Wednesday, 18 April 2012

On The Road Again - Canned Heat

Sad but true, Marc has already identified this bird for me after failing miserably myself to find it in the appropriate Field Guide, but I forgot to write it down Miss! If you can help?

As the headline suggests today was another 'transit day' with the huge benefit of having a lift with Ben, Dick & Marc the full distance. While finances didn't even come into it, there was no way a contribution would not be forthcoming, for this 300+ Km ride, so in real terms for me to fill the tank (@ 75 pence per litre) came to a little more than half what I would have paid for a taxi down the mountain, just 48Km.

The simple plan was to take it easy, stop frequently and hopefully find a few birds en-route. We didn't have to wait long, as at the first stop Marc pulled a MOUNTAIN LEAF WARBLER out of the bag, while Dick soon found the diminutive SPECKLED PICULET (a tiny Woodpecker which as to be favourite for 'Best Avian Spoonerism' @ Pickled Speculet) high in a tree. Ben wasn't to be outdone as once we got underway again he called CHESTNUT-CAPPED FOLKTAIL feeding at the road-side. It was now up to me to make some input, but think we all saw the shape on the verge some distance ahead at the same time. The immediate and unanimous prognosis was a 'Gamebird' but we needed to get closer to find out. Well driven by Marc, the target didn't move but we were all wrong as what we were looking at was a

forlorn looking juvenile CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE.

Whether it was victim of a RTA or simply 'puffed out' after a long squawk we never did find out,

but closer approach certainly got its hackle up.

Seemingly unharmed, it was I who picked it up and gave it the once over finding no signs of injury. There was little else we could do except to find it a place in the shade, which is where we left it.

On the plus side, before leaving we did see 2 adult birds thermalling overhead so decided to think that they went to the rescue.

Dick again came to the fore finding the next object of our desire

with what we believed to be an ORCHID

It was certainly impressive and looked like being even more so if all the 'mouths' were to be filled with a bloom. WHITE-BREASTED RAIL has been common elsewhere but today's was the first on the Malaysia List as was RED JUNGLEFOWL and STRIPE-THROATED BULBUL. It was Marc back in action again this time with an ARCTIC WARBLER and not to be outdone Dick also found something tiny, a GREEN IORA.

Reaching KualaTahan, the last townlet before our destination, we stopped to check directions as so many of the roads and tracks here have been changed, as we were about to find out. The Dustbin Man proved a fine agent for our enquiries and suggested we follow him until we again picked up the signs. During this rest we were parked alongside a rain-filled monsoon ditch, from where I casually said "we should see Schrenck's Bitter fly out of there before we leave". A seriously secretive and declining little Heron we were never going to be that lucky, but

a CINNAMON BITTERN (Malayan Ticks all round) did spring from the ditch, fly over the road and seemingly land close by.

That was just what it had done, giving close views, and as a result we also saw

4 LITTLE EGRET a surprisingly late addition to the Country List.

We now had to drive back on ourselves a distance of some 20 miles but, it's an ill wind that doesn't blow some good. For starters, I alone scored the beautiful blue and yellow GREAT IORA which although a 'Lifer' for me had been seen by all of the others in Thailand in the past. The next were about half a dozen PADDYFIELD PIPITs, but the real coup was GREAT ARGOS a similar shaped and size bird to the Peacock (Peafowl before I'm corrected) which maybe needless to say was a 'first' for us all.

After 7 hours, much of it 'birding', we finally reached the ferry which would take us across the

Kelantan River and the Landing Stage at the

There was a need to abandon the car at the small village of Kuala Tahan but the 'word on the street' was that crime is all but unheard of here. The tiny boat dropped us and our baggage at the hotel jetty, from where the latter was loaded into a truck which was winched up the steep hill - phew, thank heavens for that! By the time we had all checked in there was little daylight left, but what there was, was fully utilized. Taman Negara is a massive National Park with no fences and all the animals are 'wild', albeit some have found a natural and plentiful supply of food withing the Resort Complex.

First on the list was INDO-MALAYAN MUNTJAC,


and some trees with extraordinary root-stock.


and MONITOR LIZARD were also seen and we hadn't reached our cabins yet. Unpacking is a pursuit best undertaken under the cover of darkness and our swift actions to get back in the field was rewarded with the sighting of 3 x male


The darkness didn't help with the photography, but if you angle your screen right,

otherwise you can do it at leisure and view this image borrowed from the Internet.

TWILIGHT MUSHROOMS (Mister Merry - The Hobbit)

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