In July of 2019, I was fortunate enough to do some bird watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands in Miri, Sarawak. This is one of the few birding locations in Miri where many locals and visiting birders head to.
The Kuala Baram Wetlands is located about 40 minutes from the city of Miri and requires a vehicle to get here. There is no public transportation, and usually, birders will engage a local guide for this.
Bird Watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands
The biggest question on your mind is what kind of birds are found at Kuala Baram Wetlands, and just, so you know, it is the water birds and migratory birds that attract the birders.
Kuala Baram Wetlands’ total size is also a whopping 600 hectares of marshland, making this place quite large, and you can easily spend half a day bird watching here. As the marshlands are located just by the main road, birders can easily park their cars and do bird watching or bird photography.
The area consists of mudflats and mangrove forest, salt pans, prawn and fish ponds, while further inland, you will find freshwater lakes and rice paddies which are ideal habitats for the specialist wetland birds.
A total of 111 avian species have been spotted here based on a 2015 recording. This list includes several rare birds that migrate here during seasons.
The number grew to 132 bird species at the end of 2016, and the last count was 138 species of birds recorded at the Kuala Baram Wetlands, and the MNS Miri Branch did it on 28th October 2018.
One reason why Kuala Baram Wetlands had earned a name as a special bird-watching sanctuary is simply that the rare and highly endangered Crested Chinese Terns were spotted there in 2014 and 2015.
The spotting of the Chinese Tern got many bird watchers and photographers all excited, and many of them have been coming here in the last few years to spot these rare birds.
Conservation Efforts at Kuala Baram Wetlands
Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about protecting the wetlands here, and this matter has been brought to the Miri council and even the forestry department.
However, there have been many complications leading to no action taken. The Kuala Baram Wetlands belongs to a private owner, and nothing can be done unless the owner takes action.
Because of this, local poachers come in the day to illegally trap fish, ducks and birds as and when they like. The Miri MNS has been very upset about the lack of enforcement on this matter.
Even though I was there in July of 2019, I saw two groups of poachers setting up nets and harvesting their catch in the late morning. Hopefully, the Miri City Council or someone in Sarawak Forestry will take some action to harms the birds and other wildlife there.
Best Time to Visit Kuala Baram Wetlands
The year-end is the best time due to the water levels rising at the wetlands, and this attracts many migratory birds from November to January.
However, it is also noted that the months from August to April are also a good time to do bird watching at the Kuala Baram Wetlands.
Kuala Baram Wetlands Bird Photos
Below are some of the birds spotted at Kuala Baram Wetlands during my bird watching trip here, and I only had about two hours of birding.
Kuala Baram Wetlands Bird List Report
Below is a bird list by me during my birdwatching at Kuala Baram Wetlands in July of 2019. Hopefully, this list will come in handy for anyone planning to visit this place.
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Asian Glossy Starling
Collared Kingfisher (many of them)
Eastern Cattle Egret
Greater Sand Plover
Lesser Coucal (roadkill)
Yellow Vented Bulbul
Wandering Whistling-Duck (*Star Bird)
White Breasted Sea Eagle
The list above was made in just two hours of bird watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands, and I am sure it could reach around 40 or 50 birds if I had spent more time here.
Anyway, to share that this place is a great place to do birding if you are in the Miri area and have at least four to five hours of free time.
Where is Kuala Baram Wetlands?
Kuala Baram Wetlands is located just 40 minutes out of Miri City in Sarawak. It is also very close to the Brunei checkpoint and border.
The location is quite convenient as there are no attractions or anything important found in the area, hence it is peaceful and quiet there.
How to go to Kuala Baram Wetlands?
The best way to get here is via vehicle from Miri City. There is only one tour operator that offers a special Miri Birding Tour to several places.
If you want to self-drive, you need to rent a car in Miri and take a nice slow drive in the morning to the wetlands. There is no public transport available to this location.
For anyone interested in bird watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands, you can always contact Wilson Chiam of Brighton Tours. He is probably the only tour company that will arrange this trip for you. Wilson also does other bird watching locations around Miri; hence he is your best option in Miri, Sarawak.
To me, a visit to the Kuala Baram Wetlands was exciting, considering that Miri is not very well known as a bird watching destination. Hopefully, this article can increase the bird watchers coming to Miri, Sarawak.