MALAYSIA PART TWO:

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ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS

PART THREE

 

Itinerary

21 March

Flight from Frankfurt to Kuala Lumpur

22 Ė 25 March

Kuala Selangor

26 Ė 28 March

Taman Negara National Park

29 Ė 31 March

Fraserís Hill

01 April

Kuala Kangsar

02 Ė 05 April

Pangkor Island

06 April

Flight to Frankfurt

 

 

Saturday 22 March

We arrived at KLIA at 2.30PM. After changing money and picking up our rental car we were on our way to Kuala Selangor, which was about a 100km drive. As we headed towards Kuala Lumpur we had our first (and certainly not last) thunderstorm, which lasted until just before getting to Kuala Selangor at around 4.30PM. We decided to book the first four nights at the De Palma Inn, which is situated about 2km outside town. It had nice double-chalets with hot shower and airco at a price of RM88 including breakfast. The hotel is situated in a quiet area and the chalets are surrounded by a nice garden with even a watchtower overlooking a side river of the Selangor. The first thing we (Roland and me) did was grab our binoculars and check the hotel grounds for our first birds. Among the first birds we had were Yellow-vented Bulbul, Black-naped Oriole, Dollarbird (pair), Common Iora and Brown-throated Sunbird, as well as our first and only Coppersmith Barbet, Brown-capped Woodpecker, Little Spiderhunter and Banded Bay Cuckoo. From the watchtower overlooking a small river we had White-breasted Waterhen and in the bare trees behind the chalets there was a gathering of dozens of Blue-tailed and Blue-throated Bee-eaters (this happened every late afternoon just before sunset). We birded until 7.15PM and then went for dinner at the hotel restaurant. After a nightcap outside our chalets it was no problem at all to fall asleep at 10.00PM after a very long dayÖÖ

 

Sunday 23 March

At 7.00AM Roland and I went to KS Nature Reserve, some 3km from the hotel. Leaving the chalet we heard Long-tailed Nightjars in the woodlands at the back of the hotel grounds. Anne-Marie and Wilma stayed in bed to have some extra rest after the long journey the day before. As we entered the reserve we followed the trail through a wooded area towards the marsh hide. This hide was very rewarding having Grey and Purple Herons, Black Bittern, Watercock, Chinese Pond-heron, Chinese Egret, a Black-bellied Malkoha at the back of the marsh and several other species. At the small watchtower just before the hide we had Laced and a Maroon Woodpecker and walking the trail around the marsh we had amongst others Ashy Tailorbird, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Fly-eater, Oriental white-eye, Pied Triller, Striped Tit-babbler and several Brahminy Kites soaring overhead. It was already getting quite hot as we walked back the trail towards the reserveís entrance where we had Greater Goldenback and Ashy Minivet. At 11.30PM we arrived back at the hotel. In the afternoon we walked to town and visited Bukit Melawati, a hill overlooking the town and reserve where we had White-bellied Sea-eagle nesting in the telekom tower (yes John he is still there!!) and Lineated Barbet (good spotting by Anne-Marie!!). We also had Silver-leaved Monkeys here (also seen in the hotel grounds) and lots of mosquitoes!!! It was very hot and arriving back at the hotel we went for a swim in the hotel pool. There was a Crested Honey-buzzard sitting in a field under a tree next to the hotel. The late afternoon was filled in by birding the hotel grounds where we had new species like Greater Coucal, Asian Koel (calling all the time), Spotted Dove, Black Drongo, Thick-billed Spiderhunter and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. At 8.00PM we were picked up at the hotel reception for a visit to the fireflies at Bukit Belimbing. Itís absolutely amazing to see the thousands of synchronous flashes along the riverside, and even more unbelievable that this is caused by flies that are hardly bigger than a mosquito.  Arriving back at the hotel we had a late dinner and a drink outside our chalet before going to bed at about 11.00PM.

 

Monday 24 March

Our plans for today where a visit to FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) and Batu Caves on the outskirts of KL. After visiting the information centre in FRIM we took a short but strenuous trail up the hill to the canopy walk. Except an unidentified Minivet (and some noisy Austrian tourists) we didnít see many birds there, but the view over the forest with Petronas Towers in the background was excellent. Heading back down the trail we had a group of Blue-winged Leafbirds, and next to a road behind the visitor centre a Chestnut-breasted Malkoha. However, a visit to the small park with a turtle pond on the opposite side of the visitor centre was very productive. Here we had Forest Wagtail, Red-throated Sunbird and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. In a fruiting tree in the back of the park we had Gold-whiskered Barbet and Straw-headed, Scaly-breasted, Stripe-throated and Ashy Bulbuls. At 2.45PM we left FRIM for a short and very disappointing visit to Batu Caves. Leaving Batu again we had to take the road in the opposite direction because the main exit was blocked due to a road construction. Although the roadsigns said we were going in the right direction we realised after a while that we were driving in a circle around KL, which meant an extra 70km drive back to K.Selangor. And if this wasnít enough we also had a very heavy thunderstorm. It was raining cats and dogs and the road was completely flooded. We had the feeling we were on a boat instead of in a car. We arrived quite late at the hotel and decided to have a drink instead of birding the hotel garden. We had dinner at the hotelís restaurant.

 

Tuesday 25 March

At 6.45AM we left our chalet to have a second visit to KS nature reserve. Again we heard Long-tailed Nightjars and we managed to have a good sight of one sitting on the fence behind our chalet. Arriving at the reserve we first walked to the marsh hide, then took the trail along the marsh, and went to the left at the watchtower along the mangroves. From there we crossed a small river and walked back to the entrance through the forest. Itís a shame that the boardwalks into the mangroves are totally damaged and therefore not accessible at all. Despite this we managed to see quite a few new birds like Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Black Baza, Pin-tailed Snipe, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Grey-faced Woodpecker and Collared, Stork-billed and Black-capped Kingfishers. We arrived back at the hotel around noon, and headed for the mudflats of Tanjung Karang (some 15 km north) after lunch. In the small mangroves we had Common Kingfisher, Striated Heron, Yellow Bittern, and White-headed Munia. There were a lot of waders at the mudflats but since it was low tide the birds were too far away and the light was bad (looking towards the sun) and we had no scope. Despite this we could identify Common Redshank, Terek Sandpiper and Great-crested Tern. From here we drove back to T.Karang and took the first road left after the bridge towards some ricefields. This place appeared excellent for Cinnamon Bittern, Black-shouldered Kite, Brown Shrike and White-breasted Woodswallow. When we were having a drink at the chalet after dinner a Long-tailed Nightjar flying over our heads and landing in the grass some 10 metres from where we were sitting surprised us. Not a bad way to end the day with I would say.

 

Wednesday 26 March

We left K. Selangor at about 8.15AM for a 5 hours drive to Kuala Tembelling jetty to catch our boat to Taman Negara at 2.00PM. A few km before getting to the jetty we had Lesser Coucal flying across the road in front of us. We parked our car at the parking lot near the jetty (RM6 per day) and picked up our boat tickets. Here we also had to pay the entrance fee for the national park. Before our boat left we had lunch at the restaurant at the jetty. The 2.5 hours boat trip was a little bit disappointing because the boat was quite fast and it also started to rain after an hour that made birdwatching very difficult. Nevertheless we scored our first and only Ruddy Kingfisher. We checked in at Taman Negara Resort, which has comfortable and spacious chalets for about 50 Euro without breakfast. The chalets were booked in advance via the Internet.  After dropping the luggage in our chalet we birded the resortís garden, which had several flowering and fruiting trees. Here we had Asian Fairy-bluebird (lots), Red-throated and Blue-eared Barbet, Large Niltava, Long-billed Spiderhunter and Straw-headed, Black-headed, Puff-backed and Stripe-throated Bulbuls. At the campground we had Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo and at Tahan hide we had Crested Fireback. Later we had dinner at the resortís restaurant. The food quality was very poor here and quite expensive compared with the rest of Malaysia. The cost for a beer (RM19 = Euro 5!!!) was worth the price of a complete meal at the floating restaurants on the other side of the river.

 

Thursday 27 March

At 7.00AM we took the Tahan river trail which starts behind the campground. Since it had rained during most of the night we had lots of leeches here. After following the trail along the river where we had a beautiful Oriental-dwarf Kingfisher (rufous-backed form), we then took the Jenat Mudah trail to the right. Here we saw a Helmeted Hornbill flying over and R & AM also had Rhinoceros Hornbill. Up the trail we had Great Argus (just as described in Johnís report) and later on Black Magpie, Large Green-pigeon and Chestnut-backed Scimitar-babbler. After a short rest we checked our legs and feet for leeches and went on to take the canopy walkway. Here we had excellent views of Fiery Minivets, Whiskered Treeswifts and the surrounding rainforest. Returning to the resort we had a rest in the chalet before birding the garden in the late afternoon. New birds recorded were Little Green-pigeon, Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot (we saw only 2 specimens of 1 species of parrots during the entire trip Ė how is that possible in such a tropical country?), Oriental Pied-hornbill and Red-eyed and Spectacled Bulbuls. We had dinner at the Rumbia restaurant on the other side of the river, which was excellent in atmosphere and food, and it was extremely cheap Ė donít miss it!

 

Friday 28 March

While Roland and me did the Swamp Loop trail Anne-Marie and Wilma went for breakfast at the Rumbia restaurant. I guess they had enough of all those leeches. We didnít see much except excellent views of a Malaysian Peacock-pheasant and Greater Green Leafbird when we walked back to the chalet. At 10.00AM we left for a boat trip up the Tahan river to the Latah Berkoh rapids. Although we didnít expect too much from this trip it appeared to be one of our most rewarding trips in Taman Negara. We arranged a private tour accompanied by a boatman and a guide who was an excellent bird spotter. On the 8km trip up the river we had Lesser Fish-eagle, Green Imperial-pigeon, Dusky Broadbill, Blue-banded Kingfisher, Black Hornbill, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Crow-billed Drongo and Black-and-red Broadbill. At the trail to the rapids we also had White-rumped Shama. The boat trip back down the river was fantastic. We travelled nearly the whole distance without using the engine, hearing only the sounds of the forest. After lunch at the Rumbia we again birded the resortís garden having Black-and-white Bulbul, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Jambu Fruit-dove. After dinner Roland and Anne-Marie went for a guided night-walk where they had Blue-winged Pitta sleeping on a branch above the trail.

 

Saturday 29 March

After some short birding in the garden we had to catch the boat at 9.00AM leaving Taman Negara. Birding from the boat was again poor and the only new bird was a White-bellied Munia in a tree in front of the restaurant at Tembelling jetty. After an early lunch at the restaurant there we left Tembelling for our drive to Fraserís hill. The last two hours of the drive we again had heavy rains. Arriving at the Gap it turned out that the new road, which had only recently been open, was closed because of landslides. We had to take the (again) one-way traffic old road but we were lucky that it had just been opened for uphill traffic. We went to the information office next to the Puncak inn to inform for rooms. They offered a double room at Bangelo Chini for RM90 but the place was quite grotty and musty. We decided to have a look at Jelai Highlands Resort near Allanís water. Although the rooms were slightly damp (but spacious) we took them for RM85. From the roomís balcony we had very close looks of Orange-bellied Leafbird, Black-throated Sunbird and Streaked Spiderhunter in the flowering trees in front of us (excellent for taking pictures). At home we read about the famous bird waves at FH, but we couldnít imagine what this would be like. But after a while we did!!! At one moment you see actually no birds and within a second you have to do a sort of ďhigh speedĒ birding to identify all the species passing by, which was quite thrilling I must say. Itís not unusual to have a flock containing ten to fifteen species.  We birded the hotel surroundings until it was dark. Here we had Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Green Magpie (beautiful), Chestnut-capped and -crowned Laughingthrushes, Silver-eared Mesia, Mountain Fulvetta, Long-tailed Sibia (common), Pale Blue Flycatcher and White-throated Fantail. Roland also had Everettís White-eye. In the evening we had dinner at the Chinese Hill View restaurant, which was excellent with large bottles of cold beer. When we arrived back at the hotel we asked the guy from the reception if he knew a good bird-guide. Although it was already 10.00PM he said it was no problem to arrange one for 7.00AM the next morning, which sounded quite unbelievable to us.

 

Sunday 30 March

At 7.00AM we were outside waiting for a guide expecting nobody to show up. But at 7.10 a moped arrived and the driver introduced himself as Mr.Durai. He said he didnít expect to guide birdwatchers and as a result of that he didnít bring his binoculars. We drove to his home (his palace as he called it) to pick it up, and then birded along Lady Maxwell road and a small part of the Hemnant trail. Mr. Durai is a very knowledgable (not only birds but also plants, spiders, etc.) and funny guy and when he isnít whistling to attract birds than heís talking or telling jokes. Sometimes he manages to do all at the same time. We were very impressed. Besides that he was proud showing us his name mentioned in the West-Malaysia fieldguide which is absolutely something to be proud of. New birds seen here were Little Cuckoo-dove, Malaysian Cuckoo-shrike, Scarlet Minivet, Ochraceous Bulbul, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Blue-winged Minla and Little Pied Flycatcher. We birded until 9.30AM because he had to guide another group at 10.00AM. Durai suggested meeting again at 4.00PM for birding the new road, which was of course OK with us. We went back to the hotel for a late breakfast before heading for the telekom loop road. We parked our car at the beginning of the one-way road and walked up the road, which was extremely rewarding. New birds we had here were Fire-tufted Barbet, Mountain Bulbul, Blue Nuthatch, Asian Paradise-flycatcher (white morph) and Buff-bellied Flowerpecker. After rounding the loop we drove back to the village to have a drink before meeting Durai again, and went to the new road. This place was really excellent and quiet with great views and many, many birds. We birded the road up and down for about 3km and had Red-bearded Bee-eater, Black-browed Barbet, Speckled Piculet, both Greater and Lesser Yellownape, Buff-rumped and Grey-and-buff woodpecker, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Sultan Tit (big) and many others. After birding here we had an excellent dinner at Fraserís Pine Resort and went to our hotel to have some rest. At 10.00PM we met Durai again because he knew a few places for owls and nightjars. Unfortunately enough we didnít see any, but despite of that we went back to the hotel with a satisfied feeling about a very enjoyable day with lots of birds.

 

Monday 31 March

At 8.30AM we left the hotel and took the old road down to the Gap. When we got out of the car at the Gap Resthouse we had Rufous Piculet. We walked up the old road for about 3km. It was pretty quiet and we didnít see much, which was a bit disappointing expecting more from this site. But between the 1 and 2km road sign we had a 14 species counting bird wave containing Lesser cuckoo-shrike and Green-billed Malkoha as new species for us. Arriving back at the resthouse we had lunch and had a chat with a Malaysian birder called Allen. Talking with Mr. Durai later on the day it appeared we had been talking to Allen Jeyarajasingam, the writer of the West Malaysia field guide. Itís a great shame that we didnít know that it was him. After lunch we drove back up the old road and after refreshing ourselves at the hotel we went to pick up Durai at work for some late afternoon birding around Lady Maxwell Road. Finally we had the magnificant Long-tailed Broadbill which Durai had promised us. We also had Oriental Cuckoo over here and heard Red-headed Trogon (as you can see from the list, we didnít manage to see a single Trogon!). Later on Roland & Anne-Marie had Large Hawk-cuckoo at telekom loop as we waited for them at the Chinese restaurant. Afterwards we had a drink together with Durai and thanked him for all the good guidance before saying goodbye to him. After dinner we went back to the hotel.

 

Tuesday 1 April

After some short birding at the new road with not much new birds to see we met up with Wilma and Anne-Marie in town for breakfast. Afterwards we picked up our luggage at the hotel and left FH for our drive to Kuala Kangsar near Ipoh to see some Malaysian culture. At the junction near Kuala Kubu Bahru we had several Grey-rumped Treeswifts. We arrived at K.Kangsar around 2.00PM. After refreshing ourselves in the Rumah Rehat Resthouse we visited the Masjid Ubudiah mosque, the Sultanís palace and the museum of the Raja. After a short visit of the town we went back to the hotel for dinner.

 

Wednesday 2 April

Today we wanted to visit some of the cave temples around Ipoh (some 50km from K.Kangsar). At the Perak Tong Temple we had Blue Rock-thrush and as a total surprise we had three Java Sparrows in the Kek Look Tong Temple. Later in the afternoon we drove to Lumut to catch our ferry to Pangkor Island. From the ferry both White-bellied Sea-eagles and Brahminy Kites were a very common sight. After a short taxi drive we arrived at the Sea View Resort, a very comfortable and relaxing place right at the beach. We had dinner in the excellent Restoran Seafood No.1.

 

Thursday 3 April

Not much plans for today besides a visit to Teluk Nipah, a town some 5km north of our hotel where Oriental Pied Hornbill was very common. In the afternoon we went for a swim in the hotelís swimming-pool surrounded by dozens of Blue-throated Bee-eaters. No new species for today.

 

 

Friday 4 April

Today a bicycle trip around the island is on the program. We didnít see many new birds but despite that we scored Great Hornbill, a new species to add to our trip-list. In the afternoon we filled in our time with swimming, relaxing and by playing some table-tennis. We went for dinner again at our favourite restaurant in Pasir Bogak village.

 

Saturday 5 April

Early morning we walked a trail near town to a small canopy-walk in the jungle. We didnít see any new things and it was very hot. Besides that the place was full of mosquitoes so we returned back to the hotel for breakfast. Today we have to leave the islands for our drive to the airport. After some relaxing we took a shower, packed our things and left the hotel at around 5.00PM. After taking the ferry we picked up our car at the Lumut car park and left for our 200km drive to the airport. We arrived at the airport at 11.15PM to check in for our 01.50AM flight to Frankfurt via Dubai.

 

Sunday 6 April

We arrived in Frankfurt at 2.15PM. We had to wait for our taxi quite a long time and arrived in Otterstadt at 4.30PM. Our first journey together had come to an end. Despite the fact that we only visited 3 major birding-sites we were very pleased with our trip-list of 238 species. Itís a pity that we totally missed out on our favourite bird family (trogons) but despite that we saw lots of other excellent birds.

 

 

 

 

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