Flying with the birds

Years ago, the government decided to build a new airport to replace the one closer to Kuala Lumpur, which was hopelessly small as far as runway capacity was concerned – early planners having not a clue about the way the world was going (they didn’t read sf, did they?).

Anyway, they chose Sepang for the replacement airport, which is where present day KLIA is situated. They had to destroy a peat swamp to build it. One of the things that we bird people warned them about was that there were all these migrants arriving from Sumatra – tens, hundreds or even thousands per day for several months from January to April. And going back again October to December. All those birds we saw last weekend at Ilham Resort and counted from the lighthouse? Many of them overfly Sepang, which is just a few kms from where they made landfall on our coast.

What, we asked, are the odds that sooner or later one or two are going to meet a plane flying the opposite way? The last time I came into KLIA, I flew directly over the Ilham. I looked staring down on the lighthouse, which is where many birds catch their first thermals…

As a consequence of our advice, the government asked the Dept of Wildlife to do a 2 year study on the migratory patterns – which they did, back in the 90s. None of those findings have ever been published that I know about. It’s all top secret. I wonder why?

Anyway, today, at 9.40 a.m., I take off from KLIA directly into the pathway of the first birds arriving from Sumatra. Wish me luck.


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