Sabah, 17-31 August 2017.
Mount Kinabalu, Sepilok Forest Reserve, Crocker Range NP,
Kinabatangan, Danum Valley
Participants; Alan Thompson, Mike
Tuer, Chris Ward, Martin Withey, Colin Lister, Stijn De Win
Borneo is one of those incredibly diverse places where every trip may bring some very special moments. For everyone (incl. your guide) who loves the birds, the experiences and the place this is a blessing as it is such easy to remain super enthusiastic at all times. After very nice trips in May and June this year, this big tour wasn't going to be routine either, instead I couldn't wait to start in Kota Kinabalu with a very nice group of birders always ready to enjoy every moment.
In good fashion though, I did some birding on my own pre-tour. I went to Kuching in Sarawak which was excellent with visits to Kubah National Park and a very pleasant stay at the Borneo Highlands Resort. Highlights included Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker and Blue-banded Pitta at Kubah with White-crowned Hornbills, Green Broadbill and Bornean Black Magpie seen from the golf course near the Kalimantan viewpoint at the resort. Further is has become a tradition, after every Borneo tour, well, I go for some extra birding! Again I went to Tawau Hills NP which is just two hours drive from Lahad Datu, the last station on the tours. Jambu Fruit Dove and Hume's White-eye were good additions on my 'site' list here if walking beneath 80+ meter high forest giants wasn't the highlight...!! Then, I couldn't stop birding yet and after I flew back to Kota Kinabalu went to the Crocker Range at Keningau adding Bornean Banded Pitta and Malaysian Honeyguide.
Yes, Borneo is a fine destination packed with quality
birds. Our tour started with an exciting Sunda Frogmouth and
Sunda Scops Owl just between flight arrivals and dinner on
the first evening. The next morning we made a perfect start
of the tour with Whitehead's Broadbill and much more at the
Crocker Range... no day to day write-up can possibly
describe the experience of a lifetime to be had on Borneo.
Rather than adding lots more text, let me take you on a
photo journey on this page in an attempt to reflect on the
sightings and joy this trip brought to us. Enjoy!
at least, unfortunately! Where else on the regular birding circuit you may expect to find them still? We did
very well on this trip with 9 different individuals seen in the Bilit-Sukau area. We also had a couple at Gomantong of which I can't be sure they are different birds. Count on May and June trips this year was just
8 birds -no double counts-. Really, it may just be the total population for the area which is called a "stronghold". I would be planning a trip to Sabah soon if this majestic Stork is on the wish list...
Bornean Green Magpie, Mt KinabaluBornean Whistler, Mt. Kinabalu
and we even had 3 extra birds at the Crocker Range as well. This picture of a distant female in a fruiting
tree, taken near the end of the power station road on Mount Kinabalu doesn't do it justice in my opinion.
We had a much better sighting of a pair the next day, typically with my camera left in the car :-)
On the right is the super elusive Everett's Thrush. A very early start, some luck and the exact location is required to get it but pretty sweet when it comes out feeding. Photo in poor light taken at extreme high ISO.
1 of the two Spiderhunters very happy to show and feed in this particular tree at regular intervals.
Best views on Mt. Kinabalu?Perhaps from our hill-top resort?
Our trips focus on birding and wildlife viewing rather than photography. Sightings come first and good views for the guests are a priority. This doesn't mean we aren't keen on snapping some good shots along. Photo opportunities are valuable and special moments for anyone. While this page may show quite a bit, it isn't possible to get good photos of all the birds we get on a trip let alone post them in a report. I will include here a brief overview of some excellent sightings that didn't make it on this page with a photo;
Crocker Range and Rafflesia Center area;
Bornean Bulbul and Bornean Leafbird, Mountain and Bornean Barbets, Pale-faced Bulbul, Mountain Blackeye, Wreathed Hornbill, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Bornean Spiderhunter...
Mount Kinabalu area;
Whitehead's Trogon (been difficult this year but again we managed a pair in the same location on the trails where we connected also in May and June), Bornean Ibon, both Bornean Green and Common Green Magpie seen same day, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, Checker-throated and Maroon Woodpecker, Collared Owlet, Golden-naped Barbet, Sunda Cuckoo-shrike, Bornean Forktail, Bornean Flowerpecker, Whitehead's Squirrel...
Poring Hot Springs;
Green Broadbill, Bornean Blue Flycatcher, Fulvous-chested Jungle-Flycatcher, Grey-cheeked Bulbul, Grey-headed Babbler, White-crowned Hornbill, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Bornean Pygmy Squirrel...
Sepilok at the Rainforest Discovery Center;
Orange-backed Woodpecker, Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Bornean Black Magpie, Diard's Trogon, Grey-chested Jungle-Flycatcher, Black-bellied Malkoha, White-bellied Woodpecker, Sunda Woodpecker, Thick-billed Spiderhunter, Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, Rufous-winged Philentoma, Red Giant Flying Squirrels, Horse-tailed Squirrel, Giant Squirrel, Orangutan mother + youngster (Same couple also observed building their nest in May this year and very nice to see the baby grow up. I connected with these in the forest first in October 2014 when the young one was still an infant clinging to mama's belly -check photo posted on our tour page-) ...
White-crowned Hornbill, White-fronted Falconet, Lesser Adjutant, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Hooded Pitta, Brown-backed Needletail, Black Hornbill, Maroon and Silvered Langur, Bornean Gibbon heard, Mangrove Snake...
Scaly-crowned Babbler, Wreathed Hornbill, Fiery Minivet, Banded Broadbill, Spotted Fantail, Jerdon's Baza, Storm's Stork, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Red Leaf Monkey, Large Treeshrew...
Borneo Rainforest Lodge at Danum Valley;
Large Frogmouth, Blue-headed Pitta, Black-crowned Pitta, Gould's Frogmouth, Buffy Fish Owl, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Rufous-tailed Shama, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Bornean Wren Babbler, Bristlehead, Crested Fireback, Great Argus, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Orangutan, Western Tarsier, Leopard Cat and a superb Sun Bear...
I'm not exactly an expert at measuring prehistoric beasts but I'm pretty sure this one was well over 4 meter!
The group here is having fun on an extra photo-shoot ride, and yes -it's all crocodile safe!
Buff-rumped Woodpecker, full preening session at PoringYellow-breasted Warbler at Mt. Kinabalu
very easy to photograph as it often keeps to wet and shady areas in the dense forest.
Wrinkled Hornbill, KinabatanganBushy-crested Hornbills at Sepilok
White-throated Fantail, KinabaluHeard often but hard to get views, Crimson-headed Partridge
Temminck's Babbler, Mt. KinabaluMountain Imperial Pigeon at Mt. Kinabalu
Red-naped Trogon, Gomantong CavesCopper-throated Sunbird, Sepilok
Red-tailed Green Ratsnake, KinabatanganLesser Treeshrew, Sepilok
Wallace's Hawk Eagle, GomantongStorm's Stork, Kinabatangan
trails of the Rainforest Discovery Center at Sepilok. Some trip itineraries only feature a brief Sepilok visit.
Perhaps this photo may serve as a little statement for a birding site that sometimes gets underrated?
Anyhow, even without Bristlehead, any reserve that still features virgin
lowland rainforest and easy access must be well worth a visit isn't it?
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Who doesn't believe a good product may sell itself? I think this has worked just great for B2A for 9 years running now as not a single cent was spent on advertisements, printed materials or sale events like a
Bird Fair. Being very busy I may not always find the time to do full tour reports hence a serious
backlog of recent reports. However, it is a joy to show and share our experiences,
adventures and sightings now and then. Thanks to the internet. Thanks to the
good old fashioned website rather than casual posts on Facebook?! Thank you.
The group on this tour asked me about doing testimonials. I replied this is often seen with start-up companies and it may be hard to check authenticity of such posts. I told them I may not need to do this. But then these
guys send me such incredibly positive feedback about this tour... I can simply not resist sharing the after-tour
comments received. Mind you, if 1 thing, this tells me how super nice the people in this group were. Thanks for a great trip all of you. Thanks for the fantastic memories of birding together in one of the very best bird and wildlife destinations on earth. And I'm certainly looking forward to meet you again in Philippines next year.
"Many thanks for all the pictures that arrived overnight. I am sure the others will add their own thanks but I think I speak for us all when I say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Your organisation was fantastic and your knowledge of the birds we saw superb. In particular I would say the organisation of the whole trip was probably the best we have experienced. Particularly appreciated by me were the snacks. I brought my own supply and for the first time ever I didn't need them. Forest Lodge was a luxurious end to a good trip. Looking forward to the Philippines."
"Really impressed with all your photos. I would just like to reiterate Mike's sentiments and thank for such an excellent trip. I will send some photos when I get them sorted."
"Good to hear from you. Great pictures, great trip, thank you. You were definitely one of the group as well as being the guide. We don't often get soft drinks bought for us , let alone beer! Your whole setup was great. Thank you also for linking together the 2 parts of trip and booking additional accommodation. Everything worked perfectly. BRL lived up to its billing and made a fitting ending to our trip. The guide was very good with plenty of experience. We now look forward to seeing you again in January in The Philippines."
Thanks again, Regards
"Many thanks for a truly memorable trip. I enjoyed seeing your excellent pictures . I have not sorted my own out yet but I do have a nice picture of the male Orangutan. That was one of my life ambitions to see a wild Orangutan in Borneo. So thank you once again for your skill and patience with identifying and guiding us on to so many rare and wonderful birds."
Photo copyright Chris Ward