Fraser’s Hill, 4-7 February 2014

Anyone who has been following this blog over the years will know that my wife’s family makes an almost annual pilgrimage to Fraser’s Hill every Chinese New Year. Even though none of them are mad on birds, they all love the cool climate, beautiful scenery and quiet walks, and I – well, who am I to disagree with the wishes of the majority?

As a result of these frequent visits, I have seen all the regularly occurring resident birds there except 2 (Long-billed and Ferruginous Partridge) or 3 (Eyebrowed Wren-babbler has been seen on the hill quite regularly in recent years). This makes getting ‘lifers’ more and more challenging, but I still love the forest and the climate up there.

Pygmy Blue Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1026In the midst of an extended dry spell, I was expecting things to be quiet , but was pleasantly surprised. This female Pygmy Blue Flycatcher performed stunningly near Bishop’s Trail.

Pygmy Blue Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1141 Pygmy Blue Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1118She had a single blue feather above the left eye.

Pygmy Blue Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1155The male was much shyer.

Mugimaki Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1264 Blue-and-white Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1244Migrant flycatchers were seen here and there – Mugimaki Flyatchers (top) were quite numerous, but I only saw one Blue-and-white Flycatcher. I’m not sure if this is the newly split Zappey’s Flycatcher or the nominate taxon.

Verditer Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_050214_IMG_1855 Verditer Flycatcher_Fraser's Hill_050214_IMG_1879

Verditer Flycatchers are common residents, but they’re impossible to resist when they pose like this (female top and male bottom)!

Himalayan Striped Squirrel_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1257

It wasn’t all birds of course. Himalayan Striped Squirrels are small in size but big in cuteness!

Siamang_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1195I also came across ‘Bobby’ the semi-tame Siamang. I first encountered him in 2011 (see here), so it was good to see him apparently keeping well!

Siamang_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1217 Siamang_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1216A bit of a cheat photography-wise though!

King Cobra_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1268 King Cobra_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1279 King Cobra_Fraser's Hill_040214_IMG_1274This one was wild though! A five foot long King Cobra lying quietly by the roadside. Fortunately, I was in the car at the time, so I felt brave enough to hang around and take a few snaps!

House Swift_Fraser's Hill_070214_IMG_2009There were lots of swifts about, and perfect weather conditions for photographing them. First the residents – House Swift…

Glossy Swiftlet_Fraser's Hill_070214_IMG_2000…and the tiny Glossy Swiftlet.

swiftlet_Fraser's Hill_060214_IMG_2163 swiftlet_Fraser's Hill_060214_IMG_1726 swiftlet_Fraser's Hill_060214_IMG_1648Not sure about these. They seemed to be behaving like migrants, but looked very like the Germain’s Swiftlet of the lowlands, plumage-wise. Are they a little longer-winged? I’m not confident enough to call them Himalayan for sure.

Pacific (Cook's) Swift_Fraser's Hill_050214_IMG_1998 Pacific (Cook's) Swift_Fraser's Hill_050214_IMG_1391Easier to identify were these Pacific (Cook’s) Swift. I’ll leave more explanation of these to a separate post.

Brown-backed Needletail_Fraser's Hill_070214_IMG_2069 Brown-backed Needletail_Fraser's Hill_070214_IMG_2087 Brown-backed Needletail_Fraser's Hill_070214_IMG_2059The Big Daddy of them all – a solitary Brown-backed Needletail.Collared Babbler_Fraser's Hill_060214_IMG_1483

I spent a couple of mornings walking the Old Road up from the Gap, and was rewarded both days with great views of Collared Babbler (formerly White-hooded). Some of these (like the upper bird in this shot) had extensive white markings on the lesser coverts, which is supposedly a feature of White-hooded but not Collared (Robson 2008).

Collared Babbler_Fraser's Hill_060214_IMG_1498Noisy, characterful birds.

Rail-babbler_Fraser's Hill_050214_IMG_1355I was frustrated to get frame-filling but not quite sharp pictures of a Rail-babbler – getting closer to that perfect shot!

Ferruginous Partridge copyBest of all was an unexpected encounter with a Ferruginous Partridge. It was too close (about 8 feet away!) and too fast for a photo, so I took a picture of where the bird had appeared and captured the memory using a bit of photoshoppery and a sketch. So now there are only two resident species at Fraser’s Hill which I still haven’t seen!

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