Friday, 14 April 2017

Sepilok - Kinabatangan River

We had a good walk from the lodge this morning, and despite not finding Hooded Pitta we scored with a cracking Chestnut-necklaced Partridge skulking in the dark and shady forest floor. We also saw Short-tailed and Black-capped Babblers here and there was a small flock in a nearby tree with Large Woodshrike and several Dark-throated Orioles

Dark-throated Oriole

Large Woodshrike - very gloomy early morning light...

A distant dead tree held a Blue-eared Barbet and a pair of Bornean Brown Barbets and there was a close pair of Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrots as well before we headed back for breakfast and then set out on the hour and a bit drive to Gomantong Cave. Upon arrival we followed the boardwalk to the cave and along the way we saw another Black-capped Babbler and a very confiding Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Once at the cave we followed the path inside where we saw Mossy-nest and Black-nest Swiftlets in huge numbers, despite the work going on collecting nests for the food trade. Unfortunately all of the Edible-nest Swiftlet nests had already been harvested and overall I don’t think this was a very good experience, seeing the guys collecting the nests and making quite a racket. You have to ask why people want to eat this stuff and surely there’s some alternative?  Walking back to the coach we saw a Sooty-capped Babbler gleaning insects from the nearby trees and a Rufous-chested Flycatcher sang away beside the boardwalk allowing walk-away views.

Rufous-chested Flycatcher

Scaly-crowned Babbler

It was just a short 20 minute drive to the Kinabatangan River and a quick 5 minute journey to our excellent lodge. After lunch we set out on our first boat ride and this proved to be a fantastic way to see the wildlife of the area in a very relaxed fashion. We saw Storm’s Stork quite quickly and had seconds later in the afternoon as we sailed along. 

Easy birding along the Kinabatangan River

Storm's Stork

The variety of birdlife you can see along the river is extraordinary and during our journey we saw Bushy-crested, Black, Oriental Pied, Rhinoceros and the much-wanted Wrinkled Hornbill as well. There was also a Peregrine, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, Bat Hawk, Blue-throated Bee-eater, a gang of noisy Bold-striped Tit-Babblers and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha.

Wrinkled Hornbill

Grey-headed Fish-Eagle

The undoubted non-avian highlight was a large male Proboscis Monkey feeding close to the river and we spent some time watching him – what a beast! But I suppose the largest Crocodile I’ve ever seen ran it a close second. This monster was along a quiet tributary and it certainly sent a few shivers along my spine – we definitely needed a bigger boat! 

Proboscis Monkey - reminds me of someone....

A flyby Great Slaty Woodpecker somehow eluded most of us, but a Hooded Pitta put on quite a show, with several low flyovers before we finally nailed it on its song perch. We ended with another Black-and-red Broadbill and a Lesser Adjutant before returning to the lodge at sunset.

Black-and-red Broadbill is very common here

After a great dinner we spent an entertaining hour during which a Bornean Brown Wood Owl (hedging my bets on the name as it is a potential split!) appeared several times, followed by an awesome Large Frogmouth frozen on a branch right over our heads, and we ended with a mean-looking one-eyed Buffy Fish Owl that appeared nearby, with a Small Toothed Civet also seen. Wow!

Brown Wood Owl - a future split and another endemic...?

Buffy Fish Owl

Large Frogmouth
Small-toothed Civet

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