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About this book
About this book
Fraser’s Hill is a mountain village in Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia, known for its highland rainforest and extensive birdlife. This identification guide to the bird species, including all resident and regular migratory species, occurring in Fraser's Hill is perfect for resident and visitor alike. High quality photographs from top nature photographers are accompanied by detailed species descriptions, which include common and scientific names, size, distribution, habits and habitat. The user-friendly introduction covers geography and climate, vegetation, opportunities for naturalists and the main sites for viewing the listed species. Also included is an all-important checklist of all of the birds of Fraser's Hill encompassing, for each species, its common and scientific name, and IUCN status as of 2018.
Customer Reviews (1)
Gehan de Silva
13 Apr 2019
Written for Paperback
Fraser’s Hill is one of those special birding locations in the world where a site-specific birding guide works. It is an international rainforest gem which is perhaps not as well-known as it should be and perhaps there is a case that it is best it remains that way. A little about Fraser’ Hill may help to establish context. Peninsular Malaysia has the road network of a developed country and it is possible to arrive at Fraser’s Hill in around an hour from the international airport. It is a smooth and comfortable drive and a very different drive to the bone-jarring roads birders usually find themselves travelling on in tropical countries. It’s a beautiful range of hills and as you drive up into the cool and fresh higher elevations, you go through from lowland forest to submontane forest. The good road up the hill takes you past troops of macaques and you have views of valleys across which flocks of hornbills are sometimes seen traversing laboriously. It’s a magical place. Once atop and checked in, you can use the tarmacked road used by vehicles for easy and leech free birding or use the trails that go into the forest. The car park at the Jelai Highland Resort has a legendary bird wave that arrives at dawn with a dazzling array of species and then evaporates like a morning mist in the rising sun as dawn breaks.
A magical place like this with stunning birds and rich biodiversity has not surprisingly been the subject of a site-specific bird book before. For those with an interest in birds who are not on a birding tour but spending time in the capital Kuala Lumpur, this new book will be convenient and current. Although focused primarily on Fraser’s Hill, it also covers two other Hill Stations; the Genting Highlands and the Cameron Highlands. I have in fact visited both Fraser’s Hill and the Genting Highlands as a day trip on a visit to KL. But to really enjoy these special locations, a few days in each is recommended.
The text makes clear what species are found where and the checklists at the back provide a handy summary. The species accounts covering 273 species follow a standard format with three main categories, ‘Description’, Distribution’, ‘Habitat and Habits’. The description is identification focused as would be expected. The distribution covers the Asian region and would be of interest to people birding across Asia. The ‘Habitat and Habits’ section covers interesting aspects of behaviour and ecological requirements. The text contains interesting nuggets; for example, the Rusty-naped Pitta took a few decades for its presence to be confirmed in Fraser’s Hill despite rumours of a pitta. It just shows how elusive some forest birds can be. The lead author Geoffrey Davison is a familiar name to those with an interest in the natural history of Malaysia and Singapore. In the species accounts he brings to bear his first-hand familiarity with the species. The photography by Con Foley and Adam Hogg is excellent on the whole, not an easy feat given how awful the photographic conditions can be with forest birds.
The bulk of the book (pages 15-161) is taken up by the species descriptions as expected. The ten introductory pages (pages 4 – 14) are very useful covering the scope of the book, geography and climate, the forests, bird watching trails and the birds. The text author Geoffrey Davison is a highly competent natural history writer with several books to his credit. Therefore, the introductory sections have depth and are complemented by the references provided at the end of the book. The introductory text covers a vast sweep from history and geography to climate change impacts on the different types of forest communities and bird communities. One also learns the distinction between the political Peninsular Malaysia and the geographical Malay Peninsula. It is one of the best bite-sized introductions I have seen to a book of this genre.
The descriptions of the birdwatching trails span nearly four pages and are useful for those planning out their stay. Thirteen descriptions are given of trails and roads along which one can go birding. These are at different elevations and the distance and the ease of using them are explained. It is evident that one can easily spend a week at Fraser’s Hill and not run out of routes to explore. The practical advice is also supplemented in the end section with a list of 13 providers of accommodation and that of a well-known nature guide who is based at Fraser’s Hill. Many of the names provided are familiar to me from my own visits to the hill. Although it is now easy to find accommodation using internet search engines it still remains helpful to have a target list of names to use on internet searches. The checklist at the back has in boldface, the species which are confined to the highlands of Peninsular Malaysia. This is a very convenient design feature making it easier for the reader to focus on learning the specialities. The inside front cover has a map of Peninsular Malaysia with the three highland sites and some of the other key birding sites marked. The inside back cover has a map of Fraser’s Hill showing the roads and the trails.
On the whole, this is a very well produced, affordable, portable book which combines elements of a field guide and a travel guide for visitors with an interest in birdwatching.
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Dr Geoffrey Davison has worked with the National Parks Board in Singapore. Con Foley is a professional nature photographer and Adam Hogg is a young photographer based in Fraser’s Hill