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Natural History



Island Birds of Sabah

Manukan Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sabah

By Glenda Noramly

Reproduced from "Suara Enggang", a regular ornithological newletter of the Malaysian Nature Society

Little Ringed Plover © KC YianThis 51-acre island is found off the west coast near Kota Kinabalu. It is part of a group of five, all of which are part of a marine park. One of the islands, Pulau Gaya, is also settled with a water village. Pulau Manukan is heavily used by day-trippers who come to watch corals in glass-bottomed boats or go snorkeling and swimming, and by tourist who can stay in wooden chalets. (It was noted that many visitors did not seems to take to heart the injunction "take nothing but photographs" apparently believing that dead corals and shells a re not included in this prohibition. The islands was visited in August 2001 and the total number of species seen were 23.

Annotated Bird List
  • CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD Fregata andrewsi 5 individuals were seen on 22nd August. One was a female, leading a group of four juveniles, cruising the shores around the island. This female was showing wing moult (either the innermost primary or the outermost secondary on both wings). Identified by large size, and large amount of white on underside (except for black throat), the white extending substantially into the wing as a spur. The effect was that of a bird with totally white breast and belly, with black tail and undertail coverts. Paler eyering was noted, but colour not clear. Pale bill. The juveniles all had pale beaks and pale biscuit-coloured heads. This colour extended into the throat, which was then bordered by black. The amount of black varied between individuals, and was broken in the middle (but almost meeting); generally broad and very noticeable. Under this band was a u-shaped band of white which again varied in width between individuals. In one it was very narrow, as narrow as the black band. The ends of the U extended into wing spurs (not as extensive as the adult female). These birds joined another group of four unidentified frigates. Frigates were also seen on 21st and 23rd, but not identified.
  • PACIFIC REEF EGRET Egretta sacra One white-morph seen fishing by walking along the rope between the buoys surrounding the no-go area for boats, a feat which involved considerable acrobatics. However it seemed to find this method productive and was seen both picking things off the weed growing on the rope and snatching prey from the sea. One dark-morph was reported by another bird watcher, seen on rocky beach.
  • WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE Haliaeetus leucogaste One seen fishing
  • PHILIPPINE SCRUBFOWL Megapodius cumingii Heard on successive days, calling once late norning and once early afternoon. Also one individual seen at dusk by another birdwatcher. No nests were located. Unhappily there are a number of domestic cats on the island, a puzzling phenomena seeing the place is a National Park, and this may decrease the chance of survival for very young birds if there is nesting.
  • COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos One seen on beach 23/8/00
  • GREEN-WINGED PIGEON Chalcophaps indica Pair feeding on lawns
  • GREEN IMPERIAL PIGEON Ducula aenea At least nine seen flying to overnight roost probably somewhere on the island. Some were present throughout the day.
  • SWIFTLET Collocalia sp
  • COLLARED KINGFISHER Halcyon chloris Several
  • PACIFIC SWALLOW Hirundo tahitica Common
  • YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL Pycnonotus goiavier Common
  • OLIVE-WINGED BULBUL Pycnonotus plumosus Common
  • ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN Copsychus saularis One female and one male seen which had white bellies
  • RUFOUS-TAILED TAILORBIRD Orthotomus sericeuscc Common
  • MANGROVE BLUE FLYCATCHER Cyornis rufigastra A male was seen several times. A juvenile was seen using the same perch as the male, but seemed to be relatively independent. It had slaty-blue primaries and tail, mantle was dark slate, blotched with buffy-brown (tips to feathers), head similarly spotted, some rufous beginning to show on flanks, breast not seen.
  • PIED FANTAIL Rhipidura javanica Common
  • MANGROVE WHISTLER Pachycephala cinerea Several seen. One had a distinctly pale horn-coloured beak with dark tip. Presumably juvenile (ref: Robson)
  • WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-SWALLOW Artamus leucorhynchus Common
  • PHILIPPINE GLOSSY STARLING Aplonis panayensis Common
  • BROWN-THROATED SUNBIRD Anthreptes malaccensis Common
  • OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD Nectarinia jugularis Common. One male seen hovering close in front of perched female several times in succession, calling all the while, in what appeared to have been a courtship display.
  • CRIMSON SUNBIRD Aethopyga siparaja (reported by another birdwatcher)
  • EURASIAN TREE-SPARROW Passer montanus Common
Other Sightings Which May Be Of Interest
  • GREAT-BILLED HERON. Single bird perched near Sukau on the Kinabatangan.
  • Several DARTERS seen in flight along the river near dusk.
  • LITTLE HERON nesting, evidently incubating, on nest 20' in fig tree in grounds of Wildlife Jungle Lodge at Sepilok
  • RUFOUS-CROWNED BABBLER begging for food from adult, Sepilok. Could have been female or young.
Further information

Photos (from top): The Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) is a migratory shorebird usually seen in open fields, sandy shores and on the fringes of coastal as well as inland wetlands.- © KC Yian



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