One of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Malaysia is a federation of 13 states across two regions. One region is West Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, and the focus of this small group birdwatching tour) and the other region is East Malaysia (which includes Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo, where we have two very exciting tours that run immediately before this tour, details below).
Peninsular Malaysia sits at the foot of the longer Malay Peninsula, the backbone of which, the Titiwangsa Range, is draped in pristine montane forest with the lowlands carpeted in extensive tropical rainforest melting into vast mangrove forests along the coast. The combination of this results in some of the most exciting birdwatching in Southeast Asia.
Malayan Banded Pitta is one of our vibrant target birds on this trip.
This tour will cover several key birding sites in peninsular Malaysia, starting in the coastal mangrove forests at Kuala Selangor, moving to the highlands and the marvelous Fraser’s Hill and then continuing to one of the best areas for birdwatching in all of Malaysia (and possibly even Southeast Asia), the world-famous and stunningly bird-rich Taman Negara National Park; the tropical rainforest here is said to be over 130 million years old, and we will find some spectacular wildlife during our time here. We will finish our tour back in the mountains with a visit to Bukit Tinggi, home of one of our endemic targets. This circuit of peninsular Malaysia is well-tried and tested by us and always comes up with some great birds.
We will be targeting many of the highly sought charismatic species to be found in peninsular Malaysia, such as pittas, trogons, broadbills, hornbills, pheasants, and kingfishers, along with some very special, secretive birds such as the monotypic Rail-babbler, the endemic Malayan Whistling Thrush and Mountain Peacock-Pheasant, and the near-endemic Malayan Peacock Pheasant, Malayan Laughingthrush, and Malaysian Partridge.
The monotypic Rail-babbler is a tough bird to connect with, but we will try to find this incredible bird while in suitable lowland forest habitat during the tour. (photo Cheong W.C.)
There are many other high-quality birds possible on the tour, such as Rhinoceros Hornbill, Black Hornbill, and Helmeted Hornbill (three of the ten hornbill species possible), Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Long-tailed Broadbill, and Green Broadbill (three of the seven broadbill species possible), and Diard’s Trogon, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, and Red-headed Trogon (three of the six trogon species possible). Night birds are well represented too, with Large Frogmouth, Gould’s Frogmouth, Blyth’s Frogmouth, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, Oriental Bay Owl, Buffy Fish Owl, Reddish Scops Owl, White-fronted Scops Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Eastern Barn Owl, and Grey Nightjar a few of the very enticing possibilities.
If that is not enough to whet your appetite, what about this who’s who of simply spectacular birds that we could find: Ferruginous Partridge, Great Argus, Crested Partridge, Crested Fireback, Garnet Pitta, Blue-winged Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Mangrove Pitta, Malayan Banded Pitta, Rusty-naped Pitta, Banded Kingfisher, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Whiskered Treeswift, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Common Green Magpie, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Silver-eared Mesia, Long-tailed Sibia, Straw-headed Bulbul, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Large Wren-Babbler, and so many more!
This tour can be combined with our Birding Tour Borneo: Sabah Premium Tour and Birding Tour Borneo: Sarawak – Restricted Range Endemics; both have been designed to complement this Peninsular Malaysia tour and focus on the multitude of endemic birds that can be found on the island of Borneo, such as the following mouthwatering selection: Whitehead’s Trogon, Whitehead’s Broadbill, Hose’s Broadbill, Dulit Frogmouth, Bornean Frogmouth, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Bornean Ground Cuckoo, Blue-banded Pitta, Black-crowned Pitta, Blue-headed Pitta, and many more, plus amazing mammals such as Bornean Orangutan and Proboscis Monkey! Check out the links for details of these great tours.
We will target the beautiful Mangrove Pitta early in our tour.
After arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport you will be taken to our nearby hotel, with the rest of the day spent at leisure. The group will meet for a welcome dinner in the evening, when we will discuss plans for the coming days.
We will have an early-morning transfer to the coastal mangroves for Mangrove Pitta and other species such as Lesser Adjutant, Ashy Tailorbird, Laced Woodpecker, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Copper-throated Sunbird, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Lesser Coucal, Coppersmith Barbet, Long-tailed Shrike, Barred Eagle-Owl, and more. After the morning birding session we will travel back to our hotel for a rest during the heat of the day and some lunch.
In the late afternoon and early evening we will head out again to a patch of forest, looking for Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Black-and-red Broadbill, Dusky Broadbill, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Oriental Dollarbird, Brown Hawk-Owl, and Blyth’s Frogmouth.
Black-and-yellow Broadbill is a gorgeous bird with a far-reaching call.
We will likely head back to the same forest that we visited the previous afternoon and evening, where we will look for those listed above and several additional species such as Black-backed Swamphen, Painted Stork, Large-tailed Nightjar, Savanna Nightjar, Plaintive Cuckoo, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, White-crowned Hornbill, Black Hornbill, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Violet Cuckoo, Banded Broadbill, White-chested Babbler, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, and Olive-backed Flowerpecker. We will spend the majority of the day birding in this area, as there are numerous high-quality target birds for us to search for.
After breakfast we will visit a nearby heronry for Painted Stork, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Egret, Eastern Cattle Egret, Striated Heron, White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Triller, and others. Then we will check out of our hotel and travel to Kuala Selangor in the afternoon. Along the route we will stop at some rice paddies, where we may find Scaly-breasted, White-headed, Chestnut (Black-headed), and White-rumped Munias, White-breasted Woodswallow, Yellow Bittern, Cinnamon Bittern, Watercock, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Coppersmith Barbet, and others. At night we will be looking for Buffy Fish Owl, Sunda Scops Owl, Spotted Wood Owl, and Large-tailed Nightjar.
Overnight: Kuala Selangor
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher will be one of our targets in the Kuala Selangor area.
A pre-dawn walk will give us another chance to look for nocturnal species. In the morning we will be exploring the mangroves and their surroundings for Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Mangrove Whistler, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Lineated Barbet, Daurian (Purple-backed) Starling, Crested Goshawk, Crested Serpent Eagle, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Olive-winged Bulbul, Common Flameback, Greater Flameback, and many more.
During the afternoon we will transfer to the beautiful, picturesque mountains of Fraser’s Hill. Along the way to the hill station we will make several stops for Chestnut-naped Forktail, Whiskered Treeswift, Rufous-bellied Swallow, House Swift, Red-wattled Lapwing, and Banded Bay Cuckoo. At night during our time at Fraser’s Hill we will be looking for Brown Wood Owl, Mountain Scops Owl, and Grey Nightjar.
Overnight: Fraser’s Hill
One of several laughingthrushes possible around Fraser’s Hill, the beautiful Chestnut-capped (Spectacled) Laughingthrush.
We will spend two full days birding at Fraser’s Hill, where there are a number of forest trails, several stakeout sites, and some nice quiet mountain roads to walk along. We will also look for a range of interesting nocturnal birds in the evening (as mentioned for day 5). We will target the endemic Malayan Whistling Thrush, which will require a pre-dawn start and will then lead into the dawn chorus, where we will pick up numerous new birds such as Large Niltava, Slaty-backed Forktail, Streaked Wren-Babbler, and many more. We will also look for a couple of other important targets, namely the near-endemic pair of Malaysian Partridge and Malayan Laughingthrush, and the tough, secretive, and subtly beautiful Rusty-naped Pitta.
The near-endemic Malayan Laughingthrush will be on the cards at Fraser’s Hill.
Some of the species we will aim to see at stakeouts along the forest edge and in our hotel grounds include Fire-tufted Barbet, Silver-eared Mesia, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Sibia, Grey-throated Babbler, Little Pied Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Pygmy Cupwing (formerly Pygmy Wren-babbler), Streaked Spiderhunter, Black-throated Sunbird, White-tailed Robin, and Lesser Shortwing.
Walking through the forest trails at a range of elevations at Fraser’s Hill we will search for the following great species: Black Laughingthrush, Greater Yellownape, Lesser Yellownape, Bay Woodpecker, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Mountain Bulbul, Ochraceous Bulbul, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Cinereous Bulbul, Blue Nuthatch (one of the, if not the, best-looking nuthatches on the planet!), Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Banded Broadbill, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Red-headed Trogon, Orange-breasted Trogon, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler, Buff-breasted Babbler, Golden Babbler, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Verditer Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, and the stunning Red-bearded Bee-eater.
Overnight: Fraser’s Hill
The strange-looking Long-tailed Broadbill.
In the morning we will transfer to the Taman Negara area with a stopover for Dusky Crag Martin, Black Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Rufescent Prinia, Banded Broadbill, and others. Upon arrival at Taman Negara village we will start exploring the area for Barred Buttonquail, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Blue-rumped Parrot, Black-and-red Broadbill, Banded Woodpecker, Checker-throated Woodpecker, Asian Palm Swift, Black-thighed Falconet, Oriental Dollarbird, and Rufous-collared Kingfisher.
We will also take a drive around local roads at night (and over the next few nights in the national park too), looking for an assortment of owls, frogmouths, and nightjars such as Sunda Scops Owl, White-fronted Scops Owl, Reddish Scops Owl, Large Frogmouth, Gould’s Frogmouth, Blyth’s Frogmouth, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar, Eastern Barn Owl, Buffy Fish Owl, and Oriental Bay Owl.
Overnight: Taman Negara
We will have three full days birding within the Taman Negara area, where we will enjoy some absolutely incredible birds. Our first morning will be just outside the national park, where we will look for Rhinoceros Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Great Hornbill, and others.
In the afternoon of day 9 we will transfer across the river into the national park for a three-night stay inside Taman Negara National Park, exploring the forest along the boardwalks/trails and by boat. A couple of the best target birds might include the monotypic Rail-Babbler, the near-endemic Malayan Peacock-Pheasant, and Malayan Banded Pitta, with the possibilities of the Critically Endangered (IUCN) pair of Helmeted Hornbill and Straw-headed Bulbul too. Trogons are well represented in Taman Negara, with the colorful quartet of Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Diard’s Trogon, Red-naped Trogon, and Cinnamon-rumped Trogon all possible.
The near-endemic Malayan Peacock-Pheasant can be found skulking around the forest floor in Taman Negara National Park, along with Great Argus, Crested Partridge, and Crested Fireback, all beautiful birds.
Our birding sessions within the national park will give us ample opportunities for numerous amazing birds. In addition to those outlined above we will also seek out Great Argus, Crested Partridge, Crested Fireback, Garnet Pitta, Crested Jay, Black Magpie, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Green Broadbill, Great Slaty Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Buff-necked Woodpecker, Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Blue-banded Kingfisher, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Banded Kingfisher, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, and Red-bearded Bee-eater, plus plenty more hornbills, orioles, malkohas, and pigeons (Jambu Fruit Dove is a stunner!).
Not as colorful maybe as the above-mentioned species, but the forest is also home to a wide range of (often skulking) restricted-range bulbuls and babblers, such as Yellow-bellied Bulbul, Grey-cheeked Bulbul, Hairy-backed Bulbul, Black-and-white Bulbul, Large Wren-Babbler, Striped Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Chestnut-rumped Babbler, White-chested Babbler, Sooty-capped Babbler, Moustached Babbler, Black-capped Babbler, Black-throated Babbler, Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, and so much more!
Forest raptors possible during our time here include Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, Bat Hawk, Rufous-bellied Hawk, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, and Black Eagle, so we will need to keep an eye to the sky while in forest clearings.
Regardless of what we find, we are certain to see some of the best birds in all of Asia over these few days, and it is an amazing habitat to be in. Some interesting mammals could be on the cards too, such as Malay Tapir, Greater Slow Loris, Siamang, and Lar (White-handed) Gibbon.
Overnight: Taman Negara
We will have a final morning birding at Taman Negara, looking for anything else that might be new or missing from the species listed above before we drive to Bukit Tinggi in the afternoon.
Overnight: Bukit Tinggi
We will have an early morning birding session, where we will target the rare and localized endemic Mountain Peacock-Pheasant as well as the tough Ferruginous Partridge. There are plenty of other exciting birds in this gorgeous forest, and we may also find Sultan Tit, Large Woodshrike, Long-billed Spiderhunter, Blue-winged Leafbird, and Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler. After lunch we will transfer back to Kuala Lumpur, where the tour will conclude mid-afternoon and you will be able to take your evening international flight home.
Overnight: Not included
We will look for the endemic Mountain Peacock-Pheasant while at Bukit Tinggi.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.
Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!
Janice — Kent, UK