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A Report from

West Malaysia birding trip 2–17 March 2002,

John van der Woude

Summary of John van der Woude's 2-week trip to West Malaysia, an easy country to start with in SE Asia. The full report is at and there you will also find photos of the birding sites, and several bird sounds (in mp3).

This was our first birding destination in tropical Asia, after several trips to Middle and South America. West Malaysia was recommended to us by other independent birders as a good and easy introduction to S/SE Asia.  West Malaysia is a full tropical country with nice habitats not far from each other and from the capital Kuala Lumpur, and with good roads and other infrastructure. We rented a car in order to make the most of these two weeks, and actually West Malaysia was a good area for two weeks for the two of us (Nollie and me). We had dry and sunny (and hot) weather nearly till the end, which means that we had no leeches (not even one!), but also missed some birds, especially pitta's. But as nearly all birds were new to us, we didn't mind too much about missing some (there will be more trips to Asia), and I think we saw a lot of birds just because of the good light conditions.

Our trip scheme was as follows: first a day at the cape where the yearly raptor watch was held, then two days Fraser's Hill & The Gap (forested hills), then four days Taman Negara national park (lowland rainforest), again two days Fraser's Hill, two days Kuala Selangor and Tanjung Karang (coastal habitats), and finally Cameron Highlands, especially the Brinchang mountain, for the higher altitude species (and for the scenery - tea gardens amidst forests). This was done in a rental car, making swift connections between the sites possible.

We were happy with our trip total of 240 species (including 6 heard only). Only 21 were not a lifer for us. We got, amongst others, four malkoha species, seven swifts, both treeswifts, four trogons (the best link to our South America trips), eight kingfishers, five hornbills, eight barbets, eleven woodpeckers, five broadbills, twelve bulbuls (despite being not our favorite family), two niltavas, three laughingthrushes, thirteen babblers (including Cutia which is the tempting bird on the cover of the Malaysian field guide), two minla's, two nuthatches, six sunbirds, three orioles, three minivets, three fantails, five drongo's. We had one endangered species (Nordmann's Greenshank), one vulnerable species (Malayan Peacock-Pheasant), and a surprising 25 near-threatened species (most in Taman Negara).

For more details, also about the logistics (hotels etc.), see the full report.


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