Part 2 of “Birding in Malaysia” where I saw 300 bird species in 17 days by Mat Wilson
Read Part 1 of Birdwatching in West Malaysia here.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 4, (6th March)
Started the day with a walk up to the lighthouse where we sat and looked out across the Straits. Had really good views of a Red-billed Malkoha crashing about in trees above the lighthouse car park.
On leaving Port Dickson we drove up the Coast Road (Hwy 5) to Sepang stopping to watch a Black Kite floating above the oil palms on the Port Dickson by-pass, and then hugged the coast all the way to Port Klang, where once again due to a total lack of signing we managed to get lost and had to criss-cross the town until we found Jalan Kapar.
On route we stopped at Tanjung Tumbok to look for waders but could only find 200+ Common Redshanks and solitary Common Greenshank and Common Sandpiper. We had better luck up the coast between Batu Laut and Morib, where we stopped at a beachside restaurant (The ‘Romantic Beachside Chinese Restaurant’ – look for an arch way of the beach side of the road).
We pulled in with the intention of having lunch and found a small square pond beside the car park. We walked round the pond and disturbed a Chinese Pond Heron, a Cinnamon Bittern, a Yellow Bittern and finally and best of all a Black Bittern. On the beach were Pacific Golden Plover and Little Tern out to sea. The food at the restaurant was excellent as well (try the pineapple rice)!
Continuing with our quest of birding in Malaysia we went North of Port Klang, and had a drive around Kapar trying to find the power station in the vain hope that they might let us in to look at the ash pits but no such luck so we carried on to Kuala Selangor and crashed out for a snooze in the room at the De Palma Motor Inn.
In the evening we walked about the garden and the adjacent rough paddock, for a couple of hours and saw some good birds, Malaysian Bronze Cuckoo, Coppersmith Barbet, Crested Serpent Eagle, Common Goldenback, Greater Goldenback, Blue-tailed Bee-Eater.
I also managed to take some good photographs. We found that if we sat quietly beside the boundary fence adjacent to the river we had good birding, as there were three dead trees and several banana palms and the birds were drawn to this area all the time in a constant procession, and once in the trees seemed to be reluctant to leave.
Dinner at the hotel was disgusting. We both had chicken curry and whilst the sauce was fine, the chicken was almost raw. We both rejected it and had biscuits back in the room.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 5, (7th March)
We didn’t venture out of the hotel grounds for the first couple of hours and again, the bird life was prolific with some good birds in the dead trees again including Ashy Minivet, Laced Woodpecker, Lineated barbet, Coppersmith Barbet (M&F), Hill Myna, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Asian Koel, Greater Goldenback.
Elsewhere in the grounds were Crested Serpent Eagle, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Hawk Cuckoo (sp.), Black Baza, Malaysian bronze Cuckoo, Scarlet-backed Flower-pecker, Pied Triller, and Oriental Whiteye.
After breakfast we drove to the Nature Park and had the place to ourselves seeing no one else all day. We spent 30 minutes up the new concrete watch tower and were rewarded with Black-capped Kingfisher on the pond and good view of Brahminy kites circling over the forest.
A further 30 minutes up one of the older lookout towers on the far side of the main pond, brought us Great Tit, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, another Black-capped KF, and a leisurely walk along the boardwalk revealed mangrove Whistler, numerous woodpeckers, Pied Fantails and Oriental Whiteyes.
The path back to the reception centre was also very busy with the black species of Ashy Drongo (nigriescens), Red Junglefowl, Rufous WP, Rusty Breasted Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha and numerous egrets and herons.
In the afternoon we decided to explore the paddyfields behind Tanjung Karang. We drove up the coastal highway and then headed north east as far as the canal stopping along the way. Incalculable numbers of pond herons and small bitterns were disturbed and every field seemed to have bee-eaters overhead.
At the canal we drove south along the bank and beyond where the tarmac finished and found ourselves at an earthen dam that crossed the waterway. Parked up and had a walk, and found an Indian Cuckoo, Grey, Malaysian Eared (voice only) and Long-tailed Nightjars, Barred Eagle Owl, Black Baza. A magic place with oodles of potential and it left us both wondering what all the other calls coming from the peat forest could possibly be.
On the way back to Tanjung Karang we passed several nest boxes adjacent to the paddyfields with the resident Barn Owls perched out in the open on telegraph wires.
We had dinner in a local satay hut in Tanjung Karang which was excellent.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 6, (8th March)
We set off for the peat forest again at first light and were in position by the dam before the sun rose. We were rewarded almost immediately with Long-tailed Parakeet, followed swiftly by Greater Coucal, Black Baza (very close), Black-thighed Falconet, Rhinoceros Hornbill, and very good views of a Baya Weaver.
After about an hour birding started to dry up a bit as the heat of the day built up so we set off up the canal bank to see if we could find another way across the canal and eventually found a sleeper bridge and a track heading off into the peat forest. We had very good views of Changeable Hawk-Eagle in a tree on the far bank as we drove along.
We parked the car in the shade of a large tree. And set off. It was very quiet with not much to report in the first ½ a mile but we carried on and managed to find a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Black-backed Kingfisher, a pair of stunning Raffles Malkoha, and the usual rabble of forest bulbuls.
Out of forest we explored the paddyfields and found them to be strangely devoid of bird life, even on the few that were wet. We finally found a very upright snipe of one of the banks which after much deliberation and staring through the scope, decided was a Swinhoe’s.
We also ran across several White-breasted Woodswallows and Oriental Pratincoles.
Back to the hotel for an afternoon siesta, before returning to the canal dam for the dusk hoping to see the nightjar show again, but no such luck, but there were several Rhinoceros Hornbill and Barred eagles Owls crossing the canal. Be warned the mosquitoes here were ferocious so go prepared.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 7, (9th March)
We decided today to try and early morning at KSNP on the wooded walkway between the reception and the first canal bridge but found the whole place devoid of birdlife. It was dead so gave up and went up the watch tower, where we were rewarded with an Abbott’s babbler picking about in the undergrowth below.
Disappointed we drove back to FRIM for a wander around to see if ‘Mrs. Finny’ was out on the pond, and hoping to see the Straw-headed Bulbul that we had been told were around the pond. Nothing doing bulbul wise, but the Finfoot was swimming around as ‘happy as Larry’ in the middle of the pond. We also found a stunning Common kingfisher, Stripe-faced Bulbul, Crested serpent eagle (common as sparrows these things).
We decided to walk to the waterfall and see what was about and as soon as we were out of the car we found a ruddy-backed KF. Above the waterfall we sat and watched a fruiting tree and had a succession of birds come and go including Asian fairy Bluebird, Golden Whiskered Barbet, Cream and Buff-vented Bulbul’s, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Scarlet Minivet, Yellow-eared Spiderhunter, and Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker.
From FRIM we drove over the Gombak valley via the old road, specifically so we could stop and bird. We found it very quite everywhere we stopped except where the valley widened out prior to the real climb starting where we saw a beautiful Black eagle, Grey-rumped Treeswifts, and the only Silver-rumped Spinetail of the whole two weeks.
From the Gombak valley we drove north to Bentong, then almost to Raub and then up to the Gap resthouse along Hwy 55.
We had heard from Carl who had departed from port Dickson earlier in the week and gone straight up to the mountains, but when he arrived at The Gap resthouse, there were no reception staff, just a gardener who wouldn’t let him in so he went straight up to Fraser’s Hill.
No such problems for us. The manager was in and we were ensconced in our room within 5 minutes of arriving. We had 3 nights here so it was nice to be able to spread out at last and get some washing done and have a re-pack. We spent the evening in the company of Tim Sykes and Katie Bliss who had arrived just after us for a couple of nights.
We sat in the garden with the telescope set up and watched a succession of birds flit around in the forest behind the property. The famed Bat Hawk failed to make an appearance once again, but we made up for the earlier miss at the canal, involving the Malaysian Eared Nightjar (and at the Gap the last time we visited) when it duly flopped around in sky above the garden for 10 minutes as the light failed.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 8, (10th March)
Up with the dawn and set off up the Old road with Tim and Katie. Very quiet to start with, with the occasional miss as big birds flew overhead, but with the tight foliage around you, you have to be quick and we weren’t. We did manage to see a flight of wreathed Hornbills, but to be fair you can hear them before you see them and we were ready for them.
About 2 km’s up we stopped flopped out on the side of road as almost immediately a ‘bird wave’ came through. We spent half an hour lying on our backs staring into the trees as the birds rollocked in the trees at the corner we had stopped at, without really moving on. The wave had such delights as Ashy Bulbul, White-bellied Yuhina, Mountain Fulvetta (lowest I’d seen them), Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Scarlet or Grey-chinned Minivet, Bronzed Drongo, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Chestnut-capped Laughing Thrush, Everett’s Whiteye.
The walk back down was a lot more productive with Green-billed Malkoha, Verditer Flycatcher, Black-thighed Falconet, Banded Bay Cuckoo, yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Little Cuckoo Dove, Wreathed Hornbill, Ochraceous Bulbul, Green Magpie, and Grey-breasted Spiderhunter.
Back at the resthouse we had lunch and several pots of tea watching raptors sail along the far ridge line, before sitting out in the garden for a few hours. We were lucky with really good views of Blue-eared, Black-browed and Red-throated barbet within minutes of each other in trees across the road and up the hill.
In the late afternoon we had a wander down the Raub road, and found Black-bellied Malkoha, Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker, Streaked and Spectacled Spiderhunters, and Hairy-backed Bulbul.
A late night on the terrace again with only swifts and the Grey Nightjar for company although the Malaysian –eared Nightjar could be heard calling from above the gloom.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 9, (11th March). Feeble Friday
Today was extremely slow with very little in the way of birds about regardless of what we tried to do to salvage the day. It started off quite misty but we dropped down a few hundred metres from the Gap on the KKB road and found that the mist lifted a little.
When birds did appear no one seemed to be able to get a good look. Whilst I was looking for what I’d thought was a forktail, (seen later in the holiday at the same spot) the others managed to miss a large flight of hornbills that sailed over a ridge before anyone could get their ‘bins’ on them; dad then managed to miss an Orange-breasted trogon which flitted just as he raised his bins to it, and we all failed to find the forktail again.
We trudged back to the resthouse somewhat dejected. The day didn’t get much better. We tried the bottom half on the new road, and apart from really good views of a Gold-whiskered barbet and Fiery Minivets, there was very little about, apart from Siamangs screaming in the forest below.
A walk down the old road revealed a Blue-eared, and a Black-browed barbet and we heard a Gold-throated barbet but it disappeared out of the back of the tree and we did not see it.
We decided to do a late afternoon walk up the Old road and the only bird of note was a Red-bearded Bee-eater we disturbed, and caught a flashing glimpse as it plummeted over the edge of the road. All in all a day best forgotten. We drowned our sorrows by driving up to Fraser’s Hill and having a huge Chinese meal at the Punkak Inn.
Birding in Malaysia: Day 10, (12th March). Stunning Saturday
A much better day all round. We started off by driving down the KKB road from the resthouse trying to locate the Trogon but without any joy, however we did locate the Forktail in a deep gully about 1.2 km’s down from the gap. We also managed to locate 6 different species of barbet, Red-throated, Yellow-crowned, Black-browed, Gold-whiskered, Blue-eared and Brown.
We also managed to find Sultan Tit, Emerald pigeon, a possible sighting of a Bamboo Woodpecker, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Streaked bulbul (a lot higher than expected), Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, and Dark-sided Flycatcher. Well chuffed with the mornings haul, we went back to the resthouse, had breakfast, paid the bill and set off up the hill.
We called into see Mr. Durai and the Punkak and Inn and he handed us the keys for our bungalow, but when we got there, despite it having a spectacular location at the top of Jalan Lady Maxwell, it didn’t have a fridge so we went back down to the Inn and managed to get into Banglo Cini with Carl were we were to spend the next 4 nights.
I managed to come up the hill with the key from the resthouse so we all went down and had another bird along the KKB side of the resthouse but it had quietened down from the mornings superb showings.
Back to FH in time for a huge downpour after which the trees around the bungalow exploded with bird life so we stayed up there for the rest of the afternoon, venturing out to the Telekom loop for last knockings which was also very good but alas no Cutia and the landslip house where it had been seen recently. Dinner at the Chinese restaurant again.
The next day… Birding in Malaysia to be continued….
All the photos above are taken by the author.
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About by Mat Wilson, who is a member of the Birding Planet Facebook group: I’ve been birding since moving to Canada in 1977. Since then I have birded in the Far East, Australasia and North America, as well at Europe and the UK. I now live near Cambridge in the UK and love birding in the Fens and Norfolk.