Wednesday, March 11, 2009

4th - 7th March 2009: Kubah National Park, Sarawak

Psst! Don't tell anyone, but Kubah is a wonderful place! I had it practically all to myself, together with birding companions Ron Orenstein, Yeo Siew Teck, Sim Lee Kheng and Anthony Wong at various times. For RM15 I rented a hostel bed, which happened to come with a fully equipped kitchen, living room, two bathrooms and a verandah overlooking the forest thrown in!

Birding was mainly along the road ascending the hill to a telecom station at about 2,600 feet, and a number of trails leading off the road into the forest. I focused my time and attention on the Waterfall Trail.

Flycatchers to the fore again! This one is a migrant Dark-sided.

Much more spectacular were the resident Asian Paradise Flycatchers. I saw two of these resplendent white males rattling their tails at one another; unfortunately the vegetation was too thick for the camera to record the moment.

A Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo with a nice fresh set of tail feathers.

The beginning of the Waterfall Trail - which leads through some nice valley-bottom forest.

This was babbler-ville; Short-tailed Babblers are always brighter than I remember them to be!

Scaly-crowned Babblers were numerous. These pics show why the species is so-named.

I was pleased to get a couple of shots of White-necked Babbler, though there's plenty of room for improvement! Other babblers we recorded included Black-capped, Sooty-capped, Rufous-crowned, Moustached, Rufous-fronted, Chestnut-winged, Chestnut-rumped, Horsfield's and Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler.

I spent almost 5 hours over two days whistling the call of a Blue-banded Pitta. On both occasions the bird came in slowly from being very distant and barely audible to being seemingly under my feet. I never even got a glimpse of a movement of the bird. On the second occasion there were four of us stationed all around where the bird apparently was, and none of us got onto to it at all. So my dream of improving on my photo at Poring went unrealized!

While waiting for the pitta, this Bearded Pig came crashing through the undergrowth straight in my direction, till it caught sight of me and charged off again!

There was a good selection of mammals on show, including an unidientified mongoose, a Red Giant Flying Squirrel, and a variety of other squirrels such as Brooke's Squirrel,...

Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel,...

Prevost's Squirrel,...

... and the tiny Black-eared Pygmy Squirrel

This male Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker was a long-awaited lifer for me. We saw this bird and a female on two days, but always distantly.

I caught this endemic Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker bathing in a leaf pool!

I had two views of a male Olive-backed Woodpecker at Kubah, but this rare bird was difficult to photograph.

Streaked Bulbuls seemed to be quite common. We also recorded Puff-backed, Yellow-bellied and Grey-cheeked Bulbuls.

The Frog Pond was a favourite hunting ground for a pair of Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers.


The rufous-backed and dark-backed forms have now been split into two species, but, since both birds were intermediate between the two forms, it seemed fairest to use the old name!


Either way, they were smart birds!

Yeo Siew Teck is an amazing field birder. Without him, our bird list would have been about half what it was, as he was adept at identifying and imitating many birds. He also proved to be just as skilled at finding and identifying frogs, as we found when he took us out frogging one night. These pics are a testament to his frog-finding skills!

Harlequin Tree-Frog

The tiger of the amphibian world - File-eared Tree-Frog.

Lowland Litter-Frog (reminds me of Puss-in-Boots from Shrek 2!)

White-lipped Frog

a minute sticky frog sp

Dark-eared Tree-Frog (credit where credit is due - Ron found this one!)

This was my favourite - a Horned Frog ... what do you mean you can't see it?

Now do you see it?

This one must have been the inspiration for Roz in Monsters Inc - "Where's your paperwork?"


We also came across these caterpillars having a nocturnal cuddle. It's amazing what you find if you look!


Jason Bugay Reyes said...

Nice write up Dave hehehe and how long does it takes from Kuching to Kubah National Park ?

Hehehe you brought both equipments while birding ? Was it heavy ?

And I wanted the White-necked Babbler with Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker !!!

digdeep said...

Hi Jason

By car less than an hour from Kuching. And by car, my equipment is not heavy!

Great place. You should go!



Unknown said...

Amazing shot of the frogs! N birds of course!

Thinker & the Thought said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, I am browsing your blog again and was curious to know what you mean by "this bird is a lifer for me " cheers Ray (DANCING HORNBILLS :))

digdeep said...

Hi Ray

A "lifer" means a "first-time in-my-life-I've-seen-this" bird! It's birding jargon I guess!