Malaysia and Vietnam to 2017: Fraser Hill – Telekom Loop

Telekom Loop is a famous birding spot in Fraser’s Hill–probably the most productive trail in this area. It is located at the eastern side of Fraser’s Hill, making a loop around a telecommunication tower that belongs to Telekom company (hence the name “Telekom Loop”). As I read from many reports in the internet, the loop is the longest single trail that we can reach in Fraser Hill, requires a half-day to sweep, and held some of the most special bird in this area.

We started the day early, waking up at 6 AM after not a really good night from me (I knew shouldn’t read any ghost stories from this area before!). We went down for a breakfast at 7, which is quite early for hotel standard as the sun rises at 7.15. The breakfast would be OK if only I didn’t take too much pickles for my anchovy porridge–something that left a weird taste in my mouth throughout the day.

As the sun started to rise, several bird songs were heard outside of the hotel. We were surprised by a bunch of Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush hanging around the hotel’s yard in large number, I counted up to 20 of them all together! A streaked Spiderhunter also came up early that day, drinking nectar without minding us that stood less than a meter from it (later, we agreed to call them “our little friend”).

Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush. There are actually 6 of them on the ground but I could not get them all in a single frame.
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, just a few meter from us!
Streaked Spiderhunter, less than 1 meter from us
Okay okay.. this is the last Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush picture in this post!

The flock keeps coming and coming, joined by a Grey Wagtail from yesterday. As we were entering Jalan Lady Guilemard, the flock started to shrink in number and becoming more and more quiet. Two Streaked Wren Babbler becoming the first new bird that we found on that day, accompanied by the same pair of Large Niltava that we saw yesterday’s afternoon. The trail was completely quiet for the next 30 minutes, with only a distant voice of Golden Babbler were heard. Soon enough we got distracted by a flock of Long-tailed Sibia and some distant Grey-chinned Minivet.

Long-tailed Sibia

After a while, we spotted a group of Silver-eared Mesia hanging around a low bushes on the roadside. While watching them, we spotted the very same greyish bird that came with the mesia yesterday. This time we were close enough to see bluish tint on its wings, a key point for Jens to recognize it as Blue-winged Minla.

Blue-winged Minla. Finally we were able to identify it!

On a few minutes bird activity started to rise again. I managed to spotted a Black-browed Barbet on a nearby fruiting tree. While trying to get a picture of it, we were visited by our first big mixed-species flock on that morning. It was started by some Mountain Fulvetta, followed by the two bulbuls, Sultan Tit, a pair of Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-and-red Oriole, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Blue Nuthatch and Plain Flowerpecker. When the flock has gone, we looked back to the road behind us only to see a glimp of Great Hornbill on a distance!

Black-browed Barbet
Racket-tailed Drongo
Sweet couple!
This one lost its racket-tail.
Black-and -Red Oriole
Sultan Tit, probably the biggest tit I have ever seen! Wait.. it doesn’t sound right.
Mountain Bulbul

At the beginning of the loop, the birds becoming completely quiet. It started to feel hot and the mist already disappear, so we increased our pace to the peak of the loop. We still managed to spot some common bird suh as Mountain Imperial Pigeon and Asian Brown Flycatcher, but there was nothing new for the trip. However, as we reached the peak we spotted a Large Cuckooshrike perching on a powerline, while Jens showed me a distant Black-crested Bulbul along with a flock containing the same birds as in the morning. At the very same place, we saw a Changable Hawkeagle flew past us, becoming our first identifyable raptor in the trip.

Mountain Imperial Pigeon
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Black-crested Bulbul
View from the peak of Telekom Loop

We started our decent slowly, as the canopy becoming much more quiet than before. We didn’t see anything new until we reached Stephen’s place near the end of the loop, where we stopped for a while to see a nesting spot of Black-nest Swiflet just next to it. I looked randomly to the treetop only to spot a Black-thighed Falconet perching on a bare branch, seemingly attracted by the swiflet colony. Unfortunately, it disappeared before Jens was able to see it.

Just at the last corner of the loop, when we thought there were no more bird to see that day, we spotted a Red-headed Trogon perching a few meters ahead. The trogon stayed still for a minute whilst I was struggling with my camera, trying to get a good picture of it (somehow my camera wasn’t able to focus on red-colored object, including minivet and trogon!). Just when I switched it to manual focus mode, a car came so fast that it scare away the trogon!

Red-headed Trogon

We walked rather exhausted back to Jalan Lady Guilemard, where the very same pair of Large Niltava greeted us with it’s fantastic color. I managed to get some clear shot from a close distant before Jens called me to hurry up (he looked very tired at the time). 

Large Niltava
Large Niltava

We came straight to the restaurant at the inn, where we sat down on the terrace and watched a flock of Long-tailed Sibia eating a leftover fruit. When I tried to get a better picture, a bright green flash flew straight to the feeder–our first Fire-tufted Barbet! It was funny that we need two days to see one of the most common barbet in this area.

We decided to not going anywhere that day, so we just lied down on the bed until the night came. That was the time when we heard some weird noises from the golf course, which I was sure came from some nocturnal bird! I grabbed my torch and tried to spot something on the darkness, but Jens skeptically said that it was impossible to see anything from this area. Just as he said that, my torch hit an eye-shine from a bird perching on the top of pine tree in front of our hotel–a nightjar! We spent some time to identify the nightjar as we couldn’t see any detail with my weak torch, but we finally agreed that it was a Grey Nightjar (mr Durai confirmed this the next day). We called it a day and went straight to sleep.

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