Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shah Alam’s isle of birds

Vacation To Malaysia
By SALINA KHALID The Star Online

THE Antan Batura boat moves slowly from the jetty, cruising towards Pulau Undan.

Our eyes are fixed on the flock of birds perching on a tree top on the island.

With its yellow and orange long beaks, the beautiful birds have white bodies with black streaks on the side of its wings. They have pink and white tails. They are known as the Painted Storks.

It was a sight to behold as they moved gracefully. A few had twigs and grass clasped tightly in their beaks. They were nesting.

Somehow the presence of the cruise boat and its passengers did not seem to bother them. It was the continuous flicker of the cameraman’s shutter that caused them to fly away momentarily before coming back when they realised that the situation was safe.

A sharp cry from a child in a distant suddenly made us realise where we were.

Sultan Salahuddin Mosque or Blue Mosque in Sha...Image via Wikipedia

We were not on any isolated island, away from the hustle and bustle of the city - we were in Shah Alam. And that island is named Pulau Undan, one of the two islands found in the middle of the Shah Alam Lake. We were on a cruise boat touring the Shah Alam Lake.

Watching the Painted Storks is part of the itinerary of the boat cruise recently introduced at the lake that is located in the city centre, near Kompleks PKNS.

The cruise started from a jetty near Antan Batura Restaurant located in front of the Sirim building. It moved slowly, allowing everyone on board to enjoy the scenery around the lake.

Passengers were taken for a trip around the lake, with stops at the island which is also inhabited by peacocks, geese, ducks and variety of birds including waders like egrets and herons.

But the island is named Pulau Undan (Storks Island) because of the Painted Storks - the island’s main inhabitants.

The storks’ beautiful colour make them one of the favourite subjects to be captured on canvas and it is no wonder why they are named as such.

These birds, however, are not native to Malaysia. They were brought in from Sri Lanka in the 1960’s and being freshwater dependent, they survive better and have since then multiplied.

Those who have visited Zoo Negara might have seen them there.

Even at the zoo, these birds are not kept in an enclosure. They are free to fly around and have been spotted throughout the Klang Valley.

One such place that they call home is the Shah Alam Lake.

“A few dozens have made Pulau Undan their home and hopefully they will stay and become a permanent feature here.

“We do not interfere with their habitat and do not feed them as they find their food like fish and insects from the lake,” said MBSA’s public relations officer Shahrin Ahmad.

Soon the inhabitants will have another resident to share the island with. The city council is planning to introduce two pairs of spotted deer this month to lure more visitors.

The spotted deer, which are distinguished from the other species of deer which are raised for the meat, have a brown-reddish coat with white spots on its back. Its underparts are white.

“This lake and its features have potential to attract more visitors.”

A group of Singaporeans are scheduled to visit this month to view what the city has to offer. The city council is hopefull that they would promote the city and help bring in more visitors.

Shahrin added that offering the cruise was also part of efforts to provide healthy activities for the locals as well as tourists.

The cruise takes about half an hour around the man-made lake located at the city centre. During the ride, one can view the city’s landmark including the Kompleks PKNS, Sirim and Wet World water theme park.

The boat will pass the Laman Budaya, where regular cultural activities are being conducted on weekends, passing through the canal and under the bridge towards Tasik Tengah.

The Tasik Tengah (middle lake) has a more scenic view, This is where the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque or also known as Shah Alam Blue Mosque is located.

The boat stopped briefly to allow passengers to enjoy the scene and capture the images on their camera before moving on and passing by the floating restaurant and back to the jetty.

Shahrin said the boat service is available daily for a fee of RM5 for adults and RM3 for children between two and 12-years-old, The public can enjoy the service from 4pm to 7pm on weekdays and from 10am to 7pm on weekends.

The tickets are available at the jetty near the Antan Batura restaurant, infront of Sirim. The boat will move once it has a minimum of six people.

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