Malaysia:   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".



White-rumped Shama

Orange-breasted Trogon





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 . 

Silver-eared Mesia







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.

`Long-tailed Sibia
Streaked Spiderhunter  

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 Sleeping Hibiscus.

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. Black-throated Sunbird


Black & Yellow Broadbill  

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.  

Final thoughts.   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?

Red-bearded Bee-eater

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