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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Borneo – Sukau, Danum Valley, Mount Kinabalu, September 1 – 8, 2006,
The primary lesson we wish to share from this trip is that if you are considering going to Borneo in September – reconsider. The reasons are:
1) Although September is not yet officially the rainy season, it can start early – and did in 2006. This led to two problems. The first was of course lost birding time, but this was not really a major issue for us; another was:
2) Because of the rain, the key side streams and birding areas at Sukau were not readily accessible. This meant we missed some of the key birds we hoped to see there.
3) I expect this is always somewhat of a problem, but the rain made the trails very muddy and filled with tiger leeches that leave infection-prone bites.
4) September is post-breeding season for most birds. At most times there was absolutely not a sound in the rain forest. Living in Thailand, we know that rain forests are often quiet, but this was extreme. In addition, none of the birds had any interest in investigating any of the taped calls we had or any playbacks of the few calls we heard. This made locating secretive birds impossible.
5) At Gomantong Caves, the local people “harvest” the swiftlet nests starting in August. So, when we visited, there were only a few of the nests left. The main reason for birders to go here is to see Black-nest and Mossy-nest Swiftlets on their distinctive nests, which is about the only way to tell them apart. We had poor but acceptable views, but in another day there would have been no nests at all.
6) A non-birding item: many people go to Sukau to see Asian Pygmy Elephants, a recently-recognized species. But they are not around Sukau in September. They migrate upriver and are not accessible on the night boat trips.
We also had some side issues that, combined, made this an less-than-satisfactory trip. However, I know that at other times these areas can be very productive. In fact, we ended up seeing quite a few of the specialty birds – just not those we were looking for. And this region is also known for its other wildlife; seeing orangutans and proboscis monkeys in the wild is very special.
So, why did we go in September anyway? We had made a previous trip to Borneo in May 2000 and felt a different time of year might help us to see the birds we missed then. In addition, I exchanged e-mails with Albert Teo, Managing Director of Sukau Rainforest Lodge, who assured me that September was a very good time for birding.
After spending a lot of time on various web sites trying to put together my own itinerary, I ended up going to the SabahTravelGuide.com web page which has a full selection of information and tours from several companies. They put together a package, using Borneo Eco-tours, in a few days. While it was helpful to learn a lot about the various options and background of the area while surfing the web, in terms of setting up an itinerary I’d suggest going straight to this web site.
Part of the motivation for the trip was the availability of inexpensive and direct flights from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu on AirAsia. Comparable flights on Malaysian Airlines via Kuala Lumpur cost much more. All tickets for this trip were purchased on line and used e-tickets, and this went very smoothly. Because we were trying to do 100% carry-on, we officially exceeded the weight and size limits for carry-on luggage for every flight, but it was not a problem as even full flights had a lot of space.
When planning the trip, we consulted several trip reports and it was clear we needed to visit the Sukau / Kitabatangan River area as well as the Gomantong Caves. Most itineraries that go to these places start in Sandakan and include a trip to the orangutan rehabilitation facility in Sepilok, which is also reputed to be a good birding spot. Among target birds, Sukau held Storm’s Stork and White-fronted Falconet, and the main non-avian specialties are the orangutans and proboscis monkeys. Gomantong Caves features the Black-nest and Mossy-nest Swiflets on their nests. While in this region, we also wanted to do some low-elevation rain forest birding for Bornean endemics, and after reviewing several options we decided to stay at the tried-and-true Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL). Even though we had previously been to BRL, we still had several key birds to see there, notably Bornean Bristlehead. For the last few days of the trip, we intended to tack on a few days at Mount Kinabalua and Poring Hot Springs, to see several birds we had not seen on a previous visit to Mount Kinabalu. The staff at SabahTravelGuide set up all of the details using Borneo Eco-Tours, and all pickups and transfers went smoothly. They also set up all hotels and most transportation. Meals were included in the packages at Sukau and BRL. Total cost for the trip, excluding connecting flights and meals at Mount Kinabalu, was USD 1699 for two.
In Sukau, we stayed at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL). There are several lodges in the same general area as SRL, notably Proboscis Lodge and Kitabatangan Lodge. We did not visit either, but we understood that Proboscis Lodge had been flood-damaged in 2005, had been recently remodeled and was quite nice, and even had air-conditioning (not necessary in September). They all seemed to do the same basic river trips. Most everything at SRL was above expectations. Rooms were clean and cool with a fan and a hot shower. Food was quite good. SRL has a covered boardwalk of over one kilometer which makes for nice viewing of plants (and bats, snakes, etc.); this was doubly-useful as the rains made the ground beneath the boardwalk anything from soggy to underwater. The most remarkable aspect of SRL is that it is there at all. The area is remote, and the book that was written about its conception and construction lists an overwhelming number of obstacles that were overcome to make it a reality. SRL is highly-recommended. Access to SRL is via a two to three hour boat ride up the Kitabangan River from Sandakan or by very muddy and almost impassable road to the Gomantong Cave area.
Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) is a super resort in a pristine location in primary rain forest in the Danum valley. Everything is as first-class as possible here, considering again its location. Access is a three-hour trip by reasonably-good road from Lahad Datu. The area around BRL features several trails plus its famous canopy walkway, elevated about 75 feet above the forest floor, which allows direct view into the upper canopy and over the tops of most trees.
Mount Kinabalu Park is only a two-hour drive over paved roads from Kota Kinabalu and is very popular – an estimated 200,000 visitors / year. We could not get rooms inside the park because they were all occupied. We understood that most hotel guests were runners getting prepared for the run up and down Mount Kinabalu being held in mid-September. Other visitors tended to stay along the roads and away from actually venturing into the forest. As a result, there were not many people where we were – only once or twice did we bump into anyone on the trails. Inside the park there is a full range of lodging, plus at least two restaurants. There are several other hotels within 10 km from the park entrance. The entrance fee for the park is 15 RM per day; those staying inside the park avoid paying this. The staff at the park HQ was very nice and allowed us to store our bags during the day in a locked room at no charge. There are good trail maps, and trails are very well-marked and only in a few places were they in rough shape, mostly due to rain. The Bukit Ulau trail closest to the Power Station goes along the edge of the mountain in places, and is narrow. Anyone concerned with heights would best stay off it. That goes doubly for the BRL canopy walkway. Even after several traverses of the walkway, I was still very apprehensive on it. Most others had the same look in their eyes.
As mentioned, the total cost of the trip was USD 1699 per person. The local currency is Malaysian Ringgit (RM) which is about 3.8 RM per USD. Most items in Malaysia are not expensive, although we ran into a few taxi drivers and others who realized they could try to charge a foreigner more than what was correct. Nearly everyone spoke very good English. The cost of each hotel was not split out, but by checking the rates for each tour we could make a guess, and the places are expensive. Sukau Rainforest Lodge is around US 200 per night and Borneo Rainforest Lodge is about US 250 per night, for two. This includes meals, and the cost reflects that nearly everything at these places must be brought in from nearby cities. SRL includes the twice-daily boat tours and a night tour when possible; BRL includes daily walking tours with a naturalist guide. In both places the tours can be with 6+ people and goes to where the general tourist wants to go, not to the birding sites. BRL also includes a night drive, good for an owl or some animals (when not rained out).
Friday September 1.
Our flight on AirAsia from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu (universally referred to as “KK”) left late; however, I had been text-messaged by AirAsia (nice touch) on my mobile phone of its late departure so we did not have to wait around too long. About an hour before reaching KK, we went through the worst turbulence, for an extended period, I have ever experienced. We were going through the nightly storms, and it was not pleasant. We arrived in a driving rain – not a great omen. AirAsia and the other low-cost carriers land at Terminal 2 in KK – the local story is that Malaysian Airlines keeps the modern Terminal 1 to itself. The two terminals are not close, so you need to be sure which terminal to go to. Terminal 2 was flooded, with six or more inches of water on the floor, so everyone was sloshing through.
A logistical challenge is that there is no ATM or currency exchange at Terminal 2, yet you need Malaysian Ringgit to buy a coupon to get a taxi. Fortunately we had some from previous trips, but anyone coming directly from Thailand or another country without local currency would be in a bind ( I expect the taxi drivers would accept USD at an unfavorable exchange rate). The taxi to downtown was 20 RM. We stayed at the Shangri-La Downtown hotel, which is definitely not related to the 5-star Shangri-La hotel in Singapore, but it was nice enough.
Despite pouring rain, I ventured out to find an ATM so we would have local currency for the next few days. However, there were none working within walking distance. Two at a nearby shopping center were inoperable. This was a bit of a problem as we did not have money for the taxi the next morning. The hotel was not authorized to exchange money, but would do so for 3 RM per USD vs the official rate of 3.8. So if you can arrive in KK with RM, that is a good idea.
Saturday September 2
We were off to the airport early and had the taxi driver stop at an ATM which was working – relief to have some cash in the pocket, and money to pay the driver too! Our Malaysian Airlines flight to Sandakan – leaving from the modern (and dry) Terminal 1 - left on time and provided a fabulous view of Mount Kinabalu as we passed by (sit on the left side). We arrived in Sandakan and were promptly met by our driver and guide Hamit from Sukau Rainforest Lodge. We arrived at Sepilok before it opened at 9AM. While standing around we had a brief flyover pair of White-crowned Hornbills. We entered the park on the boardwalk, along with 100 others. The orangutan feeding is at 10:30AM, and even though the orangutans are only semi-wild it was still better-than-expected to see them and other species come in to eat and drink. Partly because of the crowds, and partly because it was hot, the only birds we saw at Sepilok were Brown Barbets and Chestnut-winged Babblers. Apparently if you have a different schedule and stay overnight in Sandakan or even at Sepilok, it is possible to get inside the park at 6AM and do some birding. Bornean Brislehead is supposed to be here.
After the orangutan feeding, we had lunch and then boarded our boat to Sukau via the Kitabatangan River. The ride was scenic but not too exciting bird-wise – a few Oriental Darters and Great Egrets. We did see the first of our proboscis monkeys, however. A Birdquest report noted that the monkeys are increasingly difficult to see along the Kitabitangan River, but we saw dozens on our trip. Maybe September is a good time to see them. We arrived at the lodge about 4PM, settled in a bit, and then went out for a late-afternoon cruise. All of the lodges have similar eight-passenger boats, with 15HP outboard motors for when they are on the main river, and small electric trolling motors when on the smaller side streams which theoretically allow close approach to birds and animals. We did not see any birds of note on this, except for the key sighting – while on the narrow river, we had a flyover Storm’s Stork cross well above us. That brief view was the only Storm’s Stork we would see. However, along the river we saw more proboscis and other monkeys, and our first truly wild orangutans. Suddenly it was very overcast, and when it began to rain, it was unbelievable. Lightning was crashing all around us, with instantaneous thunder cracks. The rain was so heavy it was impossible to see more than about 10 feet. This was a concern, because the main river was filled with large debris such as logs, and it was apparent the guide could not see anything. In any case, he was busy bailing out the boat because the rain was falling down so fast. Everyone arrived back safely, but it was impossible not to be drenched. However, one advantage of a tropical downpour is that it is not cold, and once we dried off we were all in a good mood. The rain continued on and off, and the sound of the rain on the roof of the cabins was very loud. No night boat trip this night!
Sunday September 3
We awoke to a flooded river. The dock was mostly underwater and the river had risen about two feet from the previous night’s rain, and was littered with logs. Our target area this morning was an area upstream called the “oxbow lake”. However, the area was flooded and there were none of the expected birds – notably we did not see White-fronted Falconet, but did not consider that critical because it was noted in trip reports as being readily seen at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Only a few common birds were seen along the walking portion, but plenty of tiger leeches.
There was no early afternoon activity planned, so after lunch we walked around the boardwalk area and along a path used by elephants during their migration through the area. Our target here was Giant Pitta, which is occasionally seen. We had one reply to our tape, but never were able to track it down despite a long trek inside the forest. On our return, we were stunned to have a beautiful Chestnut-capped Thrush land on a branch 20 feet to our side, sit there ten seconds, and then off it went. About an hour later, while walking around the boardwalk, we had two Chestnut-necklaced Partridges scurry off, giving fleeting but satisfactory views. We were very pleased, because we expected to spend a lot of time at BRL tracking them down. The other notable bird on the boardwalk was a female Raffles’ Malkoha, fanning its tail like a fantail.
The late afternoon trip was another visit to see proboscis monkeys and orangutans. Other than egrets, a Pied Hornbill and an immature Jerdon’s Baza, there was little bird life around. We also saw a mangrove snake and a large water monitor.
After dinner there was a short boat trip, but the group that went (we did not) did not see anything of note. The normal attraction for the evening boat trips is the local Pygmy Elephants, but in September they have moved away.
Monday September 4
We were a bit disappointed that yesterday had been so quiet, so we asked if we could rent a guide and boat for some early morning birding. We were hoping for Bornean Ground-cuckoo, which is seen often in a particular spot we had not visited yet. However, the guides said that the area was flooded because of the high river. So we had no birding before we departed across the river to the village of Sukau and then by 4WD van to Gomantong Caves. The ride to Gomantong was exciting. There really was no road, just a field of slippery clay mud going through kilometers of palm oil plantations. We did well, only getting stuck once. With the help of some local people we managed to push ourselves out and get covered with mud at the same time. Some other vehicles were hopelessly stuck, and several large dump trucks simply gave up and parked, thereby blocking the road further. Because of this, we were running late. Our trip to Gomantong Caves was nice (be careful on the very slippery boardwalk to the caves), and we saw Short-tailed babbler along the way. The caves themselves are huge. This is where swiftlet nests for birds’ nest soup are collected, by local men on the most precarious setups imaginable, hundreds of feet off the ground. Access to the caves is on another boardwalk, and this one is interesting because the handrails are covered with bat guano and cockroaches. However, you must use the handrail because the boardwalk itself is slippery from the same combination. Unfortunately, the nests begin to be collected in August, and by September they are almost all gone. We saw some mossy nests and their Mossy-nest Swifllet occupants (these nests are not collected for the soup), but the black nests were all gone except for hundreds of feet up, near the roof of the cave. Our guide pointed out a few swiftlets already making new nests, which he identified as the Black-nest Swifltets and nests. However, this was hardly what we had been expecting. Because of the stench and cockroaches, we did not stay long inside the caves
We had a quick lunch break in Lahad Datu, and then changed cars to go to Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Because we were late, we arrived at the lodge near dusk when it was too late for any late-afternoon birding. And it was here we had the major disappointment of the trip.
Because we would only be at BRL for two days, I had asked Borneo Eco-tours to arrange for a special bird guide that we would hire (at US 50 day, pretty steep for Borneo) to help us with the birds. The best known birding guide at BRL is Wang Kong, and we looking forward to his help, especially as we had “dipped” on the falconet and ground-cuckoo at SRL. But the staff at BRL had no idea what we were talking about, and said that they had made no provision for any specialist birding guide! Wang Kong was not on site, and the other naturalist guides we spoke to clearly did not know a lot about birds. In addition, their job was to take around larger groups to see “the sights” such as the overlook – not what we needed. We never did clearly resolve who was at fault – it was a case of “not my fault” all around. Bottom line was we would be on our own. The problem was that, because we had been at BRL previously, the target birds for us were difficult – including Bornean Bristlehead - and everything was very quiet.
We did have a great piece of luck – a few weeks earlier, Susan Myers, a VENT leader, had led a different group at BRL and made some notations about where she saw some birds. So we at least had a few leads, but they were pretty general. Susan Myers noted that the birds were much quieter than when she had led a VENT trip there a couple of months earlier. We also learned that the dead tree on which most everyone had seen the White-fronted Falconet, near the canopy walkway, had fallen the previous year. One guide said he had not seen one since. After all this, we were not optimistic about our chances of seeing any of our target birds.
Tuesday September 5
We were up before dawn, grabbed a bit of early breakfast, and were at the canopy walkway at dawn. The silence was deafening with no “dawn chorus”. Rhinoceros Hornbills were calling and giving occasional fly-bys, and the high-pitched call of Garnet Pitta was heard every hour. But almost nothing was flying, moving, or calling. At 9AM we abandoned the walkway and started to walk along the nearby Sapa Babandi trail and along the road. We saw nothing other than Scaly-crowned Babblers all morning. After a quick lunch we went back out to the Tekala and Hornbill trails, same result. Finally, at about 4PM, we heard the distant call of Giant Pitta on the Tekala trail. Eventually we tracked it to within about 100 meters. Then, it popped up on a branch and before we could even see more than a flash of wings, it was gone - for good. We tried playing a tape, left for an hour and came back, but could not get any response. This experience made this day even more frustrating. Other than the pittas and the hornbills, there was essentially nothing making any bird sounds at all; two more hours at the end of the afternoon on the canopy walkway produced nothing. On the way back, at near dark, we did see an orangutan building its nightly nest – we were doing much better with primates than birds.
Wednesday September 6
We were up again before dawn and to the canopy walkway. We stayed here until 9AM, again nothing of note seen. Late morning we did come across a male Great Argus on the Tekala trail just up from the “Police Bridge”, and it just would not move – it turns out that this is a well-known (at least to the guides, who did not share that info with us until later) “dancing” area. Certainly a great bird, but along this trail our target was the Bornean Ground-cuckoo, and we had no indications of it at all. The afternoon, until our departure for Lahad Datu and our flight back to Kota Kinabalu, was equally unproductive. By the time we reached Lahad Datu it was clear that the birding was going to be poor everywhere, so we decided we would go to Mount Kinabalu for one day instead of the three we had planned there and at Poring Hot Springs. Our FAX (Fly Asia Express) flight to Kota Kinabalu was late, but at least it was not bumpy, and it again afforded nice views of Mount Kinabalu. We.arrived at the Shangri-La hotel by 8PM.
Thursday September 7
This next morning we were supposed to meet our ride to Mount Kinabalu at 8:15 at the “well-known” taxi point at the Centrepoint Shopping Center. However, not one taxi driver had any idea where this was. So we walked around the place, with our bags, wondering where our driver might be. But not to worry – he showed up 45 minutes late. We drove to Mount Kinabalu and left our bags at the check-in building, and hit the trails. We started on the Kiew View trail near the entrance, and within five minutes saw an Orange-headed Thrush, right on the trail. This is a rare bird for the area. It was not one of our target birds, but we thought that seeing it was a good omen. But the only “new” bird we saw this day was Bornean Whistling-thrush, which we had seen before but that was before it was split into a full species. A few bird waves brought in a mix of laughingthrushes but little else. We walked several trails – Kiew View, Pandanus, Silau-Silau – and the big surprise was that we came upon a family of Red-breasted Partridges on a boardwalk on the Pandanus Trail within 50 feet of the main road at dusk. But their cousin, the Crimson-headed Partridge (one of our targets) was not to be seen or heard. At the end of the day, we took a taxi to the Kinabalu Pines hotel, which was 9 km away from the gate – but halfway there, the driver “suddenly realized” that the correct fare was actually double what he had told us. Oh well. The good news was that the hotel was very nice.
Friday September 8
We left the hotel early and arrived at the park at its official opening time of 6:30AM – but I do not think anyone cares when you arrive, there was no gate barring entry. We ended up paying our entrance fee on our way out – it is a bit of an honor system. We took a taxi to the top of the road to the Power Station (an exorbitant 20 RM), and walked down on several trails – Bukit Ulau, Mempinning, Silau-Silau, etc. The only bit of excitement was a calling Crimson-headed Partridge in impenetrable brush on steep hills between the Mempinning trail we were on and the adjacent Silau-Silau trail we had previously been on. We had a tape but the bird showed no interest. We had a late lunch and then took the van back to KK, dropped off at our hotel until our again-delayed AirAsia flight back to Bangkok was ready to go.
http://www.sabahtravelguide.com – an excellent one-stop source for information and tour details with links to web sites of several tour operators
http://www.malaysiaairlines.com.my – web site for Malaysia Airlines, who operate the only flights from KK to Sandakan
http://www.airasia.com – web site for AirAsia, a low-cost carrier operating many flights in SEAsia, including Bangkok-KK
http://www.flyasianexpress.com – web site for Fly Asian Express, which operates the flight from Lahad Datu to KK; note that these flights had been operated by Malaysian Airline, but if you go to their web site you will not find any reference to Sandakan or a referral to this airline.
Information about Sukau Rainforest Lodge is at: http://www.sukau.com/public/aboutus.asp
Information about Borneo Rainforest Lodge is at http://brl.com.my
Lodging at Poring Hot Springs is described at: http://www.suterasanctuarylodges.com.my/poring.htm
Shangri-La Hotel, Kota Kinabalu: Tel: 60-88-212800
Borneo Eco Tours, Kota Kinabalu, Tel: 60-88-234009; Fax: 60-88-233688; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The most commonly-used bird guide is A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali by McKinnon and Philips.
We purchased A Pocket Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Charles M. Francis, The Sabah Society, Kota Kinabalu, 2005 while in Borneo. The publication date is misleading, as the guide was first published in 1984 using plates from a 1981 book. However, it is still useful because in the field because it is indeed a pocket book, unlike McKinnon and Philips.
One or both of these books is necessary to cover the Bornean endemics.
The CD “Birds of Tropical Asia 3”, by Jelle Scharringa, has calls of many of the Bornean birds: www.birdsongs.com
There are many excellent trip reports for this region. In addition to the trip reports, it was very useful to read published reports from Birdquest, VENT, Sunbird, and Kingbird tour companies, as that gave a good idea of where the key locations were and what birds might be found at each.
Here are the reports we used:
Peter Ericsson, April 2005, http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/malaysia/sabah8/sabah-april-05.htm
Dan Roberson and Rita Carratello, July-August 2003 http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/Borneo2003.html
Richard Rae, May-June 2002, http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/malaysia/sabah4/sab-may-june02.html
David Massie, May-June 2001, http://birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/malaysia/sabah2/sabahjune2001.htm
Moira and Graeme Wallace, March – May 2001 http://www.birdours.co.uk/tripreports/malaysia/malay7/tour2001.htm
(Endemics marked with (E), New birds for us in bold: Sites: SRL = Sukau Rainforest Lodge; KR = Kitabitangan River; BRL = Borneo Rainforest Lodge.)
Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster – several along KR
Storm’s Stork, Ciconia Stormi – the briefest flyover on one of the side streams at Sukau; lucky we saw it as it was our only look;
Great Egret, Egretta alba – common along the KR
Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis - several along the roads
Little Heron, Butorides striatus – one seen near SRL
Jerdon’s Baza, Aviceda jerdoni – one immature along the KR
Wallace’s Hawk-eagle, Spizaetus nanus – two seen (same individual?) along the road at BRL
Lesser Fish-eagle, Ichthyophaga nana, one on the river at SRL
Red-breasted Partridge, Arborophila hyperythra, a group of 6 along boardwalk on Pandanus trail at Mount Kinabalu at dusk
Crested Fireback, Lophura ignita, a female (semi-tame?) at dusk on the lawn of BRL
Great Argus, Argusianus argus, one male along Tekala trail, up from Police Bridge near river, allowed us to approach within 5 meters before walking off the trail. Calls of Great Argus were heard often at BRL near canopy walkway area.
Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea, several at SRL
Spotted Dove, Streptopelia chinesis, seen along roadways
Red-bearded Bee-eater, Nyctyonis amictus, one from the canopy walkway caused a rush of excitement when we saw a stocky bird with a red head, but it was not the Bornean Bristlehead we hoped for.
Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis, common at SRL
Raffles’ Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus chlorophaues, a noisy pair along the boardwalk at SRL.
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Pheanicophaeus curvirostris, several at BRL
Greater Coucal, Cetropus sinensis, a few near fields
Buffy Fish-owl, Keputa keputa, one being mobbed on the Tekala trail, BRL.
Black-nest Swiftlet, Collocalia maxima, only a few building nests at Gomantong
Mossy-nest Swiftlet, Collocalia salangana, a few on nests at Gomantong
Glossy Swiftlet, Collocalia esculenta, very common along rivers
Whiskered Treeswift, Hemiprocne comata, at BRL
Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica, along roads
Collared Kingfisher, Halcyon chloris, at SRL
Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, several along KR, rivers at SRL
Blue-eared Kingfisher, Alcedo meninting, common at SRL
Black-backed Kingfisher, Ceyx erithacus, one perched on a fence near BRL, surprisingly sitting quite a while before flying off with its distinctive chirp.
White-crested Hornbill, Aceros comatus, two flying over at Sepilok
Black Hornbill, Anthracoceros malayanus, several near SRL
Rhinoceros Hornbill, Buceros rhinoceros, commonly heard and several seen at BRL
Pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris, two at SRL
Brown Barbet, Calorhamphus fulignosus, common at Sepilok, also seen elsewhere
Blue-eared Barbet, Megalaima australis, one at BRL canopy walkway
Golden-naped barbet (E), Megalaima pulcherrima, several seen at Mt Kinabalu, constantly heard
Checker-throated Woodpecker, Picus mentalis, several in laughingthrush flocks at Mt Mikabalu
Rufous Piculet, Sasia abnormis, one from BRL canopy walkway
Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker, Hemicircus concretus, two at BRL
Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Meiglyptes tristis, several at Mr Kinabalu
Sunda Woodpecker, Picoides moluccensis, at SRL
Whitehead’s Broadbill (E), Calyptomena whiteheadi, several seen well in mixed flocks with laughingthrushes at Mt Kinabalu
Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Eurylaimus ochromalus, common at SRL
Black-and-red Broadbill, Cymbirhynchus macroryynchus, several at SRL
Giant Pitta, Pitta caerulea, the briefest of views along Tekala trail at BRL
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Hemipus picatus, common at Mt Kinabalu
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina larvata, one at Mt Kinabalu
Green Iora, Aegithina viridissima, at BRL
Greater Green Leafbird, Chloropsis sonnerati, at BRL
Lesser Green Leafbird, Chloropsis cyanopogon, at BRL
Blue-winged Leafbird, Chlopsis cochinchinensis, two at Mt Kinabalu; endemic race.
Asian Fairy Bluebird, Irena puella, two at Mt Kinabalu
Flavescent Bulbul, Pycnonotus flavenscens, common at Mt Kinabalu
Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier, common at SRL
Ochraceous Bulbul, Criniger ochraceous, a few at Mt Kinabalu
Puff-backed Bulbul, Pycnonotus eutilots, at SRL
White-crowned Shama (E), Copysychus stricklandi, common and noisy at SRL
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus paradiseus, at BRL
Spangled Drongo, Dicrurus hottentottus, at Mt Kinabalu
Philippine Glossy Starling, Aplonis panayensis, at SRL
Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa, several along KR at SRL
Short-tailed Green Magpie, Cissa thalassina, two at Mt Kinabalu
Bornean Treepie (E), Dendrocitta cinerascens, several at Mt Kinabalu, in laughinghthrush flocks
Slender-billed Crow, Corvus enca, at SRL
Orange-headed Thrush, Zoothera citrine, one at Mt Kinabalu
Chestnut-capped Thrush, Zoothera interpres, one near boardwalk at SRL; stunning.
Oriental Magpie-robin, Copyschus saularis, several around BRL
Bornean Whistling-thrush (E), Myiophons glaucinus, at Mt Kinabalu
Black Laughingthrush, Garrulax lugubris, at Mt Kinabalu
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, Garrulax mitratus, common at Mt Kinabalu
Grey-and-brown Laughingthrush, Garrulax palliaus, common at Mt Kinabalu
Mountain Leaf-warbler, Phylloscopus trivirgatus, very yellow birds at Mt Kinabalu
Bornean Mountain Whistler (E), Pachycephala hypoxantha , at Mt Kinabalu
Yellow-breasted Warbler, Seicercus montis, at Mt Kinabalu
Black-capped Babbler, Pellorneum capistratum, at BRL
Short-tailed Babbler, Trichastoma malaccensis, along the boardwalk to Gomantong Caves
Ferruginous Babbler, Trichastoma bicolor, at BRL
Scaly-crowned Babbler, Malacopteron cinereum, very common at BRL
Grey-throated Babbler, Stachyris nigriceps, some active birds at Mt Kinabalu
Chestnut-winged Babbler, Stachyris erythoptera, common at Sepilok and SRL
Chestnut-crested Yuhina, Yuhina everetti, common at Mt Kinabalu
Dark-necked Tailorbird, Orthotomus atrogularis, at SRL
Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Ficedula hyperthra, one along a stream at Mt Kinabalu
Pygmy Blue Flycatcher, Muscicapella hodgsoni, one at Mt Kinabalu
Black-naped Monarch, Hypothymis azurea, common at SRL
White-throated Fantail, Rhipidura albicollis, at Mt Kinabalu
Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Terpsiphone paradisi, two at BRL
Maroon-breasted Flycatcher, Philentoma velatum, at BRL
Rufous-winged Flycatcher, Philentoma pyrhopterum, at BRL
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sitta frontalis, common at Mt Kinabalu
Red-throated Sunbird, Anthreptes rhodolaema, two in upper canopy from BRL walkway
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Anthreptes singalensis, in the grounds at BRL
Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, several at SRL
Dusky Munia (E), Lonchura fuscans, at BRL
Crimson-headed Partridge, Haematortyx sanguiniceps (E) – heard a few times, never could get close and the bird never came to the tape;
Cinnamon-headed Pigeon, Treron fulvicollis – high water at Sukau prevented us from going to the site where this bird has recently been identified
Blue-rumped Parrot, Psittinus cyanurus – had been reported over the road at BRL;
Bornean Ground-cuckoo, Carpococcyx radiceeus (E) – had been reported along Tekala trail at BRL; also at Sukau Rainforest Lodge along a side stream
Yellow-crowned Barbet, Megalaima henricii - reported as seen and heard along the road at BRL; we never heard one.
Mountain Barbet, Megalaima monticola (E)– reported seen infrequently along a few trails at Mt Kinabalu, but often heard. We never heard one;
Pygmy White-eye, Oculocincta squamifroms (E) – apparently a Mount Kinabalu bird but also reported at BRL.
Black-breasted Fruithunter, Chlamydochera jefferyi (E) – reported at Mt Kinabalu, often easy to see around, of course, fruiting trees.
Temminck’s Babbler, Trichastoma pyrrhogenys – reported to be along the road at Mount Kinabalu
Bornean Wren-babbler, Ptilocichla leucogrammatica (E) – usually seen along the road at BRL
Chestnut-naped Forktail, Enicurus ruficapillus – none seen along any appropriate streams at BRL
Grey-chested Jungle-flycatcher, Rhinomyias gularis – reported to be common around paths near BRL walkway
Bornean Blue-flycatcher, Cyornis superbus (E) – reported at BRL
Large-billed Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis caerulatus – had been recently reported near “Jacuzzi Pool” at BRL but we did not have time to go there;
and, of course,:
Bornean Bristlehead, Arachnothera everetti (E) - groan