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Malaysia birding diary

Bill & Doreen Stair, April 11 - May 14, 2001

The continuing saga of our year-long, theoretically low budget, RTW birding trip... A couple of weeks on Peninsular Malaysia and then two more in Borneo in search of Bornean endemics and Sundan specialties. Malaysia has to be one of the easiest countries in South Easy Asia to get around - everyone seems to speak English, and the public transport network is cheap and easy. Unfortunately, everything else is relatively expensive, so prices came as something of a shock after Thailand. Any attempt to economize by buying foodstuffs and consuming them in your room should take into consideration the large, cheerful and fearless rats that inhabit the national parks.


4/13 - 4/17/01

Fraser's Hill

This hill station is easy to reach by public transport from Kuala Lumpur, and once there you can easily walk to all the birding locations. Accommodation isn't particularly cheap, and the filthy Puncak Inn is a must-to-avoid; better, but more expensive, is the Quest Resort. The Bishop's trail was good, but very leechy and, as usual in dense forest birding, the birds were often hard to see. (Bring your own DEET spray for clothing, you can't get it here). We had better luck along the roads - the road down to the Gap is very good, and there was a good fruiting tree near Ye Olde Smokehouse.

Roadside highlights: a Black Laughingthrush near the entrance to the Bishop's trail, a pair of Blue Nuthatches on the way to the Gap, the Fire-tufted Barbet near the Smokehouse, and the Collared Owlet being buzzed by a very brave Black-throated Sunbird on the way to High Pines.

Birds seen at Fraser's Hill: Blyth's Hawk-Eagle, Glossy Swiftlet, House Swift, Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Rock Dove, Lesser Yellownape, Black-browed & Fire-tufted Barbets, Collared Owlet, Long-tailed Broadbill, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Grey-chinned Minivet, Green Magpie, Large-billed Crow, Javan Cuckooshrike,  White-throated Fantail, Asian Paradise, Little Pied, Pygmy Blue &  Rufous-browed Flycatchers, Large Niltava, Lesser Shortwing, Oriental Magpie Robin, Blue Nuthatch, Pacific Swallow, Dusky Crag-Martin, Mountain Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Mountain Tailorbird, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-capped & Black Laughingthrushes, Grey-throated & Golden Babblers, White-browed & Black-eared Shrike-Babblers, Blue-winged Minla, Silver-eared Mesia, Mountain Fulvetta, Long-tailed Sibia, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Black-throated Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter.

4/19 - 4/24/01

Taman Negara

Possible to get here in one day from Fraser's Hill if you get a taxi to next town east (the name escapes me) and then bus it to Jerantut, where you can get a boat the rest of the way.  The last boat leaves at 2:00 p.m., but staying overnight in Jerantut would give you the chance to stock up on supplies - the Taman Negara resort is outrageously expensive, and the cheaper accommodation on the wrong side of the river is still pretty steep.  The floating restaurants are OK, however, and camping at the resort is probably the best option.

The Taman Negara resort area supports an amazing number of excellent birds - in a fruiting tree behind our room (near the restaurant) we saw eleven species of bulbul at the same time. Unfortunately, the trails are quite badly maintained, and after the cool temperatures of Fraser's Hill it was pretty hard going. Consequently, we tended to bird quite close to the resort area. No doubt more intrepid birders will find greater numbers of rarities than we managed to do. The canopy walkway reduced me to a nervous wreck, but we did see a Rhinoceros Hornbill flying over one of the lookout points, so it must have been worth it.

Birds seen at Taman Negara: Crested Fireback, Common Sandpiper, Buff-necked Woodpecker, White-throated Kingfisher, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Oriental Pied, Black, Rhinoceros and Helmeted Hornbills, Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot, Thick-billed & Little Green-Pigeons, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Black-thighed Falconet, Raffles' Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Silver-rumped Needletail, Fork-tailed Swift, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-winged & Greater Green Leafbirds, Black-and-red Broadbill, Brown & Tiger Shrikes, Asian Paradise & Yellow-rumped Flycatchers (quite late), Lesser & Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-rumped Shama, Slender-billed Crow, Common Woodshrike, Common & Hill Mynas, Pacific Swallow, Black-headed, Yellow-vented, Stripe-throated, Cream-vented, Buff-vented, Yellow-bellied, Puff-backed, Olive-winged, Grey-bellied, Red-eyed, Spectacled, Streaked & Grey-cheeked Bulbuls, Common Tailorbird, Scaly-crowned White-chested & Abbot's Babblers, Striped Tit-Babbler, Orange-bellied, Yellow-vented & Crimson-breasted Flowerpeckers, Brown-throated Sunbird, Spectacled, Grey-breasted & Long-billed Spiderhunters, Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

4/29 - 5/1/01

Palau Manukan, Borneo

This island is just twenty minutes from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's state capital (where on the river you can see Whiskered Terns, White-bellied Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites). Once again, accommodation is expensive, but at least here it's pretty good - and rat-free. Trails seem to be non-existent, but Tabon Scrubfowl can be found on the paved jogging path, White-breasted Woodswallows fly overhead, and Pied Trillers forage in the trees by the cabins. No sign of the frigatebirds, though.

Birds seen on and around Palau Manukan: Pacific Reef-Egret, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Tabon Scrubfowl, Common Sandpiper, Whiskered Tern, Green Imperial & Pink-necked Pigeons, Emerald Dove, White-throated Needletail, Collared Kingfisher, Yellow-vented, Olive-winged & Red-eyed Bulbuls, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Arctic Warbler, Pied Fantail, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Asian Glossy Starling, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pied Triller, White-breasted Woodswallow, Brown-throated, Ruby-cheeked & Olive-backed Sunbirds, Dusky Munia, Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

5/2 - 5/4, 5/8 - 5/10/01

Mount Kinabalu NP, Borneo

This was perhaps our favorite birding location in Malaysia. The trails are excellent and the temperature is perfect (a bit too much rain, though). Accommodation is cheaper here, but book well in advance. Alternatively, you could save money by staying in the dormitories. Like anywhere in Asia (or in this case the Greater Sundas), you can run into a mixed flock at any time, or walk on a trail for hours without seeing anything; but the roadsides are always packed with great birds, including very common endemics like Chestnut-crested Yuhinas..

Some highlights: the Golden-naped Barbet and the incredibly friendly Mountain Wren-Babbler on the silau-silau trail, the Temminck's Babbler by the road up to the power station, and the Dark-sided Flowerpecker that lived outside our cabin.

Birds seen at Mount Kinabalu: Glossy Swiftlet, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Golden-naped Barbet, Sunda Cuckooshrike, Bornean Treepie, Short-tailed Magpie, Bornean Whistler, White-crowned Forktail, Grey-throated Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Spangled Drongo, Black and Crimson Oriole, Snowy-browed, Little Pied & Indigo Flycatchers, White-throated Fantail, Sunda Whistling-Thrush, Ochraceous Bulbul, Mountain Leaf, Mountain Bush & Yellow-breasted Warblers, Mountain Tailorbird, Black-capped White-eye, Chestnut-capped, Black & Sunda Laughingthrushes, Grey-throated & Temminck's Babblers, Mountain Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-crested Yuhinas, Dark-sided Flowerpecker, Scarlet Sunbird

5/5 - 5/8/01

Poring Hot Springs, Borneo

We seemed to be here during a long weekend, so the result was somewhat akin to birding Great Adventure on Memorial Day. However, once you get past the pools and start climbing the trail to Langanan waterfall, the people fade away and you start finding the birds. The resort itself was totally booked up, so we stayed half a mile away, and the roadside to the park entrance was also excellent, (Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker, for example). Not to mention an young female Orang Utan, undoubtedly a highlight of our whole trip.

Some other birding highlights: The Diard's Trogon near Kipungit waterfall, the Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo loudly calling from eight feet in front of us, and the Straw-headed Bulbuls seen from the porch at the Poring Lodge.

Birds seen at and around Poring Hot Springs: Purple Heron, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo, Greater Coucal, Raffles' Malkoha, Diard's Trogon, Spotted Dove, Black and Red Broadbill, Bronzed & Spangled Drongos, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, White-crowned Shama, Common Iora, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Greater Green Leafbird, Grey-cheeked, Hairy-backed, Black-headed, Red-eyed, Yellow-vented & Straw-headed Bulbuls, Oriental Magpie Robin, Asian Paradise & Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers, Pied Fantail, Pacific Swallow, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Black-capped Babbler, Chestnut-crested & White-bellied Yuhinas, Brown Fulvetta, Orange-bellied & Yellow-rumped Flowerpeckers, Crimson, Ruby-cheeked & Purple-naped Sunbirds, Long-billed Spiderhunter, Dusky Munia.

Malaysia species list:

Pacific Reef-Egret

Egretta sacra

Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea

Brahminy Kite

Haliastur indus

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Haliaeetus leucogaster

Crested Serpent-Eagle

Spilornis cheela

Blyth's Hawk-Eagle

Spizaetus alboniger

Black-thighed Falconet

Microhierax fringillarius

Tabon Scrubfowl

Megapodius cumingii

Crested Fireback

Lophura ignita

Common Sandpiper

Tringa hypoleucos

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybridus

Rock Dove

Columba livia

Little Cuckoo-Dove

Macropygia ruficeps

Emerald Dove

Chalcophaps indica

Little Green-Pigeon

Treron olax

Pink-necked Green-Pigeon

Treron vernans

Thick-billed Green-Pigeon

Treron curvirostra

Green Imperial Pigeon

Ducula aenea

Mountain Imperial Pigeon

Ducula badia

Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot

Loriculus galgulus

Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo

Cuculus fugax

Asian Koel

Eudynamys scolopacea

Raffles' Malkoha

Phaenicophaeus chlorophaeus

Greater Coucal

Centropus sinensis

Collared Owlet

Glaucidium brodiei

Glossy Swiftlet

Collocalia esculenta

Silver-rumped Needletail/Spinetail

Rhaphidura leucopygialis

White-throated Needletail

Hirundapus caudacutus

Fork-tailed Swift

Apus pacificus

House Swift

Apus nipalensis

Grey-rumped Treeswift

Hemiprocne longipennis

Diard's Trogon

Harpactes diardii

White-throated Kingfisher

Halcyon smyrnensis

Collared Kingfisher

Todiramphus chloris

Blue-throated Bee-eater

Merops viridis

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Anthracoceros albirostris

Black Hornbill

Anthracoceros malayanus

Rhinoceros Hornbill

Buceros rhinoceros

Helmeted Hornbill

Buceros vigil

Lesser Yellownape

Picus chlorolophus

Buff-rumped Woodpecker

Meiglyptes tristis

Buff-necked Woodpecker

Meiglyptes tukki

Fire-tufted Barbet

Psilopogon pyrolophus

Black-browed Barbet

Megalaima oorti

Golden-naped Barbet

Megalaima pulcherrima

Black-and-red Broadbill

Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos

Long-tailed Broadbill

Psarisomus dalhousiae

Bornean Whistler

Pachycephala hypoxantha

Green Magpie

Cissa chinensis

Short-tailed Magpie

Cissa thalassina

Bornean Treepie

Dendrocitta cinarascens

House Crow

Corvus spendens

Slender-billed Crow

Corvus enca

Sundan Cuckooshrike

Coracina larvata

Javan Cuckooshrike

Coracina javensis

White-breasted Woodswallow

Artamus leucorynchus

Black-naped Oriole

Oriolus chinensis

Black-and-crimson Oriole

Oriolus cruentus

Pied Triller

Lalage nigra

Grey-chinned Minivet

Pericrocotus solaris

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike

Hemipus picatus

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

Hemipus hirundinaceus

White-throated Fantail

Rhipidura albicollis

Pied Fantail

Rhipidura javanica

Bronzed Drongo

Dicrurus aeneus

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

Dicrurus remifer

Hair-crested/Spangled Drongo

Dicrurus hottentottus

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

Dicrurus paradiseus

Asian Paradise-Flycatcher

Terpsiphone paradisi

Common Iora

Aegithina tiphia

Common Woodshrike

Tephrodornis pondicerianus

Asian Fairy-bluebird

Irena puella

Greater Green Leafbird

Chloropsis sonnerati

Blue-winged Leafbird

Chloropsis cochinchinensis

Orange-bellied Leafbird

Chloropsis hardwickii

Tiger Shrike

Lanius tigrinus

Brown Shrike

Lanius cristatus

Sunda Whistling-Thrush

Myophonus glaucinus

Lesser Shortwing

Brachypteryx leucophrys

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher

Ficedula zanthopygia

Rufous-browed Flycatcher

Ficedula solitaris

Snowy-browed Flycatcher

Ficedula hyperythra

Little Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula westermanni

Common Myna

Acridotheres tristis

White-vented Myna

Acridotheres grandis

Hill Myna

Gracula religiosa

Asian Glossy Starling

Aplonis panayensis

Indigo Flycatcher

Eumyias indigo

Large Niltava

Niltava grandis

Mangrove Blue-Flycatcher

Cyornis rufigastra

Pygmy Blue Flycatcher

Muscicapella hodgsoni

Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher

Culicicapa ceylonensis

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Copsychus saularis

White-rumped Shama

Copsychus malabaricus

White-crowned Shama

Copsychus stricklandii

Blue Nuthatch

Sitta azurea

Dusky Crag Martin

Hirundo concolor

Pacific Swallow

Hirundo tahitica

Straw-headed Bulbul

Pycnonotus zeylanicus

Black-headed Bulbul

Pycnonotus atriceps

Grey-bellied Bulbul

Pycnonotus cyaniventris

Puff-backed Bulbul

Pycnonotus eutilotus

Stripe-throated Bulbul

Pycnonotus finlaysoni

Yellow-vented Bulbul

Pycnonotus goiavier

Olive-winged Bulbul

Pycnonotus plumosus

Cream-vented Bulbul

Pycnonotus simplex

Red-eyed Bulbul

Pycnonotus brunneus

Spectacled Bulbul

Pycnonotus erythropthalmos

Ochraceous Bulbul

Alophoixus ochraceus

Grey-cheeked Bulbul

Alophoixus bres

Yellow-bellied Bulbul

Alophoixus phaeocephalus

Hairy-backed Bulbul

Tricholestes criniger

Buff-vented Bulbul

Iole olivacea

Streaked Bulbul

Ixos malaccensis

Mountain Bulbul

Hypsipetes mcclellandii

Yellow-bellied Prinia

Prinia flaviventris

Black-capped White-eye

Zosterops atricapillus

Sunda Bush-Warbler

Cettia vulcania

Mountain Tailorbird

Orthotomus cuculatus

Common Tailorbird

Orthotomus sutorius

Dark-necked Tailorbird

Orthotomus atrogularis

Rufous-tailed Tailorbird

Orthotomus sericeus

Arctic Warbler

Phylloscopus borealis

Mountain Leaf-Warbler

Phylloscopus trivirgatus

Yellow-breasted Warbler

Seicercus montis

Yellow-bellied Warbler

Abroscopus superciliaris

Sunda Laughingthrush

Garrulax palliatus

Black Laughingthrush

Garrulax lugubris

Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush

Garrulax mitratus

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush

Garrulax erythrocephalus

White-chested Babbler

Trichastoma rostratum

Abbot's Babbler

Malacocincla abbotti

Short-tailed Babbler

Malacocincla malaccensis

Temminck's Babbler

Pellorneum pyrrogenys

Black-capped Babbler

Pellorneum capistratum

Scaly-crowned Babbler

Malacopteron cinereum

Mountain Wren-Babbler

Napothera crassa

Golden Babbler

Stachyris chrysaea

Grey-throated Babbler

Stachyris nigriceps

Silver-eared Mesia

Leiothrix argentauris

White-browed Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius flaviscapis

Black-eared Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius melanotis

Blue-winged Minla

Minla cyanouroptera

Brown Fulvetta

Alcippe brunneicauda

Mountain Fulvetta

Alcippe peracensis

Long-tailed Sibia

Heterophasia picaoides

Chestnut-crested Yuhina

Yuhina everetti

White-bellied Yuhina

Yuhina zantholeuca

Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker

Prionochilus percussus

Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker

Prionochilus xanthopygius

Yellow-vented Flowerpecker

Dicaeum chrysorrheum

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

Dicaeum trigonostigma

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

Dicaeum ignipectus

Black-sided Flowerpecker

Dicaeum monticolum

Brown-throated/Plain-throated Sunbird

Anthreptes malacensis

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

Anthreptes singalensis

Purple-naped Sunbird

Hypogramma hypogrammicum

Olive-backed Sunbird

Nectarinia jugularis

Black-throated Sunbird

Aethopyga saturata

Crimson Sunbird

Aethopyga siparaja

Scarlet/Javan Sunbird

Aethopyga mystacalis

Long-billed Spiderhunter

Arachnothera robusta

Spectacled Spiderhunter

Arachnothera flavigaster

Grey-breasted Spiderhunter

Arachnothera affinis

Streaked Spiderhunter

Arachnothera magna

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

Forest Wagtail

Dendronanthus indicus

Dusky Munia

Lonchura fuscans


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