Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Amazing Bukit Fraser: Part 3 - The Finale

So, we were on our last day in Fraser's Hill and Christian, Jun, Jops and I were up early to try and find the Slaty-backed Forktail in a spot which Durai pointed out to us the night before. It was a cold, foggy morning, but thankfully no rain again =)

Waiting (and hoping!) that the forktail would show up

We waited some more, each of us walking in different directions. We found ourselves near the small stream by the road. Christian and Jops started reading aloud from the field guide where it said that the forktail had a metallic call. A second after the words left their lips, a distinct metallic call sounded from the stream! And, amazingly, two Slaty-backed Forktails flew onto the road from the stream!

Slaty-backed Forktail

We were thrilled to see two of them appear as if on cue! They walked continuously while foraging on the road. While we observed them, another bird popped up on the same spot on the road! What luck! It was a Malaysian Whistling Thrush!

As if to prove its identity, it started whistling!!

It was so cool watching the birds as they foraged on the ground, oblivious that they were being watched by four amazed birders.

Documentary shot of both species in one photo! Cool!

We were enjoying the great views of these two lifers when a car passed through, flushing them all away! The thrush stayed hidden in the bushes but the forktails came out again. But then, another vehicle passed and they flew further away into an adjacent road. We birded in the area for a while more but it wasn't so birdy, although we spotted a Little Cuckoo Dove in the area.

Little Cuckoo Dove

As we prepared to board the car, we heard the call of a Common Green Magpie. After a short while of scanning the trees, we were able to see it! Too bad it was too far for a good photo.

We drove back to the hotel to have breakfast and then met up with Durai for our last round of birding before we had to leave for the airport. We hit a birdy patch of roadside forest and saw some Lesser Racket-tail Drongo and some Greater Yellownapes! A mixed flock also flew in and out of the area. Durai then called our attention to a male and female Large Niltava sitting in a very dense area near the road.

The best shot I could muster of the Greater Yellownape

We moved on to another road and tried to look for Sultan Tits that Durai kept hearing. When the birds did not show, we walked back to our car when a loud call resonated from far away: a Rhinoceros Hornbill was calling! Sadly, the bird did not come any nearer to where we were, so we moved on. 

We spent the rest of our morning walking along this stretch of road and we were able to finally spot the beautiful Sultan Tits, who were very frisky and didn't stay long for any photos. Some of us were able to see the Black Laughing Thrush, but I wasn't able to see it. We were also wow-ed by a small but beautifully-marked Black-eared Shrike-Babbler and I was able to spot the Black-browed Barbet.

It was almost noon and we had to checkout of the hotel. As we were saying our goodbyes, three hornbills flew across the valley fronting our hotel. We said our goodbye to Durai and thanked him for showing us so many birds and wildlife in Fraser's Hill and for his time and excellent company =)

Group shot!
Christian, Jun, Durai, me, and Jops

We had our last lunch in Mimi Strawberry near the golf course and we drove up Radar Hill before we headed down to The Gap. In some grassy lots, we were able to tick off  some White-rumped Munias! We didn't see much but at The Gap, we had good views of some Black-browed Barbets and a Bronzed Drongo. As the rain started to fall, we got in our rented car and said goodbye to Fraser's Hill.

It was an awesome trip! I racked up 50 lifers and I know there was still a lot we missed seeing. I'm sure everyone in our group wants to go back and see more of the birds of Fraser's Hill. But for now, the pictures, field notes, and memories are enough. BUT! We'll definitely be back =)

Sunrise in front of our hotel, where the three hornbills flew across,
bidding us farewell... or, see you soon =)

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