Well we managed to get quite a lot done over the last week. We had to cut and polish the truck and also the van. Everything’s gleaming now which is how we like it. We had some pretty chilly mornings around 2 degrees, thank god we have 2 heaters, one in the bedroom and one in the lounge which get the van nice and cozy quite quickly in the mornings. The days have been fantastic though, big blue sky everyday. We’ve been down the range to our little bird hotspot at Redwood Park 4 times, we were so worried the first time as it’s so dry everywhere but soon as we walked down to the little creek we could hear lots of bird chatter. There’s a very small amount of water trickling down but it’s isolated to just a couple of small pools now. It must be spring fed, coming up through the rocks so we are so happy that these beautiful birds have this water source here. As you can see by the video and photos, there is a huge number of birds that visit this spot everyday and some of them like the silvereye’s and honeyeater’s are just constantly there, they seem to love bathing.
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A couple of Flyby’s
We do hear other birds coming quite close but they obviously aren’t that fussed on water, like the whip birds, they were so close today, we were sitting so quietly and could hear them making their calls so loud but they didn’t come down. Also some calls we can’t identify but every day we did see a new bird or two. Wow what a place. We have been so spoilt here I wonder how we will cope when we leave. Which is tomorrow by the way.
More birds of Redwood Park
And a few more birds of Redwood
We will be passing through Stanthorpe to visit some friends and then we will drive a bit further south and overnight at the Tenterfield Showgrounds. We have seen platypus in the little creek on the grounds before so hope they are still there. That was quite a few years ago and things always change. We have had a great stay here in Toowoomba, it’s always a great place to catch up on things.
Well the weather did fine up for us but we have been struggling to find any birds. On the second day we drove about 45 minutes to Kubah National Park first which has actually been extensively logged so no really big trees and hardly a peep to be heard. Because it had been raining we stayed on the road going up to the summit but it still was very green with moss but it gave us a really good view of the forest as we walked up and we did hear a few birds and saw a couple of drongos . On the way back down we walked on one of the tracks instead and it was still tree roots and slippery rocks, it seems to be the same terrain wherever we go. There was no cafe here but we had seen a couple on the way in, one was on top of a rubbish tip…..yes really and the other one didn’t look to bad. We had to share an iced lemon tea as there was nothing else except for Pepsi and we had a choice of 4 meals so we picked some noodle dish with some type of crumbled meat in it but couldn’t actually tell you what it was. But the flies there were just crazy, I don’t know why, maybe from all the rubbish but we just gobbled our noodles and high tailed it out of there.
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Yesterday we went to Bako National Park which involved another 45 minute drive in the opposite direction. We were lucky to get one of the last car parks at the jetty area, very busy place and we had to get a boat from there up the river to the NP. We were expecting it to be busy as it sounds amazing and there is the best chance to see proboscis monkeys there. Well you could hardly move at ticket box, people just en masse. I had to go to the loo and sadly had to leave Anthony to organise boat tickets in that mayhem…..actually he normally turns to jelly in big crowds so I was expecting to come back and he maybe wanted to bail out, but he thought it’s either deal with this or we are back on the highway. I couldn’t believe it but he had it all organised……(typical Borneo) he had to register us at one booth, get tickets at another then go back to the original booth to organise a driver for the boat, I kid you not there were around 20 boats waiting for all the tourists to get their paper work in order. We were suppose to stand in one spot and wait till they matched us up with other people as they wanted full boatloads. But after 2 minutes Anthony went and harassed them a little and we were off, straight down the jetty with some others that they had quickly scrambled together. You can only imagine the chaos there, people were so confused and most had that stunned mullet look on their faces so it was great to get out.
Bako National Park
The trip there was good, very fast little boats with twin 40 hsp outboards on the back . Too bumpy for videos though. When we arrived at the park we had to take our paper work to their office and then we were free.
We saw some silver leaf monkeys straight away and then the Bornean bearded pig so we got quite excited thinking we had finally found a National Park with wildlife, yahoo. So off we went on one of the trails picked for the birdlife…….we walked and walked , heard nothing, in fact it was deathly quiet. Next thing we are climbing up the side of a mountain back on those dreaded slippery tree roots and rocks again. After about 20 minutes of climbing, we were both drenched with sweat and still no sounds from the jungle and still a long way up that bloody mountain, so we bailed out to find an easier trail. There was only one cafe there so we had lunch early before the masses and chilled out a bit. This heat is really getting to us. We walked up another path and some people had seen a proboscis monkey on it high up in the trees. This path followed the cliffs along the beach. It was also climbing but we had something to look for now so we were very keen. It took a while but we heard them first, crashing around in the trees but couldn’t get a look because of the foliage in front and then after manoeuvring off the path and into the jungle a bit we could see the male and then after a while we spotted the female. They are quite a large primate and they are very hard to spot in the trees, it’s only because we heard them that we knew where to look. It’s hard to believe they’ve been squashed into this last place on the coast. They only live near the mangroves so they won’t be able to survive, they are critically endangered already and were still hunted for their meat not so long ago, very very sad.
It was fantastic to see them so it really made our day. The trip back was good too, the boats all pick you up from the beach at 3 pm, it was a tiring day.
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Today we went for a quick walk in the forest here, we did see some silver leaf monkeys but still no birds, had lunch instead at the Damai Resort on the beach, a very nice spot and a nice lunch. We relaxed around the pool till it cooled off enough to go for a quick drive to Buntal beach about 15 minutes drive as we heard they had a big walkway along the mangroves there. It was really nice and picturesque, the sun was setting, there were kingfishers and other birds around, a really nice spot. But best not to look around too much and see all the rubbish scattered among the mangroves, it’s just everywhere here. I don’t think they know what a beautiful country they have, it’s been hard to get away from the rubbish.
I did a little research because I was concerned about the lack of wildlife in the parks, I mean we are in the Bornean jungles, we were expecting a lot more mammals and birds, but it’s so quiet. They also have a cat problem, starving cats in the parks, you can only imagine what they are eating. I am convinced most of the prize animals are gone, there are still traditional hunters in the parks, and don’t forget most of the forests are wiped out by palm oil or heavily logged so the only place for wildlife is in the parks but they are not protected there. They also have a huge poaching problem, I won’t gabble on about it because I know the world is pretty much stuffed as far as nature is concerned but will include an interesting article I read from an Australian professor of ecology.
Well Hello Everyone……we have been in isolation for the last 4 days. Mulu is a beautiful spot, not really even a village, only 1 little mini mart type shop with nothing in it. We did buy some chocolates there but couldn’t eat them, I think they had been melted over and over in the tropical heat and were pretty disgusting. Thank god the resort had a little very expensive shop that at least had some picnic and crunchie bars.
The Marriott Resort there is absolutely beautiful, the rooms are really nicely set out and furnished, very upper market fittings and the bed was like falling into some soft white fluffy clouds. We loved how it is all built off the ground with so many timber walkways. The pool wasn’t that nice though, just a rectangle with decking and umbrellas etc but it was always full of kiddies, I wish these big resorts could splash out and have a pool for kids and one for adults. We didn’t go in it but felt sorry for some of the adults trying to relax there. Of course everything there is expensive, drinks food even bottled water, which we were sneaky and bought it at the National Park for half price.
slim pickings for Bird pics at Mulu
Every morning we would jump on the shuttle bus and go to the park, only about 10 minutes drive, and when you finish at the park the security there rings the Marriott and they send the bus to pick you up again.
The park is beautiful too and really well set out with quite some kms of timber walkways, very easy to walk around. They had a huge bird tower where you had to get the key to open it which we did everyday. But if you wanted to go to the caves it was all tours, and expensive tours, and very regimented, we really didn’t care for that side of things. We could walk to one cave, the deer cave where more than 3 million bats fly out every evening, just beautiful watching them spiralling into the sky. We even saw an eagle take one out.
Dragon & Damselflies galore at Mulu
We were a bit disappointed though as we really didn’t see a lot of birdlife, the jungle here is full of Tarzan vines we call them so it’s really hard to see through them, but we didn’t hear too many birds either and sat up in the bird tower for quite sometime looking too. We did see heaps of different dragonflies butterflies and some really amazing bugs and gorgeous squirrels so it really wasn’t too bad. The heat got to us though and we had to go back to the resort and sit out the hottest part of the day and then head back in to the park around 3 pm but then it was very quiet.
There were a few Butterflies
We didn’t think the people here were very friendly, we did meet some nice barmaids but generally most of them are very sullen and it seems they really can’t be bothered with us. Apparently the resort is only allowed to hire local people and if one gets upset over something they all do, and it seems they have no competition for their jobs so they don’t try to hard.
Always nice to come across the odd Reptile or two
Squirrels are always fun to watch
No shortage of odd looking bugs
4 days there was well and truly enough and today we flew to Kuching. It seems very clean and a good road system getting out to our new digs, a big step down from the Marriott I’m afraid,no luxuries here but it’s clean and very close to the parks here. It was great to pick up a hire car again as we didn’t have one in Mulu. So now we are super busy as we have so many photos, a video and emails etc to catch up on. We didn’t have phone or wifi at the Marriott for 4 days, they say they have wifi but it doesn’t work. It looks quite scenic around here so hope to get into at least one of the parks tomorrow and also get some scenery photos.
Well we had a great start to the day, got to the park around 8 am and soon as we paid at the gate we wound our windows down and started listening for birds. After only about ten minutes we pulled over as we could hear some birds quite loud, we got out of the car and looked and looked but they were just behind a wall of trees so we couldn’t quite see them. I was looking through my binoculars and all of a sudden I realised I could see some talons on a tree branch and after manoeuvring a bit I could see it was an owl sitting there asleep and the birds were literally flying around his head and he wasn’t one bit bothered. Maybe he had one of them for breakfast and they obviously weren’t happy. We just couldn’t believe it, what a find, if I hadn’t been looking through binoculars we wouldn’t have seen him. Anthony had to put his extender on the camera to get a good photo as it was quite dark in amongst the trees and the owl was quite a distance away. He is a Barred eagle owl, just fantastic to see.
Eagle-eyed Stephanie spotted this Eagle-Owl, just after arriving at the Park.
We then had breakfast at the restaurant in the park but when we came out all we could hear was noise. They are doing a lot of maintenance rebuilding some chalets, I know it’s necessary but when you are looking for birds the last thing you want to hear is a band saw going. Then we thought we would have a quick tour around the botanical gardens as we have seen a few birds there. But guess what…..they were using those very loud petrol blowers, Grrrrrrr 😡😡😡 just our luck.
We went on a little hike along one of the tracks and eventually got away from the noise but I was thinking ……since I’ve been taking videos I have realised how noisy we are as humans. As you’ve probably noticed we don’t have many photos or videos with people in them or peoples noises, but it takes a lot of effort, pretty much if there are people around I don’t bother taking videos and for photos we always get up early or get somewhere early if we want photos of things besides wildlife.
I do wonder though what sort of HUM planet earth must be emitting and I’m sure if there’s alien life out there they must hear us loud and clear.
A few more birds of Kinabalu
Euphaea tricolor is endemic to Borneo
Anthony developed a really bad headache so after lunch we came back to the hotel. This Perkasa hotel was built in 1981 and sadly looks like it…..but it’s on a perk spot up on a hill and we only noticed today that they have a fantastic landing with a great view of the mountain here. This Kinabalu mountain is just amazing, every time you look at it the clouds have either totally covered it or there’s some type of picturesque cloud hovering around it, it really is a very majestic brooding mountain.
We are hoping to get some nice morning photos from the landing before we check out and head back to Kota Kinabalu for our flight around lunch time to Mulu, which is another place in Borneo but in the Sarawak region.
Wow what a day, started the day fresh as daisies, got up nice and early, had a quick breakfast at the restaurant here and were away by 8 am to climb this mountain where there’s a beautiful waterfall. We had to walk through the hot baths to get to the waterfall track and the staff were cleaning everything, getting it all ready for another busy day. It was really peaceful there this morning, nobody there.
Well the track pretty much went straight up for 3 hours, very gnarly roots and lots of slippery rocks so quite slow going. We weren’t in a hurry anyway as we wanted to spot some critters on the way. It’s 3.400 mtrs to the falls so quite a way. We went past some bat caves which was fantastic listening to the little bats squeaking to each other and it looks like they have some great caves to hang out in there. Anthony had been trying to get good photos of the White capped Sharma which is a very elusive secretive bird, we have seen quite a few but they are always hiding in the dark shadows of the trees so imagine our surprise when there was one on the path, busily munching away on some ants and was quite happy for us to get close and get some great photos.
And then along comes a Great Argus……we thought these big turkey like birds were extinct as they have been hunted for so long because of their beautiful long tail feathers. Wow what a big beautiful bird and so great to see one.
The butterflies along this track were amazing too, we saw so many different ones and as you all know….they are very difficult to photograph. They never seem to sit for long and then they also never sit where you want them too but Anthony got some great photos of some today. We saw quite a few small birds and heard a few but they were quite elusive.
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It’s always so rewarding to climb up to a waterfall and this one didn’t disappoint, Langanan falls is spectacular, we haven’t seen a big waterfall like this for quite sometime. It was nice and cool up there so we hung around for a bit, there were a few dragonflies and butterflies up there too so that kept Anthony busy. Then we realised it would be at least 2 hours to climb back down….and we were starving, of course we didn’t take anything to eat with us, only water, we certainly aren’t the smartest hikers around. And it was a really slow plod coming back down, quite treacherous under foot so had to be careful. We quickly raced over the road to a little restaurant we had been to yesterday to gobble down some late lunch, it was 2 pm and we had started climbing at 8 am. I’m sure we will wake up a bit sore tomorrow, it was quite jarring on the knees and ankles.
We just relaxed the rest of the afternoon, in the morning we want to quickly visit the tropical gardens here and then head down to Mount Kinabalu for another 2 nights. We are staying in a hotel instead of a farm stay, won’t make that mistake again.
Our 2 nights in Sandakan went really well. The first night we went into the city which isn’t really as big as we first thought, and it has a different feel to it, almost like being in a different country. The drive in from the hotel is nice and tropical and really tidy with trees and plants in the median strip and not much rubbish. We had to get some supplies so found a supermarket and there are loads of shops and the city has a Harbour with all little makeshift restaurants along the harbour wall. We walked to the last restaurant which had more of a landing and wasn’t so busy, had a great meal and we were quite close to a navy patrol boat so Anthony could have some nostalgia and reminisce about his navy days.
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Yesterday we got up early as we wanted to have breakfast early and then drove about 10 minutes back out of the city to this beautiful Rainforest Park. What a fantastic spot, it has a very wide concrete path all the way round and actually some of it we were on tippy toes pushing up the very steep hills. We didn’t see a lot there, every time we did see something Anthony couldn’t get a photo because his glasses were steaming up so much….it was really humid and steamy there. There’s a couple of trails but we didn’t have our hiking boots on so gave them a miss as they looked a bit overgrown. There’s also a pitcher plant garden, i think it’s all quite new and would be even nicer if they had a cafe there. I love how they made good use of the old tyres for planters, I mean I’ve seen that before but usually old tyres in gardens even when painted still look like horrible used tyres but they have cut out the tops to make them more artistic.
We stopped at the English Tea House for an early lunch, it’s just past our hotel and up a steep hill, the view from there is nice and the gardens and setting there for lunch was just fantastic. We drove past the city to where all the houses are built out from the shore on stilts and jetties but sadly this also turned into the standard rubbish tip, we wanted to capture the houses somehow but was impossible with all the rubbish.
The rest of the afternoon was very relaxing, I did manage to talk Anthony into coming down to the pool and pulling up a banana lounge and even going for a swim. But honestly you just have to look at the pool to want to relax there. Banana lounging isn’t really our thing as we have done that so much in earlier times but this was like a really special treat, my pina colada was the best I have ever had so I had to have another. Of course if you do this all the time ……on go the kilos and you sleep a lot, it makes you very very sleepy. We had plans to go back down the harbour for tea but a really big storm was coming at speed so we had a fantastic meal at the hotel restaurant.
This morning we drove back into the city to get some photos of the harbour but actually it looks better at night, daylight has revealed it’s also a rubbish tip…..along the harbour and rocks just so much rubbish and floating in the water there. You can see Turtle Island from there and that is supposed to be a turtle conservation area and I have read about the pristine waters there and white beaches etc, I haven’t been there so can’t comment but those turtles must just have a mine field of plastics to navigate through. It’s a real sad reality to see firsthand how much rubbish is going into the ocean here.
We had the big horror drive today back to the other side of Borneo. It only took 3 hours this time as it’s Sunday and not too many trucks on the road and no torrential downpours.
We are now in Poring Springs. We have a nice cottage type room with a veranda, nothing like our last hotel but this is nice and clean and has its own bathroom, the only thing missing is a fridge but you don’t get that very often in Borneo. There’s some walks here to waterfalls and supposed to be good birding, also the hot springs which we quickly checked out, obviously being Sunday it was just crazy with masses of people all lazing in these baths, definitely not our cup of tea. I know the water is supposed to be very therapeutic but with all the human noise there I’m not sure what sort of therapy it would be. We did a quick walk up to the canopy walk with swing bridges but you had to queue behind so many people and weren’t allowed to take your own photos but had to pay them to take a photo of you. What a tourist rip off, we couldn’t stand it waiting for people to get their paid selfies so turned around and came back to the room to relax a bit. So our first impression of Poring Springs isn’t so good but hopefully tomorrow when all the masses have gone we might have a better experience.
Hello everyone, we woke up early and not a cloud in the sky,though a bit misty. We took off to the jungle for our last morning there. We were expecting a lot, thinking to quickly get up high on the walkways in the canopy as surely all the birds would be sitting there drenched after raining most of the night and trying to dry off in the morning sun. But it was very quiet, we did see the Wallace’s hawk eagle drying himself and also a giant squirrel but we were a bit disappointed really. The mist and the sun through the trees was beautiful though and you could hear the jungle just dripping. We did a circuit like we normally do but didn’t see much at all so went back to the resort.
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We hung around there till midday as there was no hurry to get to the big smoke (Sandakan). Anthony got some great photos of some birds coming in to feed on the ripening bunch of bananas just next to the restaurant, we always sit at a table where we can keep an eye on whose visiting the bananas and Anthony can quickly jump up and click off some amazing photos. We also saw a micro bat flying in and tucking himself under some dead banana fronds, it’s quite amazing to see how many animals are relying on this one banana tree. They let them ripen here for the birds etc but as you know, in a commercial sense nothing would ever get to eat them as they are covered with a heavy duty bag, sprayed with chemicals and chopped off before being any where near ripe. Such is life.
Sometimes I think about our old place in the tropics in Kuranda NQ, and think we could have done more for the birds, like plant some bananas and more fruiting trees. We did have some lychee trees next to our driveway and we used to love going out at night when they were ripe and they were full of big beautiful fruit bats, the sound was deafening but it felt so good to give them something. So many people hate bats but without them you wouldn’t have any rainforest and then we certainly wouldn’t be able to breathe. And I haven’t heard anyone say that they hated breathing…..makes you think doesn’t it?…
Anyway enough rambling, we are in our very swish hotel in Sandakan now, the Sabah Hotel Sandakan . We have come up in the world, had a nice lunch and I just had to have a sleep, we are exhausted after our last week of jungle ventures. There’s a fantastic pool here so will try to have a dip tomorrow, we are here for two nights.
Well as you can see we had another amazing day in the Sepilok Jungle. We got up extra early this morning to get there by 6.30 am and there were a lot more bird sounds going on that’s for sure. It was really nice and cool too until around 9 am then it started steaming again. We had a bit of a woodpecker day, seeing the white fronted ones very early from the canopy walk, we hadn’t seen any up there before so maybe it’s their early morning thing. They were very vocal too and flying from tree to tree, getting photos didn’t look too promising even though we were on top of one of the towers. The trees are even higher and we could only just see them on the opposite side of the tree. Patience payed off though and eventually they decided to come on our side and Anthony got some great photos. When we were almost back to the start of the canopy walk I spotted another two woodpeckers, the crimson winged ones this time and so close, only maybe 6 feet away, one had just come back from having a bath he looked so scruffy, some more great photos.
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Some woodpeckers at Sepilok Rainforest
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more birds from today
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A couple of other critters
We went back to the resort for breakfast, then back to the jungle, then lunch at the Banana cafe, then back to the jungle again. So we had a great day, and saw so many other birds, also saw the orangutans a few times, you just can’t miss them, they certainly break some branches as they swing around the place, you wouldn’t want to be standing underneath one. I finally finished my little video of the resort and our chalet, so please enjoy.
We had a storm while having tea, at last some rain to cool things down, it’s still raining but hoping it’s passed by the morning as we want to go back to the Jungle very early.
All went well for our big move back to the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort. We put off the epic 20 minute drive for as long as could. We had breakfast at the hotel and did all our laundry at the very flash Mr Dobi laundromat just over the road. It’s quite amazing as this town (Labuk) is so grotty and smelly and the shops and restaurants look very shabby, huge cockroaches scuttle around the pavements at night and I would hate to think what lurks down in those smelly drains 😬😬😬, then they have this state of the art laundromat with ten brand new enormous front loaders and matching dryers above, all open roller doors and fans, the machines have their own internal detergent and you put money in another machine to get tokens which are fed into the machines. I should have taken a photo as even in Australia We have never seen such a schmick laundromat.
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So eventually we had to drag ourselves from the airconditioned room and hit the road to the resort, we dropped our bags at reception as we were too early for the chalet to be ready. We wandered around the gardens and they also have a lake and lots of dragonflies, a few different ones so Anthony was in heaven for a little while till he realised his scone was getting burnt in the hot midday sun. I of course was standing in the shade pointing things out with my binoculars.
We had lunch then headed down the road to the jungle again, the girls at the ticket office know us now and are always happy and friendly it’s almost like we are Sepilok locals.
We didn’t think we would see too much being the hottest time of the day and its always pretty quiet walking around. But we are getting good……. I’m turning into the eagle eyed spotter and Anthony is turning into the Stealth master, so many times now I just say STOP when I’ve spotted something and then he takes a few far away photos and then very slowly step by step gets closer and closer resulting in some pretty amazing photos as you can see. It really takes some patience though.
The Red Naped Trogon was an absolute prize….I just couldn’t believe it when I spotted this little patch of red among the greenery, we were on one of the canopy walks and he was actually sitting in the open so we had to be super sneaky and super quiet as those big steel walkways are quite creaky and noisy.
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So we had another fantastic day here, our new chalet is better than the other one we had, it’s higher with a nicer view and lighter as the other one was down in the rainforest. We love the food here too, I was really looking forward to my pina colada tonight, they do them really well here and a nice reward after a hard day spotting. So please enjoy the photos, I’m getting a video together of the resort so will post that tomorrow.
We had another great day in the Sepilok Jungle. There’s not much cloud cover so it’s been ridiculously hot. We have a pretty good routine though and try to walk the suspended walkways first as they get quite hot and you are really exposed in some places.Plus the towers are very high which means lots of steps and by the afternoon we are very tired, the heat and humidity certainly takes it out of you. It’s hard to keep concentrating too, sometimes you can go quite sometime without seeing or hearing anything and then we seem to go into a torpor or start chatting while we are walking and then of course we aren’t looking. For lunch we have been going to the Banana cafe, today the owners son Jason found a little whip snake for us, just beautiful and we would never have spotted him, he just blended in so well with his surroundings. Jason and his dad John are getting to know us now as we are there every day and always tell us what they have seen there or if there’s anything around the lake. We come back to the hotel around 5 ish and have been having tea in the restaurant downstairs which is ok and we always seem to be their only customers which is weird.
We saw Orangutans a few times again, a young mum and junior were on the suspended walkway this morning and had quite a crowd all trying to desperately get selfies with the orangutans in the background. I wonder what they think of us, sometimes I’m embarrassed to be a human, these people didn’t even move when they came so close and the sad bit is they pulled all the garbage out of one of the bins and were drinking the dregs from Pepsi coke cans and licking food wrappers even though the sign at the start of the walrk says no food or drinks allowed, obviously for a good reason. I guess some people would think it quite funny but whenever humans get too close to wildlife and an altercation happens where the human gets hurt it’s always the animal that gets euthanased. I think they should have people posted around the park to keep an eye on peoples behaviour, I mean you couldn’t get that close to any animals in a zoo and all the animals here are wild.
Apart from that we got a few more new birds we hadn’t seen before which is always exciting. And we had a huge flock of hornbills flying quite low through the trees right over our heads which was great.
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Tomorrow we are moving back to the Sepilok Forest edge resort where we stayed in the chalet before. It will be nice to be back there. But it’s only for 2 nights then we will have a rest from the jungle for 2 nights in Sandakan. Enjoy the pics.