Michael Herr (and other people before him) once stated that “War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” When replacing “terror” with “excitement”, this sounds a lot like birding in tropical rainforests to me.

You have probably experienced it yourself: You prepare yourself well for a birding trip, looking at trip reports, eBird lists, bird guides, etc. Then you arrive in a place such as Taman Negara, Malaysia, eager to start birding and possibly getting nice photos of all the beautiful birds you wish to see. And then, not much happens. Birds (like children) should be seen not heard, but rainforest birds clearly have not understood this message. You only see one bird every two hours or so, while the same period of time is enough for 4 or 5 leeches to find your ankle. And you wonder: Aren`t there any more sensible ways to spend your leisure time than searching for but not seeing birds?

Fortunately, much as the soldier probably mostly remembers a war for its brief moments of sheer terror, birders are blessed with similar retrograde amnesia which leaves out the boredom and physical discomfort and focuses on the perhaps 5 minutes during a three- or four-day birding trip that were actually spent seeing beautiful birds. This is the way otherwise sane people start planning for their next rainforest birdwatching trip soon after their last one.

And seeing the photos I got at Taman Negara during a three-day stay in November 2019, this always seems to work – despite not having seen a single Pitta …


Asian Fairy Bluebird


Black-Naped Monarch

 


Black-and-red Broadbill


Buff-necked Woodpecker


Collared Scops Owl


Crested Flameback


Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo


Grey-cheeked Bulbul


Pale Blue Flycatcher


Raffle`s Malkoha


Rhinoceros Hornbill

Rufous-collared Kingfisher


Rufous-tailed Tailorbird


Rufous-winged Philentoma


Rufous Woodpecker


Scarlet-rumped Trogon


Stork-billed Kingfisher


Tiger Shrike


White-rumped Shama

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Written by Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug is a German who has been living in Shanghai for the last 15 years, and who only became interested in birds in China – so he is much more familiar with birds in China than with those in Germany. While only an average birder, he aims to be a good bird photographer and has created a website with bird photos as proof. He hopes not too many clients of his consulting company read this blog, as they will doubt his dedication to providing consulting services related to China`s chemical industry. Whenever he wants to shock other birders, he tells them his (indoor) cats can distinguish several warblers by taste.