Thanks to the management of the Shazan Hotel where we were staying, we were able to obtain a ride to take us to the Jelai parking lot before the 7 am deluge of birds. Already there were a vanload of Japanese birders and the tall New Zealander we met yesterday. The early avian visitors were the drab colored Javan Cuckooshrike and the Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (both of which sent the Japanese birders in a frenzy). Then came the wave led by the imperious Sultan Tit and the usual Silver-eared Mesias, Long-tailed Sibias, and both Laughingthrushes. Having already photographed those yesterday, my wife and I tried to focus our attention (and our cameras) on the tiny skulkers that accompanied the more colorful flock. It was not an easy task since these small, not so gaudy birds were moving non-stop in and out of the foliage, some even teasingly close. Through sheer luck (and lots of determination) we were able to capture some of them:
The slightly larger Blue-winged Minla. Although we've seen this lifer yesterday, we were not able to get a good photo of it.
A Gray-throated Babbler
A Mountain Tailorbird which seem to be missing its tail
And a lifer - an Eastern Crowned Warbler!
At about half-past eight, the bird activity waned as expected. Our group was about ready to leave when one of the guides for the Japanese birders pointed to the Red Bottle Brush tree behind us. "Orange-bellied Leafbird" was his curt comment. Excited ooohs and aaahs filled the air while Cynthia and I fired away.
As the Japanese group were leaving to have their breakfast, a local bird guide, Mr. Durai, came with a couple of European (Nordic?) birders. They were a tad too late but still, it was Mr. Durai who showed us our next lifer. Apparently this bird waits until the commotion had died down before showing up. Perhaps it was ashamed of its rather drab coloring? For us the Buff-breasted Babbler is still a treasure.
That afternoon, a little after four, Cynthia and I decided to continue to explore the area we went to the day before. It looked promising birdwise and we were eager to discover what lies in the jungle out there. As we were leaving the hotel we thought of passing through the restaurant area. Cynthia wanted to ask the waiters about the Barbet so I sauntered ahead.
"What time does the green bird come to the feeders?" my wife asked one of the waiters.
"It doesn't come in the afternoon, ma'am" he politely replied.
"Then what is that?" I asked pointing to the feeder.
I did not wait for Cynthia's reaction as I happily took shot after shot of the Fire-tufted Barbet perched on a tree branch (and not on the feeder where it usually stays!)
Exhilarated, we continued on our journey. Yesterday as we passed by it, we were intrigued by the Hemmant trail. Guidebooks say that it was quite a birdy place, although some warned of the presence of leeches. "Let's check it out" I told my very reluctant wife.
As we approached the entrance, Cynthia grabbed me and pointed at a tiny stump. "There's a bird there!" Inasmuch as I was the one holding the camera, I pointed it at the general direction that my wife was referring to. Indeed there was a brown thing on top of the brown stump. "Rufous-browed Flycatcher!"
"Shoot! Shoot!" was all she could say about the newest addition to our lifelist.
We both agreed that we need to take the trail tomorrow morning when there is more light.
We moved on to the verdant area beyond the food court. Once again, the skulkers were popping in and out of our sights. I finally got a Mountain Fulvetta with some nesting material in its beak.
It was now almost six pm so we turned around and was about to head back to the hotel when something yellow flashed from the shrub nearby. For the next five minutes we followed the yellow bouncing ball, me taking potshots whenever I can and hoping I would get at least one good photo. At one point it went within the tightly knit branches of a pine sapling not more than 5 feet away and at eye level! So close and I could not get a shot at it. Frustration could hardly describe how I felt then.
That night when I uploaded the results of my photographic endeavors, I was so thrilled that yes, there was one good shot of the yellow bird. It was a Golden Babbler! And yes, it was another lifer!
What a way to end our last full day at Fraser Hill.
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Kagu
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