Guided by Ken Behrens. This was a set-departure tour.
Any birder who has browsed through a southeast Asian bird book realizes that a huge set of lowland forest birds is found in the southern part of the peninsula, from southern Myanmar and Thailand south. Peninsular Malaysia is at the heart of this Sundaland biome, sharing a rich lowland avifauna with Sumatra, Java, and Borneo. Peninsular Malaysia also has tall mountains with a very different mix of birds – pseudo-Himalayan species, local endemics, and species shared with the mountains of the Greater Sunda islands. This tour is built around these two biomes. It is short and affordable, and provides a great introduction both to Asian birding in general, and more specifically to birding in the southern part of southeast Asia. One of the great things about this trip is its simplicity; three nights are spent at two locations: Fraser’s Hill (montane forest) and Taman Negara (lowland forest). The mangrove site of Kuala Selangor is also visited on the way to Fraser’s Hill, adding a nice suite of mangrove and scrubby forest species to the trip tally. Malaysia has excellent infrastructure, including great roads and luxurious lodging. The people are friendly and hospitable, and the excellent food is enriched by a mix of Chinese, Indian, and Malay influences. For those who want a longer sojourn in Sundaland, this short tour can be combined with the longer Tropical Birding Borneo tour that immediately follows it.
In one week of birding, we recorded 243 species of birds. Just a few of the avian highlights were a surprise Ferruginous Partridge, endemic Malaysian Partridge, Crested Fireback, Lesser Fish-Eagle, several flocks of the scarce Large Green-Pigeon, the rare Short-toed Coucal, mangrove-dwelling Chestnut-breasted Malkhoa, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Brush Cuckoo, Malaysian (Eared) Nightjar, Ken’s favorites the Gray-rumped and Whiskered Treeswifts, Rhinoceros, Black, Wreathed, and Wrinkled Hornbills, Red-bearded Bee-eater, White-bellied and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Fire-tufted Barbet, Green, Long-tailed, Banded, and Black-and-yellow Broadbills, Garnet Pitta, Pied Triller, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Black and Common Green Magpies, the monotypic family that is Rail Babbler (shown in the first photo), Sultan Tit, Velvet-fronted and Blue Nuthatches, incredible views of Pygmy Cupwing, endemic Black and Malayan Laughingthrushes, and Mangrove Blue-Flycatcher.