Trip Report: Panti Forest (Johor, Malaysia), June 18, 2000

Peter Ericsson, Thailand;

Once again I found myself in Singapore, the city-state that is so nicely green, clean and manicured.

Here I have had many inspired birding adventures, seeing such delicacies such as Chinese Egret, Red-legged Crake, Straw-headed Bulbul, Copper-throated Sunbird, White-headed Munias, Long-tailed Parakeets, Red Knot and much more.

Knowing that an even better birding place is just next door, that is, Malaysia and famous places like Taman Negara and Fraser's Hill does put an eagerness to venture out away from the somewhat limited boundaries of Singapore. The problem with the two above-mentioned places is time and money. Both are many hours away and would require car rental along with food and lodging. Fortunately, there is an easy alternative: the Panti forest, only a dozen or so kilometer past the little town of Kota Tinggi, Johor. It is an easy drive from Singapore varying from 1-2 hours depending on the traffic crossing the causeway.

Since being "discovered and pioneered" some years back, some hardcore birders from Singapore have faithfully returned to this lowland rainforest again and again, finding an endless number of bird species.

I have had the blessing of being able to accompany some of these "happy to take you along" birders on 4 or 5 occasions, each time adding a number of new lifebirds to my list.

The forest itself is no longer primary but more of a secondary nature having once been logged out. However, there are still many stately trees around, and a host of Hornbill species including Helmeted, Rhinoceros, Bushy-crested, Black, Great and Wrinkled show signs that the forest is still healthy enough to hold a great many birds. My friends tell me that Storm's Stork has been seen along the trails, and other jewels like Garnet Pitta, Malaysian Rail-Babbler, Great Argus, Large Wren-Babbler and Scarlet-rumped Trogon are also to be found.

The place to go is what has been christened the "bunker trail." Right after these two major bunkers (remnant from WW2, I presume), one on each side of the road, there is a graveled road to the left. On any day there is an ever-flowing stream of lorries going in to fetch sand from the banks of a river deep within the area. There is logging going on (albeit illegal), and my friends from Singapore tell me the site may not last more then another couple of years. Instead of dwelling on what man is doing to himself and his surrounding, which is a very depressing subject, there is still great rejoicing to be found along this road.

This time we arrived around 8 o'clock and had to wait a few minutes for the skies to clear up. As they did, birds started to come alive. I was told that the week earlier they had found a flowering tree which had attracted flowerpeckers, sunbirds, spiderhunters, bulbuls and leafbirds feeding on the nectar side by side. They had then seen a Red-throated Sunbird which is a rare bird for the area and wanted to go back for some more documentation. Well, we dipped on the Red-throated Sunbird but scored on Scarlet Sunbird which is also a rare bird on this trail, according to one of the "veterans."

Knowing the bird calls really helps, and the best bird was called out by tape: Scarlet-rumped Trogon. If anyone is looking for a "far out" picture or color combination of shapes and wonder - this is it! In the scope it looked almost magical.

Another top bird was Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler with its chestnut cap, dark rufescent plumage and turquoise orbital skin roaming through the undergrowth.

We spent only 4 hours at this site but saw a wealth of birds, as can be sampled from the birdlist below. My friends rated the day "normal," saying that "you never know what will show up at Panti!"

Surely someone with the know-how ought to do something to conserve this beautiful place!

We finished the day with a delicious lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Kota Tinggi town before returning to Singapore.

The best way to go about it is to contact the Singapore Nature Society at 7412036 for information and to get in touch with the birding group. Their e-mail is

Birdlist from Bunker Trail, Panti Forest, Johor, Malaysia 18/6/00

Crimson-winged Woodpecker
Red-crowned Barbet                  Heard
Brown Barbet
Black Hornbill                           
Rhinoceros Hornbill                 Heard
Red-naped Trogon                    Heard
Scarlet-rumped Trogon                   
Blue-eared Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Red-bearded Bee-eater               Heard
Indian Cuckoo                       Heard
Drongo Cuckoo                       Heard
Violet Cuckoo                       Heard
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha
Raffles Malkoha
Blue-rumped Parrot                  Lifer
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot
Long-tailed Parakeet                Heard
Grey-rumped Treeswift
Whiskered  Treeswift
Thick-billed Pigeon
Dusky Broadbill
Black-and-yellow Broadbill          Heard
Asian Fairy Bluebird
Dark-throated Oriole
Greater Green Leafbird
Lesser Green Leafbird               Lifer
Blue-winged Leafbird
Large-billed Crow
Scarlet Minivet
Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Bronzed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 
Dark-necked Tailorbird 
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
Black-naped Monarch                 Heard
Green Iora
White-rumped Shama
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Cream-vented Bulbul
Red-eyed Bulbul                     Lifer
Hairy-backed Bulbul
Olive-winged Bulbul
Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler           Lifer
Striped Tit-Babbler
Black-capped Babbler                Heard
Short-tailed  Babbler               Heard
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker 
Oriental White-eye
Plain Sunbird 
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird                Nesting
Scarlet Sunbird                     Lifer
Purple-naped Sunbird
Little Spiderhunter
Spectacled Spiderhunter             Lifer
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; July 24, 2000