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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 09:30   #1
GDK
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Join Date: Apr 2005
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Kuching, Sarawak

KUCHING, SARAWAK, NOVEMBER 2011


Introduction

In November 2011 I spent 6 days in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, East Malaysia, situated on the western corner of Borneo. It was the start of three weeks in Malaysia, with the other two weeks at the classic Peninsular birding sites. I was with two friends.

At the time the exchange rate from UK sterling (£) to Malaysian Ringgit (RM) was about £1 = RM4.9

The sites visited during our six days were Bako National Park, Kubah National Park and Borneo Highland Resort on Mount Penrissen. This is only a small selection of birding locations, but probably some of the most popular around Kuching, for other sites see the ‘introduction to birding in Sarawak’ by Orenstein et al (2010), with a link in the references section below.

Kuching/General

Flights
On the 20 November we flew from Kuala Lumpur (the ‘Air Asia’ Airport) to Kuching for c£90 per person return pre booked over the internet on Air Asia web site about 10 days before travel.

Accommodation
In Kuching a three-bed-room was available in the newly opened ‘Backpacker’s Stay’ on Jalan Carpenter (Carpenter Street) for RM68 a night, over the week we stayed here 3 nights. It was basic but very clean and had aircon. We ate out in the Indian district with a meal often only RM8 a head.
Jalan Carpenter is very close to the tourist information and national parks office booking department (situated in the ‘Old Court House’ by the waterfront) and there are two or three accommodation options on this street.

Logistics for National Parks
In order to stay at the national parks overseen by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation you have to book in advance, you cannot turn up at the gates of the national park. There are two ways to do this. Either on arrival in Kuching go to their offices (in the Old Court House) or pre-book over the internet (see Sarawak Forestry reference). We chose the former, with our Rough Guides book informing us that this office is open 7 days a week 9-5pm. This was incorrect during our visit. The offices do not open at weekends any more. Arriving on a Sunday we had to wait until Monday morning to book two nights at Bako NP and (unfortunately) only a single night at Kubah NP. Once the offices were open they were very helpful in booking and providing directions and times to the different bus stops to each NP destination.



Santubong Estuary Boat Trip

Faced with a potential wasted half day in the city we decided to try and book an evening boat ride out into Santubong Estuary north of the city to see if we could see the resident population of Irrawaddy Dolphins. There are numerous tour operators who offer this option and it is generally not that cheap because it is organised from the capital and therefore includes transport to the coast. All tours should be managed through an agreement with just a couple of boat operators, and you may find that many of the tourist companies in the city use the same boat operators and act as middle man for you (perhaps therefore adding to the cost?). There appears to be a bit of politics in dolphin watching in this area and some information is provided at the Dolphins of Sarawak link below. We eventually found an agent who was recently set up but acting with the longest standing boat operators CPH Travel. His cost for pick up/return to Kuching and 3pm-8pm (c40mins each way travel from city centre) for Dolphins/Crocs/Proboscis etc was RM160 pp. This was booked through Ooh Haa Tours which has an office on the first floor above some shops on Jalan Bishopsgate.

We failed to see the Dolphins and to be fair to the operator, he mentioned up front that by far the best opportunities are the morning cruises. However we did see Proboscis Monkey and Saltwater Crocodiles as well as a number of commoner shore/estuary birds.


Bako National Park

Logistics
We booked a three bed room in a cabin at Bako (Forest Lodge type 6). This came to RM300 between the three of us for two nights. It had a shared bathroom/shower with the room next door. National Park entrance fee is RM10 per person.

In order to get to Bako you need to either; get the bus from the correct bus station in town, get a shuttle taxi from around the bus stop or take a regular taxi. This will take you to the jetty on the edge of the national park whereby you then get a boat out to the park accommodation and trails.

The bus is c5-10mins walk from the Old Court House; it was RM3.5 and was a Coach with working aircon, which left on time. Shuttle taxis were adverstising for RM10. We took the bus as it was ready to leave, not a co-incidence, the national parks office will give you the times the buses are supposed to leave each day.

It takes c45 mins to get to the jetty for launching to the national park, which is the last stop on the bus. The boat to the Park HQ, accommodation and trails costs are fixed at RM50 and will take a maximum of four.

At Bako headquarters there are a number of cabins for accommodation, a newly built cafe/restaurant building and a mini info centre/museum room. The cafe has set times for breakfast lunch and dinner but also sells snacks and drinks inbetween. The food was ok but had a small mark-up compared to city prices, and beer was available during our visit. There is also an enclosed campsite (presumably to keep the pigs out), but this was closed during our visit and I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there as it was waterlogged and right next to a swamp where waste water seemed to terminate! Maybe it’s better at other times of year (we were at the start of the monsoon period).

Prior to our visit there had been problems with water supply and the Park may have been closed for a while (?). It was ok whilst we were present, although the shower water was slightly brown in colour – not sure whether that defeated the object a little, but it didn’t put us off.

Once day trippers had left the park it was not too busy early mornings or evenings, and the accommodation was far from full.

Access to the trails is straightforward. A trail map handed out on arrival is reproduced below. There seemed to be no restrictions on using the trails day or night, although on induction we were instructed that if venturing outside the boardwalks you tell a ranger the trail you intend to walk, just incase. I never made use of this back up facility and in reality the trails I used were all well marked and obvious – even if you couldnt always tell where you were from the map handed out.

Wildlife
This is a small national park with limited and fragmented coastal forest, including a small amount of mangrove. There is some Diptocarp and swamp forest in the lower areas, but it is not extensive and the forest height is generally quite low height, on the nearer trail network at least. On parts of the higher ground where the bedrock sandstone influence is at the surface interesting forest heath and open ground communities known as ‘Kerangas’ Forest and Scrub and bare ground sandstone exposures ‘Padang’ occur. This seems to be a predominating vegetation type as soon as you get away from low lying areas. The sandstone heath is very nutrient poor resulting in a flora including numerous carnivorous Pitcher Plants, etc.

There are also a number of small beaches dotted along different trails (or the reason for a few of the trails) and a larger beach at the accommodation and park offices. Here is a small raised boardwalk through a short stretch of unimpressive looking mangroves (they had no leaves during our visit). The boardwalk and HQ area is a good location for viewing much of the wildlife in Bako, including very confiding Silvered Langur and Proboscis Monkeys (possibly one of the best places in Borneo to photograph this crazy looking Monkey). Other mammals residing around the park grounds included Bearded Pig and Long Tailed Macaque, and the nocturnal Colugo and Slow Loris (the latter we failed to see).

This park is often given an average write up for birdlife but some common lowland rainforest species are present. By far the highlight for me was unexpectedly bumping into and getting mind blowing views of a hunting Oriental Bay Owl on a night walk along the Lintang/Ulu Assam trail (infact a birding highlight of the year completely off the radar), as well as Blue Winged Pitta (nr campsite), Bold Striped Tit Babbler & White Chested Babbler (nr campsite and along Lintang trail), Rufous-backed Dwarf & Collared Kingfishers, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher (Paku beach trail), Mangrove Whistler, Red Crowned & Brown Barbets, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Hill Myna, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-naped Monarch, Little Spiderhunter, Crimson Sunbird, Orange-bellied and Crimson-backed Flowerpeckers, Black-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Common Iora, Pied Triller, Bulbuls, Tailorbirds etc. Waders were poorly represented but included Eurasian Curlew & Whimbrel, and Common Sandpiper.

One final highlight at Bako is the seemingly high local density of Wagler’s Pit Viper Tropidolaemus wagleri, with about 7 seen just around the accommodation blocks during the visit as well as Bronzeback sp Dendrelaphis cf. tristis. and an Oriental Whip-snake/Vine Snake Ahaetulla prasina (which I didn’t see as I was off birding on a trail).

Borneo Highland Resort, Gunung Penrissen & Semenoggok Forestry Research Centre

Logistics
We only had time to day trip the Borneo Highland Resort on the slopes of Mount Penrissen. On this basis we looked at hiring a local bird guide. A few days prior to leaving the UK, I emailed three of the authors of Orenstein (2010) article, all based in Kuching just incase there was any recent gen. I received a reply instantly from Yeo Siew Teck, who provided a bit of general advice before our trip, and also introduced me to the tour company website that he works for; Cat City Holidays (see references below for information on scheduled tours and prices). During exchanges of email (and SMS text whilst at Bako) we booked a tailor made day with Yeo to the Borneo Highland Resort, with an evening/night walk on the outskirts of Semenoggok Forest to search for Tarsier and other night critters. This included a pickup from the backpackers at 6am and return there at 8.30-9pm – a full day in the field.

First a note on Yeo, who was a very competent field birder (and naturalist with a further specialised interest in frogs) and helped us find many of the species listed below. A knowledgeable, friendly and polite guide, who worked hard to help us achieve what we wanted during our short visit, and therefore has my recommendation to any future visitors to Sarawak wanting to use a local guide. He took us in a minibus up to the Highland Resort, which took an hour and would probably be relatively straight forward to find with a bit of preparation. Obviously being with Yeo we had no problems or negotiations to do entering the Golf resort, and had motorised access up to the border look out (see the map below). We also had access to drive around the other metalled tracks of the Golf resort.

For independent visitors, the access to the Golf resort if you are not staying there would presumably have to be negotiated at the entrance gate and/or club house at a cost. I had read on the internet somewhere that access is usually only for paying guests except on specified open days, but perhaps if a day trip is all that is desired, contact via their website beforehand could clarify this potential issue? I imagine it is possible to get shuttle or a taxi to the gates of the resort, and it is then an uphill to most birding sites around the resort. The cheapest accommodation on site is near the gate (see Borneo Highland Resort ref below), a good walk up through the golf course to the border look out and forest trails, but certainly achievable; i.e. it would be much easier with a car, but not essential. I was unable to find cheaper accommodation outside the resort whilst preparing for this trip. There is a restaurant at the club house, which is relatively expensive (to be expected), with beer available – I was able to celebrate one of my most wanted birds on this leg of the trip - Bornean Barbet (something I missed on a previous trip to Sabah).

There are a number of forest trails around the edge of the golf course that take in the summit ridge overlooking Kalimantan, and the metalled tracks around the golf resort are also good birding spots, with patches of forest set amongst the fairways.

Wildlife
Gunung Penrissen is a degraded hill to lower montane rainforest site on the Sarawak/Kalimantan border, adjacent to more sub-montane habitats over the border representing part of an isolated south west outpost of the montane heart of Borneo. The books suggest that this part of Borneo had at one time contained many of the endemic montane goodies.

A realistic list of specialities that have been recently recorded at the Highland Resort, include the endemics; Pigmy Ibon (white-eye), Bornean Barbet, Blue Banded Pitta, Everett’s Yuhina, Bold Striped Tit Babbler and Dusky Munia (all seen bar the Pitta – which we didn’t try for). Other species we recorded included Malaysian Rail Babbler (heard only on the ridge trail), Eye-browed Wren Babbler, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-babbler, Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Black & Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Crested Jay, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Temminck’s, Moustached and Rufous-crowned Babblers, Spotted Fantail, Green Iora, Large Woodshrike, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Blue Winged and Greater Green Leafbirds, Blue-eared, Golden Whiskered and Red-throated Barbets, Dark Sided & Mugimaki Flycatchers and various Bulbuls amongst others.

I suppose as suggested by Orenstien (2010) the Ibon is a (perhaps the) speciality of this site, and we saw some well through the scope high in a fruiting tree by the club house associating loosely with Everett’s White-eyes. My highlight was, as previously mentioned, our lunchtime Bornean Barbet, a real beauty (through the scope again).

Other wildlife noted during the day included Rajah Brookes Birdwing, Giant Squirrel, Black-eared Pigmy Squirrel, and an unidentified water snake. With opportunity to undertake night walks, specialities such as Wallace’s Flying Frog Rhacophorus nigropalmatus and even rarer mammals such as Binturong are possible.

Our night visit to the back end of Semenggok Forest (on a forestry research plot – another benefit of using local knowledge) proved to be a wash out, but all credit to our guide, he still attempted to show us something and in the end we all came away very happy with a Cinnamon Tree Frog Nyctixalus pictus; something Yeo has only seen once previously - despite being widespread across the Gtr Sundas, Palawan and north to the northern Peninsular, it is probably localised and difficult to locate. Unfortunately we didn’t see the hoped for Western Tarsier, but that is not surprising given the change in weather. Brown Hawk Owl was heard, and the only bird noted, but Reddish Scops Owl is also present here.

A final note on Semenggok is that there are records of the Bornean race of Garnet Pitta which is historically known from the lowlands of Sarawak. The two Pittas monographs mention records from remnant forest around Kuching in the 1970s (Lambert, 1996), and with records from the forest itself as recently as 1988 (Erritzoe & Erritzoe, 1998). There are historical records from G. Penrissen too, presumably from the lower slopes (Erritzoe & Erritzoe, 1998).


Kubah National Park

Logistics
This national park is situated about 30-40mins from Kuching by road. It is accessible via bus from the centre as well as taxi. We booked a single night, booking out one of the chalets (Forest Lodge Type 5) which had about 10 beds for the three of us. This was RM150, it was not the cheapest option and hostel accommodation is available. The taxi from Kuching charged us RM50. As with Bako we booked via the information office in Kuching in advance. The chalets were actually relatively well booked out as it was the beginning of the weekend. All accommodation is close to the eastern entrance to the park where the park HQ is. Park entrance fees were RM10pp.

There is no convenient food outlets within Kubah or immediately around its entrance. If you don’t have private transport then you will need to bring in all necessary food and water for the length of stay. There is a small fridge in the warden’s hut at entrance selling cans of coke and small bottles of water etc, but I wouldn’t rely on this.

Wildlife
Kubah is another small isolated fragment of primary lowland to hill forest set on the slopes of Gunung Serapi, G. Sendok and G. Selang. From the park headquarters at the main road entrance everything is uphill. There is a spine road that runs upto a telecommunication tower and the summit of Gunung Serapi (actually outside the park boundaries), and appears to be popular with locals at the weekend, with a little traffic along this road. Trails lead off this road and from the HQ into the forest. A single trail (Rayu trail) leads to the opposite (western) side of the national park where there is a wildlife centre (zoo) and further forest trails. This trail sounds pretty good for birding with Bornean Bristlehead a possibility towards the Matang wildlife centre, but was closed during our visit on account of a rehabilitated and released Orang-Utan with young supposedly posing a threat to tourists! The Belian Trail was also closed during our visit, for ‘maintenance’.

The park is mostly mixed diptocarp forest on sandstone through its lower slopes and offers a good selection of rainforest species, including according to the blurb, one of the highest Palm diversities in the world – with a Palm trail at the HQ. Heath Kerangas is said to be present towards the accessible summit, but we didn’t venture that far.

The park contains remnants of lowland forest flora and fauna, including the atmospheric Six O’clock Cicadas Pomponia merula, Orchids and Pitcher Plants, various mammals including Western Tarsier (not large mammals though), reptiles and an impressive Frog list. A frog pond off the main summit road just below the entrance to the Waterfall trail is a good place to view tree and ground frogs. The frog list for Kubah is impressive and includes Bornean Horned Frogs. In 2010 a new species of Frog considered to be one of the smallest in the world was discovered in the park (see eg National Geographic ref below). The frog named Mycrohyla nepenthicola uses Pitcher Plants to raise tadpoles.

Some interesting bird species have been recorded on the reserve, including endemics such as Blue Banded Pitta, Bornean Bristlehead, Bornean Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker and other sought after forest species such as Great Argus, Hornbills, woodpeckers (eg Great Slaty, Olive Backed, Chequer-throated), lowland forest Broadbills, Trogons, and some of the scarcer forest Babblers (including White-necked) and Bulbuls. Fairy Pitta has been recorded as a migrant/winter visitor, and was seen by Yeo Siew Teck just a week before our visit there, close to the frog pond.

I only had time to bird the main road up to the Waterfall trail and along the main trail. Highlights included two calling Blue Banded Pittas (along the first few hundred metres of the waterfall trail and the main trail confluence), with one seen well towards dusk after a massive downpour - with a chorus of Cicada’s starting up, a slight mist lit by evening light from the humidity and rain, and a Dwarf Kingfisher zipping past where I was sat; very atmospheric! Bornean Blue Flycatcher was also noted on the Waterfall trail, Rufous-winged Philentoma on the access road, and a number of commoner rainforest babblers, bulbuls, Spotted Fantail etc. A fruiting tree around the accommodation block provided opportunity to see four species of Barbet (Brown, Red Throated, Blue-eared and Golden Whiskered) and a few Bulbuls. A Red-naped Trogon was also heard from the main trail.

In the evening we all took a walk up to the frog pond, which proved very quiet bird wise, but a number of interesting frogs were noted including Black Spotted Stream/Rock Frog Staurois guttatus/natator agg., File-eared and Dark-eared Tree Frog Polypedates otilophus & P. macrotis, White-lipped/Copper-cheeked Frog Hydrophylax/Hylarana raniceps, Harlequin Tree Frogs Rhacophorus pardalis agg. and a ground frog Limnoneates cf. leporinus amongst others yet identified. We also noted Oriental Whip Snake Ahaetulla prasina, and the interesting looking ‘Blue-eyed Angle-headed Dragon’ Gonocephalus liogaster during our visit, as well as numerous squirrels including the impressive looking Prevost’s Squirrel.

I would have liked to have spent more time at Kubah. The lowest forest here is around the Matang Wildlife Centre (see Map 3), and with access round the western side of the park, birding here would produce some more interesting species Im sure.


References
Below is a list of useful references, mostly sourced whilst preparing for the trip.

Borneo Highland Resort:
The cheapest accommodation within the resort is the Jungle Cabin, by the resort entrance.
http://www.borneohighlands.com.my/
http://www.borneohighlands.com.my/un...ay-golf-rates/

Cat City Holidays (Yeo Siew Teck): http://www.catcityholidays.com/
The standard itineraries on this website show further potential for the birding sites around Kuching.

Dolphins of Sarawak: http://dolphinsofsarawak.blogspot.co...who-to-go.html

Erritzoe, J & Erritzoe, H.B. (1998) Pittas of the World. A Monograph on the Pitta Family, Lutterworth Press, Cambridge

Lambert, F. Woodcock, M. (1996) Pittas Broadbills and Asities, Pica Press

National Geographic (2010) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...10_600x450.jpg

Orenstein et al (2010) Sarawak – A Neglected Birding Destination in Malaysia, Birding Asia 13:30-41 http://www.orientalbirdclub.org/publ...in-Sarawak.pdf

Sarawak Forestry Corporation:-
Home page: http://www.sarawakforestry.com/htm/snp-np.html
Ebooking: http://ebooking.com.my/pls1/public/R...UI.requestFORM




Map 1: Bako National Park Trail Network

Map 2: Borneo Highland Resort Layout

Map 3: Kubah National Park Boundary

Map 4: Kubah National Park Trail Network (HQ entrance)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Sarawak2011 Map 1 Bako.pdf (912.7 KB, 77 views)
File Type: pdf Sarawak2011 Map 2 Borneo Highland Resort.pdf (119.1 KB, 59 views)
File Type: pdf Sarawak2011 Map 3 Kubah Boundary.pdf (39.6 KB, 77 views)
File Type: pdf Sarawak2011 Map 4 Kubah HQ trails.pdf (789.3 KB, 72 views)
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 09:57   #2
GDK
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Kubah

One of the highlights of the trip to Kubah National Park was the frog pond off the main access road (photo 1); which at night came alive with a number of different frog species allowing for some nice macro photography opportunities.

By far the most obvious frog around the pond during our visit was the large File-eared Tree Frog Polypedates otilophus (photos 2-4). There were many around the boardwalk. The second most numerous species of tree frog appeared to be the Harlequin Tree Frog Rhacophorus pardalis, a species or group of species that have adapted in the way many Bornean species have to gliding between forest trees, using the adapted large webbing on their feet (photo 5).
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 10:16   #3
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Kubah

Away from the pond other amphiban interest was also noted. There are many streams within the park at Kubah and we spotted an interesting frog perching above one of these, the Black Spotted Stream Frog Staurois guttatus/natator (photos 1 & 2). This frog, it appears from reading up, is really likely to be a complex of criptic species spread across SE Asia. It is one of the few tree frogs active diurnally, and recent research has shown that it is also one of the species that has evolved communication through foot movements. The blue underpads on its toes act as a communication device across the stream to other nearby frogs.

A recent discovery in the Park in 2010 was of a known population of frogs, but were thought to be juveniles of another species. It wasnt until they were observed calling that it was realised that the population of these minature frogs were of a separate and undescribed species Mycrohyla nepenthicola. The frogs themselves are fairly unique in having a life cycle revolving around a species of Pitcher Plant Nepenthes ampullaria (photo 3 shows the green form of these ground Pitchers). Pitcher plants have adapted to grow in areas with low soil nutrients, and use their liquid filled pitchers to trap insects for additional nutrients. The ground Pitcher N. ampullaria is a little different from most Pitchers in that instead of obtaining nutrients from trapped insects, it is thought that it uses its large Pitchers with open lids to trap leaf litter, obtaining nutrients from decaying litter instead. The frog lays its eggs into the pitchers and the tiny tadpoles develop within them. Unfortunately I didnt see any adult frogs, but a number of the plants had tadpoles within (see Photos 4 & 5).
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 10:31   #4
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Kubah

A final few photos from Kubah. Around the HQ is a palm trail and the Park is said to have one of the highest diversity of Palms in the world. Photo 1 shows a rather impressive umbrella palm, whose name I dont know.

Whilst walking the trails at Kubah we were fortunate to come across a number of the large angle head lizards. The most obvious species present during our visit was the Blue-eyed Angle-headed Dragon Gonocephalus liogaster (photo 2). One of the guys I went with has a massive interest in snakes so whilst I was off out hitting the trails hard he would spend his time poking around the local area looking for subjects to photograph, luckily snakes tend to hang around so I often had the benefit of his efforts on my return. One of my favourite of his finds was the stick thin Oriental Whip Snake Ahaetulla prasina (photo 3).

On our night excursion up to the frog pond we saw many invertebrates, and the forests of Borneo have to be one of the best places in the world for unusual and interesting insects. The spider in photos 4 & 5 appears to have adapted a camoflage that resembles a dead leaf caught in a web. When danger threatens it curls up and dangles from the centre of its web.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 10:43   #5
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Bako

Bako National Park is situated on the coast north of Kuching, and whilst it isnt the sort of place you would want to go snorkling or swimming (there are some nastly looking saltwater crocs for example) it is a pretty scenic looking place.

Photos 1-3 show the beach around the headquaters and accommodation, with Sandstone cliffs, dead mangroves, and a lone Bearded Pig searching for anything juicy the receding tide has to offer.

The park has a network of trails through some small patches of swamp forest, with pools such as this one on the Lintang/Serait trail. The majority of the forest is however nutrient poor dry Kerangas and Padang (photo 5) which are thin even growth forest to open dwarf shrub and bare ground exposures.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 10:50   #6
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Bako

Some of the mammals found at Bako are very obvious and confiding. This includes small groups of Proboscis Monkeys and Silvered Languars (photos 1 & 2). Bearded Pigs are ridiculously tame, as photo 3 (which was taken with a 100mm lens, uncropped) and photo 4 (with a 10-22mm lens shows). The accommodation area is a good place to see both Sunda Colugo and Slow Loris. We only managed to see the Colugo, but we did see it on both nights we stayed over on Bako (photo 5).
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 11:04   #7
GDK
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Bako

I realise Ive not posted any bird photos yet. Partially because I didnt do so well in getting any photos of some of the trip highlights, the Pigmy White-eye and Bornean Barbet were too high up for anything meaningful and I opted to spend the time enjoying them in the scope instead. The Blue Banded Pitta was within photo range and I even saw an reddy blur in my camera, but the objective lens had steamed up in the forest and that cost me precious time fiddling around.

The Bay Owl, the highlight of the week, almost went the same way. As I lifted up to take a photo, flash charged, the camera just died. Not a flat battery, it was new in. It just wasnt happy, and well neither was I. Luckily my mate Matt has a Canon set up so I begged him to lend me his 7D and I swapped his ring flash for my regular flash, his 100mm for my 100-400mm, wires tangled sweat dripping from the tention; and a Bay Owl sitting on a tree about 7m away trying to hunt in all this commotion. Thankfully this bird was unphasable and in the end we had walk away views of it, it just didnt care. I even had enough time to take everything out of my camera and put it back together and it started working again. I managed a few full frame shots on my camera. I still havent seen the photos I took on the 7D.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 11:17   #8
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Bako

Birding in the lowland forests is a slow affair, and both Bako and Kubah were very slow going at times. Some of my favourite birds in these places are the babblers, and when you finally come across an individual or group, with a bit of pishing you can sometimes get these semi sociable creatures to come quite close. I had on the whole pretty mixed success, but just occasionally it would work really well, such as the photos of the Bold-striped Tit Babbler below shows. Photo 2 shows the strange 'hairs' on the back of Tit Babblers, which is something really hard to pick out in the field, partly because these birds usually sculk in thick vegetation.

At Bako, the commonest babbler after the above seemed to be White Chested Babbler. This one at Photo 3 came to me scolding harshly, not happy with my presence in his swamp at all. I wasnt even there to look for him, I was after a Blue-winged Pitta Id seen roosting there the day previous.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 11:23   #9
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Bako

Below are three photos of a roosting Blue-winged Pitta (the latter two are crops), taken near the accommodation area, infact just behind the campsite at Bako, in a particularly smelly, muddy, mosquito infested swamp. If you ever wondered what Mosquitos feast on when you are not around, well the answer is below. Poor bird!

Finally I cannot leave Bako without showing a couple of photos of the Walger's Pit Vipers, a male and a female. These are at high density around the accommodation and HQ, so if you go off track check the bushes as they are highly venomous. Luckily they are also very lazy. There was one about 3m high in a tree above our accommodation and one afternoon we watched a troup of Macaques running directly over the snake. There was not even a flinch from the snake!
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 11:42   #10
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Borneo Highland Resort

This site was much more birdy, as is expected when you climb out of the lowlands. We even encountered a few bird waves, and had the extra sharp knowledgeable ears of a guide Yeo Siew Teck for the day so we saw plenty of birds. Most were away from good photographic range, and some were a little quick. An ok shot of one of my favourites, the Maroon-breasted Philentoma is attached though.

The view from near the summit of Mount Penrissen into Kalimantan is pretty impressive (photo 2) even if it is set from the manicured lawns of a golf course estate (photo 3 with the summit of Penrissen in the background). In the latter photo the low hedge is about on the border, with a big drop the far side into Indonesia.

As well as birds we saw a number of squirrel species throughout the week, from giant squirrels to pigmy squirrels, one of the most fetching was however the minute Black-eared Pigmy Squirrel (photo 4).

The final photo shows one of the most impressive looking frogs of the week, a Cinnamon Tree Frog, at the Semenoggoh Forestry Research area. This was the result of extra effort by our guide Yeo; when I'd, to be honest, half given up on our nightwalk on account of the persistent heavy rain!
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Old Sunday 8th January 2012, 12:45   #11
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Great stuff - brilliant photos!
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Old Tuesday 17th January 2012, 19:26   #12
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Makes good reading, we had 5 weeks in Sarawak in September and thoroughly enjoyed it, although a little (!) wet. We also used Yeo for a couple of days and thought he was excellent.
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Old Friday 20th January 2012, 08:05   #13
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Thanks for the comments Duncan, Tony. Tony - 5 weeks, you must have seen some good stuff, I can only dream of that much time away from work at the moment. This trip was the first more than two weeker for about 5 years. I liked the look of Lanjak Entimau in Sarawak, but its hard to get the permits, and impossible with a weeks notice. Maybe one day, still have that nagging desire for Hose's Broadbill... Do you have any highlights/fav. location(s)?

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Old Friday 20th January 2012, 09:09   #14
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Originally Posted by GDK View Post
I had on the whole pretty mixed success, but just occasionally it would work really well, such as the photos of the Bold-striped Tit Babbler below shows. Photo 2 shows the strange 'hairs' on the back of Tit Babblers, which is something really hard to pick out in the field, partly because these birds usually sculk in thick vegetation.
thought those tit-babblers looked a bit funny, then realised the ones in sabah have pale irises!

http://www.birdforum.net/opus/images...bler7720cs.jpg

maybe another incipient endemic!


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Old Friday 20th January 2012, 10:47   #15
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maybe another incipient endemic!
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Hi James,

ssp. bornensis according to the books, now the nominate ssp. The ones in Sabah are ssp. montanus. Hadnt noticed the iris difference myself, but very obvious in the pic you link.



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