Other Creatures at Fraser’s Hill

Ok absolutely the last post on Fraser’s Hill. Or at least until the next trip there. Beside bird, butterfly and moth, there are many other creatures. What I was hoping for was to see some more monkeys. There was supposed to be a few species of them around the area. On the first day, we saw the usual Long Tailed Macaques just outside our hotel.

The next day while out birding, we were lucky enough to see 2 White Thighed Surili high up on 2 different trees. My 200 mm can only captured one of them from afar.

Here is a close up of it. Looks like a mini Gorilla.

While trekking in one of the trails, the ladies saw this

Can see anything? It a wonder how they managed to spot this little critter on the ground

Photo by Molly Tan

Not only are the birds more colorful in Fraser’s Hill but the insect are much bigger too. Like this Cicada

Can’t tell anything from this photo right? How about this? Almost the length of my fingers!

Photo by Molly Tan

And this giant squirrel. Look at the length of its tail. 

And that concludes this mini-series on Fraser’s Hill. 

Birds at Fraser’s Hill

After butterfly and moth, finally get around writing about the real purpose of the trip to Fraser’s Hill – the birds. This was a birding trip after all.

We reached Fraser’s Hill early in the morning. It was raining and we waited at Punchak Inn for the rain to stop. But that didn’t stop some in the groups from dashing out to take photos when they heard bird calls from around the car park area. Think those were Laughing Thrush and a Green Magpie. After the rain, we made our way to our first birding stop of the trip, the Jeriau Waterfall. Seems like there is a Silver Breasted Broadbill spot in the area. We went all the way in to the end and indeed the guys quickly spotted it. Everybody, including M got a shot of it before it flew off. Everybody except me. [sad] I was looking around for butterfly instead! But as a consolation, I managed to shoot a Slaty backed Forktail while the rest were waiting for the Silver Breasted Broadbill to return. Which it did not. And after a long long futile wait, we finally decided to leave and go on to the next site.

Next site is a road near to Bishop Trail. Apparently the birds here are so used to human that they will just appear. It seems photographers have been feeding them or baiting in the industry lingo and the birds appear whenever human turn up. And boy, did they turn up. A Spectacled Laughing Thrush was the first one to appear. This was followed by a few Ruofus Browed Flycatcher. Cute little bird.

Rufous Browed Flycatcher

Next was a Niltava but I missed that as I was walking around with M, looking for monkeys and butterflies. M spotted a Mountain Bulbul though, a fairly common bird in the area.

Mountain Bulbul

Going back to the main birding area which was actually a drain culvert, I managed to shoot a White tailed Robin. Beautiful blue Robin. At least very different from the very common Magpie Robin.

White Tailed Robin

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Moth at Fraser’s Hill

Spotting birds at Fraser’s Hill might have been the main objective and seeing beautiful butterflies was a bonus, but the other thing that I was looking forward to was moth. From my memory of my last trip to Kota Kinabalu, I knew there was going to be moths aplenty here. And unlike the butterfly, I hit pay dirt from the word go!

When we reached Fraser on Friday morning, it was raining and we waited at the lodge’s lobby for the rain to stop and not only was it pouring rain, it was also pouring moths. The very first moth was this beauty on one of the wall. 

Its wing is damaged and it was found dead on the floor the next day.

Most people prefer butterfly to moth. The first impression of moth is that moth are dark, ugly flurry creatures that fly in the dark like the above moth and this next one that was also in the lodge’s lobby.

But this next one will soon dispel that notion. 

A very beautiful green moth. It even has a line of red trimmings all round its wing! Certainly this one does not fit the usual image of moth right? And also to most people, beside being dark, ugly and flurry, moth are also big and scary. Like this dead one that we spotted on the road.

While at the abandoned Jelai Resort, I got this funny shape moth. Kinda like some sort of bat mask.

 I continued looking for moth after dinner and found 2 new one in the lobby and restaurant. This leaf shape moth on the ceiling.

And this one that looks like some type of alien bug.

Outside the lodge, I spotted this White beauty on one of the shrub.

Next morning, the moths from the previous days were either dead on the floor or gone so it was only later in the evening that I managed to get some. And this lot is definitely not your usual moth.

This beautiful iridescent moth that looks like dull brown until the flash lit it up to reveal the beautiful pattern and color 

This beautiful red and white striped moth that is no bigger than a finger nail

And this one that looks like a lice or a white bed bug and is half the size of my pinkie nail.

And of course the usual brownish moth of which there were 4 different species on the walls

Because this is a birding trip, I didn’t come prepared to take photos of butterfly and moths and these photos were either shot with a 200 mm zoom lens, or the phone camera or a mirrorless camera without flash. Photo quality that up to par but I will settle for what birders call Record shot and that I have 15 of them in one trip. 

Butterfly at Fraser’s Hill

Actually for my first oversea birding trip, I was just as excited that I can get to see butterflies and moths in addition to birds especially after reading posts from Butterfly Circle and others about the varieties there.  But the initial excitement quickly turned into disappointment when I didn’t spot that many butterflies as I thought will be able to.

Our first stop of the day after we reached Fraser’s Hill was the Jeriau Waterfall. I was hoping to see puddling butterflies along the banks but alas there wasn’t any, even though I walked up and down the length of the place many times. Perhaps the heavy dawn rain was the reason? I did see a few butterflies flying around – mainly Yellows and one or 2 Black/Blue butterflies but they were flying too fast for me to take any photos. Eventually we left the place around 11 am after the rest of the group gave up their quest for the Silver Breasted Broadbill. 

After lunch, the group went to a road junction for the Slaty Backed Forktail. And it was here that I finally got my first butterfly. Between trying to make sure I do not miss the birds and the butterfly, I had a hard time doing the balancing act but finally the egg was broken!

I think this is a Magpie Crow butterfly. There were a couple of them flying around near a small shelter and they were very skittish but eventually one landed on the ground just in front of me and I blasted away before it flew off. Incidentally, as this was a birding trip, I had only brought along a long lens certainly not very suitable for butterflies and other insects so all the photos are zoomed in from pretty far and crop to size for display purposes.

After check in, we went to the “Jelai Resort” which looks like a haunted house. But the butterfly hunt was looking up. There were a few flying around and eventually one settled long enough for me to take a decent shot. 

This is a Common 3 Ring if I am not wrong but it looks like the wings are pretty tattered.  I managed to snag another one later but it was in just as bad shape or maybe they are the same butterfly?

So day 1 ended with a big success for birds but not butterfly. The score was better for moths though but that will be for another post.

Next morning, we went back to Jeriau Waterfall. The group didn’t want to give up on the hunt for the Silver Breasted Broadbill and I was still hoping for more butterfly. Unfortunately again no puddling but there were a number of butterflies flying around. I managed some shots of them, most of them not very good photos though before I managed a slightly decent photo of a Grass Yellow.

I saw more of the black blue butterfly which I confirmed later to be Bluebottle but there is this other Black butterfly with a blue patch diagonally on its upper side which stopped briefing on one of the railings before it flew away. It came back later but all I managed to shoot was the lower side which was dull brown.

As far as I can cross reference from the Checklist at Butterfly Circle, this is a Horsfield’s Baron.  

I did see another butterfly. A Sergeant! And it was on the long lens of one of the group member. From where I was, I could only managed this awkward shot. 

And then on our way out, I finally got what I came for. Puddling butterflies! And at the carpark of all the place and not at the river bank. There were at least 4 species of butterfly including the beautiful Bluebottle.

There were also several Yellow coloured butterflies. 

Let me try and ID them: L-R Lesser Gull, Chocolate Albatross and Yellow Glassy Tiger (some expert reading this please correct me if I am wrong). I was so happy that I squat there and shoot and shoot until a car came and drove over the spot where the butterflies were puddling scattering all of them. 

Saturday was a good day for butterfly. After lunch, walking out of the Shahzan Inn, someone spotted a butterfly on a tree and started clicking. All of us joined in and this is a beauty. Remind me of a Discus fish.

I later found out this is a Pallid Faun and usually found up high in the forest and to see one so near and at eye level! I am a very lucky man. And to round off the day, I managed to get a nice shot of a nice Common 3 Ring butterfly. No tattered wings.

And that conclude my haul of butterfly for what is my first official birding trip and unofficial butterfly/moth trip (is there a equivalent term for butterfly similar to birding?). Not alot but still considering that I am a newbie at this and doing it along while the rest shoot birds, I am very satisfied with the results. 

Fraser’s Hill

Went to Fraser’s Hill over the weekend. First time there and not really know what to expect, perhaps something like Cameron Highlands. But no matter what was looking forward to the trip, cause it was to be my first overseas birding trip and secondly to get away from the scorching Singapore heat. Fraser’s Hill didn’t turn out to be what I expected though.

Firstly it is kinda undeveloped despite it being one of the few remaining cool highlands left in Malaysia. There was no 5 stars hotels, no posh restaurant, no tourist markets and no tourists! What was there were some old buildings left over from the colonial days and which has mostly been converted to either guest house or corporate holiday retreats like this place here.

Other buildings are not so well maintained and have been left to fall into disrepair and abandoned in fact.

Even the main accommodation for tourists were some old weary looking buildings with limited facilities like just a restaurant with mediocre food and a small gift shop like the Punchak Inn that we stayed at. 

No giant supermart; no shopping mall and no amusement parks. This could be hell of a boring place for general public which is why there are no hordes of tourists and I love it!

Fraser’s Hill is a place not for sightseeing tourists but for nature lover, the green kind and not the sun, sand and sea type. What Fraser’s Hill lacks, it more than make up for with abundant forests

Various hiking trails

And a mini waterfall

But Fraser’s Hill fame is not the forest or the cool air but the wildlife and more specifically the birds. And birders and other nature lovers come here, to look at all sort of colorful birds, butterflies and even moths. And that is the reason why I was there too but more of that in later posts.

Virtual Racing

Time has really changed with the onset of what economists called disruptive economy. Taxi companies, hotels, travel agencies, bicycle rental are all being affected by this new way of doing business. But I never thought that running in a race, which is a very personal and physical thing can be affected as well.

Typically, when one sign up for a race, he pays a registration fee which entitles him to run in the race, a goodie bag with some freebies, an event tee and after the race, a medal, a certificate and perhaps a finisher tee. During the race, there will be some sort of support, drinks station, road marshal and medical aid. There may also be a carnival area for the runners to enjoy after the race. Above all, one gets to run together with friends and compete with peers on a public course that is partially closed to traffic. And that is what a typical road race is like. 

But now it seems the disruptive economy has reached into the ambit of road racing. Now a person can register, pay a small sum of money and run a virtual race ie he runs alone according to the race or challenge as determined by the app. There is no fixed route, no support and no finisher tee. Some will have a medal and nothing else. And you run alone.

This is the part I don’t understand. Why pay good money to other people and then run alone without getting any support or for that matter any real challenge with other runners. It just doesn’t make economic sense to me. Couldn’t it be cheaper to just do one’s own run. Why need to pay other people for that right? Some may argue that in some cases, the participant can get a medal but we all know what we do with the countless medals that we already have from real races. Mostly they just get chucked into a cupboard to be forgotten. Some may argue that these app create special race challenges like a virtual parallel race with the KL Marathon for instance, or a distance challenge. But companies like Nike and Garmin and many other apps already has peer challenge programs which requires no payment. So why pay to run your own race?

Can somebody tell me what is the attraction of doing virtual race?