Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Malaysia and Singapore 14 to 26th September 1997,
(This report appears with the permission of Bren McCartney of the Berkshire Birds Web Page - see links)
We flew to Kuala Lumpur with a 3h change in Bangkok (9 spp.), arriving in KL at 20:00. We drove to Kuala Selangor (61 spp.), where we stayed two nights, visiting the reserve and nearby Tengi Estuary at Tanjong Karang (33 spp.). We then continued cross country to The Gap (82 spp.), where we stayed a further two nights before moving to Bukit Frazer (68 spp.) (Frazer's Hill) for two nights. The final night was spent at the Gap before returning to Kuala Lumpur. We spent 6 nights in Singapore (17 spp.) where the only birding trip was to Bukit Timah. As usual, species seen only at a single location are listed in UPPER CASE (though there was remarkedly little overlap among sites), there is a literature list and systematic lists of birds (ordered according to Howard and Moore (i.e. traditional taxonomic order), nomenclature according to Lekagul/King, alternative names by Howard and Moore, Sibley and mongraphs given in parentheses to facilitate comparison) mammals, and comments about travel arrangements and accommodation. Our experience was marred by the terrible air pollution caused by the forest fires in Indonesia. We scarcely saw the sun in the week we were in Malaysia, and even less in Singapore. What would we do differently next time? Nothing radical.
Bangkok airport is acceptable for birding, judging by the number of species identified in the 3h we were there. In addition, we saw a swallow, a couple of smaller passerines (possibly including a lark) and a falcon. Birding would not be possible without a telescope, and the cleaners wanted a look.
LITTLE CORMORANT (2), Little Egret (8), JAVAN POND-HERON (4 - assumed to be this species on the basis of distribution), RED-WATTLED PLOVER (15), Pacific Golden Plover (10), Little Ringed Plover (4), Rock Dove, Edible-nest Swiftlet, Common Myna.
This is a costal wetland reserve run by the Malaysian Nature Society and the Selangor State Government, and is situated some 75 Km NW of Kuala Lumpur. The habitat is mangrove swamp (separated from the rest of the reserve by an embankment), scrub, some forest and a man-made scrape. There is a well maintained track and trail system, and several hides and towers which overlook the scrape. There is (reputedly basic) accomodation at the reserve which we did not try, and a small souvenir shop. What is presumably a new entrance and administration building is nearing completion. We arrived late at night and therefore chose to stay in town (an estimated 30 minutes walk away). We drove down to the reserve, arriving at dawn (7 am) when lots of crows headed inland and the first Brahmini Kites stirred. We started by visiting the hides on the south side of the scrape. Then we progressed round the scrape to the mangroves. At lunch time we drove to the Tengi Estuary at Tanjong Karang. We returned at 16:40 and stayed until dark, revisiting the mangrove area and the scrape, where the Lesser Adjutant which had circled over the reserve during the afternoon had settled to roost on a dead tree, a sinister silhouette against the dusk sky. After eating, we visited the fireflies at Kampung Kuantan (7 Km drive), as recommended by our waiter and all the guide books. This was very pretty and so relaxing that we both fell asleep in the boat on the way back. We started the next morning again at dawn, taking the direct path through the scrub to the mangrove board walk. This was much slower than the track, and we were not the first to arrive. Still no Pitta. There are two board walks, the southern (left hand when you reach the mangrove) is new (or renovated recently). The right hand one (closest to the reserve entrance) is impassable (we tried). There is no bird tower at the edge of the mangroves at present (one is shown in Bansbury). We left at about 11 am for the Tengi Estuary, first taking a drive up the hill to see the amazing view, over to Sumatra. This was invisible due to the haze. We could probably used another day in this area.
Grey Heron (common), Little Egret (several), LITTLE HERON (or Green(-backed), depending on taxonomic opinion - common), LESSER ADJUTANT (15/9, a single), Brahminy Kite (probably about 15, visible most of the time), White-bellied Fish-eagle (15/9 a single adult), JAPANESE SPARROWHAWK (6 over two days, migrating), RED JUNGLEFOWL (16/9 heard deep in the jungle at dawn), White-breasted Waterhen singles), Redshank (3, 16/9), Greenshank (singles, both days), Common Sandpiper (5, 15/9), Rock Dove (urban), Peaceful Dove (common on the ground), CINNAMON-HEADED GREEN-PIGEON (common: the small green pigeons are surprisingly difficult to see well. They fly round and are rarely perched. The telescope was invaluable), GREATER COUCAL (conspicuous), LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR (about 6 birds, conspicuous and noisy after dark), Glossy (White-bellied), Swiftlet (15/9), ASIAN PALM-SWIFT (15/9), Pacific (Fork-tailed) Swift (15/9), KINGFISHER (several), STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (15/9, two - a magnificent bird. One of the reserve tee-shirts figures this), White-breasted (throated) Kingfisher (15/9, single), COLLARED KINGFISHER (15/9, mainly in the mangroves), BLUE-THROATED BEE-EATER (15/9, flock of 12 in the evening), Dollarbird (several), COPPERSMITH BARBET (heard), GREY-CAPPED WOODPECKER (2, 15/9), LACED WOODPECKER (2 both days), COMMON FLAMEBACK (noisy, especially in the magroves, but surprisingly difficult to see), Maroon Woodpecker (4, attacking fruit), PLAIN SAND MARTIN (15/9), SAND MARTIN (15/9), DUSKY CRAG-MARTIN (16/9), Swallow (common, and clearly migrating south), Pacific Swallow (several), PIED TRILLER (singles), Yellow-vented Bulbul (common), COMMON IORA (2, 15/9), Tiger Shrike (common), Brown Shrike (common), Oriental Magpie-Robin (common), White-rumped Shama (a single, 15/9), ABBOTT'S BABBLER (common and vociferous near dawn in the scrub/forest, but a skulker), ASHY TAILORBIRD (common), Arctic Warbler (several, 16/9: they must have arrived during the night), Pale-legged Leaf-Warbler (16/9 early morning in the scrub), Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (single, 15/9), Asian Paradise-Flycatcher (single, 15/9), PIED FANTAIL (singles, both days), MANGROVE WHISTLER (singles, both days), PLAIN-THROATED SUNBIRD (singles, both days), RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD (single, 15/9), OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (15/9), Little Spiderhunter (15/9), ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE (15/9), Tree Sparrow (urban, common), Asian Glossy Starling (urban, common), Common Myna (common), Jungle Myna (common), Black-naped Oriole (conspicuous), Ashy Drongo (common), House Crow (mainly urban, though I suspect that many of the roosting crows were of this species), Large-billed (Jungle) Crow (common and conspicuous).
Tengi Estuary at Tanjong Karang.
Due to lack of access to the sea (at least at present)
at Kuala Selangor, we visited this eastuary both days in the middle of the day,
when we expected that activity would be at its lowest at Kuala Selangor. We
were fortunate to arrive just before high tide. The road to Tanjong Karang is
virtually straight, mainly through palm plantations but curves just before entering
the town. There is a minor road which continues straight at this bend. We followed
this through the plantations for 2-3 Km until it reached the southern bank of
the Tengi River. It is possible to drive along the bank for a further 1-2 Km,
and this affords excellent views of mudflats. We then returned to the main road
and drove through Tanjong Karang, crossing the river. After the river there
is a row of shops on either side, and minor roads leading towards the coast
at both ends. We took the first road, but found that we returned down the second.
It is 3-4 Km through plantations to the coast (there are several minor roads,
but one more obvious turning - at a T-junction. This takes you to the coast
north of the estuary, where, again, it is possible to drive along the embankment
(on a gravel track - the asphalt ceases at one point). There are mangroves at
first, but the last Km to the river mouth afford excellent views of the mudflats.
There are sand banks near, and in, the river mouth, where the waders (and terns)
accumulated at high tide. There are even a couple of pull-offs. We returned
by following the track up the river, passing a village on stilts. This brought
us back through the plantations to the larger road, and Tanjong Karang.
Grey Heron (2), Little Heron (5), Brahminy Kite (5 roosting on a wreck in the channel), PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER (10 to 20 both days (including a roosting flock of 12) - we had both seen American (and Common) Golden Plover in Denmark the week before, so that was a nice comparison), LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (5-6), LESSER SAND (MONGOLIAN) PLOVER (3, 16/9), GREATER SAND PLOVER (4, 15/9; 10, 16/9), WHIMBREL (16, 15/9; 3, 16/9), CURLEW (11, 15/9), Redshank (3 both days), MARSH SANDPIPER (singles, both days), Greenshank (3, 15/9; single, 16/9), WOOD SANDPIPER (single 16/9), TEREK SANDPIPER (11, 15/9; 5, 16/9), Common Sandpiper (5 each day), RUDDY TURNSTONE (single, 16/9), WHISKERED TERN (>30, 15/9), GULL-BILLED TERN (3, 15/9; single, 16/9), LESSER-CRESTED TERN (2, both days - identification gave a real headache as none of the descriptions/pictures we had with us fitted well), COMMON TERN (2, 15/9; 30, 16/9), BRIDLED TERN (single, 15/9), LITTLE TERN (15/9), Rock Dove (urban), Peaceful Dove (several), Kingfisher (singles), Dollarbird (a particularly fine view of one in the trees at the river mouth), Swallow (obvious passage), Oriental Magpie-Robin (conspicuous), Tree Sparrow (urban - we looked unsuccessfully for Plain-backed Sparrow, which is supposed to be common), Asian Glossy Starling (moderately common), Common Myna (common), and the ubiquitous House Crow.
Cross country 16/9 and 21/9
We left the Tengi Estuary and Tanjong Karang at about 2pm, coinciding with the end of school for the day. The uniforms here were traditional costume with the girls covered from tip to toe. We attempted to take the main road towards Rawang but failed to find it. Presumably the junction is back towards Kuala Selangor. Eventually, with a little help from locals, we found the correct road, having driven through rice paddies (without getting wet). Foothills (and rain) started from roughly Batang Berjuntai. We saw a lot of monkeys on this part of the journey, but few birds. The road climbs fairly steeply to the gap from Kuala Kubu Baharu. Bukit Frazer is clearly signposted from the main road (National route 1), and the distance given on mile posts (in Km). We stopped several times for birds and arrived at The Gap Resthouse at 17:45.
The Gap to Kuala Lumpur (21/7)
We left The Gap in our first (and only decent) sunny
weather, and took roughly 2h to drive down to Kuala Kubu Baharu with frequent
stops. The light deteriorated rapidly at KKB, and it started raining heavily
just as we arrived at Templar Park, so we stopped only briefly and continued
to Subang and Singapore. There was no opportunity for birding from terminal
2, which serves the Singapore Route.
Grey Heron, Little Egret, CINNAMON BITTERN (16/9, a
single flew across the road east of Tanjong Karang), BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE (16/9
Selangor), Brahminy Kite (16/9, several near Tanjong Karang), White-bellied
Fish-eagle (16/9, near Kuala Kubu Baharu), CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (21/9 near
Peretak), Blyth's Hawk-Eagle (2, 21/9 Km 74), White-breasted Waterhen (21/9
Templar Park - one of three species enjoying the rain), EMERALD DOVE (16/9 near
Peretak), Silver-rumped Spinetail (21/9 - clear migration of swifts), Pacific
(Fork-tailed) Swift (21/9), Little (House) Swift (21/9), Grey-rumped Treeswift
(21/9 Km 74), WHISKERED TREESWIFT (21/9 Km 79), HOOPOE (16/9 between Rawang
and Kuala Kubu Baharu), Swallow (lots), Grey Wagtail (21/9), Black-headed Bulbul
(21/9 Km 74), Black-crested Bulbul (common between Kuala Kubu Baharu and The
Gap), Black-headed Bulbul (21/9 Km 79), Blue-winged Leafbird (21/9 Km 79), Golden-fronted
Leafbird (16/9 near Peretak; 21/9 Km 79), Tiger Shrike (21/9 Km 79), BROWN-CHESTED
JUNGLE-FLYCATCHER (21/9 Km 79), Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (16/9 ca. Peretak),
Little Spiderhunter (21/9 Km 79), White-rumped Munia (16/9 ca. Peretak), Tree
Sparrow (urban), Common Myna (Urban).
As is conventional, we will treat these sites separately as they cover a wide altitude range and we stayed at different places.
The habitat here is hill forest, which seems to comrise
largely primary growth. Lots of palms, 10m high bamboos and diverse hardwoods.
The Gap Rest House is a colonial inn at the watershed between west and east,
and serves both as a small hotel and road side cafe for travellers. As the 8Km
long single track road up to Bukit Frazer is only open for uphill traffic for
40 minutes in every 2h, there are several roadside stalls and the Gap Resthouse.
It will be interesting to hear whether business continues when the second ("down")
road opens in 1998.
After we had checked in at The Gap Resthouse, we birded (with a well-earned beer) from the terrace until 19:15. There were lots of exciting noises: Trogons, Barbets (several species - the tape was invaluable for identifying their distinctive calls), Woodpeckers, and possibly Partridge. Much movement (migration?) was apparent, especially of swifts and hirundines. We finished the day by taking an owl (and frog noise) tour at about 21:30. We arose at 6:30am on the 17th and walked 6Km up towards Bukit Frazer, keeping to the road, and down again, arriving at about 16:30. Highlights included a a family of Siamang next to the road, Blue Whistling Thrush, and the most impressive bird of the trip, a Rhinocerous Hornbill at close range. We partook a beer and birded from the terrace until 19:30 We saw nightjars - we must have missed them by minutes the first evening. On the 18th, we started about 6:30, walking downhill (towards KL). We managed to make it back to the Gap just as the heavens opened. We drove up to Frazer at about 11:10. We arrived back at The Gap at about 16:30 on the 20th, walked downhill west until about 18:00, and stayed on the terrace until 19:30 (when we saw Bat Hawk twice). The next morning (Bat Hawk again) we walked east to the new road and departed about 10:30. There was a feeling of movement at The Gap, and we felt that we could have spent at least one more day there, perhaps walking down hill more. There is a lack of tracks away from the main, and rather busy road.
INDIAN BLACK EAGLE (17/9 near the top), Blyth's Hawk-Eagle (17/9 near the top), BAT HAWK (20/9: 2 at 19:05, 1 at 19:25; 21/9: 1 at 7 am), BARRED CUCKOO-DOVE (21/9 The Gap), Little Cuckoo-Dove (common at dusk and dawn), Mountain Imperial-Pigeon (only large pigeon we identified), BLUE-RUMPED PARROT (17/9), BLUE-CROWNED HANGING-PARROT (several times, small birds flew by), GREEN-BILLED MALKOHA (17/9 near the bottom), MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (17/9 just below the Frazer Road), Malaysian Eared-Nightjar (17/9 and 20/9 at dusk from the terrace at The Gap; 21/9 at dawn), GIANT SWIFTLET (WATERFALL SWIFT) (17/9 at 1Km), Edible-nest Swiftlet (16/9 about 20, presumed to be this species), White-bellied (Glossy) Swiftlet (3, 16/9), Silver-rumped Spinetail (2, 17/9), Brown(-backed) Needletail (10, 17/9), Pacific (Fork-tailed) Swift (4, 16/9 amazingly, for such a wide-ranging species, this species is not on the Frazer list.), Little (House) Swift (common), Grey-rumped Treeswift (18/9), RED-HEADED TROGON (heard 17/9), RED-BEARDED BEE-EATER (2 an improbable species. A percher in trees. 17/9), Blue-tailed Bee-eater (migrating flock (10) at dusk, 17/9), Wreathed Hornbill (5 birds, possibly this species, in the fog 18/9), RHINOCEROS HORNBILL (17/9 near Km 3), Fire-tufted Barbet (near the top 17/9), GOLD-WHISKERED BARBET (17/9), Red-throated Barbet (16/9, nesthole in a tree visible (south) from the terrace), Golden-throated Barbet (17/9), Black-browed Barbet (17/9), Blue-eared Barbet (17/9), Rufous Woodpecker (17/9), BAMBOO WOODPECKER (seen 18/9, call like a wryneck, heard drumming on bamboo), Maroon Woodpecker (17/9), Plain Sand Martin (17/9), Dusky Crag-Martin (several), Swallow (common), Pacific Swallow (several), Red-rumped Swallow (about 6 breeding here - the red-bellied race), ASIAN HOUSE-MARTIN (16/9 a single), Forest Wagtail (they apparently arrived on 20/9), Grey Wagtail (common), Scarlet Minivet (common and stunning), BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (17/9), Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike (17/9), LARGE WOODSHRIKE (21/9), Black-crested Bulbul common), STRIPE-THROATED BULBUL (17/9), Ochraceous Bulbul (18/9), GREATER GREEN LEAFBIRD (also stunning 6, 17/9), Blue-winged Leafbird (20/9), Golden-fronted Leafbird (21/9), ORANGE-BELLIED LEAFBIRD (17/9), ASIAN FAIRY-BLUEBIRD (several), Tiger Shrike (conspicuous), Brown Shrike (conspicuous), Oriental Magpie-Robin (mainly near habitation), White-rumped Shama (21/9), BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH (17/9 about half way up, at the bend just beyond (above) the only hut), EYEBROWED WREN-BABBLER (skulking 17/9), GREY-THROATED BABBLER (17/9), STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (skulking 17/9 distinctive song - on the tape), Black Laughingthrush (21/9, Km2), Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (common, and not illustrated in either King or Lekagul excellent photo in Davison), Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush (picture in King not representative - much more plain), Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, Silver-eared Mesia (very pretty and common, or do I mean conspicuous), WHITE-HOODED BABBLER (16/9), Rufous-winged Fulvetta (21/9), Mountain Fulvetta (common), Long-tailed Sibia (common - this is much more brown than the Thai race illustrated in Lekagul), White-bellied Yuhina (17/9), Mountain Tailorbird (common - sounds like a great tit), DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (21/9), HUME'S YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER (17/9), Arctic Warbler (21/9), Chestnut-crowned Warbler (17/9), YELLOW-BELLIED WARBLER (17/9), VERDITER FLYCATCHER (a beautiful male on the electricity wires visible from the terrace at The Gap), Little Pied Flycatcher (common), White-throated Fantail (common, in virtually every wave), Flyeater (Golden-bellied Gerygone), Sultan Tit (17/9 keeps to the canopies, the road gives good views down), Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (16/9), PLAIN FLOWERPECKER (17/9), SCARLET-BACKED FLOWERPECKER (16/9. We saw lots of high flying flowerpeckers which we could not identify), COPPER-THROATED SUNBIRD (17/9), Crimson Sunbird (17/9), Little Spiderhunter (17 and 21/9), LONG-BILLED SPIDERHUNTER (17/9), GREY-BREASTED SPIDERHUNTER (17/9), Streaked Spiderhunter (common), Bronzed Drongo (common), Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (common), Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (common).
We use the name Bukit Frazer as this is the the name given in on road signs, hotel bills etc. We did not plan the practical part of the trip well - we had not attempted to book accommodation here in advance. We drove up to Frazer after 11, and checked into the town's most boring though cheapest hotel (Puncak Inn), on the town square, having failed to get the one we wanted (Steak House - which is at the start of Bishop's trail). After this, we walked round the back of the golf course (Large Nitalva) and eventually found the back end of Bishop's trail which we took towards the old zoo. We made the acquaintance of about 50 leaches each on this trip since it had been raining heavily that morning. We were not bitten. Heard lots of frogs too. This trip yielded some 20 species, many of which came in waves. The star was a Brown Wood-Owl which flew 20m, and rested obligingly in a tree for us. We also met a pair of mammalologists who were trying to find Siamang (which we heard on a number of occasions). We finished the day's birding by driving down to the dump (follow signpost for "Frazer Hill Golf and Country Club" about 3 Km downhill) where we met and exchanged notes with an American birding couple). The dump affords excellent views (if you look up) but stinks and hosts 500 greenbottles. Finally, we visited the waterfall where about 500 White-bellied Swiftlets came to roost under the bridge at the end of the road. We also heard a hornbill duet here. Probably Rhinocerous - judging by the call. We took a rapid but fruitless walk round the golf course at about 21:00 looking for owls.
We started the 19th with a trip along Bishop's Trail (no more than 5 leaches each), then took the Telecom loop by foot in hill fog. This was excellent. Lots of waves, and we came to grips with a nember of the more difficult species. Unfortunatley they seemed to be primarily above rather than below the road. The Loop is a one-way road (officially called Girdle Road) round the telephone company's communication centre, and presumably affords excellent views (we could see this from The Gap when we arrived). There are a number of highly exclusive villas along the road.
On the 20th we started with the dump (at 7:15 by surprising 3 wild boars), then the waterfall. We followed this by visiting the gate at 9:15, where we had excellent views of a Malayan Whistling Thrush and took the Telecom loop by car, parking near the summit and walking round to "Kaniska". We returned to the dump (we loved the aroma) at 14:50. Finally, we took a fairly short (but fruitless) tour along Bishop's Trail before descending to The Gap at about 16:15.
We had several chats with Mr. K.S. Durai (firstname.lastname@example.org)
at the nature centre (c/o WWF Office, Bungalow Benting, 59000 Bukit Frazer,
tel 010-9180514 - He is happy to provide information). He helped us with sites
and identifications of transcribed noises and gave us the up-to-date chack list
- there is an international bird race in June. There is an information desk
at Puncak Inn which provides a useful sketch map of the resort for a nominal
fee (2 Ringits?). The place, house and trail names are all on this. The house
names "Taniska" and "Rasa" are houses east on the loop of the Telekom tower
shown on Bransbury's map. As the visibility was poor, we did not visit "High
Pines". The new road down is an extension of Quarry Road past Fraser's Pine
Resort. Though we only spent 48h at Frazer, we felt that this was sufficient
and we were adding very few species to our list by lunch time on the 20th.
Blyth's Hawk-Eagle (19/9 Bishop's), BLACK-THIGHED FALCONET
(19/9 by Bishop's house), Red Junglefowl (Mr. Durai informed us that these do
not occur. Ours was presumably domestic, but looked very original), Rock Dove,
Little Cuckoo-Dove (mainly at dawn and dusk, especially at the dump), THICK-BILLED
GREEN-PIGEON (20/9 dump), Mountain Imperial-Pigeon (common, their deep boombing
calls are readily identified, but beware the colours in Lekagul), BROWN WOOD-OWL
(18/9 Bishop's Trail in mid afternoon), Malaysian Eared-Nightjar (18/9 waterfall
path at dusk), White-bellied (Glossy) Swiftlet (common, at least 500 roosting
under the waterfall bridge), Little (House) Swift (common), Whiskered Treeswift
(19/9), ORANGE-BREASTED TROGON (19/9 Zoo end of Bishop's), Blue-tailed Bee-eater
(A migrating flock of 42 with both short-tailed juveniles and long-tailed adults,
18/9 The dump at dusk), WREATHED HORNBILL (2 from Telecom 19/9), Rhinoceros
Hornbill (18/9 possibly this species heard at the waterfall), Fire-tufted Barbet
(the cicada like sound is a constant accompanyment on Bishop's trail), Black-browed
Barbet (common), Blue-eared Barbet (several), SPECKLED PICULET (20/9 Telecom
loop), LESSER YELLOWNAPE (common), GREATER YELLOWNAPE (more common, mostly associated
with waves), RUSTY-NAPED PITTA (heard 20/9 by "Taniska", Telekom), Swallow (common
on the golf course), Forest Wagtail (20/9 1 Km above the waterfall), Grey Wagtail
(common in open areas), LARGE CUCKOOSHRIKE, (20/9 by "Taniska", Telekom), GREY-CHINNED
MINIVET (common in waves - not all males show a clear grey chin - check the
wing pattern), Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike (singles), LARGE CUCKOO SHRIKE (21/9
Telecom, by "Taniska"), Black-crested Bulbul (18/9), Ochraceous Bulbul (common),
Mountain Bulbul (abundant), ASHY BULBUL (19/9), Asian Fairy-bluebird (19/9),
Tiger Shrike (common), Brown Shrike (common), Oriental Magpie-Robin (common),
MALAYAN WHISTLING THRUSH (20/9 at the gate, at 9:45 - look down in the gully
- it is recommended to be there at dawn, but with the lighting conditions we
experienced, that would have been hopeless), MOUSTACHED BABBLER (common in waves
- but superficially resembles the commoner Mountain Fulvetta), Streaked Wren-Babbler
(20/9 Telecom and Bishop's trail), GOLDEN BABBLER (common in waves but typical
babbler behaviour - difficult to see), Black Laughingthrush (19/9 Telecom "Rasa"),
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (abundant - see identification comments under
"The Gap"), Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush (common), Silver-eared Mesia (stunning,
and common in small groups and in waves on Telecom Loop), White-browed Shrike-Babbler
(common in waves - especially Bishop's trail), Black-eared Shrike-Babbler (common
in waves - both Bishop's trail and Telecom Loop), Blue-winged Minla (in some
waves), Rufous-winged Fulvetta (20/9 at the dump), Mountain Fulvetta (very common
in waves), Long-tailed Sibia (common, often preceding waves), White-bellied
Yuhina (frequent), RUFESCENT PRINIA (in some waves on Telecom), Dark-necked
Tailorbird (20/9), Mountain Tailorbird (common), Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler
(19/9), EASTERN CROWNED-WARBLER (common in waves), Mountain Leaf-Warbler (19/9),
Chestnut-crowned Warbler (commonest Phylloscopus, especially Bishop's
Trail), FERRUGINOUS FLYCATCHER (19/9 Bishop's), RUFOUS-BROWED FLYCATCHER (2,
20/9 Bishops. This threw us completely, it looks like a robin - the picture
in Davison clinched it), Little Pied Flycatcher (common in waves), Large Niltava
(several), Grey (-headed) Canary-Flycatcher (19/9 Bishop's), FLYEATER (GOLDEN-BELLIED
GERYGONE) (common in waves - but often difficult to see well, rather nondescript),
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher (20/9 The dump), White-throated Fantail (conspicuous
and common in waves), Sultan Tit (19/9 Telecom), BLUE NUTHATCH (common in waves,
and very pretty), Fire-(buff)-breasted Flowerpecker (19/9 Bukit Frazer), BLACK-THROATED
SUNBIRD (common - but we did see the pale rump (illustrated in Lekagul) in any
of the many we saw), Streaked Spiderhunter (common and conspicuous - loud characteristic
call), WHITE-BELLIED MUNIA (18/9 the zoo), Tree Sparrow (urban), BLACK-AND-CRIMSON
ORIOLE (mainly Telecom loop), Bronzed Drongo (common), Lesser Racket-tailed
Drongo (common), Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (very common), GREEN MAGPIE (18/9
evening at the dump), Large-billed (Jungle) Crow (common).
Opportunities for birding in Singapore were limited,
and not improved by the smog, which was much worse here than we experienced
in Malaysia. There was only a single free afternoon, as we arrived after dark
the evening before our congress started and left 2 hours after the congress
finished. Most birding was city centre - yielding 6 species, I visited the Bukit
Timah nature reserve with two colleagues from Denmark during the single free
afternoon (in thick smog, poor visibility), taking a taxi (15 dollars). Unfortunately,
we found a taxi driver who had never heard of Bukit Timah nature reserve, and
took us instead (eventually) to Bukit Batok, a park (via a street called Bukit
Timah). This was OK (yielding several spp. including a monkey), but was not
what we expected, and this cost us a precious hour. I met Olivier Le Gall, well
known to EBN readers, at the conference. The Singapore nature society has a
Brahminy Kite (single, 22/9 Bukit Timah), PINK-NECKED
GREEN-PIGEON (22/9 Bukit Timah, flocks of presumably this species flying round
at dusk), Rock Dove, LONG-TAILED PARAKEET (22/9 Bukit Timah, 2x 2 pairs), Edible-nest
Swiftlet (22/9 Bukit Timah, presumably this species, common down-town), Little
(House) Swift (22/9 Bukit Timah, also common down-town), White-breasted (throated)
Kingfisher (single, 22/9 Bukit Timah), Dollarbird (22/9 Bukit Timah), Blue-eared
Barbet (22/9 Bukit Batok), Swallow sp. (lots 22/9 Bukit Timah at dusk), Yellow-vented
Bulbul (25/9 Ophir Road), Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (female/imm. 22/9 Bukit Batok),
Dark-necked Tailorbird (22/9 Bukit Timah), Crimson Sunbird (male 22/9 Bukit
Batok), Tree Sparrow (common urban), Common Myna (numerous - 22/9 Raffles Hotel),
WHITE-VENTED MYNA (the most numerous mynah 22/9 Raffles Hotel), Greater Racket-tailed
Drongo (22/9 2 at Bukit Timah), House Crow (22/9 common down-town).
Travel arrangements etc:
We flew SAS (6500 DKK - see exchange rates URL) from Copenhagen (departure 22:30) to Bangkok, Malaysian from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur and onwards to Singapore (with Malaysian 794 DKK), then SAS directly home from Singapore (with an hour on the ground in Bangkok). The overnight flights made the travel fairly painless (we are both fairly short legged). We were both fairly fresh when we arrived at Bangkok, though a little weary by the time we arrived at Kuala Selangor after nearly 2h drive.
We chose to hire a car in Malaysia for two reasons (most of our correspondants favoured busses or taxis). We did not have a lot of time - only 6 days, and we wished to use this effectively, especially as we arrived late in the evening. Secondly, it is not possible to stop to look at birds if you are in a bus (or, realistically in a long-distance taxi). This also meant that we were able to visit the Tengi Estuary at Tanjong Karang twice, without difficulty. Driving is easy in Malaysia, (though left hand drive may be disconcerting for some), the roads are excellent, with few holes, and the traffic generally safe and courteous. Signposting is (generally) good, and milestones frequent. Clearly this is an expensive option - 980 Ringits (roughly 2000 DKK see for other rates) for a Proton Wira (Malaysian family sedan) from Avis plus a tankful of petrol (roughly half European prices). We drove 500 Km. It would probably have costed roughly 300 Ringits in long-distance taxi fares to achieve the same, and much less to travel by bus, though in both cases we would have ended up staying a night in Kuala Lumpur (which is fairly expensive).
Accommodation and food are cheap in Malaysia. We spent
a total of 1200 Ringits (roughly 2500 DKK for all expenses - excluding the car
hire). However, hotels at Selangor (Hotel Kuala Selangor - 40 Ringits) and Bukit
Frazer (65 Ringits) bordered on the unpleasant. We had been advised to stay
at "the other" hotel in Kuala Selangor, but did not locate it. Another time,
I would either find the other hotel (which is not listed in "The Rough Guide")
or stay at the reserve, though this is described by all as "pretty basic". In
contrast, The Gap Rest House (at 43 Ringits), though run down, was an experience
not to be missed. We enjoyed the Chicken Chop. Remember a torch - the somewhat
unreliable electrical generator is only running for part of the morning, and
is shut down at 11(:30) pm. A typical meal for two, including a large beer (Carlsberg)
each, cost 35 Ringits. We had pre-booked, but only one other room was occupied
(there are only 8). We only had a single meal in KS, where we ate at a little
chinese street cafe, close to the centre, in view of the river on the recommendation
of the pharmacy. This served the best food we found in Malaysia.
Be warned that the electricity in Malaysia and Singapore
follows the British electrical system with three pin plugs. So take an adaptor.
We had a travelling kettle, a thermos flask and instant coffee which made long
days in the field tolerable. There are lots of road side shops for buying fruit,
bottled water and other essentials. We did not suffer any gastric problems.
In Singapore, we took a taxi to Bukit Timah. This cost 14 dollars, though the taxi driver had never heard of the place - Tourist maps are freely available. We had forgotten to take one with us. Other birding was incidental to walking between hotel and conference centre.
The following provided reports or other useful information, and several corresponded extensively following an EBN posting (and following our trip with identification questions). Thank you: Tim Andersen, Ed Birch, Michael Bowman, Seb Buckton, Chris Carpenter, Tony Coatsworth, Richard Eden, Richard Fairbank, Rob Goldbach, Thomas Johansen, Olivier Le Gall, Susan Myers, Anita Pedersen, Olle Pers, Jelle Scharringa, Per Schiermacker-Hansen, Tom Tarrant and Graham Tebb.
Other reports on the web (during 1997) (two on Urs Geiser's site)