Tuesday, September 20, 2011

16 - 18 Sept: Ulu Muda

I finally made a trip to the forests of the north of the Peninsula, with the main aim of seeing Plain-pouched Hornbill.

I went as part of a group staying at Earth Lodge. We had no electricity due to someone helping themselves to a length of cable over the recent holidays, but this proved a very minor inconvenience, as the forest was cool by day and night.

The hornbills didn't disappoint, with regular flights to and from the roost morning and evening; 379 was the best count.

The biggest flocks were over 30 birds, but most were in the 6-16 range.

Photographing them in good light was a challenge due to mist and low sun, but I finally managed to catch this flock on the last morning.

The other highlight was the outstanding number of night-birds around the camp. I estimated 3-4 Reddish Scops-owls, 2 Collared Scops, 1 Brown Hawk-owl, 2 Buffy Fish-owls and one other large owl which called once briefly. Another frustrating once-only call was a probable White-fronted Scops. There were also 3-4 Gould's and 2 Javan Frogmouths in the area. The Reddish Scops, seen briefly and close-up at dawn on our last day, was my second lifer of the trip, and brought my 500 Club list to 555 - which has a nice ring to it!

This male Gould's Frogmouth perched much lower than my only previous sighting.

Some other birds seen crossing the river while waiting for Plain-pouched Hornbills...

One of a party of Great Slaty Woodpeckers.

We counted 27 Large Green-pigeons flying to roost the first evening.

Oriental Pied Hornbills were noisy and obvious!

Oriental Honey-buzzard (top)and Crested Goshawk were among the six raptor species seen.

A Ferruginous Babbler on a rare open perch! The bird activity on the forest trails was good, but the leeches were plentiful and ferocious, and I didn't have adequate protection, which meant I probably spent less time on the trails than I could have!

I am pretty confident the swiftlets which came down to drink in the evening were Black-nest Swiftlets. They had virtually no tail notch, the plumage lacked the warmer brown tones of Germain's, and there was no obvious darker cap, which can be seen on Germain's with good views.

Here's something you don't see every day...a leucistic swiftlet - very cool bird!

A serene sunset on the Muda River. Something tells me I'll be back - once I've got my leech socks sorted!


Unknown said...

So many owls! Pity i still couldn't make it there...must go next time!

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Wow that must be magnificent watching Plain-pouched Hornbills in that large number! I've only seen a male once at Bukit Larut.... The frogmouth is also stunning, as well as the leucistic swiftlet!

jytou said...

Dear Ayuwat,

The Plain-pouched should not had occurred so much south, it is now pretty much limited to the Thai-Malaysian border, such as Belum, Ulu Muda and etc. You probably had seen its very similar cousin, the Wreathed Hornbill that is a lot more widespread across the country.

Erwin said...

that is so very awesome! i must go there too! nice sunset! (I hate leeches by the way)

Gerry Brett said...

Hi Dave just saw this report. What a great read, fantastic birds and I am very grateful you steered me to the October trip. Can't wait. Best regards


John Holmes said...

Looks like a great place, David.

"Pied Swiftlet" ? New to science !

Jeremy Pearse said...

Beautiful photos as always Dave - love those Hornbills!