Cornell Lab of Ornithology initiated Global Big Day (GBD) since 2015. In 2017, 6,659 species were reported worldwide during GBD that was celebrated on 13th May. Malaysia recorded 380 species with 75 checklists submitted for GBD 2017 according to eBird website. That was good enough to put Malaysia at 17th position worldwide during initial results announcement by eBird. Malaysia was behind India's 11th position, with India having recorded 554 species with 999 checklists. 

Green-billed Malkoha 
A pair of Yellow-Vented Bulbuls looking at me counting them on GBD 2018
I spent my GBD 2018 counting at three (3) sites, the first site being KL Lake Gardens (Perdana Botanical Gardens) with my childhood friend Kalpana. My friend had worked in KL Sentral area for several years and knows her way around the Lake Gardens very well. Seems we had covered only 25% of the Lake Gardens that Saturday morning. Quite a number of the birds seen that morning were very busy looking for food, including the Green-billed Malkoha that had a big fat juicy green insect in its beak. The Hadada Ibis, which had eluded me in my previous visits to KL Lake Gardens was busy digging and prodding the grassy grounds for beetles and worms - it had successfully dug up an earthworm later that day. Am over the moon to have spotted this Ibis from Africa on Global Big Day 2018 - what a day it was to have finally ticked it off my list! Checklist for birds of KL Lake Gardens have been entered HERE.

We ended our birdwatching session around 10.30am on a hot morning before heading off for a hearty lunch at Pretz and Beans. My friend bade farewell and I went solo as I continued my GBD 2018 count at the second site in the afternoon. It was raining heavily in Kuala Lumpur by early afternoon as I had just completed refueling my car in Desa Sri Hartamas area. It was almost 3.30pm when I reached Dengkil, Selangor, where my second birdwatching destination was at. Time to look for some wetlands birds!     
Juvenile Coppersmith Barbet was busily exploring the contents of this tree hole in Paya Indah
Black-backed Swamphen (split from Purple Swamphen) at Paya Indah Wetlands

The second site, Paya Indah Wetlands was hot, dry and very sunny - a complete contrast from the dark rainclouds that had descended upon KL and Petaling Jaya. Paya Indah Wetland Park is considered a premier eco-tourism park covering 3,100 hectares according to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's website. I was about to make my way out of the trail alongside Typha Lake since it was already 6.05pm when the soft calls of a flock of geese flying round and round this end of the lake stopped me in my tracks. The arrival of these Cotton Pygmy Geese was enough to delay my exit from Paya Indah Wetlands for a good 30 minutes. I was also searching for the Lesser Whistling Ducks, of which only two were flying around the lakeside later that evening after I had spotted one hiding inside the tall grasses at the edge of Typha Lake, earlier. These waterfowl species proved the most challenging for me since they were quite late in arriving (tardy waterfowl!).     
Black-crowned Night Heron
This Nile Crocodile behaved like a log
as it approached tree filled with the
Black-Crowned Night Herons 

The Checklist submitted for Paya Indah is available HERE.

The last bird heard and seen on 5th May 2018 was the Large-tailed Nightjar - it was a lucky find for me as I had decided to stop at one final (and third) count site to do nocturnal birding alongside a road in Cyberjaya, a place more well-known for MSC-status companies, Global Call Centres, Universities and Data Centres. Just had dinner at Cyberjaya's Padi restaurant until it was almost 8.30am when I decided to take a chance and try to spot either a nightjar or a Barn owl since Cyberjaya was still surrounded by remnants of oil palm plantations. I had seen nightjars flying across road leading to the Selangor Turf Club roundabout nearby Mines Waterfront Business Park especially in the evenings when I leave my office. The third and final checklist submitted to eBird on 5th May 2018 is available HERE.
Cornell's Global Big Day 2018 was also up in Google Maps (see below) before 5th May to ramp up support amongst birdwatchers worldwide, and to get ready for the Big Day! 


  1. Nile crocodiles are very ferocious predators in Africa. Wildebeests that migrate across savannah will cross rivers full of such crocs with some being eaten

  2. Vultures in Kenya, Africa are facing man-made threats. Read on at


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