Birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park

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Kuala Selangor Nature Park birdwatching

For birders in Malaysia, birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP) is not to be missed. Located near the historic town of Kuala Selangor, KSNP is only a short drive from downtown Kuala Lumpur. The park straddles the mouth of the Selangor River, and offers a lush, green oasis away from the bustling city.

KSNP is a well-known location to see species that frequent coastal forests and mangroves (residents and migrants alike). Target species such as the Black Baza, Greater Flameback, Mangrove Whistler and Cinereous Tit are readily seen here. Unsurprisingly, the park is ever-popular with local and visiting birders.  Additionally, the park is also perfect for beginner birdwatchers and photographers.

Established in 1987, KSNP is run by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), a conservation-focused NGO. KSNP is also popularly known by its Malay name – Taman Alam Kuala Selangor.

Birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP) is reasonably easy. There is only one main path in the park, and the terrain is flat. Navigation within the park is uncomplicated, so visitors can focus on the birdwatching. Good news for birders – KSNP is usually devoid of crowds, even on weekends. The only exception would be during certain events, such as community mangrove planting sessions or the Festival of Wings.

Birding areas at KSNP

KSNP official map.
The official map of KSNP. North is on the right. The main path runs a loop from the entrance and back again. This map is quite outdated, as the central area is now overgrown. Moreover, one of the gazebos are in disrepair, and only one observation tower is usable. The ‘otter way’ at the right of the map is quite accurate, however. I’ve seen otters at that location several times!
Main Path

The main path starts from the visitors centre and initially passes through an area of secondary forest. Subsequently, the path crosses a canal and makes a circuit around what used to be a mudflat area. This central area is currently full of mangrove and nipa trees. Take a leisurely walk along the main path, and you’ll be able to spot most of the common birds here. There’s 3 gazebos along the path for shelter. The entire main path is about 2.8 km long (starting and ending at the entrance). 

You’ll see birds all along this path. Nevertheless, I tend to find the migrant flycatchers more often on the southern section (turn left after the bridge).

Mosquito alley KSNP
The main path starts just after the visitors centre. The first section of the path (seen in the photo) is notorious for being infested with mosquitoes. There’s a small bridge at the end of this section.
Kuala Selangor Nature Park main path.
The main path at KSNP is well-maintained and easily walkable.
Mangrove Walkway

This concrete walkway is located on the far side of the park. The path traverses a section of mangrove forest lining the Selangor River estuary. From this path, you’re more likely to spot the mangrove specialist birds, for example, the Mangrove Whistler. Take care, however, as the walkway has no railings and may be slippery when wet. The mangrove walkway is about 800 m long, so add this to the main path distance (0.8km + 2.8km = 3.6km).

Mangrove walkway at KSNP
The mangrove walkway is well shaded and offers a good place to spot mangrove birds. Note the lack of safety railing.
Observation Tower

Finally, there’s an observation tower to provide an elevated view of the surroundings. The tower is about 500 m from the entrance, just after the main path crosses the canal. The elevated vantage point is good to spot distant raptors, swiftlets and soaring Adjutants. Be aware of the poorly maintained railings, though (poor maintenance is a widespread problem in Malaysia). Don’t lean on the railings. 

Kuala Selangor Nature Park observation tower
The observation tower at KSNP.

What birds to look for when birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park?

The following lists are by no means exhaustive; nevertheless, it covers some important target species.

Resident species:

A variety of common resident species are found within the park, including:

  1. Coucals, Koels and Little Bronze-Cuckoo
  2. Indian Cuckoo (some are migrants as well).
  3. Various herons and egrets.
  4. Crested Serpent-Eagle, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  5. Collared and White-throated Kingfishers
  6. Coppersmith, Lineated and Black-eared Barbets.
  7. Malaysian Pied-Fantail
  8. Pied Triller
  9. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
Kuala Selangor Nature Park Crested Serpent Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagles are occasionally seen perched in mid-story at the mangrove walkway. However, to get close views you’ll have to walk slowly and quietly!
Kuala Selangor Nature Park Indian Cuckoo
The Indian Cuckoo is a drab bird that’s famous for its distinctive song – “cross-word-puzzle!”

Additionally, KSNP is a great place to seek the following birds:

  1. Chestnut-bellied Malkoha 
  2. Greater Flameback – a  woodpecker typically found in mangrove and coastal forests.
  3. Common Flameback, Laced and Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers.
  4. Mangrove Whistler – As its name suggests, this species is usually found at mangrove forests and adjacent habitats. This rather drab bird is the only whistler in Peninsula Malaysia; thus, it’s quite sought-after.
  5. Cinereous Tit – Within Peninsula Malaysia, this species is only found in mangrove forests (and adjacent habitats) along the west coast.
  6. Swinhoe’s White-eye
  7. Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
target species at Kuala Selangor Nature Park
Target species at KSNP

The following resident birds are seen here as well, albeit less frequently:

  1. Mountain Imperial-Pigeon – These birds wander far from their mountain homes looking for food; occasionally, they’re seen foraging at KSNP.
  2. Little Green-Pigeon
  3. Oriental Pied-Hornbill
  4. Blue-eared and Stork-billed Kingfishers.
  5. Ashy Drongo
  6. Abbott’s Babbler
Migratory species:

Every northern winter (late August to early May), KSNP hosts a plethora of migratory birds. Some simply pass through, while others spend the winter here. Commonly encountered migratory species include:

  1. Common Sandpiper – The only shorebird regularly seen at KSNP.
  2. Black Baza – This gorgeous raptor is arguably Malaysia’s most attractive bird-of-prey. They’re sometimes seen soaring in medium to large sized flocks. Lucky visitors may even see them perched! 
  3. Common and Black-capped Kingfishers
  4. Blue-tailed Bee-eater
  5. Ashy Minivet
  6. Yellow-rumped and Asian Brown Flycatchers
  7. Arctic Warbler
Kuala Selangor Nature Park Black Baza
The Black Baza is an amazing migratory raptor that is frequently seen at KSNP. They’re very skittish; thus, perched birds are difficult to photograph. I was very lucky with this shot!

The following migratory species are less frequently encountered:

  1. Chestnut-winged Cuckoo
  2. Large Hawk-Cuckoo
  3. Chinese and Japanese Sparrowhawks
  4. Blue-winged Pitta
  5. Crow-billed Drongo
  6. Amur, Blyth’s, and Japanese Paradise-Flycatchers.

Check out the eBird checklists from my previous visits to KSNP. It’ll give a better picture of what to expect here:

  1.  February 2024 checklist
  2. October 2022 checklist
  3.  March 2018 checklist

More photos of birds at KSNP

Kuala Selangor Nature Park woodpeckers
Woodpeckers at Kuala Selangor Nature Park
Kuala Selangor Nature Park Kingfishers
Kingfishers at KSNP

Anything else other than birds?

Definitely! KSNP is a biodiversity hotspot, with an array of flora and fauna that’ll excite any nature lover. Unsurprisingly, the park is great for nature photography.

  1. Sundaic Silvered Langurs (a.k.a Silvered Leaf Monkey) are numerous here. The adults are dark; conversely, their babies are bright orange! These iconic langurs appear in the park’s logo, and have become a tourist attraction themselves. Some authorities elevate the Peninsular Malaysia population as its own species – the Selangor Silvered Langur.
  2. Smooth-coated Otters are occasionally seen.
  3. Giant Mudskippers, Banded Archerfish and various crabs.
  4. Water Monitors, and various lizards and snakes.
  5. Various mangrove trees, Sea Hibiscus, Nipa palm, and strangler figs.
KSNP Smooth-coated Otter
Lucky visitors might encounter Smooth-coated Otters at KSNP. This individual was spotted feasting on a Snakehead fish!
Kuala Selangor Nature Park silvered langurs
The Silvered Langurs at KSNP are an attraction by themselves. The dark adults (left) are often seen loafing on trees while grooming. Look out for the brightly coloured babies (right)!

How to go birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park:

Getting here:

Simply use Google maps or navigation apps and search for Kuala Selangor Nature Park or Taman Alam Kuala Selangor. KSNP is roughly 70 km from Kuala Lumpur, and takes about 1 – 1.5 hours drive time. Alternatively, you can charter a taxi or use E-hailing, which would be a pricey option.

Opening times:

9 am until 6 pm daily.

However, you can enter the park earlier. The park’s workers typically arrive early; thus, the main gate is usually open by 7.30 am. Simply enter the park, and pay the entrance fee when you’re leaving. Please don’t forget to pay before exiting, as the money is important for the park’s maintenance. Exit the park by 6 pm.

Admission fees:
  1. Adults – RM 4
  2. Adults (MNS members) – RM 2
  3. Children below 17 – RM 1
  4. Children below 7 – free
Kuala Selangor Nature Park prices
Prices for admission and accommodation within KSNP.
Public Facilities:

Within the park, facilities are located near the entrance area:

  1. Public toilet
  2. Parking space. Make sure your vehicle is properly locked with windows shut – macaques are a problem.
  3. Limited drinks and snacks are sold at the visitor centre.
  4. A small exhibit on the flora and fauna of the park is located at the visitor centre.
  5. Prayer room

The Kuala Selangor town has more facilities, including:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Pharmacy 
  3. ATM
Photos of the park’s facilities:
KSNP visitor centre
Visitor centre at KSNP
Visitors centre exhibit
The small exhibit at the Visitors Centre
KSNP entrance area
Entrance area of KSNP. The chalets are in the background. The main path starts just after the small gazebos. The prayer room is on the right, and the toilets are to the left (not seen).
main gate of KSNP
Entrance gate of the park. This gate is usually open by 7.30am.
IBA sign at KSNP
The sign denoting KSNP as an IBA. This sign was inaugurated during the 2019 Festival of Wings.

Accommodation options:

Most birders come to KSNP on a day trip. However, accommodation options are available for those wanting to stay the night:

  1. There are accommodations within the park itself. These are very basic, however. 
  2. Much better options are located at the town nearby, including:
    • Kuala Selangor Boutique Hotel and Melawati Ria Hotel – budget options. Located at the old town, thus is walking distance from the park.
    • De Palma Resort –  2.4 km away. Seems to be quite popular with visiting birders, as the hotel is a ‘birdable’ location itself. Check out the ‘De Palma Resort Area’ hotspot on eBird.
    • Grand Kapar Hotel – at Bandar Malawati (1.9 km away)
    • VI Boutique Hotel – at Pasir Penambang (3 km away)

Things to be aware of when birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park:

  • KSNP frequently gets hot and humid. Therefore, bring plenty of drinking water.
  • Afternoons often bring rain showers, so bring waterproof gear.
  • Mosquitoes are a problem, and KSNP is notorious among local birders for this. The mosquitoes are especially numerous along the initial path from the entrance area. A good mosquito repellent is essential.
  • Long-sleeved clothing can help with the mosquito issue.
  • Troupes of Long-tailed Macaques roam the park. While not normally aggressive, they will get excited if they see or smell food. Even plastic bags will pique their interest (as these often contain food). Therefore, bring a backpack, and put food inside in airtight packaging.  Important: never feed the monkeys.
  • Wild boars are occasionally encountered. They’ll usually flee, but females with piglets might be more confrontational. Give them a wide berth.

Festival of Wings

This annual one-day weekend event is organised by the park and Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). Usually held in October, in conjunction with the arrival of migratory birds from the north. The event is geared more towards school children and the general public. Activities include mangrove planting, guided nature walks and exhibition booths.

More information

  1. Kuala-selangor.com has additional information on the historic town, and nearby attractions.
  2. The KSNP page from the above website.
  3. Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) – the NGO that runs and manages the park.

Conclusion:

Birdwatching at Kuala Selangor Nature Park is a great way to see a variety of resident and migratory birds. These include mangrove inhabitants, such as the Mangrove Whistler and Greater Flameback. Moreover, the park is easily accessible, due to its flat topography and well-maintained paths. 

In summary, KSNP is an easy recommendation for beginner and veteran birdwatchers alike, and a must-visit for visiting birders.

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