Wednesday 28 May 2014

Kinabalu National Park, Sabah - May 2014 (Part 6)

16th May: We started our walk at 5:30am, park staff waited for us at the ticket checking booth to hand over our packed breakfast, we walked through the hot springs and made our way to the beginning of the trail. We stationed ourselves at a little garden beside the Langanan Waterfall trail's gate entrance, it's a good place to wait for birds activity as it's considerably brighter then the surrounding areas. The first activity started around 5:45am, as a flock of noisy Horsfield's Babbler foraged along the path. A Grey-cheeked Bulbul soon joined in, along with a Bornean Spiderhunter. We also saw a flying squirrel gliding across the trees!

Grey-cheeked Bulbul

Horsfield's Babbler

We started our steep climb to the waterfall, the trail was a bit wider then those at Mt. Kinabalu, but the rain have made it very slippery at some sections, a few fallen branches and trees blocked our way at a few locations. The other problem will be leeches, you can't go five minutes without seeing one making it's way up your shoes! So, leech socks will be highly recommended. The near 8km hike is claimed to take 2 hours there and 2 hours back, but being birders we of course walked at a slower pace. At Kipungit Waterfall you must cross the river by hopping on boulders, then it is a steep ascend towards the bat cave. The bat cave itself is not that impressive but you still get a wave of ammonium smell drifting towards you as you approach, there were some Swiftlets flying in and out of the cave which looked like Glossy to me. Past the bat cave we found a pair of Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babblers, not far ahead a flock of Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers made an appearance, however were so quick they were near impossible to photograph(for me)! Birding was fairly slow, the only other good birds were a pair of Raffle's Malkoha very high up at the canopy.

Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler

Fluffy-backed Babbler (Record shot)

We arrived at some tall bamboos and decided to give the Blue-banded Pitta a try, nothing responded to the playback. Feeling slightly disappointed (though expected), we continued on the next corner and found a large flock of bulbuls gathered at a single fruiting tree, this consists of Hairy-backed Bulbuls, Scaly-breasted Bulbuls, Red-eyed Bulbuls and Spectacled Bulbul. A female Asian Fairy-Bluebird also made an appearance. A single Rufous Piculet was observed, however was too quick for me to take any photograph. We also saw a single Helmeted Hornbill around the area but was way behind the trees at the Canopy and flew away very quickly.

Hairy-backed Bulbul

Scaly-breasted Bulbul

Asian Fairy-Bluebird

The rest of the hike towards the waterfall was gruelling, it was hot and humid, bird activity seems to have came to a halt. We managed to pull ourselves up to the waterfall in the end, it was just around noon. The 120m tall waterfall itself was very impressive and the cool breeze gave us a refreshing refuge to rest. We ate our packed breakfast of sandwiches, fruits and a can of Sprite (definitely saved our lives) and headed down the trail again. It was much easier going down hill, and bird activities also seemed to have picked up a little. We first encountered a beautiful Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, then we heard an Orange-breasted Trogon not far off and found a male calling from a branch just beside the trail. Minutes later, a female Olive-backed Woodpecker gave us a brief eye-level view and disappeared up a trunk. Just as we thought our luck couldn't be getting any better in that short period of time, a pair of Red-naped Trogon started calling ahead, we slowly make our way forward and found the pair sitting quietly on the branches starring at us in a way only Trogons can do. The male especially gave us very close and prolonged views, showing off it's brilliant red nape and blue skin around it's eyes. Satisfied, we made our way back down to the resort for a very late lunch, it was 2:30pm by the time we got back.

Damselfly species

Langanan Waterfall

Chestnut-breasted Malkoha

Orange-breasted Trogon

Olive-backed Woodpecker

Red-naped Trogon female

Red-naped Trogon male

After a short rest in our air conditioned room, we headed back out in late afternoon. The sky was dark and we heard thunder coming our way but it never rained, we made good use of this surprisingly dry afternoon and walked the area around the Bamboo Garden and Tropical Garden. We found a family of Fulvous-breasted Jungle-flycatchers at the Bamboo Garden, they seems to be pretty abundant here at Poring. We also found a few Olive-winged Bulbuls. A flock of Chestnut-winged Babblers foraged nearby and a White-crowned Shama flew back and forth in the undergrowth, singing it's melodious song. You need to pay to enter the Tropical Garden but there was no one at the ticketing booth, the main door was opened though the gates towards the other exhibits were closed, we saw some domesticated Sambar Deers in there. A Plaintain Pygmy Squirrel and Low's Squirrel along with a few Rufous-crowned Babbler kept us entertained . A flock of Racket-tailed Drongo hawking along the road ended our day.

Fulvous-breasted Jungle-Flycatcher

Olive-winged Bulbul

Chestnut-winged Babbler

White-crowned Shamma

Sambar Deer

Plain Pygmy Squirrel

Low's Squirrel

Rufous-crowned Babbler

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