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


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Very nice series of photos Tony.  Frasier Hill has always intrigued me so it's great to see that you had lots of success there so far.

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Really enjoying this Tony, glad you are doing a report. Lots of gorgeous birds, and almost all of them would be new for me. I guess at some point I´ll just have to go there!

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So many wonderful birds, thanks for sharing all the pics! I think I would love a trip to that area, hopefully someday. And loved the White-thighed Leaf Monkey, interesting way of holding the baby, it gets so well camouflaged!

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you had many great sightings at the hill station. I never saw a white-thighed leaf monkey before, and with a baby as well - that was such a cool sighting!

It used to be much much cooler in Frasers' Hill many years ago as we used to drive up there when I was young to enjoy the cool air, but deforestation and climate change have made temperatures there higher. Still, a quaint and charming place for a weekend jaunt. I'm not sure if Weng brought you to the abandoned hotel where you could see many of the birds, including the fire-tufted barbet, but apparently there are plans to re-develop the place into a larger hotel, which could drive away the birds. 

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Really enjoying your report so far, and the beautiful photos. You can’t have too many bird photos! 

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Lovely retrospective report so far @TonyQ.

What a mixture of wildlife. Also found the tree fern fascinating. 


Is this where your passion for birding really started? 


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@Atdahl thank you

@michael-ibk  it is worth a visit if you are in the area!

@xyz99 thank you - the baby was very well camouflaged - we didn't see it at all at first. When we go to Langkawi, you will see a different strategy with the Dusky Leaf Monkeys.

@Kitsafari thank you. The temperature was quite pleasant (a jacket needed when there was fog and a little rain!). You will see the area around that hotel very soon.

@wilddog thank you. We developed our interest on our earlier trip to Borneo, but on this trip in this February, our interest was already developed.


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Our last day at Fraser's HIll starts with some more early roadside birding with Weng


Mountain Imperial Pigeon


Greater Yellownape


Glossy Swiftlet


The next bird took a lot of looking! We could hear it much more easily than see it, and Weng had to work hard to get us to see it once he had



a just visible Malay Partridge


Dark Hawk Cuckoo


Oriental Honey Buzzard

Edited by TonyQ
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We than visited the derelict hotel that @Kitsafari referred to.



Overhead a Rufous-bellied Eagle


We were also pleased to see a new mammal, Mountain Red-bellied Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus



Silver-eared Mesia


This was one of the birds that I really wanted to see in Malaysia. We had glimpsed it the day before, but this time there were really good views. We were not disappointed - a really beautiful bird which also appeared fairly confident around people







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Opposite the remains of the hotel was a small patch of woodland


Female Little Pied Flycatcher


Female Fire-breasted Flowerpecker


Along the road heading back towards the village


Female Black and Crimson Oriole


1590240456_OrientalMagpieRobin-4.jpg.cf88506511b5a4938c6740f4181b5587.jpgOriental Magpie Robin

It was Friday afternoon, and already it was obvious that more people were visiting. There is a small lake just outside the village where boats are available to rent. People were gathering, and loud music was playing (mostly 60s soul).


Weng took us back to the village for 5pm. (he was to drive back towards Kuala Lumpur). We thanked him and said our goodbyes. We were very pleased with him. He is hard working, enthusiastic and patient. He was also good fun to be with. We recommend him. I will repeat his details

Cheong Weng Chun http://www.nature2pixel.my/     nature2pixel@gmail.com


There was still some light, so we walked to the small park near the hotel. We had seen theBlack-throated Sunbird many times, but I had not managed to get a clear view for a photo. This time I was lucky.







A nice little treat to end our stay


So on our last night we ate at the hotel (noticeably busier). Fraser’s Hill is a really good place for a few days birding. Easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur (though this could also be a disadvantage), reasonable accommodation and food. We photographed about 71 species during our stay (including the journey from Kuala Lumpur) and saw a few more that we were unable to photograph. We were very pleased with our stay.


Next day we would be heading to Taman Negara

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On 4/28/2020 at 1:04 AM, janzin said:

Not all of us frequent the Big Year threads



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  • 2 weeks later...

That mesia is gorgeous!!! I absolutely love small, colorful birds and I would go to Malaysia just for that. Add a few sunbirds to the mix, and you convinced me :D

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  • 2 weeks later...
pedro maia

Catching up with your TR Tony, looking forward for your next stop.

Edited by pedro maia
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The Mesia and Black-throated Sunbird are certainly stunning birds and your photos are lovely.

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Returning to your excellent TR to find and enjoy many more beautiful birds, such as Silver-eared Mesia!

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Thanks for taking the time to put together this excellent trip report @TonyQ.    Gorgeous photos and useful trip planning advice!

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@xyz99 @pedro maia @Treepol @xelas @offshorebirder thank you.

I have been a bit slow writing this as we have had very good weather in the UK. It is now raining (much needed) so I have no excuse!


Taman Negara (3 nights)

We had arranged (with the help of the Shahzan Inn) for a taxi to take us to Taman Negara, a drive of about 4 to 5 hours. Roads were generally good and well signed – I imagine self-drive would be very practical. It was interesting to drive through some towns and villages, though as we got closer to Taman Negara we passed through mile after mile of Palm Oil plantations.


When we arrived, we were dropped off at the side of a river where small ferry boats were waiting to transport passengers for a charge of 1 Ringgit (about £0.20). On the far side of the river there was a steep climb up steps to the place we would be staying, The Mutiara Resort.



We had booked this directly. It is the only accommodation on this side of the river and is on the edge of the National Park. It is a large resort with a variety of accommodation. The receptionist was not particularly friendly or helpful but other staff were helpful. Our room was quite nice (though walls are thin).


We had booked for three nights and had decided not to hire a guide for our stay here. Weng (our guide at Fraser’s Hill) said that birding at Taman Negara is very difficult – and he was right.


From our room we could walk in a few minutes into the National Park. There are a number of wooden walkways that go through the rainforest. There also a few hides, one of which was very close to the point where we entered the park. Almost all of the birds we saw were either in some trees around the resort or near to the hide. On some of the walkways we walked for a number of hours seeing (and hearing) very little. We met one birder who had been visiting for a number of days who said he had seen very little. He had visited a few years ago and there had been masses of birds – but not this time.


We did see a few exciting birds, but there were not many around


Around the hide




Red-naped Trogon


Monitor Lizard


(M) Malay Crested Fireback



We were very excited to see these birds, and the back of the hide seemed a good place to find them as we saw them round here twice. The next photo shows why they are called "Fireback"


Another interesting bird from the hide


Raffles's Malkoha


And one seen along one of the walkways


Rufous-winged Philentoma

In front of the hide was a meadow, and on one visit we saw a family of Wild Pigs


Wild Pig

Edited by TonyQ
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One afternoon it rained very heavily (the resort did provide large umbrellas). Most of the time it was very hot.


The resort was fairly busy. There were a number of Long tailed Macaques around, and some tourists fed them, even encouraging their young children to do the same. We saw on monkey grab at the carrier bag that a tourist was using to carry some food. Birds seen around the resort (most around a small group of trees at one end of the resort, not far from our cabin)


Black-headed Bulbul


Red-eyed Bulbul


Asian Fairy Bluebird


This was a stunning bird that we were really pleased to see - really beautiful

There were more Bulbuls!


Stripe-throated Bulbul


Spectacled Bulbul


Buff-vented Bulbul


(M) Little Green Pigeon


(F) Little Green Pigeon


We stayed full board at the resort. Antiseptic handwash was available at the entrance to the restaurant. The food was pretty mediocre. Breakfast buffet with decent fresh omelette, lunch was OK, uninspiring evening buffet. The vibrant flavours of Malaysian food were sadly lacking in the buffet.


If I am honest I didn’t enjoy our stay at Taman Negara very much. If I was redoing the trip I would miss it out, either going somewhere else, or shortening the trip.

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We had booked a shared transfer back to Kuala Lumpur through the Mutiara Resort. This was very comfortable and it worked well. We shared it with one other couple. We were dropped off at the Istana Hotel (owned by the same people as Mutiara Resort). When we considered where to stay for one night we looked at this – and it was pretty good. Well located, helpful staff. 



We had one night in Kuala Lumpur before we flew to Langkawi. We could walk from the hotel to some good places to eat.


We even got to see another Kingfisher….. (Next photos from MrsQ's iPhone)



We had an excellent meal, eating at an outdoor table. It was good for the spirits to have such tasty food again!






The following morning, after an excellent breakfast we got a “Grab” taxi to KL Sentral and took a train to the airport. We then took a comfortable AirAsia flight (about 1 hour) to Langkawi (and I promise some cute mammals!)

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1 hour ago, TonyQ said:

If I am honest I didn’t enjoy our stay at Taman Negara very much.

 Interestingly, nor we did enjoy it that much. Too dark and too dense to see anything but the ants. If not for the thrilling boat ride in the narrow body long boat there and back, I would be quite disappointed. But then, it is the oldest rain forest in the world.

Edited by xelas
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The Asian Fairy Bluebird is a show stopper, what a beautiful bird.

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great captures of the male bluebird!


oh sorry to hear about the disappointing taman negara. The thing about thick rainforests is that the birds will tantalise you with promising calls, but trying to spot them in the dense foliage is almost impossible, and that's coming from a tropical dweller! sounds like you had a better time in Langkawi - looking forward to it. (BTW, Langkawi opened for land birding tours today. i can't wait until we can travel from our country and return without self-isolation).




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  • 2 weeks later...

@xelas thank you

@Treepol thank you

@Kitsafari thank you. The thing that we found disappointing was there were no tantalizing calls. We expected that birds would be difficult to see, but for most of the time there were no bird sounds either - it just seemed like there were few birds there. But we did enjoy Langkawi and Penang:)



Is a group of islands off the North West coast of Peninsula Malaysia, and also the name of the main island (where we stayed.)


We were staying at The Andaman Hotel on the north side of the island, a taxi ride of 30-40 minutes. There is one other hotel in the area of Datai Bay. There are no nearby towns or restaurants.




The Andaman is a luxurious (and expensive!) hotel. However, it is very nice! We had booked a rainforest view room, and when we arrived we were upgraded to a rainforest view room on a higher floor. (Seaview rooms are more expensive – and we wanted to see the rainforest). We were looked after very well on arrival and the hotel’s facilities were explained to us. We were also told that there were fewer guests than usual as all visitors from China had cancelled.

Our room was very nice. It had a small balcony with views over rainforest. To get to the room you go along an open walkway with views onto rainforest, but facing the other direction. Using both of these gave excellent views of birds and some other creatures.


A few Birds from our balcony



(M) Orange-bellied Flowerpecker


(F) Orange-bellied Flowerpecker


Red-eyed Bulbul


Black-headed Bulbul


Olive-backed Sunbird




Thick-billed Green Pigeon


Brown Hawk Owl

We saw this on the way back from dinner - taken from the walkway just outside our room - using torchlight.

Here there was a feeling of the forest being alive, with masses of birds lifting the spirits!


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Each day in the late afternoon, Oriental Pied Hornbill flew in to roost in trees around the hotel. These were also taken from the walkway that led to our room, but a bit further along.







We were also excited to see  a Black (Malayan) Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) - again from one of the hotel balconies.


"The black giant squirrel is one of the largest species of squirrel in the world. On average, an adult black giant squirrel weighs around 1.05–1.25 kg (2.3–2.8 lb), has a head–and–body length of 34–37 cm (13–15 in), and the tail is 41–42 cm (16–17 in) long."






This was a real treat. One of the advantages of the balconies is that you are at a level that is closer to that of the birds/mammals so you are not just looking up to them in the trees.



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I did promise some cute mammals, and although the Giant Squirrel is cute, I think the next one might be even cuter (and another one will follow later)


Dusky Leaf Monkey (a.k.a Dusky Langur, Spectacled Leaf Monkey, Spectacled Langur (Trachypithecus obscurus)







Their diet is mainly leaves. So although they are easily visible near the pool area, and not far from the restaurant, they did not intereact with people or try get food.

These sightings were from ground level looking up.

An exciting bonus for us was that some of them had babies





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