I was invited by MNS Sabah to go and conduct a 3-day workshop on wader identification and monitoring in the state capital, Kota Kinabalu. It was an exciting opportunity for me to meet many established and up-and-coming East Malaysian birders. The 23 participants came from Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan in Sabah, Miri, in Sarawak , and a couple from Brunei, so we were truly an international gathering! The classroom sessions were held on the Universiti Malaysia Sabah campus, and we did our field sessions at Lok Kawi beach, Tanjung Aru, and some paddyfields near the Penampang highway.
Apart from my sessions, we were treated to a presentation of pictures by local wader 'sifu' Karim Madoya, which we all enjoyed.
Is this the largest flock of birders ever recorded on an East Malaysian mudflat? This was our first morning fieldtrip. We were treated to a great comparative display of 6 species of plovers, including a Common Ringed Plover, my first in Asia.
A diligent student! Participants were taught a simple way to take field notes when confronted with an unfamiliar wader. Note-taking, though hard work in the hot sun, is the best way to turn hours in the field into field-knowledge.
Finding shade was a top priority as the sun warmed up.
Sometimes we had to create our own!
Our last field session was spent doing a trial Asian Waterbird Census count. Counting teams composed of counters and scribes fanned out to count all the waterbirds in Tanjung Aru bay.
Karim (left) and Wesley totting up their final totals.
We made it! Time for a smile and a group photo after 3 days of late nights, early mornings and baking hot weather. Happy wader watching and counting!
For a fuller account of the workshop, take a look here.