Last week I spent 6 days taking part in a rapid assessment of High Conservation Value Forest areas in Pahang and Terengganu. This is a bit like doing a bird race, in that you are trying to record the presence of as many birds, mammals, reptiles, etc, as possible in a short time, so it's not ideal for taking good photographs! Still, I appreciated the opportunity to get into some areas rarely, if ever visited by birders.
One of the first areas we visited was the south-east corner of Bukit Ibam Forest Reserve. It's home for several orang asli communities of the Jakun tribe, and an important source of timber products for them. These are strips of bertam palm, which are being dried before being used, mainly for roofing material.
Harvesting bertam in the forest is a family activity!
Silver-rumped Needletails were numerous, and I could have happily spent an hour or so photographing them, but time to move on!
The forest was pretty 'birdy' - we recorded 87 species, which isn't bad considering there were no migrants. A family party of Red Junglefowl taken through the front windscreen!
Highlights were Large Green Pigeons, Olive-backed Woodpecker and Rail-babbler, and a number of swamp forest associates, such as Wrinkled Hornbill, Puff-backed Bulbul and Red-crowned Barbet.
Not the best picture of a Rail-babbler, but possibly the first one ever of one in flight! I just caught this as it flew across the logging trail.
Ryothemis phyllis is common and widespread, but still nice to see!
Mammals were not so easily seen, but this is a footprint of a small felid - probably a Leopard Cat.
Our night survey produced Oriental Bay Owl, Javan Frogmouth and this female Sunda Slow Loris.
She seemed equally comfortable moving around on two legs or four, a reminder that lorises are primates!
We found out that the local name for these is 'monyet duku' (lit: duku (a kind of fruit) monkey), due to their predilection for ripe fruits.
Bukit Musoh is a forested ridge that runs south-east from Bukit Ibam. Sadly about 30% of it has recently been very heavily logged, completely undermining its value for soil protection on steep slopes. Although it is now a fragment separated from the main forest area, it was still surprisingly bird-rich, with Gould's Frogmouth, Reddish Scops and Barred Eagle-owl being recorded there on our night survey.
A desperately sad sight was watching three Rhinoceros and two Great Hornbills hopping from sapling to sapling in search of food. One of the Rhinos can be seen just above the centre of this picture, with the pair of Greats bottom right.
Long-tailed Shrikes are scarce open country residents in the peninsula, so it was good to see a couple.
One of the highlights of our night surveys was coming across Blue-breasted Quails - a bird I've not see for years. This is a female.
And this is the resplendent multi-coloured male.