The Sabah Tourism Board booked me in to Sepilok Nature Resort for the duration of my stay as an invited speaker at the Borneo Bird Festival. I checked into this excellent resort at around lunchtime and was immediately impressed, not only by the resort and the way it is laid out, but by the numbers of birds on show!
The centre of attraction was a fruiting fig, just outside the chalet which was allocated to the main speaker, Prof Dr PilaiPoonswad, world-renowned expert on hornbills. This was an inspired piece of room allocation, as the tree was full of hornbills from dawn to dusk!
A male Black Hornbill - one of about 7 birds which regularly visited the tree.
This juv Rhinoceros Hornbill was obviously too full of fruit to do anything!
Check out those eyelashes!
I love watching hornbills eating. Despite the enormous size of their bills, they select and pick fruit with the greatest of delicacy and gentleness. The bird seems to be testing to see if the fruit is ripe enough to pluck. If it isn't,the fruit remains on the tree, undamaged, to carry on ripening.
The male (told by the red eye) parent bird flying in for a feed.
At dusk both adults engaged in a pre-roosting duet.
Besides the hornbills (which also included Oriental Pied and Bushy-crested), there were plenty other birds visiting the tree. This one was a new bird for me - a Thick-billed Flowerpecker.
This is apparently a rare bird in East Malaysia. The species is supposed to have a distinctive habit of wagging its tail from side to side, but this one did not wag its tail at all the whole time I was watching it. The pale spots on the underside of the tail were indiscernible in the field, and are apparently very faint in the 'modestum' race.
A short walk in the forest behind the resort produced a few extra species:
A Blue-eared Barbet.
A (Bornean) Rufous-backed Kingfisher, which differs from the migratory Black-backed Kingfisher in having a rufous mantle, and from the resident West Malaysian form by having a variable amount of dark blue on the scapulars and wings (compare with this one from Sarawak).
Another endemic form - the 'microrhinus' race of Chestnut-breasted Malkoha. That might be an endemic species of praying mantis it's eating as well!
A few swifts were coming into drink at the lake behind the resort in the afternoon.
Mossy-nest? (judging by the darkness of the rump).
And my favourites, Silver-rumped Spinetail/Needletail.
I never knew that they have a pink mouth!
I guess they have to judge their approach just right or they'll end up literally 'in the drink'!
This Rufous-bellied Eagle decided to roost just opposite my chalet - a nice end to a promising first day!