Sunday, 9 April 2017

Mount Kinabalu

Today really encapsulated just what Asian birding is all about – it was a real rollercoaster of a ride, with highs & lows, the perseverance needed more than in any other continent and ending with the rewards. I’m not going to labour on about the blood, sweat and tears though! Anyway, after an early breakfast we left at 5.45am and it only took ten minutes to get inside the park and drive up into great habitat. Literally the first bird of the day, even before it was anywhere approaching light enough to bird was an endemic Bornean Forktail in the headlights. But this was nothing compared to the awesome endemic Everett’s Thrush feeding on the grass verge beside the road. With everyone out of the van, the bird kept feeding totally unconcerned but we needed a little more light so used our flashlight which really helped to get more detail on this stunning bird and a zoothera thrush to boot. A Snowy-browed Flycatcher was nearby and we followed this with Pale-faced Bulbul (considered an endemic by some authorities), Sunda Bush-Warbler and the endemic Bornean Whistling-Thrush

Walking up to the Timpohon Gate right at the top of the road produced lots of bird activity with tickable views of endemic Bornean Treepie, Black-capped White-Eyes, Mountain Leaf-Warbler, Yellow-breasted Warbler, numerous Chestnut-crested Yuhinas, Indigo Flycatcher and endemic Bornean Swiftlet. A stunning endemic Golden-naped Barbet appeared in a small tree right in front of us before we walked back down the road and we well and truly nailed the skulking endemic Bornean Stubtail

Bornean Stubtail - note the jewellery

You can see the jewellery adorning the stub tail above. Apparently there are a group of American students ringing/banding everything they can catch up here - and we saw many, many species with these brightly-coloured rings on. I have to ask what valuable scientific results they will get from birds that don't leave this mountain...? They don't migrate and I can only think that they are doing it solely to get their bloody doctorate or thesis from whatever university they come from. I hate this so much. Rant over.

The final piece of action this morning came along the otherwise quiet trails where we amazingly located a group of Tawny-breasted Parrotbills feeding so quietly beside the trail in a loose stand of bamboo. Incredible birds and rarely sighted in Sabah. Wow!

Bornean Green Magpie

The afternoon session began with a pair of Sunda Cuckooshrikes calling back at us form some roadside trees, followed by another lengthy search for Whitehead’s Trogon. Whilst waiting a pair of endemic Bornean Green Magpies provided us with superlative views as they circled us several times. A Sunda Cuckoo then flew in before we walked up the road and eventually a magnificent Whitehead’s Trogon was spotted and we watched this extraordinary beast for a long time. 

Whitehead's Trogon - not the greatest photos but it's a stunning endemic

At the same spot an endemic Eye-browed Jungle Flycatcher showed briefly but we’d get it again later this evening, plus a White-browed Shortwing appeared (split by HBW as Bornean Shortwing). Then we tried one last trail before the light faded and found another Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher but an endemic Whitehead’s Broadbill called and we raced off after it, gaining very brief and poor flight views in the gloomy light. Boy we'd walked a fair few miles today and I was glad to get my boots off tonight!

Other species seen today included Wreathed Hornbills, Hair-crested Drongo and White-throated Fantail.

1 comment:

  1. Some of the benefits of ringing resident birds at this site. Ringing is actual far more useful for estimating demography of resident birds than for mapping migration. Enjoy.