Tuesday 18 November 2014

Fraser's Hill 28/10/2014

Tuesday 28/10/2014

We took the morning Air Asia flight direct from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, arriving at KLIA2 at around 1:30pm. The rental car was pre-booked with Avis, pickup was straightforward, and the 7-seater easily accommodated the five of us including our luggage.

Mobile phone services can be purchased upon arrival, prices for a 1 week unlimited data access service starts from 28MYR to 36MYR depending on the company. Internet service will allow you to use Google maps, saving the rental fees for a GPS with the car companies.

Once we selected our destination on Google maps, we headed out for the 3 hours drive directly from KLIA2 to Fraser’s Hill. It was 4:30pm by the time we got going, the drive went smoothly except for the heavy afternoon rain and rush hour traffic just outside Kuala Lumpur, which set us back half an hour. Enroute we saw Glossy Swiftlets, Barn Swallows, Common Mynas, Javan Mynas, House Crows, Spotted Doves, Asian Glossy Starlings and Cattle Egrets.

A short refueling stop was done at Kuala Kubu Bharu, a small town before heading up the ever-winding road to Fraser’s Hill. There is no petrel station beyond KKB therefore it is advice to refuel here before heading. It was 8:00pm by the time we arrived at Fraser’s Hill Township, and the sun had already set. We checked into Shahzann Inn and ate at the hotel’s restaurant.

A short walk around town after dinner had us listening to a Mountain Scops Owl calling from the hills. We decided to call it a night and went to bed early.

Wednesday 29/10/2014

Woke up at 5:00am and headed out by 5:30am. Weather was very clear. However, we only realize the sun doesn’t rise until seven when we stationed ourselves outside the entrance of the Bishop trail. We sat at a shelter and waited for sunrise.

Dark Hawk Cuckoos and Fire-tufted Barbets were amongst the first birds to call, as the sky turns brighter more birds joined in, including a not so cooperative Bay Woodpecker which flew around us in circles but never gave a good view, a pair of Black-and-Crimson Oriole was however more obliging, the male showed off it’s deep red breast patch on an expose branch. Nearby, a Speckled Piculet made an appearance, giving good views for everyone. A Long-billed Partridge called in the distance. Other birds including Spectacled Laughingthrush, Mountain Fulvettas, Golden Babblers, Grey-chinned Minivets, Orange-bellied Leafbirds, Sultan Tits and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo were seen.
Black-and-Crimson Oriole

Speckled Piculet

As we wanted to get back to the hotel by 9:30am for a nice breakfast, we decided to use the car to cover more grounds and headed to the Telecom Loop. The drive produced little except a few Mountain Bulbuls and Common Green Magpies, as well as a pair of Red-headed Trogons, which showed briefly.
Mountain Bulbul

After breakfast, other went back to their rooms for some rest while my Dad and I decided to give the Old Gap Road a try. On the way we saw a few Black-throated Sunbirds in the flowering bushes. As we were looking at the birds, Mr. Durai drove past on his scooter, he is a local birder and guide whom is famous for giving pointers and help to visiting birdwatchers. He told this is not the best season for birds, but we should walk down the Gap Road and look out for Black Laughingthrush, Collard Babblers and Hornbills.
Black-throated Sunbird

A short way down the Old Gap Road yielded a Spectacled Spiderhunter feeding amongst some flowering bushes, a Black Eagle that gave us close fly-by views and a few Blue-throated Bee-eater hawking from the treetops. A Plain Flowerpecker was seen. Further down we caught up with a pair of Great Hornbills that flew past us, however we couldn’t manage a clear look or to take photographs behind the trees before they flew off into the distance. The walk back up the hill was uneventful except for a pair of Crested Serpent Eagles that circled around, but we caught up with a pair of Black-eared Shrike-babblers that came close to investigate the playback sounds at the gate.
Black Eagle

Blue-throated Bee-eater

Black-eared Shrike-babbler

We lunched at the Scott’s Pub in town, a nice place with decent food but with a pricy menu and the portions were tiny. After lunch we visited Allan’s Water, a small lake just outside the now deserted Jelai Highland Resort. Not much birds there except a Lesser Shortwing calling at a distance.

We visited Jeriau Waterfall after that. Not much was seen except a flock of Everett’s White-eye at the road going into the waterfall. On our return trip we saw a male Red-headed Trogon, which gave nice views for everyone.

Ye Olde Smokehouse was our choice for dinner that night, the hotel building is a relic of British colonial era, the experience felt like time travelling back in time. Rooms are quite expensive there, but a dinner or tea at the hotel is definitely worth trying for any visitor.

Thursday 30/10/2014

We started at 6:30am, decided to go around Telecom Loop by foot. On the way I saw a flash a blue that flew into the undergrowth not far from our hotel, we stopped the car and listened and heard the call of the Large Niltava, this turned out to be our only encounter with this species for the whole trip which was unusual as I have heard they are pretty common up here.

The whole Telecom Loop is only 4km long, which takes an hour and a half at birding pace. The walk was pleasant, produced a few bird waves that contained common birds like Spectacled Laughingthrush, Sultan Tits, Silver-eared Mesia, Black-throated Sunbirds, Mountain Fulvettas, Grey-throated Babblers, Golden Babblers, Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Mountain Tailorbirds, Orange-bellied Leafbirds, White-throated Fantails and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos. Collard Owlets called constantly but never showed. A Red-headed Trogon also decided to show up giving close views. A Blue Nuthatch showed briefly. A Rufous-browed Flycatcher was seen not far from the bird wave, and showed well, once you got familiar with their song you realize they are everywhere, but they usually hide in midst of the forest. A Lesser Shortwing showed briefly after some playbacks. An Asian Brown Flycatcher showed up and we heard calls of the Malayan Partridge from a distance and tried calling them in; they came closer but didn’t show. There’s also a Glossy Swiftlet colony in the middle of the walk at what looks like an old garage.
Mountain Fulvettas

Grey-thraoted Babblers

Golden Babblers

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

Red-headed Trogon

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Rufous-browed Flycatcher

After the loop we went down the New Gap Road, the road is much wider then the Old Gap Road, and allow frequent stopping to be made which is convenient for birding. The bird species lower down were drastically different from those seen higher up, you immediate hear birds like Blue-eared Barbets, Gold-whiskered Barbets, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler and Emerald Dove, most were however only heard and didn’t show up. Birds seen were many Black-crested Bulbuls, Brown Barbet, Arctic Warblers, Little Cuckoo Doves, Crested Serpent Eagles, Everett’s White-eyes and a Dark-sided Flycatcher.
Brown Barbet

Black-crested Bulbul

Little Cuckoo Dove

Everett's White-eye

Dark-sided Flycatcher

The road exits at the Gap, where a Hollywood style “Fraser’s Hill” sign was situated. The Old Gap Road back up was again the narrow and winding, not much were seen on the way up. We lunched at Shan King Chinese Restaurant, situated at the food court past the Mosque, the food there were excellent and price were very reasonable. Limejuice is a must if you visit! The rain came in after lunch so we decided to rest.

Once the rain past at around 4:00pm, we went out for a walk at Jalan Lady Maxwell, a road that run alongside the Bishop Trail. Nothing new were seen except a small flock of Blue-winged Minlas and a distance male Little Pied Flycatcher, a pair of Javan Cuckooshrike called from an exposed tree top. We also got good views of a group of Dusky Leaf Monkeys.
Little Pied Flycatcher

Dusky Leaf Monkey

We ventured into the Hemmant trail and walked a very short distance in and saw a few Common Green Magpies, however the lights were diminishing by then so we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel.
We had dinner at Shan King again and met Mr. and Mrs. Chin, a couple from Kuala Lumpur on a road trip around Malaysia. They generously gave us a portion of curry chicken they bought from Raub; a small town close to Fraser’s and recommended us to visit the town for it’s famous curry house.

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