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Mangroves

Mangroves

The time had been chosen to coincide with low tide, with the boat trip being in the mangroves adjacent and just to the South of the hotel. We took a short walk along the beach, and then cut through the dry forest to find the jetty after only 100m or so of walking. After donning our life jackets, we stepped down into the motorised boat to look presumably for the more diurnal of the two otter species present here, the Hairy-nosed Otter. The Short-clawed Otter is apparently more of a nocturnal beast. We were aware of the fact that otters are difficult to see, and more likely to be missed than to be spotted. The one and a half hour “cruise” through the mangroves was very enjoyable, no doubt helped by the lack of any appreciable number of biting insects, and the rain forecast kept at bay. Most obvious birds along the waters edge were Little Egrets, interspersed with small numbers of Great Egrets, Striated Herons, and Common Sandpipers, the latter more often seen in flight than bobbing along. The outing was also predictably good for kingfishers, the most obvious being the very large Stork-billed Kingfisher, and although seen a few times in flight, it was much more reluctant to stay perched as we approached quietly in the boat. We did steer quite close to one bird which was sat about 5m above the water. There were very few passerines in the mangroves, apart from a handful of Common Ioras. Collared Kingfishers were either seen flying briefly across the water, or calling from the depths of the vegetation. Only 2 other species of note were seen. A White-breasted Waterhen was very elusive amongst the mangrove roots close to the edge of the mud, and further into the mangroves, raiding one of the man made pens, was a Rufous Night-heron. These are very uncommon in the area, so it was pleasing to see this unplanned visitor keep returning to the same stockade on our return, and even perch on the perimeter fence before moving on.

Rufous Night-heron

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Rufous Night-heron

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Mangroves

Since we missed otters on our first trip into the mangroves, we returned for an afternoon search. Despite this again being unsuccessful or otters, it did turn up one or two new birds. Part of the reason for this might have been that we took a different route – this time we headed downriver towards the sea, and then turned into a smaller channel adjacent to the Rasa Ria resort golf course. Collared Kingfisher replaced Stork-billed as the most common kingfisher this time – only one of the latter was seen as we exited the boat. A pair of Chinese Egrets was also identified feeding on one of the exposed mud banks. They closely resemble Little Egret, apart from yellow-olive legs. After a short stroll along the sand on the opposite side of the channel to our hotel, our initial return in the boat found a Dollarbird perched at the top of one of the bare trees above the mangroves.

Otter

Hairy-nosed Otter

Not so much out of desperation, but more for enjoyment and as a break in the day, we decided on a third and final otter search. The route we took was that of the first trip – upriver into the mangroves, and the chances of seeing any otters seemed even less when the guide proclaimed that the tide wasn’t favourable. As the channels narrowed, we had ticked off Stork-billed & Collared Kingfishers, as well as an elusive Yellow Bittern, which was so much smaller than the earlier Cinnamon Bitterns. Passing one of the mangrove dwellings, we picked up a Hairy-nosed Otter quite close to the boat, feeding on the mud amongst the mangroves. It didn’t seem in the least perturbed by our presence, and stayed only 5-6m away for some time, before reappearing in the adjacent stream. Not content with showing us its swimming abilities there, it made its way to the main river and again continued its pose for about 5 minutes at only 20-30m distance. During this time, a Collared Kingfisher was contentedly perched on a branch nearby, with a second fishing a short time later. After the otter had left, a second Yellow Bittern appeared in the mangrove roots alongside the boat. 

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Brunei

Otter

Mountain

Sandakan

Village

Sapi

Sanctuary

Species list

Text only