Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fraser's Hill - 2/11/2014 - 3/11/2014

Sunday 2/11/2014
Our most productive day. We started at the New Gap Road, with Black-crested Bulbuls, a Brown Shrike, Verditer Flycatcher, Sultan Tits and a few Slaty-backed Forktails. A flock of Black Laughingthrush showed up and gave their melodic and strange call. The birds showed well as they sang from a bare tree, giving great views of their strange calling behaviour of arched back and puffed up blue throat pouch. As the flock of Laughingthrush faded down the slope, a pair of Green-billed Malkoha took over on a nearby tree, giving prolonged and great views of their metallic plumage and intriguing light green beaks.

Black Laughingthrush






Green-billed Malkoha




We heard the call of a Green Broadbill further down the road, as we headed down to look for it we encountered a large flock of Silver-breasted Broadbill, foraging near the canopy. With some playbacks they came lower down to investigate but remained quite high up, however giving satisfying views to appreciate their comical features. A Striped Tit-babbler danced around the undergrowth near-by as another pair of Green-billed Malkoha made a brief appearance on the trees.

Silver-breasted Broadbill








Further down the road, we encountered yet another bird wave, this time in the form of Ochraceous Bulbuls, Everett’s White-eyes and an Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and Blue-winged Leafbirds. Suddenly a strange throaty call was heard, what might it be but the unique call of the Red-bearded Bee-eater. After some playback and waiting the bird finally showed itself on an expose branch, showing off it’s bright green plumage with blood red “beard” and a surprisingly bright purple forehead! It gave us some excellent views for over ten minutes before going back into the cover of the forest. Just as we thought our luck couldn’t get better a flock of Sultan Tits dropped by to a short tree and gave very close views of this canopy dwelling species for our enjoyment.

Red-bearded Bee-eater





Sultan Tit











The rest of the way down was much quieter, but still produced a few Scaly-breasted Bulbuls, as well as a pair of Blyth’s Hawk Eagle soaring in the hot air current. The Gap produced nothing worthy to note, the area is now largely deserted and the former Gap Rest House lies derelict and ran down. The glorious times of the Gap had long gone since the construction of the New Gap Road, as people don’t need to wait the odd hour going up hill anymore, shops and hotels simply couldn’t get enough people to support their businesses.

Scaly-breasted Bulbul


Blyth's Hawk Eagle


Gap




We had lunch at the Chinese Coffee shop near the entrance of the Old Gap Road gate near town centre. The town was packed with tourists, taking photographs around the famous clock tower and historical buildings in town. After lunch, we headed to the Pine Tree Trail for a short walk, the trail is the longest amongst all trails at Fraser’s and notoriously hard to climb, therefore we only ventured in a few hundred meters, but managed to encounter a bird wave with Silver-eared Mesias, Mountain Fulvettas, Blue-winged Minlas, Black-eared Shrike-babblers and Spectacled Laughingthrush, Mountain Imperial Pigeon. We finally managed to catch up with the last of Fraser’s three species of Laughingthrush; a flock of Malayan Laughingthrush, but they kept in the covers behind trees and branches.

Chinese Coffee Shop


Silver-eared Mesia









Blue-winged Minla







Mountain Imperial Pigeon





Malayan Laughingthrush


As the weather remained dry, we decided to give Telecom Loop a try. Nothing interesting to note except a single Ferruginous Flycatcher hawking for insects from a perch. It soon rained so we headed back to the hotel. The rain however stopped pretty soon, on the way out of the Telecom Loop on Peninjau Road I caught sight of a raptor, I stopped the car abruptly and got brief views from my binoculars to confirm it as a white morph Changeable Hawk Eagle. We got out of the car and found ourselves again in a bird wave, with Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Silver-eared Mesias, White-throated Fantails, Mountain Fulvettas, Golden Babblers, Grey-chinned Minivets, Black-and-Crimson Oriole, Common Green Magpie, Blue Nuthatch and Javan Cuckooshrikes. A piercing call of the Long-tailed Broadbill came from behind and soon we got our binoculars locked to these strange looking birds, with bright yellow beaks and throat contrasting it’s black “helmet”, green body and blue tail. They kept close to the canopy but gave quite good views for everyone before fading into the forest again. We went to Shan King for a late afternoon tea with Kaya French Toast, tea and coffees.

Ferruginous Flycatcher


Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo









Javan Cuckooshrike


Long-tailed Broadbill


One last walk on my own just outside Shahzann Inn before sunset, produced a single Rufous-browed Flycatcher and a Common Green Magpie. Our last dinner was served in Shahzann Inn restaurant, food was again excellent, and the friendly chefs Mr. Wang and Mr. Tam whom we met two days earlier decided to treat us some free Malayan desserts!

Rufous-browed Flycatcher


Monday 3/11/2014

Our last morning at Fraser’s, we checked out early and stayed behind for breakfast at the hotel at 7:00am. We got a pleasant (but unfortunate) surprise in the form of an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher that got it self trapped in the restaurant conservatory! The poor bird was disorientated and obvious have no idea how to distinguish between the open door and the glass windows. After we took some good photographs and views from reachable distance, it flew a few more times around the room, this time hitting the glass hard.

By that point we were very concern that it may kill itself by concussion. After a few more failed attempts on it’s own, I decided to try and grab the bird while it was on the floor. I caught up with it while it was catching its breath after yet another failed attempt and grabbed hold of it from behind. The poor bird was obviously in shock but luckily unharmed. I took the bird outside just in case when it got lose it won’t be trapped in the room again. Just before we could manage a photograph of it in my hands it fluttered it’s wings and off it went, perched on the tree opposite the restaurant. We were simply glad it was unharmed in the incident. The bird stood for some time before disappearing into the forest.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher







After the dramatic breakfast, we headed out to the New Gap Road. Our plan was to bird the way down before heading back to Kuala Lumpur. On the way we caught up with a pair of Raffle’s Malkoha, a Brown Barbet and a Red-bearded Bee-eater that perched high on a bare tree. Further down we encountered a bird wave with other common species, in exception of a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher and a White-rumped Shama that showed briefly. The Shama later sang it’s melodic song in the undergrowth. Nothing much was seen on the rest of the way down to the Gap except a few Long-tailed Macaque, a Blue Whistling Thrush and a Moustached Babbler that was heard around the area while driving, from there on we took the three-hour drive back to KLIA2.

Red-bearded Bee-eater


Long-tailed Macaque


Traffic was smooth and returning of the car was straightforward, we simply parked at the designated parking space and dropped the key into the Avis office key box.

A total of 107 species were recorded on the trip, recording quite a few of our target species, considering this was during the low season for birding at Fraser’s. Most birds were not in breeding season so many were silent or inactive. Though birding can be slow at times here at Fraser’s, persistent usually do pay off.

All in all, Fraser’s Hill combines history, scenery and nature all in one package. There are plenty to do and see for none birders, while birdwatchers can be endlessly entertained by the rich fauna that roams in the forest. Food in Malaysia is cheap and all in all very hygienic. The site is easily accessible by car and driving is really quite straight forward, making this suitable for most people to enjoy. I will highly recommend this place for any hard-core birdwatchers as well as anyone looking for a casual family vacation getaway.

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