Malaysia - November 2012

Bukit Fraser
This was a short weekend trip to Fraser Hill (Bukit Fraser) which is situated just over 100 km north of Kuala Lumpur.  Bukit Fraser includes seven peaks, with altitudes ranging between 1,200 and 1,500 meters above sea level, so it is a lot cooler than Kuala Lumpur.  The area is one of the top birding sites in Malaysia and features on most birding trip reports. 

Forested Hills of Bukit Fraser
I had flown in from the cold weather of late autumn in France to arrive into Malaysia which was hot, humid and pouring with rain.  After organising a rental car I drove along the excellent freeways up to the turn-off at Taman Beman Jaya and then back to Taman Sri Teratai to the turn-off to Bukit Fraser.  The road winds a lot on the way up into the hills and there was evidence of frequent landslides and some of these required major roadwork to repair.  Both roads, single-lane up and down from Bukit Fraser were open at the time of the visit.

The final turnoff to Bukit Fraser is known as The Gap, and from there it’s an 8 km single-lane road up to the town of Bukit Fraser.  This section of road is good for birding, although as cars cannot stop on this road, it requires a walk up the hill.  

I stayed at the Ye Olde Smokehouse which is an old colonial hotel and was very comfortable with good service and meals. It’s very pleasant after a hot walk through the forest trails to sit on the veranda and enjoy afternoon tea with homemade scones, strawberry jam and a pot of tea. At the hotel there were a few other birders and those also looking for a break from Kuala Lumpur, so nice to catch up and compare notes.

Ye Olde Smokehouse
On arrival I headed off on some of the many walking trails at about midday. Birding was very slow, so after afternoon tea and scones, a couple of hours nap to catch up on jet lag, it was off again in the late afternoon. The birding in the late afternoon was far better and in addition a troop of Dusky Leaf Monkey was seen up close on the roadside.

Some interesting birds seen in the afternoon were Sultan Tit, Fire-tufted Barbet, Long-tailed Sibia, Black-throated Sunbird and Crimson-winged Woodpecker.  Mammals of interest were the Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) a tailless, arboreal, black-furred gibbon native to the forests of Malaysia which were only heard, Grey-bellied Squirrel and Himalayan Striped Squirrel.

The next morning I was up early before sunrise and headed up to one of the forest trails. On seeing a Wild Boar in the path I decided to wait until it was light and I could see where I was going.  Didn’t see much in the forest and on heading back down the hill I was photographing a flock of excitable Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush.

Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush
As I was photographing a Laughingthrush, a large Brown Wood Owl turned to face me. I hadn’t seen it before then and was focussed on the Laughingthrush but as the photos show it had been there all along. I managed to get some good photos of the impressive owl before it flew off.
Brown Wood Owl
Other interesting birds seen in the morning were Blue-winged Minla, Silver-eared Mesia, Javan Cuckoo-shrike and Crested Serpent Eagle.

Silver-eared Mesia
At midday, I checked out of the hotel and headed down to the hot and humid Kuala Lumpur. On the way back I stopped at Batu Caves, which was a disappointment, however I did pick up a few of the common lowland birds for the trip list.

For the weekend trip I managed to identify 36 birds of which 6 were lifers. Not the most exciting of trips however a very pleasant weekend and well worth the effort to get up to Bukit Fraser.

Birding Field Guides
I used the following field guides:

Birds of South-East Asia, by Craig Robson
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Malaysia & Singapore, by Morten Strange

I only used the Craig Robson field guide whilst birding and it’s always an excellent field guide to use in SE Asia.

The list of birds seen, including subspecies, according to the IOC taxonomy was as follows:

Kites, Hawks & Eagles (Accipitridae)
Crested Serpent Eagle [malayensis] (Spilornis cheela malayensis)
Changeable Hawk-eagle [sp] (Nisaetus cirrhatus)

Doves and Pigeons (Columbidae)
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia ''feral'')
Little Cuckoo-dove [malayana] (Macropygia ruficeps malayana)
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)
Mountain Imperial Pigeon [badia] (Ducula badia badia)

Owls (Strigidae)
Brown Wood Owl [maingayi] (Strix leptogrammica maingayi)

Swifts (Apodidae)
Glossy Swiftlet [cyanoptila] (Collocalia esculenta cyanoptila)
House Swift [sp] (Apus nipalensis)

Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
White-throated Kingfisher [perpulchra] (Halcyon smyrnensis perpulchra)

Asian Barbets (Megalaimidae)
Fire-tufted Barbet (Psilopogon pyrolophus)
Blue-eared Barbet [duvaucelii] (Megalaima australis duvaucelii)

Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Crimson-winged Woodpecker [observandus] (Picus puniceus observandus)

Woodshrikes and allies (Tephrodornithidae)
Large Woodshrike [fretensis] (Tephrodornis virgatus fretensis)

Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Javan Cuckooshrike (Coracina javensis)

Old World Orioles (Oriolidae)
Black-naped Oriole [sp] (Oriolus chinensis)

Fantails (Rhipiduridae)
White-throated Fantail [atrata] (Rhipidura albicollis atrata)

Crows and Jays (Corvidae)
Large-billed Crow [macrorhynchos] (Corvus macrorhynchos macrorhynchos)

Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)
Sultan Tit [flavocristata] (Melanochlora sultanea flavocristata)

Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Black-headed Bulbul [atriceps] (Pycnonotus atriceps atriceps)
Mountain Bulbul [peracensis] (Ixos mcclellandii peracensis)

Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)

Leaf warblers and allies (Phylloscopidae)
Yellow-breasted Warbler [davisoni] (Seicercus montis davisoni)

Fulvettas, Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)
Mountain Fulvetta [peracensis] (Alcippe peracensis peracensis)

Laughingthrushes (Leiothrichidae)
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush [major] (Garrulax mitratus major)
Blue-winged Minla [sordidior] (Minla cyanouroptera sordidior)
Silver-eared Mesia [tahanensis] (Leiothrix argentauris tahanensis)
Long-tailed Sibia [wrayi] (Heterophasia picaoides wrayi)

Starlings (Sturnidae)
Asian Glossy Starling [strigata] (Aplonis panayensis strigata)
Common Myna [tristis] (Acridotheres tristis tristis)

Chats and Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Oriental Magpie-robin [musicus] (Copsychus saularis musicus)
Little Pied Flycatcher [westermanni] (Ficedula westermanni westermanni)

Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Black-throated Sunbird [wrayi] (Aethopyga saturata wrayi)
Streaked Spiderhunter [pagodarum] (Arachnothera magna pagodarum)

Old World Sparrows and Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [malaccensis] (Passer montanus malaccensis)

Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)
Grey Wagtail [cinerea] (Motacilla cinerea cinerea)


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