Bird Watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands

Bird Watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands

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 vity of Miri, and requires a vehicle to get here. There are no public transportation and usually birders will engage a local guide for this.

Bird Watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands

Collared Kingfisher Miri Sarawak
A Collared Kingfisher spotted at the 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.

The total size of Kuala Baram Wetlands 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 here, birders can just park their cars by the road and do bird watching or bird photography easily.

Birds of Kuala Bara Wetlands
Birds seen at the Kuala Baram Wetlands.

The area consist 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 a number of 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 it was done by the MNS Miri Branch on 28t October 2018.

Kuala Baram Wetlands Road
The nice and long road along the Kuala Baram Wetlands.

One reason why Kuala Baram Wetlands had earned a name as a special bird-watching sanctuary is simply because 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.

Wetlands Kuala Baram Miri
Huge warnings and notices have been erected at the Kuala Baram Wetlands to warn poachers.

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. One is that 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.

Eventhough I was there in July of 2019, I saw two groups of poachers setting up nets and also harvesting their catch in the late morning.

Hopefully the Miri City Council or someone in Sarawak Forestry will take some action on this matter, which is harming the birds and other wildlife there.

Kuala Baram Wetlands
A beautiful view of the Kuala Baram Wetlands.

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 fo the birds spotted at Kuala Baram Wetlands during my bird watching trip here, and I only had about two hours of birding.

Wandering Whistling Ducks Miri
A couple of Wandering Whistling Ducks swimming in the wetlands.
Egret Bird Kuala Baram Wetlands
An Egret bird seen at the Wetlands.
Oriental Darter Kuala Baram Wetlands
An Oriental Darter seen at the Kuala Baram Wetlands.
Birdwatching Kuala Baram Wetlands
A Blue-throated Bee-eater with a freshly caught dragonfly.
Wandering Whistling Ducks Miri
A group of ducks and other birds at the wetlands.
Kuala Baram Wetlands Birds
An egret flies low at the wetlands.
Paddyfield Pipit Kuala Baram Wetlands
A Paddyfield Pipit spotted on the electric cables along the road.
Wandering Whistling Ducks at Kuala Baram Wetlands
The Wandering Whistling Ducks spotted at the Kuala Baram Wetlands.
Wandering Whistling Duck
The much shought after Wandering Whistling Duck at the wetlands.

Kuala Baram Wetlands Bird List Report

Below is a bird list by me during my birdwatching at Kuala Baram Wetlands in Junly of 2019. Hopefully this list will come in handy for anyone planning to visit this place.

  1. Asian Brown Flycatcher
  2. Asian Glossy Starling
  3. Barn Swallow
  4. Black Winged Stilt
  5. Blue-throated Bee-eater
  6. Chinese Egret
  7. Collared Kingfisher (many of them)
  8. Common Sandpiper
  9. Eastern Cattle Egret
  10. Greater Sand Plover
  11. Green Pigeon
  12. Grey Heron
  13. Hill Myna
  14. Intermediate Egret
  15. Lesser Coucal (roadkill)
  16. Little Egret
  17. Marsh Sandpiper
  18. Moorhen
  19. Oriental Darter
  20. Paddyfield Pipit
  21. Spotted Dove
  22. Tree Swiftlet
  23. Tri-color Munia
  24. Yellow Bittern
  25. Yellow Vented Bulbul
  26. Wandering Whistling-Duck (*Star Bird)
  27. White Breasted Sea Eagle
  28. White-breasted Woodswallow
  29. Wood sandpiper
  30. Whiskered Tern
  31. Zebra Dove

The list above was done 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, just 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
A map shows where Kuala Baram Wetlands is located in Sarawak.

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 a number of 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.

How to go to Kuala Baram Wetlands
A map showing how to go to the Kuala Baram Wetlands in Miri.
Conclusion

For anyone interested to do bird watching at Kuala Baram Wetlands, you can always contact Wilson Chiam of Brighton Tours as 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 for this when you are in Miri, Sarawak.

To me, a visit to the Kuala Baram Wetlands was very interesting, 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.

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