Monday, August 02, 2010

25th July 2010: Fraser's Hill

I made sure I had a good night's sleep so that I could be in my hide at first light migraine-free, and I settled down to wait for the pheasant to appear. Within moments however, I felt my skin being assailed by gazillions of tiny biting insects. They were much smaller than mosquitoes, but with a much more ferocious bite. It became utterly impossible to remain motionless with these things attacking any patch of exposed skin. I tried moving my hide in case they were just a localized swarm, but the forest seemed to be full of the obnoxious beasties. In less than an hour I'd had enough, and was forced to retreat with my hands, ankles and face covered in pink bumps, feeling as if I'd been roasted over an open fire! Over a week later, the bites are still as itchy as anything. Why can't those nameless horrors become extinct instead of Spoon-billed Sandpipers?!

I made my way to Hemmant's Trail in my never-ending quest to improve on my Malaysian Partridge shots. Instead I was treated to the sight of a pair of Denis Healey eyebrows bobbing about in the gloom!

With a bit of illumination from the flash, the eyebrows could be seen to belong to a subadult male Lesser Shortwing, which was involved in a territorial face-off with another bird.

The other male was a bit older, though still exhibiting signs of immaturity in the brown fringes to the remiges. An adult male should look like this.

Elsewhere on the trail, this female or immature Red-headed Trogon was perched inconspicuously a few feet off the ground.

I tried to look down toward Bishop's Trail from the road above where I'd seen the pittas on the 20th, but with no success. This immature Dark (Large) Hawk-cuckoo did appear quietly in front of me though.

A pair of Streaked Wren-babblers foraged in the short vegetation next to the road, and seemed completely fearless.

On Bishop's Trail I came across a pair of squirrels foraging on the ground. I later identified them as Red-cheeked Squirrels.

I decided to leave by the 10 am gate down to the Gap to give myself a couple of hours birding before heading back home to Penang.

There was lots of bamboo in seed along the old road, but no sign of any of the bamboo specialities. Instead, a pair of Orange-breasted Trogons put on a good show!

This is the relatively soberly-coloured female.

And the more flamboyantly-attired male!

I heard a Marbled Wren-babbler calling distantly in one of the gullies, but when I got to my favourite spot for observing them I found that a tree fall had opened up the ravine, allowing a lot of sunlight in, and the birds were conspicuously absent.

Some of the large trees were dropping seeds, which were spinning to the ground like miniature helicopters. This tree was not a dipterocarp, as dipterocarp seedlings have two wings, whereas this had three, but other than that, I'm not sure what species it was.

A Little Spiderhunter was feeding on the ornamental flowers near the guardpost at the lower entrance to the old road.

Forget the Twin Towers or any other of the architectural marvels of Malaysia's modern cities, or any number of theme parks - this is what I'd travel round the world to see - pristine Malaysian rainforest in all its magnificence.


Ari said...

A successful trip for you Dave, thanks for sharing the great images...

Bornean Rose said...

Awesome photos and discoveries. Love all the birds and squirrel....