Day 3, Monday 21st July 2014:
On the flight from Helsinki to Bankok, Mum and I both managed to get some sleep, not having to worry about food, since there were no vegetarian meals on board for us. In Thailand, we did not have time to leave the airport, so we did a lot of sitting around reading, grabbing some Thai soup for breakfast, sleeping and doing our Finnish list. Next up: Kuala Lumpur (known as KL), Malaysia.
|Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig multi-tasking in Bankok|
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig
As we had a bit of sleep, we entered KL immigration feeling slightly refreshed. That feeling quickly evaporated during the hour wait to get through. I think most of the immigration officers were taking time off because of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
After that we went to collect our bags, thinking that they would have been out for ages by then. However, we were wrong. The status said that they had only jut started putting bags out. So, after another hour of waiting with some other people who also didn’t have their bags either, we gave up and went to report that they were both missing.
Once we had filled in lots of forms and described our bags, we went to meet our guide for the next two days, Andrew Sebastian. It was 4 pm by then and we were supposed to meet him at 2 pm. Andrew was quite tall and looked Indian but with a load of heritages as well including Portuguese and Chinese. It was the start of my understanding that Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures.
As we turned up so late, our afternoon of birding had to be cancelled and all we had time to do was quickly go to Bukit Melawati, Kuala Salangor and bird there for half an hour. There were two species of monkeys on the side of the road and on the lamp posts. There were the cute and friendly Silver-leafed Monkeys and the more vicious looking Long-tailed Macaques, both of which were being fed by tourists. Even though we only had a short time, we still managed to see Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Oriental Pied Hornbill and Pacific Swift.
We then checked into our hotel, had a quick Indian meal before going out for the evening owling, to try and see Buffy Fish Owl. We tried for 2 hours in all the usual haunts with no luck, but heard a distant Oriental Scops Owl. At one point, we saw something run into some long grass. We all ran to where the “something” had been and Andrew pointed to some scat on the path. Andrew, who knows a lot about mammals, snakes as other reptiles, immediately called “Leopard Cat”. We all turned to look in the direction that the animal had gone, in the long grass. Andrew and the ranger who had come with us, both pointed their heavy duty torches in the direction of the cat, following it as it moved through. Then, suddenly, and a bit expectantly we saw a Leopard Cat run out of the grass and across a path, giving us all fantastic views. All thoughts of the owl were momentarily forgotten!
We then tried one last place and heard the owl calling. Andrew went into the mangroves to try and call it in, when 10 minutes later the ranger saw it whilst standing a couple of metres away from us. We were so frustrated that Mum and I surprised Andrew, by following him into the mangrove forest. However, we still had no luck and eventually made it to bed at 11.00 pm, which in retrospect didn’t help our jetlag.
Day 4, Tuesday 22nd July 2014:
Our first full day of birding was a later start than we would have liked, but general lack of sleep had caught up with us. We went to straight to Kuala Selangor Nature Reserve, to do some mangrove forest birding. We climbed a couple of platforms for birding from, which Mum held onto tight, as they swayed a little. I told myself that was the design and not a building flaw. Despite getting there at 8.00 am, we still saw a load of birds including Sunda Pygmy and Laced Woodpeckers, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher and Brown-throated Sunbird which were all new for me. Andrew was really good company and really looked after us, which was a lovely start to our trip.
Our next destination was to meet a local guide, Durai, in Bukit Fraser, a hill station great for birding, two hours from KL. However, Andrew called him and said we were going to be late. He then took us on a detour to Bukit Tinggi, another hill station, for a very special bird. He explained that the Mountain Peacock-pheasant used to be an impossible to see bird, one of only four birds endemic to Peninsular Malaysia. Then about six months ago, some photographers started feeding them mealworm in the same location. I told him that the same thing had happened in South America with Antpittas and worked well.
|Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig birding at Bukit Tinggy, Malaysian Peninsular|
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig
Andrew then took us to the top of a trail and poured water onto the ground to make it sound like he was spreading food. We then sat on some well positioned logs and waited for only 10 minutes, before they came in. We saw a pair briefly cross the path before two young birds wandered about for some time, just in front of us. I even managed to get a couple of photographs on my I-pod.
|Mountain Peacock-pheasant, Bukit Tinggy, Malaysian Peninsular|
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
On a high from our first endemic of the trip, Andrew took us to Bukit Fraser, for the next part of our trip.