Kuala Lumpur Diaries: Kuala Lumpur Bird Park
And now to continue with my Malaysia trip. June seems so far behind now, when I had visited Kuala Lumpur.
Like I had written earlier, I opted to see the city using the services of the HOHO bus – or the Hop On Hop Off tourist bus. I had earmarked a few places among the 26 options offered, preferring to drive through the other tourist spots. There was an audio guide on the bus that detailed the history behind each place of interest that we passed by. I reckoned I was not missing much by skipping the other sites.
Besides, I wanted to visit only those places that held my interest. HOHO was the perfect solution for discerning travellers like me.
After having my fill of joy with the winged creatures in KL Butterfly Park, I moved on towards some more winged beings – the birds at KL Bird Park, which lay a short distance away from the Butterfly Park in the Lake Garden area. It is home to more than 3,000 birds, belonging to approximately 200 local and foreign species, and remains open on all days from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.
It was quite dark when I reached the bird park’s ticket counter. A thunderstorm was gathering steadily above, the rumbling clouds signaling an imminent downpour. The ticket cost me 50 RM, which I thought was quite expensive. But then again, nothing can measure up to the pleasure gained in the company of birds.
The person at the entrance thrust a map of the bird park in my hand and I entered the park, praying hard that it should not rain. The first birds to welcome me were a motley group of brightly coloured lorikeets, or parrots.
As I stood in front of their cage, I heard someone whistling beautifully above my head. Looking up I saw a cute parrot peering at me curiously.
“Hello,” I told him. “You are happy to see me, aren’t you?”
The bird nodded in agreement and I started my bird safari on a happy note.
As in most aviaries, the birds were oblivious of the human beings around them. They strutted and strolled around comfortably, dodging a few over enthusiastic kids here and there. The bird park was built on 20.9 acres of uneven terrain and closely resembled a thick, tropical rainforest with several water bodies adorning it. There were several zones marked out separately for hornbills, parrots, flamingoes, owls, flightless birds, etc. The park is designed in such a way that you would not miss any of the zones, despite your apprehensions of getting lost. There were also other attractions such as a bird show and bird feeding that took place at fixed hours of the day. Unfortunately, I was at a peculiar time that did not coincide with any such activity.
One event that I did not miss out on was having my photograph taken with the birds of my choice, for a fee. Thankfully, the photo booth is open the whole day in the park. As I waited for my turn, I saw a big family comprising several adorable kids having their photo clicked. They looked so endearing that I could not stop grinning and ended up taking their photo. Tell me if they aren’t cute!
When my turn came to be photographed, I chose two hornbills (you can choose maximum 2 birds per person). One of them, a wreathed hornbill called Ronaldo, turned out to be super moody and flew off to his perch petulantly. No amount of cajoling worked and I had to make do with just one bird on my shoulder.
The parrot zone turned out to be the most colourful of the zones. I loved the little bird houses and their brightly coloured occupants, some of them busy courting peevish females. They seemed to be pretty friendly with people and gratefully lapped up some water offered by a person.
There were some pretty amazing birds, too, like the iridescent blue bird whose name I could not locate. I have always been intrigued by toucans and was happy to see a few delightful specimens in the park.
I entered the hornbill zone with the hope of catching sight of the national bird of Malaysia – the rhinoceros hornbill. While all the other hornbills were busy gobbling fresh papayas (it was their feeding time), the rhinoceros hornbill was nowhere to be seen. Its cage lay empty. I left the zone quite disappointed.
Later, as I was preparing to exit the park I saw a group of foreigners pointing upwards and followed their gaze. And there sat my coveted rhinoceros hornbill, perched on a bough in the aviary, not in his cage. The photograph, however hazy it may be, stands testimony to the fact that – yes, I saw the national bird of Malaysia!
Another bird I have always been fond of is the owl. Imagine my happiness when I saw a bunch of them huddled in one small zone. All the species that I look out for in jungles were there – right from the brown wood owl, fishing owl and eagle owl to the barn owl. Most of them were snoozing in their dark corners and I quietly clicked a few blurred photographs to remember them by.
As I strolled around the refreshment areas, I found that many people were freely feeding the birds. I wondered if that was allowed. Perhaps it was. What astounded me most was the way the birds had built their nests in the midst of all the cacophony of visitors – screaming children, noisy crowds, et al. In the real world, they would build their nest far, far away from the prying eyes of humans and other birds. Life in captivity had changed their habits, it would seem.
Although I had been to several aviaries in the past, it still unnerved me to witness painted storks foraging for food so close beside me and the casual sauntering of the crowned pigeons, the largest pigeons in the world. I looked down in wonder at the delicate flamingoes in their own mud flats, with a concrete jungle rearing its head just beyond their enclosure.
Everything to me seemed surreal. Unnatural even.
The humidity around me was increasing by the minute and I could almost feel the rain on its way down. I hurried over to the bird gallery cum education centre and had a brief glance at the things there. Sadly, I realize now that I hardly registered anything from the education centre, barring a few incubated eggs and hatchlings (which had actually saddened me as there was a dead chick).
Finally, as expected, the rain started – thick and hard, though it soon puttered down. I exited the park (after stumbling onto the rhinoceros hornbill) through the hornbill gift shop and spent some time browsing through the wares. There was also a hornbill restaurant but I ignored it in favour of small kiosk selling hot puffs. Packing my food, I walked up to the HOHO bus stop and waited for my magic chariot. To take me to another beautiful locale of Kuala Lumpur.
Till the next time then, take care!
PS: I had won an all-expenses paid trip to Kuala Lumpur by dint of a blogging contest held by Tourism Malaysia in association with BlogAdda.