Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Day 2, Taman Negara...

Day 2: 25 November, 2016 - Taman Negara

An early start from the Sama Sama Hotel this morning.  We met our bird guide Wilbur Goh and his colleague Azri Mohd Hussain from Junglewalla Tours in the hotel lobby and set off for Taman Negara National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 5 hours drive to the northeast of Kuala Lumpur. Covering an area of more than 4000 km2. Taman Negara is lowland primary rain forest and is considered to be one of the world's oldest, estimated to have been here for 130 million years!

To reach our target we had to pass around Kuala Lumpur and avoid the morning rush hour (hence the early start). Two hours after skirting the city we made a quick breakfast stop for the best locally made Roti at a small roadside cafe, where Pacific Swallows,  Barn Swallows and unidentified swiftlets whizzed around overhead as we ate. From here we moved a short distance to the Krau Wildlife Reserve at Bukit Rengit where the birding began in earnest.

Upon arrival at the toll exit parking point I immediately had more bird ticks - a pair of beautiful Black-thighed Falconets closely followed by Pink-necked Pigeon, Spotted Dove and Oriental Magpie Robin.

The diminutive Black-thighed Falconet - not much bigger than a budgerigar
Black-thighed Falconet
A couple of miles further on we pulled over to the side of the road and added Black-naped Oriole and Crested Goshawk to a rapidly expanding list. A short distance on again we got out to walk a stretch of quiet road known for its good variety of species. It certainly didn't disappoint and we quickly added Blue-throated Bee-eater, Dark-throated Oriole, Crested Serpent Eagle, Purple-naped Spiderhunter, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Gray-and-Buff Woodpecker, Ferruginous Babbler, Scarlet-rumped Trogon and many more. The highlight though was undoubtedly the appearance of a female Banded Pitta, so bright it's amazing how it manages to stay hidden even at close range!

The habitat around Krau holds a huge variety of species.
Black-naped Oriole: R. Harris
Ferruginous Babbler, a very confiding individual
Ferruginous Babbler: R. Harris 
White-rumped Shama - picked up by their noisy calls
Banded Pitta, female - very difficult to photograph as it moved unseen
across the jungle floor. Better binocular views thankfully.
Krau Wildlife Reserve
Red-billed Malkoha 
Subtle! This guy doesn't want visitors.
Nigel Marven and bird guide Wilbur Goh at Krau.
The fenced off area is set to hold tigers at some point in the future.
The journey to Taman Negara took another 3 hours. Instead of joining the tourist boat from Jerantut (which adds another 3 hours to the journey), we headed straight for Kuala Tahan by road, which sits opposite the Mutiara Resort across the Tembeling River. The journey was completed by a short river boat transfer but the day was far from over.
View across the Tembeling River from Kuala Tahan
The place to catch the river ferry.
A quick ferry ride and we were at the Mutiara
After settling into our chalets we reconvened to explore the trails close to the resort. Noisy Oriental Magpie Robins were everywhere and Asian Fairy Bluebirds moved between the trees. The Tahan hide and nearby boardwalks produced (among others) a stunning Black-and-red Broadbill, Long-billed Spiderhunter, Raffle's Malkoha, Grey-breasted Bulbul and Scarlet-rumped Trogon. The variety was added to by a troup of Long-tailed Macaques and a lovely Clouded Monitor which wandered through the resort grounds as we returned. What a day!

Inside my chalet - clean and comfortable, it even had air con!
The Tehan Hide, Mutiara Taman Negara
View from the Tahan Hide
Wilbur Goh, bird guide extraordinaire
for Junglewalla Tours
Just off the boardwalks, impenetrable jungle
Asian Fairy Bluebird - much more pretty if seen from above.
Black-and-red Broadbill, one of my favourite birds
Oriental Magpie Robin, female
Oriental Magpie Robin, female
The lowland rainforest is a hot and humid place, you don't stop sweating from the minute you leave your air conditioned room. Once you get your head around the fact that you are just going to be ringing wet with sweat the entire day you soon forget about it and get on with the task in hand. Back at the chalet a Clouded Monitor was scratching around looking for food and getting harassed by Long-tailed Macaques - the first reptile of the trip. Great way to round off a great day.

Clouded Monitor Varanus nebulosus
Clouded Monitor Varanus nebulosus
Clouded Monitor, Mutiara Taman Negara

Long-tailed Macaque
Long-tailed Macaque

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