Friday, February 18, 2011

Sarawak: A Morning at Matang

For my last bit of Malaysian birding for 2010, Kho took me out for a morning run to the Matang Wildlife Centre west of Kubah National Park.  It was a short excursion, but it did yield a few final photographs.

Matang holds a number of native animals in captivity in addition to sitting on the edge of the same rainforest that fills Kubah National Park. Here is a muntjac or barking deer, probably the widespread common muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak)  Borneo has another species, with unbranched antlers and a yellowish coat: the Bornean yellow muntjac (M. atherodes), a much scarcer animal, confined to Borneo, and only described in 1982.

Here is a Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu), rather sad-looking after the wild birds I had seen only a few weeks earlier in Sabah.

It is difficult to get very far into the forest at Matang, so Kho and I confined our activities to the edges around the sanctuary headquarters. Here we came across a lovely green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella).

The most interesting birds of the morning were a trio of Buff-necked Woodpeckers (Meiglyptes tukki). The Buff-necked is one of a number of small tropical Asian woodpeckers that spend most of their time exploring small twigs in the canopy instead of trunks and large limbs.  The presence of birds like these side by side with more typical, trunk-climbing species may explain why Malaysian forests are able to be home to so many kinds of woodpeckers.

By "forests", of course, I mean intact forests. Though widespread in southeast Asia and still common in some areas, the Buff-necked Woodpecker cannot survive the clearing of its forest habitat. It has already been classified as Near Threatened by Birdlife International.

A few days after my trip to Matang, it was time for Eileen and I to leave Malaysia for another year, with fond thoughts for all our friends and family there and for everyone who had helped me get out into the wilderness (and have found themselves, willy-nilly, portrayed in these pages).

For readers of these posts, this is far from the end of my 2010 wanderings - I am still trying to play catch-up, even as Eileen and I prepare to leave, in a few days, on another round of travel that will take us, all being well, back to Malaysia again. Our next stop on these pages (and some eight months after the fact) will be far to the north, in China.

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