GOING for a bird-watching trip was not as easy as I had imagined.
Although it is true that birds are always
flying around and are supposed to be easily spotted, that is not the case most times.
I recently went on a bird watching and trail walk around Resorts World Genting’s Awana Bio Park, a lesser-known outdoor park tucked away from the entertainment hub.
The park located within Awana Hotel, is a five-minute ride by shuttle from Awana Skyway’s Awana station.
Upon arrival, we had a cup of warm teh tarik at the Golf Terrace before a short briefing.
Visitors are not allowed to go on any of the trails alone so we were introduced to our guides Eddie Chan and his wife Pat Ang.
Resorts World Genting works with specialists from nature consultancy firm, Treks, for projects throughout the forest with Chan and Ang guiding and sharing their knowledge with visitors.
The couple gave insights on what we would be seeing in the jungle, tips on what to wear and what to expect.
“There will be a lot of walking so make sure you are ready or you might nag me for not informing you earlier,” he joked.
Do not take his words too seriously as Chan takes visitors from young children to seasoned hikers up his routes and many have returned for more.
For this visit, he brought along avid bird watcher Henry Goh, who was on hand to give us a few tips on bird watching as a sport, which I simply had no clue about.
Before he began, he took a glance at what we were wearing, which was simply comfortable outdoor sports attire, but little did we know he was looking at the colours instead.
“Try to wear something that camouflages yourself when you go out in the jungle, dull colours are good but not red or bright yellow.
“The birds will be able to spot you if you come in those colours,” he said.
Goh, who is part of the bird-watching team for Malaysian Nature Society, has been birding for the past 12 years.
He advised new birders to always research the area they wanted to visit before going out to look for the birds.
“You don’t want to go to a place not knowing what birds may appear.
“It is best to read up on what types of birds are most likely to appear in the area during that season before making the trip,” he said, adding that having a focus on at least 10 birds was also a good idea so newbies like us would not lose track easily.
Often we get sidetracked, by other insects or animals such as squirrels that may suddenly appear, and then we forget that our mission was to find birds.
Well, that was the case with me but Goh said it was all right as it was all part of the bird watching fun.
He then passed my group a pair of binoculars each.
“With the naked eye, we cannot see the plumage and details on a bird,” he said, adding that a good pair costs between RM1,000 and RM1,500.
When you spot a bird, there is no time to Google your way to find its name, so it may be a good idea if you follow a group of bird watchers for a start.
After a few trips, you may be interested in investing in a bird guide book, similar to a dictionary where you can find details of different birds and what they look like.
“You can also carry a notebook along to jot down the details of each bird spotted such as pink legs or yellow crest, it will help identifying later,” adds Goh.
However, not all bird watchers are armed with cameras and books, some just want to head out and enjoy nature while trying to catch sight of birds that come along the way.
Goh followed us along the Conservation Trail with his camera mounted on a tripod, ready to click the shutter whenever he spotted any birds.
He also hangs a pair of binoculars around his neck which he uses to spot the birds with before adjusting his camera to shoot it.
As soon as someone within the group spotted a bird perching on a tree branch about 50m away, Goh would take a quick look through the binoculars and then proceed to snap it.
It all takes less than 10 seconds, before he proudly shows us the bird on his camera’s display screen.
“Hmm... I think it is the female Orange-bellied Leafbird,” said Goh, before taking out his guide book to find out if he is right and, yes, he was.
Earlier that morning, Goh had shot a
picture of a male of the same species.
For a beginner, I would have easily thought they were different species and types but with the guide book, one could learn more than just their names.
Since he started birding, Goh has spotted close to a thousand species and he is raring to continue looking for more.
“Don’t be disappointed if you don’t spot any or if you see only two or three,” he said adding that bird watchers need to be patient and it is best to go with a few friends.
He advised those who want to pick up the hobby to join bird clubs, bird races or fairs to acquire further knowledge on bird watching.
For a start, Awana Bio Park is a good spot as the weather is cool with trees that are not too tall.
Every year from September to March, migratory birds from the northern hemisphere will make a stop in Malaysia and Resorts World Genting is one of their many stops.
During the fruiting season, bird watchers will often gather near fruit trees and wait for birds who will be feeding on it.
The Awana Bio Park has three trails – Herb (1.7km), Conservation (800m) and Biodiversity (2.7km).
Visitors can join guided tours by Chan to learn about different herb plants, identify the herbs and learn about 200 to 500 species of plants along the different trails.
Treks, the consultancy firm, has also made the trails more interesting by encouraging visitors to bring their cellphones along to scan QR codes placed on trees and removable boards. Scanning the codes will direct you to Treks’ website where you can learn more about the plant and its origins.
To make things interesting, some QR codes will direct you to music videos where Chan is more than happy to sing and dance along in the forest with you.
“We can sing and dance and still appreciate nature at the same time, there is nothing wrong with it,” he said.
All trails are conducted by specialist guides, by appointment only with the fees being RM75 per person for the Conservation Trail, RM95 per person for the Herb Forest and RM135 per person for the Biodiversity Trail. A minimum group of three is required for each trail. Specialised tours for bird watchers are priced at RM75 (half-day) and RM150 (full day) for beginners while for the professionals it will be RM180 (half-day) and RM250 (full day).
For details and reservations, call 013-399 3667 (Trek Events) or email firstname.lastname@example.org