Tuesday, November 02, 2010

20th October 2010: Danum Valley BRL, Sabah

It's light by 6am in eastern Sabah, so the birds are up early too!

I managed to snap a few shots of a flock of Bold-striped Tit-babblers foraging along the river bank in the early morning. Babblers are always worth a close look (and listen to) in Borneo, as their forms almost invariably differ from those found in Peninsular Malaysia (as you might expect for a group of sedentary birds predominantly confined to forest). In the case of this taxon, it has already been recognized as distinct to species level from the now renamed Pin-striped Tit-babbler (formerly simply Striped Tit-babbler) of West Malaysia and elsewhere. Other splits are bound to follow in the babbler group.

Flavour of the morning in the Indian Coral tree was Little Spiderhunter - the third spiderhunter species I'd seen in the same tree in a few days.

Later on, the Spectacled showed up again.

The Chestnut-necklaced Partridges were in good voice today, with their defeaning duets on full volume. Photographing them is another matter though, as they are always concealed in thick undergrowth except for the split second when they dash across a clearing or the trail. This one was too close to get the whole bird in shot!

An adult Dark-sided Flycatcher in moult. The brown Muscicapa flycatchers can be a confusing group. I find that the very small bill of Dark-sided (visibly shorter and narrower than Asian Brown), is a good pointer in the field. Darker centres to the vent feathers are diagnostic of Dark-sided if they are present (which they aren't always).In East Malaysia, there is also the chance of Grey-streaked, which appears long-bodied and long-winged and has more distinct brown streaks on a white background, especially on the flanks.

More migrants! A research team from MNS HQ - Glenda, Maye and Eileen, with Edmondo (resident!).

Another endemic race - the 'borneensis' form of Asian Paradise-flycatcher.

And another...the 'brookei' race of Banded Broadbill. This is the female, and she sat overlooking a large nest on a tree from which the canopy walkway is suspended. Most broadbills build hanging nests, so I was surprised to see this one had been constructed in a fork in a huge mengaris (tualang) tree.

Black-throated Wren-babbler. This was one of my target birds for the trip. Nothing wren-like about these at all! Like the other large wren-babblers, Large and Marbled, this reminded me more in size and shape of a laughingthrush. They were more arboreal than other wren-babblers I've seen too.

The 'Jacuzzi Pool'. When we arrived at this pool along one of the trails, we discovered that a picnic had been laid out for us - chicken wings, dragonfruit,tuna and lettuce sandwiches, ice-cold apple juice...

...no I wasn't dreaming! BRL hospitality at its best! Pic courtesy of Alan McBride of Wildiaries

Crystal clear water and lots of fish!

Some Lantern Bugs at a Lantern Bug convention. They seem to have got their head gear design idea from Rhinoceros Hornbills!

Another Bornean puzzle! All resident 'Ceyx' kingfishers in Borneo appear to have at least a rufous mantle, distinguishing them from the migrant 'Black-backed' Kingfisher. So this is the resident form. Some authorities claim that hybridization between the resident 'Rufous-backed' form and the migrant 'Black-backed' form is widespread in Borneo, leading them to conclude that there is only one species - Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher - involved. However, there is another possibility - that the Bornean taxon is simply variable! In that case, there could be three forms in Malaysia- the Rufous-backed of Peninsular Malaysia, the migrant Black-backed, and a third taxon resident in Borneo, currently recognized as a race - 'motleyi'.

White-crowned Forktail. This one's already been split from a neighbouring form which occurs in the highlands of Sabah - now called Bornean Forktail (cf the extent of white on the crown on this bird photographed on Gunung Kinabalu).

Another babbler, another puzzle! It's a Short-tailed Babbler ('sordidus' race). Here's another from Peninsular Malaysia ('malaccensis' race), and one from Sarawak ('saturatus' race). I'm not an expert on babbler vocalizations, but the birds in Danum have a song which I've not heard in West Malaysia.

A Spotted Fantail. This one is also a forest resident, yet it's monotypic, showing no variation over its range. Work that one out!

Stormbringer! A Wreathed Hornbill flies under some threatening clouds. Rain usually arrived after lunch!

On this particular day,a brilliant troupe of Maroon Langurs also arrived after lunch! I'd had some rather unsatisfactory views of some in treetops, but this bunch seemed reasonably happy skirting the fence outside the restaurant by the river. Much better! The young are whitish, and seem to remain dependent on Mum till they're pretty large!

You'd think this might affect their mobility, but apparently not!


Adult and adolescent!


This Western Tarsier was the highlight of the night drive.

Tarsiers are primates (check out those fingers!), and have the largest eyes relative to body size of any mammal. They feed on insects,which they catch by acrobatic leaps from tree to tree.


Wong Tsu Shi said...

Nice shots of the langur, Dave.

Denis Degullacion said...

As always, very entertaining to read your entry. Cheers

Pat ODonnell said...

I dont know how you manage to get such fantastic shots! I wish I could do that.

digdeep said...

Thanks to all for your kind comments!

To Pat, 2 tips:

a. I have fantastic models!
b. I only show you my best shots!