The lack of waders, and an invitation to join James Eaton and Peter Bijlmakers for a few days forest birding proved an irresistible combination, so I set off pre-dawn for the 4.5 hour drive to Merapoh.
It's just over a year since my last visit to this quiet corner of the National Park, and there were still quite a few birds I had yet to see. While waiting for James and Peter to arrive from KL I went into the forest and found it quite lively despite the advanced hour.
I soon found myself in the midst of a small flock of babblers, which were all Horsfield's. A monotonous double-note call nearby turned out to be a Moustached Hawk-cuckoo, but, despite continuing to call incessantly, it never gave good views (or a photographic opportunity!).
Once we were all assembled we set off down the main jeep track and soon found a Large Wren-Babbler, which had a seemingly endless repertoire of song-phrases. It would try one phrase for several minutes, and then improvise by adding another few notes, with the song becoming gradually more and more complex.
As usual with this species, getting a clear shot was quite a challenge!
While we were watching the wren-babbler, we were distracted by a few wild boar emerging from the forest and crossing the road...
...In fact, more than a few! The group was made up of sows and a large number of piglets, and there were at least 60 animals in the convoy!
One of the tail-enders giving us the eye!
There were lots of juvenile birds around, such as this Buff-vented Bulbul...
...And this Dark-necked Tailorbird.
Several flocks of Blue-rumped Parrots were feeding on the Giant Macaranga fruits. They were noisy but quite difficult to see, as they move so slowly. We would find about three birds, and then the tree would explode and about 30 would fly out in a cacophony of screeching!
As last year, Garnet Pittas seemed to be rather common, with at least six different birds calling along the track. This one was particularly obliging.
Flash doesn't exactly do justice to the bird, so I tried one or two without flash. Using the camera handheld, these attempts weren't totally successful either!