Monday, 30 November 2015


Asian Glossy Starling
Mantanani is indeed a bird paradise. There are so many on this island. Multiple varieties. This Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis) is one of them. It is found all over Southeast Asia including Bangladesh and India. I think it is related to the crow, and believed me, it seems intelligent. Why I said this is because it is quite wary when you stare at it. It knows you are watching them! It is also the noisiest bird on the island.

Pink-neck Green Dove
The Pink-neck Green Dove (Treron vernans) or in Malay called Burung Punai Daun is also common all over Southeast Asia. Any species of Punai is a protected species in Borneo but many people here just find it enjoyable to hunt them. They say Punai is tasty; but what difference are these birds compared to pigeons? It is very hard to comprehend men! They still go after the wild ones when the same meat is available domestically.

Blue Rock Thrush?
I think this is a female Blue Rock Thrush. Males are colorful. When this bird sing, she appears bigger and fluffier. She is quite unfriendly to her own kind. There is a mirror hanging outside our kitchen and this bird spent all night "fighting" with her intruder. She never gave up. The pecking of the mirror is so noisy and at night it is very difficult to sleep as she keep on pecking without getting tired. Finally, we have to turn the mirror and the battle stopped.

I believe this one is a Coastal Whimbrel (numenius phaeopus) which is found all over the world; Asia, Africa, Europe and Americas.

Frankly speaking I am not a birdwatcher. But being on this island, I find the time to appreciate what God had created. I start remembering how I observe this common birds behavior when I was a kid especially the Glossy Starling. It's red eyes, it's glossy black feather and also their favorite food; colorful fruits! If you have ripe papaya at your backyard, then you will never have chance to eat them. This bird love them.

Friday, 27 November 2015

MANTANANI ISLAND: In Search of the Philippines Megapode

The Philippines Megapode Bird (picture by The Sabah Society)
The real reason why we were on this island was because of this bird (above picture). THE SABAH SOCIETY who are responsible for protecting and preserving the natural, cultural and historical aspects of North Borneo sent us to this island to search, identify and peg the Megapode bird nests found all over the island using GPS coordinate. I wish to thank The Sabah Society for getting me involved in this project.

The Megapode nests (two pictures above)
Mantanani is the home to the Philippines Megapode birds. Megapode means "large foot" in Greek. It is also known as the Tabon Scrubfowl. It belongs to the Megapodiidae Family. Its natural habitats are the tropical or subtropical dry or lowland forests. Mantanani is quite dry and almost all flat. So the Megapode should be able to thrive here. The Megapode are also known as incubator bird or sometimes call the mount builders.

This bird is slightly bigger than chicken. It is considered solitary but do comes in pair to build their nest. The bird is considered an inefficient flyer and spent time foraging on the ground like most big birds. The bird build huge massive mount of either decaying vegetation or sand to cover its single egg because it doesn't use its body heat to incubate the egg. Instead, the rotting vegetation or the sand which is heated by the sun does the work for them. When I look at the mount, I wonder why does the Philippines Megapode take all the trouble to build their very big nest just to cover one egg. Once hatch, the chick are left to defend itself.

The Sabah Society undertake this project so that they can get a map of the nesting sites and to know the exact areas where the birds are. There are more than 300 of these mounts on this small island. As I say before in my previous posting, the island lack natural predators and thus this island became a paradise for birds including the Philippines Megapode. However, the threat comes not from the natural predators but from men themselves. The village elder told me that the locals will take the trouble to dig the nest just to get one of this egg! He told me he also don't understand why people likes to eat this egg because it taste so horrible!

A villager looking for the egg warily looking at us

The first English romance-thriller from Borneo
Search also THE EURASIANS by Don Peter ebook

Monday, 9 November 2015

MANTANANI ISLAND: Paradise in Peril

Eastern part of Mantanani Besar, best location to see the sunrise
Mantanani has the most beautiful white sandy beach with crystal clear water, nice village and villagers and the most wonderful jungle home to the Megapode; an almost flightless bird, and other bird species common on this islands, all packaged together by the Almighty Creator.

The island facing the north
And this one facing the South China Sea in the southwest
Mantanani are a small group of three islands northwest of Sabah (North Borneo). The largest island is the Mantanani Besar, where all the local Ubian people live. The other islands are Mantanani Kecil and the smallest one is Lungisan. Both are uninhabited. Since the story of the Dugong became famous, thousands of tourists from all over the world came here hoping to see this magnificent creatures. Mantanani is famous also for its recreational diving where many of the corals are still intact and there is also a dive wreck from World War Two.

Even though the jungle is small, it still display impressive flora
Just imagine! Nearby is the white sandy beach, and a minute walk into its hinterland, Mantanani does have a thick jungle; sort of. Walking around could take hours and occasionally we could get lost.... but don't worry! No matter which direction you go, civilization is not far away! There is no wild boars in this island and that is one reason why this place is a birdwatchers paradise. In fact this island lack the terrestrial predators which otherwise could have wiped out the birds. Beside the Megapode bird, Mantanani is also home to the Scops Owl.

But Mantanani Islands is threatened by over-fishing, especially fish-bombing, piling up garbage and waste and also the threat from development itself. Fish bombing is the major contributor to the destruction of corals on this islands. At this moment, nothing much is done to solve this critical problems. Thus, Mantanani Islands are Paradise in Peril!

The first English romance-thriller from Borneo
Search also THE EURASIANS by Don Peter ebook