Butterworth …the forgotten part of Penang?

Butterworth:  When visited: February 2014.        Weather: HOT  25-30C

Most tourists to Malaysia would go to Kuala Lumpur (KL), Penang island and maybe Malacca.  Divers and ecotourists might go to the East coast isles of Tioman and Redang or venture further afield to East Malaysia/Borneo where Kuching and Kota Kinabalu are gateways to diving, birdwatching and mountaineering. Few who go to Penang would stop by in Butterworth on the mainland but having been in Ipoh for a couple of days, I decided to stop by in Butterworth on my way to Penang for the flight back to Singapore.

I travelled on the Sri Maju bus express from Ipoh to Butterworth and it was a smooth two hour journey to the bus terminal at the Butterworth Jetty area. The views leaving Ipoh are spectacular with green verdant hills on either side which made for a pleasant trip indeed.

greenery on the way to butterworth

greenery on the way to butterworth

As there weren’t really any birding sites of renown in Butterworth, I thought I’d visit the Penang Bird Park (yes it’s in Butterworth and not on Penang Island) just to check it out and kill a few hours….now I love bird watching and bird photography so I don’t normally go to bird parks where birds are captive etc so this went a bit against the grain.

I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the range of birds and accessibility for photography. They were also very healthy and the emus in particularly were obviously thriving with numerous offspring. (Cost: 18MYR for Malaysians and 29MYR for foreigners; this isn’t as bad as it sounds eg in India foreigners pay 10x as much as locals)

We were welcomed by the emus…

An emu welcome

An emu welcome

The first enclosure we came to was actually the best enclosure and my favourite in the whole park…largely because the birds in here were birds from Malaysia and Sumatra which was very relevant to most of my birding. It also helped of course that they were spectacularly colourful!
the black and red broadbill which I had seen in the wild in Malim Nawar a few weeks ago but had not been able to photograph

the black and red broadbill which I had seen in the wild in Malim Nawar a few weeks ago but had not been able to photograph

beautiful couple

beautiful couple

spectacular green broadbill

spectacular green broadbill

and a few other beauties…

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And a few owls…..

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Asian fairy bluebird

Asian fairy bluebird

I stayed at a perfectly adequate hotel called the Aroma Hotel which cost all of USD40! At dinner time, we drove down to the waterfront and saw this brilliant sunset on the way…

sunset over the indian temple in butterworth

sunset over the indian temple in butterworth

We had a wonderful seafood meal with this view towards Penang island

penang in the background

penang in the background

Feeling greedy after dinner, we proceeded to another part of town where we had dessert and scalded cockles (lok lok in the local vernacular) in the typically Malaysian eateries….

hawker stalls galore

hawker stalls galore

raw cockles on a skewer

raw cockles on a skewer

barely cooked cockles on the left...remember..cook them for 5 seconds only!

barely cooked cockles on the left…remember..cook them for 5 seconds only!

The next morning, I decided to explore a green fringed jogging track next to the bird park as I had a couple of hours to kill…so negotiated a deal with a local taxi driver …50 ringgit for 2 hours. It was a bit thin on birds but I saw a few common things and then a green billed malkoha which I was unable to photograph….and then I saw this interesting encounter….there was a Brahminy kite minding his own business when this crow appeared from nowhere and started harrassing the raptor! I always thought that raptors were fierce predators but it seems that crows are even more aggressive….stone the crows!

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So that was Butterworth in 24 hours…

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