Visiting Peninsula Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands (1,400-1,800 meters ASL) is always an exciting experience to a birdwatcher-photographer like Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS. Besides encountering new species that are not seen at lower altitudes, there are the bird waves that one often encounter, much more often than in the lowlands.
Bird waves are mixed species foraging parties that move together in the forest to feed on the insects they dislodge. The birds move fast, flitting from branch to branch, feeding on the insects. Such rapid movements make photography difficult. Identification is similarly difficult unless one is familiar with the species. As Amar puts it succinctly, “The best way is just enjoy the experience and let them rush past you, often in close range.”
Just take a walk along the many forest trails and chances are you will encounter bird waves, sometimes as many as three in the space of an hour. However, Amar recommends walking up Gunung Brinchang once you get past the tea garden; the back road between Brinchang and Tana Rata; and the Robinson Falls trail.
“I have almost always seen the Golden Babbler (Stachyris chrysaea chrysops) as part of bird waves. Along the road between Brinchang and Tana Rata, the largest wave involved: a pair of Golden Babbler, a small flock of 4-5 Blue-winged Minla (Minla cyanouroptera sordidior), another small flock of 6-7 Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris tahanensis), a single Mountain Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus trivirgatus parvirostris), a pair of Yellow-breasted Warbler (Seicercus montis davisoni), a pair of White-throated Fantail (Rhipidura albicollis atrata), and a few other unidentified species. The White-tailed Robin (Myiomela leucura leucura) was also present but unsure if it participated.”
In another bird wave, seen on the same day (14th June 2011) but in a different location, Amar encountered: “A small flock of 5-6 Blue-winged Minla together with 6-7 Grey-chinned Minivet (Pericrocotus solaris montanus), a pair of Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii peracensis) and a solitary Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus picatus).
Blue Nuthatch (Sitta azurea expectata) is another participant of the Cameron Highlands bird waves.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia