Malaysia trip report

Subject: Malaysia trip report
From: "Peter Thompson" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 11:03:51 +0000
This is a short account of two birding stopovers in Malaysia on my way
between Johannesburg and Sydney.  Apart from being one of the cheapest
routes between South Africa and Australia, it is probably also the birdiest.  
field guide I used was Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali by MacKinnon
and Phillipps, which includes virtually all the Malaysian species.  In Taman
Negara, however, I frequently found myself referring to the Thailand guide, by
Lekagul and Round, belonging to some Belgian birders I met there.  It was my
impression that this book had better illustrations, particularly of the bulbuls 
babblers, which can be quite confusing at first.  I also used a tape recorder 
"A Field Guide to the Bird Songs of South East Asia" by Terry White.  It
really helped learning some of the calls beforehand and the tape recorder was
also invaluable for taping and playing back to attract birds.  I would have
missed several good birds like some of the forest kingfishers, pittas and
trogons, and the Malayan Peacock-Pheasant, if it had not been for the tape

On 3 July I had a full day's wait (06h00 to 18h00) at the new KL International
Airport, so I jumped in a taxi and headed straight for Taman Pertanian
(Agricultural Park) in Shah Alam, described in Bransbury's Birdwatcher's
Guide to Malaysia.  Fortunately this is not too far away from the airport, about
30-40 minutes by taxi.  The habitat is mainly secondary lowland forest and has
a good variety of species.  I notched up 46 species in about 8 hours, a good
introduction to the commoner forest species.  Highlights were Banded
Kingfisher (attracted by playing back an unidentified call), Banded and Black-
and-yellow Broadbills, Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler (responded to whistled
imitation of its call), Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (about 3 metres away, what a
stunner!) and a pair of Hill Mynas.

On my way back from Australia I stayed in Taman Negara for 5 nights.  This
place is incredible, a huge tract of virgin lowland rainforest.  It's well worth
visiting, although it takes a full day to get there from KL.  The diversity of
animal and plant life is amazing, although many of the birds are difficult to 
and I would say you would need at least 4 or 5 nights to see a good selection
of birds.  The longer the better.  I stayed in the hostel - basic but adequate, 
in addition spent one night at Yong Hide, which was worth the effort.  Details
on accommodation, etc. have been well covered in previous reports.  If anyone
would like more information you are welcome to contact me.

Day 1 (16 July):  The boat trip from Kuala Tembeling to TN was fairly quiet
birdwise.  Highlights:  Lesser Fish-Eagle seen from the boat; Bat Hawk hunting
over the river at dusk, seen from one of the floating restaurants across from 

Day 2:  I went to the canopy walkway (Friday is the only day it opens
reasonably early), then up towards Bukit Teresek, along the Jenet Muda trail
and back along the Tahan River trail.  Highlights:  Wreathed Hornbills seen
from the walkway; small party of Dusky Broadbills around a nest, with one
sitting on the nest, near the start of the Bukit Teresek trail; Great Argus
(YES!!!) male seen along the Jenet Muda trail; pair of Jambu Fruit-Doves along
Jenet Muda; White-bellied Woodpecker along the Swamp Loop; at the end of
the day a group of Black Hornbills and excellent views of a single Helmeted
Hornbill from the Tahan Hide (this was probably the bird I had most wanted
to see).

Day 3:  Along the Tahan River trail, although I didn't get very far because the
birding was so good.  I did about 3 km in 8 hours!  Highlights:  Crested Jay;
group of Wrinkled Hornbills in a fruiting tree; Rufous-collared Kingfisher
responding to playback; pair of White-crowned Forktails building a nest along
a small rocky stream - these birds were VERY shy, it took me about an hour
to get good views; Garnet Pitta - another painstakingly slow stalking effort,
trying to locate a calling bird, but worth every minute of it.

Day 4:  I set off for Yong Hide, via Gua Telinga (bat caves) and Blau Hide,
spending quite a while in the vicinity of the two hides.  Highlights:  immature
Chestnut-capped Thrush feeding on the path; Maroon-breasted Philentoma; 
male Scarlet-rumped Trogon; 3 (three!) Banded Pittas behind Blau Hide - after
recognising the call I played the tape and eventually had excellent views of
these stunning birds, which seemingly glow in the dark undergrowth; 
Rhinoceros Hornbills perched and flying overhead on several occasions; a
beautiful male white-phase Asian Paradise Flycatcher near Yong Hide; group
of Great Slaty Woodpeckers in a dead tree above the hide.

Day 5:  After walking around in the area of the hide I headed back to the main
resort, with a couple of short detours along the way.  Swamp Loop in the
afternoon.  Highlights:  one very elusive Malayan Peacock-Pheasant seen after
playing back a call which I suspected was of this species; male Red-naped
Trogon seen near Blau Hide after another long stalk.

Day 6:  Return to KL.  The return boat trip was uneventful.  Highlight: pair
of Barred Buttonquails seen along path at Kuala Tembeling while I was waiting
for the bus.

The highlight of the trip has to be the hornbills (6 species, all of which were
seen really well).  The biggest challenge was sorting out the bulbuls, of which
I saw 16 species.  Fortunately, most of them could be studied at close quarters
in the fruiting trees in the resort.  Sorting out the babblers (13 species) was 
fun, but easier than the bulbuls.  Most of the other birds were pretty easy to
identify, but often hard to see way up in the canopy or hidden in the

Species accounts: (TN = Taman Negara; TP = Taman Pertanian, Shah Alam)

Bat Hawk (Macheiramphus alcinus) - Single bird(s) seen on 2 occasions at 
over Tembeling River, TN
White-bellied Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) - 1 on boat trip to TN
Lesser Fish-Eagle (Ichthyophaga humilis) - 1 on boat trip to TN
Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) - 1 in flight, Tahan R trail, TN
Black-thighed Falconet (Microhierax fringillarius) - 1 in Kuala Tahan, TN
Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita) - several small groups, TN
Malayan Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron malacense) - several heard, 1 seen
near Yong hide, TN
Great Argus (Argusianus argus) - heard all the time, 1 male seen on Jenet
Muda trail, TN
Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator) - pair on track along river at Kuala
Thick-billed Green-Pigeon (Treron curvirostra) - many at fruiting trees in
resort, TN
Little Green-Pigeon (Treron olax) - many at fruiting trees in resort, TN
Large Green-Pigeon (Treron capellei) - one near Yong hide, TN
Jambu Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus jambu) - pair seen along Jenet Muda trail, TN
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) - around villages between KL and Kuala
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) - TP and between KL and Kuala Tembeling
Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) - commonly heard, several seen, TN
Long-tailed Parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) - few pairs seen in flight, TP and
Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) - 2 at resort, 1 near Yong hide, TN
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus galgulus) - several TN
Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx minutillus) - 1 at resort, TN
Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) - 3 near resort, TN
Black-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus diardi) - several TN
Raffles's Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus chlorophaeus) - several TN
Red-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus javanicus) - 1 near Yong hide, TN
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) - 1 Tahan R trail, TN
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) - resort and Tahan R trail, TN
Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis) - 1 at Tahan hide, TN
Edible-nest Swiftlet (Collocalia fuciphaga) - 1 over Tembeling R, TN
Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta) - 1 TP
Brown-backed Needletail (Hirundapus giganteus) - several over Tembeling R,
Silver-rumped Spinetail (Rhaphidura leucopygialis) - common TN
House Swift (Apus nipalensis) - TP and between KL and Kuala Tembeling
Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis) - several in flight, TP and
Red-naped Trogon (Harpactes kasumba) - 1 male near Blau hide, TN
Scarlet-rumped Trogon (Harpactes duvaucelii) - males seen near Blau and Yong
hides, TN
Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella) - 1 seen TP, several heard TN
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) - several along rivers, TN
Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Actenoides concretus) - 1 Tahan R trail, TN
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) - common TP and TN
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) - seen twice over Tembeling R, TN
Wrinkled Hornbill (Aceros corrugatus) - small group in treetop along Tahan R,
Wreathed Hornbill (Aceros undulatus) - pair seen from canopy walkway, TN
Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) - small group at Tahan hide, TN, 1
on return boat trip and 1 at Kuala Tembeling
Oriental Pied-Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) - small groups around resort,
Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) - one seen from bus up Gombak
valley, several seen and heard between resort and Blau hide, TN
Helmeted Hornbill (Buceros vigil) - 1 male seen from Tahan hide, TN
Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon) - commonly heard TP and
TN, 2 seen TN
Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii) - heard once only at Yong hide, TN
Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos) - several heard, 1 seen near
Blau hide, TN
Yellow-crowned Barbet (Megalaima henricii) - commonly heard, 1 seen at
resort, TN
Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima australis) - commonly heard, several seen TP
and TN
Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosus) - several at resort, TN
Rufous Woodpecker (Celeus brachyurus) - small group TP
Crimson-winged Woodpecker (Picus puniceus) - several TP and TN
Banded Woodpecker (Picus mineaceus) - 1 between Yong and Blau hides, TN
Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense) - several TP and TN
Buff-necked Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tukki) - several TN
Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus) - noisy groups seen at
Yong and Tahan hides, TN
White-bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis) - 1 swamp loop, 1 Yong hide,
Grey-and-buff Woodpecker (Hemicircus concretus) - few near resort, TN
Maroon Woodpecker (Blythipicus rubiginosus) - 1 female near canopy
walkway, TN
Orange-backed Woodpecker (Reinwardtipicus validus) - few TP and TN
Dusky Broadbill (Corydon sumatranus) - small group and single bird in nest
near start of Bukit Teresek trail, TN
Black-and-red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) - several TN
Banded Broadbill (Eurylaimus javanicus) - several TP and TN
Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus) - single birds seen TP and
TN, commonly heard TN
Green Broadbill (Calyptomena viridis) - several TN
Garnet Pitta (Pitta granatina) - several heard TN, one seen near Tahan R trail
Banded Pitta (Pitta guajana) - several heard and 3 seen near Blau hide, TN
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) - common in open areas
Large Woodshrike (Tephrodornis gularis) - several TP
Fiery Minivet (Pericrocotus igneus) - small groups near Yong and Blau hides,
Green Iora (Aegithina viridissima) - pairs near Blau hide and Gua Telinga, TN
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) - pair at Kuala Tembeling
Lesser Green Leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon) - few, resort and Tahan R, TN
Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati) - few, resort and Yong hide, TN
Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis) - few TP and TN
Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus) - small group along Tahan R trail,
Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps) - common TN
Grey-bellied Bulbul (Pycnonotus cyaniventris) - 1 TP, several TN
Puff-backed Bulbul (Pycnonotus eutilotus) - 2 near resort, TN
Stripe-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus finlaysoni) - several at resort, TN
Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) - several TP, TN and elsewhere
Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus) - 1 swamp loop, TN
Streak-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus blanfordi) - 2 resort, TN
Cream-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex) - several TP and TN
Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus) - common TP and TN
Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos) - 1 TP, common TN
Grey-cheeked Bulbul (Alophoixus bres) - few resort, TN
Yellow-bellied Bulbul (Alophoixus phaeocephalus) - several TN
Hairy-backed Bulbul (Tricholestes criniger) - several TN
Buff-vented Bulbul (Iole olivacea) - few resort, TN
Streaked Bulbul (Ixos malaccensis) - several resort, TN
Bronzed Drongo (Dicrurus aeneus) - few near Yong hide, TN
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) - common TP and TN
Dark-throated Oriole (Oriolus xanthonotus) - 1 male Jenet Muda, 1 female
Yong hide, TN
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) - single males TP and resort, TN
Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella) - 1 TP, common at resort, TN
Crested Jay (Platylophus galericulatus) - 1 Tahan R trail, TN
Black Magpie (Platysmurus leucopterus) - several small groups, TN
House Crow (Corvus splendens) - many in KL and other built-up areas
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) - few around resort, TN
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) - 1 male TP, 1 near Yong hide, TN
Black-capped Babbler (Pellorneum capistratum) - several TN
Short-tailed Babbler (Malacocincla malaccensis) - 1 Tahan R trail, few near
Yong hide, TN
Ferruginous Babbler (Trichastoma bicolor) - 1 Tahan R trail, few near Gua
Telinga, TN
Horsfield's Babbler (Malacocincla sepiarium) - several small groups, TN
Abbott's Babbler (Malacocincla abbotti) - common TN
Moustached Babbler (Malacopteron magnirostre) - several near Yong and Blau
hides, TN
Scaly-crowned Babbler (Malacopteron cinereum) - common TN
Rufous-crowned Babbler (Malacopteron magnum) - common TN
Chestnut-rumped Babbler (Stachyris maculata) - several, Yong hide and Gua
Telinga, TN
Black-throated Babbler (Stachyris nigricollis) - small group near Blau hide, TN
Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) - very common, TN
Striped Tit-Babbler (Macronous gularis) - few TP and TN
Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler (Macronous ptilosus) - few TP, few near Yong hide,
Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) - common almost everywhere
White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) - common TP and TN
White-crowned Forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti) - pair building a nest along
rocky stream crossing the Tahan R trail, TN
Chestnut-capped Thrush (Zoothera interpres) - 1 immature on trail between
resort and Gua Telinga, TN
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) - few TP
Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis) - several in resort, TP
Rufescent Prinia (Prinia rufescens) - few TP and Kuala Tembeling
Rufous-chested Flycatcher (Ficedula dumetoria) - 1 male Tahan R trail, TN
Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher (Culicicapa ceylonensis) - 1 Tahan R trail, TN
Spotted Fantail (Rhipidura perlata) - few TN
Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) - fairly common TN
Maroon-breasted Philentoma (Philentoma velatum) - 1 male near Yong hide,
Rufous-winged Philentoma (Philentoma pyrhopterum) - several TN
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi) - several, including a white
phase male near Yong hide, TN
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) - built-up areas and in resort, TN
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus) - common TP
Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa) - several TP and TN
Plain Sunbird (Anthreptes simplex) - few TP, 1 Tahan R trail, TN
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (Anthreptes singalensis) - several TP and TN
Purple-naped Sunbird (Hypogramma hypogrammicum) - 1 TP, 1 Tahan R trail,
Scarlet Sunbird (Aethopyga mystacalis) - male feeding fledgeling, Tahan R
trail, TN
Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra) - few TP and TN
Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster) - 1 TP
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera affinis) - several around resort, TN
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus maculatus) - 2 Tahan R trail, TN
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (Prionochilus percussus) - 1 male in resort, TN
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrysorrheum) - 1 in resort, TN
Plain Flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor) - 2 TP
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) - single males Kuala
Tembeling and in resort, TN
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) - built-up areas
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) - several TP
Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca) - 2 TP

Peter N. Thompson              Production Animal Clinic
Tel: +27-12-5298000            Faculty of Veterinary Science
Fax: +27-12-5298308            0110 Onderstepoort
Email:    South Africa

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