Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birds from Hilltop Lodge, Lambir Hills National Park

It was Malaysia Day (16th Sep), my birthday (17th Sep), fruiting Macaranga all in the same week; it's kind of difficult to say "no" to a few days at Hilltop Lodge, Lambir Hills National Park.

Initial trepidation about the park being teeming with visitors was completely unfounded. Other than the few construction workers trying to hurry up the new park structures and the odd day trippers to Latak Waterfall, there was no one else about.

The birds were more obliging than as usual.

Over the few days I also learnt how to do a few things I haven't tried before:
shoot from the open windows from INSIDE the lodge, shoot birds without camo at the porch; make video (mostly of bird calls) while lugging my Vaio around the house and then playback; and lastly make halfway decent bird pictures with the Canon tethered to the laptop which in turn was hooked up to a powerpoint from inside the lodge.

The few days didn't all go to waste afterall but I'm not quite sure whether this is a new "high" or new "low" for in the field wildbird photography, truth be told I didn't venture out 20 feet from the lodge!

Red-eyed Bulbul.

Purple-naped Sunbird. The fastest of all, they just don't sit still.

Plain Sunbird.

Spectacled Bulbul.

Hairy-backed Bulbul, most obliging of all coming in with a party of 3-4 repeatedly throughout the day.

The Pura (local Iban name, common temuda tree) or Macaranga was located 10 feet from the house and it was heavily fruiting, which explained the stream of birds that came around the lodge in successions throughout the day. The birds were mostly made up of smaller bulbuls and sunbirds.

Mornings and evenings were punctuated by babblers skulking around the undergrowth around the lodge.

Other than the birds captured by camera above, there were also a pair of Black Magpie which flew right in front of the lodge one morning with their peculiar calls; a Black-backed Kingfisher (flew right in front of the window I was shooting from); Sooty-capped Babbler and two other species of Babbler sp which was not identified (one with a Balicasio like call with a brownish-chocolate body and grey bluish head); nesting Dusky Munia; a Blue-eared Kingfisher (at a pond nearby); and Asian Fairy Bluebird. There were also a few unrecognisable calls throughout the day, one was a highly suspected Banded Kingfisher.

Sorely missed were the Black-headed Bulbul which on previous occasions had numerous. One large raptor (suspected Crested Serpent Eagle, seen here before) flew low one morning.

It was a good short break with the family at our home away from home, Hilltop Lodge.

For visiting birders:
Lambir Hills National Park is situated 20mins drive from Miri International Airport reachable by taxi and public bus. Several types of accomodation options are available at the Park. AC Chalets (2 rooms with a living room, kitchen area and common bathrooms) are at $150/nite or $75/room; each room can take in 2-3 people. They are situated on a hilly section of the park close to the Park office and canteen.

Non-AC Chalets are $100/nite with similar configuration but with fan cooled rooms. Hilltop Lodge is away from the rest of the chalets at the head of Innoue Trail. The rate is at $80/nite or $40/room complete with living room, common bathroom and kitchenette. Each room fits 2 adults.

For more information on available options at Lambir Hills National Park and other facilities, please contact Kamal Abdullah, Person-in-Charge Lambir Hills National Park, 019-8574363.

Write-up and pictures by:
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/Sep 2010


  1. Naz, your grey-bluish head babbler could be the Chestnut-winged.

  2. Yeah, come to think of it could be that ... it's kinda smallish, hunched and lurking about on the branches with that constant funny call. My last encounter with them was at Niah NP feeding some juveniles, I thought the call was different then.

  3. Your right, I checked ...the 'funny' call match the bits that I recorded! Thanks matey.