It was eight years since I last birded at Fraser’s Hill. So it was great to spend a few days there with the wife and get re-acquainted with the birds and the wildlife there this March.
A drive up to FH starts with a mandatory lunch at the must stop zi char stall at Kuala Kubu Bahru. It was the same as I remembered it eight years ago, nothing has changed right down to the cooling tea in a plastic bottle to the braised Ikan Kurau in Tofu, the most popular dish there. The grandma who took our orders was as cheerful as ever and treated us like her regulars. Maybe I spoke to her in Cantonese.
I managed to get the Sunbird room at Stephen’s Place. Stephen and his wife took over Lady McNiece’s bungalow Buona Vista along Telecom’s Loop and turned it into a center for birders and naturalists. The main draw of staying here is that you get to meet visitors with similiar interest and the big moth screen that Stephen set up in his garden. I am not a moth person but I cannot help photographing over 50 different moths there.
Some of the hundreds of moth that were attracted by the light at Stephen’s Place. Click on the photos for the names.
We had a bonus in the form of a Malayan Palm Civet that came to feed at Stephen’s Place the mornings and evenings. Stephen and his son Adam had been nursing this civet cat after it was confiscated from an illegal owner. They have just released it back into the wild. They still put out some cat food in the garden for it as it adapts to life in the wild.
“Stinky” the Malayan Civet still comes back to feed on the cat food put out by Stephen
Another reason for my visit is to see the Malayan Hill Partridges. This species was legendary hard to see. In fact you are lucky to hear them call below some gullies at the High Pines. But two years ago a family was found feeding outside the Richmond Bungalow. I found three partridges at 5 in the evening after three visits there.
Banded Leaf Monkey looks well fed while the Red-cheeked Ground Squirrel enjoys a left over papaya.
I first meet Durai 25 years ago when Kenneth Kee and I took three buses from Singapore to FH. The man don’t seem to age. It was great to catch up and see that he now has a shop at Shahzan Inn and making a good living doing something he enjoyed doing, showing the birds of FH to the overseas visitors.
Blue Nuthatch, Malayan Cuckooshrike with a praying mantis and the “Elvis” bird of FH, the much sought after Long-tailed Broadbill.
Birdlife today is a lot quieter than before, but it is still the premier montane forest birding destination in Malaysia. With patience, many of the uncommon species can be seen. For the first time visitors, common birds like the Silver-eared Mesias, Laughingthrushes, Streaked Spiderhunters, Mountain Bulbuls, Sibias and Sunbirds were enough to make them happy. I remembered the non stop bird waves with twenty plus species that we used to encounter at just about every bend. During the few days we were there, we encountered only two bird waves with less than ten species each.
I found the bird life along the new road going down was more diverse and active. The forest is more open and many of the lowland species can be found here. We got a Long-billed Spiderhunter, Blue-throated Barbets and Sultan Tits on the way down.
The Gap Rest House is now an empty shell. Lets hope that this much loved bungalow will be restored to its former glory.
This could be my last visit to this wonderful hill station. Had many fond memories of the great time I spent there over the years. I hope that there will be no more big developments there and the FHDC spend some money to restore some of the old buildings and places back to its old glory. It was painful to find the Gap Rest House an empty shell. It was one of the must stay places for anyone visiting FH in the past.