WITH CAMERA IN TOW, HUGH UJHAZY REDISCOVERS THE PLEASURES OF THE KL BIRD PARK.
It’s Sunday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur. The haze has settled, the malls are packed, no cars are on the road. What to do? Grabbing my cameras and my teenage daughter, I head off to the Lake Gardens to commune with the bird community.
KL BIRD PARK’S PERFECT LOCATION
The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is in the middle of the Lake Gardens, a leafy subdued space in the heart of KL just near the Parliament building. The Lake Gardens is home to open playgrounds, walking trails, and the amazing butterfly park, but the Bird Park is a personal favorite.
Shaped like a bowl and located under an immense canopy, the KL Bird Park is distinguished by its method of caging the birds and humans together. As you walk down the shaded, paved pathways, pause for a stately procession of mildly bemused Milky Storks. Lacking only bowlers and walking sticks, they could be a pair of old gentlemen on a Sunday stroll, commenting about the odd humans who point cameras at them.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE BIRDS
Walkways start from the highest point and meander down the hill to the pool where a gaggle of flamingos, pelicans, small ducks, and other water fowl congregate. The storks come and go as they please, flying overhead along with some of the smaller and more daring cranes. Tables at the café will frequently be shared with milky storks, cranes, and peacocks, all of whom have little hesitation in making up-close inspection of the habits of humans.
Wandering off the more popular paths, a small bridge spans the stream feeding the central pond. Here, a black-naped oriole, brilliant in yellow plumage with black highlights, takes advantage of a cluster of bananas while conveniently standing still for the camera. Further down the path, a pair of pigeons (dicula bicolor on good authority) feast on mango, looking a little dishevelled from a recent dip in a water tub.
A few of the more territorial birds are caged. The hornbills live behind enclosures, emerging with the handlers to be fed. Check out the feeding times because these birds are amazing. Speaking of feeding time, the bahminy kites get fed in early afternoon, swooping and diving to catch morsels thrown by the keepers. Looking a lot like a smaller version of the American bald eagle, the color, plumage, and poise of these birds is spellbinding.
Stopping for some quiet contemplation, the pelicans and flamingos in the central pool provide a gentle slow motion ballet like Chinese elders performing tai chi.Standing on one leg with the other tucked away, the bright pink and soft white flamingos cluster in a large group, leaving room for the more boisterous pelicans, who dash in and out, fan their immense wings, and generally act like teenagers at the opera.
FACTS AND FIGURES FOR KL BIRD PARK
The Lake Gardens was established on 150 acres (60 hectares) in 1888, and the bird park was added to the array of attractions in 1991. The Lake Gardens area was originally a tin mine, and the garden-space idea was the brainchild of Alfred Venning, State Treasurer in Malaya in the late 19th century, who sought to create a quiet oasis in the middle of the bustling city. The gardens also enclose the former residence of British Government representatives, now known as Carcosa Seri Negara.
The KL Bird Park itself is home to almost 3,000 birds from over 200 species, with 90% of those species calling Malaysia their home. Recognizing the challenge in seeing birds in their natural habitat and seeking to avoid traditional bars and enclosures, designers of the 8.5-hectare park have confined less than 10% of the residents to cages. The majority of birds within the park fly free beneath the netting canopy, while the humans become part of the walkway scenery accepted by the residents. Some of the frequently noticeable birds are Hornbills, Flamingos, Parrots, Cockatoos, Storks, Pheasants, Mynahs, Pigeons, Macaws, Ducks, and Waterhens.
The comings and goings of birds and people, the calm and shaded walkways and the intimacy with the animals in the bird park make it an unmissable boredom buster. It doesn’t disappoint.
KL BIRD PARK
Admission Prices: RM48 (adult), RM38 (child aged 3-12)
Photography session – 10am-5pm
Bird feeding – 10.30am
Hornbill feeding – 11.30am
Parrot and lorries feeding – 10am-5pm
Bird show – 12.30pm, 3.30pm
Ostrich and emu feeding – 10am-5pm
Eagle feeding – 2.30pm
Milky Stork feeding – 4pm
Visit www.klbirdpark.com for more details.
This article was written by Hugh Ujhazy for The Expat magazine. It has been edited for ExpatGoMalaysia.com
Source: The Expat December 2012
This article has been edited for ExpatGoMalaysia.com
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