A weekend of birdwatching fun and festivities awaits this March
Bird enthusiasts and public will be able to witness the migration of the Peregrine falcons among others.
Every year around springtime, Malaysia becomes a focal destination for thousands of migrants making a stop at Cape Rachado, in Melaka. Thousands of migratory birds of prey, that is. These birds, known as raptors, spend winters in Indonesia and Australia, after which they make their way north to more temperate sites in Japan, China, Mongolia and Siberia to breed. This migration takes place on a flight path called the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, an aerial highway that stretches over 10,000km in distance.
Cape Rachado is part of the flight path called the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.(Photo: MNS Raptor Watch)
Along this skyway is Tanjung Tuan, also known as Cape Rachado - a name meaning ‘Broken Cape, ’ given by the Portuguese conquerors in the 16th century, and listed as an important raptor watch site by international bird conservation organisations such as the National Geographic Society, Birdlife International and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Raptors such as Oriental honey buzzards, grey-faced buzzards, Chinese goshawks and Peregrine falcons would have been flying for thousands of kilometres before getting here, and around this area is where the birds would have had to flap their wings in order to stay airborne, after hours of gliding along on hot air currents with outstretched wings. The raptors would soon need to rest and as the birds start flying low, it’s a spectacular sight as thousands of raptors fly low around Cape Rachado.
Species of birds to be seen at Raptor Watch 2020 (Photo: MNS Raptor Watch)
The migration of the raptors is an annual event that has been going on for decades, which bird enthusiasts and the public have been able to witness in an organised setting since the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) set up Raptor Watch in 1999. The event helps to raise awareness about the migration of the birds and the importance of actively taking part in conserving the environment for the welfare of our feathered friends. Over the years, it has garnered support from the Melaka and Negeri Sembilan state governments, as well as from Tourism Malaysia and has become one of the biggest ecotourism events in the country.
The Raptor Watch at Cape Rachado is one of the biggest sightings of bird migrations in Malaysia.
The upcoming Raptor Watch 2020 will be a bird-watching festival taking place on 14-15 March 2020, and will feature a host of activities for the public such as forest walks, marine walks and booths that feature games and crafts, aside from the actual bird-watching event. It even has night events such as stargazing and firefly walks, and will also feature school events that include beach clean-ups and recycling awareness programmes. After a successful 20th anniversary celebration last year, Raptor Watch 2020 is offering a more comprehensive calendar that includes a training programme and a seminar to complement the usual month-long Raptor Counting organised by the Bird Conservation Council (BCC). All this will take place at the Hutan Rekreasi Tanjung Tuan (Cape Rachado Forest Reserve).
More Than Just Birdwatching
While Cape Rachado or Tanjung Tuan is located in Melaka, it is only 20 kilometres away from the coastal resort town of Port Dickson. Surrounded by a virgin rainforest containing at least 177 different species of plants and trees, it is also the site of the Cape Rachado Lighthouse, which is believed to be the oldest lighthouse in Malaysia. The area saw the Battle of Cape Rachado between the Dutch and the Portuguese in 1606, and is also speculated to be the site of the grave of Parameswara, the founder and first Sultan of Melaka. Tanjung Tuan was gazetted as a forest reserve back in 1921, and again in 1971 to extend its borders.
Information and facts on the upcoming Raptor Watch 2020.
One of the 55 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) in Malaysia, what’s unique about Tanjung Tuan is that it is the only coastal forest on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia to be gazetted as as a Forest Reserve, a Wildflife Reserve, a fishery prohibited area, as well as a historic site. IBA is an important biodiversity conservation site that uses birds as the key indicator to determine the level of environmental health as identified and listed by BirdLife International, a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity.
If you’d like to participate in Raptor Watch 2020, make your way to the Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse this 14 and 15 March, where activities will be going on from 9am until 5pm. More information can be found on the Malaysian Nature Society blog here.