Into the Jungle p 2 of 2
28 Oct 2014
We're now in Bukit Tinggi, which at 2500' elevation
is a bit cooler than Panti. Our lodging is the Colmar Tropicale, a resort built in
the style of a French village, complete with cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes (I'm
not making this up..).
Near a Japanese teahouse is a spot where birds come
to mealworms that Con puts out. Actually, the only two were a Mountain
Peacock-Pheasant, briefly seen, and the White-rumped Shama. The latter was
photographed from Con's portable blind. And was it dark in the forest. At ISO
6400, f/5.6, my shutter speed was still a slow 1/80".
At Panti we heard Daird's Trogon & saw
Scarlet-rumped Trogon. Here the best trogon is the Orange-breasted, one of which
finally posed for a photo after flitting from one tree to another for a while.
|29 Oct 2014
At last we find respite from the sweltering humidity of the
lowlands. Fraser's Hill, at ~4500' elevation, is a cool, foggy oasis. It was
named for J.L. Fraser, a Scottish miner who, in the early 1900s, went into the jungle here
and not suprisingly was never seen again.
Now-closed Jalai Highland Resort was once the
birders' place to stay. Rice and mealworms were put out to attract birds, who
apparently still remember the good old days. As soon as Con spreads their feast,
down come Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, one of the commonest birds here. Finally
some easy bird photography .
Then comes a pair of Silver-eared Mesias, relatives
of the laughingthrushes. This bird ranked #1 on my Want List for obvious
reasons. The male has red plumage around the rump, the female has yellow.
The last of the three regulars at
the mealworm feast was Long-tailed Sibia. Like the other two, it's a member of the
Leiothrichidae, a large, diverse family of Asian insectivores.
Nearby we find an odd
bird with an equally odd name: Streaked Spiderhunter. It apparently does eat
insects and spiders, but is usually seen working flowers for their nectar. Common
and noisy at Fraser's Hill, it is especially fond of the flowers of banana and this
|This could be a photo taken in the
Americas: a nectivore hovering before a bed of Salvia. But it's not a
hummingbird, rather the Black-throated Sunbird. Most sunbirds perch next to a flower
to drink nectar and effect pollination. But some obviously will hover when the
occasion calls for it.
1 Nov 2014
We've moved back to the lowlands, to the
Meropah entrace to Taman Negara, which means National Park in Malay. It is the crown
jewel of Malaysia's park system, almost 4400 sq km of mountains and lowland forest,
complete with tigers, elephants, and Sumatran Rhino. None of which are easy to see.
We're staying at the Mines Hotel in Gua
Musang, 33 km from the park entrance. Evening meals are taken at Kim Kee's where the
grilled tilapia, head, tail, and all, is highly recommended.
We hear often, and see briefly, two of Taman
Negara's best birds, Banded Pitta and Garnet Pitta. White-handed Gibbons call in
the morning; the bulbuls and babblers are out in force.
But in over two days here, I manage good photos of
exactly two species. Both, however, are beauties. The Black-&-Yellow
Broadbill, shown here, was high on my list. How often do you see that shade of pink
and aquamarine on a bird? We've heard Green Broadbill & Banded Broadbill,
also seen Dusky as well as Black-&-Red Broadbill. Except for the Dusky,
broadbills are among the loveliest of Asian birds.
|Bee-eaters that I've photographed in
Africa & India were mostly open-country birds. The Red-bearded Bee-eater found
here is a true forest bird who flew down in response to Con's recording of its calls.
Between the heat & humidity & leeches & dense vegetation, southeast
Asia requires patience and dedication on the part of the bird photographer. But the
reward is some of the most beautiful & fascinating birds on the planet. It is
essential to have someone who knows the best birding areas and also the bird calls.
In all, Con & I saw or heard 162 bird species. Yes, we were drinking Tiger beer
as we tallied up bird totals at the end of the day, but so what?
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