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Malaysia: Fascinating (and cute) mammals, beautiful birds.


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Malaysia: Fascinating (and cute) mammals, beautiful birds.


The prospect of fascinating mammals and colourful beautiful birds was very tempting. A cultural mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian leading to wonderful food added to the attraction. Fairly widespread use of English (and the Roman Alphabet) makes travel much easier for us.


We had travelled to Malaysian Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) in 2015. At that time we were not really birders, but we enjoyed what we saw and enjoyed the food!


On this trip to Peninsular Malaysia, we aimed to see some special mammals but the main focus was looking at birds. I will limit the number of birds I show in the report for readers who are not so much into birds. (I have posted all of them in My Big Year Thread).



Silver-eared Mesia 


I didn’t originally intend to post a report for this trip, but given the change in circumstances, I thought I would go ahead. I didn’t take photos of accommodation etc., but I will give links for those that are interested.


This trip was inspired by reports from








Both looked at very special mammals on Langkawi. @Kitsafari had also shown us many beautiful birds from her region of the world and helped us with some recommendations for guides. The “flying beasts” sounded intriguing and irresistable.


Colugo a.k.a “Flying Lemur”


Here is a brief outline of our itinerary – all booked independently online. We included some time in cities as we were keen to try some of the wonderful variety of food found in multi-cultural Malaysia.


Kuala Lumpur 10.02.20 Majestic Hotel  2 Nights

Fraser’s Hill      12.02.20 Shahzan Inn 3 Nights

Taman Negara  15.02.20 Mutiara Resort  3 Nights

Kuala Lumpur 18.02.20 Istana Hotel  1 Nights

Langkawi  19.02.20 Andaman Hotel  3 Nights

Penang  22.02.20  Georgetown E&O  4 Nights



Dusky leaf monkey (a.k.a Spectacled Langur)

Edited by TonyQ
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17 minutes ago, TonyQ said:

Malaysia: Fascinating (and cute) mammals, beautiful birds.

On this trip to Peninsular Malaysia, we aimed to see some special mammals but the main focus was looking at birds. I will limit the number of birds I show in the report for readers who are not so much into birds. (I have posted all of them in My Big Year Thread).


Looking forward to this, and I hope you will reconsider the limit on the number of birds.

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Great! The memories of Malaysia will be revived, in technicolour!

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Nice opening shots Tony.  Looking forward to seeing more. 



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I have been soo looking forward to this report, eager to see and hear what you saw and the first few images are terrific and promising. cross fingers i have time to follow it timely and faithfully. 

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yes, I agree...post the birds here! Not all of us frequent the Big Year threads :)


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Looking forward to this as both Borneo and peninsula Malaysia are high on my bucket list, please don't hold back on the birds. :)

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Looking forward to seeing more of your great photos and hearing about your trip! Borneo is on my bucket list but I don't know if I could stand the humidity! But I'd love to see the orangutans in the wild some day...

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It will be a treat to watch your photos, @TonyQ, and to look at several locations from a 20 years distance.

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@xelas thank you - was it Black and White in those days?

@xyz99 @Atdahl @janzin @mtanenbaum @Treepol thank you for your encouragement

@Kitsafari thank you


Shelter from the Storm…


“Storm Ciara: Britain's 'storm of the century' brings chaos with 100mph winds”


We were due to drive down to Heathrow Airport on the Sunday for an early evening flight. However the weather forecasts for Sunday were very bad and major disruption was expected. We made a late decision to drive down on Saturday.


We booked a hotel that was attached to Terminal 5 (The Sofitel). We had looked at this for previous trips (but it had seemed expensive) , but buying it on the day, the price was reasonable. We managed to get free breakfast, and by joining their regular stayers club when we arrived (no charge) gave us a free glass of wine and a late check out. Food was fine.


Next day we constantly checked our flight status as large numbers of flights were being cancelled including virtually all to the USA and Canada and most to Europe. Fortunately for us, long haul flights going east were still flying. We left a fairly empty Heathrow only about an hour late. The pilot said the first few minutes may be a bit rough (as winds were still high), but it wasn’t too bad. A glass of sparkling wine helped!..


So what about the much bigger storm hitting the world? Coronavirus. At the beginning of February the world seemed very different. We took antiseptic wipes to clean our seating area on the plane, and we took Hand Gel (which we always take when travelling). Otherwise we were not overly concerned.


Kuala Lumpur


When we arrived at Kuala Lumpur after a 12 hour flight, many people were wearing face masks. This was strange at first but it is amazing how quickly you adjust.


At the airport we picked up a SIM card, got some cash from an ATM (there are many) and went to the KLIA express. This is a train that runs from the 2 terminals into the middle of Kuala Lumpur. (buy the tickets in advance for a discount). The train is clean, modern and fast. It takes about 30 minutes to get to KL Sentral (avoiding traffic) and then it was a short taxi ride to our hotel, The Majestic https://www.majestickl.com/index.html


As we were a bit late, we ate in the hotel that first night, and it was pretty good (if expensive for Malaysia).


Blue-tailed Bee-eater


We picked the Majestic Hotel as it was close to the Botanical Gardens/Lake Gardens/ Perdana Botanical Gardens. Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of the UK, so we built in an easy day at the start of our trip where we could wander about and do some fairly undemanding birding, begin to adjust to the time difference and also recover from a long journey. We have done this type of things on other trips and it does give a way of easing into a trip.


So after a fairly early and excellent breakfast we walked to the park and spent a very happy long morning there. The park is about 90 hectares with a number of different environments to explore, and many birds to see


Blue-throated Bee-eater - seen just outside the park


Chinese Pond Heron


Zebra Dove - a very pretty little bird


Red Jungle Fowl - ancestor of domestic fowl


Oriental Magpie-Robin - very common and very confident


Common Myna - not all that common!


Javan Myna

Edited by TonyQ
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There were also a few mammals in the park


Plantain Squirrel


Plantain Squirrel

And some more birds


Hadeda Ibis - not native, but living wild and breeding


426027538_Blue-tailedBee-eater-2.jpg.109de98d8da69573fe5f4ce1a363973b.jpganother Blue-tailed Bee-eater (with bee!)


Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo


Yellow-vented Bulbul - very common


Asian Glossy Starling


Juvenile Asian Glossy Starling with kill


and another Zebra Dove


Although the maps show cafes in the park, we didn’t see any that were open. We had taken water with us so this was not a problem. We were very happy with our visit to the park

Edited by TonyQ
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We also wanted to visit the Islamic Art Museum ( https://www.iamm.org.my )   and the route back from the park goes past it. We ate lunch at the café there before enjoying the exhibits.



Scenes from the Islamic Art Museum



On walking back to the hotel


Eurasian Tree Sparrow


House Crow



We then returned to the hotel for a rest before going out to eat in the city. We had downloaded a Taxi App called “Grab” – similar to Uber but you pay the driver in cash. We found their taxis to be cheap and reliable.


There are many good places to eat in Kuala Lumpur. That night we ate at Restoran Han Kee here we had some excellent large prawns, superb fish and some fine vegetables.

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1 hour ago, TonyQ said:

was it Black and White in those days?


Nope. Kodak Ektachrome Panther. 


Excellent selection of birds from such a megalopolis. Botanical Gardens are truly a birding paradise.

Edited by xelas
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Will be following along Tony, I went to Malaysia in 2008 but it wasn’t a wildlife trip, nor a birding one, that’s for sure, I’m curious to see the places you visited.

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@TonyQ Excellent, another Asian report to enjoy, looking forward to seeing where you went and seeing more of what you saw, the silver-eared mesia is a gorgeous bird, I was fortunate to have great views of one at Fraser's Hill, when I visited Malaysia years ago, there were some in Bach Ma NP in Vietnam, but I didn't get a view of one, I only heard them, if I'd not seen one before, then of course, I would have tried much harder to get a view in Vietnam. Great to see all those birds in a park in KL, you just wouldn't see that in Vietnam, the oriental magpie robin is such a ubiquitous bird, in parts of the East, sadly in Vietnam they are neither common, nor confident :angry: although I did still see a couple in the wild.  


I didn't know that hadedas had been introduced, that was a very silly mistake.

Edited by inyathi
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I'm embarassed to say that though I go to KL every year for work, I've never been to the park. Based on what you saw, I should make a trip there one of the future visits, although this year, all trips are up in the air. 

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Great start to this TR @TonyQ, looking forward to more.

We also liked the Botanical gardens in KL, but that was a very long time ago in 2004.

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@Zim Girl thank you, I wasn't aware (or didn't remember!) that you had been to Malaysia

@Kitsafari thank you. I imagine the park wouldn't be as interesting for you. Almost all of the birds were new to us.

@inyathi you got a magnificent number of birds in Vietnam. I have found it interesting looking at the similarities and differences. I agree about the Ibis!

@pedro maia thank you, I didn't realise you had visited Malaysia

@xelas thank you. I agree about Botanical Gardens (your Uganda one was certainly very productive!)


On to Frasers Hill


For the next three days we had booked a bird guide.

Cheong Weng Chun





@Kitsafarihad used him, and he has many positive internet recommendations. (We were very happy with him!)


Our arrangement was to be picked up from our hotel in Kuala Lumpur and to be driven to Fraser’s HIll, stopping at birding spots on the way. We suggested a 7.00am pickup, but Weng said no. The traffic in Kuala Lumpur is too heavy at that time in the morning, so he suggested 5.30. The hotel arranged a packed breakfast for us, including a very welcome freshly made cup of coffee, and Weng was there to meet us as arranged. We headed through Kuala Lumpur in the dark with almost no traffic. It was interesting to see the suburbs and small towns waking up as we passed through.


Our first birding stops were in lowland areas, initiall just as it was getting light


Pink-necked Green Pigeon


Asian Brown Flycatcher


Brahminy Kite


Purple Heron


Long-tailed Shrike


Coppersmith Barbet (very small, very high up!)

Our next sighting was initiall glimpsed through a gap in some trees (by us!) as we drove past. Weng turned back and found a way to be able to approach on foot


Very large numbers of Black-crowned Night Heron


including many juveniles



We have seen these birds in many locations, but never in such numbers, so we found it quite an exciting sighting.


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We stopped at a local café for a cup of coffee and a snack, and as we then continued

we gained height




And stopped near a large lake.


Barn Swallow


A bird very familiar at home in the UK (as is the Peregrine)


The road got steeper and narrower, but still gave us some interesting stopping points.

By the side of the road


Southern Pig-tailed macaque Macaca nemestrina






Whiskered Treeswift


Bar-winged Flycatcher


Black-crested Bulbul


We then arrived at Fraser’s Hill, had lunch at a Chinese restaurant (Hill View Restaurant). Weng knew the owners well and the food we had was good. Weng was very helpful in ensuring the meals we had (we ate their a number of times) didn’t have hidden meat.


After lunch, we checked into our base for three nights




One of the best choices in Fraser’s Hill. Simple, very inexpensive (for us). Quite a large hotel, but not many guests during the week. Weng stayed at a different hotel which was a bit cheaper.



Pacific Swallow (resting just outside our balcony)


We would have a rest and then meet up with Weng a little later.

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Lovely photos! It's always such a pleasure to see new posts from you. I know I'll be in for a treat.


I really like that pig tailed macaque. He looks like he has a toupee :lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you @monalisa I agree about the toupee!


Fraser's Hill is situated about 65 miles (100 km) from Kuala Lumpur. At its highest points, the altitude is around 1400m, making it much cooler than Kuala Lumpur. These factors make it a popular weekend destination for people for live in Kuala Lumpur. For this reason we arranged the trip so that we largely missed the weekend (though we were there on Friday evening).


Although the area that the village covers is fairly small, there are many changes of altitude, so a route that looks fairly short can involve a lot of climbing. We were pleased to have Weng as our guide, and his comfortable car as our means to get around. We basically used two approaches to our birding. One was to drive to an area, park the car and then go for a walk along the roadside or along one of the many trails. The second was to make a “feeding station”. Weng would put out a few meal worms in a spot that he knows, and we would sit and wait to see what turned off. (He did ask us at the start of the trip if we objected to this, or to the occasional use of playback.)


Our first afternoon included each of these activities plus a visit to a small local park



Malay Laughingthrush


(M) Large Niltava





(F) Large Niltava


I wouldn't have guessed that te male and female were of the same species. Male is fairly spectacular but the female is very pretty.



Buff-breasted Babbler


Fire-tufted Barbet

And in the local park


Long-tailed Sibia


Birds in the park are very used to people - and apparantly unafraid



Streaked Spiderhunter




Edited by TonyQ
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We left the park and drove to another nearby spot



Pygmy Wren Babbler - a very cute tiny little bird


Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush


Common (at Fraser's HIll) noisy, bold and beautiful



White-browed Shortwing


Grey-throated Babbler


Mountain Fulvetta


Collared Owlet


At the end of the first afternoon, we ate together at the Chinses Restaurant with the intention of going out looking for owls when it was dark. Unfortunately the mist/cloud came down and visibility was too poor to do this, so we went back to the hotel.

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We agreed to meet early the next morning to try again for owl, but it was still foggy so we went back for breakfast and agreed to meet a little later. It was still misty, and once or twice there were brief spells of light rain. Light wasn’t great, but it was still enjoyable


Chestnut-crowned Warbler


Golden Babbler

We also saw a new monkey (for us!)


White-thighed Leaf Monkey

It was still foggy and wet - in real life I didn't even see that this monkey was holding a baby! The electric cables appear to offer a convenient and safe way to cross roads.


This was our only sighting of this species

The weather improved a bit, and we saw this lovely bird


Rufous-browed Flycatcher


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It was still a bit foggy (and this varied with quite small changes in altitude). Much of the vegetation was very lush, with many ferns


Tree Fern



We went into the forest  and found



(F) Red-headed Trogon


and a bit later found the Male, Red-headed Trogon


White-tailed Blue Robin


and another Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush


Streaked Wren-babbler - Weng saw this at the side of the road as we were driving along - I have no idea how!



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It was interesting to see a different variety of squirrel


Grey-bellied Squirrel Callosciurus caniceps


Asian Brown Flycatcher


Scarlet Minivet


a partially hidden White-browed Shrike Babbler


Long-tailed macaque - also making use of the electric cable


Black-browed Barbet - small bird very high up!



And a different view of a Spiderhunter, hovering to get food from a flower


At the end of the day, Weng asked us if we wanted to try again for Owls, but we were both too tired (I think the jet lag may have caught up with us a bit - as well as Weng's energy!) So we decided to call it a day and we ate at the hotel. The food was pretty good. (no alcohol is served in the hotel as it is Moslem run. We were not bothered - it is available in the village if you want it)

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