Tag Archives: Rhinoceros Hornbill

Foothill birding at Janda Baik


Excellent sub montane forests at the foothills of Janda Baik.

Those who drive up to Bukit Tinggi and Genting Highlands along the Karak Highway will be familiar with the turnoff at Genting Sempah to Janda Baik. The foothills along this stretch are dotted with resorts, rest houses and a large private estate of Tanarimba, rising up to 2,000 ft asl. A largely Chinese community is clustered at the Kg. Baru Bukit Tinggi where a few very good Malaysian style Zichar and Seafood restaurants served up great dishes at a fraction of the prices here. For me the must eat is the honey jackfruit from the corner restaurant. It is grown from their own farm and not available elsewhere.  The numerous fruit stalls by the roadside sells fruits that are plucked ripened. Both the papayas and longangs we bought were very sweet and fresh.

Durian Orchard Villa
Durian Orchard Villa at Radiant Retreats.

My grandson enrolled in a weekend eco camp at Radiant Retreats nestled in a matured durian plantation. I followed them there to explore the birdlife around the foothills.  I was quite surprised that the forests were in excellent condition. Gibbons can be heard almost daily. Though the density was not great but the diversity is much higher than Bukit Tinggi side. The presence of a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills at a fruiting fig indicates a good forest. The developers have been sensitive not to destroy the habitat. No highrise were allowed and the bungalows are well spread out. Most owners tried to retain if not improve on the greenery.

Birding from the car was easy, stopping at spots where mini bird waves and calls were seen or heard. The cooler and less humid weather makes it even more comfortable. These are some of the birds that I managed to photograph during the few days when I was there.


The more energetic can go for the one hour trek to the waterfall at Lata Carok. The water from the falls turned into a stream for rubber tubing at Santai Riverside. It was here that I photographed this beautiful Green Metalwing and Grey Sprite. The former is believed to be extinct in Singapore while the latter is uncommon, found only in a few locations.

Moths were everywhere at night but I was fascinated with this as it used the floor of our villa to camouflage itself. Appreciate ID from anyone.

Moth using the floor to camouflage itself.

I have not been to Genting Highlands for more than a decade and was keen to see what the place and birdlife was like. I was disappointed. It was a concrete jungle up there. It seems that they want to build a metropolis up at the top. The road up to the the telecom towers was quiet. I had to drive down to the Temple and Awana area to get to see some of the familiar montane species. I was quite happy with the birding at the compound of the temple. Some of the common species seen (below). A calling Whistling Thrush refused to show itself.

If you are tired of birding at Bukit Tinggi, this would be a good place to spend a day or two if you have nothing better to do. There are enough out door attractions for the rest of the family to do while you bird.

Taman Negara Merapoh 10-14 October 2015


The least visited part of Taman Negara is the NW entrance at Merapoh. This is also the start of the climb to Gunong Tahan, the highest mountain of Peninsula Malaysia. The nearest town is at Gua Musang, 26 km from the Park HQ. Ping Ling organised this 4 days trip to look for the pittas and frogmouths. Together with Alfred Chia, Goh Yue Yun and Tan Ju Lin, we drove up from Kuala Lumpur via the Karak Highway turning off at Bentong.

Great company with three first ladies of birding.
Great company with three first ladies of birding.

P1210051We stayed at the Mines Inn, a clean and comfortable budget hotel with free wifi. Rooms with twin beds cost RM90 per night. There is a 24 hours 7-Eleven next door for any late necessities. Across the road KFC and a Malay Roti Cania shop are also open all day and night. This is where we had our breakfast and take away lunch. Dinner was at Kim Kee Restaurant just off the main road. They had a great menu serving typical Malaysian Chinese home cooked fare. Their menu was extensive with a few signature dishes. I highly recommend this place. The Secret Recipe down the road was a treat as the cakes here cost a third of what you pay in Singapore. So it is worth staying in town and drive to the park in the morning.


The park grounds are good for birding if the fig trees are fruiting. We were lucky and got half of our birds here. The best was a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills feeding there together with the Black Hornbills on the second morning. Frogmouths were reported nesting in the trees above the bridge but we were late and they must have left. Look out for the White-chested Babbler walking below the bridge. The main birding track is the first 2 km paved road from the bridge.

Garnet Pitta.

We had our Garnet Pitta on the right side on the first morning. Further down there were two “feeding stations” where we think the photographers got the shots of the Banded Pittas. Unfortunately we did not even hear them calling. Rufous and Scaly-crowned and Ferruginous Babblers can be found along this stretch. This was also where the Crestless Fireback made a dash across the road. This is our bird of the trip which I missed.


We hired the park’s 4WD to take us to the Kelah Sanctuary about 14 km inside. This is where they hand fed the protected Kelah and Mahseers, something all visitors do.


The Kelah is an expensive table fish in many of the restaurants in town. They only live in clear running mountain streams and feed on fruits.

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

We found out that the last one kilometer stretch to the sanctuary was a good place to bird.This is where we encountered a few decent bird waves with species like Rufous-winged Philentoma, Buff-rumped Woodpeckers, Scarlet-rumped Trogon and Pale-blue Flycatcher. In all we saw 92 species and heard another 27 making a total of 119 species.

Rare Palm King Amathusia schoenbergi
Rare Palm King Amathusia schoenbergi

But Merapoh is not just about birds. The park is noted for its mammals, plants and butterflies. We had 13 non avian species comprised of three squirrels, two monkeys, a gibbon, barking deer and a herd of domesticated Bantengs. I photographed a rare Palm King and the Purple Duke, the only species of its genus in Malaysia. Many thanks to my birding kakis for the great company and a very enjoyable trip.