23 July–3 August 2017
With an excellent infrastructure, English-speaking population and superb birding, this exciting new tour will look for such special species as Malaysian Rail-babbler, Mountain Peacock-pheasant, Fire-tufted Barbet, Malayan Banded-pitta and Blue Nuthatch plus many other species in the largest remaining forests in south-east Asia.
Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Kuala Lumpur.
Day 2 Early morning arrival, after which we will head straight to the Botanical Gardens at Shah Alam on the west side of the city for a gentle introduction to south-east Asian birding. Our first roadside birds en route will probably include Common Myna, Pacific Swallow, House Crow and Eurasian Tree Sparrow, while common species at Shah Alam include the abundant Javan Myna, Olive-winged and Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Paddyfield Pipit, Grey-breasted Spiderhunter, Baya Weaver and three species of munia: White-rumped, Scaly-breasted and the larger White-headed Munia. After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we will start the journey north towards Kuala Selangor, stopping en route at a regular roost site for Barred Eagle-owl and a wetland with a large colony of Black-crowned Night-herons, Asian Openbills and Cattle Egrets. We will arrive in time to wash, change and take an early dinner before some much-needed sleep! Overnight Kuala Selangor.
Day 3 After an early breakfast we will travel the short distance to Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Although it won’t formally be open, our local guide has arranged early access to this superb area of coastal mangroves. The park is bird-rich and, in addition to the speciality Buffy Fish-owl, Laced Woodpecker, Mangrove Blue-flycatcher and Mangrove Whistler, we will look for Lesser Adjutant, Brahminy Kite, Crested Serpent-eagle, Pink-necked Pigeon, Little Bronze-cuckoo, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Germain’s Swiftlet, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Coppersmith Barbet, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Asian Glossy-starling, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Pied Triller, Ashy Tailorbird, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Plain-throated Sunbird and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Other wildlife here includes the ubiquitous Long-tailed Macaque and two species of mudskipper, whilst both Silvered Leaf Monkey and Smooth-coated Otter are possible. We will take a break in the heat of the day and return to our hotel for lunch, but we will return in the afternoon and will stay until dusk if we have not yet seen the Buffy Fish-owl. After lunch we will head inland on a three-hour drive (with birding stops en route) to the cooler hill-forest area of Fraser’s Hill, our base for the next three nights.
Days 4–5 With its cooler temperatures and stunning views, Fraser’s Hill is a fantastic place in which to bird. We will spend these two days searching the network of trails, with Lee’s expert local knowledge. The species list is long, but highlights may include Blyth’s Hawk-eagle, Black Eagle, the elusive Grey-breasted Partridge, Mountain Imperial-pigeon, Emerald Dove, Little Cuckoo-dove, Glossy Swiftlet, Collared Owlet, Speckled Piculet, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Bamboo, Bay and Olive-backed Woodpeckers, Black-browed, Fire-tufted, Sooty and Red-throated Barbets, Great and Rhinoceros Hornbills, Grey-chinned and Scarlet Minivets, Sultan Tit, Everett’s White-eye, Streaked and Marbled Wren-babblers, Pygmy Cupwing, Chestnut-crowned and Mountain Warblers, Rufescent Prinia, Lesser Shortwing, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-headed Trogon, Large Scimitar-babbler, Black-eared and Blyth’s Shrike-babblers, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Little Pied, Rufous-browed and Verditer Flycatchers, Pygmy Blue-flycatcher, Little, Long-billed and Streaked Spiderhunters, Fire-breasted, Orange-bellied and Yellow-breasted Flowerpeckers, Black-throated Sunbird, the very shy endemic Malayan Whistling-thrush, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Rusty-naped Pitta, Javan Cuckooshrike, White-tailed Robin, Common Green-magpie, Rufous-bellied Swallow, Large (Dark) Hawk-cuckoo, Chestnut-naped and Slaty-backed Forktails, White-throated Fantail, Blue Nuthatch (only found in a limited area of southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra and Java in Indonesia), Buff-breasted and Golden Babblers, White-bellied Erpornis, Mountain Fulvetta, Black-crested and Mountain Bulbuls, Pin-striped Tit-babbler, Mountain Tailorbird, Long-tailed Sibia, Blue-winged Minla, Oriental Magpie-robin, Large Niltava, Greater Green and Blue-winged Leafbirds and Black, Chestnut-capped and Malayan Laughingthrushes. Each day we will return to the hotel for a lunch break, resuming birding in the afternoon, and on one or both evenings we will do some night birding to look for Malaysian Nightjar, Brown Wood-owl or the tricky Mountain Scops-owl.
Day 6 We will spend the morning enjoying more of the trails and the special birds of Fraser’s Hill before departing for a two-hour drive south to our next destination, stopping for lunch en route. Roadside birds may include White-throated Kingfisher and we will also visit a wetland where Yellow Bittern, Striated Heron, White-breasted Waterhen, Thick-billed Pigeon and Blue-throated Bee-eater are all possible. Overnight in Bukit Tinggi.
Day 7 Early this morning we will set off into the Berjaya Hills area to search for a number of target species, including Mountain Peacock-pheasant, Ferruginous Partridge, Orange-breasted Trogon, Banded Kingfisher, Bushy-crested Hornbill, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, White-rumped Shama, Scaly-breasted Bulbul and Banded Broadbill. Our next port of call will be Krau Forest, where we hope to encounter Black Hornbill, the beautiful Garnet Pitta, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Gold-whiskered and Blue-eared Barbets, Whiskered Treeswift, Green Iora and Black-throated, Ferruginous and Short-tailed Babblers. With some delightful species hopefully under our belts, we will set off on the three-hour journey to our final birding destination of the tour, the incredible Taman Negara National Park. Four nights in a resort within the park boundary.
Days 8–10 Taman Negara National Park is the largest tract of undisturbed forest remaining in south-east Asia, and we will spend these three full days exploring the network of forest trails. As with all forest birding, we may need some patience to track down some of the more elusive species, and each day will almost certainly bring some surprises. Among our targets will be the colourful and highly-sought-after Malayan Banded-pitta, as well as Blue-banded, Blue-eared and Rufous-collared Kingfishers plus Rufous-backed Dwarf-kingfisher are being possible, whilst the elusive Crested Jay and Black Magpie bear no resemblance to jays and magpies back home! Crested Firebacks are extremely easy to see here, although we will need a great deal of hard work and an element of good luck to see Great Argus (there is a habituated female in the grounds!), Malayan Peacock-pheasant or Crested Partridge. Another major target species is the Malaysian Rail-babbler, which is in a family of its own and, once again, we will need a great deal of patience to see one. Noisy hornbills can be seen throughout the forest and include Helmeted and White-crowned Hornbills, although we will need to be in open areas to get good looks at them. Parrots are fairly scarce in this part of Asia, but we have a good chance of seeing both Blue-rumped Parrot and Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot. The darker sections of the forest can be literally ‘lit up’ with colourful birds including Black-and-red, Dusky and Green Broadbills and Cinnamon-rumped, Diard’s, Red-naped and Scarlet-rumped Trogons, whilst even some of the woodpeckers can be colourful and may include Banded, Buff-rumped, Checker-throated, Great Slaty, Orange-backed and White-bellied Woodpeckers. Malkohas creep around in the vines, especially on forest edges, and it is not unusual to see more than one of Black-bellied, Chestnut-breasted, Raffles’s and Red-billed Malkohas feeding in the same area. Numerous bulbuls may include Black-and-white, Red-eyed, Buff-vented, Ashy (Cinereous), Grey-cheeked, Grey-headed, Hairy-backed, Puff-backed, Straw-headed and Yellow-bellied Bulbuls whilst babblers are represented by Abbott’s, Chestnut-rumped, Chestnut-winged, Rufous-crowned and Sooty-capped Babblers and the highly-elusive Large Wren-babbler. Raptors range from the tiny Black-thighed Falconets hawking dragonflies in the open areas to medium-sized Rufous-bellied Eagles soaring overhead and majestic Lesser Fish-eagles perched in riverside trees. Other birds we may hope to see in Taman Negara include Plaintive and Violet Cuckoos, Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo, Little Green-pigeon, Silver-rumped Needletail, Yellow-crowned Barbet, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Black-naped Monarch, Tickell’s Blue-flycatcher, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, both Maroon-breasted and Rufous-winged Philentomas, Dark-throated Oriole, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Plain Sunbird and Purple-naped and Yellow-eared Spiderhunters. The park is also home to numerous stunning butterfly species and we may also encounter some smaller mammals such as Prevost’s Squirrel, although sightings of larger mammals such as Asian Elephant and Malayan Tapir are unlikely. Each day we will take a break for lunch in the heat of the day, resuming in the afternoon. In the evenings we will search for owls and nightbirds including Gould’s Frogmouth, Oriental Bay-owl and Reddish and Sunda Scops-owls as well as other nocturnal wildlife.
Day 11 After a final morning’s birding around Taman Negara, we will sadly have to bid our farewells and head back to Kuala Lumpur to catch our international flight back to London, arriving on Day 12.
General Information The climate can vary from hot and humid in the mangroves and rainforest to pleasantly cool in the hills. There will be a moderate amount of walking, mainly on good terrain, but on hot days this can be quite tiring. There are special medical requirements but insects are not a major problem. Visas are not required for most nationalities. Road conditions are good and driving is relaxed, with plenty of opportunities to stop. Accommodation standards are good, with all motel and lodge rooms having air conditioning (except at Fraser’s Hill where it is not necessary) and en-suite facilities. Expect to see around 260 species..
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; 10 with 2 leaders.