Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fraser’s Hill 21-24 Feb 2011

An even earlier wake-up call on Monday as we drove off from home at 5.50 am for the highlands.  There was almost no traffic towards the 2nd link and we cleared Malaysian Immigration at 6.20 am!  It was then an uneventful ride which brought us to the Gap at 12 noon.  We were the 2nd car in line.  Since we had an hour on hand we walked up to the hill side to check on the trees for birds.  Another birder was already there and we greeted each other but before we got to the introduction, a pretty bird caught our attention, it was the Crimson Breasted Flowerpecker.  We resumed our introduction and found that Mark is from MNS and was on his way to a workshop that MNS and the Tourism Office were conducting for the hotel staff on Conservation and the importance of birds to the tourist economy of Fraser’s Hill.  He was also expecting some other MNS members to attend the 2-day workshop.  We spotted a few more birds while waiting and Mark mentioned some places and birds to watch for.
Blue-winged Leafbird
He said he was going to look for the endemic Malayan Whistling Thrush near where we will be staying but he emphasised we must be early before dawn and we will need to use a hide or stay in our car.   No sooner it was 1.00 pm and the barrier was lifted for the up traffic (On this old one-lane road, odd hours reserved for the ascend and even hours to descend).   It was a 20 minute drive up the winding road and we arrived at Richmond House where we found we were the only occupants for the period.  The temperature was a nice cool 22 deg C perfect weather for walking about.  Although we heard that the week before it had rained heavily with some hill-slopes washed down, we were lucky there was only a drizzle early in the morning of Wednesday which did not stop us and other visitors from birding.   On this first late afternoon, a walk at Jelai Highland Resort was rewarded with  the Black-throated Sunbird, this being the only Sunbird found here.
Black-throated Sunbird
  The Streaked Spiderhunter was also easily seen feeding on the flowers.  We were thrilled to see a large blue bird and it was the Large Niltava on this first walk.   We saw a few Mountain Bulbuls that afternoon and on other days as well.  Next morning at 6.30 am we were out on the road and in the dark we saw another car coming down from the Selangor side, we recognised it was Mark driving.  As he approached we asked if we could follow him and he indicated for us pull up on one of the lay-bys.  We waited for the Malayan Whistling Thrush that he said was extremely hard to see but would forage on Jalan Mager before daylight.  As we waited past 7.00 am we left Mark and headed for Jelai since the house-keeper had told us to come at 7.00 am for the birds in the car park.  We were not disappointed as there were many birds feeding on the seeds of the trees and also the dead insects on the ground.
Large Niltava-f
   We went back again the next morning this time earlier and as dawn broke the birds were flying in.   In one of our walks along near the Methodist House we saw both the Greater and Lesser Yellow-nape Woodpecker and the Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo in the tall dense trees so images taken were not so clear.   At the various places we birded we would encounter the rather noisy Long-tailed Sibia and the Chestnut-capped Laughing Thrush and got to know their calls.  Even the lesser seen but more colourful Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrush would also announce its presence.  We were lucky to see 9 new birds this trip.  For a couple of birds that we could not check from the guide book we had, we got their ID’s very quickly after posting the photo on the Bird Forum so thanks to quick response from the birding community we got all our photographs ID’d.   The lifers were : Siberian Thrush – male & female, Streaked Wren Babbler, White Browed Shrike Babbler – male & female, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Golden Babbler, Blue-winged Minla – male & female, Brown Shrike, Green Magpie and the Large Niltava – male & female.
Siberian Thrush-f
  This is our 6th visit to Fraser’s Hill since our first trip in 2009 and is our most rewarding trip having seen such beautiful birds on our own.  While it was quiet and not many visitors around we also have Mark to thank who gave us clues where to go.  Durei   was  also helpful telling us where certain species can be found.  On our last morning as we were driving out, the Siberian Thrush both male and female were right there on the ground of the car park so we had some good parting shots of our visit.
Siberian Thrush
  There are a couple of spots that we have no time to visit which we will check out on our next visit in 4 weeks time.

Large Niltava

Birdwatching at Dairy Farm - 20.2.2011

Last Sunday we got up early and were at Dairy Farm at 7.15 am to join Kim Chuah, NSS for bird watching.  Even at this early meeting time of 7.30 am there were more than 30 participants gathered to greet Kim Chuah and Wing Chong who assisted the walk.  He later spotted many of the birds we saw that morning.   The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Crow-billed Drongo being the first birds we saw.  The Scaly-Breasted Munia at the Education Centre kept the photographers clicking. 
Scaly-breasted Munia
We were then led on a trail to the Singapore Quarry and on the way the migratory Asian Brown Flycatcher and Tiger Strike were spotted.  We found we had a good workout as the walk to the Singapore Quarry was quite long.  On the way more birds were spotted but high in the trees.   On reaching the Singapore Quarry,  the Common Kingfisher was spotted.
Common Kingfisher

This bird is not common but a migratory species.   There were also the Olive-winged Bulbul flying about the trees while the Little Grebes were diving into the water at the pond.  Later a full view of the Grey-headed Fish Eagle perched on a tree waiting to take flight became the centre of attraction. 
Grey-headed Fish Eagle
   With these birds capturing the attention of the participants no one noticed the time until the heat reminded us it was time to go.   With a return walk to the Carpark B, it was almost noon when the event finished and time for a well-deserved lunch and thanks to Kim Chuah & Wing Chong.

Dairy Farm Album

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Rabbit Arrives

In the last week of January we made a trip to Lake Kenyir Resort & Spa hoping to see the many different species of Hornbill. The drive was much less taxing than anticipated and we were lucky with light traffic for most of the run.  We chose the route via Segamat to Terengganu and exit the  N-S highway at Yong Peng, this part of the drive was slower but was the scenic part of the 8-hour drive to Tasik Kenyir.  At this time of year we had expected rain and were not “disappointed”, the rain coming in short showers every 30 minutes or so with brief dry periods between. We still managed to cover a lot of ground and saw 4 species of Hornbills and lots of garden birds. On a trip with Latiff guiding, we saw the Wallace’s and Blyth’s Hawk Eagles and the Crested Serpent Eagle on its regular perch on a lamp-post near the resort.  He also found the White-Bellied Woodpecker that he had seen the day before, with its red head bobbing up and down as it pecked on a tree trunk.
Lake Kenyir Photos
Our return trip included a weekend stopover with friends in KL who later joined us in Singapore over the CNY.
KL Photos
After a busy period over the CNY, visiting and celebrating with relatives and friends, we slowly returned to visiting the wilder side of Singapore. We visited Lorong Halus after reports of sightings of Jerdon’s Baza but we seemed to have missed the boat although that Friday we were not alone as several photographers with their tripods and long lenses had already stood watch for the fly-past that did not happen.  We left for Pasir Ris Park to check the activity there.
Lorong Halus Photos

On one of our walks up Mount Faber we were surprised to see the dismantling of the two telecoms  towers near the Jewel Box.  One of the towers had served as the lighted “Christmas Tree” over Christmas and New Year,  making quite a sight at night, which we could see from our flat, we are glad we got a photograph of it.
Mount Faber Photos
Last Sunday we had a nice morning walk at Ubin up to “Pokka” Hill. On the way down we were lucky to spot an Indian Cuckoo perched above us.
Pulau Ubin Photos

Some more links to pictures from our walks in the past few days.
Telok Blangah Hill

Canopy Walk

Forest Walk

Pasir Ris Park