I stepped up a gear this month, with visits to Perak (Kuala Gula, Malim Nawar), Pahang (Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill), Perlis (Chuping, Timah Tasoh, Kurong Tengar), Kedah (Sedim and Kulim) and Penang (Penang Hill), seeing 194 new species for the year, adding up to a total of 339. Over half way to my goal of 600 species with just 2 months gone, but getting the second 300 will be very much harder than the first!
The month started well, with a Rosy Starling on my first trip out at Kuala Gula on the 2nd. Malaysian Honeyguide was the highlight of another great visit to Sungai Sedim on the 9th, and I managed to catch up with Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Little Cormorant at Chuping on the 14th. Hor Kee’s amazing news of both Grey-headed Woodpecker and Eurasian Sparrowhawk at Cameron Highlands on the same weekend sent me on my first real twitch of the year. Sadly the woodpecker was not seen again, but I was very happy to add Eurasian Sparrowhawk to my Malaysia list (my second Malaysian lifer of the month after the starling) as well as a good selection of upper montane species.
Over the Chinese New Year holidays I made a trip to Malim Nawar in the hope of picking up some good stints, but the high water levels frustrated that goal. A return to Kuala Gula failed to turn up the starling again, but some compensation was gained in the form of Greater Flameback, Laced Woodpecker and Cinereous Tit.
I made good use of our family reunion at Fraser’s Hill from the 23-26th, seeing a good proportion of the montane species there, including Grey-breasted Partridge, Mountain Peacock-pheasant, Malayan Whistling-Thrush and all the owls. More frustrating was narrowly missing seeing a Long-billed Partridge which came in close but would not show itself. A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo was a great find on a ‘smash and grab’ raid to the ponds at Bidor FRIM substation to see Purple Swamphen. While at Fraser’s, news broke of a suspected Red-backed Shrike in Perlis, so Mun and I spent the final day of the month heading north again. As well as seeing the shrike, whose provenance is currently under scrutiny, we scored heavily on some good scarcities, including Little Stint, Chinese Egret, Ruddy Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper and Short-toed Eagle. Other than the missing the woodpecker at Cameron, I failed to connect with an Asian Emerald Cuckoo at Penang Hill, and missed a Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker at Sedim. A Eurasian Hobby hanging around in Port Dickson was tempting, but too far to seriously think of going for. But if it hangs about into March…!