Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fraser's Hill: Day 3

The morning of March 14 greeted us with relatively thick fog around the hotel. However, birds were no less active than yesterday's morning, maybe even more active as there were more moths and insects. The highlight of the moths was a good number of the huge Atlas Moths (Attacus atlas) which were perching openly and still no bird even dared to mess around with them. There used to be a population of this biggest moth on earth just in my backyard in Thailand, but for some reason they just totally disappeared. If you want to know how big it is, just imagine a moth with a wingspan of 30cm. Below is a photo of one.
Atlas Moths (Attacus atlas)
Silver-eared Mesia (Mesia argentauris tahanensis)
Malayan Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron peninsulae)
Long-tailed Sibia (Heterophasia picaoides wrayi)
Common Green Magpie (Cissa chinensis robinsoni)
Highlights for the birds included a single Common Green Magpie which made a brief appearance before disappearing into the trees as usual, a tiny but colourful Chestnut-crowned Warbler (Seicercus castaniceps), as well as a pair of Black-eared Shrike-babblers (Pteruthius melanotis). The same pair of Black-And-Crimson Orioles also showed up in early morning, but I couldn't get any photo due to the thick fog. The common stuff including Silver-eared Mesias, Long-tailed Sibias, Spectacled and Malayan Laughingthrushes, Mountain Fulvettas, Blue-winged Sivas, Little Pied Flycatchers and Javan Cuckooshrikes were all showing well as usual.

Long-tailed Sibia (Heterophasia picaoides wrayi)
Spectacled Laughingthrush (Rhinocichla mitrata)

House Swallows (Hirundo tahitica abbotti)
After we all felt satisfied with the birds in front of the hotel, we decided to drive up to the High Pines to see the trail where Mountain Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron inopinatum) is occasionally seen. David Bakewell got a great series of photos showing a female bird walking nicely in the open at a very close range here. Half of us decided to set up hides and wait for the pheasant (unfortunately no bird showed up though). I was with the other half, decided to visit Telekom Loop. Before leaving the High Pines, I also had a nice time taking photos of a cute pair of House Swallows (formerly called Pacific Swallow) which were perching on a TV antenna.
Black-browed Barbet (Megalaima oorti) at nest

Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta cyanoptila)
At Telekom Loop, we went to the place where Mam saw a Blue Nuthatch on the earlier day, but all we found was a busy Black-browed Barbet (Megalaima oorti) trying to finish digging its nest. My dad was the one who found it. He was actually just wanting to look at the tall dead tree which had several old nest holes, but then he spotted its colourful head sticking out of the tree trunk. After watching the barbet, I went on walking along the road and found some more common stuff like Black-eared Shrike-babblers, Mountain Fulvettas and Spectacled Lauhginghthrushes. Again, as I arrived at the Glossy Swiftlet's nesting colony, I couldn't resist stopping by and taking some more shots of the birds. I found it funny that many of them didn't even bother to perch on the nest, but just hanging on the others' wings and tails as you can see in one of the pictures above.

As I was taking photos of the swiftlets inside the garage, a motorcycle came passing behind me and hit one of the birds that were flying in and out of the garage. I was so shocked as I saw the bird suddenly dropped to the ground. The bird stayed unconscious for a short moment before flapping its wings and made its way up to the roadside wall. After a few minutes, it finally flew up and perched on a tree high above the road. I was so relieved to see that it could recover itself pretty fast. After the tragedy, we decided to go back and meet up with the other group and have lunch. Along the way, we luckily discovered a fruiting tree just by the roadside and a beautiful Black-browed Barbet gave us a wonderful show. It's one of the common birds that are normally hard to photograph as it always stays high up in the canopy. We also had a brief but excellent view of a Dark Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx bocki) spotted by Mr Mark, and heard a call of the scarce Collared Owlet (Glaucidium brodiei).

Black-browed Barbet (Megalaima oorti)
Sunbathing Mountain Fulvetta (Alcippe peracensis)

Male and female Large Niltava (Niltava grandis decipiens)
Spectacled Laughingthrush (Rhinocichla mitrata)

Male Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus)
After lunch, we tried a place called Rumah Methodist Bunglo. There was a minor bird-wave along the small road consisting of a male Greater Yellownape, lots of Mountain Fulvettas, a pair of Black-eared Shrike-babblers and another pair of Large Niltavas. At least, the niltavas were kind enough for us to grab a few shots before flying into the dense trees. I also flushed a female Siberian Thrush which seemed to be feeding on the roadside as well. Since there were not so many birds, we decided to head back to Jelai. As we were passing a small public shelter where we came across a Blyth's Hawk-Eagle perching just above the road the day earlier, we decided to stop by for a few minutes, but we found nothing except a domestic cat which was sitting close to the shelter. The cat seemed to be interested in something above in the tree, then a red object flashed into my eyesight, then I called out with excitement "Red-headed Trogon!". So it was a perfect male Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) that the cat was looking at. After quite a chase, we found out that there was also a female near by, but I still ended up getting no photo of it. The male was a bit easier to spot and photograph as its extremely bright red plumage stood out nicely among the dark green leaves. The female has drabber plumage with brown head and breast. We then finally headed back to the hotel with a big smile on our faces.
The place where we found the trogon (there's even a photo of it on the board!)
Blue-winged Siva (Siva cyanouroptera sordidior)
Golden Babbler (Stachyris chrysaea)

Male Javan Cuckooshrike (Coracina javensis)

Asian Red-cheeked Squirrel (Dremomys rufigenis)
At Jelai, the evening show gave us a pleasant view of the same Common Green Magpie and there were still lots of smaller birds flitting around in the bushes. A family of the brightly coloured Golden Babbler caught most of my attention, but it's sure one of the toughest birds to photograph. Suddenly, the other group phoned us and told us that they were watching 4 Siberian Thrushes at the Rumah Methodist. Unfortunately, all the birds disappeared by the time we arrived. We tried waiting for them but it was getting too dark and there was a heavy storm approaching, so we just had to leave and wait until the next morning.


Stu said...

Fantastic. Wonderful birds and great photos.

The only thing that stops me feeling insanely jealous is that a) it was probably hot and humid as hell there and b) it was probably crawling with mosquitoes and much worse things.

There, I feel better now.

Russell said...

Man, what a photographic feast. Some terrific subjects and so beautifully photographed.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Thanks a lot Stu and Russell!
The weather in Fraser's Hill was actually pretty cold as it is high up in the mountain and there weren't so many mosquitoes. But don't worry, I'll be getting all those hot weather and all kinds of insects and leeches in the second half of the trip in Merapoh.

John said...

Spectacular wildlife, especially the Atlas Moth. I remember arriving at Fraser's Hill once late at night, and was greeted by a Wild Boar trotting down the road near the Golf Course. Wonderful place.

Peng said...

I like the Swallows! The TV antenna that they're perched on could almost pass off as a natural stick already. The plumage of the Glossy Swiftlet is really beautiful. Thank goodness it survived. We often hear the Collared Owlet around the Telekom Loop, but only seen it once there. Another time was near the Methodist Bungalow you went to also. The thing about this owlet is that it keeps on calling and calling but unfortunately doesn't respond to playback. It's an amazing ventriloquist too, the time when we saw it, its call seemed to be coming from somewhere else!