Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Amazing Bukit Fraser - Part 2

To continue our Bukit Fraser's adventure, we set out to bird along the road in front of our hotel. Just outside our hotel, the trees were busy with bird activity.

Roadside birding just by the Pine Resort Hotel

I was thrilled to see the Ochraceous Bulbul, with its funky beard, and also the Striped-throated Bulbul. We were also able to see a Bronzed Drongo and a bright blue Turquoise Flycatcher in the trees just beside our apartment building!

We walked further down the winding road and saw some more species in the trees by the roadside. Lots of Black-throated Sunbirds were foraging in the trees and one popped up just in front of me and stayed a while for a photo!

A very compliant male Black-throated Sunbird

We also spotted a Little Spiderhunter, a small flock of Blue-winged Minlas, and some Everett's White-eyes. Aside from the birds, we also spotted mammals! A cute Grey-bellied Squirrel stayed still long enough for a photo as it was having its breakfast.

Grey-bellied Squirrel

We also spotted a big group of monkeys moving through the trees. At first, we thought they were the siamangs, black gibbons native to Malaysia. But they turned out to be another species: White-thighed Leaf Monkeys!

White-thighed Monkeys on the move

We were hoping for some hornbills, but unfortunately none showed that morning. We headed out to The Gap and try to see more birds there. We ticked off a couple more lifers: Dark-throated Tailorbird and the handsome Black-crested Bulbul, before taking some souvenir photos and going for lunch.

Anna, Jessie, Jops, Jun, and Christian at the Fraser's Hill sign!

After lunch, the rain started. We drove back to the hotel to meet with Mr. Durai, the premier bird guide in Fraser's Hill. We waited until the rain slowed down to a steady drizzle and headed out for more birding. We also said goodbye to Anna and Jessie who were leaving early to meet up with family in Kuala Lumpur.

Jops, Durai, and Jun talking while we all waited for the rain to stop

Along the road, Durai pointed out some Monkey Cups (pitcher plants), which was cool because it was the first pitcher plant I've seen in the wild!

Durai asked us to pullover at one of the parking bays, and even in the light rain, we found ourselves looking at a handsome Rufous-browed Flycather, singing under some tangles near a stream! Cool!

Singing in the rain!

We heard a Common Green Magpie calling from the trees but didn't spot it. We made a quick stop at the Shazan Inn. We saw some fellow delegates from the 5th Asian Bird Fair in Langkawi who were photographing a male and female Little Pied Flycatcher pair which would come out in the open despite the steady rain.

This was the best shot I could get of the Little Pied Flycatcher in the rain

We moved on to another roadside spot and birded in the light rain. Even in the not-so-ideal weather, we saw some Wedge-tailed Green Pigeons, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Buff-bellied Flowerpecker, Mountain Fulvetta, and a lone Blue Nuthatch! As we were walking back to the car, Jops called our attention because he spotted a Red-headed Trogon! It was perched out in the open, under the falling rain! Cool!

The trogon flew further away and had its back to us, but came back to its
open perch after a few seconds
The rain made it soooo difficult to focus! This would have been an
awesome photo of an awesome bird!

The trogon soon flew away and as the rain started falling heavier, we took refuge in the car. We decided to call it a day and have dinner as the rain was getting stronger and the light was dwindling. After dinner, we thought it was back to the hotel for us, but Durai said he wanted to show us some spiders. Spiders?? Say what??

We drove in the night as the rain slowed to  drizzle. We parked at a bend in the road and followed Durai, shining his flashlight on the banks of the road.

Our small group following Durai in search of spiders at night

Honestly, I wasn't prepared for the awesome experience Durai was treating us to! He showed us a Trapdoor Spider inside it's trapdoor!!!

The trapdoor...
... and the spider that made it inside!

When the "tentacles" framing the trapdoor are triggered by movement, the spider lunges out of its lair in an ambush to get its prey. How cool is that?!

We left the Trapdoor Spider alone when it retreated further into its burrow, and Durai continued to scan the same area, this time for tarantulas! 

And tarantulas he did find!

After seeing the spiders, we dropped Durai near his home and returned to our hotel. Despite the rain, we did see a lot of birds and even got to see some really cool spiders! We still had one day left in Fraser's Hill and we once more prayed for good weather for the next day.

Part 3, the last one, coming up!

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