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


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.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Fraser's Hill - 31/10/2014 - 1/11/2014

Friday 31/10/2014

A very foggy morning saw us at the now deserted Jelai Highland Resort car park waiting for the sky to lighten up. The car park used to be a hotspot for photographers because of the lights that were left on overnight attracting insects and thus birds for that matter. The resort has since then been abandoned and left to rot with no one care to take over. We saw some rice left out at a spot at the edge of the park lot with a nice “setting”, presumably left by pre`vious photographers. We saw little except for Long-tailed Sibias and Streaked Spiderhunters. Back outside Alan’s Water we saw Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo and a few tamed Spectacled Laughingthrush. A single Brown Shrike as well as a pair of Fire-tufted Barbets was nearby.

Long-tailed Sibia

Streaked Spiderhunter

Spectacled Laughingthrush

As the sun rose and mist lifted, we decided to tackle the Bishop Trail, the trail is not very long, but lack of maintenance meant the trail was blocked by numerous fallen trees and some wooden railings have already rotted away. It was however still walkable, just not what you will call easy. Leeches wasn’t too much a problem but we did encounter plenty. Birds were very quiet, we saw little except a few Mountain Fulvettas and Streaked Wren-babblers. The Wren-babblers remained very silent and did not response to any of our playbacks. A very shy Red-headed Trogon fluttered past. We heard a pair of Malayan Partridge near the last sharp hair pin turn of the trail and decided to give it a try and call it out, they responded well and came very close but never came down the ridge, after nearly forty minutes of frustration we decided to move on, just as we got around the corner of the hair pin and started to go up hill, there they were standing in the middle of the trail! I caught a glimpse of them before they ran off into the undergrowth.

Streaked Wren-babbler

After the Bishop trail we decided to go somewhere easier and drove down to the Jeriau Waterfall, the road leading to the waterfall entrance proofed quite productive, we came across a large bird wave with the usual birds as well as Buff-breasted Babblers, a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Bar-winged Flycatchershrike, White-bellied Yuhinas, Common Green Magpies, Lesser Yellownapes and Greater Yellownapes, The later were especially responsive to playbacks and got great views of a pair.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

Bar-winged Flycatchershrike

White-bellied Yuhina

Common Green Magpie

Lesser Yellownape

Greater Yellownape

The walk to the waterfall was pleasant; Slaty-backed Forktails and Grey Wagtails frequent the roads near streams. The waterfall itself was not very impressive but is a popular tourist attraction at Fraser’s. It started raining so we took shelter in one of the many rain shelters at the waterfall. We headed back up the road as rain subsided and saw s Speckled Piculet, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Everett’s White-eyes, Grey-chinned Minivets and other usual species.

Grey-chinned Minivet

An afternoon English tea at Ye Olde Smokehouse was relaxing; we enjoyed the nice weather after the rain. Scones and Tea is highly recommended, served with strawberry jam and whipped cottage cream. During tea we saw a few Germain’s Swiftlets circling above and a distance Black Eagle that drifted past.

A short walk down New Gap Road followed, nothing much seen except an extremely distance pair of Siamangs, if they hadn’t move we would have mistaken them as simply oddly coloured tree trunks. Another short walk at the Jalan Lady Maxwell gave us good views of a pair of Greater Yellownapes again. There were also a group of White-thighed Leaf Monkeys, they are the most common around the hill station.

Greater Yellownape

White-thighed Leaf Monkey

We had a Steamboat dinner at the restaurant in town centre below the Bird Interpretive Centre, basically hot pot with Tom Yam Soup. A night drive around the Telecom Loop was a bad decision, as the fog got very thick and driving was extremely difficult in the dark winding roads. Nothing was seen except a toad that hopped across the road.

Saturday 1/11/2014

This was our least productive day. My Dad and I started the morning at the Telecom Loop again, caught a glimpse of a Dark Hawk Cuckoo that flew past at the entrance road, but could not locate it after it landed. The walk was enjoyable but little were seen except good views of yet another pair of Malayan Partridge, which responded well to the playbacks, I managed to see them through my binoculars this time but whenever I reach for my camera they will run off.

Encountered a bird wave near the end of the loop and saw a very cooperative male Red-headed Trogon, which gave very good views and allowed plenty of time for good photographs. Other bird seen includes Greater Yellownapes, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Spectacled Laughingthrushes, Silver-eared Mesias, Golden Babblers, Grey-throated Babblers, Sultan Tits, Grey-chinned Minivets, Chestnut-crowned Warblers, White-throated Fantails, Long-tailed Sibias and Fire-tufted Barbets. A few Black-browed Barbets fed on a fruiting tree by the roadside. The best bird was a single Bay Woodpecker that finally gave good views.

Red-headed Trogon

White-throated Fantail

Fire-tufted Barbet

Black-browed Barbet

Bay Woodpecker

Met the others near the Paddock afterwards and caught up with a group of bird photographers nearby, saw a bird wave including the usuals plus a pair of Black-and-Crimson Orioles, a Blue Nuthatch and a female Little Pied Flycatcher that came close. While others decided to head to Raub for a curry lunch, I decided to stay behind and bird some more.

Blue Nuthatch

Little Pied Flycatcher

I headed down the Old Gap Road alone. A few Buff-breasted Babblers were seen, followed by a bird wave with again the usual, in exception of a few Ochraceous Bulbul. A Black Eagle drifted slowly past above my head. Heard a lot of Siamangs calling and kept looking out for them but no luck, however luck struck when I was going back up and encountered a group of six Siamangs passing by! Right above my head! The group remained quiet during the encounter but gave amazingly close views. A dominant male led the way with a mother caring for a baby Siamang. They swung across the trees and crossed the road before disappearing again into the dense forest.


Met up with the others back at the hotel and enjoyed a nice take-away curry from Raub at the outdoor sitting area of the hotel restaurant. Afternoon was birdless, we drove up Mager Road and encountered Mr. Goh, a local house keeper of the Istana Pelangi; a large mansion own by the Pahang Royal family. He sells wild collected honey and Durian, a very interesting character indeed. We called it a day and had dinner at Shan King; Saturday’s tourists packed the place!

Magpie Robin