Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fraser's Hill, Malaysia Atrractions for Naturelist

Fraser's Hill
Fraser’s Hill is a cool retreat hill station established by the British Colonial in the early 1900’s. It is about 1,300m above sea level on Titiwangsa mountain range of Peninsular Malaysia. It lays on seven hills straddle in the Selangor and Pahang border. This hill station was named after a Scottish tin miner James Louis Fraser who explored and discovered it as a prospect tin mining site. He stayed on employed Chinese miners to help him to work on the mine. However he mysteriously disappeared without any trace some years later. In 1917, Reverend C.J Ferguson-Davie while he was on holiday at the Gap, he trekked up to looked for the bungalow’s of James Loius Fraser. He could not found Fraser but instead he was being compelled to write to Singapore High Commission suggesting that the area be turn to hill station.

Unlike the others two hill stations namely Genting Highlands and Camerron Highlands in Peninsular Malaysia, till to date Fraser’s Hill is lack of commercial development. Due to this fact Fraser’s Hill remains as a popular spot for nature enthusiast namely the bird watchers.

Throughout the year Fraser’s Hill temperature are between 17°C-25°C. With this comfortable ideal range of temperature one can walked a few KM a day without feeling lethargic. For birdwatching is ideally to arrange your visit between Monday to Friday and try to avoid public holiday as Fraser’s Hill is also popular spot for city folks to escape the heat and stress. No doubt in the mid October to December we are experiencing more rains it is also worth to visit Fraser’s Hill cause it is a bird migratory period.

How to get there
Car- self drive

As of to date Fraser’s Hill is best reached by self-drive vehicle, taxi or engage a license tour agent/guide. From Kuala Lumpur head north towards Rawang. From Rawang follow the direction to Kuala Kubu Bahru . Kuala Kubu Town is last destination that you need to fill up the car fuel tank before heading up to Fraser’s Hill.

Kuala Kubu Bahru is about 40km from Fraser’s Hill and there is no petrol station along the way after that or at Fraser’s Hill. Alternatively Fraser’s Hill can be reached via Karak highway. Turn left at Bentong junction proceed to Teranum. At Teranum take left turn towards GAP.

Keep in mind that if the new road from the Gap to Fraser’s Hill is close for renovation then the 8km narrow and winding old road is put to full used. Vehicles are only allow to go up on this one way road between 7am till 7pm (odd hour). The down traffic is from 6am till 6pm (even hour). The gate keeper would allow the last traffic to pass the gate at 40 minutes eg 6:40pm as the journey might takes 15 minutes. At 7:40pm till 5:40am this stretch of road will open for both way traffic. One need to be fully alert cause the road is very narrow and winding only at certain stretch is wide enough for 2 vehicles. If need to travel during this hour do remember to switch on the head lights and look out for on-comming vehicles.

Public Transport
Unlike a few years back for those who prefer to travel economically they can take the option to reached Fraser’s Hill by public transport. I do recalled taking this small rickety bus that ply from Kuala Kubu Bahru bus terminal to Raub that would drop you off to the clock tower of Fraser’s at 12:30noon. To date if you take the option of public transport, from Bangkok Bank Kuala Lumpur take metro Bus no 43 that head to Rawang. The frequency of this bus is every 20 minutes. At rawang bus terminal take bus no 36 to Kuala Kubu Bahru. The frequency of this bus is every 30 minutes. At Kuala Kubu Bahru hire a taxi to Fraser’s Hill do recall inform him/her the date and time to you off from fraser because there is no taxi at fraser’s.

Old style colonial bungalow, apartment, hotel and Inn are the range that one can choose from. Price is range per night from Rm70 per room to RM1, 000 for a bungalow.
At of present the famous GAP resthouse that is situated at the foothill is close for renovation. Puncak Inn at Fraser’s Hill that is newly renovated have a few range of rooms tailored to meet the needs of visitors. Being the cheapest a standard room is price at RM70 weekdays at weekend the same room is at Rm91.

It would be wise to make your reservations before hand, as during long weekends the accommodation there might be fully booked. Enquiries and Reservations can call to Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation on 609-3622201 (information), 609-3622007 (room reservation).

Share with you all some of flora and fauna that can be found at Fraser's Hill. This photo below is Sonerila the uniqueness of this species is endemic and only can be found at Fraser's Hill. Therefore this will give us all the reasons more to conserver and preserver Fraser's Hill.
For the photo below I do know what is the name of the species, but I doubt I have seen this.
This glittering leaves below was being notice by Irene. It was not raindrops.
After along hot spell and the sudden wheather change to rainy season will cause fungi or in common terms refer as mushroom to burst. Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cyclung and exchange. Actually there are many forms of fungi that I notice inside the trails.
This Moth was resting for many hours inside the apartment since I notice it. This white beattle flew in while we were at the waterfall road waiting for the appearance of the Green Magpie.

A common shrub plants that I notice there. There are alot of nice plants as well of small living beings there. It is advisable to takes nothing back but only photograph. All these will not survive well in urban city.
Below is a fig plants. The fruits just branch out from the branches, both photos are the same species but with different lightings.

Short Cut/Trails
My colleague Asmah who use to spend her early childhood there told me this “ Fraser’s is really quiet during weekdays … off and on there are foreigner walking around hanging around there neck with a pair of binoculars … Super peak period is the Bird Race event that normally happens in June…. Best lar staying there so many short cut to go here and there…” She means the Trails are the short cut.

There are many well-marked trails are worth to explore to avoid the heat from the sun in the afternoon. All of these trails are started/used for a purpose. All of them have been exist since in the early 1900’s except Rompin trail in the late 1980’s.
To name a few :-

Pine Tree Trail
Pine Tree trail being the toughest that demand physically challenge to complete the 5000m long trail takes 7 hours per journey. It was open by the British to walked to the mountain peak to enjoyed the view of the surrounding of Fraser’s Hill. It is wise to inform the hotel/at the local police station and engage a licensed local guide if intend to explore the whole of this trail.

Maxwell Trail
Maxwell trail is 1800m long is named after Sir George Maxwell the Chief Secretary of the Federated Malay States who took keen interest to developed Fraser’s Hill. In 1919 this trail is used for the workers who stayed at the Labour Lines now the present Pine Hill resort to gain access to the only radio at Fraser at Whittington bungalow the present Guthrie House who owned by an English miner to listen to news of World War 1.

Kindersley Trail
Kindersley trail is 750m long is a few minor obstacles are created in 1928 used by the British official to attend church service at Methodist House.

Rompin Trail
Rompin Trail being the shortest is only 500m. It was created in the late 1980. It is being used by the residents of Taman Sungai Hijau to commute daily to the town centre.

This could be a barbet or a woodpecker home once.
A millipede that we noticed.
To discovered more get the detail map and full illustration of all the trails of Fraser’s Hill at the tourism counter located at Puncak Inn lobby. Pick up a proper walking shoes preferable suitable for trekking, pack along some drinking water and some snack and I'm sure you would notice alot of more wonders that I do.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My November Bird Watching Field Trip to Fraser's Hill, Malaysia

My field Trip.
In this one field trip report consist sightings of my 2 field trips that I make in the same month. My first trip is in the 1st week of November it was a long time then since my last visit. The news sightings of tiger place a great curiosity that I can’t wait for work assignment to be lighten a bit so that I could takes some time off. It was so happen that Dr Fong called me up to inquired some info about birding at Doi Inthanon. In the midst of conversation I lamented that I need a break from office and since new road is close therefore it may be a good idea to take our chance to bump into tigers. :-)

Since I managed to booked my company’s holiday apartment for this. My younger brother voluntary offer to drive and we packed along our father. Our mum decided to give it a miss cause she could not handle the curvy and winding road. My other immediate families have other commitment therefore I could have a spare room to host Dr Foong and his lovely wife. It is indeed an ideals plan cause it allow me to spend more time with my immediate family members and in the mean time able to squeeze up a birding trip with my birding friends.

Due to I did not drive up therefore it also free up my brain to think of what is the next destination of birding spot. Since we have been birding for quiet sometimes we decided to spend more times at the promising spot for a few species that are in our wish list. Dr Foong, his wife and me seems to be diligently patron at a few spots to give ourselves a great windows to have a glimpse of what is in our wish list.
The days in the 1st week of November during our visit at Fraser’s it seems that most of the days are either drizzling or raining. The leech of 3 sizes there are highly active inside the trails.
Many parts of the days are misty as this during my 1st week of november visit.
No doubt after some years of birding sightings of Long Tailed Sibia would not get one excited. Well have to remind ourselves that there are each different individual and not found at Thailand.

Beside our common wish list of the Mountain Peacock Pheasant, Cutia and Rusty-Naped Pitta. I also secretly wish to see the Malayan Hill Partridge. On the last day of our trip before we head down from this famous montane bird watching hill station in Peninsular Malaysia we are blessed to have a glimpse of Mountain Peacock Pheasant and Malayan Hill Partridge. I also have a small glimpse of a very unique looking pheasant that until today I yet to ID it. It was fogy then. Due to I’m more incline to be a birder rather than to be a bird photographer therefore I tense to look at the bird first. If they allow me more time to look at them and if they permit I would then take their photos. Therefore the above mentioned lifer I have to planned for another trips to record it in the CF card. The next trip I have to negotiate all the curvy and winding road myself as I need to drive.. ALL because of YOU - the Mountain Peacock Pheasant one of the 3 endemic birds species of Peninsular Malaysia. I wish that you give me a better glimpse.. :-)

Some part of the days are better during the 1st week of november therefore able to get a decent photos of Fire-Breasted of Flowerpecker. Due to I wish to clear a few more days of my annual leave, I head off to Fraser’s Hill again on the 4th long weekend. This time I hosted Irene and Chan. This time during our visit, the raining spelt seems to be a totally reverse. We are experiencing more hot sunny day compare to my 1st visit.
Hah.. this red fruiting trees was fruiting to it's glory during the 1st week of november. It attracted Black Crested Bulbul, Scally Breasted Bull, Black Browed Barbet, White Eye..

However on my second trip during the 4th weekend the fruits are all gone. This lone Feruginious Flycatcher winter visitors have found this place to be secure and comfy for wintering.. It was still there on my second trip.

One would not consider to complete your Fraser's birding trip if you did not notice this common montane species. We nicknamed them CCLT.
We tried to lookout for Trogon and as we drive past this area Dr Foong notice a pair of Little Cuckoo Dove.

A sudden burst of bird wave at the telekom loop. We have Chestnut Capped Laughingthrush, Cuckoo Shrike, Silvered-Eared Mesia, Minivet, Golden Warbler, Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo, Blue Nuthatch.
I must have too long since I go out to the field, until a common grassland habitat bird also takes me awhile to identify it as Rufescent Prinia.

The mission that I have set on my second trip however has failed... Hahh.. where are you Pheasant.... ?? I heard your friend the Hill Partridge calls in a very far distance. Well all I could conclude It is still consider a fruitful and blessed trip cause I managed to look at Red-Giant Flying Squirrel and Colougo. I could not believe my eyes when I saw how the Red-Giant Flying Squirrel fly across ... WOW..
Colugos are shy, noctural and they are restricted to the tropical rainforest of Southeast Asia. Colugos also known as Flying Lemur. This is a gliding mammals. They are using flaps of extra skin between their legs to glide from higher to lower locations.
The Red Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista, it feeds primarily on leaves and branches. It is able to glide for long distances.

Birds heard of seen.
Fire Tuffted Barbet, Black Browed Barbet, Brown Barbet, Red Headed Trogon, Red Bearded Bee Eater, Collared Owlet – heard (definitely not from the playback tape), Little Cuckoo Dove, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, Black Eagle, Rusty Naped Pitta (h), Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo, Green Magpie, Oriental Magpie Robin, Large Billed Crow, Black and Crimson Oriole, Malaysian Cuckoo-Shrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Grey-Chinned Minivet ,White Throated Fantail, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Rufous Browed Flycatcher, Feruginous Flycatcher, Slaty-Backed Forktail, Blue Nuthatch, Sultan Tit, Siberian Thrush, Verditer Flycatcher, Canary Flycatcher, Yellow Vented Bulbul, Ochraceous Bulbul, Ashy Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Scally-Breasted Bulbul, Black Crested Bulbul, Mountain Tailorbird, Dark Necked Tailorbird, White-Eye, Chestnut-Backed Scimitar Babbler, Golden Babbler, Black-Eared Shrike Babbler, White Browed Shrike Babbler, Blue Winged Minla, Mountain Fulvetta, Fire-Breasted Flowepecker, Streaked Spiderhunter, Black-Throated Sunbird, Grey Wagtail, White-Rumped Munia, Silver-Eared Mesia, Mountain Peacock Pheasant, Malayan Hill Partridge, Chestnut Capped Laughingthrush, Chestnut-Crowed Laughingthrush.