birding-aus Taman Negara, Pahang, Malaysia

Subject: birding-aus Taman Negara, Pahang, Malaysia
From: Gil Langfield <>
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 1999 18:53:30 +1100

I was working in Kuala Lumpur recently and had the opportunity to take a
week off between 31 January and 7 February.  I had wanted to go to Taman
Negara for some time and this was the ideal opportunity.  I used as a guide
"The Birds of Thailand" by Lekagul and Round, Bransbury's "A Birdwatcher's
Guide to Malaysia", and had copies of postings to Birding Oz from Susan
Myers, David Fischer, Peter Thompson, Tom & Marie Tarrant and Keith Martin.
 I also had a longer report from Susan Myers.

I organised the trip though the Malaysian Tourist Information Complex
(MATIC) at 109 Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur.  I like to have a cool
comfortable place to rest after walking so I booked rooms in the so-called
Resort, rather than share accommodation.  It was expensive by Malaysian
standards, but not by Australian.  It takes a day to get there and another
day to return from KL.  I had 2 nights at Kuala Tahan Resort at RM (Ringgit
Malaysia - RM 2.5 = A$ 1) 145 per night.  This was followed by 3 nights at
Kuala Trenggan at RM 135 per night (after the advice in the posting of
David Fischer) followed by the last 2 nights back at the main resort of
Kuala Tahan.  The bus costs RM 50 return and the boat trip up the river RM
44 for the main rides from Kuala Temberling, and the transfers between
Kuala Tahan and Kuala Trengan.

The main resort at K. Tahan was a bit busy as other people have said.  The
room I had was at one end of the resort, near the Cafeteria, while the
Restaurant and the Camping Area, quite illogically were at the other.  The
room at K. Tahan had air conditioning plus fan and a separate bathroom.  At
the cafeteria, which was not busy at any time I was there, a simple meal of
say chicken and rice plus a can of drink cost about RM 10.  I ate once at
the Restaurant to celebrate seeing the Helmeted Hornbill.  There seemed to
be Buffet service only at RM 40 fixed price, while a glass of very cold
beer was RM 14.

Trenggan is much smaller than K. Tahan with only about 10 chalets.  There
is no air conditioning, only a fan but the chalets are well ventilated and
air con is not really needed.  I was the only person there on the first
night, since I think it closes until 1 February.  The generator worked all
night on the first night and 2 hours on the second before crashing.
Shaving and showering by torchlight is not much fun.  K. Trenggan had many
more birds around the resort as well as more animals, sounds and leeches,
and lovely views of the river.

The birding was hard work as was the walking.  The rainy season ends in
January so that the tracks were still muddy.  The tracks themselves were
very much up and down, with a lot of climbing over tree roots and steep
descents/ ascents from creeks which required ropes and much care.  Possibly
because of this, most of the visitors stayed in the resorts or moved only
by river boat.  As an example, I spent over 7 hours walking to/from/in the
Tabing Hide from K. Tahan (the main resort) and met only one group of two

After I had developed the following rules, the birding did not seem to be
too bad:

1.  If it is moving/making a noise in a tree, it's a squirrel;
2.  If it isn't a squirrel, it's a monkey;
3.  If it isn't a squirrel or a monkey (or a cicada or a gecko) it is
probably a bird, but you can't see it because of the exceedingly dense
vegetation, bad light or both.

A day by day description follows:

Day 1 - Bus from KL to K. Temberling, boat to K. Tahan

The bus leaves KL at 0800 and arrives at K. Temberling at about 1200 but
the boat leaves at 1400.  There is therefore time to look around K.
Temberling.  There were Hornbills across the other side of the river, but
too far to recognise.  There is a pleasant walk to the left, as you look at
the river.  Common Sandpiper, Blue-throated Beeeater and Water Buffalo were
seen from the boat.

Not much around K. Tahan except for about a thousand Oriental Magpie
Robins.  While sitting in the Tahan Hide, about 5 minutes walk from my
room, male and female Crested Firebacks walked slowly past.

Day 2 - At K Tahan, Jenet Muda Trail, Bukit Teresek, Swamp Loop and Tahan Hide

I followed Susan Myers' instructions for the Great Argus site on the Jenet
Muda trail, but did not hear or see one.  I heard from other birders later
that the bird was in the vicinity but not yet making the calls it makes
when attending its dancing place.  I continued to the top of Bukit Teresek
where I saw Orange Breasted Trogon.  Also saw Wreathed Hornbill flying.  I
walked down from Bukit Teresek to the Tahan River trail junction and
returned to K. Tahan along this trail.  At a bridge just before the
junction with the Jenet Muda trail saw my only Masked Finfoot (male).  (6
species seen in 6 hours).

I walked around the Swamp Loop towards evening and saw Rufous-chested
Flycatcher.  On returning to the cafeteria area, met two English birders
with their Singapore-based Indian guide who were waiting for night birds.
I waited with them, and saw Bat Hawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Pied Hornbill
and Dollar Bird but no nightjars.

Day 3 - K. Tahan to K. Trenggang by boat

I walked along the trail towards the Canopy Walk for a couple of hours.  I
saw a Greater (?) Mouse Deer very early and later Orange-backed Woodpecker
and White-rumped Shama. 
The boat trip, about half an hour, was uneventful.
 At K. Trenggan, I saw Rhinoceros Hornbill, unidentified partridges, some
bulbuls, Greater Green Leafbird and Prevost's Squirrel (very beautiful) in
about the first 15 minutes in the camp.

At 1630, I walked from K. Trenggang a little distance towards K. Tahan to
the bridge over the Trenggan River.  This bridge has good views of the
surrounding forest and I returned many times.  I saw Whiskered Treeswift,
Raffle's Malkoha and Little Green Pigeon from here.

Day 4 - At K. Trenggan, Walked to Kumbang Hide

The walk was tough but good for leeches.  I saw Grey-headed Flycatcher,
Asian Fairy Bluebird, Crested Fireback and Straw-headed Bulbul.

Later near K. Trenggang I saw Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker, Rufous-crowned
and Scaly-crowned Babbler.

Day 5 - At K. Trenggan, Walked to Kumbang Hide

I saw Yellow-bellied Bulbul, Silver-rumped Swift, Crimson-winged
Woodpecker, Spotted Fantail, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Chestnut-winged
Babbler and female Asian Paradise Flycatcher.

Later near the camp, I saw my first amazing Crested Jay.

Day 6 - K. Trenggan to K. Tahan by boat

I walked to the bridge over the Trenggang River and saw Rhinoceros,
Bushy-crested and Wreathed Hornbill, Rufous Woodpecker, Chestnut-breasted
Malkoha and more Crested Jays.

On the short boat trip back to the main resort I saw nothing.  In the
afternoon I walked along the main river track towards Bukit Indah and saw
Maroon-breasted Flycatcher (?) and Green-billed Malkoha.  Towards evening,
I could hear Helmeted Hornbills in the vicinity of the main resort.  I had
heard the maniacal laughter many times at Kuala Trenggan but had failed to
see them there.  I was again near the cafeteria and fortunately two flew
over.  It was fairly late so that the colours around the head were washed
out, but the strange head shape and elongated tail feathers were
unmistakable.  They landed in trees very close to where I was and I spent a
lot of time looking for them perched but without success.

Day 7 - Walk to Tabing Hide

I saw Large Green Pigeon, Abbot's Babbler, more Crested Jay, Scarlet-backed
Flowerpecker and had more good views of Crested Firetail, male and female,
just before the boat landing for Tabing Hide.  I spent about 1.5 hours at
the hide and saw Crested Serpent Eagle and Dusky Broadbill.  (This hide was
the only one of three I visited which had not been designed by the person
who had failed ergonomics).  Again near the boat landing, I saw a male
Asian Paradise Flycatcher, white morph, which was truly beautiful.  This
was the most productive birdwatching period with 17 spp. in about 7 hours.

Day 8 - Return by Boat to Kuala Temberling and then bus to KL

I had almost 2 hours from first light at about 0715 to 0900 when the boat
left.   I decided to do the Swamp Loop for the first time in the early
morning and had early success when a male Malaysian Peacock Pheasant walked
across the path just in front of me.  There followed another Crested
Fireback, some wild boar and Black and Red Broadbill.  With Susan Myer's
description of the call, I was able to recognise Black Magpie with just a
fleeting glance.

On the boat back to K. Temberling, I saw Lesser Fish Eagle perched in a
tree near the river.  The Water buffalo seen on the way up (one horn) had
been joined by another.  Even the 2 hours at K. Temberling waiting for the
bus were productive with Hill Myna, Coppersmith Barbet and Grey and Buff
Woodpecker (?).

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you require more detail.
After I enter the sightings in my database, I can send a full listing of
the species seen.


Gil Langfield
Melbourne, Australia

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