In May 2023, I had the opportunity to join a birdwatching trip organized by the Wild Bird Club of Malaysia (WBCM). One of the main highlights of this trip was finally encountering the elusive Malaysian Plover! This bird is the mascot of the Wild Bird Club of Malaysia (WBCM).
The Malaysian Plover (Charadrius peronii) is an uncommon resident in Malaysia, frequenting the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and in Sabah and Sarawak. Outside of Malaysia, this bird can be found in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei. The preferred habitat is sandy beaches, although it is known to visit mudflats, estuaries and mangroves.
How to identify the Malaysian Plover?
The appearance of this bird is very similar to the Kentish Plover. The size of this bird is about 15cm in length and weighs about 35-42g. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism. The male is brown with a black collar, pale face, and a rufous-and-black crown. Females and juveniles are similarly brown with a white collar and the face, lacking the black colourings.
Where to look for the Malaysian Plover?
If you reside in Peninsular Malaysia, the best place to see this bird is on the East Coast. Locations where one can have the highest chance of finding this bird are the beaches of Mersing in Johor and Rompin in Pahang. One can also find them around the beaches in Kuantan, Pahang. Other hotspots include Buntal Bay and Bako National Park in Sarawak, Lok Kawi Beach in Sabah, Changi Bay Beach and Marina East in Singapore.
This bird is able to camouflage very well with its surroundings. We located this bird in the middle of the beach area, blending well with its surroundings and staying hidden. I only encountered this bird after accidentally flushing one of them out!
The Malaysian Plover is a must-see wader species to see when visiting Malaysia and certain countries in Southeast Asia. It is currently categorized as Near-Threatened (NT) according to the Global IUCN Red-List Category. We hope that the population of this bird will gradually increase with time.