Following an overnight flight via Kuala Lumpur we eventually arrived in Kota Kinabalu around 11.15am, minus some of our luggage. We met our excellent guide Lee Kok Chung and drove the short distance into downtown Kota Kinabalu where we checked in to our rooms, had some lunch and then drove out to a coastal site just 30 minutes away from the hotel. The tide was just receding and there were a few shorebirds present. Within a couple of minutes we were scoping a female Malaysian Plover, a much wanted bird for some of the group. And what a nice way to kick-start the tour. More and more shorebirds began arriving and we enjoyed decent scope views of both Greater and Lesser Sandplovers, Kentish Plovers, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, at least 6 delightful Terek Sandpipers and a pair of Ruddy Turnstones. I was surprised to hear a Yellow-bellied Prinia singing and it eventually showed reasonably well, alongside a Yellow-vented Bulbul. A Blue-throated Bee-eater also appeared nearby and a Striated Heron flew close by.
From here we drove to an area of wasteland with large trees and bumped the list up even more with Green Imperial-Pigeon, Pink-necked Green-Pigeon and a pair of lovely Blue-naped Parrots.
This latter species was something of a surprise and it turns out that there is a self-sustaining feral population around the town, just like the 3 Java Sparrows we also encountered here. Again, another big surprise.
This area was also good for White-breasted Woodswallow, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Zebra Dove, Chestnut Munia, Pied Triller, Pacific Swallow, Brown-throated and Olive-backed Sunbirds, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Asian Glossy Starling and even our first endemic – Dusky Munia.
So, as I said earlier, we saw mainly a bunch of list padders but it was enjoyable to get out and put binoculars on some birds after the long flight from Europe. We returned to the hotel by 5pm and met up with Martin, our final group member, who had just flown in from Germany.