A Few Days Birding in Mainland Malaysia

Subject: A Few Days Birding in Mainland Malaysia
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:14:05 +1000
My son and I flew to Malaysia at the start of Easter, and after a couple of 
days poking around Penang met up with Choy Wai Mun.  Mun has a blog titled the 
Penang Birder [].

We arranged a four day itinerary with Mun that started in Penang, had two 
nights at Frasers Hill and ended in Kuala Lumper.  We visited a range of 
lowland habitat varieties, including rainforests, mangroves, mudflats, 
freshwater wetlands and paddy fields, as well as the iconic highland rainforest 
at Frasers Hill.

Birding guides around the world use call playback, but on this trip the new 
element was the stakeout. A stakeout site is a bit like a lek, where visiting 
birders place food for targeted species.  The birds know there may be an 
offering when they hear call playback at these sites and are motivated to show 

Courtesy of the meal worms, seeds and rock melons, we had close views of 
partridges, barbets, pittas, sibias, mesias, kingfishers, thrushes, robins, 
flycatchers and babblers etc. Indeed, a Pygmy Wren-babbler scurried mouselike 
(within touching distance of me) on its way to the worms on a log.

Away from the stakeout sites, call playback had mixed results.  Sometimes it 
attracted the birds, in other places it had no effect.  The most frustrating 
dip was a Collared Owlet.  It was persistently calling one afternoon at Frasers 
Hill.  We circled around its location [even walked up a steep driveway that 
brought us roughly level with it] but were unable to see it.

In some ways birding in Malaysia was similar to birding in similar habitats in 
Australia.  The big difference was the complete absence of water birds [such as 
ducks, grebes, cormorants, gulls and terns].  It was disconcerting to have 
large birdless waterbodies.

Weatherwise, we had very little rain.  It was hot at sea-level and pleasant at 
higher altitudes [Penang Hill and Frasers Hill]. My main frustration was a 
camera lens that was coming apart at the seams.

Overall, we were very happy with Mun’s guiding.  He had fast visual and bird 
call recognition, and was also familiar with many of the mammals.  If you are 
looking to go birding in north-western Malaysia, you can email him via either 
 or  . 

Regards, Laurie.

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