November 8, 2015: Bentung, Malaysia — This morning I met a local birder named Weng Chun and we headed out for a week of birding in central peninsular Malaysia. As we left Kuala Lumpur behind this morning, with its Lamborghinis and Petronas Towers and smog, I looked forward to what the next few days might hold. Bring on the birds!
We kicked things off at the Berjaya Hills, a spot in the highlands with a botanical garden and some nice forest, to see what birds might be around. When we arrived there this morning, the place was relatively quiet, but by the time Chun and I left Berjaya this morning, it was totally packed with people.
This is a long weekend here because of Diwali (sometimes called the “Festival of Lights”), a big federal holiday in Malaysia and many other Asian countries. The holiday, practiced by Hindus and Buddhists, celebrates the victory of good over evil and apparently originated as a harvest festival. These days, people hang out with their families, light fireworks, eat a lot, say certain prayers, and get time off work. It’s a busy weekend in this part of the world.
Chun and I managed to dodge the crowds long enough to spot a Ferruginous Partridge (though we missed the hoped-for Mountain Peacock-Pheasant) before continuing toward the Krau Forest, a patch of lowland jungle where we’ll spend the entire day tomorrow. The weather was polite enough to wait until we were done birding before thunderstorms broke out this evening, though the humidity keeps you wet rain or shine.
New birds today: 18
Year list: 5163