A cracking day today, our final one in fabulous Taman Negara, began with the daily dip on Rail Babbler. One was calling along the Jenet Muda Trail and we tried leaving the ipod some distance away in the hope that the wee beastie would creep in for a peek, and after that epic fail we crept into the forest and stalked the bird but only managed to encourage it to go further away. I was torn whether to stay and wait it out, hedging my bets on this one bird at the expense of others – or just go birding with the others. Things still didn’t bode well with several birds only heard, including the elusive Crested Jay in the same area. Glad to say common sense prevailed as we had a barnstorming day and after the guys had said it was dead along this trail yesterday, it was rather pleasing to have possibly our best day of the week. Nothing to do with me right?! So we kicked things off with Crimson-winged Woodpecker up close, followed by a huge Great Slaty Woodpecker further down the trail, then a Rufous Woodpecker appeared and finally a pair of awesome Checker-throated Woodpeckers obliged for several minutes. So that filled some gaping holes in the pecker list! We also had a load of babblers: White-chested, Ferruginous, Scaly-crowned, Rufous-crowned, Sooty-capped, Moustached, Chestnut-winged, and best of all was a pair of raucous Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers.
We birded right through the day, not stopping for lunch, ignoring the heat and humidity and kept on pulling in goodies. Two key birds were added to the list today, and I was very pleased to nail them as they are species everyone wants to see, especially if new to se Asia. First of all I found a male Banded Kingfisher perched high up over the trail, and he stayed for quite some time looking down at us with a real crazy, mad eye! Then a Rufous-collared Kingfisher gave us the run around, and we all independently saw it t some stage before it finally perched up, half-obscured for several minutes. Great views and a lifer for Sophy and Lee who both seemed rather pleased.
We also had Little Spiderhunter, Green Iora, Black Hornbill, Rufous Piculet, Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot, Drongo Cuckoo, Crested Fireback and some others. All four previously seen broadbills were calling but we didn’t bother them and a Chestnut-naped Forktail was calling along a stream.
But after so many great and repeated views of all these good birds, I was thinking there’d be no lifers today, but as the trail got ever steeper on the way up the hill a couple huge birds flew into a large tree off to the left. Through a gap in the canopy we could see they were hornbills, but then a really long white tail with a black band dropped down which could only be one thing. Then the bird hopped up the branch revealing a red face and short casque: Helmetted Hornbill! Well, I wanted to do a jig right then and there but didn’t have the energy as I was totally knackered and obviously way too cool to do that. So a quick air punch had to suffice and that was it. We walked back to Kuala Tehan, got a boat across the river and celebrated with burgers and fries and lots of cold drinks. Our plan was to go owling later but that was quashed as it started to rain heavily just as a Reddish Scops-owl and Gould’s Frogmouth began calling.