It was a foggy morning when I woke up, but still no rain though and the river is getting quite low. It’s much, much lower than it was when I first arrived and at the river swimming area, there’s now a huge sandy beach exposed that was entirely underwater when I got here. It was quite a quiet morning birding, although I did see a Lesser Mousedeer from the boardwalk and a nice view of a male fireback pheasant just sitting quietly on the boardwalk. I’ve still not managed any pictures of the mouse deer though, they just run away too quickly. The forest also seems to be overrun today with a mixture of Low’s and Slender Squirrels with large numbers that seem to just have appeared out of nowhere. I also got an unexpected fly over by a flock of Long-tailed Parakeets.
I’ve been having potato bread that I carry with me for breakfast every morning in the forest (none of the restaurants open until after 9 which is too late for breakfast). Today, the potato bread I had bought was quite old and stale which was unfortunate, but I only mention it because normally it’s a
really good thing to have for breakfast and it seems to be available absolutely everywhere here, even in the tiniest of little shops, and it seems to be much better and more sustaining than normal bread. Quite a good food option. I also got another view early in the morning of a Red Muntjac at the Tahan Hide again. I just went around the Swamp Loop and a bit of the way up the Genet Muda Trail in the morning and although it seemed quiet and this is my seventh day, I was still adding the occasional bird which shows how biodiverse the area is and how many species there are that you could potentially see. You could spend weeks here and still be adding new species from the boardwalks around the entrance.
I haven’t seen any pittas though, which I had hoped for, although I do now know where to go and see them. The Blau and Yong Hides and the path around there are supposed to be excellent for them, although I won’t make it on this trip because it’s another long and expensive boat ride away (a comparable distance to the Kumbang Hide) or a long
trek. Both Garnet and Banded Pitta would be possible there and a group of French birders and mammal watchers who I’ve been bumping into a lot on the trails around the place (and who are off to the Kumbang Hide tonight), saw a Banded Pitta near the Blau Hide and heard Garnet. I guess I’ll just have to come back to Taman Negara at some point then and try for pittas around those hides and there are lots of other possible species at Taman Negara, like Rail Babbler. I certainly can’t complain about what I’ve seen though as I have seen absolutely loads of species and the vast majority of my targets. It’s not difficult or expensive to get back to Taman Negara from KL either and it’s certainly very cheap once I’m here.
I crossed back over for lunch and then had the surprisingly difficult task of finding someone to pay for my accommodation but someone did emerge eventually to take my money from the house next door where the family who owns the place lives. I wasn’t charged the tourism tax either, which is good. I also asked a couple of locals about the bus back to
Jerantut and got conflicting information about whether it was 10 or 10:30 and whether I would get it from the main road coming in or down the side road where the little shops are. I guess I’ll just be prompt and find it tomorrow morning. I sat around resting for a bit, and then headed back across in the mid afternoon for the rest of the day’s birding and the final night of spotlighting.
As I was walking around the swamp loop at about 3, just as I was thinking that I had come across too early and it was too hot and I should go and sit down somewhere, I got an absolutely amazing sighting. In the lower branches of a tree about 20 metres along the boardwalk was a Green Broadbill! Just sitting there! I slowly walked up the boardwalk until I was just alongside it and it continued to sit there, about a metre and a half away with an almost entirely unobstructed view. It's such a stunning looking bird, the green Broadbill, and although I got a brief fairly distant view of one at the Kumbang Hide this was amazing! Sitting there resplendent in stunning artificially bright shimmering green and black with its weird shaped head completely filling the frame of the camera. Just wonderful, and a reminder that you never know what Taman Negara will throw at you at any time and any place. It sat there preening for about 5 minutes until it vanished off into the forest.
As the evening approached, I walked down to the canopy walkway and then continued a but further up to Bukit Teresek which is just a small hill really but because the whole area is lowlands it looks out over the forest as a relatively high point. I watched as the sun was just setting over the forest, although it was very cloudy and not an impressive sunset, but still a lovely view looking over the forest. I watched the night descend over the forest from the view point and it was a very calm and relaxing atmosphere as the birds stopped calling and the insects started. Then, just as it got dark and the bats started to come out, I descended the boardwalked steps back down. I think this path has the potential to be a very good spotlighting route on the way down because you get a view of the middle layers of vegetation and are closer to the canopy for any animals, but it still is closed forest and not easy.
There were lots of insects of course and lots of bats including some fruit bats although all being in flight even the fruit bats are difficult to identify and I wasn’t able to ID any of them. I drew a complete blank spotlighting along the path back down to the resort/HQ, apart from an interestingly patterned gecko at the Tahan Hide, with just bats and invertebrates otherwise. Although the spiders are really cool looking and massive. When I got back to the HQ it was just past nine so I decided just to have a quick look in the campsite area and then go. That turned out to be a very good decision indeed, because just underneath the house/restaurant thing by the campsite there were two Brush-tailed Porcupines minding their own business munching away to themselves on some fallen mangoes. They’re really cool looking porcupines, much odder looking than the seemingly more common Malayan Porcupines that I have seen before in places like Khao Yai. These two Brush-tailed Porcupines sat eating the mangoes for a while and then each one picked up a mango in its mouth and they trotted off. A really nice sighting to end the night.
Silver-rumped Needletail Finsch’s Bulbul Grey-rumped Treeswift Long-tailed Parakeet Scaly-crowned Babbler Rufous-winged Philentoma White-chested Babbler Rufous-chested Flycatcher
Mammal: Brush-tailed Porcupine
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