Thursday, 13 April 2017

Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok.

A great day at the Rainforest Discovery Centre full of brilliant birds and I always look forward to seeing some of those classic south-east Asian birds. It began with a Rhinoceros Hornbill in the lodge gardens at daybreak, along with Oriental Pied Hornbill and a flock of Little Green Pigeons. Then we drove just a couple of minutes to the car park at the RDC where we walked just 200m to the canopy walkway to begin our pre-breakfast birding. It was still quite early, around 6am when we arrived so we scoped the surrounding forest of the car park where a group of Bushy-crested Hornbills appeared. Up on the boardwalk the forest was a little quiet but there was an exceptionally confiding Violet Cuckoo that was feeding in a tree right next to the walkway. 

Violet Cuckoo - wow!!

 Then an endemic Black-crowned Pitta began calling and unbelievably I located it perched 30 feet off the ground and only just below the level of the walkway where it was calling away and remained on view for a good 15 minutes - and you could say the photo opportunities were quite good, despite the poor light. 

Black-crowned Pitta (endemic)

We hung around the walkway for a while seeing a group of Chestnut-rumped Babblers moving quickly below the walkway, Hairy-backed Bulbul, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, as well as other common species.

Stork-billed Kingfisher from the breakfast table

 After breakfast (and a close Stork-billed Kingfisher) we retuned to the Rainforest Discovery Centre and headed out onto the trails and managed to catch up with Rufous-collared Kingfisher thanks to some great spotting by Kath, and there was also some point-blank views of Rufous-backed (Oriental Dwarf) Kingfisher along a small stream. A pair of Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers were exceptionally confiding, with the male performing right out in the open for us but it was a shame that a calling Black-capped Babbler didn’t come in and do the same. 

Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler

We also had great looks at a Little Spiderhunter, Black Hornbill, Plaintive Cuckoo, Black-and-red Broadbill, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Cream-vented Bulbul, Lesser Green Leafbird, Ashy and Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds, and a Red Giant Flying Squirrel poking his head out of a large nestbox high overhead. Meanwhile back in the car park a group of White-rumped Spinetails were circling really quite low overhead and gave outstanding views.

Little Spiderhunter

After lunch in Sandakan we staked out the car park of the Orang-utan Research Centre where a Bornean Black Magpie was teed up in the scope, and an immense White-bellied Woodpecker was also seen. There were lots of Long-tailed Parakeets here as well, plus a group of 8+ Bushy-crested Hornbills and a few Common Hill-Mynas. Afterwards, we returned to the trails but it was very quiet so headed up onto the canopy walkway, where despite the light rain we had our first Bornean Orang-Utan feeding in a nearby tree. There was also an adult Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, closer Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrikes and Black-and-yellow Broadbills, and a great scope view of White-crowned Hornbill, our 5th hornbill species of the day.

A distant Wallace's Hawk-Eagle

White-crowned Hornbill

Other species seen today include Intermediate Egret, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Fiery Minivet, Black-naped Monarch, and several Slender-billed Crows.

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