Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sabah Trip. Day 5: 31st May, Danum Valley Field Centre

Our last full day at DVFC. We decided to try the Grid again, hoping for a repeat performance by the Black-and-Crimson Pitta, and perhaps another sought-after bird, Bornean Bristlehead.

Even before crossing the river, we were entertained by brilliant views of a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills and then a pair of Wrinkled Hornbills, the latter our 6th species of hornbill.

The male Rhino Hornbill flies across the river in the early morning sun. His red eye distinguishes him from the female, which has a white eye.

This subadult Oriental Darter was one of several plying the river for fishing spots.

On the Grid, Roger had another brief view of the female Blue-headed Pitta, but there was no sight or sound of the Black-and-Crimson. A Giant Pitta called for some time too, but we never got anywhere near it, and it soon stopped.

Highlight of the morning was two separate sightings of Bornean Bristleheads, both times high in the canopy, and both times picked out by their peculiar wheezy calls. The first was a single bird which we watching bashing a caterpillar against a branch. The second was a group of about 6 birds which had us straining our necks yet again looking straight up into the tops of the trees. They were never in view long enough to get even a poor photo, so look here if you want to know what we saw!

While chasing the Bristleheads, I came across this Bornean Black Magpie. Quite different from the Black Magpie in the Peninsula, this one is all black apart from some brown on the nape and paler tips to the underside of the tail feathers. The tail also seems much shorter than on the Peninsula form.

We were both feeling pretty drained after 4 days hard slog in the forest, so we returned to the road in the early afternoon.

Me next to some rather magnificent buttress roots.Photo courtesy of R Jaensch

I stopped to photograph a couple of stunning dragonflies on our way out of the forest. This one is, I think, Neurobasis longipes.

And this one I am pretty sure is Rhinagrion elopurae - quite a colour scheme!

Another beastie that stopped us in our tracks was this enormous pill bug. It must have been at least 2.5 inches long!

A female Black-and-Yellow Broadbill was a welcome roadside diversion on the walk back to the Centre.

In the early afternoon we had a fairly heavy rain shower. Fortunately we were already back at the restaurant by then. With the rain came the swiftlets. Most were Glossy Swiflets, but they were joined by a number of much larger, darker swiftlets, which we identified as Waterfall Swifts. These were approximately House Swift-sized, long-winged and sooty-blackish. The tail wasn't really forked , more notched, but the heavy rain may have had some influence on shape.

The best I could get of Waterfall Swift in difficult light.

I spent the late afternoon trying to photograph Silver-rumped Needletails from the bridge, once the rain had cleared.

I love swifts, and Silver-rumped Needletails are one of my favourites (just in case you hadn't guessed already!)

At dusk I went back to the huge fruiting fig outside our rest house, and once again the Binturong was on show. Binturongs are members of the civet family. They're mainly black, and have a long prehensile tail which they sometimes use to suspend themselves with when trying to reach fruit. This is one animal I've wanted to see in the wild for a very long time, but never really thought I would.

An old name for Binturong is Bear-cat, and it's not to difficult to see the resemblance to both these animals.

Those are pretty fearsome looking teeth, but the main item on the Binturong's menu is fruit.

He finally spotted me, and spent about 5 minutes just gazing down at me from his perch, occasionally scratching behind one ear as if trying to work out what I was doing there! It was a magical moment, he was clearly aware of my presence but seemed completely unafraid. Eventually he roused himself and ambled off along the branch in search of more fruit.

Our night walk was more productive in terms of mammals tonight.

First we came across a pair of Colugos (often erroneously referred to as Flying Lemurs).

We wondered whether the difference in colouration and marking was just individual variation, or an indication of either gender or maturity.

The tree they were on had deeply grooved bark, which they appeared to be licking with gusto. We couldn't see any insects on the bark, so presumed they were after the sap.

They were also curious to see what we were up to!

Apart from the Colugos we came across several Sambar deer, but sadly, no sign of the Brown Wood or Buffy Fish Owls that are seen quite regularly here.

1 comment:

Tony Morris said...

Tremendous blog, I found it via the OBC mail group. Thanks for putting the address there.
Tony Morris.