Thursday, September 29, 2022


From the 2nd to 4th of July 2022, WBCM organized a Long Trip to Taman Negara Sungai Relau in Merapoh, Pahang. This was the first long trip organised since the pandemic. It was a memorable trip with 27 WBCM members attending. The trip organiser was Mr. Low Kok Hen. He arranged the logistics such as the itinerary, accomodation etc. The trip was very well organised. Special thanks to him for the great effort. 

On the morning of 2nd July (Saturday), a few cars gathered at a famous breakfast spot at Raub town. The place was famous for Steamed Bread and Half Boiled Eggs. After a scrumptious breakfast, we headed off to Gua Musang where we will be staying for the next few days during our adventure.

We checked in at Durian Hill Villa at Gua Musang and then proceeded to have lunch. Our plan was to meet up at the National Park HQ at 1pm for the briefing.

In the afternoon, the full gang arrived at Taman Negara Sungai Relau! Our adventure had finally begun! Low Kok Hen briefed everyone on safety measures, do's and don'ts and other regulations that we had to follow. At about 2pm, we finally headed off for our first round of birdwatching at the national park.

Around the park headquarters, we saw birds that were fairly common such as the Common Myna, Spectacled Spiderhunter, Brown-Throated Sunbird, White-Throated Kingfisher etc. As our group was quite big, we ended up breaking into smaller groups of people birding together. Some went ahead while some members of the group who did not wish to walk too far went at a slower pace.

As we went through the forested area, the number of birds that we started to see also increased. We set up a hide at a particular section of the park, hoping to see the elusive Garnet Pitta, one of the target birds for this trip. We did hear the Pitta close by, but it did not come out.

We did see many other birds at the hide though. This included the Yellow-Bellied Bulbul, White-Rumped Shama and the Short-Tailed Babbler. Some of our members stayed at the hide waiting for more birds to arrive while others ventured deep into the National Park, hoping for more bird encounters. One group managed to see a mousedeer crossing the tarred road while they were in.

Some notable birds that were seen that afternoon were the Black-and-Yellow Broadbill, Square-Tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Wreathed Hornbill and Chestnut-Winged Babbler. Towards the end of the day, a number of members saw the Scarlet-Rumped Trogon, which became the star bird of the day. A number of other birds were heard but not seen as well.

For the first afternoon of birding, we managed to record close to 45 species of birds. It was a good first day. We then travelled back to Gua Musang for dinner, where we also did our bird checklist for the first day.

For the second day, we had an early breakfast near our lodging area in Gua Musang and proceeded to the National Park early in the morning. Our itinerary of the day was to take a 4WD into Kuala Juram. Kuala Juram is the point in the National that is about 14 KM deep inside and is the base for people to start the climb to Gunung Tahan.

Upon reaching Kuala Juram in the morning, we then proceeded with our morning birding. On the way, some groups already spotted some birds including the Asian Emerald Dove as well as the White-Bellied Woodpecker.

At Kuala Juram, were were greeted early in the morning with a fruiting tree where we saw a number of birds including the Red-Throated Barbet, Blue-Eared Barbet, Green Broadbill and several other birds.

As we proceeded to bird around the area, we saw large numbers of Little Cuckoo-Doves at the tarred road heading back to the park HQ. Along our birding trail, many notable birds were seen during the morning session. This included the Rhinoceros Hornbill, Blue-Eared Kingfisher, Spotted Fantail, Chestnut-Backed Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-Headed Canary-Flycatcher, Rufous-Fronted Babbler and Red-Naped Trogon.

After a tiring but successful session of morning birding, we proceeded to have our packed lunch at Kuala Juram. In the afternoon, it was a free and easy session. Some members proceeded to do birding around Kuala Juram before we would take the 4WD back to the park HQ. Some notable birds were seen during the afternoon session as well. This included the Buff-Necked Woodpecker, Verditer Flycatcher and other birds.

We finally took the 4WD back to the location of the bird hide where we spent the rest of the afternoon till about 6pm. Some notable sightings there included more sightings of the Green Broadbills as well as the Scarlet-Rumped Trogon. Some other birds were seen as well. The Rufous Woodpecker and Black and Red Broadbill were seen at the Park HQ among other birds. All in, our group collectively saw and heard close to 90 species of birds that day.

For dinner, we travelled back to Gua Musang and we had KFC. WBCM chipped in for the dinner and it was an enjoyable night. At night, some members noticed that there were a number of Savanna Nightjars lurking around our lodging area. Hence, some members headed out to find them with our torchlights. It was a succesful find! 

On the 4th of July, it was our last day of birding. All of us were determined to see as many birds as possible before were to leave the National Park on this day. Again, we broke into smaller groups. Some members opted to bird along the tarred road while others chose to wait and try their luck for the Garnet Pitta. For our last day, close to 70 birds were seen that morning. Some notable sightings included a number of Babbler species such as the Chestnut-Rumped Babbler, Black-Capped Babbler, Black-Throated Babbler and Fluffy-Backed Tit-Babbler. It also included other birds such as the Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker, Rufous-Backed Dwarf-Kingfisher and Mountain Imperial Pigeon. One member also managed to see and record a video of the Garnet Pitta. As a result, the bird could be counted as seen instead of being only heard the previous 2 days. Some birds that were seen the previous days were also seen again on the third day. Some members who missed certain birds such as the Green Broadbill managed to have a good look of it on the last day.

At around 1pm in the afternoon, we finally wrapped up the birdwatching for the day and did our final bird list. We then proceeded to leave the National Park. It was a wonderful 3 day 2 night trip with lots of friendships made and strengthened as well as many avian friends being discovered by our members. In total, we had observed and recorded close to 116 species of birds over the course of the trip. Definitely looking forward to more birding trips organised by WBCM in the future.

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