Birding Spots in Malaysia
White-breasted Woodswallow in courtship and finally....(Video taken in Sekinchan rice field near Kuala Selangor Nature Park, Malaysia - 4pm, 6th April 2007 by Mr Lee kok chung)
Malaysia still remains as one of the best destination for tropical rainforest bird life. Malaysia is geographically located in tropical climate zone and most of the territory is dominated by tropical rainforest. However, it is believed that about 60% of the forest has been lost because of oil palm and rubber plantation (or rather crop) and industrialization in the Peninsular Malaysia. Although a large scale forest is countable, there are still some good birding spots in the peninsular Malaysia.
Malaysia Side of Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) still remains very big piece of virgin forest that home for many endemic species. However most of the place is difficult to access until recently the local government effort to convert some of the forest reserve to become national park, game reserve and conservation area.
Around Kuala Lumpur (within 3 Hours driving)
1) Kuala Selangor Nature Park, Selangor
About 1 ˝ hr distance drive from Kuala Lumpur, located next to the Kuala Selangor town, small fishing town. A small nature park, located near to Bukit Melawati (light house). The nature park consists of coastal forest, mangrove and mud flats and is the best point for observing mangrove birds in Malaysia.
Major species, which can be seen, Brahminy Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Red Junglefowl, Pink-necked Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Malayan Bronze-cuckoo, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher (winter months), Greater Goldenback, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Pied Fantail, some rarities are Cinnamon-headed Pigeon, Orange-breasted Pigeon, Buffy Fish-owl, Mangrove Pitta and Copper-throated Sunbird.
Also, the nearby Jeram and Bagan Sungai Buloh is another good place for Shore Birds and migratory birds. Also, you can see some rare stork like Lesser Adjutant and Milky Stork.
2) Sekinchan, Selangor
Abut 2 hourse drive from Kuala Lumpur, and about 40 minutes driving distance from Kuala Selangor. Sekinchan are a costal fishing village and also a large paddy field area where you are able to see open country birds. Particularly, winter months are worthwhile to visit.
Shorebirds, Black-shouldered Kite, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Pied Harrier, Hen Harrier, Oriental Pratincole, Peaceful Dove, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Black Drongo, Stonchat, Brown Shrike and White-breasted Wood swallow could be spotted here.
3) Ulu Gombak/Genting Valley (Old Gombak Road)
The birds are in the forest along this Old Gombak Road.Located in northeast of Kuala Lumpur, about 30km. Before Karak Highway (east-west) was constructed, this road is the main route to eastern Peninsular Malaysia. The forest is suitable for observing lowland to lower mountainous species. While birding is mainly from the road, canopy or middle-upper storey birds are more frequently seen.
Common species are Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Indian Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, malkohas, treeswift, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher , minivets, leafbirds, ioras, bulbuls, Grey-headed Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Thick-billed Pigeon, Little Cuckoo-dove, barbets, woodpeckers, broadbills, flycatcher-shrikes.
4) Sungai Tekala Recreation Forest, Selangor
1 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, about 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur and the area is protected as a forest reserve.One of the best birding spot for searching lowland rainforest birds, especially ground or lower storey birds. There are few walking trails which provide you birds in the forest. Uncommon species, such as Red-naped, Diard's & Scarlet-rumped Trogons, Blue-banded, Banded & Rufous-collared Kingfishers can be found here.
5) Sungai Perdik, Selangor
About 1 ˝ hr drive from Kuala Lumpur. Close to Sungai Tekala. This is another lowland rainforest but is slightly open. Main species are Bat Hawk. Walk along the stream, it’s a flat walking trail.
Main species are Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, barbets, malkohas, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Rarities are Red-naped Trogon, White-bellied Woodpecker , Green Broadbill, Finsch's Bulbul, Grey-chested Flycatcher, Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Scarlet Sunbird, Crimson Sunbird and Thick-billed Flowerpecker.
6) Genting Highland, Selangor and Pahang
It’s about 1 ˝ hr drive from Kuala Lumpur. This is very easy access place for birders, mainly Highland birds and montene forest birds.
Birds seen here are mainly montaneous. For example, raptors, Collared Owlet, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Drongo Cuckoo, Red-headed Trogon, Bushy-crested Hornbill, Fire-tufted Barbet, Green Magpie, Golden Babbler, Pygmy Wren-babbler, Streaked Wren-babbler, Mountain Fulvetta
7) The Gap House, Selangor and Pahang
1 ˝ hr drive from Kuala Lumpur. Usually this is the stopping place before birders heading up to Fraser hill.Wide variety of birdlife here, mainly are highland forest birds with some lowland forest birds.
8) Fraser's Hill, Pahang
About 2 ˝ hrs drive from Kuala Lumpur, some birder make it as a day trip, but it’s highly recommended to stay overnight here in Fraser hill. Some highland resort develops since the early colonial era. Fraser's Hill is well-known as a famous birding place throughout the world and a bird race is annually held on June. You need to drive about 8 KM narrow road to the hill, please remember that it’s odd hrs are for traffic up and Even hours are for traffic coming down from the hill. The have many trail on top of the Fraser hill. Birds life here are relatively easy to spots.
Uncommon or rare like, Wallace's Hawk-eagle, Malaysian Hill Partridge Long-billed Partridge, Mountain Peacock-pheasant, Yellow-vented Pigeon, Wedge-tailed Pigeon, Oriental Cuckoo, Brown Wood-owl, Collared Owlet, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, Brown Needletail, Orange-breasted Trogon, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Bushy-crested, Wreathed, Rhinoceros & Great Hornbills, Bamboo Woodpecker, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Rusty-naped Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Marbled Wren-babbler, Eye-browed Wren-babbler, Cutia, White-tailed Robin, Malaysian Whistling-thrush,
8) Pasoh Forest Reserve, Kuala Klawang, Negeri Sembilan
About 2 ˝ hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, Pasoh is located about 150 km southeast of KL in Negeri Sembilan state. The forest reserve is maintained by FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia for their institutional objectives. There are well-maintained paths but are placed in dense forest, it is not suitable for searching canopy birds. For looking for middle storey to canopy birds, you should walk along the road. The forest reserve is well-known by the wide variety of nocturnal birds.
Main species are Oriental Bay Owl, White-fronted Scops-Owl, Reddish Scops-Owl, Barred Eagle-Owl, Buffy Fish-owl, Gould's Frogmouth, Javan Frogmouth and Malaysian Eared Nightjar. For day time birding, you might be able to see trogons, hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers, broadbills, Garnet Pitta and babblers.
9) Taman Pertanian (Agricultural Park), Shah Alam, Selangor
About 40 km from Kuala Lumpur, located in outskirts of Shah Alam. Well-maintained park which holds lowland rainforest species. Particularly canopy or upper storey birds are well-observed. Because of many visitors, avoid in the weekend. Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, malkohas, White-throated Kingfisher, barbets, woodpeckers, Ashy Minivet can be found here.
10) Templer's Park, Rawang, Selangor
Located in northeast of Kuala Lumpur, about 1 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur central. There are many waterfalls which attract visitors in the weekend. Trails in the forest are not maintained properly but may be good for looking for lower land forest birds. Templer's Park is still a good birding spot for birdwatchers while the access is relatively easy and less walk is required.
Crested Serpent Eagle, Emerald Dove, malkohas, barbets, woodpeckers, flycatcher-shrikes, Blue-winged Leafbird, More rarities are White-crowned Forktail, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Straw-headed Bulbul, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and Red-throated Sunbird are recorded here.
Outside Kuala Lumpur (more than 3 hours drive distance)
1) Cameron Highland, West Pahang
3-4 hrs drive from Kuala Lumpur. Cameron Highland is more developed than Fraser's Hill but is a still good birding spot where you can see upper mountain forest birds. There are several walking trails around Brinchang, Blue valley and Tanah Rata. Particularly, a road to Gunung Brinchan and Gunung Irau is one of few spots to see Rufous-vented Niltava and Chestnut-tailed Minla in Malaysia.
Others are Fire-tufted Barbet, Golden-throated Barbet, Chestnut-capped Laughing-thrush, Long-tailed Sibia, Yellow-breasted Warbler, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Hill Blue Flycatcher, White-throated Fantail and Black-throated Sunbird.
2) Tasik Bera (Lake Bera), South Pahang
Tasik Bera a rather difficult to find, it’s about 3-4 hrs drive from Kuala Lumpur heading to the Southeastern road. A peat swamp and lowland forest birding spot. Tasik Bera classified as the largest natural lake in Malaysia is dominated by pandanus shrub.
It is situated in the saddle of the main and eastern mountain ranges of the Peninsula and is approximately 35km long and 20km wide. Tasik Bera has remained a unique and remote wetland wilderness, which is surrounded by a patchwork of dry lowland forests.
The area is important as a prime example of freshwater swamp habitat and blackwater lacustrine ecosystem, supporting a high biodiversity. Bera Lake is a sanctuary for 328 species of flora, 200 bird species, 50 mammals, and more than 95 species of fishes.
Birds recorded are, for example, Crested Wood Partridge, Brown Wood-owl, White-throated Kingfisher, Long-tailed Parakeet, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Black-and-Red Broadbill, leafbirds, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler, Malaysian Rail-babbler, White-rumped Shama and Pied Fantail.
3) Tasik Chini, Pahang
Tasik Chini is one of the only two natural lakes in Peninsula Malaysia, both of which are located in the state of Pahang. Located approximately 100km from Kuantan town, the capital of Pahang, Chini is a lake that was formed from the natural damming of a river valley. It is Malaysia's second largest natural lake and is made up of a series of 12 lakes.
Earnest bird watchers will be happy to know that over 200 species of birds were recorded. Chini is a premier bird watching destination in Peninsula Malaysia. There are three bird watching trails, which go through different habitats. During the months of October to March, migratory birds come to Chini from the northern parts of Asia to escape the winter.
4) Taman Negara National Park, Pahang
Malaysia’s Taman Negara, is classified as one of the world’s oldest rainforests. Older than either the Amazon or the Congo, it has remained undisturbed for 130 million years.
For many, the attraction of Taman Negara is the abundant bird life, comprising of over 350 species. Though many forest species live secretive lives, either foraging in the undergrowth or hiding up in the canopy, at times these species may visit more open areas when there are flowers or blossoming trees. Perhaps the easiest place to spot the diversity of birds is right at your resort, where trees may have been planted to attract birds. These sites will be active early in the morning
Taman Negara is known as the best birding spot in the Peninsular Malaysia for observing lowland rainforest. The primary forest holds rich fauna. However, it means that flora is also rich which makes difficult to search canopy or upper storey birds.
Highlights here are Black Wood Partridge, Crested Wood Partridge, Crestless Fireback, Crested Fireback, Great Argus, Malaysian Peacock-pheasant, Masked Finfoot (mainly winter months), trogons, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Banded Kingfisher, hornbills, pittas (Blue-winged, Hooded, Garnet and Banded) and babblers.
5) Endau-Kota Tinggi Wildlife Reserve, Johore
About 5 hrs drives from Kuala Lumpur. Three main vegetation types occur, namely beach forest, fresh water swamp forest and lowland dipterocarp forest, wide variety of birdlife.
6) Endau-Rompin National Park, Johore
One of the few remaining lowland virgin forests in Peninsular Malaysia, with rock formations dating back some 248 million years, Endau-Rompin is mostly hilly with some prominent sandstone plateaus. It’s about 5 hrs drives from Kuala Lumpur.
7) Kenong Rimba Park, Pahang
Nearest town are Kuala Lipis, about 4 hrs from Kuala Lumpur. The park offers great adventure such as exploring limestone caves and river swimming, camping and jungle trekking. For birdwatchers, dove (Chalcophaps indica), merbah red eye “Pycnonothus Prunneus” and Copsycus malabaricus,prized for their singing ability can be spotted here.
8) Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary, Perak
About 1 hrs south of Penang Island. Kuala Gula is famous fishing village. From August to April every year, this area becomes a transit point for water birds from all over the world.
Kuala Gula is also a sanctuary for migratory and resident waterbirds such as storks, herons, bitterns, rails, gulls, egrets and terns. About 35 species of these birds are found here. The globally-threatened Milky Stork and Lesser Adjutant can sometimes be seen feeding on the mudflats together with Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Chinese Pond-Heron and Little Heron.
Other waterbirds such as Yellow Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-breasted Waterhen and occasionally. Several species of terns can be seen, including the Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Common Tern and Little Tern. The Brown-headed Gull is a regular winter visitor and sometimes many can be seen resting on mudflats.
In Kuala Gula, these wetland-dependent birds include raptors and kingfishers. Fish-eaters such as the White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Osprey and Brahminy Kite are a common sight around the waterways, Ruddy Kingfisher, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher and Black-capped Kingfisher can be found here.
9) Matang Forest reserve, Perak
Short distance drive from Kuala Gula or about ˝ hr drive from Taipeng, Perak. Another good place for water birds, especially during the north hemisphere winter migratory season.
1) Crocker Range national park, Sabah, Borneo
The Crocker Range National Park (CRNP) is situated in the Crocker Range, Sabah. Crocker Range was designated to be a forest reserve in 1968. Although there are no tourist facilities at this park, it is densely populated with birdlife and is a trekker's paradise.
Rich with flora and fauna, the Crocker Range Park offers visitors the chance to see tropical vegetation and wildlife not to found anywhere else but in Borneo.
2) Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah Borneo
The Tabin Wild Life Reserve was established in 1984 with the aim to protect endangered wildlife. Tabin is a fantastic place for bird-spotting as there are so many different species of birds including all the 7 of Sabah’s Hornbills species and the Crested Serpent Eagle.
3) Gunung Mulu National Park
The park is important for its high biodiversity and unique karst (limestone) features. Besides that, it contains seventeen vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants.
The Park also recorded 270 bird species where out of the 29 endemic Borneo species, 26 have been recorded. There are 8 of Borneo’s hornbill species have been identified including the wrinkled hornbill. Other species include Bulwer’s Pheasant, crested fire back pheasant, Storm’s stork, and the Bamboo muni which is endemic to Borneo and has only been found in Mulu and Kinabalu
4) Kinabalu National Park, Sabah Borneo
Mount Kinabalu is the tallest Malaysian mountain. Mount Kinabalu comprises an oval-shaped granite dome which resulted 1.5 million years ago by volcanic, tectonic and geological processes.
Kinabalu Park has essentially four main vegetation zones. However, these zones are localized variations depending on factors such as soil type, terrain, presence or absence of soils, proximity to streams and degree of exposure to sunlight. Mountain Bush Warbler, Kinabalu friendly Warbler, palefaced Bilbul and Mountain Blackeyes are among the 250 species of birds that can be found here.
5) Niah National Park, Batu Niah, Sarawak
The oldest modern human remains in Southeast Asia along with many other relics of prehistoric man were discovered about 40,000 years ago, making the park one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The Cave is home only to bats, swiftlets and other specially adapted forms of life.
If you leave the Great cave and return along the plank walk around clouds intermingling, you can see half a million of swiftlets are returning to their nests, whilst half a million bats fly out to forage in the forest.
6) Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sandakan , Sabah
The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC), which is located at the entrance of Sepilok Forest Reserves has been in existence since 1964. The Centre offers varieties of nature experiences such as nature talks, wildlife photography exhibitions, live orang utan observation during feeding time in semi-natural environment, filming, photography etc
The wealth of indigenous and rare plants, animals and birds that have found sanctuary here are to be seen to be believed. In term of its faunal richness, it boasts over 90 species of mammals and 209 species of resident birds.
7) Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
The park was created in 1974 and covers an area of approximately 50 square kilometers. The park has mangroves, coastal forests and beautiful white sandy stretches of shoreline.
The park headquarters, located on Pulau Manukan, oversee Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug.
A large number of birds are found in these islands including the white-bellied sea eagles, pied hornbills, green herons, sandpipers, pink-necked green pigeons, bulbuls, bablers, flycatchers, swiftlets, sunbirds and the megapode or burung tambun, a chicken-like bird which lays its eggs in mounds of sand on the edge of the beach. Also stand a good place to see the white breasted sea-eagle, pied hornbill, and the green heron.
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