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Field Guides Tour Report
Borneo II 2018
Jun 26, 2018 to Jul 13, 2018
Megan Edwards Crewe with Hamit Suban, Adzel & Ali

Borneo is home to some amazing plants and animals -- including Rafflesia keithii, the world's second-biggest flower. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

The island of Borneo is a magical place. Though scores of acres of the Malaysian state of Sabah are weekly being converted to oil palm plantations, there are still vast swaths of primeval forest, cloaked with some of the tallest trees on earth. For sixteen days, we explored luxuriant, tangled lowland jungle and hill forest, venturing even into the heady heights of its great canopy, thanks to a series of fabulous canopy towers and walkways. Via tidal rivers and tiny, meandering streams, we poked into otherwise inaccessible seasonally flooded forest near Sukau. For the final quarter of our stay, we climbed into the cool highlands of the spectacular Mount Kinabalu massif, where we wandered through a beautiful cloud forest with its masses of mosses and ferns and epiphytes. Throughout it all, there were so many sights and sounds and experiences to enjoy.

Our adventure began at Sepilok's Rainforest Discovery Center, where we connected with many common lowland species -- starting right in the parking lot, where we had a great look at our first endemic Dusky Munias. From the wonderfully sturdy towers and walkways, we studied our first handsome Green Ioras, Yellow-vented and Plain flowerpeckers, Buff-rumped Woodpeckers, flyby Cinnamon-headed Pigeons and Brown-backed Needletail, and a handful of nest-prospecting Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrots. Along the trails below, we spotted our first Bearded Pig (and seven Bearded Piglets!) and reveled as a Black-capped Babbler strolled through the leaf litter practically to our boot tips. En route to Sukau, we detoured slightly to visit the Gomantong Caves, an area we would visit again in the coming days. Chief among the highlights here were a host of White-nest, Black-nest and Mossy-nest swiftlets coming and going, with hundreds sitting on their distinctive nests in the famous cave itself. Many additional treats awaited us between the cave and the beginning of the Gomantong entrance road. Among them were a mournfully whistling Black-capped Pitta that edged along an eye-level branch, a Hooded Pitta that perched right in the open further along the boardwalk trail, a family group of Black Magpies serenading us with their surprising musical songs, two interacting Red-billed Malkohas, a surprisingly low male Van Hasselt's Sunbird, a Spotted Fantail dancing right over our heads, and a big, noisy group of Black-throated Babblers, one of which worked through a viny tangle right beside us.

From our base at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, we explored the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, by day and by night, via a network of rivers and streams and a conveniently close boardwalk trail. Among our highlights there were perched and flying Storm's Storks, a Bornean Ground-Cuckoo that crept along the bank and then hopped up into low branches to sing, good looks at five species of hornbills (including a pair of Wrinkled Hornbills gleaming against storm clouds during a brief break in an afternoon downpour, and a close pair of White-crowned Hornbills along the riverside), a Buffy Fish-Owl perched only yards from the dining room, a perched Bat Hawk and a perched dark-morph Changeable Hawk-Eagle (the latter eventually chased away by a persistent gang of Slender-billed Crows), a calling Dusky Broadbill, and a point-blank mom and baby Orangutan, right over one of the cabins. A row of fruiting trees along the Menanggul attracted an ever-changing cast of characters, including Blue-eared, Brown and Red-throated barbets. A pair of Gray-and-buff Woodpeckers flicked through riverside bushes. And who will soon forget the Bornean Pygmy Elephant rolling around in the water at the edge of the Kinabatangan, having a most vigorous bath?!

At Borneo Rainforest Lodge, a family of monotypic Bornean Bristleheads appeared and disappeared as they moved through the canopy, their bizarre, featherless, red-and-yellow heads bright against the green leaves. Handsome and confiding Whiskered Treeswifts made frequent short forays from their favorite perches. A Crested Fireback stalked through the gloom under our cabins at dusk one evening. Two Helmeted Hornbills flew in and landed in a big dead tree, giving us our 8th hornbill species -- and finally allowing us to connect an actual bird with the crazy laughing song we'd been hearing for days. A hunting Verditer Flycatcher flashed in the sun as it chased insects right over our heads -- and gave Allen his 3000th world bird. Two White-fronted Falconets (an adult and a fledgling) chased butterflies along the entrance drive. A pair of Rufous-tailed Shamas hunted mere yards from where we stood. From the canopy walkway we scoped a quartet of Bar-bellied Cuckooshrikes, a hunting Red-bearded Bee-eater, a Gold-faced Barbet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Bulbuls and more. Winding along trails through the forest interior, we enjoyed multiple Diard's Trogons, and plenty of babblers -- including scope views(!!) of both Striped and Black-throated Wren-Babblers within minutes of each other. Fruiting trees near the restaurant balcony brought a multitude of bulbuls and flowerpeckers almost within arm's reach. And our night forays produced an array of critters, including Thomas's and Black flying squirrels (neither flying, darn it), several handsomely striped Malay Civets, a Leopard Cat, and a surprisingly speedy Long-tailed Porcupine.

We welcomed the cool, refreshing highlands, where we finished the tour amid a host of montane endemics. In the Crocker Range, we reveled in roadside birding that brought a host of new species in big mixed flocks: brilliant Gray-chinned Minivets, Bornean Bulbuls, Bornean Leafbirds, Black-and-crimson Orioles, dancing White-throated Fantails, Mountain and Bornean barbets, and more. Whitehead's Spiderhunters proved fabulously cooperative this trip, flying in to perch right in the open in some leafless branches. Bornean Whistling-Thrushes -- and a trio of Orange-headed Thrushes -- bounced across the Kinabalu park road in the early morning half-light. Eyebrowed Jungle-Flycatchers hunted from roadside guard rails. A noisy mixed flock along the park road near our lodging yielded dozens of Sunda and Chestnut-hooded laughingthrushes, Hair-crested Drongos, Bornean Green-Magpies, Bornean Whistlers, Bornean Treepies, Sunda Cuckooshrikes, and more. Dozens of Mountain Black-eyes swarmed through fruiting trees near the Timpohon Gate, sometimes even outnumbering the Chestnut-crested Yuhinas! A Mountain Wren-Babbler bounced across the forest floor, eventually passing right through the group to the other side of the path. And a trio of highly prized Whitehead's Trogons -- among the fanciest of the world's trogons -- gleamed from the forest understory as the adults brought morsel after morsel (including a truly giant stick insect) to their fledgling. An afternoon trip down to Poring Springs gave us up-close views of the world's second largest flower (Rafflesia keithii) and a flurry of mid-elevation birds we'd missed earlier, including Yellow-eared and Spectacled spiderhunters, Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, Olive-winged Bulbul, and several perched Asian Fairy-Bluebirds. On our return to KK, we made a final birding stop along the Telipok River, where we added a trio of Wandering Whistling-Ducks, busy flocks of Dusky, Chestnut and Scaly-breasted munias, a Black-shouldered Kite and some apparently-breeding Little Terns. It was a nice way to end our adventures.

It's been fun reliving the trip while sorting through photos and annotating the list. Hopefully, the comments below (and the pictures and videos in the online version) will bring back some good memories! Many thanks to our support staff, both at the FGI office (thanks Karen!) and at Borneo Ecotours. Thanks to our fine local guides, the various drivers and boatmen who shepherded us around the island, and the staffs at our hotels and lodges, who took marvelous care of us. And many thanks to all of you for your fine companionship throughout; I had a great time sharing with you some of the magic of Borneo! I hope to see you all again some day, on another adventure.

-- Megan

In the list below, RDC refers to the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Center and BRL refers to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

A last-afternoon visit to the Telipok River near Kota Kinabalu netted us a couple of resting Wandering Whistling-Ducks. The righthand one did have a head -- honest! Photo by participant Inman Gallogly.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata) – A pair preening along the edge of the grassy Telipok River were a nice finale to our visit -- and a third bird dropping in from the air a bit further along the river allowed us to see one in flight as well.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RED-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila hyperythra) – Those who ventured out for our first pre-breakfast outing in Kinabalu NP heard a distant pair calling from the valley below the Timpohon Gate. [E*]
CHESTNUT-NECKLACED PARTRIDGE (SABAH) (Arborophila charltonii graydoni) – We heard the rollicking chorus of this species on a couple of days along the Menanggul River and once near the gate on the BRL entrance road, and caught a quick glimpse of a covey -- presumably mom and some nearly-grown youngsters -- flushing off the roadside into the forest as we drove in to the lodge on our first evening. [*]
GREAT ARGUS (Argusianus argus) – We heard one calling from the forest along the Gomantong Cave road, but never particularly close. [*]
CRIMSON-HEADED PARTRIDGE (Haematortyx sanguiniceps) – Arg! We were oh-so-close a couple of times, including one pair that Hamit (first off the bus) actually saw cross the road behind the bus. Unfortunately, the rest of us only heard them calling -- and calling and calling. [E*]
CRESTED FIREBACK (BORNEAN) (Lophura ignita nobilis) – Nice views of a male strutting under the cabins in the half-light of late dusk on our last evening at BRL. With the help of Adzel's spotlight, we got good looks at his colors when he marched out into the road and headed for his roost tree.

Whiskered Treeswifts are high on the "want to see" list. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis) – Two floated on a glass-smooth pond along the Sukau road. Phillips lists this species as a vagrant, but adds that it's a "very likely future colonist". Our March tour recorded two birds on the same pond, so it's possible that they were a breeding pair.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
STORM'S STORK (Ciconia stormi) – Small numbers daily around Sukau, with particularly nice views of a couple of birds sitting atop a short roadside tree en route to the Gomantong Caves road one morning and of another hunched at the top of a dead snag across from the SRL dining room, waiting out the rainstorm. This is a critically endangered species, with fewer than 500 birds thought to remain.
LESSER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos javanicus) – One roosted atop a snag along the Kinabatangan River, not far from one of our Storm's Storks -- nice spotting, Mike! This species looks a lot like (and is closely related to) Africa's Marabou Stork.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster) – Small numbers along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, including some standing spread-eagled on snags along the Menanggul and one doing its best snake imitation as it hunted along the bank there.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT-BILLED HERON (Ardea sumatrana) – Two of these big herons flew ponderously past as we birded the roadside en route to the Gomantong caves for our first morning walk there.
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea) – On our upriver trip in search of elephants, we found a half dozen or so along the fringes of the Kinabatangan River -- some in flight, and some patrolling the banks.
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – Quite common along the edges of the Kinabatangan River, sprinkled along the banks or hunting from floating logs in the river itself. This species has a longer bill than the next, with a gape line that extends back behind the eye.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia) – One hunting along the edge of the runway at the Lahad Datu airport helped to keep us entertained while we waited for our flight. As its name suggests, this species is smaller than the previous one and larger than the next.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – One hunted in a tiny roadside stream in the palm oil grove along the Sukau road, its yellow feet flashing. It grew nervous when we stopped for a look, and quickly flew out, only to circle back as we climbed out of the bus further down the road.
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – A scattered group of 10 or so flew past as we checked out our Black-shouldered Kite just outside Telipok on our last afternoon.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE (Elanus caeruleus) – We spotted one sitting in a dead tree from the Telipok River -- a LONG way away -- and got a much closer look at the same bird from a (very smelly) spot along the highway on our way in to Kota Kinabalu.
ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus) – A trio of individuals: one soaring over the RDC walkway, one along the Gomantong Caves road and a final one seen from the BRL's dining room balcony. This bird was named back when ornithologists thought it raided bees' nests for their honey; now we know it's actually after the larvae.
JERDON'S BAZA (Aviceda jerdoni) – Our best views came on the Kinabatangan, where we found a handsome adult perched in a tree overhanging the river, shortly after admiring our elephants. We had another in flight over the Gomantong Cave road one morning. The broad rufous barring on the underparts of this species -- and the warm brown face -- help to distinguish it from the larger, darker Wallace's Hawk-Eagle.
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela) – Perched birds seen well along the Kinabatangan River (where we saw one in the same tree on two different afternoons), along the Sukau road (including one studying the ground from a waist-high fence post) and on the BRL entrance road. The spotty belly, yellow facial skin, and bold white stripe on the underwing are distinctive.
BAT HAWK (Macheiramphus alcinus) – One in a tree along the Kinabatangan River one afternoon was a surprise. Its very long wings -- and its white throat and pale eye -- were nicely visible as it gazed down on the river.
CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus limnaeetus) – Great studies of a dark-morph bird perched along the Kinabatangan River late one afternoon (until a mob of Slender-billed Crows chased it off) with a close lighter-morph bird low in a tree on the drive in to BRL, and another dark-morph bird sitting above a marshy spot on the way out. As its name suggests, this species is polymorphic, with a variety of plumages.

Joyce Miller got this atmospheric shot of the Gunung Alab road on a misty afternoon.

BLYTH'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus alboniger) – First one, then two soared over our heads a couple of times in the Crocker Range, showing their broad white tail bands as they circled and fanned their tails. This is the sister species of the next one and is found at higher elevations.
WALLACE'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nanus) – Regular in the lowlands, where it was the most common and widespread raptor of the tour. We saw a couple of recently-fledged youngsters around the parking lot and canopy walkway at RDC (including one that made a noisy return to the nest tree), and spied a small, fluffy chick with its parent in another nest near the Sukau boardwalk trail. [N]
RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE (Lophotriorchis kienerii) – Especially nice views of an adult perched in a treetop across the pond from the Sepilok Nature Resort's dining room just after we finished breakfast on the first morning of the tour. We saw an immature circling with a couple of White-bellied Sea-Eagles over RDC -- looking pretty small by comparison!
BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis) – One soared over the forest visible from the BRL entrance drive, giving us a minute or so of flight views before it disappeared behind the trees.
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – An adult made lazy circles above the RDC forest our first morning, and we saw others over the Kinabatangan River and the Gomantong Caves road, with a final bird along the Telipok River on our last afternoon.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – An immature bird (or maybe two) soared over the RDC on our first morning's outing, its massive wingspan making it easy to identify. We spotted another -- an adult this time -- low over the Kinabatangan as we worked our way upstream one afternoon.
LESSER FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus humilis) – An immature bird made several passes back and forth across the Gomantong Cave road, calling incessantly -- presumably trying to convince its parents to come back and bring it some dinner!
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus) – One stepped quickly along the edge of a glassy pond along the Sukau road, unfortunately disappearing under the fronds of an overhanging palm tree before everybody got a look.

Crested Serpent-Eagles were most common along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons) – More than a dozen flashed in the skies over the Telipok River, or trundled around on the sandy bits of a field in the middle of nearby industrial park -- good pickup, Joyce! The field guides all say this is a winter visitor with occasional breeding records for the island; these were very clearly breeding!
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Abundant in the bigger cities and towns, with dozens lining the roofs of buildings along the main highway in Lahad Datu. [I]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – Scattered birds, including one sharing a small tree with a trio of Zebra Doves in the RDC parking lot and others on the wire along the Sukau road. A few trundled around in the grass near the Lahad Datu airport runways, and others wandered in the parking lot outside our Kota Kinabalu hotel.
LITTLE CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia ruficeps) – A couple of pairs near the Masakob Waterfall Garden in the Crocker Range. Their smaller size, spotty breasts and gray napes help to distinguish them from the larger Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, which is found in higher elevations.
ASIAN EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps indica) – A few of us saw one flash past as we birded in the rain on our final morning along the BRL entrance road; it zipped into a nearby tree -- and disappeared.
ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) – Our best views came in the RDC parking lot, where we found a trio flitting through some of the small shade trees. We saw a more distant quartet foraging in the grass along the runway at the Lahad Datu airport, and a few scattered birds on roadsides throughout. This species was introduced to the island. [I]
LITTLE GREEN-PIGEON (Treron olax) – The most common of the tour's green-pigeons, seen daily around the Kinabatangan and its tributaries and along the Gomantong Caves road. A group of 20 or so -- including several orange-chested, maroon-backed males -- in a tree along the big river gave us our best looks.
PINK-NECKED PIGEON (Treron vernans) – Best seen en route to the Gomantong Caves road one morning, when we found a male perched atop one of the ubiquitous palm oil trees. This species is typically found in disturbed, second growth and open areas.
CINNAMON-HEADED PIGEON (Treron fulvicollis) – A group of four -- including one very cinnamon-colored male -- flew past while we birded on the RDC canopy walkway.
THICK-BILLED PIGEON (Treron curvirostra) – We found a few sprinkled among the dense foliage of some fig trees near the entrance to RDC, either gobbling fruits or sitting quietly, digesting what they'd already eaten. The broad blue-green eye-ring of this species is distinctive.
JAMBU FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus jambu) – We heard the low coo of this species along Kinabalu's Mempening trail, while waiting for the Mountain Wren-Babbler to work its way up the hill. [*]
GREEN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula aenea) – Regular in the lowlands, typically seen flying past -- either alone or in pairs -- with particularly nice scope studies of a preening bird sitting in a leafless snag along the Gomantong Caves road. [N]
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
BORNEAN GROUND-CUCKOO (Carpococcyx radiceus) – With some skillful boat handling and a lot of patience, we finally tracked down a calling bird along the Menanggul. First, it dashed across a gully along the bank -- too quickly for everyone to get much of a look. We later spotted it creeping through the undergrowth, but our best views came when it climbed up onto some low branches to sing. This endemic is notoriously difficult to get a look at. [E]
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis) – Seen and/or heard on most days in the lowlands, with especially nice looks at one sunning on a post along the road near Sukau village and at another clambering through the dense growth in one of the big clearings along the BRL entrance road. This is a widespread species across much of southern Asia.
RAFFLES'S MALKOHA (Rhinortha chlorophaea) – Surprisingly scarce this year, with a few pairs seen at RDC (one pair from the canopy walkway, the other near the intersection of the Kingfisher and Woodpecker trails) and another pair along the Gomantong road. This is the smallest of the island's malkohas.

Red-eyed Bulbul was by far the most common bulbul of the trip. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

RED-BILLED MALKOHA (Zanclostomus javanicus) – After hearing one calling softly from the forest along the Sukau Rainforest Lodge's boardwalk, we found two others -- an adult and a fully-grown fledgling -- along the Gomantong road. They scrambled through some of the roadside trees, occasionally posing together on the same branch when the adult produced some tasty morsel. That red bill is certainly distinctive! Like the previous species, this one is a Sundaland specialty.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) – One climbed through branches overhanging the Gomantong road, its large size (biggest of the tour's malkohas) and bicolored bill quickly helping with the ID. We saw another along the BRL entrance road. This is another Sundaland specialty.
BLACK-BELLIED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus diardi) – Our first was a confiding bird gobbling small fruits from a tree along the Menanggul; we saw another along the BRL entrance road. This Sundaland specialty is one of the rarer malkohas on the tour.
VIOLET CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) – A male, perched on a thin twig near the Gomantong Caves parking lot, showed his thin purple breast stripes and bright coral bill to perfection. We saw others in bounding display flights above the Menanggul and the BRL entrance road.
BANDED BAY CUCKOO (Cacomantis sonneratii) – The descending whistles of this species were heard from the RDC canopy walkway and the BRL balcony. [*]
PLAINTIVE CUCKOO (Cacomantis merulinus) – One just outside the main building at BRL alternated between sitting on the low rope fence along the river and bouncing around in the short grass below the dining room.
MALAYSIAN HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx fugax) – One flicked through trees along the edge of the Sambar Deer pasture at Poring Hot Springs, pausing for a minute or so on an open snag and allowing us great scope views. It looks enough like a hawk that all the little birds gave alarm calls each time it moved!
SUNDA CUCKOO (Cuculus lepidus) – One with a mixed flock of green-magpies and laughingthrushes in Kinabalu NP showed very well as it flicked through branches over the park road.

A point-blank Buffy Fish-Owl off the restaurant deck at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge was a nice post-supper treat. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)
ORIENTAL BAY-OWL (Phodilus badius) – Hamit spotted one clinging to a skinny vertical sapling under the trees along the bank of the Menanggul. It stayed for long minutes peering around from its perch (which was only about four feet off the ground), providing a nice finale to our first night's outing at Sukau.
Strigidae (Owls)
BUFFY FISH-OWL (Ketupa ketupu) – Some truly wonderful views of this big, handsome owl -- including one on a post only a few yards from the Sukau dining room during dinner one evening! We saw several along the Menanggul River, one over the BRL entrance road, and one atop the soccer goal near the BRL staff quarters.
BROWN BOOBOOK (Ninox scutulata borneensis) – Our first owling excursion, right on the grounds of the Sepilok Nature Resort, was a success within minutes. We heard what sounded like a youngster food-begging in a tree right near one of the bridges, and -- with the help of some serious eyeshine -- located it quickly for some nice scope views. Yahoo!
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
SUNDA FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus cornutus) – We heard one calling (and growling) along the BRL entrance road on two different nights -- in two different places -- but couldn't entice it out for a look. [*]
Apodidae (Swifts)
SILVER-RUMPED NEEDLETAIL (Rhaphidura leucopygialis) – Especially nice views of some drinking (or bathing) in the pond near the Sepilok dining room, with others zipping over the forest at RDC and coursing back and forth in front of the BRL balcony. The pale rump and tail of this otherwise dark species is distinctive.
BROWN-BACKED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus giganteus) – A fellow birder on one of the RDC canopy towers pointed one out as it approached overhead. The u-shaped white mark on its underside is distinctive.
BORNEAN SWIFTLET (Collocalia dodgei) – This Bornean endemic is the highland replacement for the next species, found on only Sabah's highest peaks. We found one nesting on of one of the arches near the Timpohon Gate, and saw a few winnowing over the forest there. This species has a greenish (rather than blue) gloss to its plumage. [EN]
PLUME-TOED SWIFTLET (Collocalia affinis cyanoptila) – Abundant throughout (though inexplicably missing around Sukau, where they're normally common), with scores of nests under the eaves of our Gunung Alab restaurant and on the headquarters building at Kinabalu NP. This species has a bluish gloss to its plumage. [N]
MOSSY-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus salangana) – Four or five nests with birds on them in a crevice near the entrance to the Gomantong caves, the nests quickly distinguished by their shagginess. Unless they're sitting on a nest, this and the next two species are indistinguishable in the field. [N]
BLACK-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus maximus) – Ten nests with birds on them in the crevice close to the entrance of the Gomantong cave, with thousands more on one wall of the big cave itself. Though less valuable than the nests of the next species, these too are used for bird's nest soup. We saw plenty of "cave swiftlets" in the lowlands during the tour, but unless they're seen on their nests, they can't be identified. [N]
WHITE-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus fuciphagus) – A few on nests among those of the other two cave species in the crevice near the entrance to the Gomantong caves, with many more on the far side of the cave for those who walked the whole loop. These are the nests that are most prized for bird's nest soup, with cleaned nests selling for hundreds of dollars per pound. Bizarrely, we spotted one bird clinging (spread-winged) to the leaves high in an emergent tree visible from the RDC walkway. [N]
HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis) – One nesting on the side of our lunch restaurant near Gunung Alab gave brief looks to a few as it visited its nest, but our best views came in the village of Nabulu on our drive back to Kota Kinabalu; there we saw several birds zooming in to deliver food to nests under the eaves of a tower near the edge of the market. The nests of this species often incorporate large numbers of white feathers. [N]
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)
GRAY-RUMPED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne longipennis) – A few soared over the forest (and entrance pond) at RDC, and others did the same over Menanggul on our first morning there. The long, pointed tail of this species -- and its habit of gliding on stiff, unflapping wings -- are distinctive.

The gang models the latest in leech protection! Photo by local guide Ali.

WHISKERED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne comata) – Multiple great views of these gorgeous little birds around BRL, including one sitting right over the road on a canopy tower support wire on our last morning there.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
RED-NAPED TROGON (Harpactes kasumba) – We heard this species calling on a number of days in the lowlands -- along the Menanggul River, from the forest edging the Gomantong Caves road, and most days from the forest along the BRL entrance road -- before finally catching up with a rather shy female in a fruiting tree near the BRL entrance gate.
DIARD'S TROGON (Harpactes diardii) – Our first was a male that flashed across the Menanggul River in a flurry of crimson and cinnamon before disappearing into the vegetation (where he sang and sang and sang without ever showing again). Fortunately, we found other more cooperative birds -- a feeding pair along BRL's Hornbill trail and a female along the BRL entrance road -- later in the tour. This is one of the Sundaland specialties, found only in Malaysia (Borneo and the mainland) and Sumatra.
WHITEHEAD'S TROGON (Harpactes whiteheadi) – Close encounters with several birds -- including a family group of dad, mom, and recently-fledged youngster -- on a couple of days in Kinabalu NP. Particularly entertaining was when a male brought a Chan's Megastick (a huge stick insect) for its youngster, who took a LONG time to get it all down. [E]
SCARLET-RUMPED TROGON (Harpactes duvaucelii) – Another showy species, including a calling male along the Menanggul -- within only a few yards of the more reticent Diard's Trogon -- and another male along the Gomantong Caves road. The thick, neon-blue eyebrow of this species is distinctive, as is (of course) the bold red rump of the male.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
WHITE-CROWNED HORNBILL (Berenicornis comatus) – Our first was a furtive female along the Menanggul River, lurking quietly in a tree not far from the river. We spotted another pair while eating breakfast at Sukau one morning; they flew across the river from "our" side to the other, sat for a while, then flapped ponderously back. This is a Sundaland specialty.

The aptly-named Buff-necked Woodpecker proved very obliging along the Menanggul River. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

HELMETED HORNBILL (Buceros vigil) – Our last hornbill, and one of the most dramatic sightings. We heard a couple calling (and calling and calling) from the hillside across the river from BRL, but couldn't find them for ages -- even though a few of us went on a long, hot, slippery hike looking for them. Fortunately, while scanning from the deck right outside the restaurant, we saw first the female, then the male fly across the river and land in a big dead snag right above the far cabins, and they stayed for a long time, preening and looking around. The male spent some considerable time bashing his formidable head on the huge branch he was sitting on -- shaking lots of bits loose in the process! Like the previous species, this is a Sundaland specialty.
RHINOCEROS HORNBILL (Buceros rhinoceros) – Still another Sundaland specialty! This one ranked high on a lot of people's wish lists -- and we had plenty of great views to satisfy them. A male sitting quietly in a tree right across the river from the deck at BRL was particularly scope-worthy.
BUSHY-CRESTED HORNBILL (Anorrhinus galeritus) – Noisy and gregarious, including a big gang along the Gomantong Caves road on each of our morning visits, and others along the BRL entrance road. The flock at Gomantong was nearly 20 strong! One more Sundaland specialty.
BLACK HORNBILL (Anthracoceros malayanus) – Our first was a female in a treetop visible from the RDC canopy walkway, and this species proved to be quite common in the lowlands -- particularly along the Kinabatangan River and the Gomantong Caves road. This too is a Sundaland specialty.
ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris) – Another widespread lowland species, with numerous pairs seen around Sukau (particularly along the Kinabatangan) and along the Gomantong Caves road.
WREATHED HORNBILL (Rhyticeros undulatus) – Our first was a bird that flew in and landed in a tree right beside the BRL entrance road; unfortunately, it fled as soon as it realized we were standing there! Fortunately, we saw others in flight -- typically calling evocatively --over various other parts of the BRL entrance road.
WRINKLED HORNBILL (Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus) – The torrential downpour along the Kinabatangan during one afternoon's outing let up just long enough for us to admire a pair of these handsome birds in a tree along the river's edge. This is yet another Sundaland specialty.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BLUE-EARED KINGFISHER (Alcedo meninting) – Particularly common along the Menanggul, where a handful perched low over the water, waiting for passing prey. We had especially close views of a few on our night float, sitting unblinking on their night roosts.
RUFOUS-BACKED DWARF-KINGFISHER (Ceyx rufidorsa) – One sitting at eye level on a roadside branch along the BRL entrance road distracted many from the search for our first wren-babbler. We spotted another in flight near the BRL entrance gate later in the week.
BANDED KINGFISHER (BLACK-FACED) (Lacedo pulchella melanops) – We heard one singing -- repeatedly -- from the forest behind the maintenance buildings at Poring Hot Springs. [*]
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis) – This was the common larger kingfisher around the Sukau Lodge and along the Kinabatangan and Menanggul rivers.
COLLARED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus chloris) – A handful on several days, including several on wires in the vast palm oil groves between Sukau and the Gomantong Caves road, a few on our way from BRL to the Lahad Datu airport, and others around the Telipok River on our final afternoon. This is an open-country kingfisher.
RUFOUS-COLLARED KINGFISHER (Actenoides concretus) – Another kingfisher heard from the forest behind the maintenance building at Poring Springs, though only by a few. [*]
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
RED-BEARDED BEE-EATER (Nyctyornis amictus) – We found a single bird high in the canopy at BRL, sitting quietly amid leafy branches some distance from the walkway. There is some thought that the bird's red "beard" may attract insects within reach of its long beak, mistakenly thinking they're approaching a flower.

Dollarbirds hunted from dead snags all along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries. Photo by participant Inman Gallogly.

BLUE-THROATED BEE-EATER (Merops viridis) – A few hunting from the wires along the edge of the RDC parking lot entertained us our first morning, and we watched others flycatching from snags along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries. This is the most common of Borneo's bee-eaters.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, typically sitting motionless on a dead snag at the water's edge, or (only occasionally) looping out after a passing insect, flashing their white "silver dollar" wing spots as they flew.
Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)
BROWN BARBET (Caloramphus fuliginosus tertius) – Regular in the lowlands, and to elevations as high as the Crocker Range. We got nice looks at these social barbets on several occasions, including a busy family group in some fruiting trees along the Menanggul; those bright red-orange feet are certainly eye-catching. Borneo has two endemic subspecies, one of which is found only in the southern part of the island. [E]
BLUE-EARED BARBET (BLACK-EARED) (Psilopogon duvaucelii duvaucelii) – Very common and widespread in the lowlands, in both primary forest and more open areas (like the trees around our lodge at Sepilok). We had point-blank views of one excavating a nest hole in a snag along the Menanggul, and heard their loud, repetitive, chiming songs echoing from the canopy on many days.
BORNEAN BARBET (Psilopogon eximius) – One lurked deep in a fruiting tree in the Crocker Range, along the road just downhill from the Masakob Waterfall Garden. Unfortunately, not everyone got on it before it slunk off, and we never got much of a look at it again. [E]
RED-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon mystacophanos) – It took some patience, but in the end we got some splendid views of one feeding on small fruits in a tree along the Menanggul. We saw others along the BRL entrance road and canopy walkway, and heard plenty throughout the lowlands.
GOLDEN-NAPED BARBET (Psilopogon pulcherrimus) – This was the common barbet of the highlands, heard daily in good numbers throughout Kinabalu NP and seen well up by the Timpohon Gate. Gloria and I had especially nice views of one perched on a telephone wire near the power station when we braved the rain before breakfast one morning. [E]

Watching not one but TWO Whitehead's Spiderhunters in the scope was a highlight of our day in the Crocker Range. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

YELLOW-CROWNED BARBET (Psilopogon henricii) – We heard these canopy barbets every day around BRL, but never laid eyes on one. [*]
MOUNTAIN BARBET (Psilopogon monticola) – One sat quietly in a roadside tree near the Tambunan Rafflesia Centre after our soggy visit to Gunung Alab, peering out at us as we gawped from the roadside. [E]
GOLD-FACED BARBET (Psilopogon chrysopsis) – This is one of Borneo's newest endemics, recently split from the Gold-whiskered Barbet. We heard several before we finally connected with one near the new staircase to the BRL canopy walkway, and found another in the open near the top of the last hill we climbed at Poring Springs. [E]
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RUFOUS PICULET (Sasia abnormis) – One in the trees along the edge of the Gomantong Caves road cooperated reasonably well, but our best views came near the start of the trail between the BRL cabins and the bridge, where another foraged at eye level right beside us. These tiny woodpeckers lack stiff tail feathers and so cannot prop themselves on tree trunks; instead, they glean along branches and twigs, typically hunting low in tangled vegetation.
CRIMSON-WINGED WOODPECKER (Picus puniceus) – Two swirled through the trees along one of the trails at RDC, showing in fits and starts as they chased each other around.
CHECKER-THROATED WOODPECKER (Picus mentalis) – Some great spotting by Hamit netted us one of these big woodpeckers clinging to the side of a big trunk well below the park road as we birded our way down from the Timpohon Gate one morning. Through the scopes, we could see its rufous collar and unbarred belly -- though its checkered throat was rather more of a challenge! This is a species that doesn't do well in logged or disturbed forest.
RUFOUS WOODPECKER (Micropternus brachyurus) – Two along the Gomantong Caves road played hard to get, flitting back and forth across the road but never landing in view for long. Fortunately, another pair at Poring Springs proved far more cooperative, foraging for long minutes in trees right over the road. This species feeds primarily on ants.
BUFF-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tristis) – Seen in several locations at RDC, including a couple of birds viewed from the canopy walkway and another near the intersection of the Woodpecker and Kingfisher trails. The pale rump patch of this species is distinctive, particularly in flight.
BUFF-NECKED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tukki) – Seen very well on several days early in the tour, including one clinging to a branch right over the Menanggul River on our first boat trip there. Like the piculet, this one often feeds quite low down.
MAROON WOODPECKER (Blythipicus rubiginosus) – An active pair along the Menanggul gave us great views as they foraged and called and flicked back and forth across the river. We heard plenty of others in the lowlands and foothills.
GRAY-AND-BUFF WOODPECKER (Hemicircus concretus) – A pair flicked through low bushes along the edge of the Menanggul, showing nicely, and Joyce spotted us another flame-crowned male along the BRL entrance road one morning.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
WHITE-FRONTED FALCONET (Microhierax latifrons) – A couple of these tiny endemic falcons spent long minutes perched up on a dead snag visible from the RDC canopy walkway, and another adult fed a huge butterfly to the fledgling following it around near the BRL entrance road; the Common Birdwing was nearly as big as the youngster trying to eat it! [E]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – One glided back and forth along the ridge over the Gomantong Caves entrance, presumably waiting for the bats to make their exit. This was an "out of season" sighting -- most Peregrines are in Borneo only during the non-breeding season.
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
LONG-TAILED PARAKEET (Psittacula longicauda) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with especially nice views of some perched birds along the Menanggul. The long, slender, pointed tails of these noisy, fast-flying parrots help to quickly identify them.
BLUE-CROWNED HANGING-PARROT (Loriculus galgulus) – Quite common in the lowlands and foothills, where they were generally seen as tiny bullets rocketing past overhead; their high-pitched, rattling calls were often the first sign we had of their transient presence. We did get nice looks at a couple investigating a potential nest hole along the RDC walkway -- in the same huge tree where the Wallace's Hawk-Eagle nest had been built.

The handsome little Orange-bellied Flowerpecker showed well on many days, particularly around the dining room at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Calyptomenidae (African and Green Broadbills)
GREEN BROADBILL (Calyptomena viridis) – All-too-brief views of one along the BRL entrance road. Though we all heard it calling, only a few got a look before it flew off.
WHITEHEAD'S BROADBILL (Calyptomena whiteheadi) – Arg! We were oh-so-close!! We came around the corner in the bus to see a trio of birders beside the road, clearly enamored with something they were watching. Opening the door, we could hear the broadbill calling, but the time we'd slipped out and made our way down to where the other birders were, the bird itself was already gone. Darn, darn, darn! [*]
Eurylaimidae (Asian and Grauer's Broadbills)
BLACK-AND-RED BROADBILL (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) – Our first sighting was of a pair hunting from utility wires along the road near the RDC entrance on the first morning of the tour. We had even closer views of several other pairs along the Menanggul -- including the electric blue beak of one protruding from the messy ball of its nest along the river during one of our night floats. [N]
BANDED BROADBILL (Eurylaimus javanicus) – Arg! One sitting on a branch right over the road at Poring Springs silently fled right after I spotted it. Though it didn't go far -- and even called a few times from its new perch -- we just couldn't spot it further back in the forest. [*]
BLACK-AND-YELLOW BROADBILL (Eurylaimus ochromalus) – Easily the most common of the tour's broadbills, seen and/or heard nearly every day in the lowlands. The birds along the Menanggul on our first morning there were particularly showy, as were some cooperative birds on the Gomantong Caves road.
DUSKY BROADBILL (Corydon sumatranus) – We nosed up the little Sukau River one afternoon and found a noisy family group working through the canopy. After some protracted boat maneuvering (it was a pretty narrow river!), we finally found one sitting on an open branch high above the water.

The Kinabatangan region is the stronghold of Borneo's endemic Proboscis Monkeys. For some reason, we were all reminded of Jimmy Durante... Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Pittidae (Pittas)
BLACK-CROWNED PITTA (Erythropitta ussheri) – One along the Gomantong Caves road played hard to get initially, before eventually sidling out onto a horizontal branch in more-or-less plain view. Good thing we had the scopes along though, to get everybody on the right branch! We heard others whistling mournfully along the BRL entrance road. [E]
BLUE-HEADED PITTA (Hydrornis baudii) – We heard one calling along the BRL entrance road (not far from where we spotted our first Striped Wren-Babbler) and heard another along the BRL Hornbill trail a few days later. Unfortunately, neither was responsive. [E*]
HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – Super views of one along the boardwalk trail at the Gomantong Caves -- though it led us on a bit of a merry dance before finally showing itself; the bold white spots in its primaries were really noticeable when it flew. We heard others calling from the forest along the Menanggul.
Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
GOLDEN-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone sulphurea) – After hearing one singing from the treetops above the BRL canopy walkway, we finally connected with a couple of slightly lower birds (including another songster) along the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden in the Crocker Range.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus) – One of these little flycatchers flicked through branches over the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden, and another flitted along the edge of the road at Poring Springs. Though it's found in the lowlands as well, this species is most common in submontane areas.
BLACK-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus hirundinaceus) – Two hunted in the canopy visible from the RDC canopy walkway, and another pair hunted along the Menanggul on our first visit. This species is found in all types of lowland forest, extending up into the foothills.
RUFOUS-WINGED PHILENTOMA (Philentoma pyrhoptera) – Our first hunted along the boardwalk trail to the Gomantong Caves, and we saw others from the Sukau boardwalk trail and along the BRL entrance road. All the birds we spotted were males, which show are dark with bright rufous wings; females are a more uniform brown.
Artamidae (Woodswallows)
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – Seen on scattered days in the lowlands, typically along roadside wires (including some sprinkled along the Sukau road) or river edges (as with the little group we found hunting in a farm field along the Kinabatangan). We even spotted a few along the Lahad Datu runway.
Pityriaseidae (Bristlehead)
BORNEAN BRISTLEHEAD (Pityriasis gymnocephala) – Yahoo! We heard our first singing -- a loooooooong way away -- from the RDC walkway. Fortunately (after much searching) we connected with a closer, though very quiet, group along the BRL's Hornbill trail. They were rummaging through the canopy of one of the huge Dipterocarps, doing a surprisingly good job of hiding themselves among the leaves for much of the time. [E]
Aegithinidae (Ioras)
GREEN IORA (Aegithina viridissima) – Our first was a handsome male working at a nearly-eye-level branch near the RDC canopy walkway. We found others along the Menanggul River, the Gomantong Caves road and various places in Danum Valley. This species often joins mixed flocks.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris) – Reasonably common in the highlands, from our first (a few challenging birds high above the Masakob Waterfall Garden entrance) to the regular crowd near the Timpohon Gate each morning in Kinabalu NP, with a few others birds scattered among mixed flocks along the Kinabalu park road. The easiest way to tell this species from the next is by the wing patch; that gray chin can be tough to see from any distance!

A view of the Menanggul River early in the morning -- when it's still cool. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

SCARLET MINIVET (Pericrocotus speciosus) – A few from the RDC canopy walkway on our first morning, with others from the BRL canopy walkway later in the tour. This is a larger species than the Gray-chinned Minivet.
BAR-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina striata) – A quartet of calling, interacting birds high above the BRL canopy tower put on a nice show, flying back and forth over the forest and occasionally landing on dead snags on one of the big emergent trees, giving us the chance to study them in the scopes.
SUNDA CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina larvata) – One with a mixed flock behind Hill Lodge, and another (with what was probably the same flock) along the Kinabalu park road the following day.
LESSER CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage fimbriata schierbrandi) – Scattered birds in the lowlands, typically with other birds in a mixed flock. Our first was a singing bird seen from the canopy walkway at RDC. We saw others at BRL, both along the entrance road and from the canopy walkway there.
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
BORNEAN WHISTLER (Pachycephala hypoxantha) – A gratifyingly common endemic, seen daily in the mountains, often in pairs. Once we found them (often in mixed flocks with laughingthrushes), they often allowed quite close approach. [E]
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach) – A few pairs seen on roadside wires along the Sukau road, where the species has recently become established. The subspecies found here during the breeding season is "bentet".
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLYTH'S SHRIKE-BABBLER (BLYTH'S) (Pteruthius aeralatus robinsoni) – Small numbers in the mountains, including a confiding pair along the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden and others around Kinabalu's Timpohon Gate. This species was split from the former White-browed Shrike-Babbler complex.

Black-and-red Broadbills were wonderfully showy in several places. This one was gathering material for its nest. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
DARK-THROATED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthonotus) – One along the Gomantong Caves road played hard to get. Fortunately, we found a handful of more cooperative birds at BRL, including a pair busily foraging just over our heads along the road near the start of the canopy walkway.
BLACK-AND-CRIMSON ORIOLE (Oriolus cruentus) – Splendid looks at this highland species -- like the previous species, a Sundaland specialty -- in the Crocker Range. They seemed particularly fond of the various fruiting trees, returning again and again to stuff themselves on the berries.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
ASHY DRONGO (BORNEAN) (Dicrurus leucophaeus stigmatops) – Very common in the highlands, with especially nice views of several hunting from the chainlink fence around the electricity plant near the Timpohon Gate. They were very common in the Crocker Range, typically trailing along with mixed flocks. This is the palest of the island's drongos. The subspecies here, stigmatops, is endemic to Borneo.
BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus) – One in flight near the BRL entrance gate was, surprisingly, the only one of the tour -- and it didn't stick around very long.
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (HAIR-CRESTED) (Dicrurus hottentottus borneensis) – A couple of birds with the big mixed laughingthrush flock we found on several days along the Kinabalu park road -- including once right near our cabins.
GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus brachyphorus) – Our first was a singing bird perched right at the top of a tree along the Menanggul -- though the fact that it wasn't the CLOSEST tree made it a bit of a challenge to find the right spot to "park" the boat for a look. We found another hunting in an overgrown field at Poring Springs. Their long racquet-shaped tail feathers are certainly eye-catching!
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
SPOTTED FANTAIL (Rhipidura perlata) – One near the Gomantong Caves pirouetted through mid-level branches, fanning its eponymous tail. This is usually the least common of the tour's fantails.
MALAYSIAN PIED-FANTAIL (Rhipidura javanica) – And this is the most common of the tour's fantails, widespread across the lowlands. Their tail-spreading habits made them easy to pick out as they foraged.
WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis) – Small numbers in the highlands, including a couple with a mixed flock near the Masakob Waterfall Garden, a few hunting moths on the chainlink fence near the Timpohon Gate each morning, and others trailing along with mixed flocks at Kinabalu.
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea) – Small numbers on scattered days, often in pairs. Our best looks came as we drove along the BRL entrance road one morning; we found a male on a nest almost within arm's reach of the truck bed -- and it stayed put while we examined it. [N]
BLYTH'S PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone affinis) – Fabulous, point-blank views of a white-morph male along the Danum River trail one afternoon at BRL -- what a stunner! We saw others (more briefly and less well) along the BRL entrance road later in our stay.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLACK MAGPIE (BORNEAN) (Platysmurus leucopterus aterrimus) – Fine views of a noisy (but confiding) family group along the Gomantong road; their songs are surprisingly musical, and their bright red eyes are unexpected too. We saw others from the canopy walkway at BRL.
BORNEAN GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa jefferyi) – Nice looks at several with a mixed flock along the Kinabalu park road not far from our lodge, examining the branches for potential tidbits. This endemic was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Common Green-Magpie, which is also found in Borneo -- but in more open habitats and scruffy second growth. [E]
BORNEAN TREEPIE (Dendrocitta cinerascens) – Quite common in the highlands, usually in big family groups. Our first were a noisy gang working through some downslope treetops near the Tambunan Rafflesia Center. We had others with the mixed laughingthrush flock we found on several days along the Kinabalu park road (and around our cabins). [E]
SLENDER-BILLED CROW (SLENDER-BILLED) (Corvus enca compilator) – Regular throughout, recorded nearly every day of the tour -- including a jumped-up flock mobbing a Changeable Hawk-Eagle along the Kinabatangan River late one afternoon.

Up close, it's easy to see how the Bearded Pig got its name. Video by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – Common and widespread, seen in good numbers on most days of the tour, with particularly good studies of adults and recently-fledged youngsters on posts in the Kinabatangan River near our lodge. We found plenty of nests too, including some stuck to the rafters on the ground floor of the main building at BRL. [N]
Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis) – We spotted our first along BRL's canopy walkway on our first visit there, flitting through the trees and occasionally landing on bits of the suspension bridges themselves. We found another near the BRL entrance gate the following morning, and spotted a third along the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden in the Crocker Range.
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis) – A noisy family group clambered around in some of the biggest trees around the BRL canopy walkway, and others did the same on trunks along the BRL entrance road. We had our closest looks along the road in the Crocker Range, where a couple of birds crawled around on branches nearly over our heads. What stunners!
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
PUFF-BACKED BULBUL (Pycnonotus eutilotus) – Two worked through some low trees along the edge of the Menanggul River, not far from the fruiting trees where we found our close barbets.
BLACK-HEADED BULBUL (Pycnonotus atriceps) – Quite common in the lowlands, typically in small flocks. Some perched up along the Menanggul, and others seemed to favor the BRL entrance road. Though also black and yellow, this species much less colorful than the Bornean Bulbul.

The canopy walkway in the Danum Valley gets us right up among the treetops. Photo by participant Susan McCarthy.

STRAW-HEADED BULBUL (Pycnonotus zeylanicus) – An afternoon ramble along the river end of BRL's Hornbill trail, near where it joined the River trail, proved to be fertile ground for a couple of these big bulbuls, which flicked through branches over the water, singing as they went. Their beautiful songs are part of what's leading to their decline; their numbers have been decimated by the caged-bird trade.
BORNEAN BULBUL (Pycnonotus montis) – Great looks at a half-dozen or so at a couple of spots in the Crocker Range, including some feasting in a fruiting tree along the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden. This is one of Borneo's newer endemics, split from the former Black-crested Bulbul complex. [E]
SCALY-BREASTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus squamatus) – Scope views of one of these canopy dwellers from the BRL canopy walkway, in the same huge emergent tree that held our Bar-bellied Cuckooshrikes. This is definitely one of Borneo's fancier bulbuls.
YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus goiavier) – Particularly common around the Sepilok Nature Resort and nearby RDC, with another pair on a wire fence near the start of the Gunung Alab road. The dark eye line of this pale-faced species -- along with its yellow vent -- is a useful field mark.
OLIVE-WINGED BULBUL (Pycnonotus plumosus) – A trio chased each other through trees near the chalets at Poring Hot Springs, pausing briefly on a few branches and a telephone wire before disappearing behind one of the buildings.
CREAM-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus simplex) – Adzel got a few folks on one in a fruiting tree along the BRL entrance road (when many were busy trying to get a look at a Dark-throated Oriole), and we had longer looks at another in one of the fruiting trees near the BRL dining balcony.
RED-EYED BULBUL (Pycnonotus brunneus) – Easily the most common bulbul of the tour, seen in big numbers every day in the lowlands -- but missing completely from the highlands.
SPECTACLED BULBUL (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos) – Regular, though in small numbers, in the lowlands, particularly around BRL. The diagnostic yellow "spectacles" (really just an eye ring) on this species is only visible from fairly close range.
HAIRY-BACKED BULBUL (Tricholestes criniger) – Best seen in that very convenient fruiting tree just off the BRL balcony, where a trio entertained us during one afternoon's birding. Some saw others along the Gomantong Caves road.
FINSCH'S BULBUL (Alophoixus finschii) – One of these uncommon bulbuls along the BRL entrance road, with another in plain sight in the fruiting tree (and on the knee-high rope fence) off the BRL dining balcony.
OCHRACEOUS BULBUL (Alophoixus ochraceus) – Daily in the highlands, typically with mixed flocks, including a couple with a group swirling along the road through the Crocker Range and another pair entertaining us on Kinabalu's breakfast restaurant's balcony one rainy morning.
GRAY-CHEEKED BULBUL (Alophoixus bres) – A little group spinning through some fruiting trees near the entrance gate to the Danum Valley were nicely cooperative. We saw others elsewhere on the BRL entrance road the following day.
YELLOW-BELLIED BULBUL (Alophoixus phaeocephalus) – One hunting in the canopy near the new set of stairs up to the BRL canopy walkway (darting out again and again to pluck berries from a viny tangle around a huge trunk) with another pair along the BRL entrance road for those who trekked around the Hornbill trail one afternoon. We had another in Poring Springs.
CHARLOTTE'S BULBUL (Iole charlottae) – Nice views on half a dozen days scattered throughout the tour -- though not in the highlands. The pale eye on this one, which was a recently split from the Buff-vented Bulbul complex, helps to quickly distinguish it from the other mostly uniformly brownish bulbuls.
ASHY BULBUL (GREEN-WINGED) (Hemixos flavala connectens) – One with a mixed flock near the Masakob Waterfall Garden in the Crocker Range proved somewhat elusive before finally perching where we could see it. It seemed particularly fond of dense foliage!
Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)
BORNEAN STUBTAIL (Urosphena whiteheadi) – Surprisingly, we heard the ultra-high-pitched song of this tiny endemic only once -- along the Mempening trail while we attempted to track down our first Snowy-browed Flycatchers. [E*]
YELLOW-BELLIED WARBLER (Abroscopus superciliaris) – A couple with our big mixed flock in the pullout below the Masakob Waterfall Garden with others along the park road in Kinabalu NP. This species is a "slope specialist", typically found between 1000 and 1800 meters (3300-5900 ft) in elevation.
MOUNTAIN TAILORBIRD (Phyllergates cucullatus) – One flicked through vegetation near the Timpohon Gate, distracting us briefly from our first Mountain Black-eyes, and we saw another very responsive bird right on the dining room balcony at our Kinabalu breakfast restaurant on one rainy morning. The little rusty cap of this long-billed species (which isn't closely related to the other tailorbirds) is distinctive.
SUNDA BUSH WARBLER (Horornis vulcanius) – Lovely views of confiding birds on Gunung Alab and along the upper stretches of the Kinabalu park road. Fortunately for the neck muscles, this species is always quite low.

A jaunty Little Pied Flycatcher foraged in the rain at the Liwagu Restaurant, bringing moth after moth to its hungry fledgling. Photo by local guide Hamit Suban.

Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
MOUNTAIN LEAF WARBLER (MOUNTAIN) (Phylloscopus trivirgatus kinabaluensis) – Common in the highlands, with especially nice looks at several with mixed flocks near the Timpohon Gate. The subspecies found on Borneo is the endemic 'kinabaluensis'.
YELLOW-BREASTED WARBLER (Seicercus montis) – Satisfyingly common in the highlands, where they were a regular part of the mixed flocks we found. I still think these endearing little warblers should have been called "Pumpkin Heads", as their bright rusty heads are certainly their most notable feature!
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
STRIATED GRASSBIRD (Megalurus palustris) – A fortuitous roadside stop along the road to Sukau led to us spotting one of these long-tailed birds singing from a utility wire behind the bus.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus atrogularis) – One along Sukau's boardwalk trail for some and along the BRL entrance road for others, but our best group views probably came near the confluence of the Menanggul and Kinabatangan rivers, where several flicked along through the tall grasses, having a serious dispute. We heard plenty of others.
ASHY TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus ruficeps) – The most common and widespread of the tour's tailorbirds, seen in good numbers daily in the lowlands, typically in little family groups. When we were exploring the various canopy walkways, they were often within arm's reach!
RUFOUS-TAILED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sericeus) – A few scattered individuals, generally low in the underbrush. We had especially nice looks at one mooching around on the grassy lawn outside the BRL dining room on morning, while waiting for everyone to gather for the day's walk.
YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (Prinia flaviventris) – Common and widespread, including several perched and singing in the tall reed grasses along the Kinabatangan and Telipok rivers, and others in the weedy areas along the BRL entrance road.

Whitehead's Trogon is widely touted as the world's most beautiful trogon. This fledgling still had some colors to gain, but was already pretty snazzy. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
CHESTNUT-CRESTED YUHINA (Yuhina everetti) – Abundant in the highlands, typically in big, noisy single-species flocks. The mob feeding at a fruiting tree near the Masakob Waterfall Garden gave us particularly good looks, as did the gang cleaning moths off the chainlink fence near the Timpohon Gate each morning in Kinabalu NP. [E]
MOUNTAIN BLACK-EYE (Chlorocharis emiliae) – Regular around the Timpohon Gate, particularly on our first morning in Kinabalu NP, when we found more than a dozen. This endemic is a true highland specialty, found only at elevations above [check]. [E]
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)
BOLD-STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis bornensis) – Especially nice views of several working low through the trees along the edge of the Menanggul, with others heard (or seen fleetingly) along the Gomantong Caves road and the BRL entrance drive.
CHESTNUT-WINGED BABBLER (Cyanoderma erythropterum) – A bold little group of these social babblers foraged along the edge of RDC's Kingfisher trail, showing their bright rusty wings to perfection. We saw others along the Menanggul and BRL's entrance road.
RUFOUS-FRONTED BABBLER (Cyanoderma rufifrons) – It's actually more of a rufous CROWN than a rufous front, but that name was already taken! We saw a couple of these in the canopy of some mid-height trees near the start of the BRL canopy walkway on our first visit there.
CHESTNUT-BACKED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus montanus) – We heard the loud hollow hoots of this species while we birded on the BRL canopy walkway one morning, but it was calling from way over on the far side of the road -- and we couldn't entice it across. [*]
BLACK-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigricollis) – Skulking groups in the undergrowth along the Gomantong Caves road on each of our visits, with nice looks at some as they peered from the dense leaves and only fleeting flight views of others.
CHESTNUT-RUMPED BABBLER (Stachyris maculata) – A noisy group under the RDC canopy walkway played hard to get as we tried to see them from the Kingfisher trail; some of us were more successful at getting a look than others! The contrast between back and rump color is helpful in identifying this species.
GRAY-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigriceps) – A busy little gang swarmed through roadside grasses near the Timpohon Gate one morning; their bold white moustache stripes are actually probably the most eye-catching thing about them.
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)
MOUSTACHED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnirostre) – A little group moved through the trees along the edge of the lower Hornbill trail as we watched for the Bornean Bristleheads to move back into a more open part of the tree overhead. Its little dark moustache stripe helps to distinguish it from the otherwise similar Sooty-capped Babbler.
SOOTY-CAPPED BABBLER (Malacopteron affine) – After hearing them for most of the days we were in the Danum Valley, we finally connected with a cooperative little flock of them near the start of the far end of the canopy walkway on our last morning there.
SCALY-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron cinereum) – A group along the BRL entrance road, not far from where we found our first dwarf-kingfisher. This species is quite similar to the next in appearance, but is vocally quite different.
RUFOUS-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnum) – Most common in the Danum Valley, where it was recorded daily, with others along the Gomantong Caves road. The larger size, grayer breast and throat and dark legs of this species help to separate it from the very similar previous species.
BLACK-CAPPED BABBLER (Pellorneum capistratum) – The only way we could have gotten closer to the one foraging along the edge of the trail at the Rainforest Discovery Center is if it had actually stood on somebody's foot! As it was, we could nearly have reached out and touched it as it strode past, calling loudly.
TEMMINCK'S BABBLER (Pellorneum pyrrogenys) – One along the wooden "sidewalk" on the lower stretch of the Kinabalu park road played hard to get, showing well initially, but then diving into deeper cover when a noisy bus (and even noisier group of tourists) went past.

Brown Barbets were regular in the lowlands. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

SHORT-TAILED BABBLER (Pellorneum malaccense) – Quick glimpses for a few of a noisy little group flitting through the trees some distance from BRL's upper Hornbill trail.
WHITE-CHESTED BABBLER (Pellorneum rostratum) – Our first -- along a little stream at RDC -- was rather shy, never sitting in the open for long. Fortunately, the noisy pairs along the Menanggul proved far more accommodating, striding along the banks in plain view as they searched tree roots and debris piles for tasty tidbits.
FERRUGINOUS BABBLER (Pellorneum bicolor) – One along Sukau's boardwalk trail cooperated pretty well, moving through trees not far from the path. We heard others in the Danum Valley.
STRIPED WREN-BABBLER (Kenopia striata) – Our afternoon encounter with one on BRL's lower Hornbill trail was fabulous, with long scope views of a bird singing from a skinny little branch at eye level not too far off the path. Wow!! That was a vast improvement over the one we found along the BRL entrance road, which had proved frustratingly elusive, flitting from one side of the road to the other and never sitting anywhere for long.
HORSFIELD'S BABBLER (Turdinus sepiarius) – Two along the Gomantong Caves road showed surprisingly well as they foraged through a small open tree.
BLACK-THROATED WREN-BABBLER (Turdinus atrigularis) – Scope views of two wren-babblers on the same day?? Spoiled, that's what you are! A pair near the BRL river trail were a bit flighty to start with, but one eventually settled onto a perch not far over the path and proceeded to serenade us, giving us the chance to study him in the scopes. [E]
MOUNTAIN WREN-BABBLER (Turdinus crassus) – Another shoe-tip bird, this time along the Mempening trail in Kinabalu NP. It came from a long way down the valley, walking steadily uphill (singing all the time) until it suddenly popped into view on a mossy log right in front of us. It then paraded past and carried on up the hill, singing all the while. [E]

Nepenthes tentaculata, one of more than 50 species of pitcher plant found in Borneo. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
BROWN FULVETTA (Alcippe brunneicauda) – A few folks got on our first -- a pair flicking through a treetop near the top of the staircase up to the BRL canopy walkway -- but most had to wait until we found another pair at ground level along the entrance road a couple of days later. This species may not look like much, but it's sure got a great song!
SUNDA LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax palliatus) – Great looks at plenty of them in the mountains, particularly around the Timpohon Gate. They're often in mixed flocks with Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrushes (and less often with Bare-headed Laughingthrushes).
BARE-HEADED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax calvus) – Arg! We were oh-so-close, hearing several gabbling in the trees over our heads along the Kinabalu park road, but we just couldn't find a vantage point to actually see them. And when we found the flock again the next day, this species wasn't with them. [E*]
CHESTNUT-HOODED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla treacheri treacheri) – Very common and widespread in the highlands, from the Crocker Range to the highest points we reached in Kinabalu. This is the smallest of the tour's laughingthrushes. [E]
Irenidae (Fairy-bluebirds)
ASIAN FAIRY-BLUEBIRD (Irena puella) – Our first were a flyby pair that zipped past as we birded from the BRL canopy walkway. Fortunately for those who didn't happen to be looking in the right direction when they sailed past, we had much better views of a couple of others sitting for long minutes on some dead snags at Poring Springs. Wow!
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis) – Seen well on scattered days, with especially nice views of a pair hunting around the RDC parking lot, perching on concrete walls and light poles.
RUFOUS-TAILED SHAMA (Copsychus pyrropygus) – Two near the BRL entrance gate were superbly cooperative, perching again and again right in the open as they hunted -- sometimes dropping to the ground only yards from where we stood!
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (WHITE-CROWNED) (Copsychus malabaricus stricklandii) – Regular in the lowlands, where their amazing songs were a regular part of the tour soundtrack. One hunting along the Gomantong Caves boardwalk -- and another along the entrance road a few days later -- showed well. And since they hunt in the understory, we didn't even have to stretch our necks!
MALAYSIAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis turcosus) – Fine views of several pairs along the Menanggul River on each of our outings there, with another from the big bridge at Poring Hot Springs.
BORNEAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis superbus) – Tougher to find than the previous species; this one made us work for it! After hearing one singing from the BRL dining balcony one afternoon, we finally caught up with one (after waiting out an inconvenient rain shower) on our last morning at BRL. [E]
INDIGO FLYCATCHER (Eumyias indigo) – Common and showy in the Crocker Range and Kinabalu NP, including some hunting right around our cabins and others checking for moths around the lights at the Timpohon Gate.
VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus) – One hunting in a roadside tree along the BRL entrance road was well-studied as it moved from sun to shade and back again. This was Alan's 3000th world bird!
EYEBROWED JUNGLE-FLYCATCHER (Vauriella gularis) – Probably one of our easier endemics, with a half dozen or more seen very well daily in Kinabalu NP -- including a briefly-heart-stopping one hunting from a guard rail right beside the road each morning we searched for thrushes. [E]
WHITE-BROWED SHORTWING (BORNEAN) (Brachypteryx montana erythrogyna) – We heard one singing very close to us at Gunung Alab, and another along the Kinabalu park road. Unfortunately though, only the guides actually laid eyes on it! [*]
BORNEAN WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus borneensis) – Nicely common in the mountains, particularly on our pre-breakfast "thrush search" excursions. One of the females near the Timpohon Gate was wearing some very strange "booties" on both legs -- a banding experiment gone wrong? [E]
WHITE-CROWNED FORKTAIL (WHITE-CROWNED) (Enicurus leschenaulti frontalis) – One flashed along the BRL entrance road in front of our vehicle, disappearing over the edge into one of the valley's small creeks.

Mountain Leaf Warblers proved extremely cooperative on this tour, showing nicely on many occasions in the highlands. Photo by local guide Hamit Suban.

WHITE-CROWNED FORKTAIL (BORNEAN) (Enicurus leschenaulti borneensis) – Brief looks for some at one along Kinabalu NP's Silau-Silau trail or another along the river visible from the wooden "sidewalk" on the lower stretch of the park road. Some authorities split this subspecies into a separate species, based on its larger size, longer tail, darker crown (the white cap only extends to the peak of the crest) and the fact that it's found in the highlands rather than the lowlands.
SNOWY-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hyperythra sumatrana) – After struggling to get any kind of look at our first -- a skulking male along Kinabalu's Mempening trail -- we were treated to lovely views of a pair dancing after bugs along the park road in the half-light one early morning. At one point, the male bravely (or foolishly) tackled a centipede that was half again as long as he was!
PYGMY FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hodgsoni) – We all heard one calling along the Kinabalu NP road late one afternoon, but only Alan -- who'd plunked his three-legged stool down in the perfect spot -- actually saw it. Fortunately, the rest of us caught up with it a few days later along the same stretch of road.
LITTLE PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula westermanni) – Regular in the highlands, including a soggy adult feeding moths to an even soggier youngster in a tree right off the Liwagu Restaurant balcony one rainy morning.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (Geokichla citrina) – A good example of persistence paying off! After three days of trawling the Kinabalu road with no luck at all, we were finally rewarded on the fourth day with not one, not two but THREE different birds. And what handsome little birds they are! The subspecies in the north Bornean mountains is 'aurata'.
FRUIT-HUNTER (Chlamydochaera jefferyi) – We heard the distinctive whistles of one from the darkening forest along the Kinabalu road late one afternoon, but couldn't spot the singer -- despite considerable efforts! [E*]

Participant Merrill Lester snapped this shot of a spectacular male Blyth's Paradise-Flycatcher at the start of one afternoon's ramble in the Danum Valley.

Sturnidae (Starlings)
ASIAN GLOSSY STARLING (Aplonis panayensis) – Regular in some of the more open lowland areas, including a few showy birds around the RDC parking lot and some along the Telipok River. The sexual dimorphism in this species is striking.
COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa) – Most common around Sukau, with a few pairs seen well from the dining room while we waited out some of the passing rainstorms. The bold gold head wattles of this species help to separate them from the next.
JAVAN MYNA (Acridotheres javanicus) – Common around Sepilok and Sukau, including some striding around on a grassy lawn near the RDC parking lot and a big flock of 40 or so in a fruiting tree along the Kinabatangan. [I]
Chloropseidae (Leafbirds)
GREATER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis sonnerati) – Our first was a female (distinguished by her yellow throat and eye ring) along the Menanggul. We found others (males and females) on the BRL canopy walkway and along the entrance road there, with others at Poring Springs. Males are much more difficult to separate from the next species.
LESSER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis cyanopogon) – Seen on scattered days in the lowlands, particularly in Danum Valley; our first was a female along the RDC canopy walkway. Male leafbirds can be a real challenge to tell apart; fortunately females are easier!
BORNEAN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis kinabaluensis) – Fine studies of a busy group feasting on berries in some fruiting trees along the road in the Crocker Range, not far from the Masakob Waterfall Garden. This species was split from the Blue-winged Leafbird. [E]
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
YELLOW-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER (Prionochilus maculatus) – Another species in surprisingly low numbers this year. We found one along the Sukau boardwalk and others in the garden visible from the BRL dining room.
YELLOW-VENTED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum chrysorrheum) – Great studies of one perched for long minutes below a mistletoe clump over our heads on the RDC walkway; in the scopes, we got repeated views of its striped chest and bright yellow vent.
ORANGE-BELLIED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum trigonostigma) – Probably the most common of the tour's flowerpeckers, seen well in various lowland locations, particularly in Danum Valley. The little male that had claimed the fruiting tree beside our table in the BRL dining room allowed especially close inspection.
PLAIN FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum minullum) – We watched one of these small flowerpeckers feeding at some mistletoe clumps over the far end of the RDC walkway. Its name is certainly appropriate!
BLACK-SIDED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum monticolum) – Quite common in the highlands, with wonderful views of one berry-nibbling male in a roadside bush on Gunung Alab, and regular visitors to the flowering hedge planted outside our cabins at Kinabalu. [E]
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD (Chalcoparia singalensis) – Regular in the lowlands, including a male foraging just above eye level along one of the trails at RDC (not far from our first White-chested Babbler) and a female along the Gomantong Caves road. This one reminded a lot of us of a bright Tropical Parula.
PLAIN SUNBIRD (Anthreptes simplex) – This one's certainly appropriately named -- it's a study in drab olive! Our first made a quick appearance as we struggled to get a look at a couple of trogons along the Menanggul River late one morning, and we found others on the Gomantong Caves road and the BRL entrance drive.
PLAIN-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes malacensis) – Also known as Brown-throated Sunbird, this is one of the common species of second-growth and open areas, including the garden at Sepilok Nature Resort, the area around the parking lot at RDC and the edges of the Gomantong Caves road.
RED-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes rhodolaemus) – One along the Gomantong Caves road on our first visit. Though very similar to the previous species (to which it is closely related), this one has a reddish (rather than brownish) throat and face, and tends to be found in bigger, better forest.

The grins say it all! It was a successful search for Bornean Pygmy Elephants. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

VAN HASSELT'S SUNBIRD (Leptocoma brasiliana) – We dipped on this small canopy species along the RDC walkway (where they're typically most common), but lucked into a male along the Gomantong Caves road one morning. The small size and overall darkness of the male's plumage (with his navy blue throat) is distinctive.
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis) – Small numbers along the Sukau road (singing from the roadside wires) with others in the park at Nabalu (where we looked for Pygmy White-eyes). This is an open-country species.
TEMMINCK'S SUNBIRD (Aethopyga temminckii) – Common in the highlands, including a male that had claimed a dead snag near our Kinabalu cabins as his singing perch. What a stunner!
CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Aethopyga siparaja) – The lowland replacement of the previous species, seen along the Gomantong Caves road and on the Menanggul. This one definitely rates as "eye candy"!
LITTLE SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera longirostra) – In addition to the showy bird visiting the flowers right beside the tables at the Sepilok dining room (for those who arrived before sunset on our first day), we spotted others along the Sukau boardwalk trail, the Gomantong Caves road and the BRL entrance road. The bill on this one is surprisingly long -- though not as long as that of the much larger Long-billed Spiderhunter.
PURPLE-NAPED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera hypogrammicum) – This was the Purple-naped SUNBIRD until quite recently, when DNA research showed it was more closely related to the spiderhunters than the sunbirds. The heavily-striped chest of this lowland species made it easy to identify, though its purple nape was considerably tougher to see.
WHITEHEAD'S SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera juliae) – WAHOO! This is one of the island's tougher endemics -- thin on the ground, and typically found high up in the canopy. Fortunately, a couple of calling birds along the road in the Crocker Range made a few passes back and forth overhead and then settled on open branches in a nearby treetop, giving us splendid scope views. That bright yellow vent is pretty snazzy! [E]
YELLOW-EARED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera chrysogenys) – A few folks got a quick look at one Hamit spotted along the Kinabalu park road.
SPECTACLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera flavigaster) – One over the last trail we climbed at Poring Hot Springs proved nicely cooperative, allowing us to see it from BOTH sides of the bush.

Getting the "low down" on a low-down Changeable Hawk-Eagle was a treat. Photo by participant Merrill Lester.

BORNEAN SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera everetti) – One along the BRL entrance road showed its boldly striped underparts nicely. [E]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
PADDYFIELD PIPIT (Anthus rufulus malayensis) – A couple strode around on the grassy edges of the runway at the Lahad Datu airport.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – Common around human habitation, including the entrance to the RDC and the main building at BRL. This introduced species fills the same niche that the House Sparrow does in much of the world. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
DUSKY MUNIA (Lonchura fuscans) – Easily the most common munia of the trip, seen in a variety of locations in the lowlands and hills; it was also one of the most regularly seen of the tour's endemics. The uniformly chocolate-brown plumage helps to quickly separate it from other small species found in tall, grassy habitats. [E]
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata) – A little group foraged in tall reed grasses growing near the Telipok River on our final afternoon, showing nicely their intricately patterned plumage.
CHESTNUT MUNIA (Lonchura atricapilla) – Our first were rummaging along the weedy edge of the Sukau road -- nice spotting, Merrill! We found others feeding along the Telipok River on our way back to Kota Kinabalu.

COLUGO (Cynocephalus variegatus) – One glided across the clearing over our cabins at BRL and stuck its landing on a big tree trunk. It was so smooth that we thought it was an owl gliding in to land! We had great up-close views of this bizarre, spotty mammal as it swiveled its head around, trying to decide where to go next.
LESSER SHORT-NOSED FRUIT BAT (Cynopterus brachyotis) – A small group hanging on the eaves of a dilapidated building at the edge of the Gomantong Caves parking lot were very approachable -- and very photogenic. They watched warily, ears swiveling, as we stood below. At least one had a baby tucked under her arm.
WRINKLE-LIPPED FREE-TAILED BAT (Chaerephon plicatus) – Thousands and thousands roosted in shifting, shuffling masses on the ceiling of the "black nest" cave at Gomantong Caves. Unfortunately, they didn't make their usual mass exodus on the evening we visited; perhaps they knew the heavy rain was coming!
MOUNTAIN TREESHREW (Tupaia montana) – Reasonably common along the park road in Kinabalu NP, with others on the Mempening trail. The long, pointy nose of this dark-furred species helps to distinguish it from the various small tree squirrels which share its habitat. [E]
CRAB-EATING MACAQUE (Macaca fascigularis) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, typically in big groups scattered among waterside trees, with others along the boardwalk trails around the Sukau lodge. Though they're generally less aggressive than their shorter-tailed cousins, they can be pretty intimidating when you come upon a gang of them in the path! Also known as Long-tailed Macaque.
PIGTAIL MACAQUE (Macaca nemestrina) – Surprisingly small numbers of this typically common species this year, all away from the lodges. The short tail and dark brown crest of this species help to separate it from the previous one.
SILVERED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis cristata) – We found a little group of four along the Kinabatangan one afternoon, and a single golden animal (with a small infant) in a tree right across the river from the lodge one morning; unfortunately, the latter quickly fled as another boat approached. This poorly-known species is rare and declining in Borneo, and is now rated "near threatened" by the IUCN.
RED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis rubicunda) – This endemic species, on the other hand, was gratifyingly common; it's thought to be the least-threatened colobine in Borneo. We found several big groups along the Gomantong Caves road (and the boardwalk trail out to the cave itself), with others around the BRL lodge and entrance road. This one is also known as Maroon Langur. [E]
PROBOSCIS MONKEY (Nasalis larvatus) – Multiple nice encounters with these endangered endemic monkeys along the Kinabatangan and Menanggul rivers -- including a few "Jimmy Durante" males and many pug-nosed females. Their distinctive long white tails were often the first sign we had of them, particularly on our night floats. A recent study shows the size of the male's nose affects his "sex appeal"; the bigger the male's nose, the bigger his harem! [E]
GRAY GIBBON (Hylobates muelleri) – We heard the eerie whoops of this endemic species on many days in the lowlands, but never spotted the animals themselves -- though we came mighty close along the Gomantong Caves road, where we could hear them moving quietly through the nearby trees. Also known as Bornean Gibbon. [E*]

Gloria shows off a giant Dipterocarp seed, which is shed by equally large trees; Dipterocarps are among the tallest trees in the world! Photo by participant Inman Gallogly.

ORANGUTAN (Pongo pygmaeus) – Seen on most days in the lowlands, including a young male hanging out near the entrance to the Gomantong Caves, a mother and youngster near one of the villas at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge and "King" -- a big adult male -- making his leafy bed in a tree right above some of the cabins at BRL. This is another endangered primate. Many biologists split the animals found on Borneo from those found on Sumatra. [E]
PALE GIANT SQUIRREL (Ratufa affinis) – A few encounters with single individuals, including one along the Sukau boardwalk trail and a couple along the BRL entrance road. These are the island's largest squirrel, rivaling some of the monkeys in size!
PREVOST'S SQUIRREL (Callosciurus prevostii) – Easily the most widespread of the tour's squirrels, seen regularly in the lowlands; one raiding a fruiting tree overhanging the Menanggul was especially cooperative. Its combination of black upperparts and rusty belly is distinctive.
KINABALU SQUIRREL (Callosciurus baluensis) – This is the highland replacement for the previous species; it's not quite as dark on the upperparts and has a distinctive pale stripe on the side. We found one sitting motionless on a branch along the Mempening trail one morning. [E]
PLANTAIN SQUIRREL (Callosciurus notatus) – A few scattered individuals along the Menanggul, where their striped sides were obvious as they scampered through the trees.
BORNEAN BLACK-BANDED SQUIRREL (Callosciurus orestes) – A handful in Kinabalu NP: some around the Timpohon Gate and others along the Mempening trail. This highland species is smaller than the similar lowland Plantain Squirrel, and has a white spot behind its ears. [E]
JENTINK'S SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus jentincki) – Plenty of these speedy little tree squirrels in Kinabalu NP, where they vastly outnumbered the other species. Given their speed and leaping ability, perhaps they should have been called JETPACK Squirrels! [E]
BORNEAN MOUNTAIN GROUND-SQUIRREL (Dremomys everetti) – We found some of these short-tailed ground-squirrels on each of our days in the highlands, particularly near the Timpohon Gate. [E]
PLAIN PYGMY SQUIRREL (Exilisciurus exilis) – There's something eminently appealing about tiny squirrels that are smaller than your thumb! We had great looks at a number of them in various lowland locations. [E]

Participant Joyce Miller took this shot of a stretch of the Silau-Silau trail in Kinabalu NP. The trail name means "dazzled" or "glare" -- a reference to the little stream that tumbles along beside it.

BLACK FLYING SQUIRREL (Aeromys tephromelas) – Our first BRL night drive yielded one of these less-common flying squirrels along the entrance road; it peered down from a horizontal branch in a big emergent tree near the road. This is the longest-tailed of Borneo's flying squirrels.
THOMAS'S FLYING SQUIRREL (Aeromys thomasi) – We spotted one of these endemic flying squirrels along the BRL entrance road on our last night drive there. Unlike the larger (and generally more common Red Giant Flying Squirrel), this one lacks a dark tip to its tail. [E]
LONG-TAILED PORCUPINE (Trichys fasciculata) – One scuttled across the road in front of the truck on our first night drive. If faced with a predator, the porcupine can drop the white tuft at the end of its tail, which can distract the predator long enough for the porcupine to make its escape.
MALAY CIVET (Viverra tangalunga) – We saw our first along the BRL entrance road on one of our night drives, then found another right near the main lodge on our last night there. What a gorgeous animal!
LEOPARD CAT (Felis bengalensis) – Some glowing eyeballs in the spotlight beam along the Menanggul River eventually resolved into a couple of these small, spotty cats, which slunk off through the undergrowth.
BORNEAN PYGMY ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus borneensis) – A radio message during one afternoon's outing on the Kinabatangan changed our plans and sent us zooming upriver, where we found at least five of these small elephants browsing along the riverbank and (later) one taking a vigorous, splashing bath in the river itself. The subspecies borneensis, which is endemic to the island, is sometimes split out as a distinct species.
BEARDED PIG (Sus barbatus) – A female with at least seven piglets scurried across one of the trails at RDC, leaving her piglets behind in her haste to get out of view; after abandoning the little ones to mill around for a bit, she returned and led them to safety. Our best views came near the turnoff to the staff quarters at BRL, where a huge, bearded male dug slow, methodical trenches in a grassy strip with his powerful tusks.
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor) – We found one on our night drive, resting on a bank along the BRL entrance road. It climbed to its feet and slowly walked off into the forest when we pulled abreast and stopped.
WALLACE'S FLYING FROG (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus (Rhacophoridae)) – The white-chinned little green tree frog we found along the Sukau boardwalk trail on our night walk was probably this species.
FILE-EARED TREEFROG (Polypedates otilophus (Rhacophoridae)) – According to Hamit, the very large treefrog we spotted up in the Brown Boobook tree on our first evening together was likely to be this species. In fact, the eyes were so far apart that we thought it was the owl when we first spotted the eyeshine!
SALTWATER CROCODILE (Crocodylus porosus) – Regular in the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, particularly on our night floats, when we found several lurking along the river banks. We saw a few fairly small youngsters on the Menanggul.
CRESTED GREEN LIZARD (Bronchocela cristatella) – Merrill spotted one of these (and got a picture of it) along the Gomantong Caves road on our second visit.
HORNED FLYING LIZARD (Draco cornutus) – We spotted one of these our very first morning at RDC. They look like speedy little lawn darts as they zip across the path!
RED-BEARDED FLYING LIZARD (Draco haematopogon) – The flying lizards we saw in the Danum Valley and at Poring Springs were probably this species; they appeared far less green-backed than the Horned Flying Lizard.
SMITH'S GIANT GECKO (Gekko smithii ) – We heard the deep barking of this foot-long species, which is also widely known as the Barking Gecko, on several days (and nights) in the lowlands. [*]
COMMON SUN SKINK (Eutropis multifasciata) – We found a few of these small lizards, including some in the forest at RDC and another along the BRL's Hornbill trail.

Indigo Flycatchers were common -- and showy -- in the highlands. Photo by local guide Hamit Suban.

WATER MONITOR (Varanus salvator) – A scattered few along the Menanggul, including a few fairly small youngsters.
Other Creatures of Interest
GIANT HONEY BEE (Apis dorsata) – Many of the combs of these enormous bees -- the world's largest honeybee -- have disappeared from their former locations. Fortunately, we found one big comb, covered with bees, on a limb overhanging a maintenance parking lot at Poring Hot Springs.
RAFFLESIA (PORING) (Rafflesia keithii) – This species is currently the world's second largest flower; only Rafflesia arnoldii is bigger. Unfortunately, the latter, which grows in Indonesia, is seriously endangered, and R. keithii may soon take the crown. [E]
PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes fusca) – Though we couldn't get to some of the most famous pitcher plant sites -- some roads closed by the 2016 earthquake on Mount Kinabalu are still unopened -- we did find a few species under the park sign on Gunung Alab. This was the larger green one. [E]
PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes tentaculata) – And these were the tiny red ones twined among the previous species on Gunung Alab.
BROWN LEECH (Haemadipsa zyelanica) – Daily in the Danum Valley, where they outnumbered the next species. Fortunately, we didn't find TOO many, and the bloodletting was kept to a minimum! This species first injects a bit of primitive anesthesia into its victim, so you don't actually feel it biting -- sneaky!
TIGER LEECH (Haemadipsa picta) – A few on most days in Danum Valley. Also known as Painted Leech, this one dispenses with the anesthesia of the previous species -- hence the "tiger" of its name!
BORNEAN PILL MILLIPEDE (Glomeris connexa) – We found one of these huge millipedes curled up in the middle of the road in Danum Valley, looking rather like a gigantic wood louse.
LONG-LEGGED CENTIPEDES (Scutigera spp.) – The scores clinging to the walls of the Gomantong Caves are definitely nightmare inducing -- as are the thousands and thousands of cockroaches!
GIANT FOREST ANT (Camponotus gigas) – Seen on many days in the lowlands, either trundling along the paths or working their way up various tree trunks. It wouldn't take many of these to clean up a picnic!
CHAN'S MEGASTICK (Phobaeticus chani) – One brought to the young Whitehead's Trogon by its father put up a good fight before finally being consumed. I can't imagine it needed much else to eat that day!
COMMON BIRDWING (Tioides helena (Papilionidae)) – Dozens seen during the course of the tour, all in the lowlands. This was definitely a distraction during our search for various species; it's bigger than some of the birds we were looking for!
RAJAH BROOKE'S BIRDWING (Trogonoptera brookiana (Papilionidae)) – A few seen in the highlands, including one drifting over the park road on our very last morning. We weren't quite as overwhelmed by its beauty as Alfred R. Wallace was when he saw his first (he reputedly was overcome by a massive headache), but it was certainly very pretty.
COMMON TREE NYMPH (WOOD NYMPH) (Idea stolli (Nymphalidae)) – Abundant throughout the lowlands, where they floated like wisps of tissue paper through the forests.
CLIPPER BUTTERFLY (Parthenos sylvia (Nymphalidae)) – Another regular species in the lowlands. This fast-flying species is found in forested areas from India to New Guinea.


Totals for the tour: 252 bird taxa and 27 mammal taxa