Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kuala Gula Teeming with Birds and Wildlife (via Boat Cruise)

My apologies for being absent for three weeks. The apology is to myself for a start, at least. Besides the normal excuse of being extremely busy with work, I was away for five days at Kuala Gula Mangroves, Perak since Oct 19. This is my second visit to Kuala Gula for this year and a fantastic one.
We didn't get to go round the mangroves on a boat on the previous visit. On this second visit, we managed to hire a fisherman's boat with our chalet owner as our skipper for three hours on the third day. We set off before 8:00am and the tide was going out. The day was hot with blue sky.

Among the mangroves of Peninsula Malaysia, Kuala Gula is one of best spot to find assortment of kingfishers. Especially from October onwards, it is the beginning of the birds migratory season.

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). Common yet uncommon.

Stock-Billed Kingfisher (Halcyon capensis)

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) Eventhough this can be seen everywhere but it is still appealing. 

Black-Capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)

Kuala Gula also have plenty of White Throated Kingfishers (picture not taken) in the inner land.  They usually can be found along the main road and perched on the cables or poles next to the palm oil plantation.

Coming together with these migatory birds are the egrets and herons.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) on the mudlflat

Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) wading.

Grey Heron (Andrea cinerea)

Other waders were Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Plover family. Then, there was a bird larger than the Great Egrets. We were so fortunate to see this one.

Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) or known as "Burung Botak" in Malay.

And of course, the top predator bird - the Raptor:

Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus). Juvenile on the left and Adult on the right.

Brahminy Kites are scavengers. Besides going for their own hunt, they are willing to wait for fishermen to haul up the net for assortments of seafood treats. One example can be seen here. 

Brahminy kites "natural" feeding. Wouldn't Langkawi can be a better place for eco-tourism if the relevant authorities would follow the example of Kuala Gula??

White Bellied Sea Eagles were around but not as frequent as Brahminy Kites and the Crested Serpent Eagle.

Besides the birds, there were other wildlife "treats" as well.

 A Long Tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) hunting for crabs on the mudflat at low tide. Can you spot her baby?

This family of reptile can be seen almost everywhere. This Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) here is enjoying its sunbathing moment. It was not bothered at all as we cruised past.

 A Mangrove horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) was caught by a fisherman and later was thrown back into the water. 

 Smooth Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) swimming shyly away from us.

Eventhough the skipper told us that the population of Giant Mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri) had reduced in numbers, they still can be seen almost everywhere in Kuala Gula mangroves.

 Unidentified crab spewing out bubbles. I have no clue why is it doing that.

The unexpected treat was the DOLPHINS!! Our boat headed out of the tributary as we wanted to check out the opposite side. Thanks to the low tide on the other side, the skipper was cruising slowly at the river mouth. The river was still calm and it was quiet until I caught a glimpse of it.

 A dolphin's tail flipped over the still calm water.

 What dolphin is this? I need help to ID this dolphin. Its dorsal fin had a pink tip.

The three hour boat ride kept us busy looking thru the binoculars, jotting down notes and taking pictures. The wildlife here is simply awesome. The right timing did help us a lot. Because the tide was going out, this situation allowed feeding activity for the wildlife. On this day, 21st October 2009, the lowest tide was estimated to be slightly below 0.50m.

The abundance of wildlife in Kuala Gula owes itself to the minimum commercialisation for tourism. In return, the mangroves supplement great income to the livelihood of people in Kuala Gula. Most of the industries here are heavily dependent on the products from the mangroves such as shrimps, cockles, crabs and other sea related products.

  Flat short trees yet awesome


  1. Wow, this is truly awesome! Dolphins!

  2. Ria;
    Do you happen to know the species of this dolphin?

    Is really an awesome place to visit. People are generally friendly (having Mandarin speaking ability is a valuable advantage). You will love it here.

  3. Oh dear, I'm not too good with ID of dolphins. So sorry about that.

  4. Ria,
    Is ok... i'm trying my luck..

    Do you happen to know any experts in marine fishes? Meanwhile, i'm asking around too.

  5. Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin. ( Sausa chinensis or S. plumbea ) i think!. Need better pic. One of my guest that i bring last time research dolphins, pinkish one belong to this group.

  6. Thank you, Kulark for your infor.

    Btw, is that a toad/frog on your id pic?
    I saw that thing too. You got the id of that frog/toad?


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