Tuesday, October 26, 2010

19th October 2010: Danum Valley Borneo Rainforest Lodge

A few pics from last night's night drive to start with...

A Black Flying Squirrel

And a Slow Loris performing a comical stretch!

It was worth checking the spiderhunters coming to the Indian Coral tree this morning. Yesterday's were Spectacled. Today there was Yellow-eared.

We headed back to where we'd heard the Giant Pitta yesterday, but it wasn't interested today. After some time of Wang Kong's best imitations, we gave up and headed elsewhere. This Great-billed Heron looked 'atmospheric' in the morning light.

A Purple-naped Sunbird stopped long enough to be snapped.

It's difficult to give an impression of how small pygmy squirrels are from a photo, but they really are tiny! This is a Plain Pygmy Squirrel.

We photographed this anglehead lizard - Gonocephalus bornensis - while waiting for a Black-throated Wren-babbler to show itself. It did, but not well enough for a photo!

Chestnut-necklaced Partridges seemed quite common once they started their loud duets. Getting a clear shot was another matter, as they were shy.

On our way back for lunch we came across this beautiful Common Bronzeback.

We met Glenda, Maye and Eileen from MNS HQ, and they showed us a pair of Maroon-breasted Philentomas. Here's the male.

Displaying to the female.

The view from my chalet after lunch, before the skies went grey!

A Rufous-tailed Tailorbird near the restaurant.

The rainclouds gathered and the thunder rolled, but the rain didn't arrive, so we set out for our afternoon session up the main access track. We hadn't gone very long when a Giant Pitta started calling from the forest to our left. Seven of us (including two guides) made our way none too silently into the undergrowth and tried to call the bird into view. After some minutes of frustration, Wang Kong decided we should make our way uphill till we met the trail. We had circled the point where the pitta had been calling, and were now above it. However, I seriously doubted the bird would still be interested after all the noise we had made moving uphill.

To my surprise, it did respond to Wang Kong's whistled imitation, and after some time, the bird - a male, hopped onto the trail and perched motionless in full view for 20 glorious seconds! It was a bit too far away for my flash to reach, but who cares - the mythical Giant Pitta has been well and truly grilled!

The Holy Grail of the Malaysian rainforest? Well, one of them!

I don't remember much after that1 I think we turned round and headed straight back to the resort without lifting our bins to look at another bird!

Oh yes, and we saw a Thomas's Flying Squirrel on the night drive.

Monday, October 25, 2010

18th October 2010 Danum Valley Borneo Rainforest Lodge

I'd heard a lot about 'BRL', but this was my first chance to pay a visit, so I was pretty excited!

Alan and I arrived in time for a superb lunch, then a rest, which I spent in my personal outdoor pool overlooking the river and forest beyond!

The room's electrics are all solar-powered, though I barely used the fan the whole trip, as the forest is refreshingly cool.

From the balcony I have a view of the river Danum and forest which has been unchanged for millenia!

My first new bird flew in as we were enjoying lunch - a Great-billed Heron.

Between my chalet and the dining room there was so much bird activity it was difficult to know where to look!

There were Spectacled Spiderhunters in the Indian Coral trees...

... a pair of Whiskered Treeswifts at eye-level in the small trees lining the boardwalk.

The treeswifts started to call in alarm, alerting me to a Wallace's Hawk-eagle which flew into one of the larger trees briefly, before flying off again.

Meanwhile, a Wreathed Hornbill flew directly overhead...and I hadn't even got into the forest yet!

At three thirty we met up with our guide, the legendary Wang Kong, and we set off into the forest, with our number one target - Giant Pitta. We had a prolonged 'conversation' with one, but got no views. This Ferruginous Babbler was scant consolation!

Oh well, there's always tomorrow!

17th October 2010:Borneo Bird Festival, Sepilok, Sabah

I opened my door at sunrise to this sight! Apparently there was a new 'happening' fig restaurant in town and it was just outside my chalet! This was one of a group of four orang utans who had dropped in for breakfast.

All the regular customers were there...

Some male Black Hornbills.

Mrs Rhino spent a long time in an adjacent tree having a post-breakfast sunbathe.

Front and back!

A sudden look of annoyance...

A Black Hornbill gets a glare!

A bit of privacy please, while I pick my teeth! The right foot might have been an easier option though.

Not only mammals and birds were attracted to the fruiting fig.

This is Apterygodon vittatus, a common skink in Sabah's forest.

A couple of fly-overs - Oriental Honey-buzzard and Violet Cuckoo.

I finally found where the Thick-billed Spiderhunters were feeding, but I only had time to grab a couple of shots before having to catch the shuttle bus to the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

At RDC it was the last full day at the Festival, and there was a good crowd, as yesterday.

The illustrators of a future edition of Birds of Borneo! I was amazed by the plumage detail and colour accuracy of some of the pictures in the kids' painting competition. Here are Red-naped and Whitehead's Trogon and Bristlehead - instantly recognizable!

Some impressive sculpting was underway as well!

After the last of the talks, I took Alan McBride, of Wildiaries to check out the Black-and-Crimson Pitta I'd photographed last March. It put on a fantastic show for us. Here are some of the many pics I took.

While we were watching the pitta, this Black-capped Babbler walked right up to us. This shot was taken with the zoom set at 100mm and at minimum focusing distance. At times I couldn't get the whole bird in the frame!

Eventually we had to walk away from the pitta, with the bird still hopping around in full view, apparently having forgotten that it is supposed to skulk in thick undergrowth!

This juv White-crowned Shama delighted festival-goers near the RDC entrance.

A good way to end the day - at the fruiting fig restaurant!