Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

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Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby moloch » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:59 pm

My wife and I spent four nights at Fraser's Hill. This area is situated about 100 km to the north of Kuala Lumpur and is about 1500m in elevation. The temperature at Fraser's Hill is always pleasant and is a welcome relief after a few days in steamy KL. It often was misty with low clouds and occasional rain but it was not cold. I could walk quite comfortably in shorts and t-shirt into the night.

Fraser's Hill is famous with birders for its amazing birds. Birding is a big deal here and there is an international bird race every June. The infrastructure is great with well-marked trails and often signs that indicated what was likely to be seen. The mountains in Malaysia are home to a number of birds that are more typical of the Himalayas further to the northwest. Birds like Sibias, Cutias and Laughing-thrush are here and sought after. Monkeys like such as the Macaques, Leaf-Monkeys and Siamang are frequent. Years ago, while I drove around looking for night birds, I found a Leopard Cat on the road. This is one of the smaller cats and is not much bigger than the domestic variety.

Fraser's Hill is mostly forested. Here are habitat shots of the area:
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There is plentiful hotel and bungalow accommodation here. This is a popular place on the weekends so advance bookings are a good idea.
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We stayed here at Pekan Banglo:
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The local mosque is something all visitors know about. The first call to prayer is at 5:15 each morning. For me, this was a call go get out and get into the forest before sunrise.
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Most of the trailheads had signs and maps like this to help out with the birds that were likely:
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We did not have a car here on this trip so I did lots of walking at night. This proved to be successful and I found a few snakes.

A sad find was this gorgeous but DOR Blue Malaysian Coral Snake (Maticora bivirgata). It was killed around 1 pm, which was quite surprising since this is usually a nocturnal snake. This individual was huge and about 1.5m in length.
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I found this Thai-Malayan Pit Viper (Popeia fucata) on the road on one of my night walks. I originally thought this to be a White-lipped Pit Viper but I was told on another site that the White-lipped is a lowland species whereas Popeia lives in the uplands.
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This Variable Reed Snake (Calamaria lumbricoidea) was a challenge to photograph since it never stopped moving.
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I found two of these tiny Malayan Mountain Reed Snakes (Macrocalamus lateralis) on the road.
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This Southern Mountain Slug Snake (Pareas vertebralis) was active during a rainstorm one night.
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Lizards were represented by a couple of skinks and a single dragon. I think the following are Blotched Forest Skinks (Sphaenomorphus praesignis). These were all found along road cuts and usually had burrows into the bank. One was found on a log.
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I think that these are (Mabuya multifasciata) but I am not certain.
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This little dragon was a bright green until I caught it and moved it off the road. It changed colours in just a few moments when it was stressed. I am not certain of its identity. Any ideas?
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Frogs were not plentiful but I did see a few. I need help with these since I don’t know their names.

Frog 1:
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Frog 2:
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Frog 3:
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Frog 4:
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Toad 1
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… more to come


Regards,
David
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby mgiddings » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:09 pm

Very nice! The habitat looks perfect. Pity about the coral snake, what a stunning snake those are. The dragon looks interesting as well, the frogs are all stunning. Keep them coming :)
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Eyelash » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:16 pm

WOW...Great pics bud...
Please keep them coming...
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Westley Price » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:34 pm

WOW!

Not only are the animals great, but the photography is just awesome.

I can't imagine herping in such dense forest. Where the hell do you look? Haha.
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Sico » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:38 pm

The frogs are awesome and that viper is just fantastic.
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Chameleons » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:50 pm

I lived in Malaysia for 3 years before coming to South Africa and regularly went to a spot just below Frasers Hill (Sungei Gumut) to collect insects, with an occasional trip up the hill. These photos are superb and bring back fond memories. But - as Westley said "where do you herp in the jungle?". I would often find frogs and skinks but in 3 years of almost weekly jungle trecks I saw a dozen snakes at most - yet to catch many of the more elusive bugs required concentration and observation. Congratulations on some great photos.
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Chameleons » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:56 pm

I believe the little dragon lizard is a juvenile Calotes species. When I was a kid I lived in Singapore: in the breeding season the heads of the male Calotes can go blood red quite fast, giving rise to the idea among the locals that they are poisonous. This was to the extent that they were called 12 o'clock lizards - if you were bitten before noon, you would be dead by sunset. Obviously rubbish but exciting for a 11 year old out of England.
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby BOOGY » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:23 pm

Wow that was awesome. Its just great seeing all these others species from other parts of the world. Please dont stop posting!!!!
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby moloch » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:18 pm

Thanks, everyone.

Westley,
On my visit, I found all of the snakes by walking the roads at night. I tried trails in the forest many times but never saw a herp. I've seen reports from the Cameron Highlands with lots of snakes. They were found by night driving in the rainy season. I hope to get back to Fraser's again sometime during the wet to see if I can find more of the Malaysian snakes.

David,
Thanks for the info. I wondered whether the little dragon was a Calotes since I saw a big adult on the road but at a lower elevation. What insects were you after in that area? Fraser's is a great place for butterflies and moths I will post photos of some of these before long. It seems that there is a group from Singapore that heads to Fraser's a few times of the year to photograph the leps.


Regards,
David
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby moloch » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:13 am

I did not really try for bird photos. This is one of the few that I took of a lovely Silver-eared Mesia:
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Birding is Malaysia is excellent. On this trip, I was looking more for butterflies and herps so my list was not as long as before. Here is a link to a report that I produced the last time that I visited this area:
http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/trip ... sia98.html

Does anyone know the purpose of the red tail on the green pit vipers of Asia?

Here are some of the inverts that I encountered.

I found this trilobite beetle (Lycidae, I think) along a trail before sunrise. It had two spots phosphorescent spots on the abdomen. I saw two green "lights" moving around on the forest floor and found then found this amazing creature.
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I was lucky to see the following spider one night. It apparently is a rare and primitive trap-door strange abdominal plates. I saw legs beneath a rock so teased it with a stem of grass. It did not take long for it to charge into the open. Elsewhere, I was told that this is probably Liphistius malayanus. Here is a link to more info about it:
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?fi ... sec=nation
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I found several tarantulas but I could not convince any of them to come out into the open for better photos:
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One of the odd jewel spiders.
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An odd looking harvestman:
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This huge Rhinoceros Beetle visited a street light one night. I only saw this single horned male but several unhorned females.
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I discovered that some ways of holding this beetle were not a good as others. Many years ago, I let one walk on my arm. It suddenly clamped down with its grappling-hook toes and I had many little puncture wounds that were bleeding. On this visit, I held it at the articulation of the head and thorax but ended up with an impaled thumb when the beetle suddenly elevated its head.
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... a huge Dung Beetle:
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Regards,
David
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Loretta » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:14 am

Oh wow! Fascinating pics Moloch! Particularly the invertebrates! Keep the pics coming please!
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby Chameleons » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:40 pm

I was mainly interested in the lepidoptera, although I found young orchid mantis and phasmids in Sungei Gumut. The butterflies there are amazing and I found some interesting rarities. I have no idea what the place looks like now as there is illegal logging going on all over Malaysia, despite what the government try to claim. Once I was driving along a jungle track in what was a reserve, near the start of the uphill drive to Frasers, when I saw a ranger's jeep through the trees, so I quickly turned off. I then watched them escort a lorry piled with ilegally cut trees out of the jungle and at the tarred road saw a wad of money change hands. Very common, but devastating a beautiful country.

The last time I saw it, the area was still lovely, with streams, thick jungle and enough birds and bugs to make each day a delight. Some days I would try to arrive about 7.30am and then stay until dusk. The list of species I caught/saw there would be in the hundreds but my records and collection are still in SA, while I am in Europe. Among the things seen: both Leaf butteflies - Malay and Indian, different chilasa, lots of Arhopala, papilios by the ton, birdwings, nymphalids - just listing them makes me very envious that you were there recently. The range of butterflies up the hill are slightly different to those lower down. Did you try fruit traps?

I only stayed up the hill a few times as we lived just over an hour away, but when I did stay the family had to trawl the street lights with me looking for beetles. There were a few traders that would sell live beetles and I always tried to bring back what they had, including the chalcosomas like in your photo. At that time I was unaware of how easy it was to get eggs, so aside from keeping the adults alive for several weeks, I never tried to breed them.

I assume that the road to the hill is still only open in one direction at a time due to the narrow road? It was like that when I first visited in 1968 (at 11 years old) and hadn't changed in the 1990s!

I can see why people from Singapore travel there. I found out (but promptly forgot!) while living on the island that collecting butterflies in Singapore is illegal. Attempts to get permits to breed and study various species was rejected by the Singapore authorities with a vigor that would be envied by SA Nature Conservation.

I look forward to the butterfly pictures.
David
(and the area is also good for collecting grasshoppers, which I did to feed my Jacksons chameleons. Jacksons in Malaysia?....)
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby MrG » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:01 pm

This is one of the best post I have read in a while and thx for sharing, Great images, info and keep it coming.
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby moloch » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:55 am

Thanks, all.

Loretta,
I have many more invert pics to post.


David,
That is interesting about Fraser's and the sites that you used to visit. My last trip there was 12 years ago and there has been a big change down near Kuala Kubu Bharus. A dam has been built and there is now a large lake soon after driving into the hills. The lower road is new and much straighter than the winding old road to The Gap. The Gap resthouse is closed once again and it looks like rennovations are in progress.

A new road has been built from the highway to Fraser's but it looks like is was a disaster and is not used due to land slips. So, for now, it is still one-way traffic up or down the hill. The forest in that area is still good and extensive.

I visited the street lights of Fraser's every night and found many wonderful moths. I will post these along with what I think to be the name. If you recognize them, I would appreciate your help.

I hoped to find the Orchid Mantis but had no luck. They look incredible in the photos that I have seen.


Thanks, MrG


Regards,
David
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Re: Malaysia, Fraser's Hill

Postby moloch » Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:12 am

I found an Atlas Moth (Attacas atlas) one night. What an incredible moth! It was huge and you can get an idea of the size by looking at the pavers where it is standing.
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Lyssa zampa were abundant at the moment. They are uraniids but are nocturnal unlike those that I have seen here in Australia and Peru.
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Arctiids were common. I quite like this Snouted Tiger (Peridrome orbicularis?):
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Vamuna remelana -- another arctiid
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Cyana malayensis -- arctiid
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Barsine flavodiscalis -- arctiid
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Some moths had very oddly shaped wings:
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This moth looked much like a Lycaenid butterfly. I think that it is Tasta micacaeta.
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Urapteroides sp
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These Noctuiids were feeding on crushed figs.
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Geometrids?
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Sphinx Moths were numerous.
Ambulyx obliterata?
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?Cechenena lineosa?
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