I have had several requests to post a brief report from five weeks
spent in Peninsular Malaysia (19-7-96 to 22-8-96). I'll list the main
places that I did any birding (or mammaling?) and make a few comments
1 - KUALA LUMPUR - Surprisingly for such an apparent hell-hole (it
grows on you) there are quite a lot of green areas around the city. The
Lake Gardens is the most obvious spot and is a good introduction to
common species such as Water-hens, Common Goldenback (Woodpecker),
Common Tailorbird etc. Look out for the escapee Milky Stork that soars
on the thermals above K.L.!!
2 - THE GAP / FRASER'S HILL - Legendary birding spots and worth the
trip. We spent three nights at The Gap Resthouse (very peaceful) and
walked the 8km up to Fraser's Hill each day. The forest around The Gap
(best seen by walking the roads) was dripping with birds such as Sultan
Tit, Long-tailed Broadbill, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Scarlet Minivet,
Brown Wood-owl, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Malaysian Eared Nightjar.
Walking just downhill from the Gap was also excellent.. Pin-tailed
Parrotfinch, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler for instance. Fraser's
Hill resort had a few more jungle trails and, being higher, had some
different birds.. Green Magpie, Black Laughingthrush, Large Niltava,
Collared Owlet, Blue Nuthatch. Both spots well worth visiting - we had
a bird list of just short of one hundred species in the three days
there. But NO HORNBILLS! :( Heard one each morning, but that's no
good! The most productive trails were always the roads - the only snag
with walking between the sites was trying to persuade the locals that
you actually WANT to walk and don't need a lift!
3 - PENANG - The best thing about Penang of course is the restaurants,
but if you insist on birding then a trip up Penang Hill isn't too bad.
Very sticky and covered in Chinese joggers.. but also covered in things
like Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Little Spiderhunters, Ruby-cheeked
Sunbirds. Just forget the birds and have a banana murtabak.
4 - TAIPING - The Taiping Lake Gardens were actually well worth a few
hours. There is a lake and several patches of large trees hiding the
likes of Black-thighed Falconets, Pied Trillers, Scarlet-backed
Flowerpeckers. If you are a bit naughty then you could count the Night
Herons that fly around at dusk... but methinks the zoo has a few
questions to answer on that one...
5 - BUKIT LARUT (MAXWELL HILL) - Three nights here, in the hills above
Taiping. Avoid the weekends and this spot is tranquility itself and
excellent birding. Similar country to both The Gap and Fraser's Hill.
Here we found several species that had eluded us at Frasers...
Orange-breasted Trogon, Lesser Yellownape, Streaked Wren-babbler,
Puff-throated Babbler, Banded-bay Cuckoo. Walking the 10kms from the
top down to Taiping was very productive. Saw HORNBILLS :))) Rhinoceros
and Bushy-crested, and a fleeting glimpse of Great. Lots of good
mammals here as well.. Siamang, Pig-tailed Macaque, Flying Lemur,
Brush-tailed Porcupine, Red Giant Flying Squirrel (sorry.. I'll stick
to birds...) Great spot. Anyone going here should make contact with
Guna, the caretaker/birder of the Gunung Hijau Resthouse.
6 - TAMAN NEGARA - Awesome! We spent a week here, pacing the jungle
trails several times a day, and every day we saw new things. This is
lowland jungle (in contrast to 2 and 5) and thus a quite different
ecosystem. The resort is a bit on the busy side, but the trails
generally quiet - especially in the morning. Over 100 birds over the
week and FIVE species of Hornbill.. Rhinoceros, Black, Southern Pied,
Wreathed, Helmeted. Other highlights included
Dusky/Green/Black+Red/Banded Broadbill, Garnet Pitta, Great Argus (two
sightings), Scarlet-rumped/Red-naped Trogon and many many babblers and
bulbuls. The Crested Firebacks were nowhere to be seen (I think we were
very unlucky). I don't think you could go wrong in Taman Negara. There
are interesting conservation issues arising from the increased scale of
development around the resort at Kuala Tehan as most travellers in
Malaysia seem to converge on this spot.. from the backpackers to the
millionaires... However, it is still very good birding because the
millionaires don't leave the restaurant, and the "backpackers" don't
leave the rubber tyres that they float down the river on.... Well. ok,
I admit it.. we had backpacks... but you know what I mean.
7 - KUALA SELANGOR - A coastal nature reserve, very close to K.L.
Interesting series of shallow pools and good mangrove access (two
boardwalks). Highlights here included Red Junglefowl (aka CHOOK), Laced
woodpecker, Great Tit (and yes - I have some outside my window now,
except the Malaysian ones live in the mangroves), Forest Wagtail,
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Mangrove Whistler, Buffy Fish-owl. And I
should add Smooth Otter, Silver Leaf-monkey and Leopard Cat.
More details on any sites and queries regarding practicalities can be
provided. Basically, transport, food, accomodation are all fairly
Keith M. Martin Tel +32 16 32 18 62
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Fax +32 16 32 19 86
Kardinaal Mercierlaan 94