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Taman Nagara & Fraser Hill : Malaysia (1 Viewer)


Well-known member

Having visited Sabah 5 times (twice for birding) already, and in March spent a week in the mountains of Yunnan, I was ready to try the rain-forests of Peninsula Malaysia. For this trip, after reviewing the options and receiving good advice from this forum, I decided to split my time between Fraser Hill (FH) first and then Taman Nagara, there are 3 entrances to this huge National Reserve Park and I went in via the most popular one at Kuala Tahan (KT). Most people thought it better to concentrate on one location with only 8 days to spend, however I really wanted to get a feel for them both and of course it should have increased my trip species numbers slightly too. In retrospect I'm very happy with that decision. 8 days is really the minimum if you plan to visit both locations, even 7 days is probably just too fine to get the best out of both though maybe 5 days in FH and 7 days in TN plus 2 days for traveling would be just perfect.


On arrival there are a number of options for getting to your preferred destination; train, taxis, car hire & buses. The trains can be combined with taxis and buses and if you have the time is probably the way to go and the best use of your MYR (Malaysian Ringgit). Buses can make it cheap & easy, though at the cost of convenience and time. Taxis are expensive but deliver door to door convenience and can save you time, both on the road and by departing locations as it suits you. Car Hire is the way I'll go next trip, I doubt it will be any cheaper than taxis in total but the convenience, having the freedom to be able to stop whenever & wherever and use the car for birding, is a major advantage, though it will be far more tiring if you can not split the driving responsibilities (and costs) !

Travel Times :
Taxi : Air Asia use the budget airlines airport at KL (this is NOT the KLIA l) so from that airport to Fraser Hill (Shazhan Hotel) takes about 3 hrs and cost me MYR 220. Note there are no petrol stations from within about 20 kms of Fraser Hill so make sure your taxi (or hire car) is topped up before you drive up there (my taxi didn't and it was lucky he had a spare can of petrol in the boot), otherwise you'll be driving (or coasting !) down the extremely windy road (about 30 mins each way top to bottom) just to get fuel.

Taxi : Fraser Hill to Taman Nagara (4.5 hours inc. one 30 mins stop for supplies before reaching Kuala Tahan. This was Samy's (the taxi driver) excellent suggestion, because it is much more expensive in Kuala Tahan and even more so at the Mutiara's on-site store) cost me MYR350, I guess a little cheaper (as I had used Samy now and again around Fraser Hill and tipped him when he tried to refuse any payment !) than normal as it should be MYR380-400 as it is a long return day trip for any driver. Samy, a retired gardener and a very nice man, owns the only taxi in Fraser Hill, so book early !

Samy : 013-391-0651

Boat : It's about 2 hrs by boat from Kuala Tahan to Tembeling Jetty (if I remember correctly it costs MYR35) and then a bit of a wait (up to 30 mins) to catch the shuttle bus (MYR5) to the bus station in Jerantot (15 mins way). Buy bus and boat tickets from NKS (they have an office on the 3rd Floating Restaurant open in the evenings).

NKS : www.taman-nagara-nks.com or www.malaysia-tourism-nks.com or email them at [email protected]

Taxi : Tembeling Jetty (Jernatot) to Asia Asia @ the budget airline airport in KL cost me MYR 320 (I think it was !) and took 5 hours.


Fraser Hill : There are not many options. I stayed at the The Shazhan Inn (£115 for 3 nights inc. breakfast) but the Pancak Inn (room rates between MYR110 and MYR200 per night) is just as well located and cheaper. Inside the Pancak Inn I have no idea but you are just sleeping and showering here so if there is hot water, good water pressure, a clean bed and a decent breakfast then next time I'll give it a try. The Shazhan Inn had all of those amenities.
Only if you have a hire car, then The Smokehouse is very nice, very civilised (i.e. a quaint Olde English feel to it), OK food (though over-priced for the quality) and definitely a class above the other options in Fraser Hill. If anyone has any personal comments on the Pancak Inn or Smokehouse (from a birder's perspective) then please add comments below !

Shazhan Inn : http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Hotel...s_Hill-Bukit_Fraser_Raub_District_Pahang.html

I couldn't find the Pancak Inn on any review site (such as Trip Advisor) but here are the contacts : Tel: 09-3622007 email : [email protected] www.pkbf.org.my

Smokehouse : http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Hotel...aurant-Bukit_Fraser_Raub_District_Pahang.html

Taman Nagara (Kuala Tahan) :
You have choices here. There are multiple hotels in Kuala Tahan itself which will save you a lot of money, but obviously aren't as good (though are acceptable) as the Mutiara (£260 for 4 nights inc. breakfast) where I stayed. However the Mutiara is on the 'right side' of the river. So to cross the river, if you say in Kuala Tahan, you will have to wait for daylight and the small boat ferries to start commuting passengers back and forth with the last ferries in the evening (after eating at one of the floating restaurants) being around 21.00 - 21.30. It's one MYR each way.
The Mutiara is a very nice resort, villas and dorms (not sure of the price but obviously much lower than the villas) set in the jungle itself. The grounds are great for birding with fig trees in particular attracting birds and monkeys when fruiting and Monitor Lizards were seen every day strolling around the grounds and digging up the gardens. Some of the trails start from the resort itself and you can swim in the much calmer & cleaner tributary (though strange red colour due to minerals in the river) off to one side of the resort.
It has a very nice restaurant with some of the best food I found during my trip (though the prices are quite expensive for Malaysia and certain items, e.g. Burgers, rather 'different') though I preferred to eat on the floating restaurants across the river. A full 4 dish dinner, 2-3 fresh Lime juices and a pancake dessert costing the same as a Burger at the Mutiara. The Mutiara also has an on-site store that can supply emergency top up snacks, drinks and rations but the prices are the highest I'd seen in Malaysia.

The Mutiara Resort : http://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Hotel...ara-Kuala_Tahan_Jerantut_District_Pahang.html

TIP : You will need to get permits to enter the National Reserve. These are very cheap indeed (they really should raise these for foreigners, instead of a £ or two they should charge us £10-15. It's mostly foreigners on the trails and if we can afford to fly half way around the world for a holiday then we can afford £10-15 for a multi-day pass) and there are Park Ranger offices on both sides of the river, in Kuala Tahan and one inside the Mutiara next to the general store. The Park Ranger office also sells cold water at half the price of the Mutiara store just 20 metres away ! Do not forget your permits before you start on any of the trails as otherwise the Rangers could escort you back to the Mutiara and there is a fine of up to MYR10,000 ! There is a very very small camera fee too.

TIP : Do not leave any lights on outside your villa or in the entrance - unless you enjoy studying the night's flying insects in detail .. whilst in bed. I once let in more than 100 of the beasties the moment I opened the door and some of the moths there are as big as my hand !


Day 1 - 24th April 2014

Goodbyes completed (to my good wife & our very sweet GSD) I left the house at 21.30 on the 23rd April for Pudong Airport and thence on to Kuala Lumpur (or KL as everyone in Asia knows it).
I was booked on Air Asia X (one of Asia's equivalents to Easyjet) and again by bringing up the prices for the next month on their website I was able to book return Business Class seats for the price of a return economy ticket - got to love Asia ! Unfortunately Air Asia have no Business Class lounge (either in Shanghai or in KL), there's no LCD screen on the plane to watch films and they do not provide meals (you do get one each way with Business Class) though you can pre-book them for a fee.
However you do get an extra 5 kgs of luggage allowance (25kgs) and priority boarding in addition to a very spacious seat that reclines to practically 10-15 degrees and feels more like a sleeper seat/bed. This actually works just fine since AAX flights take off at weird times (this one at 02.00 - though it was 30 mins late taking off, as usual for China, which actually worked out better for me) so I was able to sleep for a few hours on the way over and the plane landed 5 hours later, just in time for an airport breakfast to miss the rush-hour traffic and then jump in the taxi to arrive at Fraser Hill in time for a few hours birding. Taxis need to be booked inside the airport at fixed rates.

I was a little worried about picking up 3G SIM cards for my phone and iPad at that early time. I shouldn't have been. Before you even get to Customs / Immigration / Bag Collection there are 2-3 little booths selling and installing SIMs for you, as well as a couple of exchange booths to get your Ringgit at reasonable rates ! Excellent service and cheap too, MYR25 for the iPad 3G card and MYR35 for the mobile. They are 7 day cards and easily had enough value to last me the full week before they expired on the day before last, despite the multiple warnings that I only had X amount remaining.
I exchanged enough RMB to buy me all the MYR I'd need for the whole 8 days, though in fact there are ATMs at Fraser Hill too (I don't know about Kuala Tahan since the Mutiara is not located in the actual town).

Note that since they have now opened a new low budget airline terminal for Air Asia in KL the location of these booths may have changed, but I'm sure you'll have no trouble locating them.

Birding Rain-forests is always tough. You often have multiple obstacles on the trails to overcome (huge fallen logs, massive boulders, growth, leeches, mosquitoes, steep descents and ascents) and they can be extremely slippy in the wet, during or after rain. The big bonus is that there are some birds which are extremely tough to find otherwise, for example Pittas and Trogans.
However they are generally dark, often open views are at a premium due to the proximity of huge trees and bushes, the canopies can be extremely high up (up to 80m, or 250ft, plus) and getting good photographs (if this is important to you) very difficult due to the limitations imposed by poor light, low shutter speeds and the lack of open areas. So often walking the roads (if any) or trails close to valleys or rivers can be just as rewarding and less stressful for anyone who can not handle the time, often hours, or effort it takes to walk those trails, though you may miss out on some species.

When I go into the rain-forest (even on trails) I always go prepared ; strong hiking boots and socks (yes, even in 35-38C temps) a powerful torch with spare batteries, strong foldable knife (pack in your suitcase on the way over !), mobile phone with GPS (most often it doesn't work though !), and two compasses as well as whatever maps I can find. Basic first aid kit and knowledge of first aid and orientation are imperatives too. Even relatively 'easy' trails can be difficult for those inexperienced or if you get caught out in the dark (see the young British lad who has been lost for 5 days in the forest on Tioman Island, Malaysia). Always bring more water than you need.

On arrival at The Shazhan Inn I checked in and 5 mins later was unpacking, excited to get to know the area. I had done some research and so decided to walk around Fraser Hill then head up to the road called Jalan Lady Maxwell, which runs parallel to the Bishop's Trail so it is possible to get excellent birds on this quiet, short, road. I'd seen a black morph Changeable-Hawk Eagle near the reservoir on the drive up but not much else due to the speed of the car and size of the birds - though I heard plenty.

Here Oriental Magpie-Robins were common in and around open spaces whilst Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, Black-throated Sunbirds (the only sunbird species found at Fraser Hill, which aids identification !) & the beautiful Silver-eared Mesias were in many bushes, whilst the occasional Little Cuckoo Dove & Mountain Imperial Pigeon flew overhead.

After having walked Jalan Lady Maxwell (and very happily got on a Golden Babbler and a couple of Sultan Tits) and around the golf course I managed to get a lift up to a deserted hotel called the Jelai Highlands Resort, more Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, Black-throated Sunbirds & Silver-eared Mesias were inhabiting this area, however I also got onto a Black Laughingthrush - one of only two I saw whilst at Fraser Hill. It was raining and looked like it was in for the night so I walked 45 mins back to the village (spotting a Black-browed Barbet sitting high up - as Barbets love to do close to dusk - in the little 'valley' on the road back) and had dinner at dusk at a local restaurant in the centre, though cheap it was nothing to write home about but filled me up !

On the short walk back to the hotel there were many Swiftlets over the golf course - a local expert helped me ID these as the new split Germain's with White-bellied having been spotted too over one of the valleys.

Note that photos will not necessarily be of birds seen on the day of the report they are attached to so please refer to the file name by hovering your mouse over the picture before opening.

31 Species. # = Lifer

Babbler, Golden
Barbet, Black-browed #
Bulbul, Mountain
Dove, Little Cuckoo #
Drongo, Lesser Racquet-tailed
Eagle, Changeable-Hawk (black morph) #
Fantail, White-throated
Fulvetta, Mountain #
Laughingthrush, Chestnut-capped #
Laughingthrush, Black #
Leafbird, Orange-bellied
Magpie-Robin, Oriental
Mesia, Silver-eared
Minla, Blue-winged
Pigeon, Mountain Imperial #
Pipit, Richard's
Shrike, Brown
Sibia, Long-tailed #
Sparrow, Tree
Spider-hunter, Thick-billed
Spider-hunter, Streaked
Starling, Asian Glossy
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Pacific
Swiftlet, Germain's #
Swiftlet, White-bellied #
Sunbird, Black-throated
Tailorbird, Mountain #
Tit, Sultan #
Woodswallow, White-breasted (tbc) #

1xTBC from photos.

Macaque, Southern Pig-tailed
Squirrel, Mountain Red-bellied
Squirrel, Himalayan striped (Tamiops macclellandii)

Sorry about the iPhone pics below !! Too lazy to switch lenses ;) Bedroom, bathroom and view from the balcony at Shazhan Inn and two maps of Fraser Hill village.


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Frogfish said:
Travel Times :
Taxi : Air Asia use the budget airlines airport at KL (this is NOT the KLIA l) so from that airport to Fraser Hill (Shazhan Hotel) takes about 3 hrs and cost me MYR 220.
a note for anyone else, that as of around the start of May Air Asia moved to the new terminal KLIA2 which is basically right next door to KLIA1 so the travel times will be the same to/from either airport. I think it is about one hour to KL (the city) now. (The LCCT airport where Air Asia used to fly from was quite some distance away).

Frogfish said:
this is the Himalayan striped squirrel (Tamiops macclellandii)
Day 2 : 25th April 2014

Yesterday I had a man approach me and correctly ID me as a birder/photographer (not difficult with a huge camera/lens on a monopod slung over my shoulder) :) This man turned out to be the renowned local expert on Fraser Hill, Mr Dorai, and I was very pleased to make his acquaintance.

Mr Dorai suggested we meet up the next morning, which was all he could spare as he was off to a local town to start the Bird Race he was organising, and I quickly agreed when he told me he knew where we could find the very rare endemic Malaysian Whistling Thrush (in fact I believe Fraser Hill is the only place this bird can be found - though I may be wrong) ... "well an attempt to find it anyway" he smiled. I would have been delighted to bird with him under any conditions but this was a rare opportunity indeed.

I had arranged to meet Mr Dorai and Roto (a really nice Malaysian guy from ... Taman Nagara !) at 08.00 outside the hotel. So after a relaxed breakfast at 07.00 and 30 mins birding the immediate area of the hotel, I found them and we duly set off at 08.00.

We followed the road around the golf course for a while, Mr Dorai spotting and naming birds as we went, he also demonstrated his superb ability to mimic many of the local birds. This went on until we came to a little trinkling stream spilling out into a drainage ditch and Mr Dorai threw down some bread crumbs.
We waited and Mr Dorai mimicked the Thrush, it wasn't long, maybe 15 mins, before there was a flutter of wings back there up in the forest, close to the little stream, it appeared nervous, flitting from branch to branch but coming closer and closer to the road-side, and occasionally giving up good views ..... this indeed was the rare and famous Malaysian Whistling Thrush, the missed target of many a birder visiting Fraser Hill !

He eventually came out onto the roadside, often popping back into the forest, always close to the stream, then up into the branches again and back down to the road-side to give crippling views from 5-6m away ! Finally he flew across the road, landing on the metal barrier, then back again to the forest ... and was gone. We stood up and slowly made our way around the golf course with the highlight being a Tiger Strike sat up on a distant sign on the golf course, as it was now getting close to the 11.00 bell it was time to go back to the hotel.

After thanking and bidding farewell to Mr Dorai and promising to meet up with Roto in Taman Nagara, I went back up through the village and back to Jalan Lady Maxwell. It's no surprise that this is an excellent birding road given that it runs virtually parallel to the Bishop Trail !
However this time I back-tracked and entered onto the Bishop Trail. Actually it's only 1.5kms long, but it's a very challenging 1.5kms with lots of fallen logs, slippery stones and leeches.

Most of the time when birding Rain-Forests it will be quiet, very quiet, and you will be wondering if you have arrived at the wrong season, or are birding the wrong trail, or begin to believe that some mysterious evil force has spirited away your hard earned birding skills and blinded you to all the feathered wonders of the forest.

This will be just before you hit upon a large bird wave that will dispel such doubts and notions and leave you gasping for breath ! And so it was for me, I had gone maybe an hour down the trail, hardly seeing even a wing in motion, before settling down in what is actually the 3rd of 5 Rest Huts along the trail (there is one very close to the start of the trail that is not marked on the map).

I sat down to regain my breath and to gather my strength, the weight of 8 kgs over my shoulder and another 5-6 kgs of backpack on my back proving to be rather draining when asked to crawl under a couple of huge logs and over another, knees and trousers muddied.

First there were the calls, then in the near distance movement, one, two, three ... twenty birds or more. This was a large Bird Wave. Mostly there were Mountain Fulvettas, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, a pair of Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongos, Sultan Tits and to my delight a gorgeous Blue Nuthatch (the name doesn't come close to doing it justice), there was even a Greater Yellownape amongst the stars on show (not sure if it was part of the Wave but it was there hammering away nevertheless).

But better, frustratingly, was to follow. I saw a movement 15m away, out of the corner of my eye whilst looking through my bins at another bird, wheeling around I saw a Red-headed Trogon perched there in all his glory .... I lowered the bins and went for the camera, but he was having none of it and away he went leaving me with a picture of his, just, recognisable tail :(

On I went, close to finishing the trail, having heard heavy knocking of another woodpecker that was frustratingly out of view above the lower canopy, I went out onto the road for better visibility but searched in vain.

I made my way back down Jalan Lady Maxwell and through the village to the hotel as heavy black rainclouds were looking ominous. I made it back just in time as the heavens opened and grabbed some shut-eye whilst the thunder rattled the windows and flashes of lightning lit up my room.
After 2 hours it was reduced to a mere shadow of it's former glory and with just a few drops still smattering my rainwear, and it now being late afternoon, I started a march up to where I had read reports of Brown Wood Owls .... seeing Fraser Hill's only taxi along the way I flagged Samy down for a 10 mins drive up to desired location, only problem being I gave Samy the wrong address and ended up at High Pines rather than the Pine Resort.

High Pines being at the complete opposite side of Fraser Hill, and where the super rich have their homes, this was not quite what I had intended and with nothing there but expensive villas and the road back down again. I was tempted to bird the very extensive gardens of one home but thought better of it upon hearing some dogs barking somewhere in there in the gathering gloom ! As Samy had left there was nothing for it, all I could do was bird the road on the way down.

It was very entertaining watching two male Orange-bellied Leafbirds, sitting atop adjacent trees, sing their hearts out to attract the lone female jumping from branch to branch, she flew in to inspect one male at close quarters who tried his best, but obviously not impressed she flew straight to the tree of the competing male ... who it seems was equally unimpressive, so off she flew leaving them both, I imagined, dazed, yet still able to sing their lovely songs into the evening light !

As luck would have it a car passed slowly by me and I knew that, as it was definitely not a Mercedes or BMW, they would soon be returning from the dead end ahead of them. As they approached me from behind they slowed down and one of the two Iraqi gentlemen kindly offered me a lift back down to the village. As the light was nearly gone, and I was nowhere near where I actually wanted to be, I gratefully accepted !

In the village I decided to try out Scott's Pub, the chicken in a basket with fries was good, the TV news on an endless loop rather less so. And now the rain had returned. End of the day at 20.00.

38 Species.

Babbler, Grey-throated #
Babbler, Golden
Barbet, Fire-tufted #
Bulbul, Yellow-vented
Crow, Large-billed
Dove, Little Cuckoo
Drongo, Bronze #
Drongo, Lesser Racquet-tailed
Eagle, Blyth's Hawk #
Fantail, White-throated
Flycatcher, Red-browed #
Fulvetta, Mountain
Laughingthrush, Chestnut-capped
Leafbird, Orange-bellied
Magpie-Robin, Oriental
Mesia, Silver-eared
Minivet, Grey-chinned
Minla, Blue-winged
Niltava, Large
Nuthatch, Blue #
Oriole, Black & Crimson #
Pigeon, Mountain Imperial
Shrike, Tiger
Sibia, Long-tailed
Sparrow, Tree
Spider-hunter, Streaked
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Pacific
Swiftlet, Germain's
Swiftlet, White-bellied
Sunbird, Black-throated
Tailorbird, Mountain
Thrush, Malaysian Whistling. #
Tit, Sultan
Trogon, Red-headed #
Yellownape, Greater

2 IDs TBC from Photos.

Leaf Monkey, White-thighed #
Macaque, Long-tailed #
Macaque, Southern Pig-tailed
Shrew, Common Tree
Squirrel, Grey-bellied
Squirrel, Himalayan striped (Tamiops macclellandii)


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A few shots of the Bishop's Trail - sorry iPhone shots, taken in a dark environment, again !


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I had read somewhere (at least I think I did) that there was only ONE whistling thrush left at Bukit Fraser, and it was being hounded by birders with tapes etc. But surely that must have either been wrong or my memory is playing tricks on me. Anyone know?
I'll never forget having my mind blown by my first Blue Nuthatch at Fraser's Hill. Got the Whstling Thrush too!

I had read somewhere (at least I think I did) that there was only ONE whistling thrush left at Bukit Fraser, and it was being hounded by birders with tapes etc. But surely that must have either been wrong or my memory is playing tricks on me. Anyone know?

There are actually still quite a few but they are confined to habitats where the lowland Blue Whistling-Thrushes are absent. The latter displaces the former in places like the Jeriau Waterfall. According to a study by Dave B some six years ago, FH is the last reliable place for Malayan WTs in Malaysia.
Thank you for the comments gentlemen ! Glad to hear you are enjoying the report Dev. !

I am going to be away in the 'wilds' of Zhejiang for the next 4-5 days so will try to add further Day Reports (8 in total) but it's likely that will happen when I return.

Cheers !
Day 3 : 26th April 2014

07.15 I departed the hotel with the idea of walking the Old Road (8 kms) to the bottom and then somehow getting a ride back up again. The reason I wanted to go along the Old Road and not the New (and in retrospect the New is far and away better for birding with many open areas and clear views over the canopy - the complete opposite of the Old Road where views are few and far between and most birds are spotted in the trees roadside) was that this is where the Siamang (Black Gibbons) can be found and also the Slaty-backed Forktail.

For the Forktail I needn't have worried - although mist hung over the village reducing visibility to 20-30m the Forktail popped up from a roadside ditch even before I was 30 seconds in ! It proceeded to totally ignore me and dash hither and thither on the road collecting wet moths I presume ! A nice easy tick to get the day started.

It was about 30 mins before the mist had fully lifted and the spine-tingling calls of the Siamang, that somehow talk directly to your soul, were ringing out over the valley - but this is one long, wide, valley .. at least 10kms long and at a guess 5 kms wide ! Finding them was not going to be easy in the slightest. In fact birding was tough too, it was all too easy plodding along the road to spook birds and there was almost zero time to mentally imprint their features before they were gone, either dropping over into the valley or deep into the forest on the mountainside opposite.

After an hour or so, when the silence supposedly indicated I had missed my chance at the Siamangs, their calls rose up again ... and they were close. I picked up my pace, hardly believing my luck, in all that habitat they sounded like they were roadside and not far off ! Hiking boots aren't that great for running in, no matter what the manufacturers may claim, and the camera over my shoulder and pack on my back slowed me down further ... but suddenly I rounded a bend and knew the Siamang were there. Pushing through the undergrowth by the side of the road the land fell away and there seemed no way to get to the rocky outcrop covered in trees that seemed to be the source of the siren calls of my intended !

Sitting down, distraught at this obstacle, I could do nothing but hope they moved and I could get a view and my shots. 15 mins later the calls had stopped, 30 mins later I moved on. Somehow they must have sneaked past my guard, probably dropping lower into the valley which would have given me no chance of seeing the troupe.

After 8 kms, with virtually every car having lovely people waving, saying hellos and even offering lifts, I was ready to about turn and go back up to Bukit Fraser village, I knew there would be no problem because, despite the relative lack of traffic, probably only 20 cars had passed me in 3.5 hours, and of course two of them had kindly stopped to see if I wanted a lift ! Facing the road a 4x4 appeared, I put my hand out and .... Voila ! As if my wish was their command the couple inside offered me an air-conditioned 20 mins drive back up to the top. Cool - literally !

Arriving in the village I thanked my the couple and popped into the village store to load up on drinks & snacks and then headed straight up to Jalan Lady Maxwell via the golf course route. I'd not got halfway though before black clouds swarmed over the sky and the heavens opened. Luckily this coincided with me tramping past a roadside restaurant so a quick about turn had me under cover and tucking into lunch of fried bananas and coffee. It was la long hour or more before and I was able to continue ... stuffed to the gills with bananas by now, at 14.30.

This time I walked to the very top of the JLM, to where I had read that some good birds could be found in the grounds of The Lodge. However The Lodge is now totally private, and locked, and that was effectively a dead-end. From here it is possibly to look out over a small valley, located just above the higher entry/exit to the Bishop Trail. However there were still no sign of the Long-tailed Broadbills. And that's the hazard of relying on old Trip Reports !

I walked back down JLM and onto the entry to the short Hemmant Trail (1km) just about opposite (50 yds left at the bottom). This was an easier trail by far compared to the Bishop's. Birding was the same though, nothing, then sit for a while, then a Bird Wave will come through ! I did pick up another tick though, my first leech stuck to my leg.

For my final jaunt of my short Bukit Fraser visit I decided go to the Jelai Waterfall (9 kms return) to look for the reported (another old Trip Report) Silver-breasted Broadbills, which would only be around when the people weren't, so either very early morning or very late afternoon. My reckoning was I would get there around dusk, spot my Broadbills and then (having two flashlights on me) follow the trail back in the dark doing some spotlighting along the way.

I had however only gone 2 kms (starting out at 17.00) before yet another downpour, and again it was well timed though as Ye Olde Smokehouse, the only hotel/restaurant anywhere on the route, was not 400m away so in I went for an oh so typical English Afternoon Tea. The heavy rain continued buffeting the windows and I gently dozed off in the high backed Monk chair. When I awoke it was 18.30 and still just about light so, despite 2 offers of lifts, I walked back to the hotel, picking up both Fire-tufted & Black-browed Barbets along the way.

Too tired for dinner I packed ready for departure the next day, showered and fell asleep munching on snacks and coffee.

30 Species.

Babbler, Grey-throated
Babbler, Golden
Barbet, Black-browed
Barbet, Fire-tufted
Bulbul, Mountain
Bulbul, Yellow-vented
Drongo, Bronze
Fantail, White-throated
Flowerpecker, Crimson-breasted #
Flycatcher, Red-browed
Forktail, Slaty-backed
Fulvetta, Mountain
Laughingthrush, Black
Laughingthrush, Chestnut-capped
Leafbird, Orange-bellied
Magpie-Robin, Oriental
Mesia, Silver-eared
Pigeon, Mountain Imperial
Sibia, Long-tailed
Spider-hunter, Streaked
Swallow, Barn
Swiftlet, Germain's
Swiftlet, White-bellied
Sunbird, Black-throated
Yellownape, Greater

4 TBC #### Green Pigeon & Grey Babbler & Reed Warbler (hotel) 1 & Reed Warbler (old rd) 2. Plus backlit bird on dead tree 70-80m out.

Siamang (Black Gibbon - heard not seen - I've got a great sound recording from just 30-50m away but I just couldn't see them, soooo frustrating !) :(
Macaque, Long-tailed
Macaque, Southern Pig-tailed
Leaf Monkey, White-thighed
Squirrel, Grey-bellied
Squirrel, Himalayan striped (Tamiops macclellandii)
Leech #1 (leg)
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Very surprised you haven't seen Slaty-backed Forktail in China Kevin. Good job I performed so well for you at Fraser's.

I'd have been gutted to miss the Siamang by so littlei, especially after your brilliantly evocative description of the call. Hope you got something mega in Taman Negara in compensation.

And finally . . . I was wondering when you were going to get Fire-tufted Barbet- probably the iconic species at Fraser's for me!

Very surprised you haven't seen Slaty-backed Forktail in China Kevin. Good job I performed so well for you at Fraser's.

I'd have been gutted to miss the Siamang by so littlei, especially after your brilliantly evocative description of the call. Hope you got something mega in Taman Negara in compensation.

And finally . . . I was wondering when you were going to get Fire-tufted Barbet- probably the iconic species at Fraser's for me!


Thanks Mike. Slaty was only a Malaysian/Trip tick (not sure if it's the same ssp as in China).

I have a wonderful recording of the Siamangs I'll put up here too.
Nice report Kevin :t:. For me the 'biggie' on your trip list so far is Thick-billed Spiderhunter, as I've never managed to see one.

Cheers Larry - you need to get over here even more ;)

Apologies for the slow updates - staying up until 08.00 in the a.m. to watch 3 x World Cup matches a night is destroying me ! So off to watch Ecuador vs Switzerland now :t:
Day 4 - 27th April 2014 : Conspiracy of the Elements

Hmmm as I write this I am (was) in Kuala Tahan, Taman Nagara with the rain pounding relentlessly down on the tin roof of my bungalow. I have the feeling of being watched and there's a slight movement out the corner of my eye ....... ah there you are : two beady eyes and cute little ears twitching, a 'nice' looking rat had sneaked in under the eaves and was sitting above my 'goodie' bag of snacks, bought during a stop on the way here, studying me. A loud tschhh ! And he/she was gone. Guess I'm going to have to store my stuff carefully whilst here !

Up at 06.15 today, the evening before I had already organised my bags so that I could return, shower, change and pack my stuff then check out of The Shazhan Inn, Fraser Hill, all in 25-30 mins ready for Samy's taxi that I'd reserved to go to Kuala Tahan.
According to Samy, my really nice, safe, driver, a retired gardener, it would take 4.5 to 5 hours to drive there. In the end we stopped once for petrol and once for me to buy supplies and water (much, much cheaper to buy these on the road before you get to Kuala Tahan - there was a simply huge supermarket not too far away, I guess an hour) and it took 4.75 hours to the jetty (from there it is a 1 Ringgit boat ride the 30 secs to the Mutiara Hotel jetty).

This is a very expensive taxi ride though, 350 Ringgit (about £70), there are cheaper ways to get here (taxi or hitch to Raub, bus to Jerentot then a or taxi bus to Tembeling for the 3 hour boat ride or just take a local bus direct to Kuala Tahan) but it's slow and will take a whole day. Going from Fraser Hill to Taman Nagara being much more difficult to arrange than from KL direct to TN !

So breakfast as usual at 06.45 (15 mins before they actually open, with the lights still mostly off, but nobody said anything) of cereal, toast, juice and coffee and I was on my way to make the most of my 3 hours before I had to be back at the hotel.

Having originally planned to go the 4.5 kms to the Juriah Waterfall in search of Silver-breasted Broadbills that I had missed out on yesterday, I decided that I just didn't have time if I was to do any actual birding along the way, so switched to doing the first section of the Bishop Trail again, up to the second rest stop about 500-700m into the 1.5 kms trail, and then walking up Jahan Lady Maxwell before retracing my steps down the hill and coming around the golf course and back up to the hotel.

Not a good move.

I'm still writing this report laying on my bed in The Mutiara .... 'Oh look my new friend is back 'Tssssssch' ! Gone again. '

The usual local birds kept me entertained until the start of the trail but thereafter the going was tough. It was still barely light as the mist rolled through the tree tops. Though at least it was dry this morning !
I made my way to the 2nd shelter (inc. the one at the start of the trail) and waited. This isn't the best shelter, the vegetation is close up to 3 sides and ahead you can barely see 15 metres. 30 mins and zero action later, the bird calls and whistles around but out of sight, sent me back up the trail the way I'd come in.

Probably the best place to stop is a clearing just 50m or so before the shelter, see the photos attached below. Standing on these steps gives you a clearish view. 30-50m straight out, up to 100m to the previously invisible tree-tops and roughly 20-25m both left and right. As good a clearing as you'll find anywhere in a rainforest ! Samy the taxi-driver also tells me that birders frequently tell him they have seen Black Gibbons on this trail. Well in the trees that is ;)

So having added zero birds to the day list, though I had acquired two leeches (on hand and on head : so didn't leave the trail completely empty-handed), I went up JLM. A similarly uninspiring 45 mins, with just a few of the by now regulars, and it was time to make my way back to the hotel,

'My friend is back again. Persistent or what ! '

Everything went as planned, weather was great (and getting hotter and hotter as we descended) and the drive went just fine.
Arrived at the Kuala Tahan jetty, said my goodbyes to Samy and got the ferry across to Mutiara, check-in was smooth, I asked for and got a bungalow where I wanted, close to the entrance to the hide and boardwalks, and about a full 5 minute walk back to reception and the breakfast area.

Unpacked, sorted out my camera and hit the trail. With about 3 hours of light remaining I decided to go to the Canopy Walkway. This isn't a strongly recommended trail for birders but with few people around the 4kms return trip plus an hour or so up on the walkway sounded about right. A White-rumped Shama welcomed me into the gloomy interior - tough photographic conditions - and a metre long monitor lizard was a cool addition too. I was feeling pleasantly optimistic - and we all know what happens when we get that feeling don't we.

A tantalising call here, but 30m in, was followed by another one 20m in, but there wasn't even a hope of spotting the little blighters. I found a clearing - this looks good ! However 4-5 high-speed flyovers later and I was becoming more than a little frustrated !
Off I went continuing on the weird boardwalk which I presume goes all the way to the Canopy Walkway, I didn't get to find out though I must have been close ! In an instant, or so it seemed because the clouds were simply racing across the sky faster than Lewis Hamilton, the blue sky was covered in grey, distant thunder sounded and a violent gust of wind bent the tree tops - this was coming in way too fast. Waterproofs were hurriedly donned, in order of importance ; camera/lens, back pack, me !

'My friend is not taking the hint. I'm going to have to block that hole !'

This isn't too bad I thought, as the heavens opened, lightning flashed across the skies and thunder drowned out the sound of my boots on the boardwalk. I do quite like walking in the rain. The massive, broad, rainforest leaves were sheltering me very nicely from the very hard rain I'd class as a 8 or 9/10 on a thunderous UK Summer storm scale.

Opened my mouth too soon ..... waaay too soon. It came down harder and harder, now that is a 10 .... but wait, we're not finished, that soon became a 12 then a 15 on a scale of a UK Storm 10 ! No point staying where I was as now even those broad leaves couldn't shelter me, I was soaked to the skin and branches were beginning to crash down around me. Dangerous stuff - see the photo below (not from this storm).
The £30 I'd spent on a high quality camera/lens waterproof (in China, where I live, so that isn't cheap !) now paying dividends. My poncho wasn't keeping out #%%^ but my gear was cozy and snug. Now this was a real rainforest storm !

My Ecco trekking boots are good, very good, and even wading through streams my feet stay cozy & dry - not today though, my feet were treading water inside them ! The rain coming down so hard it had run down my poncho, thence down my trousers and ended up somehow going through what I thought were near waterproof tongue and eyelets !

Arriving back 'home' I found that the eaves of the bungalow overhang the terrace railings, where my still wet clothes from the last two days were drying nicely, and were continuing to do so throughout the storm !

I waited until the rain eased off, dark by now, and went to the Mutiara for a quick bite. I couldn't be bothered exploring the undoubtedly cheaper Floating Restaurants across the river. A rather poor burger and awful hotel coffee later it was back to the bungalow and get ready for the 'morn.

Having just dropped off, or so it seemed, I was rudely awaken by the sound of large animals very close to me, in fact they could even have been underneath the raised bungalow ! Taking a flashlight and sneaking out onto the balcony I highlighted 3-4 wild boars, who frantically took off issuing high pitched squeals as they crashed back into the forest.

A rather anaemic looking Day List I'm afraid with only two new ticks to the Trip-List

21 Species

Bulbul, Yellow-vented
Dove, Feral
Dove, Little Cuckoo
Drongo, Bronze
Fantail, White-throated
Fulvetta, Mountain
Laughingthrush, Chestnut-capped
Leafbird, Orange-bellied
Magpie-Robin, Oriental
Mesia, Silver-eared
Sharma, White-rumped
Sibia, Long-tailed
Sparrow, Tree
Spider-hunter, Streaked
Swallow, Barn
Swiftlet, Germain's
Swiftlet, White-bellied
Sunbird, Black-throated

TBC # Black-headed, crest, rufous red on both back & long tail. Sibia sized.

Macaque, Long-tailed
Squirrel, Grey-bellied
Squirrel, Himalayan striped (Tamiops macclellandii)
Leeches #2 & 3 (head & hand)

1. Streaked Spider Hunter
2. Streaked Spider Hunter
3. Bishop's Trail Clearing - Fraser Hill (see report above)
4. Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo
5. Long-tailed Macaque


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