Monday, 12 December 2016

Day 4, Taman Negara, the Sungai Tahan ...

Taman Negara National Park - 27 November, 2016

Day 4 of my trip to Malaysia with Nigel Marvin and we were off on a early morning boat trip northeast along the Sungai Tahan, a tributary river off the Tembeling River. Our aim was to see more great birds but we particularly wanted to catch up with the not-so-easy-to-see Blue-banded Kingfisher. We didn't have to wait long before a fly-by bird shot past and promptly vanished from sight. Hopefully we would catch up with it later. The Stork-billed Kingfisher on-the-other-hand was far more showy and gave fantastic views as we motored past, closely followed by our first good views of a Lesser Fish Eagle.

Stork-billed Kingfisher - a bird I've always wanted to see.
A shy Lesser Fish Eagle
Soon after the eagle our third species of kingfisher appeared - the stunning Black-capped Kingfisher. Would love to have got photos of it but it never settled for long, what a gorgeous bird it is though.

Trees arching across the river.
Wilbur in the front...
Nigel at the back, enjoying his birthday trip
Which just leaves me in the middle.
We travelled a little further and then put ashore so that we could walk the Tabing Trail to the bird hide. Maroon and Great Slaty Woodpeckers were heard but not seen as was a Banded Broadbill. More obliging were Green Iora, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, a pair of Olive-winged Bulbuls, Cream-vented Bulbul and the star of the morning, a male Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.

Note: It had rained in the night and the trail was very muddy. When it rained it really rained hard...

This way to the hide...
Tabing Trail, leech heaven after the rain.
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, male

We headed back to the Mutiara for a celebratory Magnum (the ice-cream, not Champagne) and a quick lunch break. Less than 20 minutes into lunch Wilbur came knocking on our doors, he'd just seen a Crested Fireback on the boardwalk to the Tahan Hide! A few expletives later and I was running for the boardwalk. A bare-foot Nigel who'd been enjoying his lunch break when forced to scramble, wasn't far behind us but despite a thorough search of the boardwalk it had vanished back into the jungle. We decided to recoup and meet at the hide to continue with the afternoon's birding.

Giant Millipede - 12 inches long
Clouded Monitor Varanus nebulosus
Brown-throated Sunbird, female
Another circuit of the boardwalk was productive with a female Red-naped Trogon, Black and Red Broadbill, Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker, Chestnut-winged, Scaly-crowned and (a very elusive) Black-throated Babbler as well as a party of Bar-bellied Cuckooshrikes. We also picked up some beautiful butterflies and unusual insects.

Chocolate Soldier butterfly
The very pretty Red Harlequin
A pair of unusual Lantern Bugs
Pyrops pyrorhynchus
Red-naped Trogon, female
Unusual Trilobite Beetle, 2 inches long
Enormous winged tree seed - bigger than the average Sycamore!

Asian Elephant footprint. Saw plenty of damage where
they'd been and heard them in the distance but never saw one.
Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker

We decided to head along a different trail towards the Canopy Walkway (unfortunately closed while we were there), passing huge stands of Bamboo and giant trees along the way. This route yielded a pair of Buff-necked Woodpeckers, Abbott's and Gray-cheeked Babblers and a small flock of Brown Barbets. On the return leg we also lucked-in on a Greater Mouse Deer close to the path but too shy for a photo and a female Purple-naped Spiderhunter, who wasn't shy at all.

Bamboo thicket on the Canopy Walkway trail.
Me next to a giant Tetrameles nudiflora.
The roots form enormous buttresses around the base.
Poor record shot of the female Buff-necked Woodpecker
Purple-naped Spiderhunter, female.
She was happily bathing in the hollowed out stump
about 5ft away from us.
As the light started to fade we headed back to the resort for an early dinner so that we could join a night safari. Nigel had read about one from a previous trip report and Azri and Wilbur made short work of setting us up with a trip for 8:30pm that evening. We had to meet the vehicle back across the Tembeling River in Kuala Tahan so we took a river boat across for MYR1:00 each (about 20p) and boarded a Toyota pickup.

With the four of us in the back and a guy on the roof operating a large spotlight, we set off to various locations around the outskirts of the town. First stop was for a pair of Barn Owls closely followed by a Common Civet and then a Slow Loris! Things were looking good - none of us had expected too much from this but we were pleasantly surprised. As the vehicle did a U-turn to move off, a Leopard Cat could be seen sitting a bout 5 meters away just staring at us! It suddenly realised that it was in the spotlight and ran off into the scrub. By the end of the evening we had amassed 2 Leopard Cats, 2 Slow Loris, 2 Red Giant Flying Squirrels and a number of Grey Nightjars, who seemed to prefer the rocky banks close to the road.

Grey Nightjar
Grey Nightjar

What a great way to finish the day.

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