Dec 1, 2011

A return to Muar, Pt .Jawa & Sg. Balang - 26 - 28 Nov 2011

I last visited these 3 places in May this year. Had wanted to make a return trip but have been putting it off for various reasons. So when Lisa smsed to ask for the phone number of the home-stay which the earlier group bunked-in the last time in Pt. Jawa I casually enquired about  the date for the intended trip. It led me to join 8 others on this return trip. 

We decided that it was best for all trippers to travel separately from Kuala Lumpur to Pt. Jawa, our meeting place. PT and myself started our journey around 10 am on 26 Nov arriving in Muar for lunch at 1 pm. After tucking-in an assortments of the mee, otak-otak, dumplings and washed them down with fresh sugarcane juice we recommenced our journey to Pt. Jawa.

Pt. Jawa is 15 km from Muar. It is an idyllic fishing village where people here go about their daily chores at the pace 1/10 th (just my estimation) that of Kual Lumpur. Well it's perfectly fine and there is nothing wrong with that. I am quite sure city slickers would crave to be able to take their leg off the throttle and enjoy the slower pace of life away from the daily rat-race in the city. :-)

When we arrived the sky was looking every inch what we had hoped for. Bright and sunny. And throwing in a bonus to boot! It was low tide! We did not check the tide table before deciding to make this trip. So you can say it's like winning a small lottery. The significance of the low-tide situation meant that the waders or water and shore birds would forage for food closer to the jetty area. And correspondingly this meant there are ample opportunities to see and photograph them up-close!

Here are some of the photos taken on Day 1.

                               Collared Kingfisher


                              Common Red Shank

                               Common Sandpiper

                               White-winged Tern

                               Lesser Adjutants

Eurasian Curlew

Lesser Sand Plover

The other fellow trippers arrived in Pt. Jawa around 6 pm after a short break in Muar for afternoon tea/coffee. The sun was not in all it's glory by then, with a slight overcast. There was intermittent rainfall and the hope of shooting the sunset scene was dampened. All decided to call it a day and by 7 pm we were seated for dinner.

After dinner it was back to our 'house'. Some of us decided to freshen-up whilst the rest stayed in the living hall to watch pre-recorded wild life videos courtesy of Steven. It was early to bed as we planned to start early the next day.

Day 2 - Sg Balang

It was early rise and shine for everyone after which we headed to the favorite breakfast place in ernest only to find out that the shop is closed on that day! We settled for another one a few doors away, ordered breakfast and our caffeine boost for the morning. :-) The southern region and in particular Muar have one of the best coffees. Did I sound bias? Being born and bred in Muar before 'migrating' to the city. Ok it depends on one's preference. There are 1001 types of coffee. I was quite happy with what was served - old fashioned kopitiam (traditional Chinese coffee shop) brew. 

After breakfast we set out for Sg. Balang some 14 km from Pt. Jawa. We arrived in good time to recently harvested paddy fields on our right and marsh land on our left. The harvested paddy fields was another 'bonus' of the trip. It meant the birds could be more easily spotted. The marsh land was however not in the same state as when I last visited this place. The farmers have removed low growing shrubs and creepers from some parts of the marsh land side. An area estimated to be around 25 ft in width between the gravel road and the stream inside had been cleared. In it's place were newly planted tapioca cash crop. 

This meant that the natural vegetation of the birds have been permanently removed! The secondary reason is the birds would move and perch further inland and across the stream, thereby making them less 'visible' for closer observation by bird watchers. :-(  Not to be defeated by this negative development we ventured to fulfill our birding objectives in coming to Sg. Balang. 

Below are some of the birds we saw.

                      Black Kites

                                 Black-capped Kingfisher

                                Blue-tailed Bee-Eater

                                Brown Shrike

                                  Pond Heron

                                Red-wattled Lapwing

Muar @ Tg Emas

After spending half a day in Sg. Balang we decided to go to Muar for lunch. And after lunch to make a visit to Tg Emas, Muar to take in some of the beautiful scenery around Muar's river mouth. About a kilometer from here is the Straits of Malacca. On a clear day the kelongs (permanent fishing platforms in the sea) could be clearly seen from shore.

There isn't much avian life here. It was more for killing some time before proceeding back to Pt Jawa mid afternoon. However even without birds the short time spent here was also eventful. The following images are the reasons why.

                                        Golden Tree Snake

We were resting under the shady trees when someone shouted with great excitement. A snake was seen inside a tree cavity! The next moment were a hive of activity. Everyone, except two of our troop surrounded the area to get a better view of the snake. The two who did not join in the rush were either acting cool, anti-snake or afraid of snakes. LOL We did not managed to get the real reason from them. :-)

Next up we encountered this burly macho king of a macaque further down the road. This fella is not to be taken for granted. It's sheer size is sufficient to intimidate and warn the other long-tailed macaques which were less than half his size to keep their distance. He is definitely the King in his kingdom!  Like the saying goes - Size matters! 

He is none other than the........................

                                Pig-tailed Macaque


                                        The female (below)

On the final lap of our trip we stopped-over at the Ox-Bow Lake in Sg. Mati, Muar. Bird life was not as abundant as in the previous trip. Nevertheless the following species were recorded in our slow drive-stop-drive routine covering some 9 km of tarred albeit narrow road. The Ox-Bow Lake have the potential to be developed into an Eco Tourism Resort. Any takers out there?

Below are photos of birds, ducks and reptiles seen during the visit.

                                          Cattle Egret

                                          Lesser Whistling Ducks

                                Purple Heron

                                White-breasted Waterhen

The biggest surprise of the day was this monster of a Monitor Lizard we encountered about one quarter way inside the Ox-Bow Lake. I had alighted from the car and was trying to locate a Lesser Coucal which was earlier seen flying across the road and into some thicket of vegetation near the river. I heard a loud rustling sound from behind and instinctively made a quick turn around to check. I immediately made eye contact with this gigantuan Monitor Lizard who had the same startled look in it's eyes as myself. It stayed for no more then 10 seconds, just enough time for me to aim my camera and shoot 3 frames! It then scurried deeper into the thick undergrowth and disappeared presumably into the river. It was I guess a relief for both reptile and myself. I can't imagine the situation if it decided to give me a run for my money! Guess if a confrontation had occurred I would have to use the only lethal weapon I have in my hands - my prime lens. LOL Fortunately for reptile and me there was no need to resort to anything like that. :-))

Here is the monstrous fella's head, a descendent of the pre-historic dinosaur:

In summary it was another great trip. The good company and laughter made the outing all the more interesting. Need I say more about the eating part of which we are already 'quite' famous (perhaps infamous) for, that is eating non-stop! LOL

Was in good company with Lisa Lim, Raymond, PT Tan, Steven Goh, Alan Ng, Dedi Ng, Sok Tin & Ashley.

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