Sunday 25 May 2014

Kinabalu National Park, Sabah - May 2014 (Part 3)

13th May: After a better night sleep, we woke up at 5am, quickly freshen up we headed out with the car. The plan was to drive straight up to Timpohon Gate and get there before sunrise. Timpohon gate is the main entrance for hikers who wish to challenge the summit to go through, you can walk the first part of the summit trail without any guide, as long as you pay the entrance fee, however if you go any further permission is needed and they require you to get a guide. We however have no intension to go up there, and since most endemics except the Friendly Bush Warbler can be found below the gate we decided not to go in. Looking at past reports, I have heard that Everett's Thrush may forage along the roadside before dawn, however we saw nothing of that sort for the few days we were there, only Whistling Thrushes.

Upon arrival, we waited at the metal platform of the Timpohon Gate, this is a good place because it sits above the trees and is bright enough to see the surrounding areas. The first birds that appeared were a flock of Sunda Laughingthrush and Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush. A Bornean Whistling Thrush decided to make an appearance at the platform, eating up some leftover biscuits someone have left on the railings from the day before. This individual we saw at the gate seems to be quite tamed, however there's an infection with it's foot which might explain it's unusual behavior.  Another individual was observed at the public toilet.

Sunda Laughingthrush

Bornean Whistling Thrush

As the sky brightens up, we heard Red-breasted Partridge calling, this is one of two endemic partridges you can find on Mt. Kinabalu. With some playbacks we managed to drew a pair close towards the platform, suddenly they appeared! right beneath us, foraging away and seems very much unbothered by our existence. After some satisfying views for ten minutes (behind metal fences!), they disappeared into the jungle.

Red-breasted Partridge

More birds joined in as the sun rose higher, including Mountain Blackeyes and Mountain Leaf Warblers, others include Grey-chinned Minivets, Chestnut-crested Yuhinas, Black-capped White-eyes and White-throated Fantails.

Mountain Blackeye

Mountain Leaf Warbler

White-throated Fantail

We decided to walk down the Liwagu trail, it's the longest trail so we thought we would walk the first part down the hill and back up to our car. The first bird we saw here was a Sunda Bush Warbler, it was very curious and came within a meter to us upon hearing a playback. We heard Orange-backed Woodpecker calling, but it didn't want to show, staying a long distance away. A flock of Yellow-breasted Warbler, Bornean Whistler and Grey-throated Babbler however were more cooperative.

Sunda Bush Warbler

Grey-throated Babbler

Yellow-breasted Warbler

A Mountain Wren-Babbler called very close by, a little playback reveal it's location, but it mostly stayed in cover, however gave us prolonged views of this modest looking endemic.

Mountain Wren-Babbler

We turned around when we got to the river, the steep hike back up was just as productive in a form of a fine male Crimson-headed Partridge! It was not bothered by our presence and called from a log to it's mate. Feeling lucky to have seen both endemic partridges close up on one single morning, we headed back down the hill. On the way down we spotted a female Snowy-browed Flycatcher in the car, which allowed us to get a pretty close look at it.

Crimson-headed Partridge

Snowy-browed Flycatcher female

Our car stopped at the entrance of the Mempening Trail, which we decided to take a short walk into the trail. About 20 meters in, a bird flew and perched on a branch close-by, and what a bird it was! A male Fruithunter! What a smart looking bird, gathering moss for it's nest. It perched for a minute or so, allowing some photographs to be taken and flew away out of sight. At the same location, a pair of Orange-backed Woodpeckers started calling and perched above us, obviously curious to our playbacks, they moved on shortly leaving us with just their calls echoing. Things quiet down a little after that, seeing little except a Mountain Tailorbird, which I think give a slightly different call to those we have in Hong Kong, there is an extra note in their wobble, but other then that pretty similar.


Orange-backed Woodpecker

Mountain Tailorbird

After lunch at the Liwagu Restaurant, we birded at the garden outside again, rain started to fall but a few birds still decided to make an appearance, including Black-capped White-eyes, Black-sided Flowerpeckers, Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush and a Golden-naped Barbet; a bird we hear constantly but only showed itself this one time. We wanted to walk the Silau-Silau trail again, however the rain didn't stop so we called it a day.

Black-capped White-eye

Black-sided Flowerpecker

Golden-naped Barbet

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush

To be continued...

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