Some Sepilok Birds

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher – One of our Sepilok Favourites

 

Wow what a day….We were really relaxed this morning and tried really hard to be stealthy and very quiet and it really paid off. I think we have realised that rainforest birds are very very secretive and really don’t do much. They just sit….usually behind something, they hardly make a sound and they hardly fly, just a quick spurt to the next branch that is why they are so hard to spot. So many times one of us will spot something and the other just cannot see it no matter how hard you look, they are so well hidden and you really just have to be looking in the right spot at the right time.

 

Rufous-collared Kingfisher (male)
Rufous-collared Kingfisher (male)

 

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

 

Diard’s Trogon (Female)
Diard’s Trogon (Female)

 

Buff-rumped Woodpecker
Buff-rumped Woodpecker

 

So we had a great time, finally got to walk half of the Pitta trail as it’s quite long, you can cut back through the middle past an enormous tree called the Sepilok giant, just fantastic to see a big tree like that. I did take a few video snippets today but will put them all together when I have more. It’s been impossible to get good videos of these birds, just too far away or by the time I get focused on them they are already gone. But I love looking at them through binoculars as well and I try to follow them so Anthony can get good photos, we are a good team.

Click or press image for larger view 

Besides the photos we saw the young male orangutan again carrying around a huge jackfruit, so cool to see them so often, also saw a couple of water monitors and of course other birds that we just haven’t been able to get photos off but we will keep trying. Tomorrow’s another day and we are really looking forward to it.

Bye Steph and Anthony.

And there were Dragonflies 

Grenadier - Agrionoptera insignis
Grenadier – Agrionoptera insignis

Back to Sepilok

Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha
A normally very secretive Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, popped out long enough for me to take a pic.

Hello everyone, we are in better spirits today, didn’t bother with breakfast this morning, we walked along the road a bit as it’s right next to the river but didn’t see many birds just lots of cars driving past and the standard loud music coming from a house up the road. So we just bailed out early, the drive back to the Banana cafe was just under 2 hours, it was like going home, we had our standard omelette and toast with iced lemon tea. Then we were back at the discovery centre by 11 am, a bit cooler today as we had a torrential downpour last night and also a bit overcast. We did the usual walking around, saw quite a few critters but of course getting photos is another story, but Anthony did get some great shots of a Malkoha and a Broadbill. We saw lots of.black hornbills but not close enough for photos, also another orangutan so it’s just great slowly walking around trying to spot things.

 

 

We booked into the Pavillion Hotel back in Labuk and will be here for 3 nights, it’s around 15 to 20 mins to drive to the discovery centre which is ok so we are happy, we will be back in the chalet again for a few nights after that. We are really upping our chances of seeing as much as possible. Enjoy the pics.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

 

Kinabalu Park – Sabah

Bornean Green Magpie (Eye lashes courtesy of ‘Maybelline’)

Well the last few days have been interesting…..we are battling headaches most days as we can’t find espresso coffee anywhere and their semi percolated watered down glimpse of coffee with UHT milk is literally killing us. All of a sudden Thailand seems like heaven on earth and Borneo is losing flavour real fast.

 

Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu, Highest Peak in SE Asia (4095m)

 

Mount Kinabalu Park was amazing, we loved it there, after we arrived at our new digs (Hovel Central ) as I called it and when you see the video you will see why, and no the bed was very hard and the shower just warm and we had to wear flip flops to go to the loo after we had showers…… I won’t go on about it because I’m probably exaggerating, being so crabby without my usual caffeine fixes.
Anyway we hightailed it to park as we got there quite early about 1pm, drove around a bit, saw a few birds, visited the restaurant for lunch there , the weather was great and we were really excited about visiting the next day.
Click or press image for larger view 
After a horrible sleep at Hovel Central we got back to the park, blue sky just beautiful, all the birds were chirping and so many sounds we couldn’t recognise, but we decided to have breakfast first before we started on one of the many hikes there, and as we were having our omelettes the wind really picked up and then shock horror we saw very low clouds scooting in at speed and within minutes it was just bucketing down. We just sat there stunned , we sat there for quite some time praying for it to clear and really didn’t like our only option of going back to the hovel which by the way didn’t have power and water when we woke up that morning. But we couldn’t stay there and sadly drove back, at least the power and water was back on and it wasn’t raining there at all as it was down and away from the mountain. We sat there for a while and decided to give the park another go as it hadn’t rained and the sky was overcast but looked a bit lighter. We are so glad we did, it didn’t rain after that and we just drove around on the bitumen with our windows down and stopped when we heard birds and Anthony got some fantastic photos, check out the eyelashes on the green magpie….what a beautiful bird and  so noisy, you certainly know when they are around. You may also notice the bands on all the birds little legs?????? We have no idea what that is about, and how on earth did they manage to capture and band nearly every bird we saw….. very disturbing🙁🙁
Click or press on Image to view larger 
We had lunch again and spent all afternoon driving and looking and spotting, it really turned into a fantastic day.
IMG_3672
A short Video of our Kinabalu experience 
So now we come to TODAY
It was our last day there and we were pretty much going to do the same thing as yesterday except we woke up to rain…….Decided to go into the park anyway and wait for it to clear and we do like the omelettes at the restaurant . So there we sat…..rain rain and more rain and not much wind so guess it wasn’t going to clear real soon, we had to make an executive decision to forgo our last nights stay at the hovel and
just hit the road as it was going to be about a 4 hour drive across Borneo to the Sandakan / Sepilok area. Anthony tried to book a day earlier into the accomodation we had booked there but it was full, so we decided to just get to a hotel close to there for the night.
Anthony couldn’t believe how quickly I packed, usually he’s waiting for me doing all the bathroom stuff but I was pretty keen to leave Hovel Central as a bad memory and move onto better experiences.
Soon as we got away from the mountain and down in altitude it stopped raining which was nice. The road conditions are dangerous to put it nicely, they have these red signs just everywhere with ‘AWAS’ written on them, I guess it must mean Beware or Danger. Also Borneans must be up there with the most dangerous and risk taking drivers in the world, really hairy driving here. We stopped about halfway at a KFC, because we really felt like chips……Oh my god the smells coming out of the drains in that town were horrendous, all the towns so far have been very dirty, rubbish just everywhere, it’s quite depressing really.
A little while later it started raining again and got torrential, I don’t know how our little Honda hire car managed to get here unscathed and no busted tyres as you really couldn’t see the road at all for water and we hit so many potholes and craters it certainly was a drive to remember. Anthony really had to concentrate, and also a lot of very slow trucks to overtake it certainly was a challenge.
We have to actually go back that way in a couple of weeks but trying not to think about that just yet.
So we are now relaxing in our nice hotel…nice clean shower, soft bed….we walked into the town just here  in downtown Labuk, people were just staring at us, I guess they don’t get tourists here. We asked at a cafe with a big logo of a coffee cup on the front if they have espresso but oh no you can’t get it anywhere here.😢😢😢😢
So we went to the local supermarket, bought instant coffees and uht milk and will just have to suffer. Looks like the rain is easing so please cross your fingers so we can get out and about back to nature tomorrow.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

The Crocker Ranges – Kota Kinabalu

Crocker Nature Centre, a sub-station of the Crocker Ranges NP

Well we made it to Borneo ok, though we really don’t like the transition days, that extra dry air in the airports and planes really irritates my eyes and you can’t seem to get real food anywhere, even the more restaurant type eateries proclaim to have nice meals on their glossy boards out the front but they are all lying, we get really sick of eating plastic food but sometimes you just don’t have a choice. We had a horror flight for the last leg from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu with screaming babies and annoying hyped up children, maybe it’s all the plastic food they are eating but so many children now seem like they are just uncontainable 🤔🤔

We picked up the hire car at the airport, a new SIM card for Malaysia and some local money of course. Thank God our hotel was only 7 minutes from the airport which was great to be able to relax again. The hotel C’haya is ok, a bit run down but clean, the towels are extremely thin…..but it has a fantastic seafood restaurant next door so we have eaten there the last two nights. We walked around the little township here, I don’t think it has a name but it’s between the city and the airport, but not much here, also a bit run down and the standard rubbish that is littered along the sides of roads and waterways etc. After walking around and seeing some other shabby hotels we realised our hotel is probably the flashiest digs in town, so we better stop whining.

Some very relaxed Water Buffalo on our trip up the Range

Today we had a choice of two amazing places in nature to visit, quite a drive away and in two different directions. The place that had the most birdlife,  The Rafflesia Centre was the first choice, we were worried maybe it wasn’t open being a Sunday…..Anthony read on the internet that it had been closed in March so we thought it was worth the risk to go out there and Bingo….it was closed, and looks like it has been closed for quite some time.
So then we drove to our second choice which was around 1 and a half hours drive away, so we stopped in the main town on the way Keningau actually went to the Pizza Hut….yes very strange for us I know but it was hot and all the other run down cafes were out door seating and we knew the Pizza Hut would be air conditioned.
Driving in the mountains here though is beautiful, the roads are fantastic, a lot of places with two lanes, lots of crazy drivers too of course all out for a Sunday race I think, it gets a bit hairy sometimes. But Anthony loves driving like that too.😬😬
The Crocker Range Nature Centre was open, hooray, and we had it to ourselves, no one in sight, unbelievable. We did a 3 km hike through the jungle, yes with a few leeches but made sure we saturated our socks with repellent this time so no probs. Saw a few birds, the broadbill was amazing and sitting right out in the open. We couldn’t dilly dally too long though as we had a 2 hour drive to get back too so if we had of known the other place was closed we would have just gone to this place and spent more time there.
The 3km Jungle trek was simply breathtaking 
You can never rush birdwatching, it really takes time and you have to be scanning the trees all the time. The drive back down the mountain was amazing, so steep in places but like I said… a great road, some stretches were 16 % and even a couple of 19%  very steep descents that went on for ever but finally we hit the coast with its bumper to bumper traffic, both ways just crazy, put a bit of a damper on the day having to battle traffic after being in such beautiful nature has got knobs on it.
So tomorrow we are off to the big mountain… Mount Kinabalu, we can see it from here in the distance, it’s around 4,000 mtrs high, massive, we aren’t climbing it as you have to book it way in advance and that would just be way too iffy with the weather. It’s also a huge national park with heaps of trails so hopefully we will get to see amazing birds there.
A few of the birds and butterflies spotted on the Trek
By the way, the big Atlas moth I picked up outside some shops in the mountains, he wasn’t in the best condition, I think he must of been hit by a car so I put him in some bushes and hope he recovered, he just seemed a bit dazed, what a beautiful creature.
Atlas Moth
The giant Atlas moth
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.