Last days in Borneo

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

 

IMG_3672

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

Click or press image for larger view

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
Click or press image for larger view
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

 

Click or press image for larger view 

Some Images of Mulu National Park

 

IMG_3672

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.

Langanan Waterfall Trek

Langanan Falls, Poring

 

IMG_3672

Langanan Waterfall Trek

 

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.
White-capped Sharma
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.
Click or press for larger view 
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.
Bye Steph and Anthony.

An amazing week at Sepilok ends

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

IMG_3672

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.

 

IMG_3672

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.

Click or press image for larger view 

 

Some woodpeckers at Sepilok Rainforest 

 

Brown-Throated Sunbird
Brown-Throated Sunbird

 

Press or click image for larger view 

 

more birds from today

 

Young Orangutan
Young Orangutan

 

Click or press image for larger view 

 

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

Click or press image for larger view 

 

 

 

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

Press or click on Image for larger view 

 

 

 

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

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.

 

Orangutans of Sepilok

 

Bornean Orangutan - Wild and Free
Bornean Orangutan – Wild and Free

Click or press to view larger image

 

IMG_3672

Check out our Orangutan and friends footage here

 

Day 2 in Paradise certainly didn’t disappoint. We finally got to see Orangutans in the wild, it’s been something that was very high on our bucket list and we spotted them 4 times today. A huge highlight in our lives to see these amazing creatures just going about their daily business of swinging through the trees and eating jack fruit. We just hope they can hang on to these last remaining pockets of forest because as you all know…. in the end it’s all about money and when the big knobs want more land for palm oil I guess they will get it.

Click or press to view larger Image

Another fantastic day at Sepilok Rainforest and Gardens

We try really hard not to buy anything with Palm oil in it but I tell you what, it’s in everything, and half the time it’s not even listed as palm oil, very very sneaky horrible people.
Anthony had some problems with his camera today, it was over exposing all the photos so we had a few hours sitting in the airconditioned chalet and with the help of Dr  Camera Google managed to fix it, thank God.

 

Well we only have tomorrow morning left here so we will again go to the discovery centre, there’s a Pita walk, it’s a track goes for about 2 hours, we are hoping to see at least one Pita there. Surely it’s not much to ask for, hopefully the Pig tailed Macaques aren’t there as we had to quickly do a u turn today as the big male took a dislike to us and came rushing down a tree and cut us off on the path, we retreated and found another path to get back on, he is well known for being quite aggressive. We met another couple there who also had a run in with them where the macaques surrounded them and some were growling at them, they ran for it, scared the living daylights out of them as you can imagine.
Anyway enjoy the pics and video.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok

Happy to be in Paradise, Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre

 

Well you are probably thinking after that blog yesterday that we have packed our bags and are hightailing it out of Borneo and heading home but this morning we woke up fresh as daisies, the skies had cleared, the instant coffees are keeping our headaches at bay and we knew today we were going back to nature.

We only had around a 20 minute drive to our new digs, a chalet in the rainforest…,,yes you did hear that right, hasn’t it got a beautiful ring to it. It’s called the Sepilok Forest Edge Resort. We knew we couldn’t check in till 2 pm but we rocked up around 10 am and left our luggage at the reception and they said they would take it to our chalet when it was ready…..we had passed a cafe sign just up the road so we headed there first for some brunch, great omelette and toast.
There was this huge decking with all the tables and chairs and it overlooked a man made lake with a little island in the middle and the most picturesque setting, so many flowering plants and of course birds everywhere. We had left our stuff in the car so Anthony went and got his camera and quickly got some photos of the little green lizard and the Hornbill sitting quietly in a tree. What a beautiful spot, it really lifted our spirits.
Click or press on image for larger view 

 

We then drove to the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre  only 2 kms down the road.
Click or Press on Image for larger view 
Well wow what can I say the nature gods are smiling upon us and dropped us right in the middle of paradise. We spent the rest of the day here, it’s very tropical after all that rain I guess, but we didn’t care, just so many birds and other critters here.

 


 


IMG_3672
check out today’s video at the Rainforest Discovery Centre 
We came back to our chalet, all good, the restaurant is fantastic so will try to get some photos around here and the banana cafe with the lake. We have a lake here too but didn’t have time to explore today, we will be pretty keen get back it the discover centre in the morning., we might cancel some other things we had planned so we can come back here, absolutely fantastic.Enjoy the pics and video, we are here for two nights.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.