Malaysia Birding Trip Report

March 9th-31st 2013
http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

Andy Walker

Long-tailed Broadbill at Fraser’s Hill

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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Outline Itinerary
Kuala Selangor (KS) (March 10th-13th) Fraser’s Hill (FH) (March 13th-19th) Taman Negara (TN) (March 19th-30th) Kuala Lumpur (KL) (March 30th-31st) I flew Manchester (UK) to Kuala Lumpur via Doha with Qatar Airways. Flights ran smoothly and pretty much on time. Doha was chaos due to the massive construction project going on there but despite my concerns my bags made it! Good service on the plane etc.

Birding Highlights
This was my first ‘proper’ birding trip to Malaysia. I’d visited Borneo in about 2007 and India in about 2009 so I was familiar with some of the birds but neither of these trips were specifically for birding but obviously I saw as much as I could. I recorded about 320 species (I probably missed some species due to not knowing all the calls too); the following are some of my highlights: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Rusty-naped Pitta – 1 seen FH (Bishop’s Trail) and at least 1 other heard at FH (Bishop’s Trail) – both heard calling at same time. Garnet Pitta – 2 seen at TN (Sungai Tembeling River Trail after Canopy Walkway and at Tabing Hide) and another bird heard at Tabing Hide – both Tabing birds heard calling at the same time. Banded Pitta – 1 heard at TN (Tahan Hide area) – unfortunately not seen by me – biggest disappointment of the entire trip! Hooded Pitta – 3 seen at TN (2 on Sungai Tembeling River Trail and 1 on Sungai Tahan River Trail) with another heard calling on the Sungai Tembeling River Trail (at the same time as the other 2 were seen). Blue-winged Pitta – 2 seen at TN (1 on Sungai Tahan River Trail – near Lubok Simpon and at 1 Tabing Hide) with another heard at Tahan Hide. Also 1 heard at KS. Malaysian Rail-Babbler – 1 seen at TN (Cegar Anjing Hide) and 2 others heard together at TN (Swamp Loop). Gould’s Frogmouth – 2 seen in TN (daytime roost at Tabing Hide and at night on Sungai Tahan River Trail) with at least one, probably two others head at TN (in vicinity of Mutiara Resort). Malaysian Partridge – 3 seen at FH (Bishop’s Trail) with others heard on Bishop’s Trail. Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant – at least 3 individuals seen at TN with other birds heard there. Malaysian Laughingthrush – Several seen at FH (Pine Tree Trail, and on/around the feeders at Jelai Resort and Shahzan Inn). Great Argus – several recorded at TN (Jenet Muda Trail and beyond) though sound travels miles and generally shy. Rufous-collared Kingfisher – 3 seen at TN (2 at different places Sungai Tahan River Trail and 1 along Sungai Tembeling River Trail near Canopy Walkway). Blue-banded Kingfisher – 2 pairs seen along Sungai Tahan (Lubok Simpon area and near Lata Berkoh). Banded Kingfisher – 1 seen at TN (Sungai Tahan River Trail) with others heard at TN (e.g. around Mutiara Resort), 1 seen in forest near Kuala Lumpur.
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Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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Green Broadbill – 2 or 3 pairs at TN (mainly seen at fruiting trees along Sungai Tahan River Trail and also from Tahan Hide). Banded Broadbill – 1 male seen at TN (along Jenet Muda Trail, with others heard along Sungai Tembeling River Trail). Black-and-Yellow Broadbill – Fairly common at TN (seen along Sungai Tahan River Trail, Back Loop and along Sungai Tembeling River Trail), a pair also seen in forest near Kuala Lumpur. Long-tailed Broadbill – 4 or 5 pairs (at least) at FH (seen along Hemmant Trail (2 pairs found nesting), Bishop’s Trail, and at Telekom Loop). Black-and-Red Broadbill – very common at TN. Whiskered Treeswift – Several along Sungai Tahan between Cegar Anjing crossing point and Lata Berkoh . Jambu Fruit-Dove – A pair in TN (Tahan Hide) visiting fruiting trees.

Malaysian Rail-Babbler (Taman Negara)

A good range of other species including 19 species of Woodpecker (including Bamboo Woodpecker at the Gap), 4 species of Trogons, 23 species of Flycatcher, 21 species of Bulbul (including Finch’s and several pairs of Black-and-White Bulbul (both species with young) at TN – in fruiting trees along Sungai Tahan River Trail, at Lubok Simpon and Tahan Hide) and 32 species of Babbler. A good range of migrants including: Oriental Honey-Buzzard (numerous, included one flock of 126 birds over FH), Black Baza (Kuala Selangor and near Kuala Lumpur), Siberian, Eye-browed and Orange-headed Thrushes, Tiger and Brown Shrike, Asian Brown, Yellow-rumped and Mugimaki Flycatchers, Arctic, Eastern Crowned and Yellow-browed Warblers. Plenty of other birds too: sunbirds, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters, warbler, bee-eaters, raptors, owls, nightjars, cuckoos, barbets, hornbills, orioles, herons, kingfishers, swifts, forktails, leafbirds, pigeons etc… I’ve included a range of photos in the report; most are taken at high ISO due to dark forest conditions so are a bit grainy in places but hopefully they give a good idea! All photos in this report were taken with my Panasonic Lumix FZ-200, which was great for the situation.
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Site and Travel Information
I travelled around via taxi, or on foot/hitched. Taxis were reasonable money wise (certainly cheaper than hiring a car for 3 weeks, most of which it would have sat idle) and I don’t think I missed too much by not having a car though it would have been useful at Fraser’s Hill just to make driving to the different trails a bit quicker (more of a luxury than a necessity) and also allowing better access to The Gap area (which I didn’t get a lot of time at in the end). A car would have allowed me to get out to the rice paddies around Kuala Selangor which would have bumped the trip list up a bit but not too bothered on missing those birds – will get them another time. Note accommodation seems to go up in price over the weekends and places are often a lot busier (e.g. if you’re trying to bird a road area, e.g. around Fraser’s Hill). Also, if you’re over 4ft tall you’ll probably struggle to fit under most showers....! I stayed at the following locations: De Palma Inn (3 nights) – for birding at Kuala Selangor. This hotel was not great and it was the most expensive I stayed at. It was about OK. The breakfast was included in the price and was OK but there was not much of it. The evening meals were hit or miss but generally miss, and drastically overpriced compared to other places I stayed at, and the nearby town – but the food I had there was pretty ropey. The room wasn’t particularly clean but it was my first location and when I arrived was too tired to bother asking to change. It was actually quite a long walk to/from Kuala Selangor Nature Park so I got taxi’s there and walked back (good for nightjars). They did arrange a decent taxi into the park which was reasonably priced. I’m sure there were decent places to eat in the town but I didn’t find any. Some of the staff at the Inn were not particularly helpful to be honest, but some (e.g. a chef I spoke to) were. However, I wouldn’t stay here again. Shahzan Inn (7 nights) – for birding at Fraser’s Hill. I really enjoyed it here, this was reasonable B&B cost, and less than you’d pay for a B&B in the UK. Decent sized room (two beds!), bathroom and balcony with a decent view (got me good views of Greater Yellownape, Green-billed Malkoha and Large Hawk-Cuckoo amongst others). The room did smell a bit damp when I got there but a few days in, after having the window open that soon went (or I was smelling equally damp and didn’t notice!). The breakfast was good, plenty of food, and the main meals were very good, staff very friendly and helpful too – would go out of their way to make sure I got all I needed. Great location for getting onto the trails and the other eateries in the town (really liked two places in the food square, a Malaysian one and a Chinese one). They provided tea and coffee and drinking water in the room daily – if you run out of water get it from the ‘tat’ shop near the roundabout as cheaper than buying extras from the hotel. They have bird feeders in front of the dining room, these didn’t pull in the number of birds that the Jelai Resort feeders did but still got a couple of good birds. I would happily stay here again and recommend it to anyone. Mutiara Taman Negara Resort (10 nights) – for birding at Taman Negara Difficult one this; I really enjoyed it, but at the same time there were things I really hated! I stayed in the ‘hostel’ (bunk rooms with 4 bunk-beds and communal shower/toilet facilities). I took a B&B option which was really good value for money. All the food was great, I had large breakfasts most mornings and then generally didn’t need anything until evening – I often ate in the restaurant and the food was very nice (beer was expensive but I didn’t think the food was too expensive). The bunk rooms were very good/clean and it was generally nice to meet a range of different people – though take ear-plugs as you never know who’s going to be arriving! The staff at the resort were generally friendly and helpful and the little shop is good and stocks a wide range of stuff that you may need – if you collect up all your
Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk 4

rubbish and take it back they give you money back too, so although costs may be a little higher than back in Kuala Taha, by the time you’ve had a two-way boat ride and received your ‘money-back’ offer it works out pretty much the same. The location is great for birding in the forest. The problem for me was it was that the resort, and surrounding area was too much like a ‘theme park’ that had to be kept in pristine condition for the hundreds of tourists that pass through there to get too or from the ‘Canopy Walk’ each day. I lost count of the number of times I was sat peacefully in the forest near the resort trying to stalk some secretive bird or watch a fruiting tree only to have either a crowd of loud (generally Malaysian or French) tourists come shouting along the trail, or worst a guy from the resort with a leaf blower, blowing leaves off the broadwalk trails – I’m not joking, you could hear him coming for miles! IT’S A FOREST, THERE ARE LEAVES, GET USED TO IT!!! I did see some very good birds near the resort; however I probably missed a few too because of this and that kind of noise really irritates me! Once away from the resort – about 2 km+ it generally becomes quieter but the Lubok Simpon Swimming Pool part of the Sungai Tahan and Bukit Teresek/Canopy Walk areas are honeypots for the day-tripper so get there early or late in the day to avoid the crowds. Having grumbled about some of this above would this stop me going back? In short… NO. I recorded pretty much 200 species within 6 km of the resort in 10 days. I’ll be heading back there sometime soon and the hostel B&B option is very good value for money. Unknown in Kuala Lumpur (1 night) – for a city stopover I stayed in Kuala Lumpur on my final night but can’t remember where! Was a hotel near the mono-rail for ease of access to the city centre and pick up connections to the airport etc. Was actually a really nice room and bathroom (the best of the trip) and if I can remember what it was called I’d happily stay there again! I had a nice Chinese meal at the market. This was a good location for accessing the park at the Petronas Towers which was a couple of stops down the line.

Birding Sites Visited
Kuala Selangor I had two and a half days in the Nature Park at Kuala Selangor, birding was good, though I didn’t see Mangrove Pitta which I hoped I would have. I was probably not totally on the ball when here as had only just arrived and my head was not quite in the right place! There is a decent trail network, though some trails/broadwalk through the mangroves has been washed away. There was quite a lot of noisy construction work going on round the HQ, I think they are building/renovating some facilities which should be good when completed, though I seemed to time my visit with ‘national strimmer week’ which was also quite noisy. I spent the heat of the day sat in the concrete tower hide which was good for raptors (great views of Black Baza from here)/swifts/pigeons and often smaller birds would come close in the adjacent tree tops e.g. Coppersmith’s Barbet, Pied Triller, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker – though beware the troop of Long-tailed Macaque, if they come up the platform secure your stuff! Was hot and dry here, I think it was between 35-40oC during the day. There was also, rather predictably, quite a lot of mosquitos around the mangrove trail so get some deet. Did get some quality birds here like: Black Baza, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Barred Eagle-Owl, Buffy Fish-Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar, White-throated, BlackMalaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk 5

capped, Collared and Common Kingfishers, Blue-tailed and Blue-throated Bee-eater, Bluewinged Pitta, Linneated and Coppersmith’s Barbets, Laced and Sunda Woodpeckers, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Mangrove Whistler, Tiger and Brown Shrikes, Blacknaped Drongo, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Grey Tit, Abbott’s Babbler, Hill Myna, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Mangrove Blue-Flycatcher, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and Scaly-breasted Munia.

Black-capped Kingfisher (left) and Collared Kingfisher (right), Kuala Selangor

Coppersmith’s Barbet (left) and Little Bronze Cuckoo (right), Kuala Selangor

Black Baza (left) and Brahminy Kite (right), Kuala Selangor

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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Fraser’s Hill A week here was great and really allowed a gradual introduction to the areas birds. I saw some awesome birds but I did miss a few, e.g. Mountain Peacock-Pheasant and Himalayan Cutia (the later seen by some Dutch birders the day before I arrived) and Malaysian Whistling-Thrush spring to mind… There are loads of great trails (map below); I found the Hemmant Trail the most productive for connecting with mixed flocks (or ‘bird waves’ as they are called here) and for getting good views of them. I also liked the Bishop’s Trail – this is arguably where I saw the better birds. The Jelai Resort area was excellent early morning with birds attracted to the bird feeders (the resort car park lights are left on overnight so attract some decent moths – and then the insectivorous birds) – though this area can be noisy and busy with Malaysian and Thai photographers who tend to stand 3ft from the feeders with 800mm lenses…. I walked several kms along the Pine Tree Trail but didn’t see too much on this one (though this was where the Cutia was – at about 1.6 km in, and this is the best spot for the Mountain Peacock-Pheasant I think). I walked round the Telekom loop and connected with a huge bird wave – the biggest of the trip, staggering stuff! I got a lift down to the Gap – a good change in species, spent an afternoon here before walking back up the old road – very good for different species to the top – though I did get soaked to the skin by a huge deluge before managing to hitch a lift up with a young Chinese couple who took pity on me! On another day I did walk down the old road from the top which again resulted in a good range of species. Just generally walking the roads produced good birds too. I also got lucky by meeting Norfolk birder Mike Edgecombe, who was very experienced in SE Asia so spending a couple of days birding with him at the beginning of my time at Fraser’s Hill really helped set me up, and who I now blame for my Pitta addiction!

A copy of a useful map of Fraser’s Hill

(please email me if you want me to send you this as a file – details below)
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I really liked the feel of Fraser’s Hill, great birding, good accommodation, food, and climate (mid-20oCs) etc. It did get busy over the weekend which was the only downside, but in truth most of these people didn’t go onto the trails, they just seemed to drive around the roads and filled up the hotels/restaurants! There were a few leaches about on the trails after the days that it rained, but nothing too bad to be honest.

Landscape view near the Pine Tree Trail (left) and typical signage around Fraser’s Hill (right)

Key species notes:
Rusy-naped Pitta: Two birds were heard along Bishop’s Trail, one bird was calling by the first 90o bend in the trail coming in from the Bishop’s House end and another bird was calling by the first gully here – both were heard at the same time. Despite waiting around for several hours across several days there was no sign so one morning I decided to get in there for first light. I got to the start of the trail in darkness and waited until it was just light enough to see. I progressed down the trail one step at a time, stopping and scanning the trail, watching where I was standing to avoid making any noise. As I got near to the first bend I picked the bird up in the gloom, incredibly hard to pick out then it would hop and I’d see it again. I creeped up to it and enjoyed good views of the bird for 10 minutes or so before it carried on down the slope and out of view. I was pretty pleased with this view! [3 Dutch birders and a Danish birder also saw Rusty-naped Pitta at Fraser’s Hill before and after my sighting, they both had a bird on the Maxwell Trail] Malaysian Partridge: After seeing the Rusty-naped Pitta I headed back up the trail towards the Bishop’s House – again very slowly, to an area where I’d noticed some fallen fruit, as I approached I had a group of 3 Malaysian Partridge walking about – great birds! During the course of my time at Fraser’s Hill I heard several calling – mainly in the Bishop’s Trail area. Other interesting species (including Gap area) recorded included: Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Black Eagle, Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Green-billed, Red-billed and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha’s, Mountain Scops-Owl, Collared Owlet, Grey Nightjar, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Fire-tufted and Black-browed Barbets, Speckled Piculet, Lesser and Greater Yellownapes, Bamboo and Bay Woodpeckers, Long-tailed Broadbill, Grey-chinned and Scarlet Minivets, Blyth’s and Blackeared Shrike-Babblers, Black-and-Crimson Oriole, Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo, Whitethroated Fantail, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Green Magpie, Sultan Tit, Rufousbellied Swallow, Black-crested, Ochraceous and Mountain Bulbuls, Yellow-browed, Eastern Crowned, Yellow-breasted and Yellow-belied Warblers, Everett’s White-eye, Grey-throated and Buff-breasted Babblers, Streaked and Pygmy Wren-Babblers, Black, Spectacled and Malaysian Laughingthrushes, Silver-eared Mesia, Long-tailed Sibia, Blue-winged Minla, Blue
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Nuthatch, Orange-headed and Eye-browed Thrushes, Lesser Shortwing, Rufous-browed, Little Pied, Verditer and Mugumaki Flycatchers, Large Niltava, Pygmy and Hill BlueFlycatchers, Blue-winged and Orange-bellied Leafbird, Black-throated Sunbird and Streaked Spiderhunter.

Lesser Shortwing (left) and Pygmy Wren-Babbler (right) Bishop’s Trail, Fraser’s Hill

Little Pied Flycatcher (left) and Mugimaki Flycatcher (right) – both males Jelai Resort, Fraser’s Hill

Silver-eared Mesia (left) and Streaked Spiderhunter (right) Jelai Resort, Fraser’s Hill

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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White-throated Fantail (left) and Large Niltava – male (right) Jelai Resort, Fraser’s Hill

Spectacled Laughingthrush (left) and Malaysian Laughingthrush (right) Jelai Resort, Fraser’s Hill

Taman Negara Ten days here was fantastic, it really gave me time to immerse myself in birding in this mega-diverse forest. The whole experience of birding in Taman Negara truly out of this world! It isn’t just the birds that make it such a great experience, the other animals, and the plants are pretty crazy too! It was generally between hot and very hot and pretty much always very humid for the duration – I’d guess at mid-late 30oCs. There were a few rain showers – by showers I mean deluges, the kind of showers that soak you to the skin in a matter of seconds, and turn footpaths into raging rivers! You can generally hear them coming… They also included a lot of thunder and lightning and resulted in many tree/branch falls! If it starts raining I suggest getting out of the forest ASAP! The leaches weren’t too bad, they just seemed to come out after it rained. I did almost stand on a 10ft black cobra which would have been bad, and I did have a smaller snake jump out of the river (Sungai Tahan) and land on the sand next to me… see picture below. I’d recommend finding as many fruiting trees as possible, and check these out as often as possible. You can walk the same trail 4 times a day and see different birds each time – even in the heat during the middle of the day. I’ve included a trail map below. The map provided by the National Park is pretty useless as the scale is no good if you’re trying to navigate your way around.

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A copy of a useful map of the Kuala Tahan section of Taman Negara

(please email me if you want me to send you this as a file – details below)

I spent most of my time on the trails within about 6 km of the Mutiara Resort. I found the Sungai Tahan River Trail one of, if not the best and I walked this several times to the Tabing Hide area – about 4 km I think. Some of the footpath distance markers are way out so difficult to judge! One day it took me about 5 hours to cover 500 m as there was so many birds! The Cegar Anjing area and Tabing Hide area were good. The Sungai Tembeling River Trail was also good but best early or late when the hordes of people aren’t on it! The Swamp Loop/Back Loop and Tahan Hide all kind of join up and are interlinked and are also good (if there’s not a leaf blower on it). I hiked up to Bukit Teresek once, was a steep walk – something like 1000 steps up to the first viewpoint, but there was a few different species
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there that I didn’t get elsewhere – also a rare opportunity to get a view of the sky! Just get there as early as possible and leave before the first 100 tourists get there! I did both ends of the Jenet Muda trail but didn’t do the whole thing. I walked (with some Dutch birders I met) on the trail to Belau Hide – it was pretty hard going (steep, rope climbing scrabbling over roots and rocks etc) and we didn’t really see anything to shout home about! Took one boat ride up to Lata Berkoh – this is a really popular area in the afternoon, the people that don’t kill themselves hiking up to Bukit Teresek then jump in a boat and spend the afternoon doing whatever up there, so get there early, we were lucky as we were first there so got to enjoy some decent birds before it got busy. One word of warning, make sure your boat driver knows you want to stop for birds. We arranged our boat through the Mutiara Resort stating this, we were assured this would be fine, however when we heard a couple of Strawheaded Bulbuls the boat guy just wouldn’t stop, which was really frustrating! Saw some good birds along the river, and a White-handed Gibbon running through the trees across the river was one of my highlights of the holiday – spectacular.

View out of the Tahan Hide (left) and Sungai Tahan just beyond Lubok Simpon (right), Taman Negara

Birding highlights were many. My highlight day came on my last full day which I spent birding with Rob and Di an Australian couple I’d met a couple of days earlier– we’d been on a boat trip up to Lata Berkoh first thing in the morning which in itself resulted in some quality birds. We got dropped off at the Cegar Anjing Hide where we would walk back to the Mutiara Resort during the afternoon. We found a fruiting tree at Cegar Anjing and sat under it for 20 minutes while we had our lunch – which turned into 2 hours in a heartbeat! We could hear Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant calling and then also Malaysian Rail-Babbler so we decided to head into the jungle after them. We followed the sound of the Malaysian RailBabbler and sat in the trail and waited for it to come to us – which it gradually did – and finally it gave brilliant views, it was great to be able to watch it walk about, stopping to call (this after days of being heard only near to the resort), the Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant by this time had shut up – but I didn’t really care as I’d already seen a few! We then crossed (waded) back over the Sungai Tahan (dodging 15+ boat loads of tourists) and headed to the Tabing Hide. I’d seen Garnet Pitta on the Sungai Tembeling River Trail the previous day, but had heard Garnet Pitta here on two previous occasions and wasn’t happy that it had eluded me, so we made it a target – however in the meantime we could hear another Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant calling so went off trail for it, in doing so we found a Bluewinged Pitta that flew into an opening in front of us, and then found the Malaysian PeacockPheasant! This was awesome birding! By now the Garnet Pitta was calling so we went into the forest again at a different spot after it and in no time at all we’d found it, hopping along the ground right in front of us! Wow! – The day couldn’t get any better... but it did. It sounded like the Garnet Pitta had gone up into a tree, while scanning for it I located a dayroosting Gould’s Frogmouth!!! Rob didn’t/couldn’t believe me until I told him where to look…
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then he did! This was totally crazy and was all set to the background ‘noise’ of calling Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant and Great Argus! We were all buzzing on the walk back to the resort (seeing 3 Large Wren-Babblers on the way!). The beers went down well that evening!!!

Key species notes:
Crested Partridge: Had a pair of Crested Partridge along the Sungai Tembeling River Trail beyond the Canopy Walkway. After crossing a couple of gorges the trail goes up a slight slope where it levels off to a fairly wide, sandy trail. The partridge were here, presumably feeding on some fruit fall. Stunning birds. Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant: Several heard with a few seen. There was one bird close to the Mutiara Resort that was seen several times along the Sungai Tahan River Trail and also along the Swamp Loop. There was also a bird near the Cegar Anjing hide, with another near the Tabing Hide. Most times it was recorded by its harsh call. Great Argus: THE sound of Taman Negara for me. The sound carries for miles so difficult to estimate how many but most seemed to be higher/beyond the Jenet Muda Trail (where one had a dancing ground). Also birds over near the Belau Hide area. A female was feeding under a fruiting tree along the Sungai Tahan River Trail just before the Lubok Simpon Swimming Pool. Banded Pitta: Dip of the trip for me unfortunately. I heard one behind the Mutiara Resort at the junction of Swamp and Back Loops, however I couldn’t get to it! Oh well, gives me a reason to go back! Garnet Pitta: One of the ‘bird of the trip’ contenders. At first they were frustrating me by calling but not anywhere I could get too, e.g. beyond impenetrable spikey palms etc. I had 2 birds calling at the Tabing Hide area, eventually I saw one of these at my third attempt, and this one was hopping around the ground and showed well. The day prior to this I had one calling in a low tree along the Sungai Tembeling River Trail about 1.5/2 km beyond the Canopy Walkway. After spending 20 minutes creeping up on it I located it and it allowed prolonged views at close range. [One of the Australian couples (David and Sue) I birded with during the climax of my time in Taman Negara also recorded a Garnet Pitta on the Jenet Muda trail] Hooded Pitta: I saw a Hooded Pitta along the Sungai Tembeling River Trail in the gully before the Canopy Walkway, while I was watching this bird a second bird started calling from lower down the slope closer to the river. About 20 minutes later, and some 500 m away I saw a third bird just off the same trail, but this time much closer to the Mutiara Resort and this was all on my first afternoon! I also saw another bird, this time on my last morning along the Sungai Tahan River Trail before reaching the Lubok Simpon Swimming Pool area. Blue-winged Pitta: One bird was heard near the Tahan Hide (the day after the Night Walk found one roosting there!) though this bird didn’t come closer and I couldn’t work out a way through the vegetation. I saw 2 birds, 1 at Tabing Hide, and 1 near the Lubok Simpon Swimming Pool – both showed well but briefly. Malaysian Rail-Babbler: Had 2 birds calling on the Swamp Loop over several days, but I could never get close to them and they’d always managed to evade me somehow!
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Eventually though I got fantastic views of a bird near the Cegar Anjing Hide. I think the best tactic for this species is, when you hear one, find an area with a good view of the forest floor and sit it out and wait for it to walk into view! Bird of the trip I’d guess (pushed close by Long-tailed Broadbill, Garnet Pitta, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Blue Nuthatch and Yellowrumped Flycatcher – I could probably go on…). Gould’s Frogmouth: Got great views of a bird at night as it was calling near the Campsite at Mutiara Resort then had incredible views at really close range of a bird (during the day) near Tabing Hide. There was at least 2 other birds heard calling near the Mutiara Resort. Rufous-collared Kingfisher: A really impressive bird, I had one bird in the gully just before the Canopy Walkway on Sungai Tembeling River Trail. Had a bird on the Sungai Tahan River Trail not far from Tabing Hide (thanks to the Dutch birders) but then had another one on the Sungai Tahan River Trail south of the Lubok Simpon Swimming Pool which I think was probably breeding in that area by the way it was behaving. Blue-banded Kingfisher: I saw a pair regularly near the Lubok Simpon Swimming Pool, best tactic is to get there before the crowds and wait for them to fly in/by (the birds). I also had another pair on the boat trip near Lata Berkoh.

Garnet Pitta (left) and Gould’s Frogmouth (right), Taman Negara

Hooded Pitta (left) and Malaysian Peacock-Pheasant (right), Taman Negara

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Rufous-collared Kingfisher (left) and Blue-banded Kingfisher (right), Taman Negara

Some of the other highlights of the 200 species I recorded at Taman Negara in 10 days included: Crested Fireback, Black-thighed Falconet, Bat Hawk, Lesser Fish-Eagle, Rufousbellied Eagle, Buffy Fish-Owl, Collared Scops-Owl, Malaysian Eared-Nightjar, Brown-backed Needletail, Silver-rumped Spinetail, Red-naped, Diard’s, Orange-breasted and Scarletrumped Trogons, White-throated, Banded, Stork-billed, Rufous-backed and Blue-eared Kingfishers, Black and Rhinoceros Hornbills, White-bellied, Buff-necked, Maroon, Buffrumped, Orange-backed, Checker-throated, Banded and Grey-and-Buff Woodpeckers, Blackand-Red, Black-and-Yellow, Green and Banded Broadbills, Rufous-winged and Maroonbreasted Philentomas, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Dark-throated Oriole, Greater Racquettailed Drongo, Spotted Fantail, Black-naped Monarch, Black Magpie, Straw-headed, Blackand-White, Grey-bellied, Black-headed, Stripe-throated, Red-eyed, Finch’s, Spectacled, Yellow-bellied, Grey-cheeked and Ashy Bulbuls, Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, Black-capped, Moustached, Sooty-capped, Scaly-crowned, Rufous-crowned, White-chested, Ferruginous, Abbott’s, Horsfield’s and Short-tailed Babblers, Large Wren-Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Siberian and Eye-browed Thrushes, White-rumped Shama, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Rufous-chested, Mugimaki, Dark-sided and Blue-and-White Flycatchers, Malaysian Blue-Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Greater and Lesser Green Leafbirds, Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and Long-billed, Spectacled, Grey-breasted and Thick-billed Spiderhunters.

Banded Broadbill (left) and Black-and-Yellow Broadbill (right), Taman Negara

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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Buffy Fish-Owl (left) and Crested Fireback (right), Taman Negara

Lesser Fish-Eagle (left) and Red-naped Trogon (right), Taman Negara

Little Green Broadbill (left) and Banded Kingfisher (right), Taman Negara

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (left) and Malaysian Blue-Flycatcher (right), Taman Negara

Lots of interesting animals – various squirrels and tree-shrews, Palm-Civet, White-handed Gibbon, Mouse-Deer, Indian Muntjac, Long-tailed Macaques, Wild Boar, several snakes, lizards, geckos, Giant Millipedes etc. There were plenty of pretty awesome looking Butterflies of all shapes and sizes!

Snake sp (left) and Long-tailed Macaque (right), Taman Negara

Giant Millipede (left) and Flying-Lizard sp (right), Taman Negara
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Kuala Lumpur Area I met up with Weng Chun, a bird guide out of KL, it was really good to be able to spend a few hours in his company and I’d recommend anyone who wants a guide for their time in Malaysia to get in touch with him. We went to a nice forested area just out of KL (after a really nice Roti Cania at a roadside stall) and connected with some great birds including 3 Black-thighed Falconets, Black-and-Yellow Broabill, Banded Kingfisher, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker etc. Before my flight I also grabbed an hour in the late-morning at the Petronas Towers – though not a single Swiftlet was present! Did see plenty of other birds even though it was very hot: Brown Shrike, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Black-naped Oriole, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Asian Koel etc.

Surprisingly good birding in the park under the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Black-thighed Falconet (left) and Blue-tailed Bee-eater (right), Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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If you want any more detailed information about specific species mentioned above (I’ve not mentioned all species I’ve seen!) just drop me an email, likewise if you want any further specific information about logistics/birding locations etc.

Background Information/References/Resources
I made the use of several trip reports that I found on the internet, one on Fraser’s Hill (by Bjorn Anderson 2007) and one on Taman Negara (by Paul Jones 2007) were particularly useful as they had some info on the trails at these locations and a list of birds to go through. I also had an old (1990s) trip report by Phil Heath courtesy of Tony Stones who lent me his copy – though obviously quite old the maps in it were still useful – and information on some of the wildlife was useful too. Of great help was hearing from people who had birded there recently – thanks to Tim Cleeves who went through all sorts from logistics and accommodation to target species with me at an early planning stage based on his recent trip, and thanks to Chris and Keren Wormwell and ‘Halftwo’ from Birdforum land who provided very up-to-date info from the weeks leading up to my trip. Whilst in Malaysia I had the great benefit of bumping into Mike Edgecombe from Norfolk as well as three Dutch birders (who were touring round The Philippines, Malaysia and Borneo for three months…) – all who had phenomenal knowledge of the birds by sight/sound which really helped and made birding enjoyable with them. I also met a couple of really helpful local guides, Weng Chun, Peter and Andrew – again all shared gen (I have their details if anyone requires a guide). I also met a few birders over there from Australia (David and Sue; Rob and Di) and America (Branden) and it was great sharing knowledge and tapping into their expertise and just generally having a good laugh and some beers with too. If I’ve missed anyone sorry, not intentional! I used the Allen Jeyarajasingam: A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (Second Edition) 2012. This was an interesting experience. Most people I’ve spoken with who’ve used this book think it is woeful in some regards (which I tend to agree with); however the data within the species accounts is very useful – though as always with field guides out of date. It is a shame that there are no distribution maps. The species plates are hit-and-miss (difficult to link pictures with species due to the plate layout) and some of the colours (e.g. sunbirds/spiderhunters) are way off the mark and the babblers just don’t look anything like real life! I also took Craig Robson: A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia (2011 Edition) – this has extended plates, a bit of a larger format and updated species accounts/taxonomy, but still no maps. With this book the plates are generally very good, e.g. the Babblers and Sunbirds are a lot more accurate, but the Malkoha’s are pretty poor. The main difficulty is the sheer volume of species covered and for those not familiar with the countries birds it would be easy to make mistakes. All in all I think having the two books works as a good compromise. I tended to take Jeyarajasingam out into the field and leave Robson in the room for reference. If there’s more than just one person in your ‘group’ I suggest taking both out. I also used Birds of Tropical Asia 3 which proved very useful.

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Summary
I had a really fantastic time and saw a great range of birds. It’s Thailand for me next but will definitely be heading back to Malaysia sometime soon; there are still plenty of good birds to see! Fraser’s Hill is a world class birding location whatever your birding interest or level (and great for the photographer), and Taman Negara is simply stunning! If you would like any further information please drop me an email to andywalker1000 AT hotmail.com subject Malaysia Birding Thanks, Andy 20th May 2013.

Birding in the rainforest – my usual pose for the three weeks! (sporting my excellent Craghoppers Gear)

Malaysia Trip Report March 2013 © Andy Walker http://awbirder.blogspot.co.uk

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