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A Report from birdtours.co.uk

Malaysia (Bukit Fraser, Kuala Selangor & Sekinchan) 24 February - 4 March, 2001,

Author

Gruff Dodd, 2 Clos Tawe, Barri, Bro Morgannwg, Cymru/Wales; Gruff@doddg.freeserve.co.uk


Introduction and strategy


If you've ever fancied visiting an exotic tropical destination, but have been worried about the difficulties of doing so, then Malaysia is the perfect destination for you.  This is a very modern country, with excellent roads, easy driving, good standards of accommodation and superb food, combined with extremely friendly people and wonderful birding.

We have been trying to make a trip here for several years, but have had to cancel two previous visits for various reasons.  We had a third opportunity to visit in February 2001, and despite having only a week's leave available, we decided to go for it.  In the event, we had a great time, and didn't find that the long flight out from the UK affected our enjoyment in any way, as it was essentially an overnight flight.  However, the short time available to us restricted our ability to cover all the sites we would have liked to have visited, and we were also keen to minimise travelling time within Malaysia.  We therefore decided to focus our efforts on 2 key sites, namely Bukit Fraser (including The Gap) and the coastal area between Kuala Selangor and Sekinchan. 

This undoubtedly restricted the overall species list for the trip, and the time at each site was still less than we would ideally have liked.  In particular, we weren't able to give The Gap the coverage it deserved, and as a result I failed to see many species commoner at this altitude than at Bukit Fraser.  Nevertheless, I was pleased with the overall trip total of 145 species, including 120 lifers, and the highlights included such excellent birds as Malaysian Whistling Thrush, Brown Wood Owl, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Black-thighed Falconet and White-breasted Woodswallow.

There are, however, many species that I didn't manage to see, and we will certainly be making a repeat visit to Malaysia in the future, hopefully to visit further sites such as Taman Negara, Kuala Gula and the Cameron Highlands.


Acknowledgements


Special thanks to Mike Bowman and Tan Jit Kheng, my birding companions throughout our time at Bukit Fraser - I thoroughly enjoyed birding with you both, and look forward to doing so again in the future.  Thanks to all those birders on the ground, both local and overseas visitors who were so eager and willing to exchange information on the birds they had seen, and to those previous visitors who took the trouble to write and publish such excellent trip reports.  Thanks also to resident Bukit Fraser bird expert K S Durai for an excellent and very enjoyable day's birding on the New Road and Telekom Loop.

Thanks to all those who provided help and advice during the planning stages - Andy Adcock, Tim Allwood, Reza Azmi, Ashley Banwell, Bo Beolens, Axel Braunlich, Kit Britten, Mike Chong, Kim Chye, Andrew Coop, Mahendra Dev, Christian Dietzen, Richard Eden, David Fischer, Keith Fisher, David Geale, Chris Gooddie, Rob Heath, Ooi Chin Hock, John Holmes, Pete Holt, Steve James, Allen Jeyarajasingam, Aidan Kelly, Lenny from Singapore, Paul Leader, Keith Martin, A D McBain, Sue Meinhold, David Melville, Susan Myers, Darrell Price, Keith Regan, Danny Rogers, Mike Spicer, Hanno Stamm, Annette Tamino, Tom Tarrant, Lim Aun Tiah, John Wall, Ooi Beng Yean and Ray Ziarno.

Finally a big thank you to Sara, my wife and best friend, for putting up with all my nonsense!


Getting there


We flew direct from London Heathrow to the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) with British Airways.  The flight was very good, but unfortunately BA are discontinuing this route after the end of March.  The flights cost UKP 395 per head including taxes, and were booked through Trailfinders (Tel. 020 7938 3939).

The flight duration was some 13 hours each way, but both were overnight flights, and very comfortable, so we managed to sleep most of the time, making the long journey times largely irrelevant.  Flight times were as follows:

Outwards:        Depart London Heathrow 23.2.01  21:25,  arrive KLIA 24.2.01  18:15

Return:             Depart KLIA 4.3.01  23:25,  arrive London Heathrow 5.3.01  05:25

Please note that KLIA is actually located in Sepang, which is some 50 km south east of KL.  Malaysia was 8 hours ahead of the UK in February.


Travelling around


Car hire was arranged through Hertz in advance of the visit.  The car was a decent sized Proton saloon (big enough for 4 people), and cost MR 1,180 (UKP 220) for 8 days, including unlimited mileage and all insurance.  Crucially it had air conditioning (not necessary in Bukit Fraser, but very welcome in the heat of Kuala Selangor), and was comfortable and easy to drive.  The one down side was that it had very little ground clearance, which meant that I grounded it regularly while driving the dirt tracks around Sekinchan, despite only encountering very shallow potholes, which I would not otherwise have even noticed.

Driving conditions in Malaysia were excellent, and driving was pretty easy throughout.  The quality of roads was very good, with even the minor roads being well surfaced.  A new motorway system links KLIA with KL and points north and south, and a separate spur from KLIA to Shah Alam and Klang provided access to Kuala Selangor without the need to get involved in the traffic around KL.  The quality of driving was pretty good, although there were a lot of motorbikes around many of who seemed to be driven by riders with suicidal tendencies.

Signposting was generally pretty good, and we managed to find our way around with a fairly basic map without any real difficulties.  However, we stayed well away from KL itself.  Malaysia has a big advantage for foreign visitors in that its language (Bahasa Malaysia) is written using Latin script, and so roadsigns etc can be read without difficulties. 

Petrol was widely available and relatively cheap (for Europeans at least) at RM 1.20 (UKP 0.23) per litre, although note that there is no petrol station in Bukit Fraser.  The nearest filling station in the KL direction is at Kuala Kubu Baru, so make sure you fill up before pressing on.  Total distance driven was some 800 km.  There are tolls to pay on the motorway system, but they are fairly inexpensive - we probably spent no more than some MR 25 throughout.

Car hire is not really necessary for birding Malaysia, as you will probably want to visit relatively few sites, and public transport is very good.  Some birder we met were travelling between sites by private taxis, which would probably work out a little cheaper than hiring a car for the duration.  However, we found that having our own car made things a lot easier.  For example, we could go up and down between Bukit Fraser and The Gap at leisure, and also often drove to the start of trailheads, cutting down on the amount of walking.  The start of the New Road, for example, was quite a walk from the centre of town, and to get there by dawn would require a lengthy walk in the dark.  By having a car we were able to get there easily by first light.

On the other hand, for most of the time the car was sitting idle.  I think that if I was making a longer trip, I would consider managing without a car, but with so little time to spend, it allowed us to maximise the use of our time.  It also provided a very welcome air conditioned oasis from the heat of the day when in the lowlands!


Costs & Money


The local currencies is the Malaysian Ringgit (MR) and the exchange rates against sterling (UKP) at the time of my visit was approximately UKP 1 = MR 5.33  This is the exchange rate I have used in translating costs throughout this report.

Credit cards were widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, shops etc and some petrol stations, although the government accommodation at Bukit Fraser required cash.  Cash could be withdrawn from ATM machines provided your card belongs to one of the international schemes such as Cirrus or Maestro.

Note that the only bank in Bukit Fraser (Maybank) is situated in the Quest Hotel on Jalan Lady Guillemard - I believe that it doesn't open until 10:00.

The total cost of the trip is estimated at UKP 1,280 for 2 people (UKP 640 each):

Ĝ             Flights -                 UKP 790

Ĝ             Car hire -              UKP 220

Ĝ             Hotels -                 UKP 130

Ĝ             Fuel -                    UKP   20

Ĝ             Meals -                 UKP   70

Ĝ             Incidentals -           UKP   50


Bird Guides


I tried unsuccessfully to hire a resident bird guide for the Kuala Selangor part of my trip.  We did, however, manage to secure the services of Bukit Fraser's resident bird expert Mr K S Durai for one day.  Mr Durai works for the Fraser's Hill Development Corporation, and can be contacted by e-mail on durefh@hotmail.com, by telephone / fax on + 60 (0)9 362 2517, or on his cell phone + 60 (0)19 918 0514.  He wouldn't charge for his services, but instead invited us to make a donation to the local school, with whom he works to encourage an interest in nature.  We were of course glad to comply.  Mr Durai was an excellent birding companion, extremely knowledgeable about both the birds and where to look for them, and very entertaining company.


Accommodation and food


Accommodation was generally very good, and extremely reasonably priced.  We booked our bungalow accommodation at Bukit Fraser in advance by fax, but there seemed to be plenty of rooms available when we arrived, although the weekends are much busier than weekdays. 

The quality of food was also excellent, and extremely cheap - both Malaysian and Chinese food was widely available, although beer was pretty much restricted to Chinese owned establishments.  Vegetarians should have no problems, with lots of superb vegetable soups and fried rice and noodle dishes.  However, be sure to explain clearly that you eat no meat at all - we frequently ate vegetable soups that had small amounts of chicken or fish added!  We stayed and ate at the following places (all accommodation prices are per room):

24 .2.01

De Palma Inn, Shah Alam.  Room MR 99 (UKP 19) per night.  Dinner for two MR 60 (UKP 11), breakfast MR 12 (UKP 2) each.  Comfortable with air conditioned rooms, and pretty convenient for Taman Pertanian.  Website  www.depalmahotel.com  E-mail dpsales@po.jaring.my  Tel + 60 (0)3 542 8080  Fax + 60 (0)3 542 0492

25.2.01

Bangelo Kuantan, Bukit Fraser.  Room MR 88 (UKP 16.50).  Dinner cooked by resident caretaker MR 14 (UKP 2.60) per head.  Breakfast MR 6 (UKP 1.10) per head.  The bungalow was a little run down and suffered a little from atmospheric dampness that made the beds a little clammy, and eventually got to your clothes.  The location, however, was superb with great birding starting right outside the front door.  Book through the Fraser's Hill Development Corporation (Perbadanan Kemajuan Bukit Fraser) Tel + 60 (0)9 362 2044, 2194, 2195 or 2248.  Fax + 60 (0)9 362 2273

26.2.01

Bangelo Kuantan, Bukit Fraser

27.2.01

Bangelo Kuantan, Bukit Fraser

28.2.01

Bangelo Kuantan, Bukit Fraser

01.3.01

Quest Resort, Bukit Fraser  Room MR 99 (UKP 19) per night including breakfast.  More comfortable than the same priced bungalow, although again suffered from dampness - probably due to the amount of fog in Bukit Fraser at that time of year.  Probably better value than the bungalows, and situated right in the middle of town, which is handy for those without transport, but not as idyllically located.  E-mail questfh@tm.net.my  Tel + 60 (0)9 362 2300  Fax + 60 (0(9 362 2284

Dinner for two at Hillview Restaurant MR 50 (UKP 9.40).

Most birders visiting Bukit Fraser seem to stay at the Puncak Inn in the middle of town.  Rooms here are very cheap at RM 38 (UKP 7), but they are small and pretty basic.  Also, some Swedish birders who I met who stayed there claimed to have been bitten by bugs in the bed.  Your decision!

02.3.01

De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor.  Room MR 75 (UKP 14) per night including breakfast.  Dinner for two MR 50 (UKP 9.40).  This was really excellent value for a very comfortable air-conditioned room, in a place with great facilities, including a swimming pool.  The rate was a special offer, compared with the standard rate of RM 180 (UKP 34) per night.  Website  www.depalmahotel.com  E-mail dpsales@po.jaring.my  Tel + 60 (0)3 3289 7070  Fax + 60 (0)3 3289 7080

Most birders at Kuala Selangor stay at the cabins inside the Nature Reserve.  These cost RM 45 (UKP 8), which is cheaper than the De Palma, but much more basic, with no air conditioning .  Even cheaper small A-frame huts without private facilities are also available for MR 25 (UKP 5).  Personally, I felt that the De Palma offered far superior value for money, and the air conditioning was extremely welcome after the intense heat of the day, but it may not be suitable for birders without their own transport, as it was maybe 2 km from the reserve, although I wouldn't have thought that taxis would be that expensive.  . 

03.3.01

De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor


Weather


February and March are in Malaysia's dry season, although the distinction is somewhat blurred in the highlands.  The weather was generally very good throughout, with rain restricted to the first morning around Shah Alam.  It was very hot in the coastal lowlands around Kuala Selangor (perhaps 35 C +), but much more comfortable 1,300 metres above sea level at Bukit Fraser.  There was actually a noticeable temperature gradient between Bukit Fraser and The Gap which is at an elevation of just a little over 800 metres above sea level.

The biggest problem we found at Bukit Fraser was a tendency for thick fog in the early morning, which somewhat dampened bird activity then, and made looking for birds like hornbills difficult.  By shifting elevations you could usually get above or below the cloud bank.  Bird activity quietened down towards mid day, but picked up sharply after about 5.30 p.m., and the subsequent period was often the most productive part of the day.  First light was at around 07:00, and it became too dark to bird at around 19:30.


Health, safety & annoyances


Malaysia is a very modern country, but nevertheless a tropical one, so some precautions are advisable.  I always keep up to date with my vaccinations including yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid, polio, hepatitis 'A' and meningitis.  There is some risk of malaria, although I believe that it might be restricted to the deeper jungle areas such as Taman Negara.  Nevertheless, on my doctor's advice we took weekly Chloroquine (Avloclor) and daily Proguanil (Paludrine) prophylactics. 

I am not sure whether the tap water is safe to drink, but I drank it regularly, and suffered no ill effects.  I might have been lucky, and there is plenty of bottled water available.  Similarly, I had no problems resulting from the food eaten, even though it was often from small restaurants and even road side stalls.  I suspect that the biggest health risk is from dehydration, especially in Kuala Selangor, and I drank copious amounts of liquid there.

There were few other annoyances.  Mosquitoes were present at all sites visited, and were a bit of a nuisance, but never a big problem - a DEET-based insect repellent kept them at bay most of the time, although we were bitten several times while we slept.  After worrying quite a bit about leeches, I only picked up one throughout the trip, and managed to flick it off before it drew blood - this probably has much to do with the dry weather, and they are probably more of a problem after rain.  Tiger Balm is the locally recommended solution to these - it was certainly extremely effective in persuading one leech that had affixed itself to Mike to quickly let go.  I had also been warned about ticks, but came across none.

I felt no threat at all from people in the areas visited - it just didn't feel like that sort of place, although I can't speak for KL itself.  One last point - Malaysia enforces the death penalty for drug smuggling, so don't even think about it, and be very careful with your luggage, especially in and around the airport.


References:


Books:

·        A Field Guide to the Birds of West Malaysia and Singapore - Jeyarajasingam and Pearson - my main reference source.

·        A Guide to the Birds of Thailand - Lekagul and Round - a useful backup guide, covering most of the Malaysian species.

·        A Guide to the Birds of South East Asia - King, Woodcock and Dickinson - outdated by the newer book, but worth taking along if you have it.

·        A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore - Davison and Chew - this was surprisingly useful, especially for birds like bulbuls.

·        Where to watch birds in Asia - Nigel Wheatley - good background info, and helpful in the early stages of planning..

·        A Birdwatcher's Guide to Malaysia - Bransbury.  An excellent site guide, with good maps and useful bird lists for each site.  Also covers Malaysian Borneo

·        Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei - Lonely Planet

Some birders I met were using the new Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia by Robson, which I haven't yet bought, and it looked excellent - I will certainly be getting it prior to my next trip to the region.

Trip reports:

·        Malaysia - 10.6.98 - 29.6.98 - Aidan Kelly

·        Malaysia - 15.3.97 - 5.4.97 - Susan Myers

·        Malaysia & Singapore - 10.5.96 - 23.5.96 - Keith Fisher

·        Malaysia - 19.7.96 - 21.8.96 - Keith Martin

·        Malaysia - 22.2.98 - 8.3.98 - David Fischer

·        Malaysia - 8.3.98 - 31.3.98 - David Geale

·        Malaysia - 16.7.98 - 21.7.98 - Peter Thompson

·        Malaysia - 4.5.97 - 20.5.97 - Peter Thompson

·        Malaysia - 4.9.97 - 18.9.97 - Tom Tarrant

·        Malaysia - 17.9.98 - 28.9.98 - Keith Regan

·        Malaysia & Singapore - 14.9.97 - 26.9.97 - David Collinge

·        Malaysia & Singapore - 10.4.98 - 4.5.98 - David Cooper

·        Malaysia - 16.6.98 - 29.6.98 - Tomas Carlberg

·        Malaysia - 7.3.99 - 13.3.99 - Graham Tebb

·        Malaysia - 3.7.99 - 5.8.99 - Wim Veraghtert

·        Malaysia - 9.10.99 - 19.10.99 - Phil Benstead

·        Malaysia & Southern Thailand - 16.4.00 - 3.5.00 - Chris Gooddie

·        Malaysia - 3.7.00 - 16.7.00 - Tomas Carlberg

These were primarily obtained from the following web sites, although a few were sent to me privately by the authors:

·        John Girdley - http://www.birdtours.co.uk/

Maps:

I used a free road map supplied by the Malaysian Tourist Board, which proved perfectly adequate for the small amount of driving that we did.  Sketch maps of Bukit Fraser are available at the small FHDC office below the Puncak Inn for a nominal cost.  A map of Taman Alam Kuala Selangor is given to you when you pay the entrance fee.


Itinerary


Sites visited were as follows:

24.2.01

Arrive KLIA, drive to Shah Alam and book into hotel.

25.2.01

a.m. Taman Pertanian, p.m. drive to Bukit Fraser, bird Jalan Lady Maxwell

26.2.01

a.m. Walk from Bangelo Kuantan along Jalan Lady Maxwell and Jalan Genting to clock tower in centre of town, then along Jalan Lady Guillemard, Jalan Valley and Jalan Lady Maxwell back to Bangelo Kuantan

p.m. Hemmant Trail, Jalan Lady Maxwell

27.2.01

a.m. New Road down towards The Gap, Jalan Lady Maxwell

p.m. Telekom Loop (Jalan Girdle), evening visit to Fraser's Pines

28.2.01

a.m.  Stream near top gate on old road to The Gap, New Road up from The Gap towards Bukit Fraser

p.m. Jalan Lady Maxwell

1.3.01

a.m. Bishop's Trail, Jalan Genting around FHDC offices, 2 km walk each way down Old Road down towards The Gap

p.m. 2 km walk each way along road from The Gap towards Raub, 2 km walk each way up from The Gap towards Bukit Fraser, 2 km walk each way down from Bukit Fraser towards The Gap

2.3.01

a.m. Bishop's Trail, drive to Kuala Selangor via Kuala Kubu Baru.

p.m. Taman Alam Kuala Selangor, grassy area near Kuala Selangor sports stadium

3.3.01

a.m. grounds of De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor, Taman Alam Kuala Selangor

p.m. Sekinchan rice paddies, Kuala Selangor sports stadium, Taman Alam Kuala Selangor

4.3.01

a.m. grounds of De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor, Taman Alam Kuala Selangor

p.m. Sekinchan rice paddies, Sekinchan foreshore, drive to KLIA

Details of these sites are given in the Sites Visited section.


Sites Visited


Taman Pertanian, Shah Alam

This park (literal translation - Agricultural Park) is situated on the northern outskirts of Shah Alam, and is worth a morning's birding if you spend any time near KL.  It is situated in Seksyen (Section) 8 of the city - all the sections are regularly signposted.  To get there turn off the KL - Klang Federal Highway II, and head north away from town, following signs to Seksyen 8.  After perhaps 2 km you will see Taman Pertanian signposted to the right - the road eventually crosses over the main highway and enters the park through a very impressive set of gates.

To get there from the De Palma Hotel (located in Seksyen 19), turn right out of the hotel, continue to the end of the road, and turn left at the T-junction.  You will shortly arrive at a roundabout with a big JVC factory on it - turn left here.  Continue straight through the next roundabout (which hosts the Ericsson Academy), and the next roundabout you reach will be the one with Federal Highway II - continue straight through here to reach the park as described above.

Bukit Fraser

There are many areas worth birding in and around the town - I have detailed below some of the areas we tried, which I have referred to throughout the Daily Account and Systematic List section:

Jalan Lady Maxwell

The whole stretch from the junction with Jalan Genting to its end at The Lodge just up the hill from Bangelo Kuantan was very productive, and this was where we had some of our best birding.

Bishop's Trail

This trail starts near Muar Cottage on Jalan Lady Maxwell and ends near the Temerloh Cottages at the junction of Jalan Lady Maxwell and Jalan Genting.  It can also be accessed by a set of steep steps off Jalan Lady Maxwell, just north of the junction with the road to Silverpark Holiday Resort.  This is reputed to be an excellent trail for forest birds.  There were certainly good birds being seen along here, such as Bar-backed Partridge and Pygmy Wren-Babbler, but many birders, including ourselves saw very little here.  We didn't spend much time along these trails, as we found them very dark and claustrophobic, making seeing birds difficult - we found that we got much better views by birding the roads, which also made it easier to keep up with bird waves.

If you stand on Jalan Lady Maxwell just to the left of the steps down to the Bishop's Trail and look down the hill, you will see an extensive area of recent landslide below you, with a jumble of brush and fallen trees at the bottom. (This cuts across the Bishop's Trail but could be traversed with care).  This landslide area was the current hot spot for Malaysian Whistling Thrush, and I eventually managed to get brief views of this very difficult bird here on my third early morning attempt.  It appeared to be favouring the very back of the cleared area.

Jalan Valley

The short downhill stretch from the junction with Jalan Lady Maxwell proved pretty good - Long-tailed Broadbills were being seen regularly along this stretch.

Jalan Genting

There is an area of bushes, trees and gardens just below the FHDC offices and mosque where the road skirts the golf course that often proved productive.

Hemmant Trail

This trail starts by the satay bar just downhill of the mosque along Jalan Genting, and comes out at the junction of Jalan Lady Maxwell and Jalan Valley.  A few hundred metres along the trail from the Jalan Genting end the trail crosses a steep concrete stream culvert, and this spot is also a possible site for Malaysian Whistling Thrush.  I tried walking the Hemmant Trail once, but saw very little and got fed up with clambering over fallen trees and gave up.

Telekom Loop (Jalan Girdle)

We walked this once in the late afternoon, and found it to be pretty good, although it is a long walk, especially if you don't have transport to get to the start of the loop.  This is I believe the highest area in Bukit Fraser, and appears to be the most reliable place for Cutia, although they are extremely difficult even here, and we certainly didn't see any.  One group of birders we met had got a response to a tape recorded call, but the bird only called back and didn't make an appearance.  The best spot is apparently around a bungalow on the outside (downhill) slope, which has been half-demolished by a landslide - I think it's the one marked as Rasa on the map.

Fraser's Pine Resort

There was a pair of Brown Wood Owls frequenting the grounds of this apartment complex during our stay, and giving fantastic views hunting below the street lights.  We visited twice and saw one bird within a few minutes of arriving on both occasions.  Park your car at the entrance to the resort, where there is a circular restaurant, and walk slowly along the access road into the complex scanning the banister rails and lamp posts.  Grey Nightjar had also been seen here.

Top Gate

Just before the top gate on the road down to The Gap, a stream cuts across the road.  As you walk down towards The Gap, the right hand side is the traditional stakeout for Malaysian Whistling Thrush, but it seemed too overgrown to us for the birds to be visible even if they are there.  The left hand side was very open and was hosting a pair of Slaty-backed Forktails, especially early in the morning.

The road down to The Gap

The 8 km old road down to The Gap is well worth a walk - most birders walk all the way to the bottom, and then hitch or catch a bus back up again.  We found the traffic very light, and it didn't affect the birding at all, although I am sure it is much heavier on weekends.  We never managed to organise ourselves well enough to manage this whole walk, which is a great shame, as other birders saw some great birds including hornbills and trogons along here.

Road traffic along this road is one way, with downward traffic allowed on even hours, and upward traffic allowed on odd hours.  Traffic is only allowed to travel for the first 40 minutes every hour, e.g. upwards from 07:00 - 07:40, 09:00 - 09:40 etc. Bear this in mind when planning your journey to Bukit Fraser.  There are no restrictions between 19:00 and 07:00, but if you drive this road during this time, take your time as it is very narrow and twisty with few passing places. 

The Gap

Similarly it is possible to park at the bottom (e.g. in the lay-by outside the Gap Resthouse, and walk back up towards Bukit Fraser.  Other recommended strategies are to walk along the main road in either direction from The Gap, i.e. north towards Raub or south towards Kuala Kubu Baru.  We really didn't spend anywhere near enough time at The Gap, and missed a lot of birds as a result.  One of the problems was that The Gap Resthouse was closed as it was being refurbished, and we therefore had to make the trek down from Bukit Fraser.  Many crews spend 2 or 3 days "up top" at Bukit Fraser, and then a couple of days staying at the Resthouse, to avoid the travelling problem.

I was spending most early mornings looking for Malaysian Whistling Thrush at the Bishop's Trail, and this together with the traffic restrictions meant that we didn't manage to get down to this area until about 10:15 any day, which was not the ideal time for birding.  Nevertheless, we did a bad job of covering this area, and on a return visit I will certainly give it the coverage it merits.

New Road

This is still not open, although it is due to open in the next couple of months.  Based on the traffic levels we experienced, I don't believe that this will have a massive effect on birding at least during the week, although it will certainly be heavier on weekends.  I believe that the plan is to allow traffic up one of these roads, and down the other, which will remove the time restrictions on travel.

The birding along this road was very good walking down from the top, but not so good the time we tried walking up from The Gap - the new road comes out perhaps 1 km north of the old road.

From Bukit Fraser it is accessed along Jalan Quarry past Fraser's Pine Resort - this is a pretty long walk if you haven't got transport.  If you have you should drive down as far as you can, until you see an area where you can pull over on a sharp right hand hairpin, and walk the rest of the way.

As well as the above sites, there were plenty of other sites that we didn't have time to visit.  Some birders have found the area around High Pines, accessed along Jalan High Pines to be productive, and Cutia have been seen here in the past, but we met a couple of crews who had tried this area and found it very disappointing.  We also didn't try the old Rubbish Tip area, as we had heard that this was now badly degraded, but I have no recent information.  Another stakeout for Slaty-backed Forktail is on the lawn at the back of the Puncak Hotel at first light, but we didn't try it.

Bukit Fraser is that sort of place - it doesn't matter how long you spend here, you will probably miss something, or wish you had another day to spare.  I met one visiting birder who had been here over two weeks, and had amassed an extremely impressive list of birds, but hadn't seen Red-bearded Bee-eater or Brown Wood Owl.  He found half a dozen new birds for his trip on his last day's birding!

Kuala Selangor

Taman Alam Kuala Selangor (Kuala Selangor Nature Park)

To get here head out of Kuala Selangor town centre towards Klang, and look immediately for a signpost to the right signposted Taman Alam, just after a petrol station - if you reach the large mosque on the right you've gone too far.  After turning off here, take the first right again, and follow this road (Jalan Klinik) down into the park. 

The entrance booth is at the far end of the car park, and the huts are beyond it in the park itself.  The reserve does not officially open until 09:00, although if you stay in the cabins you do not suffer this restriction as you are already inside!  If the entrance booth is shut, you can simple walk around to the right of this building and into the reserve - there is no fence.  If you do this, and plenty of people seem to, make sure you call in at the entrance booth on your way back out to pay the entrance fee - it is only MR 2 (UKP 0.40) and the Malaysian Nature Society really need the money.  They also sell cold drinks here, as well as a range of nature books and t-shirts etc.

Once inside, the main trail leads straight ahead along Denai Bangau (Egret Trail) through mangrove woods to a bund surrounding the pond areas.  There is a side trip possible to the right along Denai Kera (Macaque Trail). You can walk straight through to a pair of hides (from which the views were very poor due to high vegetation), or follow the Ring Bund (Permatang Bulat) to the left or right around the wet area.  This Ring Bund connects at each end with the Coastal Bund (Permatang Pantai) which skirts the wetland on one side and extensive mangroves on the other.  The Coastal Bund continues south from its junction with the Ring Bund, terminating at the start of the southernmost Mangrove Boardwalk.  There is another trail, known as Denai Helang (Brahminy Trail) which leads to the left from the cabin area and winds through mangrove woodland before eventually joining the Ring Bund.  If you fancy an even longer walk you can branch off Denai Helang to the south onto Denai Lotong (Langur Trail), which eventually comes out onto the Coastal Bund at the entrance to the boardwalk.

The park itself seemed in pretty good condition, with trails etc well-maintained.  The obvious, and very disappointing, exceptions are the two boardwalks into the mangroves which are no longer traversible.  The northernmost one has collapsed completely, and you can barely make out where it used to be, while the southernmost one has collapsed more recently.  Although it is officially closed you could still walk the first 100 metres or so until the first day of my visit, when another section collapsed (nothing to do with me!) leaving only the first 20 metres or so accessible.  This is still worth walking along, although it is pretty shaky even here, as it is your only opportunity for getting into the mangroves themselves. 

The demise of these boardwalks greatly reduce your chances of birds like Mangrove Pitta and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, and there is apparently little likelihood of their being replaced or repaired soon, as the MNS do not have the funds to do this work, which is a great shame..

Kuala Selangor stadium

If you return from the Taman Alam to the main road, turn right towards Klang, and then turn immediately right again (i.e. before the mosque), you enter a grid-like network of roads leading generally in the direction of the sports stadium.  The habitat here is largely long grass, with scattered trees and bushes, and this area is apparently a reliable spot for White-headed Munia.

De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor

The grounds of the hotel were pretty productive in early morning and late evening with highlights including Pied Triller and Ashy Minivet.

Sekinchan

This town stands in the centre of an extensive area of rice paddies.  We visited here twice, each time reaching the town and turning east (inland) at random and driving slowly along the network of roads and tracks between the paddies.  This area is renowned as a spot for White-breasted Woodswallow, recently arrived from Sumatra.

We also managed to find one road that led down to and then paralleled the shore, although the tide was far out and consequently we saw little.


Daily account


Saturday 24 February 2001

We arrived in KLIA in the early evening after a pretty comfortable flight, and picked up our hire car without much difficulty.  An hour later we arrived in Shah Alam as night was falling, and eventually found the De Palma Inn where we booked in for the night.

Sunday 25 February 2001

The plan behind staying last night at Shah Alam was to minimise driving distance on our first night, and still give me a chance for some early morning birding while Sara slept off the effect of the long flight.  Dawn therefore saw me parked outside the entrance gate of Taman Pertanian waiting for the park to open.  The weather was foul, with a combination of mist, persistent drizzle and high temperatures which made keeping both my specs and optics clear a full time job. 

The first birds seen proved to be very common here and throughout the lowlands - Yellow-vented Bulbuls, White-breasted Kingfishers and Peaceful Doves.  A pair of Pacific Swallows and a Crested Serpent Eagle were perched on overhead telegraph wires, giving good views.  The main gates opened at about 08:00 and I drove down to the car park, only to find out that the park itself didn't open until 09:00.  There were a few too many noisy people milling around the car park to make for really good birding, but by wandering off to a quiet corner I found some good birds, including my only Banded Woodpecker and Red-eyed Bulbul of the trip, and my first Magpie Robin and Philippine Glossy Starling.

Eventually the park opened and I followed the main track up towards the area of rice paddies and ornamental lake.  Unfortunately, the weather was really poor by now, and I saw few birds as I wandered around.  Most were the common species seen previously, but new birds identified included White-vented Myna and Blue-tailed Bee-eater.

By late morning I had had enough of the drizzle and humid heat, so headed back to the hotel to collect Sara and start on our journey to Bukit Fraser.  New trip birds around the hotel included House Crows and Common Mynas, while another Crested Serpent Eagle was seen as we headed out of town.  The three hour journey up to Bukit Fraser was pretty uneventful, although we had a tricky time finding the correct road out from KL, having only a fairly basic map.  The best approach is probably to take the main Ipoh motorway north from the city, and look for the Rawang turnoff, from where you can pick up the road to Kuala Kubu Baru, and hence to Bukit Fraser.  We didn't do this on the way up and instead struggled through the traffic along the old road north, following signs to Kuantan and Ipoh until the roads separated, and Ipoh thereafter.

We arrived at The Gap about 20 minutes before the road opened to uphill traffic, and while we were waiting we met Jeff, an English birder who was approaching the end of a two month birding trip around both Bornean and Peninsular Malaysia.  We offered him a lift up to Bukit Fraser, and got some very good gen from him on the way.  While walking from the car to the FHDC offices I had a quick look in the bushes along the golf course, and got my first lifers of the area - Black-throated Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter and White-bellied Swiftlet.  All proved to be extremely common throughout the whole Bukit Fraser area.

We had booked 4 nights accommodation at the Bangelo Rompin, one of the Pahang State-owned cottages in the town.  However, when we checked in to the FHDC offices in the town we learned that they had just sold this bungalow and so had booked us into their Bangelo Kuantan instead.  This was a bit of a blow, as we had selected the Rompin specifically because it was secluded while at the same time near enough for Sara to be able to walk into town.  The Kuantan was much further out, and I was worried that Sara would feel a little isolated here, not being able to drive.  In the event, the Kuantan proved very satisfactory.  To be honest there wasn't much in the centre of town for Sara to bother walking down there, and she enjoyed her time lazing around the nice garden and walking along the local roads and paths.  Furthermore, the immediate surroundings of the bungalow, and downhill along Jalan Lady Maxwell proved as good as any in the area for birding.

My other concern was that I had arranged to meet up with Swiss-resident English birder Mike Bowman to do some birding together, and as we had arranged that he would contact me via Bangelo Rompin I was worried that he wouldn't be able to get hold of me.  I needn't have worried, as just then he rang me on my mobile - he too had booked into the Rompin and been moved to the Kuantan, so we met up with him and drove up the bungalow in convoy.  He had brought with him Tan Jit Kheng, a local KL birder paying his first visit to Bukit Fraser.  Mike and Jit proved to be excellent company, and I really enjoyed our time together at Fraser's - I usually go birding solo so it was a nice change to have some company in the field, and it certainly helped my trip list.

Having settled in we wandered slowly down Jalan Lady Maxwell for Jit and my first taste of Bukit Fraser birding (Mike had been here before).  Long-tailed Sibias, the first of many, were seen in the garden, as well as a Malaysian Cuckooshrike which seemed to be resident in the area, and was seen frequently here over the next few days.  Further down the road was a Black-and-crimson Oriole and a Pacific Swallow flew over.  A Fire-tufted Barbet was calling incessantly from some roadside trees and was eventually located and gave excellent views.  This species proved to be extremely common in the area around Bukit Fraser, but we soon got bored of trying to track them down!

We came across our first bird wave, a small one, but only managed to identify Scarlet Minivet and Mountain Fulvetta, and our first Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush of the trip.  It was now nearing the end of the afternoon, so we turned back up towards the bungalow, only for the bird activity to pick up noticeably.  This was a regular feature, with some of our best birding being between 17:30 and dusk.  First up was a Green-billed Malkoha, with a second (or possibly the same bird) seen further up the road a little later.  A strange barbet-like bird with a thin beak and stripy face was seen on a branch, but it was only when we got back to the bungalow later and checked the books that we realised that it was in fact a Speckled Piculet.

A woodpecker flew into a roadside tree - a yellownape, but which species?  It seemed to have a reddish crown, which would make it a Greater Yellownape, but it gave frustratingly brief views.  Eventually it was joined by a second bird, and they were confirmed as Greater Yellownapes.  Just to make it easy, a pair of Lesser Yellownapes then flew into the next tree, allowing unique comparison opportunities!  An American tourgroup showed up and enjoyed the woodpeckers, and their leader also found a Bay Woodpecker, although it flew off before anyone else, including myself, could get a look at it.

We finished off outside the bungalow scanning the bushes down the slope on the other side of the road.  There were a lot of birds flitting around this thick scrub, including leafbirds, and we managed to identify both Greater Green and Orange-bellied Leafbird, as well as Mountain Bulbuls.  Finally, a Verditer Flycatcher perched up on the wires overhead.

Birds recorded

Taman Pertanian - Crested Serpent-Eagle, Peaceful Dove, White-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Banded Woodpecker, Pacific Swallow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Black-naped Oriole, Oriental Magpie Robin, Philippine Glossy Starling, White-vented Myna

Shah Alam - Crested Serpent-Eagle

Jalan Lady Maxwell, Bukit Fraser - Green-billed Malkoha, Fire-tufted Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Greater Yellownape, Lesser Yellownape, Pacific Swallow, Malaysian Cuckooshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Greater Green Leafbird, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Mountain Bulbul, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, Mountain Fulvetta, Verditer Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail

Monday 26 February 2001

We started the days with a leisurely walk down Jalan Lady Maxwell, having first enjoyed Streaked Spiderhunters in the garden and House Swifts overhead.  Bird activity was pretty quiet possibly because of the fog, and the only new bird seen was Mountain Imperial Pigeon, although Malaysian Cuckooshrike and Fire-tufted Barbet were also seen.

Arriving at the children's playground we turned downhill along Jalan Genting towards the centre of town, and just past the mosque we started finding birds, starting with Oriental Magpie Robin and a Plain Sunbird.  However, I was absolutely entranced by the pair of stunning Silver-eared Mesias that gave great views - these were regularly in this area and seemed to be holding territory.  There were also several Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes here.

As the road curved around to the right, and then bent back sharply to the left, there were plenty of birds in the trees bordering the golf course on the left hand side.  A White-throated Fantail was first, followed by a bird which we originally thought was a Large Niltava, but which we eventually realised was a Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo minus its tail streamers.  These two species appear astonishingly similar in poor light, but the drongo is a slimmer bird.  A Fire-tufted Barbet flew in and gave point blank views, and a Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush was also seen at close quarters.

Arriving at the centre of town we had a cold drink while a Large-billed Crow flew overhead, and then followed Jalan Valley back along the golf course.  This was very quiet however in the midday heat, and we saw only Pacific Swallow over the golf course and more White-throated Fantails and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos in the trees.  It was early afternoon as we arrived back at Jalan Lady Maxwell, and walked up to our bungalow, but this stretch of road again proved to be good.  Little Pied Flycatcher, Brown Fulvetta and Green Magpie were quickly added to the list, with Grey Wagtail, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Malaysian Cuckooshrike also seen.

Mike and Jit were ready for a break now, but I decided to try the Hemmant Trail were Jeff had seen Malaysian Whistling Thrush about a week previously.  I called in first at one of the cafes below the Puncak Inn for a cold drink, where I got talking to a Dutch birding couple who had just arrived.  They had no transport or anywhere to stay, so I gave them a lift to a few possible places to stay, picking up another Plain Sunbird at Bangelo Gini during this time. 

Sadly, I had no luck with the Malaysian Whistling Thrush in mid-afternoon, although I managed a Rufous-browed Flycatcher here, and Mountain Imperial Pigeon and Orange-bellied Leafbird back at the junction of Jalan Genting and Jalan Lady Maxwell.  I dropped the car off back at the bungalow, and spent the last part of the day again birding up and down Jalan Lady Maxwell.  I came across another bird wave here that included a White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Mountain Bulbul and another Orange-bellied Leafbird. 

As I was trying to identify and locate the source of an annoyingly persistent call from some nearby trees a local man came out of one of the houses and started talking to me.  He then turned around and correctly identified, without binoculars, the White-browed Shrike-Babbler that was just a silhouette in the top of a tree about 30 metres away!  Needless to say the guy was a local birder - he had taken up the hobby about a year earlier having been intrigued by the waves of foreign birders visiting the area, and was now completely hooked - great stuff.  He then identified the calling bird as a Black-browed Barbet, and then picked it out in the canopy of a tree about 50 metres away - I wish my eyes were half that good!

Mike and Jit put in an appearance at that point, and got on to the barbet.  They had had a good late afternoon's birding, missing my Rufous-browed Flycatcher and White-browed Shrike-Babbler, but seeing Long-tailed Broadbill and Sultan Tit - two bad birds for me to dip!

Birds recorded

Jalan Lady Maxwell, Bukit Fraser (a.m.) - Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Fire-tufted Barbet, Malaysian Cuckooshrike

Jalan Genting, Bukit Fraser - Fire-tufted Barbet, Pacific Swallow, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Mesia, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-throated Fantail, Plain Sunbird, Large-billed Crow

Jalan Valley - Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, White-throated Fantail

Hemmant Trail, Bukit Fraser - Rufous-browed Flycatcher

Jalan Lady Maxwell, Bukit Fraser (p.m.) - Black-browed Barbet, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Green Magpie, Large-billed Crow, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Brown Fulvetta, Little Pied Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Black-throated Sunbird

Tuesday 27 February 2001

Having written to him before leaving Wales, Mr Durai contacted us at the Kuantan last night, and agreed to take us out birding today.  We picked him up and proceeded to the top of the New Road where we were to spend the morning, and a very enjoyable walk it was.  It was still a little foggy at this elevation, and the mist hung around all morning.  Nevertheless, the birding started pretty quickly with a Bronzed Drongo and a pair of Scarlet Minivets, before Mr Durai found an excellent Dusky Broadbill for us.  Sadly, it gave only extremely brief views, but it was a great bird nonetheless.

We crossed a stream course where a pair of English birders I met yesterday had seen Slaty-backed Forktails that morning, but no luck unfortunately.  A Black-and-crimson Oriole was followed by a feeding group of Black Laughingthrushes, for which the New Road seems to be a reliable site - the English lads had also seen them here.  A Mugimaki Flycatcher called from the roadside scrub but couldn't be seen.  Around the next corner we came across a group of Finnish birders who had just found a pair of Brown Barbets and these showed well, while Fork-tailed Swifts were identified among the House Swifts overhead.

A few minutes later we were able to return the favour in style, as we found a pair of superb Red-bearded Bee-eaters, which we were able to put them onto.  There were also a pair of the bizarre Black-crested Bulbuls here.  As we were enjoying these species we encountered probably our best bird wave so far - suddenly there were birds everywhere.  It started well with a pair of Sultan Tits, quickly followed by White-bellied Yuhina, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Blue Nuthatch and Blue-winged Leafbird.  These were just the new species - others were seeing birds such as Mountain Fulvettas but I was concentrating hard on getting good views of these life birds!

We continued downhill for a short while, finding a nice nesting pair of Hill Blue Flycatchers and a migrant Dark-sided Flycatcher, and extreme close-up views of White-bellied Swiftlets feeding between and around us. A Rhinoceros Hornbill called in the distance, but was impossible to see in the increasingly thick fog, and we finally admitted defeat and turned around for the long uphill return walk.  Just then a pick-up belonging to some roadworkers pulled up alongside and offered us a lift back to the top - perfect timing, and an offer we very gladly accepted!

Back at the car we heard Golden Babbler calling, but didn't see it, and we next set off for Jalan Lady Maxwell.  We parked on the corner where the Bishop's Trail goes downhill, and slowly birded back along Lady Maxwell towards the Kuantan, and down the adjacent section of Jalan Valley.  With Mr Durai's help we picked up several new species, the best of which had to be the absolutely stunning Long-tailed Broadbills just along the first 100 metres of Jalan Valley.  In the same area were a Large Niltava and a Chestnut-crowned Warbler. 

Back towards the car we found an Asian Brown Flycatcher, before trying to see if we could find Malaysian Whistling Thrush as the Bishop's Trail stakeout.  No luck, but we got chatting to another group of European birders, who gave us a very reliable stakeout for Brown Wood Owl, which we decided to try that night.  We said goodbye to Mr Durai until this evening, and returned to the bungalow for some rest, where I found a Brown Shrike in the bushes outside.

At around 16:00 we met up with Mr Durai again and set off for a walk along Jalan Girdle, also known as the Telekom Loop.  We parked the car at the junction of Jalan Lady Guillemard and Jalan Girdle, and walked off to the right.  Almost immediately we came across a small flock of birds, identifying Golden Babbler and Mountain Bulbul, although I failed to see a Blue-winged Minla seen by Mr Durai.  A second Blue-winged Minla shortly afterwards gave fleeting views, but not enough to tick it.  Birds were much fewer along this road than we had previously found at e.g. Jalan Lady Maxwell, but the quality was excellent - the next significant bird we saw was a cracking Black-thighed Falconet perched on the top of a dead tree, which gave prolonged views.  Malaysian Cuckooshrike and Mountain Fulvetta were also seen nearby.

For the last few days we had been hearing Large Hawk Cuckoos calling all over the place, but they were driving us mad trying to see one, and we had thus far failed even though we had heard birds calling from clumps of bushes very near to us.  We now found another such bird calling from a small group of bushes just off the road, and decided that we'd make a determined effort to actually see one.  After a lot of searching Mr Durai eventually managed to locate it, and we finally managed to get good scope views,, although it was extremely skulking and kept completely still, which made us all feel a lot better about having failed to see the previous birds.  I'm still not really sure how Mr Durai managed to pick it out.

A Chestnut-crowned Warbler gave fantastic views foraging in ferns right along the road - one of those birds that you have to back away from to get your binoculars to focus.  Then, on rounding the next corner we saw yesterday's group of birders waving vigorously.  We sprinted down to see what they were so excited about, and were rewarded with point blank views of a superb Blyth's Hawk-Eagle perched in the open.  A Red-bearded Bee-eater was then found directly overhead.  They had also just been watching a Collared Owlet, but sadly this had flown off a short while earlier.

We finally managed to get good views of a Mugimaki Flycatcher after failing this morning, and saw our only other Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush of the trip, before searching in vain for a calling Red-headed Trogon, which refused to come closer despite Mr Durai imitating it's call. Black-browed Barbet, Black-and-crimson Oriole and Black-eared Shrike-Babbler all put in an appearance as the light started to fail, and just as we arrived back at the car a Little Cuckoo-Dove flew over.

Having returned to the bungalow for another excellent home-cooked dinner, we set out for Fraser's Pine report at 21:00, again collecting Mr Durai en route, hoping for a look at the Brown Wood Owl and Grey Nightjar which had been seen here the night before.  There were Mountain Scops Owls calling as we got out of the car, but seeing them was an entirely different matter.  We walked slowly up into the resort itself, scanning the trees and lampposts with our spotlight, and suddenly there it was - a superb Brown Wood Owl perched on the banister rail of one of the apartments.  When the spotlight fell on it it flushed, but only flew up onto a lamp standard, where it gave great views - a really magnificent bird.  Even Sara, a dedicated non-birder who had decided to come along, was impressed with it!  No nightjars, unfortunately, but we were well satisfied with this, and indeed with the whole day's birding.

Birds recorded

New Road, Bukit Fraser - Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Fork-tailed Swift, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Rhinoceros Hornbill (heard), Brown Barbet, Dusky Broadbill, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Scarlet Minivet, Blue-winged Bluebird, Black-crested Bulbul, Olivaceous Bulbul (heard) , Bronzed Drongo, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Large-billed Crow, Sultan Tit, Blue Nuthatch, Black Laughingthrush, White-bellied Yuhina, Dark-sided Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher (heard), Hill Blue Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Little Spiderhunter (heard)

Jalan Lady Maxwell/ Jalan Valley, Bukit Fraser - Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Fork-tailed Swift, Long-tailed Broadbill, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Grey Wagtail, Brown Shrike, Black-throated Sunbird

Telekom Loop (Jalan Girdle) - Blyth's Hawk-Eagle, Black-thighed Falconet, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Red-headed Trogon (heard), Red-bearded Bee-eater, Fire-tufted Barbet, Black-browed Barbet, Malaysian Cuckooshrike, Mountain Bulbul, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Green Magpie, Golden Babbler, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Mountain Fulvetta, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Black-throated Sunbird

Fraser's Pines - Mountain Scops Owl (heard), Brown Wood Owl

Wednesday 28 February 2001

Not quite such a good day's birding today - the jetlag had finally hit me!  It started off pretty well with a pair of Slaty-backed Forktails at the Top Gate - wonderful views of a bird that was high on my target list.  Having had such a good time at the top of the New Road yesterday, we decided to try walking up from the bottom today.  However, it was very hot, and birds were few and far between.  A couple of hours' slog produced just Red-rumped Swallow and White-rumped Munia as new trip birds, before we gave up and headed back to our bungalow for a rest.  A very dark raptor that might just have been a Changeable Hawk-Eagle was seen, but I didn't see it well enough to count it.

In hindsight, we should probably have followed our original plan of walking down the Old Road from top to bottom, as we met up with yesterday's birding group later and they had had a fantastic day's birding doing just that.  Such is life!  Some consolation came in the form of a Black Eagle that drifted overhead near Bangelo Temerloh.

Having lazed around the garden for a while, watching a very confiding Brown Shrike feeding in the bushes, we wandered down Jalan Lady Maxwell mid-afternoon.  First birds were the commoner ones - Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Scarlet Minivet, Oriental Magpie Robin and Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, before we finally managed to get decent views of a Blue-winged Minla at the top of the Bishop's Trail.  We saw a few more of these birds over the next couple of days, but they never showed that well.

As we stood at the top of the landslide area hoping for a Malaysian Whistling Thrush we got a bit of a surprise when a Blyth's Hawk-Eagle flew in, landed briefly in a tree below, and then moved on through the trees.  We decided to walk the Bishop's Trail hoping for some of the more skulking ground-dwelling species, but saw virtually nothing in the forest gloom, and eventually turned back.  Half way back up the stairs to Jalan Lady Maxwell, we stumbled across a bird wave, finding Golden Babbler, Bronzed Drongo, Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, White-throated Fantail and Long-tailed Broadbill - you really can't see enough of the latter!

Back on Jalan Lady Maxwell, walking up towards the bungalow, a Little Cuckoo-Dove flew over, followed by a small group of Red-rumped Swallows and we finished off with an Orange-bellied Leafbird outside the bungalow.

Birds recorded

Top Gate, Old Road, Bukit Fraser - Slaty-backed Forktail, Grey Wagtail

Bottom section of New Road, The Gap - Fork-tailed Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-crested Bulbul, White-rumped Munia

Jalan Lady Maxwell, Bukit Fraser - Black Eagle, Blyth's Hawk-Eagle, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Red-rumped Swallow, Scarlet Minivet, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, Blue-winged Minla, Mountain Fulvetta, Oriental Magpie Robin, Brown Shrike, Black-throated Sunbird

Bishop's Trail., Bukit Fraser - Bronzed Drongo, Golden Babbler, Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, White-throated Fantail, Long-tailed Broadbill,

Thursday 1 March 2001

Having made a bit of a mess of our strategy yesterday, it was decision time today.  Originally, we had intended leaving Bukit Fraser today, and heading towards Kuala Selangor.  However, I felt that there were more birds to see here, and I still hadn't made a serious attempt at seeing my main target bird for the whole trip, the localised endemic Malaysian Whistling Thrush.  Sara wasn't too keen on another night at the Kuantan, as she was starting to feel a little cabin-crazy.

I therefore decided to make a dawn visit to the thrush stakeout, and take it from there.  Unfortunately, despite a two hour wait in foggy conditions, I saw no sign of this bird, although a pair of Lesser Shortwings was a nice consolation.  On returning to the bungalow at c. 09:00, we decided to spend the morning walking down the Old Road to The Gap, returning to the bungalow by midday to relocate to the Quest Hotel.

Before walking the Old Road, we decided as it was still quite early to give the Hemmant Trail stakeout a quick try, just in case we got lucky, but there was no sign of the thrush there either.  However, back at the car on Jalan Genting we picked up a decent bird flock, including Silver-eared Mesia, Scarlet Minivet, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo and Green Magpie, with Malaysian Cuckooshrike and Black-and-crimson Oriole also being seen here.

Mike, Jit and I therefore set out on foot down the Old Road at a slightly belated 10:00, which probably was partly responsible for the rather disappointing number of species seen.  In truth it was pretty dire for most of the time, and it was quite some time before we saw a single bird.  Just when we were contemplating cutting our losses we found a bird wave containing a couple of new species - Grey-chinned Minivets and Everett's White-eye, as well as Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, White-bellied Yuhina, Mugimaki Flycatcher and Chestnut-crowned Warbler.  A Barred Cuckoo-Dove flew in and obligingly perched in plain sight for a brief while, before flying off.  A little further along Mike found a Grey-headed Flycatcher, but I completely failed to get onto it despite it perching in the open for perhaps 30 seconds.

By now we'd walked about 2 km down the road (about a quarter of the way), and it was starting to get hot.  I had to get back to the bungalow by midday to check out and move Sara and our stuff into the Quest, and so Mike and Jit decided to come back and get some lunch while I moved.  On the way back up we met a couple of Swedish lads who had just arrived, and got talking.  One of them had come straight from Vietnam, where he had managed to find an excellent birding guide.  I was quite keen to get these details so we agreed to meet up tonight.

At 14:00 we met up again, and drove down to The Gap, from where we walked for about 2 km along the road to Raub.  We had heard that there was a good fruiting tree about 2 km along this road, which yesterday had been crawling with bulbuls etc.  This walk was again fairly disappointing - we found a fruiting tree, which may or may not have been the right one, but recorded only Ashy and Black-crested Bulbul, although Mike also saw Yellow-bellied Warbler and Dark-necked Tailorbird when we went back to fetch the car.

We returned to The Gap for a cold drink, and from there walked about 2 km up the Old Road towards Bukit Fraser, but the birding was even worse here - a 4 km slog produced just Ashy Bulbul and Scarlet Minivet.  The Gap certainly appears to be a great area, based on what others have seen, but we really didn't have much luck here.  Part of the reason for this has to be that we didn't spend any peak hours here, i.e. the first and last couple of hours of daylight.  If I return I will probably stay at least a couple of nights at The Gap Resthouse (closed for renovation during our visit), and concentrate on these lower elevations.

By the time we got back to Bukit Fraser at 16:30 Mike and Jit decided that they'd had enough walking for the day, but I was reluctant to waste the best birding hours of the day, especially as it was my last day in Bukit Fraser.  I therefore drove back down to the Top Gate, and walked back down the Old Road.  The birding was much better than this morning, although mostly birds seen previously, and just 100 metres along the road I found my first bird wave.  This included Scarlet Minivet, Mountain Bulbul, Silver-eared Mesia, Mountain and Brown Fulvetta, Everett's White-eye and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo.

Greatly heartened I walked further down, and eventually found a second bird wave.  This one consisted of a different mix of birds - White-eared Shrike-Babbler, Grey-chinned Minivets and Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes.  Then, my last lifer of the day, in the form of the Dark-necked Tailorbird which I had missed on the Raub road earlier today.

It was now getting dark quite quickly, so I hurried back up the road towards Bukit Fraser, stopping only for another flock of stunning Long-tailed Broadbills.  Having washed and changed, I went over to the Puncak to meet the Swedes, and got the Vietnam guide info from them.  They didn't have transport, so I offered to take them over to Fraser's Pines to try to find the Brown Wood Owl - I was pretty keen to get another look myself!

Sara had enjoyed the bird so much, that she also came along for another look, and the bird was even more obliging this time, being found within a couple of minutes of arriving, perching out on the same stair banister as previously, and showing extremely well even without a torch.  Three very happy birders, and an equally happy non-birding wife retired to the Hillview Restaurant for a slap-up meal!

Birds recorded

Bishop's Trail, Bukit Fraser - Lesser Shortwing

Jalan Genting, Bukit Fraser - Malaysian Cuckooshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Green Magpie, Silver-eared Mesia, Grey Wagtail

Top section of Old Road, Bukit Fraser (a.m.) - Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Fork-tailed Swift, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Grey-chinned Minivet, Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, White-bellied Yuhina, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Everett's White-eye

Road towards Raub, The Gap - Black-crested Bulbul, Ashy Bulbul

Bottom section of Old Road, The Gap - Scarlet Minivet, Ashy Bulbul

Top section of Old Road, Bukit Fraser (p.m.) - Long-tailed Broadbill, Grey-chinned Minivet, Mountain Bulbul, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Mesia, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Brown Fulvetta, Mountain Fulvetta, Dark-backed Tailorbird, Everett's White-eye

Fraser's Pines - Mountain Scops Owl (heard, Brown Wood Owl

Friday 2 March 2001

Last chance of Malaysian Whistling Thrush this morning, as we were due to leave at 10:00 for our drive to Kuala Selangor.  I picked up the two Swedish lads at 07:00 and headed straight for the stakeout.  We saw nothing for an hour, and then at 08:00 one of the Swedes called out that he had the thrush.  Frantic directions were given, saying that the bird was right at the back of the clearing, but although his friend managed a quick look, it disappeared before I could get onto it.  What a disaster!  It's bad enough to dip a bird as good as this at any time, but to dip it when the other two lads had seen it was a sickening feeling.  I desperately scanned the surrounding area in the hope that it was still around, but there was no sign of it. 

I had only until 09:00 before having to get back to meet Sara for breakfast, and as it had showed for just some 10 seconds in the last hour I had no real hope that it would put in a return appearance.  A Green Magpie livened matters up somewhat, but was very scant consolation, and I was feeling pretty sick.  However, there was a bird singing fairly persistently in the undergrowth at the back of the clearing, a distinctive whistling sound, and I held on to a slim hope that this might be the bird. 

Eventually 09:00 came, and I decided to call it a day.  I packed up my tripod and took one last look through my bins at the area where it had first been seen, and amazingly a Malaysian Whistling Thrush suddenly materialised in front of my eyes!  One of the Swedes called out that he had it as well, but it scurried quickly along a branch, and disappeared once more.  In all my time birding I've rarely felt such a combined feeling of elation and relief as at that moment - it just goes to show that you should never give up.

One very happy Welshman said fond farewells to two very happy Swedes and it was back to the hotel for a celebratory breakfast.  Mike was moving on to Kuala Gula today, while Jit was returning to Klang, so I had agreed to give Jit a lift as far as Kuala Selangor, where we would spend the rest of the day birding, before he caught his bus to Klang.  He and Mike had already visited Kuala Selangor before coming to Fraser's, so I was hopeful he could point me in the direction of some of the better birds, and so it turned out. 

We drove in convoy to Kuala Kubu Baru where we said farewell, pausing briefly to add Spotted Dove, Brown-throated Sunbird and Scaly-breasted Munia to both trip and life lists, before setting off to Rawang and from there along minor (but decent quality) roads to Kuala Selangor.  Birding en route was pretty quiet - mostly White-breasted Kingfishers and Brown Shrikes, but a recently road-killed Pangolin was worthy of a quick stop.

On arrival at Kuala Selangor we booked into the De Palma Hotel, left Sara settling in and Jit and I headed for Taman Alam Kuala Selangor.  After the cool of Bukit Fraser it was unbelievably hot and humid at Kuala Selangor at midday, but we were soon seeing good birds which took our minds off the discomfort.  Having paid our entrance fee we headed off down the main Denai Bangau trail, stopping for Common Koel en route.  We went straight to the hide, from where Mike and Jit had seen a Lesser Adjutant about a week ago.  Unfortunately, it wasn't being so co-operative by the time of my visit - the only sighting I heard of during the three days I was there was a flight view about 10 minutes before we arrived for the first time.

There was in fact nothing at all visible from either the low or the tower hide here apart from a Grey Heron and dozens of Yellow-vented Bulbuls, although we found our first Ashy Tailorbird while walking back out.  We walked a short way north along the Ring Bund trail, finding Striped Tit-Babbler, and enjoying our first Brahminy Kites overhead.

We had now realised that we had made a big mistake in not buying some cold drinks back at the entrance booth, so we walked back along Denai Bangau, detouring along Denai Kera, from where we heard Red Junglefowl and saw Laced Woodpecker.  As we came back out onto Denai Bangau, who did we see but Jeff, who I had last seen two days previously at Fraser's.  After comparing notes we continued back along the oath to the visitor's centre, stopping en route for Arctic Warbler and Oriental Magpie Robins.

Having stocked up on water and fruit juice we walked down Denai Helang, but it was pretty birdless.  On joining the Ring Bund, we turned left, and made for the shade of the fisherman's shelter on the right just before the junction with the Coastal Bund.  From here we watched Common Greenshank and Little Heron, and a Brown-throated Sunbird in the bushes.  We turned right along the Coastal Bund, seeing a White-breasted Waterhen run up the path ahead of us. Walking slowly along the Coastal Bund produced Collared Kingfisher, Large-billed Crow, Great Egret and Black-naped Oriole. 

Turning right onto the northern arm of the Ring Bund, we quickly found a Pied Fantail in some nearby bushes, as well as a second Collared Kingfisher, and these were followed by a Dollarbird and a Greater Coucal before we again reached Denai Bangau.  Another visit to the hides here for the hoped-for Lesser Adjutant produced only a Common Sandpiper, with an Olive-backed Sunbird on the way back out.

We still had a couple of hours to kill before dusk, so we decided to visit the grassy area near the Stadium where Mike and Jit had previously seen Blue-throated Bee-eater and White-headed Munia.  We soon found a small mixed group of White-headed and Scaly-breasted Munias, but the bee-eater eluded us, although we did see plenty of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters.  Other good birds here included Pacific Swallows among the more common Barn Swallows and a small group of Philippine Glossy Starlings.

Having dropped Jit off at the bus station and said goodbye, it was back to the hotel for a badly-needed cold shower and the comfort of our air-conditioned room.

Birds recorded

Bishop's Trail, Bukit Fraser - Green Magpie, Malaysian Whistling Thrush

Kuala Kubu Baru - Spotted Dove, Brown-throated Sunbird, Scaly-breasted Munia

Taman Alam Kuala Selangor - Grey Heron, Little Heron, Great Egret, Brahminy Kite, Red Junglefowl, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Common Koel, Greater Coucal, Collared Kingfisher, Dollarbird, Laced Woodpecker, European Swallow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Black-naped Oriole, Large-billed Crow, Striped Tit-Babbler, Oriental Magpie Robin, Arctic Warbler, Ashy Tailorbird, Pied Fantail, Brown-throated Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird

Kuala Selangor Stadium - White-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, European Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Philippine Glossy Starling, Scaly-breasted Munia, White-headed Munia

Saturday 3 March 2001

Given the extreme heat it seemed sensible to get out into the field as early as possible, so at first light I was birding the grounds of the hotel.  I had noticed a lot of bird noise on arriving back at dusk last night, and thought it would be worth a quick look around.    I was glad I did as almost immediately I found a Common Goldenback in a leafless tree on the edge of the grounds, quickly followed by an even better Pied Triller, as well as some commoner species.

Sara had decided to come with me to Taman Alam Kuala Selangor for the morning, so we headed straight there, where I was worried to see that it didn't open until 09:00.  However, the gate was open so we just walked in (returning later to pay our entrance fees!) and headed on down Denai Bangau.  There wasn't much activity along here, so I turned left down the Ring Bund, finding Ashy Tailorbirds, White-vented Myna and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters.  In arriving at the Coastal Bund we took to the shelter of the covered seating area, where we met a couple of other birders from Wales.

We compared notes, breaking off briefly to check out an extremely washed out Common Kingfisher which flew in, and decided to make a trip out to Sekinchan together at midday, as they didn't have transport.  Sara and I continued our walk north along the Coastal Bund, finding Collared Kingfishers, Peaceful Doves, Scaly-breasted Munias, Striped Tit-Babblers, Brown-throated Sunbirds and Crested Serpent Eagles overhead.  The munias were a little frustrating as I was sure I had seen a Black-headed Munia among them, but it flushed before I could confirm it and I couldn't relocate it.  At the Milky Stork captive breeding pens I stopped to try to find the Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds which the Welsh lads had found breeding there, but I wasn't having much luck until they turned up again and we soon found a cracking male carrying nesting material.

From here we drove up the coast through Tanjung Karong to the village of Sekinchan, where we selected at random a minor road to the right and proceeded to explore the rice paddies.  The main target bird was White-breasted Woodswallow, an Indonesian species which colonised the Sekinchan area from Sumatra some 20 years ago.  Sadly we had no luck, although we saw good numbers of other birds.  There were large flocks of White-winged Terns over the rice fields, White-breasted Kingfishers along every telegraph wires, and we soon found a Black Drongo among them.

We took a dirt track in between two paddies, from where we saw a couple of Chinese Pond Herons and got good views of an Eastern Marsh Harrier and a Zitting Cisticola, as well as a Brown Shrike which we tried hard to turn into a Tiger Shrike.  Unfortunately, my hire car proved to have very poor ground clearance on these roads with 4 occupants, and after grounding it a couple of times we abandoned the dirt tracks and headed back for tarmac.  Spotted Doves were much in evidence and a flock of small passerines proved to be Baya Weavers, many of which were males in stunning breeding plumage. 

Several Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were hawking over the roadside canals, and a roadside flock of munias included both Scaly-breasted and White-rumped Munias.  Finally, one of the lads spotted a cracking Cinnamon Bittern, attempting to hide among 3 blades of grass at a range of no more than some 10 metres - brilliant views.

From here we headed back to Tanjung Karong, where we hoped to gain access to the foreshore for some shorebirds.  However, although we found the track described in Bransbury, access to the beach didn't seem easy, and the car was grounding regularly on potholes.  Given this, and the fact that time was slipping away, we gave up on Tanjung Karong and headed back to Kuala Selangor Stadium, calling in first at the hotel to drop off Sara - she'd had enough birding for the day!

At first I really struggled to find the place where we'd seen the White-headed Munias the previous day, as the access road used then was blocked by food stalls.  This proved lucky as in wandering around trying to find the place we found a stunning Blue-throated Bee-eater among the more common Blue-taileds , as well as a Richard's Pipit.  We eventually found the munia spot, and the two other Welsh lads soon found a small flock of White-headed Munias, while I was watching a Black-shouldered Kite.

Back to Taman Alam Kuala Selangor for a dusk visit to the southernmost mangrove boardwalk, only to find that it collapsed since the two lads visited it yesterday, reducing the access from 100 metres to some 20 metres.  This was a blow as it prevented effective access to the mangroves, where another group had found Flyeater, Mangrove Whistler and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher the day before.  We did manage to find at least two Flyeaters, as well as an Ashy Drongo and a goldenback that we eventually identified as Common Goldenback.

On the walk back to the entrance we located a pair of Chestnut-bellied Malkohas, Collared Kingfishers, White-breasted Waterhen and Pink-breasted Pigeon.  Back at the hotel I had about twenty minutes birding before it hot dark, and I soon found the Pied Triller in the saw tree in which it had perched that morning.  I was carefully studying it against the plate in Jeyarajasingam & Pearson, and especially comparing it with the picture of Ashy Minivet shown alongside Pied Triller in the book, when I noticed that another bird had landed alongside the triller.  Quite incredibly it was an Ashy Minivet, and so I found myself looking at the two birds in the tree and the same two birds, in almost exactly the same posture, in the book.  They were even facing the same way!

Birds recorded

De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor (a.m.) - Common Goldenback, Pied Triller, Black-naped Oriole, Large-billed Crow, Philippine Glossy Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Taman Alam Kuala Selangor (a.m.) - Grey Heron, Brahminy Kite, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Peaceful Dove, Greater Coucal, Common Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, European Swallow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Large-billed Crow, Striped Tit-Babbler, Ashy Tailorbird, White-vented Myna, Brown-throated Sunbird, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Scaly-breasted Munia

Sekinchan - Little Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Cinnamon Bittern, Eastern Marsh Harrier, White-winged Tern, Spotted Dove, White-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, European Swallow, Black Drongo, Zitting Cisticola, Brown Shrike, Baya Weaver, White-rumped Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia

Kuala Selangor Stadium - Black-shouldered Kite, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Blue-throated Bee-eater, European Swallow, Richard's Pipit

Taman Alam Kuala Selangor (p.m.) - Grey Heron, Great Egret, Brahminy Kite, White-breasted Waterhen, Pink-necked Pigeon, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Collared Kingfisher, Common Goldenback, European Swallow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Ashy Drongo, Flyeater

De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor (p.m.) - Pied Triller, Ashy Minivet, Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Sunday 4 March 2001

Today was my last day in Malaysia and I still hadn't seen quite a few Kuala Selangor target birds, so dawn saw me heading off again for Taman Alam Kuala Selangor.  This time when I got there the gate was shut but I just walked around to the right of the main building and into the reserve that way.  Before that, however, I enjoyed the spectacle of some 70 Pink-breasted Pigeons arriving to feed in a fruiting tree in the car park.  I also carefully scanned the red and white aerial mast on Bukit Melawati where a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagles were nesting, but still no sign of this bird.

The two Welsh lads had reported good sightings of a pair of Red Junglefowl feeding out on the short grass at dusk the day before last so I'd hoped that if I got there before anyone else disturbed them I might get lucky.  Unfortunately none were quite so obliging this morning, and despite one male calling from a very short distance inside the woods it refused to show itself.  From here I walked down Denai Bangau, and then turned right onto the Ring Bund.  There were at least a couple of Greater Coucals here, and this time I got quite leisurely views of them.  Walking down the bund produced a Collared Kingfisher and several White-breasted Waterhens before a pair of Black Bazas flushed from trees on the left of the path and flew a short distance before landing in full view a little further away.  First target bird for today under the belt. 

On reaching the end of the Ring Bund I turned left along the Coastal Bund and immediately found my second target bird, a Black-capped Kingfisher which obligingly perched up on a wooden post.  My attention shifted away from it when I noticed a large raptor sitting in the top of the biggest dead tree on the front part of the wetland, and sure enough it was a White-bellied Sea-Eagle.  Things were going pretty well today!

From here I walked to the end of the Coastal Bund, and on to the mangrove boardwalk, hoping for maybe Mangrove Whistler, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher or maybe even Mangrove Pitta.  Sadly. all of these continued to elude me, although I did see another Flyeater and a Great Tit carrying nesting material.  Then a female goldenback woodpecker flew in and landed on a tree very near to me.  I at first assumed it was yesterday's Common Goldenback, but it was in fact a cracking Greater Goldenback, which was soon joined by a male.  They gave fabulous views for about 10 minutes, often coming so close that I had to retreat up the boardwalk just to focus, and I had no trouble seeing all the key ID features - I could even count the number of toes!

I had seen most of what I wanted to see, and it was again getting extremely hot, so I beat a retreat to the visitor centre for some cold drinks.  One bird which I had completely failed to see here was Forest Wagtail, a pair of which was being reported from the chalet area next to the visitor centre, but I again scoured the area with no luck.   Finally giving up, I went back to the car, and was packing away my tripod when two birds flew in and landed on a branch directly above my head - a pair of Forest Wagtails.  Once again, the moral of the story is never give up!

We weren't due to arrive back at KLIA until 19:00, but needed to check out of our hotel by 12:00.  I was therefore a bit unsure as to what to do because of the heat - I didn't fancy turning up at the airport for a 14 hour flight in the sweaty dirty state I had ended up the previously day.  We therefore decided to spend the afternoon birding in comfort from our air conditioned car, and Sekinchan seemed perfect for this.  So, having showered and checked out of the hotel it was back up the coast road and into the rice paddies.

Most of the birds were similar to those seen here yesterday, but a perched White-shouldered Kite was a bonus.  Eventually we found a field which must have been recently ploughed as it was teeming with birds.  The first surprise was a large flock of Oriental Pratincoles very close to the road, with Little and Chinese Pond Herons amongst them.  Then I noticed my first Yellow Wagtails of the trip, of the eastern race simillima, with a Black Drongo perched on the telegraph wires overhead.  There were also Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Barn Swallows perched on these, and then I saw that one of the birds looked a bit strange.  Sure enough it was an White-breasted Woodswallow at last, and I enjoyed good views of this bird before it flushed revealing it's white rump.

From here we tried a series of minor roads towards the coast, before eventually finding one which led down to and then parallel to the beach.  Unfortunately the tide was far out and there was much heat haze, so although there were a lot of birds around, especially terns, I was unable to get a positive ID on most of them.  Yellow-billed and Great Egrets and Little Herons were feeding a lot nearer making life a bit easier, with a single Common Sandpiper near to the road.  A Large-billed Crow flew alongside the car giving me my best views yet of this bird.

It was then time to head back to the airport.  I had originally planned to follow the coast road down through Klang and Morib, hoping to find a couple of stretches that ran alongside the foreshore from where I could scan for shorebirds.  However, the first stretch from Kuala Selangor to Klang took forever, with very heavy traffic, and it started raining again, so I gave up on that idea, driving straight to KLIA.  Here we returned the car without any problems or nasty surprises, and settled down to wait for our flight home.

Birds recorded

Taman Alam Kuala Selangor - Grey Heron, Black Baza, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Red Junglefowl, White-breasted Waterhen, Pink-necked Pigeon, Greater Coucal, Black-capped Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Greater Goldenback, European Swallow, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Large-billed Crow, Great Tit, Flyeater, Forest Wagtail, Philippine Glossy Starling, Brown-throated Sunbird

De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor (a.m.) - Brown-throated Sunbird, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, White-rumped Munia

Sekinchan - Little Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Black-shouldered Kite, White-breasted Waterhen, Oriental Pratincole, White-winged Tern, Spotted Dove, White-breasted Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, European Swallow, Brown Shrike, White-breasted Woodswallow, Black Drongo, Black-naped Oriole, Yellow Wagtail

Sekinchan beach - Little Heron, Plumed Egret, Great Egret, Common Sandpiper

Full Bird List



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