Peninsular Malaysia – Hornbill and Central Route Tour

Peninsular Malaysia – Hornbill and Central Route Tour

Peninsular Malaysia – Hornbill and Central Route Tour
By Keith Cowton
18th September – 2nd October 2015

As a very keen birdwatcher and photographer resident in England, I have visited all the Continents of the world to see birds and other wildlife. In the past, I had visited Nepal, Hong Kong, southern India and Northern Thailand, with this being my second visit to Malaysia having spent three weeks birding in Borneo in November 2012. As a result of my travels birding, I have managed to see over 5,000 species.

Bird Malaysia – Natural History Tours organized the above tour of Peninsular Malaysia for me, with it being divided into two separate sections.
The first week accompanied by Asami Nakada, a Japanese lady, visiting :- Sungai Sedim, Royal Belum State Park and Temengor Forest Reserve/Lake, Taman Negara – Merapoh and Lake Kenyir.  The second week visiting :- Taman Negara – Tahan (Mutiara), Fraser’s Hill, Sekincahn paddy fields, and Kuala Selangor State Park.

Asami+Keith in belum










Overall, during the tour, I recorded 264 species, of which 76 were lifers. The following number of each of these species were recorded – Dove’s (10), Malkoha’s (6), Trogon’s (3), Owl’s (8), Frogmouth’s (3) Kingfisher’s (4), Hornbill’s (9), Barbet’s (8), Woodpecker’s (13) Bulbul’s (15), Babbler’s (20) and Pitta’s (2).

Throughout the tour, the organization by Bird Malaysia was excellent. From the time that I met Sri, Shakira and guide, Andrew Sebastien at Penang Airport, to when Sing and Carol took over guiding me at Fraser’s Hill everything ran smoothly, staying in good hotels all perfectly situated to ensure the most time available being spent in the field, birdwatching.

Birding highlights at each location visited being as follows
Sungai Sedim – Raffle’s Malkoha, Rufous-winged Philentoma and hairy-backed Bulbul.

Royal Belum State Park and Temengor Forest Reserve/Lake – 5 Hornbill’s – Black, Great, Pied and Plain-pouched, 3 Malkoha’s – Raffle’s, Red-billed and Black-bellied, Chestnut-naped Forktail
With photographic opportunities – Buffy-fish Owl at a daytime roost, Grey-headed and Lesser Fish Eagles, Oriental Honey Buzzard.

Taman Negara – Merapoh –  Night birds – Large Frogmouth, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, and Buffy Fish Owl, 4 Woodpecker’s – Banded, Buff-necked, Buff-rumped and Rufous, Pitta’s 2 – Garnet and Malaysian Banded, Broadbills 3 – Banded, Black and Yellow and Grren, Crested Jay.

Lake Kenyir. – 6 Hornbill’s – Great, Helmeted, Pied, Rhinocerous, White-crowned and Wreathed,
Javan Cuckooshrike and Red-breasted Bee-eater, Night birds – Savana Nightjar and Blyth’s Frogmouth.


crown hornbill









Taman Negara – Tahan (Mutiara) – Crested Fireback, Great Argus, Crested Partridge, Black Magpie, Gould’s Frogmouth, Straw-headed Bulbul, Large Wren Babbler, Siberian Blue Robin, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher.

Fraser’s Hill – Laughingthrush’s 3 – Black, Chestnut-capped and Malaysian, Black-browed and Fire-tufted Barbets, Green-billed Malkoha, Black-eared and White-browed Shrike-babblers, Blue Whistling-thrush,  Lesser Shortwing, Pygmy and Streaked wren-babblers, Black and Crimson Oriole, Slaty-backed Forktail.

Sekinchan paddy fields – Cinnamon Bitterns, Great, Intermediate and Little Egrets, Striated and Purple Herons, Black-crowned Night-heron, Chinese Pond-heron and Watercock
Kuala Selangor State Park – Laced Woodpecker, Mangrove Whistler, Lineated Barbet, Olive-winged Bulbul, Arctic and Dusky Warblers, Asian Brown and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers.

The excellent opportunities’ available to photograph the birds, butterflies and animals seen throughout the tour being an added bonus.

Reported (with thanks) By Keith Cowton.
Pictures Credited to Asami Nakada.


Fraser Hills to Penang Birding

Fraser Hills to Penang Birding

By Tan Choo Eng December 2011

I met Franz and Melita at Penang Airport on their arrival and we immediately went to Penang Botanical Gardens for some afternoon birding. The best bird of the day spotted here is Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher.

The next morning we make our way to Birding at Sedim Tree-Top Walk. There was a fruiting tree visited by all species of lowland Barbets and a Mugimaki flycatcher. Banded Kingfisher were heard but did not managed to see it at the Tree-Top Walk. They missed a flying Bat Hawk but had good views of the flying Blue-Banded Kingfisher.

We had a good lunch with at Kemunting Lakeview Restaurant and entertained by a Green-billed Malkoha. On the way to nearby Ulu Paip Forest Reserve we spotted 3 Greater Coucals. By late afternoon we reached Mahang-Selama route to Taiping and make a stop at the Pond Tanjong Peat Swamp. Here we spotted 10 Little Green Pigeons and heard Great Argus well. We arrived Taiping Golf Resort by late evening.

The next morning, we were looking forward to the Maxwell Hill trip; unfortunately because of a fallen tree the Jeep service was cancelled and we continued on birding on foot. We hike all the way till the Rose Garden (mid-level) and reach there by mid-afternoon just in time for a bird wave including  Scaly-Breasted Bubul and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher. The Forktail was heard but not seen. We spotted 4 raptors high up in the sky that we later identified as the Crested Goshawk – sub-adult, Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, followed by the Rufous-bellied Eagle and Crested Serpent Eagle.


By noon we reach the nearby Hawker centre for lunch with a bottle of Royal Stout. There after we had a laid back birding from the car around the foothills and Taiping Lake area. We spotted a pair of perching Black-thighed Falconet whilst observing them, a magnificent pair of Rhinoceros Hornbill which was a lifer for Franz came to view as well.

We made our way to Bukit Merah Lake and along the way we spotted Pink-necked Pigeons, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Osprey that was perched a bit far and a Changeable Hawk Eagle dark morph perched near its nest.

The next morning we head to Kamunting wetlands and was rewarded with a single Cotton Pgmy-Goose , Lesser Whistling Duck, Egrets, Brahminy Kites, Serpent Eagles and some Oriental Pratincoles.

Whilst driving up Fraser’s Hill late afternoon, we saw a  Pale morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle, a pair of Malayan or Javan Cuckoo-Shrike, Flocks of Long-tailed Sibia, Silver-eared Mesiaand the Sultan Tits. My part ended here and we say our farewell. Overall it has been a rewarding birding for us all.

Fraser Hill
Fraser Hill
Birding the traditional Peninsular Malaysia Route

Birding the traditional Peninsular Malaysia Route

By Andrew Sebastian
July 2011

It was a brilliantly warm afternoon when Waldy Brouwer from Holland and I begun our 8 day bird and nature adventure . First stop was my old stomping ground – Kuala Selangor and the paddy fields of Sekincan.

Paddy field was first, taking full advantage of the clear sunny evening. To our dismay, clouds of smoke and haze filled the evening air as the farmers set their dried fields on fire in preparation of the next planting cycle. It’s amazing that while we point our fingers at Indonesia for our hazy weather, we somehow overlook our very own backyard. Anyway, we did manage to record a few ‘regulars’ namely the Watercock, White-breasted Wood-swallows and Cattle egrets. We ended the night on a good note with the ever dependable Buffy Fish Owl at Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP).

The next morning, we hit KSNP early and were blessed with a good mix of birds, starting with the Barred Eagle Owl (the largely odd daytime owl!), 3 of its woodpeckers (Laced, Common and the Brown-capped), Abbot’s Babbler, Pied Fantail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Purple & Grey Herons, Pied Triller, Great Tit etc.

On route to Fraser’s Hill, we decided to take a quick detour to visit Bagan Sungai Buloh with the chance for the Milky Stork and/or Lesser Adjutants. We got a good bag of 5 Lesser Adjutants and a couple of Great Egrets for our trouble – a good end to the Kuala Selangor leg of our trip. 52 species were recorded for this leg.

We arrived early evening at the lower Gap gate and decided to bird the area first. As a welcome to Fraser’s Hill, a pair of Rhinoceros hornbills, Silvered breasted Broadbills and the Rufous Piculet gave us good looks and although the Bathawk gave us a miss, we were happy to end the evening and drive up the old road after watching the fantastic display of 5 Malaysian-eared Nightjars fly and vocalize along the valley. At the car park of Shahzan Inn, we were pleasantly surprised to have the Brown Wood Owl sit out and gave us good looks! Thanks to the every trusty Durai who pointed it out for us as we said our hellos. They must be in cahoots!!

The next two days at Fraser’s Hill was great. Good weather and confiding birds. Although troubled with more signs of land clearing from the Raub area, we recorded gems such as the Red-headed Trogons (every day & walk, almost), Long Tailed Broadbill, Large Niltava, Lesser Shortwing, Lesser and Greater Yellownape, Chequer-throated Woodpecker, Blue Nuthatch, Slaty backed Forktail, Sultan Tit, Bat Hawk etc. Although the best experience was waiting an hour and finally getting a pair of the Blue Whistling Thrush (yes, we tried but failed to get on the Malayan on the upper gate!) at Jeriau, the highlight was when we walked past and looked down an eroded section at Telekom Loop and joked that the Rusty-naped Pitta will hop out in the open..and guess what – it called almost immediately and lying down on the roadside, we called and watched it hop out in the open, at the base of the erosion. We believe that there was a pair present but only the female showed herself. We high fived, thanked the birding gods (and pitta) and moved on to our next chapter of an already amazing trip, with 73 species recorded for the area.

Three hours plus later we arrive on our final destination for the next 3 nights, Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara. Throwing our bags into our rooms at the ‘posh’ Mutiara, we hit the nearby trails. Very dry but the Black-thighed Falconet, White-rumped Shama and Grey-rumped Treeswifts were among our first birds. From the Tahan hide, we got our first glimpses and views of Sambar deers, an individual Barking Deer even, Black and Red Broadbills, Red-bearded Bee-eater and a flock of Large Green Pigeons, preening itself on the very tops of a Tualang tree.

Over the course of the next day, we spent our time mostly along the nearby trails, picking up fairly nice birds including Green Broadbills, 4 types of woodpeckers (Crimson-winged, Buff-necked, Buff-rumped and Orange-backed), Cinnamon-backed Trogon and amazing displays of babbler numbers including the Short-tailed, Chestnut-winged, Ferruginous, Black-capped, Sooty-capped, Moustached, White-chested and Black-capped. The highlight of the trails (Swamp Loop, Forest Loop and Lubok Simpon) were getting the Malaysian Rail Babbler, who was very vocal at the swamp loop, the Crested Fireback who stood in the middle of the Tahan Trail and did not allow us to pass (a good scenario) and the great views of the Crested Wood Partridge who made our day, all 5 of them 1 adult male, 2 females (why not) and 2 juveniles.

The best part of our trip and by far the most amazing morning session was our trip downstream to the Yong and Blau hides. It rained the night before after a dry spell of almost 3 weeks and it was our luck to get all the hungry leeches ready for us the next morning, but what a small price to pay as it turned out.

Our first gem off the jetty and 100m into the trail was the Garnet Pitta, conveniently vocal followed by the Diard’s Trogon who seemed unusually shy. Along the trail about 100m before Blau, we were stopped by the Great Argus, first the male, followed by 2 females. We watched in amazement from 30m as its long tail disappeared from our sights. We literally took a few steps and right next to us was the Large Wren Babbler, vocal and very inquisitive. It stood in a clump of bamboos, vocalized and gave us good views for a few minutes, simply amazing. While waiting for the boat at the riverside, we enjoyed the view and got views of a few familiar friends, namely the Blue-eared Kingfisher, White-bellied Munia and Blue-throated Bee-eaters.

As luck would it, the rain continued to pour that evening again and this time, it did not seem to stop! That same night, a pair of recent-released Malayan Tapirs wandered into the compound of Mutiara, just perfect as we packed up and left for Kuala Lumpur the very next day with fond memories and (self proclaimed) great list of birds, mammals and experience of Malaysia’s natural heritage.

We listed 66 birds for Taman Negara which gave us a total of 196 birds…not a bad day at the office.

Taking nothing but some bad photographs and leaving nothing by bootprints !
Reported by Andrew Sebastian

In search of Tapir and Birds

In search of Tapir and Birds

Reported by : Andrew Sebastian

“Bird Malaysia’s recent trip for Tony Puttock and friends at Fraser’s Hill and Taman Negara, was a complete success. All target mammals were recorded especially the Malayan Tapir (2 recently captive-released were recorded at the resorts grounds and a wild pair was recorded for more than 3 hours at the famous Kumbang Hide at Taman Negara) and the Siamang was closely observed at Fraser’s Hill.

The group, guided by naturalist Andrew Sebastian, also recorded over 190 species of birds for this 5 night trip. Here are some images as recorded by the group’s leader Tony Puttock at PhotoBox

Kumbang Hide
Kumbang Hide

Bird Malaysia congrats the groups for a successful and safe trip and for the many wonderful unique and rare wildlife (about 11 different mammals, 6 different primates and 3 species of snakes including the vibrant Coral snake.”

Cheers, Andrew

Incredible Sulawesi: The Birds of North Sulawesi

Incredible Sulawesi: The Birds of North Sulawesi

Knobbed Hornbill
Knobbed Hornbill

Sulawesi is an island located in Indonesia, it is a naturalist wonder. Here the biogeography zone of the species rich Oriental continent fauna and flora in the west will collide with the relative improvised oceanic island flora and fauna of Wallacea to the east.

Sulawesi is the largest and the most geologically complex of all the islands of Wallacea because of the repeated collision between these two biogeographical zones. A unique laboratory in biological life has emerged to give you the most amazing experiment in mammals and avifaunas the world have ever witness.

Yellow Billed Malkohaback
Yellow Billed Malkohaback

There approximately 224 birds found on Mainland Sulawesi, of which 41 species are endemics and a further 56 species are confined to Sulawesi and/or its satellite islands. We  fly into Manado which is the capital of North Sulawesi via Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It is an easy 3 hour flight and we arrived at about 8pm local time. After an interesting 2 hour journey by road we will arrive at Tengkoko National Park, were we bed soon at our lodge in exciting anticipation of the coming 3 days of birding at this park.  In the next seven days endemics will come fast and furious!.

Sulawesi Hawk Eagle
Sulawesi Hawk Eagle

Day 1 & 2: Tengkoko National Park
Habitat type: Lowland rainforest, secondary forest, coastal forest and mangrove forest
Sulawesi Hawk Eagle (SE);Yellow Breasted Racquet-tailed Parrot (SE);Hairy-crested Drongo; Sooty-headed Bulbul ;Silver Tip imperial Pigeon (SE); Yellow Billed Malkoha (E); Sulawesi Black Pigeon (SE); Finch Billed Myna (SE);Buff Banded  Rail ; Channel Billed Cuckoo ;Golden Mantle Racquet Tailed Parrot (E); Rainbow Bee-eater; Green Backed Kingfisher (SE); Black Sunbird ; Lilac Cheeked Kingfisher (SE); Sulawesi Babbler (SE); Ruddy Kingfisher ; Red Backed Thrush (SE); Blue Breasted Pitta ; Brown Cuckoo Dove ; Emerald Dove ; Black Napped Oriole ; White Napped Myna (SE); Red Knob Hornbill (SE); Ashy Woodpecker (SE); Pale Blue Monarch ; Yellow Sided Flower-pecker (SE);White Rumped Cuckoo-shrike (SE); Pied Imperial Pigeon; Scared Kingfisher ; Sulawesi Masked Owl (SE);White Breasted Wood-swallow; Black Billed Kingfisher (SW); Grey Cheeked Green Pigeon ; White Bellied Sea Eagle; Olive Backed Sunbird ; Grey Sided Flower (SE); Black Fronted White Eye; Sulawesi Cicada Bird (SE).

Other wildlife: Tarsier; Sulawesi Black Macaque (SE); Flying Lizards (spp); Squirrels (spp).

Red Backed Thrush Front
Red Backed Thrush Front

Day 3: Tengkoko to Tambun (a breeding site of the unique Maleo)
Habitat type: 4 hours drive along open country, rice paddies and lowland rainforest
Spotted Marsh Harrier; Javan Pond Heron; Red Tuttle Dove; Bay Coucal (SE); Black Billed Koel (SE); Sulawesi Pied Triller (SE); Bhraminy Kite; Maleo (SE); Uniform swiftlet; Great Eared Nightjar.

Note: We spend the next two nights at Doludua with Tante Min Homestay.


Day 4: Dumogo-Bone National Park (am) & Molibagu Road (pm)
Habitat type: Lowland Rainforest and rainforest hill/winding country roads
Purple Needle Tailed Swift; Chestnut Munia; Isabella Bush-hen (SE); Bhraminy Kite; Peregrine Falcon; Ochre Bellied owl (SE); Black Naped Fruit Dove; Spotted Kestrel; Bared Rail; Ochre Bellied Boo Book (SE); Lesser Whistling Duck; Crimson Sunbird; Large Sulawesi Hanging Parrot (SE); Yellow Sided Flowerpecker (SE);Yellow Bellied Malkoha (SE); Common Kingfisher; Sunda Teal; Collared Kingfisher; Red Knobbed Hornbill (SE); Bhraminy Kite; Cattle Egret; Red Backed Thrush (SE); Sulawesi Hawk Eagle (SE); Hairy Crested Drongo; Green Imperial Pigeon; Black Naped Green Pigeon; Black Naped Oriole; Purple Heron; White Necked Myna (SE)

Sulawesi Masked Owl
Sulawesi Masked Owl

Day 5: Molibagu Road (am) to Termohon (pm)
Habitat type: 4 hr drive to Termohon a montane forest via Molibagu Road a winding Lowland Rainforest road.

Sulawesi Short Crested Myna (SE); White bellied Imperial Pigeon (SE); Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill (SE); Grey Sided Flowerpecker (SE);  Hairy Crested Drongo; Sulawesi Goshawk (SE); Grey Rumped Treeswift; Red Knobbed Hornbill (SE); Blue Eared Kingfisher; Sulawesi Cicadabird (SE); Ivory Backed Woodswallow (SE);Small Sulawesi hanging Parrot (SE).
Day 6 and 7 (am): Termohon
Habitat type: Montane Forest (G. Mawaho), Rice fields and reed lands at lake side
Rufus Bellied Eagle; Brown Cuckoo Dove; Mountain  White Eye; Dark Fronted White Eye; Scarlet Honey-eater (SE); Crimson Crowned Flowerpecker (SE); Sulawesi Spotted Goshawk (SE); Sulawesi Serpent Eagle (SE); Bay Coucal (SE); Yellow Bellied Malkoha (SE); Superb Fruit Dove (WE); Citrine Flycatcher; Streaky Headed White Eye (SE); Grey Sided Flowerpecker (SE); Island Verditer; Sulawesi Dwarf Woodpecker (SE); Mountain Tailorbird; White Browed Crake; Cinnamon Bittern; Scaly Breasted Munia; Cinnamon Munia; Little Egret; Wandering Whistling Duck; Ziting Cisticola; Lesser Coucal; Glamorous Reed Warbler; Javan Pond Heron; Black Kite; Bhraminy Kite; Blue Breasted Quail.

Day 7: Manado
A one hour drive to Manado followed by a 1 hour foot massage and then we board the flight home to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Special thanks goes to Kent Nickell for his photographs and descriptions.
Chin Hock and Andrew thanks for the opportunity to  join you.
Reported by : Irshad Mobarak

Total Count: 102 species including 42 Sulawesi Endemics
1. Ashy Woodpecker (SE);
2. Black Fronted White Eye;
3. Brahminy Kite;
4. Black Naped Fruit Dove;
5. Black Naped Oriole;
6. Bared Rail;
7. Black Naped Green Pigeon;
8. Blue Eared Kingfisher;
9. Brown Cuckoo Dove;
10. Bay Coucal (SE);
11. Black Kite;
12. Blue Breasted Quail.
13. Black Billed Kingfisher (SE);
14. Black Billed Koel (SE);
15. Brown Cuckoo Dove ;
16. Bay Coucal (SE);
17. Black Sunbird ;
18. Buff Banded  Rail ;
19. Blue Breasted Pitta ;
20. Black Napped Oriole ;
21. Chestnut Munia;
22. Crimson Sunbird;
23. Common Kingfisher;
24. Collared Kingfisher;
25. Cattle Egret;
26. Crimson Crowned Flowerpecker (SE);
27. Channel Billed Cuckoo ;
28. Citrine Flycatcher;
29. Cinnamon Bittern;
30. Cinnamon Munia;
31. Dark Fronted White Eye;
32. Emerald Dove ;
33. Finch Billed Myna (SE);
34. Golden Mantle Racquet Tailed Parrot (SE);
35. Green Backed Kingfisher (SE);
36. Great Eared Nightjar.
37. Green Imperial Pigeon;
38. Grey Sided Flowerpecker (SE);
39. Grey Rumped Treeswift;
40. Grey Cheeked Green Pigeon ;
41. Glamorous Reed Warbler;
42. Hairy-crested Drongo;
43. Isabella Bush-hen (SE);
44. Ivory Backed Woodswallow (SE);
45. Island Verditer;
46. Javan Pond Heron;
47. Lilac Cheeked Kingfisher (SE);
48. Lesser Whistling Duck;
49. Large Sulawesi Hanging Parrot (SE);
50. Little Egret; Lesser Coucal;
51. Maleo (SE);
52. Mountain  White Eye;
53. Mountain Tailorbird;
54. Olive Backed Sunbird ;
55. Ochre Bellied Boo Book (SE);
56. Pale Blue Monarch;
57. Purple Needle Tailed Swift;
58. Peregrine Falcon;
59. Purple Heron;
60. Pied Imperial Pigeon;
61. Rainbow Bee-eater;
62. Red Tuttle Dove;
63. Rufus Bellied Eagle;
64. Red Knob Hornbill (SE);
65. Ruddy Kingfisher ;
66. Red Backed Thrush (SE);
67. Scared Kingfisher ;
68. Spotted Kestrel;
69. Sunda Teal;
70. Spotted Marsh Harrier;
71. Sulawesi Pied Triller (SE);
72. Sulawesi Hawk Eagle (SE);
73. Sulawesi Short Crested Myna (SE);
74. Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill (SE);
75. Sulawesi Goshawk (SE);
76. Small Sulawesi Hanging Parrot (SE);
77. Scarlet Honey-eater (SE);
78. Sulawesi Spotted Goshawk (SE);
79. Sulawesi Serpent Eagle (SE);
80. Superb Fruit Dove (WE);
81. Streaky Headed White Eye (SE);
82. Sulawesi Dwarf Woodpecker (SE);
83. Scaly Breasted Munia;
84. Sulawesi Cicadabird (SE).
85. Sulawesi Masked Owl (SE);
86. Sulawesi Babbler (SE);
87. Sulawesi Black Pigeon (SE);
88. Silver Tip imperial Pigeon (SE);
89. Sooty-headed Bulbul ;
90. Sulawesi Hawk Eagle (SE);
91. Uniform swiftlet;
92. White Necked Myna (SE);
93. White bellied Imperial Pigeon (SE);
94. White Breasted Wood-swallow;
95. White Browed Crake;
96. White Bellied Sea Eagle;
97. Wandering Whistling Duck;
98. White Rumped Cuckoo-shrike (SE);
99. Yellow Breasted Racquet-tailed Parrot (SE);
100. Yellow Sided Flower-pecker (SE);
101. Yellow Billed Malkoha (SE);
102. Ziting Cisticola;

Maxwell Hill Montane escape

Maxwell Hill Montane escape

I have just come back from a birding trip up Maxwell Hill in the north of the state of Perak. Developed in 1880 Maxwell Hill is the first hill station in then British Malaya. It was built by the British as a cool escape from the sweltering heat of the tropical lowlands.  The drive up is and adventure in itself and worth every cent of the RM 6.00 ringgit I paid. We took the first schedule shuttle at 8 am. A state government operates this service and the vehicles of choice are the ever reliable Land Rovers. There are seventy five hairpin turns in very short successions covered in 40 minutes. What a ride! But you are rest assured in the knowledge that these drivers have been doing this for years and know every nook and cranny on the road.

Maxwell Cendana
Maxwell Cendana

The temperature drops about one degree every 100 meters and at the top it is about thirteen degrees cooler than at the base, a welcomed respite for an island boy. As I have been here before it was great to meet an old friend the Streaked-spiderhunter our first montane species one of three Spiderhunters you can find up this mountain. The great thing about birding up here are the bird waves, which is like standing still and an escalator full of birds go pass you sometimes as many as 7 different species at a time. Birds move in such cooperative waves because their moving along branches flushes insects out and as a group their chances of catching these insects are much improved. I spent two sessions birdwatching and was rewarded with 3 lifers.


Below are the birds I have seen on this trip.
1.    Speckled Piculet (lifer)
2.    Bushy-Crested Hornbill
3.    Wreathed Hornbill
4.    Red-Headed Trogon (glimpsed-heard)
5.    Indian Cuckoo
6.    Drongo Cuckoo
7.    Red-Bearded Bee-Eater (heard only)
8.    Glossy Swiftlet
9.    Little Cuckoo Dove
10.    Crested Serpent Eagle
11.    Blyth’s Hawk Eagle
12.    Orange-Bellied Leafbird
13.    Brown Shrike
14.    Grey-Chinned Minivet
15.    Ashy Minivet
16.    Lesser Racquet-Tailed Drongo (lifer)
17.    White-Browed Fantail
18.    Asian Paradise Flycatcher
19.    Mugimaki Flycatcher
20.    Rufous-Browed Flycatcher
21.    White-Rumped Shama (heard only)
22.    Blue Nuthatch (lifer)
23.    Black Crested Bulbul
24.    Mountain Bulbul
25.    Red-Eyed Bulbul
26.    Ochraceous Bulbul
27.    Artic Warbler
28.    Common Tailorbird
29.    Black Throated Tailorbird
30.    Chestnut-Backed Scimitar Babbler
31.    Golden Babbler
32.    Mountain Fulvetta
33.    Black-Throated Sunbird
34.    Streaked Spiderhunter
35.    Little Spiderhunter
36.    Grey Wagtail
37.    Red Junglefowl

Treecreeper ??? May have seen. It is not recorded here in Malaysia but in found in Myanmar (Burma). Could it be a vagrant?

Happy Birding
Irshad Mobarak

Pictures with thanks by Gerry Worth

Taman Negara and Fraser’s Hill Birding

Taman Negara and Fraser’s Hill Birding

By Jonathan Wyplosz
August 2008

Finally we’re back home.
You were right, Taman Negara was quite slow birding… but rewarding. As usual, Orane and I are lucky so we managed to see the banded pitta twice, once at 10 meters from out chalet!. We met Alan Pearson, the illustrator of a guide about Malaysian birds, who was not that lucky. The central tree in the HQ is never mentioned in any trip report though we were able to see in this single tree green broadbill (at less than 2 meters), black and yellow BB, Rhinoceros hornbill, hanging parrots, Asian fairy bluebirds, thick-billed and little green pigeons, dozens of bulbuls, etc. and a couple of black thighed falconets in the next tree too.

This tree-snake was very close to the chalet too (with a very slow move of the tongue by the way). I don’t know the name of this species.

Tree Snake
Tree Snake

We didn’t meet Dorai in Fraser’s Hill because he was occupied and couldn’t find the book about birds in Fraser’s Hills, but we managed to see almost all the birds we were looking for : blue nuthatch, sultan tit, 3 species of laughinthrushes, black and crismon oriole, verditer flycatcher, streaked spiderhunter, black backed forktail, white-browed shrike babbler, white bellied yuhina, mountain imperial pigeon, crested serpent eagle, etc, etc. I didn’t make a list so I shorten the enumeration. I only missed the long tailed BB, I was able to hear it… but it stayed perfectly still and invisible. We also missed the red-bearded bee eater (easier to find at the Gap I think). You were right; Fraser’s Hill is very easy for birding though it is quite complicated to find his way in this up and down labyrinth.

It was a real pleasure to hear white handed gibbons in Taman Negara and siamangs in Fraser’s Hill, but we only saw banded langurs.

Here is a picture of our colugo on a pillar of the restaurant (it concludes the quartet of our most-wanted Malaysian mammals after the tarsier, the loris and the binturong seen in Borneo). Did we tell you it was licking the pillar?.  Thank you for having told us where to see it, it was one of the highlights of the trip.


The DNA test is wrong, it’s a mouse deer that can fly!

Warmest regards,
Last but not least :
What’s this bird seen in Fraser’s Hills? It was all black-black-black (underparts, upperparts, eyes). A philentoma?

Pittas in love and leeches on the menu!

Pittas in love and leeches on the menu!

Trip Report: Irshad Mobarak
Location: Langkawi Island, Kedah, Malaysia.
Date: 20.4.2007

The rains are here and the Blue-winged Pittas love it. The Blue-winged Pittas in my opinion is our most beautiful bird. The Japanese name for this bird, translated means 8 colored bird and only the laws of nature can put such a combination of colors together and what an amazing job it has come up with.

The Malay name is by comparison very unfaltering but nevertheless describes it feeding behavior accurately. The Malay name is Burung Pacat when translated simply means the Leech-eating Bird.

So why does this bird loves the rain, well for most of the dry season the leeches are in hibernating mode the rainy weather activates these little detestable creatures. For unlike most other birds on Langkawi that do their nesting during the dry season, the dry weather triggers the flowering and subsequently the fruiting season, therefore most nectar feeders and fruit eaters nest during the dry season.

As for the Blue-winged Pittas, July is the season of love and courtship because when babies arrive there are loads of juicy leeches for the family to enjoy. For the twitches among us June till October are the best times on the island to observe these usually shy birds.

Just in case I left you with the impression that leeches are totally useless creatures, allow me for a moment to advocate for them. These little considerate creatures releases a chemical called hiridin which is an anti-coagulant that is used in modern medicine especially for venomous and heart disease, infertility, micro surgery and yes even in cosmetic surgery.