Monday 24 June 2019

Sepilok, Sabah - June 2019 : Part 3

Day 5:

On our final full day at Sepilok, we decided to spend more time at RDC. Robert had to take another guest around the resort in the morning, so Jason went along with us to RDC. An Oriental Magpie Robin greeted us at the entrance, the male of race adamsi have all dark belly. An Oriental Darter was again at the lake, this time swimming in the water as we walked past it, sticking it's snake like head out of the water.

Oriental Magpie Robin - race adamsi

Oriental Darter

The first bird we encountered along the entrance of the canopy walkway was an interesting one; a brown bulbul with white eyes. If we were in Peninsular Malaysia I would have called this as a Cream-vented Bulbul, but since the Cream-vented Bulbuls in Borneo have red eyes, these white eyes individuals were a bit of an odd ones out. Until recently people had thought it was only a variation within the species, but recent studies had shown that Bulbuls with white eyes in Borneo is actually a distinct species, now known as the Cream-eyed Bulbul, the newest Bornean endemic added to the already impressive list of Borneo birds.

Cream-eyed Bulbul - the newest Bornean endemic

Another Bornean endemic came in form of a Bornean Black Magpie, this species was split from the Black Magpie and had been granted full species status. It differs from it's mainland cousin by not having any white on wings, it also have a long crest.

Bornean Black Magpie

A Lesser Green Leafbird came through, they are literally all green and you truly understand why they are called leafbirds...They have exactly the same colour with surrounding leaves! A male Black Hornbill came close to the canopy walkway and gave fairly good views.

Lesser Green Leafbird - female

Black Hornbill - male

We spotted a pair of Bornean Orangutans right next to the canopy walkway, they were a mother with her baby. They came so close that my 500mm lens could simply take close up portraits of the two! Adults have much darker face. The pair were taking wild Terap fruits, a local fruit that is native to Borneo and the Philippines.

Bornean Orangutan - eating Terap fruits

A male Diard's Trogon came through and gave excellent views, unfortunately I ran out of memory at just the 'right' moment...By the time I got my camera ready again it was gone. The female however was much more forgiving, and gave excellent prolonged views at close range.

Diard's Trogon - female

Along the canopy walkway we also saw a few Black-naped Monarch, a species very common at RDC, although getting a decent photo of this quick species is still not an easy task, I only managed a half decent record shot in the end.

Black-naped Monarch - male

We walked down towards the Kingfisher trail, bulbuls were extremely active around the fruiting trees. Of which Buff-vented Bulbuls, Streaked Bulbuls and Olive-winged Bulbuls were by far the most numerous along the trail.

Buff-vented Bulbul

Streaked Bulbul

Olive-winged Bulbul

The less common Spectacled Bulbul also showed briefly, it was however outshone by the even scarcer Grey-bellied Bulbul! This species is a widespread but scarce resident throughout Borneo, it was also a lifer for me.

Spectacled Bulbul

Grey-bellied Bulbul

Two species of Sunbirds were seen along the trail, including the Plain Sunbird and a few Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, of which I only managed a photo of the female.

Plain Sunbird - female

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird - female

Two species of Woodpeckers made an appearance, including a Maroon Woodpecker which gave a group of photographers a wild goose chase, I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time when it literally landed right in front of me! A few Buff-necked Woodpeckers were also present.

Maroon Woodpecker - female

Buff-necked Woodpecker - female

One of the most peculiar bird seen here was perhaps the Rufous-winged Philentoma, this single male showed brilliantly at close range, giving us front views and back views as we pleased. Philentoma is a bit of a taxonomy oddity, it was once placed with the Monarchs with good reasons, but recent studies had shown is more closely related the Vangas, which put it in the same family as Helmetshrikes of Africa! Other Asian birds now placed into Vangas includes the Flycatcher-shrikes and Woodshrikes.

Rufous-winged Philentoma - male

Along the trail Hoiling found a Banded Flower Mantis, a stunning species that is both incredibly bizarre and beautiful. A Gastercantha spider was also spotted.

Banded Flower Mantis

Gastercantha sp.

We went back to the Black-crowned Pitta spot and waited for a little while but it wasn't there, so we decided to head back to the resort to rest. To our delight, the fig tree near the car park had ripened within the few days we were here. It went from attracting no birds to attracting lots of birds, including many Olive-winged Bulbuls and Cream-eyed Bulbuls. It was even more delightful when we found another Grey-bellied Bulbul feeding in the tree! This time giving much better views.

Olive-winged Bulbul

Cream-vented Bulbul

Grey-bellied Bulbul

Although the bird that stole the show was no doubt the many Black-eared Barbet that had came in for the fruits. This small barbet is extremely common at RDC, where you often hear them throughout the day, but getting a decent view is not easy. With fruiting fig trees such as this one, these colourful barbets will often become quite approachable. The Black-eared Barbet had been split recently with Blue-eared Barbet, I am not at all surprise by this as you can hardly see any blue on the ear coverts on Bornean birds.

Black-eared Barbet

After a few days of outdoor excursions, everyone was tired. We took a long break after lunch, I decided to sit around the restaurant waiting for birds, a male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker showed well, while a few Dusky Munias finally stopped long enough for me to grab a photo. The resident Brown-throated Sunbirds were dancing around the flowers.

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker - male race nigrimentum

Dusky Munia

Brown-throated Sunbird - male

At 3pm we went back out to RDC again, a male Olive-backed Sunbird greeted us at the car park. As were a few Blue-throated Bee-eaters.

Olive-backed Sunbird - male

Blue-throated Bee-eater

We heard from other birders that the Black-crowned Pitta had returned, so we decided to give that a try, along the way we added Grey-cheeked Bulbul and a pair of Black-and-Red Broadbill.

Grey-cheeked Bulbul

Black-and-Red Broadbill

The Pitta was already calling when we arrived, Jason put down a few meal worms on a log on the other side of the stream and we waited. Sure enough the Pitta came in and gave brilliant views on the log. It is a truly mesmerising bird no matter how many times you've seen it. It later flew higher up onto a tree and sang from that perch for a few more minutes before flying off into the forest.

Black-crowned Pitta stakeout

Black-crowned Pitta

Since lights were fading, we headed up to the canopy walkway, a flock of birds were jumping making warning calls, obviously stressed out by something. I thought it could be an owl, but could not find anything in the trees, it could have also been a snake. A few Buff-vented Bulbuls were present, as well as a few Red-throated Sunbirds.

Buff-vented Bulbul

Red-throated Sunbird - male

Red-throated Sunbird - female

We managed to join the night walk organised by RDC, their tours are quite popular amongst tourists and often over booked. Luckily the nine of us were able to get a private tour. The local guides started the tour at the canopy walkway to look at the Red Giant Flying Squirrels again, fortunately for us they were out earlier than usual and were more active. A pair were chasing each other, and this time I was able to get a photo of one inflight!

Red Giant Flying Squirrel

We actually saw very few nocturnal animals, but we did saw an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and the Rufous-collared Kingfisher at roost. I was hoping that the Oriental Bay Owl would make an appearance but we didn't even hear it. We got a pair of Sunda Scops Owls calling nearby, but they did not want to come out and did not respond to our play back.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Rufous-collared Kingfisher - male

The best find of the evening came in form of a Bornean Slow Loris! This was one of our main target at RDC and I am glad we managed to see one on our last evening. Unfortunately we never found a Western Tarsier, but just before the tour ended we added a Mouse Deer. That evening we were all too tired to do anymore walking, so we just relaxed at the restaurant.

Bornean Slow Loris

Day 6:

Our flight was scheduled at 9:30am, so we decided not to do any birding in the morning. We had breakfast and said our goodbyes to Jason and Robert, their warm hospitality had made our trip so wonderful, and I certainly is looking forward to my next visit to this incredible location!

Overall I would rate our trip as quite successful, not only did we managed to connect with most of our target species including the Bornean Banded Kingfisher, there were quite a few nice surprises along the way to make this trip even more memorable! A total of 132 species of birds were seen throughout the trip, quite a good count considering we only visited a very small area. We also managed many great encounters with many unique wildlife of Borneo, although going out both day and night was quite tiring, it was worth the effort.

A huge thanks again for Jason and Robert for their help throughout the trip, for anyone visiting Sepilok I highly recommend the Sepilok Jungle Resort.

Great Argus
Heard at SJR
Feral Pigeon
Common around towns
Spotted Dove
Very common
Asian Emerald Dove
Commonly heard and seen
Zebra Dove
Very common
Little Green-Pigeon
A few perched on high tree of SJR
Pink-necked Pigeon
A few seen at SJR
Thick-billed Pigeon
A few seen at SJR
Jambu Fruit-Dove
One female seen at a fruiting tree along Kingfisher trail, another female seen at SJR
Green Imperial-Pigeon
Common around Sepilok
Greater Coucal
Commonly heard at SJR
Raffles's Malkoha
Common at SJR and RDC
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha
Only one seen at RDC along Kingfisher trail
Violet Cuckoo
Seen well on canopy walkway of RDC, heard at various places
Plaintive Cuckoo
A few heard at RDC
Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo
Heard at RDC
Indian Cuckoo
One heard at RDC
Plume-toed Swiftlet
Very common
Black-nest Swiftlet
Very common
White-nest Swiftlet
Big flock seen at Labuk Bay
Asian Palm-Swif
A few seen at RDC
Grey-rumped Treeswift
A few seen at RDC
White-breasted Waterhen
Common around Sepilok roadside
Oriental Darter
One bird seen at RDC lake on two separate days presumed to be same bird
Purple Heron
One seen at Labuk Bay
Intermediate Egret
Commonly seen by roadside
Black-winged Kite
Two seen enroute to Labuk Bay
Changeable Hawk-Eagle
One perched at SJR
Wallace's Hawk-Eagle
Common at RDC
Rufous-bellied Eagle
One adult at RDC, a juvenile at SORC
Crested Goshawk
One seen at RDC canopy walkway
Brahminy Kite
Fairly common throughout
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
One seen at SJR
Oriental Bay-Owl
Up to two heard clearly at SJR, came closer but never showed
Sunda Scops Owl
Two heard clearly at RDC, close but no show
Barred Eagle Owl
One heard at SJR
Brown Boobook
Two heard at SJR, came closer but no show
Red-naped Trogon
A pair seen at SJR, one male seen along Kingfisher trail
Diard's Trogon
One seen at SJR, another pair seen along RDC canopy walkway
Helmeted Hornbill
One large hornbill with long tail flew past, no calls heard but long streamers could only be of this species
Rhinoceros Hornbill
One flew overhead at SJR
Bushy-crested Hornbill
A few heard and later seen at SJR
Black Hornbill
Singles or pairs seen throughout
Blue-eared Kingfisher
Fairly common at SJR and RDC
Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher
Commonly heard at RDC, one seen perched during RDC night walk
Banded Kingfisher
A pair seen near 'back door' of RDC
Stork-billed Kingfisher
Common at SJR and lake of RDC
Collared Kingfisher

Rufous-collared Kingfisher
A male constantly seen along Kingfisher trail, possibly nesting nearby
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Common around Sepilok
A few seen at SJR
Bornean Brown Barbet
Common at SJR and RDC
Black-eared Barbet
Common at SJR and RDC, many seen at fruiting tree at RDC car park
Gold-faced Barbet
One heard at RDC
Rufous Piculet
Fairly common at RDC, one seen at SJR
Grey-and-buff Woodpecker
Fairly common at SJR, a pair seen at RDC
Maroon Woodpecker
One seen along Kingfisher Trail at RDC
Buff-necked Woodpecker
Very common around Sepilok
Common Flameback
One heard at Labuk Bay
Crimson-winged Woodpecker
Heard only at RDC
Banded Woodpecker
A few seen at RDC and often heard
White-bellied Woodpecker
Two seen on separate days at SJR
Long-tailed Parakeet
Commonly seen flying past at SJR and RDC
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot
Commonly seen at SJR
Green Broadbill
One seen behind SJR
Black-and-red Broadbill
Common around SJR and RDC
Black-and-yellow Broadbill
More often heard, seen a few times at SJR and RDC
Black-crowned Pitta
One at RDC on two days, presumably same bird
Hooded Pitta
A few seen at SJR
White-breasted Woodswallow

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Common at RDC
Rufous-winged Philentoma
One seen along Kingfisher Trail at RDC
Common Iora
One seen at SJR
Green Iora
Common at RDC
Fiery Minivet
A few seen at RDC
White-bellied Erpornis
A few seen at RDC
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Common at RDC
Malaysian Pied-Fantail
One nest observed outside RDC, common throughout
Black-naped Monarch
Common at RDC
Bornean Black Magpie
A few seen at RDC
Slender-billed Crow
Fairly common throughout
House Crow
Seen at KLIA
Pacific Swallow
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Up to three birds seen along canopy walkway at RDC
Black-headed Bulbul
One seen briefly at Kingfisher trail
Spectacled Bulbul
One seen briefly at Kingfisher trail
Grey-bellied Bulbul
One at Kingfisher trail, another seen at RDC carpark
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Very common throughout
Olive-winged Bulbul
Common around Sepilok
Cream-vented Bulbul
Common around Sepilok
Cream-eyed Bulbul
One seen at RDC canopy walkway
Red-eyed Bulbul
Common around Sepilok
Hairy-backed Bulbul
A few seen along Kingfisher trail
Grey-cheeked Bulbul
A few seen along Kingfisher trail, one at SORC
Yellow-bellied Bulbul
A few seen along Kingfisher trail
Streaked Bulbul
Common around Sepilok
Ashy Tailorbird
Common around Sepilok and Labuk Bay
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
Common around Sepilok and Labuk Bay
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Seen around SJR and Labuk Bay
Bold-striped Tit-Babble
A few seen at SJR and a pair at Labuk Bay
Chestnut-winged Babbler
Common around RDC
Rufous-fronted Babbler
One heard at RDC
Chestnut-rumped Babbler
A few seen at RDC
Black-capped Babbler
Common around RDC
Asian Fairy-bluebird
One seen at SJR
Oriental Magpie-Robin (adamsi)
Common throughout Sepilok
White-crowned Shama
Common at SJR, a few seen at RDC
Asian Glossy Starling
Common Hill Myna
Common at SJR
Common Myna
A few seen at KLIA
Javan Myna
Greater Green Leafbird
One seen at RDC
Lesser Green Leafbird
A few seen at RDC canopy walkway
Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker
Common around Sepilok
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Common at SJR
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Common at SJR
Plain Sunbird
A few seen along Kingfisher trail
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
A few seen at RDC
Brown-throated Sunbird
Common at SJR
Red-throated Sunbird
A few seen at RDC canopy walkway
Van Hasselt's Sunbird
Seen from Bristlehead Tower
Copper-throated Sunbird
One seen at RDC car park
Olive-backed Sunbird
A few seen at SJR and RDC
Crimson Sunbird
Common at SJR
Long-billed Spiderhunter
One at SJR
Little Spiderhunter
A few seen at SJR and RDC
Purple-naped Spiderhunter
One seen at RDC
Spectacled Spiderhunter
One seen at RDC canopy walkway
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Common at SJR
Baya Weaver
A few colonies around RDC and Labuk Bay
Dusky Munia
Common at SJR
Chestnut Munia
Common at SJR