Tuesday, June 24, 2008

21st June, Maxwell Hill, Perak

Maxwell Hill, or Bukit Larut, as it is known locally, rises 1250m above the quaint town of Taiping. It was apparently the first 'hill station' established in colonial times on the mainland of the Peninsula, but is now the poor cousin of the three other more popular hill destinations - Cameron Highlands, Fraser's Hill and Genting Highlands.

The lack of tourism pizazz makes it rather attractive to birders, and some have been making regular visits over the last 15 years or more.

I arrived in Taiping, after driving from Kapar, at the dead of night. Well, actually, it was only 10.30pm, but the streets were as deserted as they might be at 3 in the morning, such are the home-loving folk of Taiping. The town is built more or less in a grid format, which means that it is the Town of a Hundred Traffic Lights - or possibly a Thousand. I know, because I waited at most of them while trying to find my way to the hotel I had booked for the night.

Next morning I took a ride in one of the landrovers provided to ferry people up the hill, and met up with a group of Penang-based birders staying at Speedy's resthouse.

My main goal was to try to see the Rusty-naped Pitta which had been seen briefly a week or two previously, but, sadly for me, it had shut up by the time I arrrived.

A walk up to the summit produced a curious party of Sultan Tits. With their fine spiky crowns and royal yellow colours, they are certainly aptly named.

The two-tone tail is caused by moult. The older, browner feathers are being pushed out by the new glossy black ones.

A male Black-throated Sunbird - a familiar sight at all the hill stations.

A solitary Malaysian Hill Partridge eluded my efforts to improve on my shot of one at Fraser's Hill recently, and a pair of Pygmy Blue Flycatchers were also rather shy and elusive. This is the male. This is apparently the first record of this species at the hill for some years.

I disturbed a small party of Bushy-crested Hornbills feeding on some fruiting trees near the road.

A Horsfield's Baron posing for me on a roadside fern.

This was the view from our resthouse after dark - Taiping in all its splendour.

At night the pair of White-bellied Swiftlets nesting in the house came to roost with their two almost-fledged young.

This fine Masked Palm Civet came to help itself to the leftovers of our dinner left out specially.

This Atlas Moth beat itself to oblivion on one of the outside lights. In front of it is a 'normal' sized moth!

The local Brown Wood Owl was very obliging, coming to call just outside our house after dark.

The Mountain Scops Owls weren't nearly as accommodating, but while out on a walk to try to see one, we came across this beauty,which is apparently a juvenile Vertebral Slug Snake (Pareas vertebralis). Thanks to Muin for the id!

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