Malaysia and Vietnam Trip 2017 : Fraser Hill (1)

Fraser Hill is a famous birding location in a hilly areas between Pahang and Serawak. The small town was used to be a mining outpost in collonial era, but now it has been converted into a recreational zone for Malaysian who get tired by city life. Its vast forest, cold temperature and some colonial era-bungalow make it looks like Kaliurang in Yogyakarta, but with less people and more birds.

We arrived Fraser Hill late in the morning, but it seems like the birds were still quite active this time. Jens has booked a garden view room at Shahzan Inn at the eastern side of Clock Tower, which is one of the most expensive hotel here. We got a free upgrade for deluxe room since there were not many people at the time (in fact, we could be the only guess here). The hotel was good and cozy, and our room was quite large and overlooked the golf field and some patch of jungle out there.

The Clocktower of Fraser Hill

Jens’ initial plan was to stay here for 4 days and then we moved to The Gap for three days. The Gap itself is located about 8 km away from Fraser Hill, with different kind of birds on the lower altitude. It seemed like we were really lack of research for this trip, as we found out that the hotel there has been closed permanently many years ago.

I told Jens about Stephen’s Place (formerly Buena Vista) at Telekom Loop which could be a nice place to spend the extra 3 days, and he agreed to do so. This place is so famous for nature lover and birders, as it was situated right on the most productive track of the hill. The owner ifself, Stephen Hogg is a wildlife photographer and some kind of moth collector, and he designed his garden to attract birds as much as possible. I sent an email to Stephen about the possibility to stay there during the next 3 days but so far there were no response.

So just like any crazy birders out there, we started to looking for birds righr after we put down our bag in the room. We stay at the balcony for about an hour and spotted some Pacific Swallow and Barn Swallow hawking over the golf course. A small flock of Long-tailed Sibia were seen on the Pine tree next to the parking lot–I never know that they are that big! It took me a while to notice the black-nest swiflet apart from the flock of Glossy Swiflet, which lack of white color on the belly. A pair of Large-billed Crow were seen flying over the golf course.

View from our room

After resting for half an hour we decided to take some look to the trail. We asked for a map in the lobby and the lady there told us to get a guide (which off course we wouldnt do). However we met Mr Durai, the local birdwatcher and a certified guide who has a small kiosk in Shahzan Inn. Mr Durai is so famous for giving tips on how to find most of the birds here (and all of them works very well!). I felt bad to get all of this information without using his service.. so to everyone who read this post, I recomend you to have at least one day guided tour with mr Durai!Both the receptionist and mr Durai told us to go to Hemmant Trail, which is not very long and perfect for easy birding. On the way there, we saw so many Streaked Spiderhunter and Black-throated Sunbird feeding on flowers in front yf Shahzan Inn and around the clock tower. They seems to be the most common bird here and can be seen everywhere.

Black-throated Sunbird
Streaked Spiderhunter

When we arrived at the entrance of Hemmant’s Trail, we were surprised to see it closed. There is a yellow policeman I line that blocked the trail, and we were not sure if we could go in or not. Off course we could easily walk in under that “police line”, but we afraid it was against the law. At the end we decided to play safe and stay on the asphalt road for the rest of the day before we figured out what’s happen.

Just a couple hundred meters from the Mosque we found our first flock. The first bird that we saw was Mountain Fulvetta, eating some berries on the bushes. Soon enough, a huge number of birds including Ashy Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Little Pied Flycatcher, Grey-chinned Minivet and Chestnut-capped Laughingtrush showed up again and again. The flock didnt last long though, as it suddenly become dead quiet again! We didn’t see more birds until we arrived at the golf course, where we found an Oriental Magpie Robin and our only Mountain Tailorbird for the trip.

Informative Boardsign. Indonesia should have these in every national park
Poor frog. Id?

We decided to go back to the hotel for a lunch, since we didnt see anything anyway. On the way back we met with Mr Durai again and have some nice chit-chat,  just before we spotted a flock of Sultan Tit who stayed up on the higher canopy–it was such a beautiful bird! We also spotted 3 Oriental Magpie Robins and a Gray Wagtail foraging close to the playground close to the hotel. Just before the hotel, we saw a Brown Shrike perching nicely on the powerline adjacent to the golf course.

Oriental Magpie Robin

After a good lunch at Strawberry Cafe, we talked to Mr Durai about those yellow line on almost every entry in the trail. He said that the trail is in maintenance since there were some fallen trees, but we should not find any trouble getting in there. He recommended us to go to Mager Trail at the afternoon to find some more bird, but we decided to take a rest a little bit before we went birding again.



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