Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin – Birdwatching info

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Kuala Rompin birdwatching

This is a companion piece to my birdwatching at Kuala Rompin trip report. It aims to provide relevant birding information to anyone wishing to explore the birdwatching spots around Kuala Rompin. 

Head over to the link below to read the aforementioned trip report:

Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin – Birdwatching info

First, make your way to the small town of Kuala Rompin. The town is on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in the southeastern part of Pahang state. It is:

  • 290 km from Kuala Lumpur. The shortest route will be via Kuala Pilah, Bandar Tun Abdul Razak, and Muadzam Shah. Aside from the highway from KL to Seremban, the roads are mostly single-lane carriageways.
  • 189 km from Johor Bahru / Singapore. The route is along state Route 3 and passes Kota Tinggi, Mersing, and Endau along the way. It is also mostly single-lane carriageways.
  • You’ll need your own or rented vehicle to explore the locations described in this article.
  • Long-distance buses are available from Kuala Lumpur (from TBS – Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) to Kuala Rompin. However, public transport around Kuala Rompin is impractical for birders.

It’s best to allow yourself at least 2 days to explore the area. 

Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin – Location 1: Kuala Pontian Beach

Kuala Pontian beach at Kuala Rompin
The weather wasn’t the best during our trip here; nevertheless, the birds didn’t mind!
Getting here
  • Use the landmark ‘Jeti Kuala Pontian’. 
  • 10 km from Kuala Rompin town.
  • Once you arrive, head further along the road until you see the sandy beach. 
  • Park anywhere suitable, and explore the beach for birds.
Map of Kuala Pontian beach
Once you arrive at the ‘Jeti Kuala Pontian’ landmark, drive a bit further. You’ll reach a grassy area where you can park the car.
Timing
  • The best time to arrive is at high tide – check the tide charts online beforehand. I use tide-forecast.com.
  • Migrant birds are typically present from late August until early May.
  • Some species are more frequently seen during the passage migration season (late August – October; March-early May).
  • Be aware of the Northeast monsoon season (October until early March). This season brings increased rainfall, which occasionally causes flooding along the peninsula’s east coast. Be prepared for travel disruptions. 
What birds to look for at Kuala Pontian beach?

This is primarily a sandflat habitat; therefore, species preferring mudflats may be absent. This list is not exhaustive.

  1. Common Sandpiper
  2. Sanderling
  3. Terek Sandpiper
  4. Tibetan and Greater Sand-Plovers
  5. Kentish Plover
  6. White-faced Plover
  7. Malaysian Plover
  8. Little Tern
  9. Gull-billed Tern
  10. Great Crested Tern
  11. Chinese Egret

Most birds in the list above are migrants. The Malaysian Plover is a resident and is present year-round. These birds may nest along the beach; please refrain from disturbing them excessively.

Check out the following eBird checklist to get a better idea of what to expect here:

  1. Our trip checklist from March 2024

Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin – Location 2: Selendang Paddyfields

These small paddyfields caused quite a stir in early 2023 when several rare species turned up.

Getting here:
  • Use the landmark ‘Kilang Beras BERNAS’ on Google Maps to reach the start of the paddyfields.
  • 8.2 km from Kuala Rompin town
  • Once there, explore the paddyfield roads by car or foot. The paddyfield roads are rather narrow.
  • A scope may be helpful here to scan at distant flocks.
Selendang paddyfields location
Selendang Paddyfields is about 8 km south of Kuala Rompin
Selendang paddyfields map
Map of Selendang Paddyfields
Timing
  • If aiming for vagrants/rarities, go during the northern winter (late August until early May). 
  • Again, remember the North-east monsoon season (October until early March).
What birds to look for at Selendang Paddyfields?

Rarities / Vagrants. You’ll need to start twitching or be really lucky to see these:

  1. Knob-billed Duck
  2. Tufted Duck
  3. Northern Pintail
  4. Green-winged Teal
  5. Garganey – Unlike the above ducks, this species is a regular winter visitor to Peninsular Malaysia. It is rather uncommon, though.
  6. Pied Stilt
  7. Spotted Redshank 

Regular birds include:

  1. Various herons and egrets
  2. Lesser Whistling-Duck
  3. Wood Sandpiper
  4. Marsh Sandpiper
  5. Common Greenshank
  6. Greater Painted-Snipe
  7. Common, Pintail and Swinhoe’s Snipes
  8. Black-winged Stilt
  9. Oriental Pratincole
  10. Grey-headed Lapwing
  11. Eastern Marsh Harrier

Check out the following eBird checklists to get a better idea of what to expect here:

  1. Our trip checklist from March 2024. Not many birds during this time as we arrived late.
  2. January 2023 eBird checklist from experienced Singapore birder Tan Gim Cheong.
  3. February 2023 eBird checklist from experienced Malaysian birders (and our friends) Low Kok Hen, Tang Tuck Hong, et al. This checklist is likely more representative of the birdlife here.

Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin – Location 3: Leban Chondong (Jalan Kampung Lanjut). 

This location is a stretch of road that passes through a section of coastal peat-swamp forest. Simply drive and stop anywhere by the roadside to look for birds. Unfortunately, this area is unprotected; therefore, development can occur anywhere. The long-term future of this birdwatching location is uncertain.

Leban Chondong at Kuala Rompin
The birding road at Leban Chondong. Be wary of traffic at all times.
Leban Chondong birding
Simply park by the road and look for birds. Be aware that some areas of the road shoulder aren’t suitable for parking.
Getting here:
  • The road is state road C110 – Jalan Kampung Lanjut
  • The best landmark is ‘Lebon Chondong’ (sic) on Google Maps. It’s roughly 17 km from Kuala Rompin town.
  • We usually bird until the golf course; however, you can drive further if you want.
Kuala Rompin to Leban Chondong
Leban Chondong is roughly 17km to the north of Kuala Rompin town.
Leban Chondong map
Map of the birding road at Leban Chondong
What birds to look for at Leban Chondong?

The habitat is primarily coastal peat-swamp forest, with a few cleared areas and a golf course. A wide range of species inhabits this area; however, the list below highlights some target species:

  1. Cinnamon-headed Green-Pigeon – The star bird; thankfully, it seems to be locally common here
  2. Thick-billed, Little and Pink-necked Green-Pigeons
  3. Lesser Adjutant
  4. White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  5. Wrinkled Hornbill – another sought-after species.
  6. Oriental Pied Hornbill
  7. Banded Kingfisher
  8. Stork-billed Kingfisher
  9. Banded Broadbill
  10. Black Magpie
  11. Black-headed Bulbul

Check out the following eBird checklists to get a better idea of what to expect here:

  1. Our trip checklist from March 2024.
  2. May 2023 eBird checklist from a Wild Bird Club Malaysia (WBCM) field trip here.

Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin – further afield

If you have extra time available, consider checking out the following birding hotspots:

  • Rompin State Park (Taman Negeri Rompin Pahang). Located within the famous Endau-Rompin forest. 36.5 km  from Kuala Rompin town
  • Jalan Tanjung Resang. Located near Gunung Arong Recreational Forest. Good location for the amazing Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker. 50 km from Kuala Rompin.

Accommodation options

Kuala Rompin is quite small; however, there are several accommodation options:

  1. DLayaran Villa Guest House – we stayed here; decent, good value for money.
  2. D’Layaran Hotel and Cafe Rompin – despite the name, not the same as the previous guest house. 
  3. Rompin Beach Resort – Typical resort-style hotel.
  4. Hotel Sriimpian Rompin – Typical shop lot budget hotel.
  5. Various homestay-type accommodations.

Note: If using third-party websites (booking.com, Agoda, etc.), make sure your accommodation is actually near Kuala Rompin town. Some hotels may actually be at Tanjung Gemuk, 30km away (still in Rompin district).

Public facilities

While Kuala Rompin is relatively small, public facilities are not a problem. Food options are especially plentiful. We tried the following establishments during our trip:

  • Gerai Makan Azizah Udang Galah is a mixed rice restaurant famous for its ‘Udang Galah’ (giant freshwater prawn). It gets busy on weekends. It is open 8 am to 5 pm and is conveniently located near the Leban Chondong birding location.
  • Ikan Celup Tepung Qaseh Armani – seaside seafood restaurant. Opens after 12 noon.
  • Roti Canai Lejen Haji Yusof – excellent roti canai and opens early for breakfast. 7 am to 12 noon.

The town area also has:

  • Banks, ATM
  • Convenience stores
  • Supermarket 
  • Pharmacy
  • Rompin Hospital – a decent-sized public hospital.
  • Police Station

Conclusion

Birdwatching at Kuala Rompin is worthwhile, with several interesting birding locations close to the town. These locations are relatively underexplored; nevertheless, they’re easily accessible. A varied selection of resident birds frequents the area, including the sought-after Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon and Malaysian Plover. Moreover, migrant species also occur, including the tantalising possibility of encountering rarities or vagrants.

Of course, you don’t need to wait for the rarities to show up before coming. Despite the long drive, Kuala Rompin has plenty to offer the intrepid birder. Go ahead and give these locations a try!

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