Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pangkor hornbills

Still on our motorcycle trip from Phuket (Thailand) to Malaysia to renew our Thai Visitor's Visas and meet up with our friends at Lumut of Marina Island, we decided to catch the 10-minute ferry from Marina Island to Pangkor Island.

Part of the draw for us to this Island was to see a daily feeding of wild hornbill birds on the seaside patio of a particular hotel. There are various species and these are the largest called Great Hornbills. They are not unlike the Toucan (remember the mascot for Fruit Loops cereal?)

On arriving at the pier, we were immediately met by a young man who had scooters for rent, so we struck a deal and off we went. We had read the feeding time was around 17:30 to 19:00. Apparently the birds don't follow a rigid time schedule! So with time to kill, there was the whole Island to explore.

Pangkor Island's robust terrain is carpeted with lush tropical forests. We headed counterclockwise on the main narrow road that circled the Island.

Before leaving the condensed village that's squished between the shore and the steep hillsides, we came upon a shipyard. There, they were hand-building ocean-going ships of about 25 metres all out of heavy timbers and planking. You could easily picture yourself in a European shipyard of the 1600s.

Jordan was amazed at the huge planks of prized wood. Solid planks the size of a castle's dining room tabletop that could sit 30. What would these planks, rich in colour with a grain completely clear of knots, be worth back home in Canada? And where did they get such pristine timbers?

Beautiful timber

Continuing, the village scene soon drifted aft as we travelled a snaking road that climbed and clung to the sides of the vertical slopes where the forests disclosed where the prime timbers came from. Then the road eased to a pleasant drive past unspoiled beaches perfectly accented with large boulders as if placed by landscape architects.

We ended up early at the hotel where the hornbills would appear so we relaxed to soak up the setting. Soon, out of nowhere, a large hornbill swooped down as a special guest for dinner. First, she set on a tree branch to survey the safeness of the place, then finally flew down to the plate of cut-up papaya on a little table in the middle of the patio.

Free food!

We seemed to be the only persons interested and slowly crept closer to get a few snapshots...

Mrs. Hornbill was fine until she decided we were getting just a little bit too close and flew off into a high tree where she watched the 2 curious humans from her safe perch.

Soon thereafter, Mr. Hornbill came for the last of the meal. (Evidently a "he" as his bill was larger.) He delicately picked up each piece of fruit by the tip of his capacious bill and with a little backward flip, down it went, at the same time probably wondering what are these strange creatures looking at?

Feathered fruit flipper

The sky was turning an ominous charcoal and the faint rumbles were our cue to take flight back to the human jungle.

1 comment:

Peter Green said...

What a wonderful trip you are having... we would have to go to a zoo to see such sights.
Pete & Wendy