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Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo - Reports/Birdtour Asia Borneo Nov 2015.pdf · PDF file riverine jungle, submontane and montane highlands the two states of Sabah and Sarawak offer some

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  • Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo 2nd - 21st November 2015

    Leader: Mike Nelson

    Participants: Lizzie Dodd, Mark Harper, Robert Hutton,

    David Miller, Martin Painter, Kevin Stracey

    Whitehead’s Trogon, Mount Kinabalu © Mike Nelson / Birdtour Asia

    With an impressive list of endemics, regional specialties and range restricted goodies, Borneo is one of Asia’s most desirable birding destinations. With a varied fauna ranging from coastal peat swamp, lowland dipterocarp forest, riverine jungle, submontane and montane highlands the two states of Sabah and Sarawak offer some of the best birding on the world’s third largest island. We amassed an impressive list of 343 species of which 50 are endemics, and included 26 babblers, 19 Bulbuls, all nine barbets, all eight hornbills, all six trogons, seven pittas, 13 night- birds and a wonderful supporting cast of colourful kingfishers, woodpeckers and broadbills.

    We began our first morning in some mid-elevation forest where the dawn chorus greeted us as we arrived. Temminck’s Sunbirds called from several trees and their glowing red plumage showed well. Several Yellow-bellied

  • Warblers moved in a noisy flock with Grey-throated Babblers. Loud Bornean Treepies showed well and close as they moved around. Several Bornean Leafbirds added a splash of colour and calling Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush bounded through the canopy. Once the barbets got going we got fantastic looks at several Bornean and the more abundant Mountain Barbet joined by a single Gold-whiskered later on. Black-sided Flowerpecker was added as were several flocks of Chestnut-headed Yuhinas and some wintering Blue-and-White Flycatchers.

    Farther along the road we got some nice views of Bock’s Hawk-Cuckoo, Black-and-Crimson Oriole, Cinereous and Ochraceous Bulbul, Sunda and Lesser Cuckooshrike, Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler, noisy Erpornis, Bornean Whistler, a nice group of Pygmy White-eye and a Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle. Also showing well finally was a pair of Long-tailed Broadbills, though one had been seen by a few next to the road we later managed to scope one high up over the road where we could appreciate the riot of colours in the plumage.

    We continued upwards towards Mount Kinabalu and spent the remainder of the afternoon in a very damp and drizzly Kinabalu Park. Consolation was a noisy group of Bornean Green Magpie that eventually showed though not without some effort through the gloom.

    The next morning we arrived early and after a short breakfast began to walk down the road and much to our surprise the first birds we ran into was a pair of Whitehead’s Broadbills. This pair showed really well before we turned our attention to the group of Sunda Laughingthrush. The high pitched song of Bornean Stubtail alerted us to its presence and soon enough we were watching it sing from a perch above in amongst some tall grasses. As we continued down the road a colourful Golden-naped Barbet was seen picking small fruits from a tree but was soon replaced by a small flock of Fruithunters. Suddenly our attention was focused on this group as several males showed well as they moved through the canopy with a bright, chestnut-toned female in tow. Farther down a huge flock of Giant Swiftlet drifted over and we soon joined one of the trails and began a slow hike through some pristine forest. Here we picked up Eye-browed Jungle Flycatcher, White-browed Shortwing, Bornean Forktail, Yellow-breasted Warbler and Hair-crested Drongo.

    Fruithunter and Bornean Stubtail, Mount Kinabalu

    With the clouds descending we headed out of the gloom of the forest and back along the road where we found several feeding flocks with Mountain Leaf Warbler, Grey-chinned Minivet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Temminck’s Sunbird, Dark-sided Flowerpecker and Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler. The clouds turned into rain and we were forced off the mountain for the remainder of the day.

    The next morning we began on a forest trail with several Crimson-headed Partridge singing loudly and close with one seen walking along the bank and down onto the path before crossing in front of us. From here we continued after our quarry but the calls of a ‘Sunda Owlet’ distracted us and though we searched for a while it remained hidden until there was a flurry of activity of small birds which gave away the birds position and Martin got eyes on the bird allowing us all some nice views. Each time it moved the horde of small birds mobbing it would burst into call again and begin dive bombing the owlet. We had ten species mobbing this bird including Temminck’s Sunbird,

  • Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler and a nice pair of Whitehead’s Spiderhunters. Once this party had vacated the area we continued on and eventually fixed our eyes on a lovely Whitehead’s Trogon and though it flew we were able to get it in the scope. With the clouds moving in again and the forest getting darker we headed back down to the road and had stopped for a small party of birds including Bornean Whistler and Yellow-breasted Warbler when a whir of wings alerted us to a Red-breasted Partridge flying across the road. It landed on the far bank and began an attempt to make its way up but kept slipping down to the road verge. Then another bird flew across and together they managed to find a way up a small gully foraging along the way completely unconcerned by our presence. Bright orange-red legs kicking up leaves to look for bugs and white spotted wings stood out as they remained in view for over five minutes and were a pleasure to watch.

    With the rain coming we headed back to the van and waited for a while and when it stopped we headed out along the road to do some more birding and this time we bumped into a huge flock of laughingthrushes including some very loud, hooting and bobbing Bare-headed Laughingthrush that put on quite a show as they flew around the canopy calling and bouncing up and down, their strange bare heads and bright red bills bobbing in time with the calls. The rain finally drove us of the mountain but what a day it had been.

    The next day saw us making the long hike up the summit trail in search of Friendly Bush Warbler and along the way we picked up some species we’d already bumped into but most surprising was a pair of Red Leaf Monkeys moving through the moss draped canopy. We continued up from here and as it got steeper and higher we paused to rest for a bit when next to us just up the slope popped a Friendly Bush Warbler. It moved behind a small fern then proceeded out the other side and faced us showing its black streaked breast before moving on through the under growth and up the ridge. Job done we headed back down and enjoying the company of some Bornean Mountain Ground Squirrels and Mountain Treeshrew that were very friendly and came to hand even though we had nothing to offer them.

    Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler and Temminck’s Sunbird, Mount Kinabalu

    With afternoon rain up high again we dropped down to the foothills hoping to get away from it but after some short birding where we picked up Bornean Bulbul it began to rain down here and put an end to our days birding.

    Our next day started in the gloom of the forest and soon enough our target in the form of a skulking Everett’s Thrush showed up but at the end of the line of us which meant several people were blocked as it passed by the one open area where it was visible. Undaunted we stayed on a while but it did not return so we tried another spot to no avail. We spent the rest of the day visiting other trails but by lunch the heat had picked up and everything got quiet and we were almost at the end of a trail when a small party was found. It soon became quite a commotion with Temminck’s Sunbird, Blyth’s Shrike Babbler, Ochraceous Bulbul, Erpornis, White-throated Fantail and Black-capped White-eyes all around us.

    In the afternoon we returned to some of the lower trails and were rewarded with a fine pair of Whitehead’s Trogons next to the trail and along the river we found two Bornean Forktails and spooked up a bittern that turned out to be a very lost Von Schrenk’s Bittern. About this time the rain came again and we headed back to the comfort of the van and dryness.

  • Our last morning we were back in place for our Everett’s Thrush site and were enjoying breakfast when David came back from just down the road and said there was a nice Orange-headed Thrush along the road so we all sauntered down to have a look and sure enough a beautiful thrush with an orange head was there for all to see but it was the bird behind it that caught our attention when we realized it was a feeding Everett’s Thrush! We were all able to scope the bird and watch as it fed in the leaf litter before jumping up onto the bank and out of sight. This freed up the rest of the morning which we began with a nice pair of Whitehead’s Broadbills showing well then up to a view point where we again got onto some Giant Swiftlets and the usual Glossy’s before the clouds came down and pushed us away from the viewpoint. Almost done we stopped one last time in hopes of finding a Mountain Scops Owl we’d heard just before light. After some time checking what looked like good spots the small white toes of the little bird gave it away and we were soon enjoying scoped views of the owl roosting before we had to head back to continue our trip.

    Rufous-backed Dwarf Kingfisher and Storm’s Stork, Kinabatangan River

    That afternoon we were already down in the heat of the lowlands and at the Rainforest Discovery Center in Sepilok. Their canopy walkway is a really nice place to spend the afternoon and we enjoyed some quali

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