A week in Toowoomba / Redwood Park

Regent Bowerbird - Redwood Park Toowoomba
The stunning Regent Bowerbird of Lower Redwood Park

 

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.

 

Little Corella Flyby
Little Corella Flyby, Toowoomba Showgrounds Lagoon

 

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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.
Crested Shrike Tit - Lower Redwood Park
Crested Shrike Tit – Lower Redwood Park
Scarlet Honeyeater - Lower Redwood Park
Scarlet Honeyeater – Lower Redwood Park

 

More birds of Redwood Park
Spotted Pardalote - Redwood Park
Spotted Pardalote – 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.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.
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Birds and critters of Redwood Park

And a couple of ring’ins

Sunshine Coast to Toowoomba

Glass House Mountains from Maleny, Sunshine Coast Hinterland

 

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A short Vid featuring Mary Cairncross Park and Ewen Maddock Dam

Have always enjoyed Montville

We had a great 4 days back in Landsborough, the weather was fantastic and we managed to catch up with family there which is always good. We also visited some of our favourite places, Ewan Maddock Dam never disappoints and the view over the glass house mountains from Mary Cairncross Park is just fantastic. We walked around the park for a bit, couldn’t believe the bird sounds in there, we saw a lot of our old Aussie favourite birds, I don’t think I’ve heard so many whip birds in one place though. We found a great brunch spot at the Poets Corner in Montville. Honestly it’s nice to go out and have a nice cuppochino again and this cafe was so good we had two.

 

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So today we hitched up and headed up to Toowoomba. All went well and it’s nice to be back here too. The mornings will be chilly but the days should be nice and sunny, we are looking forward to visiting our little bird hotspot down the range at redwood park. It’s very dry here though so hope the little creek there is still flowing for the little birdies to have a bath. We do have to get on top of some maintenance issues though…..we always do this scales thing……like should we wash and polish the van or go out looking for birds, 🤔🤔🤔 you can guess which one wins. Oh well, we will try, will keep you posted.
Cheers, Steph and Anthony.

 

Last days in Borneo

Silver Leaf Monkey
Silver Leaf Monkey, quite a common sight in the jungles of Sarawak

 

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A short Video from Sarawak

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.

 

Just for something different, a nice flower

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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.
The only way to Bako NP is by boat
Our Transport to Bako NP

 

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.
A large Male Proboscis Monkey
A large Male Proboscis Monkey Looking very much like a drunken Sailor !!!
Female Proboscis Monkey
Female Proboscis Monkey
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Bornean Bearded Pig
Amazed to see a Bornean Bearded Pig waltzing up the beach
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.
View over to Bako from Buntal Bay
View over to Bako from Buntal Bay

 

Buntal Bay raised walkway over the mangroves
A nice monument at the beginning of a raised walkway of the mangroves.
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.

This is our last night in Borneo, we had some amazing times seeing amazing wildlife, but doubt we will return.
Off to Malaysia tomorrow.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

Some extra last day pics around our Digs

Mulu National Park – Sarawak

Mulu National Park
The picturesque Mulu National Park

 

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Some Images of Mulu National Park

 

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Some snippets of our time in Mulu NP.

 

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.
Scarlet-rumped Trogon
A Prize find for us – Scarlet-rumped Trogon
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.
Tree Hugger Dragonfly - Tyriobapta torrida
Tree Hugger Dragonfly
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.
Butterflies of Mulu
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.
Bornean Pit Viper
Saw this Bornean Pit Viper on the way out of the Park on the last day.
Always nice to come across the odd Reptile or two

A Common Squirrel feasting
Squirrels are always fun to watch

Red Millipede (Trachelomegalus modestior)
Red Millipede of Mulu
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.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

An amazing week at Sepilok ends

‘Morning mist in the canopy’ Our last day at Sepilok Rainforest.

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Sepilok Video Snippets

 

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.

Wallace’s Hawk Eagle Drying out after heavy overnight rain

 

Click or press images for larger View 

 

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.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Still in Sepilok

Oddly this sculpture can be seen on the way out of Sandakan.

 

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Our Digs Forest  Edge Resort, Sepilok 

 

Crimson Winged Woodpecker
Crimson-winged Woodpecker

 

Bushy-Crested Hornbill
Black and Red Broadbill

 

Bushy-Crested Hornbill
Bushy-Crested Hornbill

 

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 

 

Brown-Throated Sunbird
Brown-Throated Sunbird

 

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more birds from today

 

Young Orangutan
Young Orangutan

 

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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.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Sepilok, Day 7

Red-naped Trogon
Red-naped Trogon

 

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

 

 

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.

 

Yellow Striped Flutterer. Rhyothemis phyllis
Yellow Striped Flutterer. Rhyothemis phyllis

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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.
Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker
Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker

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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.
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.
Pygmy Squirrel
And we spotted this major cute Pygmy Squirrel

Another day in the Sepilok Rainforest

Adult Female Orangutan
Adult Female Orangutan on the canopy walkway

 

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.

Keel-bellied Whip Snake Dryophiops rubescens
Keel-bellied whip snake at the Banana Cafe
Copper Throated Sunbird
Copper Throated Sunbird In the Gardens at Sepilok Rainforest

 

Jewel Damselfly - Rhinocypha humeralis
Jewel Damselfly

 

Pale Blue Flycatcher
Bath time – Pale Blue Flycatcher
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.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.