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Field Guides Tour Report
Borneo I 2019
Feb 26, 2019 to Mar 15, 2019
Megan Edwards Crewe with Hamit Suban & Adzel


A tiny Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher was a highlight along the Kinabatangan where we spotted a plethora of kingfishers. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

The island of Borneo is a magical place. Though too many of Sabah's acres are being converted to endless 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, occasionally venturing even into the heady heights of its great canopy, thanks to 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. And through it all, there were so many sights and sounds and experiences to enjoy.

Our adventure began at Sepilok, where we recovered (at least a little bit) from our long flights and came to grips with some of the more common lowland species. From the wonderfully sturdy towers and walkways at the nearby Rainforest Discovery Center, and on a network of trails in the surrounding forest, we spotted an ever-changing cast of characters, including a colorful male Violet Cuckoo (resting briefly between bouts of bounding over his territory), a point-blank Black-and-yellow Broadbill hunting in the same group of trees as male Diard's Trogon, a swirling flock with a quartet of woodpeckers (Crimson-winged, Banded, Buff-necked and Buff-rumped) among the mix, and our first Orangutans -- a mama and her toddler youngster.

En route to Sukau, we detoured slightly to visit the Gomantong Caves (which we would visit again in the coming days). Though most of the edible nests in the cave we toured had been harvested recently (resulting, sadly, in a complete lack of re-nesting White-nest Swiftlets), we did see Mossy-nest Swiftlets sitting atop their distinctive moss-incorporated nests (too messy to warrant cleaning for bird's nest soup) with a solitary Black-nest Swiftlet tucked among them. As dusk fell, and the tens of thousands of Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bats that call the cave home ventured out to feed, two Bat Hawks, two Peregrine Falcons and an adult Rufous-bellied Eagle did their best to thin the herd. A host of additional highlights awaited us between the cave and the beginning of the Gomantong entrance road. A male Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker flitted just over our heads, two Chestnut-rumped Babblers chortled a wing-waving duet, a pair of Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers twitched through roadside bushes not far from a gang of Black-throated Babblers, and a trio of Black-capped Babblers strode across the leaf litter. A jewel-bright Hooded Pitta stood stock-still on an eye-level branch. And a day-flying (!!) Colugo stuck its landing on a nearby tree trunk.

From our base at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, we explored the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary via a network of rivers and streams and a conveniently close boardwalk. Among our highlights there were a family of calling, wing-waving Great Slaty Woodpeckers, at least eight different Storm's Storks (including two perched in treetops), very cooperative Red-naped and Scarlet-rumped trogons (close to each other for convenient comparison), a single Bornean Pygmy Elephant grazing in the darkness, and some enormous groups of Proboscis Monkeys. A super-obliging Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher perched along the beginning of the Sukau River, and a Ruddy Kingfisher (the gorgeously violet-tinged minor subspecies) put on a nice show along the Resang. We picked up five species of hornbill, including a flock of six White-crested along the Kinabatangan late one afternoon; after we’d enjoyed them chorusing from a tree for 10 minutes or so, they flew -- one after another -- over our heads across the river. And who will soon forget the Clouded Leopard that prowled along the edge of the Menanggul, even climbing up into the trees for a bit, before venturing to within 15 feet of us? For a short while, it looked like it might even join us in the boat!

At Borneo Rainforest Lodge, a family of monotypic Bornean Bristleheads flicked through some roadside trees, their bizarre, featherless, red-and-yellow heads bright against the green leaves. A Bornean Wren-Babbler sang his heart out from challengingly tangled low branches on a forest trail, and a Striped Wren-Babbler did the same from wide-open branches elsewhere. Whiskered Treeswifts made frequent short forays from their favorite perches. A female Crested Fireback made her cautious way up a narrow track to within yards of our vehicle. A Chestnut-necklaced Partridge scuttled back and forth past us several times. Charlotte’s, Gray-backed and Spectacled bulbuls were regular visitors to the fruiting trees outside the dining room. A Crested Goshawk, Bat Hawk and Black Eagle circled together over a clearing near the canopy walkway. A Blue-banded Pitta sang from skinny trees at the top of steep, difficult hill (a reward for some who'd scrambled to the top), and a Blue-headed Pitta called from the dense forest, visible only through the narrowest of gaps in the undergrowth. Our night forays produced an array of critters, from a plethora of Red Giant and Thompson's flying squirrels, a trio of Sunda Frogmouths, an EVENTUALLY cooperative Large Frogmouth, and a wide-eyed Brown Wood-Owl, to two Binturongs, a tiny Greater Mouse Deer, a magnificently stripey Malay Civet and a below-eye-level Horsfield's Tarsier!

After the heat of the lowlands, we welcomed the cool, refreshing highlands, where we finished the tour amid a host of montane endemics. In the pre-montane elevations of the Crocker Range, we enjoyed a rush of new species, from Bornean Leafbirds and Black-and-crimson Orioles to elegant Long-tailed Broadbills. A Whitehead's Spiderhunter made a couple of furtive visits to some flowers at the very top of a nearby tree. A tiny Bornean Stubtail belted out its incredibly high-pitched song as it bounced across a carpet of leaves. Two Whitehead's Broadbills burst from the forest and landed on mossy branches right over our heads. A Whitehead's Trogon -- among the fanciest of the world's trogons -- glowed in the forest understory. Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrels charmed us as they scrambled through the vines, flashing fluffy, white ear tufts. A pair of Crimson-headed Partridges scratched among the leaf litter. A Mountain Serpent-Eagle screamed and circled in a narrow gap in the trees right over our heads. An afternoon's trip to Poring yielded an impressive second-day Rafflesia flower, and a handful of new species, including a surprise Malaysian Honeyguide (rare on our tour route) and a singing Rufous-collared Kingfisher.

It's been fun reliving the trip while sorting through photos and annotating the list. Hopefully, the comments below--and the media embedded in the online version--will bring back some good memories!

Many thanks to our excellent local guides Hamit and Adzel, to our great support staff (especially Karen at FGI), all of our BET drivers, our skilled Sukau boatman and the attentive staffs at our great accommodations. Thanks to Myles for sharing his superb photos and to all of you for your fine companionship throughout; I had a great time sharing some of the magic of Borneo with you!

-- Megan

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


KEYS FOR THIS LIST
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



Handsome Black-and-Red Broadbills were seen along the Menanggul River -- as were their ragged nests. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

BIRDS
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata) – A group of 19 along the far end of a little wetland near Tuaran were wary when we first appeared at the edge of the pond, but soon settled down for a snooze.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RED-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila hyperythra) – Heard on several days in Kinabalu NP, but never close. [E*]
CHESTNUT-NECKLACED PARTRIDGE (SABAH) (Arborophila charltonii graydoni) – After hearing bunches of these skulking birds calling in forests everywhere in the lowlands, we finally connected with one (after considerable effort!) at the start of a trail along the BRL entrance road. It rustled through the leaves, making a big circle around us before briefly standing up on a log to sing.
GREAT ARGUS (Argusianus argus) – We were oh-so-close to one along the BRL entrance road -- and even ventured down one of the trails to try and get closer to it -- but we just never connected with this big songster. [*]
CRIMSON-HEADED PARTRIDGE (Haematortyx sanguiniceps) – Super views of a pair not far from the Timpohon Gate parking area on two different days, just down the hill from the road. The first time we spotted them, they were scratching around under a water pipe. The second time, they were scuttling along through the leaf litter, having a loud conversation with another pair further down the hill. [E]
RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus) – A couple of birds wandered across a dirt track through the vast palm oil plantation we passed through on our way from the Sukau Rainforest Lodge to the Gomantong Caves road on the morning we headed for BRL. [I]
CRESTED FIREBACK (BORNEAN) (Lophura ignita nobilis) – Some of the group encountered a little group of birds foraging along the edge of the lawn near the cabins at BRL. Fortunately for those who weren't so lucky, Diane F. spotted a female for us -- from a moving vehicle! -- along a narrow trail down to the staff quarters. After initially moving away from the vehicle down the trail, the hen eventually worked her way back to within a dozen yards or so from where we sat, giving us all some great views.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis) – One floated along on a placid little pond in the middle of a vast palm oil plantation we passed on our way to the Gomantong Cave road. A pair bred on the same pond last year, so maybe they'll try again!


An afternoon visit to Poring Springs gave us the chance to see a second-day Rafflesia keithii flower -- one of the world's largest flowers. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – Best seen in the big palm oil plantation near Sukau, where dozens were sprinkled along roadside wires. We heard their three-note calls particularly well near the entrance to the RDC our first morning -- and near the little pond where we found our Little Grebe.
LITTLE CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia ruficeps) – Regular in the mountains, with most seen in flight. Their dark coloration and long pointed tails are distinctive.
ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) – One in a small tree near the entrance to the RDC showed its stripes nicely as it sang. It pirouetted several times on its branch, giving us looks at all sides. [I]
LITTLE GREEN-PIGEON (Treron olax) – A couple of these small green-pigeons late in the day along the Tenenggang. This is the only green-pigeon in Borneo with a white iris.
PINK-NECKED PIGEON (Treron vernans) – Seen nicely near the entrance to the RDC, where we found a trio perched up in some bamboo (including a male right out in the open) and another male later in an open-topped tree, with a big group of 20 or so on our drive to the Gomantong Caves road one morning.
LARGE GREEN-PIGEON (Treron capellei) – Two perched high over the Gomantong Caves road on our final visit, giving us the chance to study them in the scopes. This, Borneo's least common green-pigeon, is distinguished by its large size, heavy bill, and yellow legs and feet.
GREEN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula aenea) – Common in the lowlands, where they are by far the largest pigeon we saw. Though most were seen in flight, we got some nice looks at perched birds along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries.
MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula badia) – After struggling to see a few frustratingly distant birds flying against far hillsides, we were treated to a right-over-the-road view of one that flew in and landed above our bus as we climbed back in after a roadside birding stop in Kinabalu NP. We spotted another gathering nesting material near the start of the Silau-Silau trail our final morning, and heard the deep hoots of this big pigeon on several days. [N]


We saw a great variety of woodpeckers well this year, including several close Buff-necked Woodpeckers. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis) – One striding along the edge of the road near the RDC entrance distracted us for a bit on our first morning, and we heard the deep hoots of others from the canopy walkway there.
LESSER COUCAL (Centropus bengalensis) – One sunning right beside the road on our drive to the Gomantong Caves proved nicely cooperative, staying put while we backed up to get a better look. Its smaller size, smaller bill and white-streaked plumage help to separate it from the previous species.
RAFFLES'S MALKOHA (Rhinortha chlorophaea) – The most common of the tour's malkohas, with an all-rusty male seen particularly well from the RDC in that mix of birds near the intersection of the Woodpecker and Pitta trails, and a gray-headed female seen nicely on the Gomantong Caves road. This is the smallest of Borneo's malkohas.
RED-BILLED MALKOHA (Zanclostomus javanicus) – One along the Menanggul, with an active pair bounding through a tall tree along the Gomantong Caves road the following day. The red bill of this uncommon resident is diagnostic.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) – Seen on scattered days in the lowlands and foothills, including one working its way up through a fruiting tree near the RDC parking lot and a couple -- almost at eye level -- from the BRL canopy walkway. This is the largest of the island's malkohas.
BLACK-BELLIED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus diardi) – One along the BRL entrance road played hard-to-get for a bit before finally popping out into the open near the top of a tree over the road. The blackish-gray belly and vent on this uncommon resident is distinctive.
VIOLET CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) – Our first views came from the RDC canopy walkway, when we found a male perched high in one of the big trees. We had even better views of another along the Gomantong Caves road (where the light was good enough that we could clearly see the coral-red bill and eye ring) and found another displaying over the Sukau River.
BANDED BAY CUCKOO (Cacomantis sonneratii) – Super views of one sitting quietly in the late afternoon sunlight in an open-branched tree on the grounds of the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon together. First we saw its rufous-edged back and tail feathers, then we worked our way around the tree for a front view. We also found a loudly begging youngster trailing along behind its foster parents (a couple of harried Ashy Tailorbirds) along the Sukau boardwalk.
PLAINTIVE CUCKOO (Cacomantis merulinus) – Heard nearly every day in the lowlands, but -- amazingly -- never seen. [*]
SQUARE-TAILED DRONGO-CUCKOO (Surniculus lugubris) – Our best views came on our final visit to the Gomantong Caves road, when we found a bird singing from some trees along the road. The loud, ascending whistle of this species was a regular part of the lowland soundtrack: "I'm a drongo-cuckoo!"
DARK HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx bocki) – We heard the loud "brain fever" song of this species daily in the highlands, and got some great scope views of a close bird near the Timpohon Gate on our final morning at Kinabalu NP. We got a clear indication of how much like a hawk they look when all the little birds alarm-called when it took flight.
INDIAN CUCKOO (Cuculus micropterus) – We heard the loud "MADAGASCAR" (or was it "HIMALAYAN") song of this species on a number of days in the lowlands and foothills, but could never locate the singers. [*]
SUNDA CUCKOO (Cuculus lepidus) – Another species that evaded visual detection, though we heard its deep, hooting call on several early mornings and late evenings in Kinabalu NP -- including one from the hillside just beyond our cabins. [*]
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
LARGE FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus auritus) – We had to work for it, but we got there in the end! We walked well out along the Segama trail in the dark one evening, and heard one calling far away. We called back for what seemed like ages with no movement from the bird, so finally started back to the lodge -- only to have it call from where we'd been once we'd walked a few hundred yards away. This happened a few times before we finally doubled back and eventually spotted it, sitting in the open right over the trail. Wow!
SUNDA FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus cornutus) – At least two (and possibly three) flicked through trees over the BRL entrance road, not far from the gate, and we heard another calling from the trees along the Menanggul. This is a tiny frogmouth, particularly compared to the previous species! As its name suggests, it's a regional endemic, found only on Borneo and Sumatra.
Apodidae (Swifts)
SILVER-RUMPED NEEDLETAIL (Rhaphidura leucopygialis) – Particularly nice views of some hunting low over the pond at the Sepilok Nature Resort -- and occasionally dipping into the water for a quick drink or a plunge bath. Their combination of glossy black plumage and short, very pale rump and tail are distinctive.


Mammals are among the many highlights on this tour, and seeing large numbers of the endangered Proboscis Monkey (this one a "nosy" adult male) is always a treat. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

BORNEAN SWIFTLET (Collocalia dodgei) – Daily in the highlands of Kinabalu NP, including a pair zooming over the generator plant near the Timpohon Gate. This species replaces the next at higher altitudes. [EN]
PLUME-TOED SWIFTLET (Collocalia affinis cyanoptila) – Abundant throughout, seen every day of the tour -- including dozens on nests under the eaves of our lunch restaurant near Gunung Alab. This species was recently split from the Glossy Swiftlet. [N]
MOSSY-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus salangana) – Definitive looks at a handful on their distinctively shaggy nests in the vast Black Nest cave at Gomantong. The large amount of vegetative material used in their nests means that the nest collectors don't bother to harvest them. This is the smallest of Borneo's echo-locating swifts. [N]
BLACK-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus maximus) – One lone bird sat on its distinctively dark nest in a dark corner of the Gomantong Caves. These dark nests are made from saliva mixed with feathers and plant material; they're worth some 20% of the white nests, but are still collected in huge numbers. According to surveys, this is Borneo's most common echo-locating swift. [N]
HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis) – A few at the Kiau Viewpoint in Kinabalu NP showed the distinctive white rump patch and squared tail tip that help to identify them. [N]
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)
GRAY-RUMPED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne longipennis) – Most common around Sepilok and RDC, including some soaring over the canopy walkway and others zooming low over the pond at the Sepilok Nature Resort. Diane spotted others at Sukau.
WHISKERED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne comata) – Regular around BRL, including a pair hunting from a tree near the dining room, and others resting on guy wires holding up the canopy walkway.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus) – One scuttling through the marshy wetland near Tuaran. This used to be a scarce winter visitor to northwestern Borneo; now it's an increasingly common resident.
BLACK-BACKED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio indicus) – At least three or four ambled through the reeds at the wetland near Tuaran, occasionally chasing each other around for a bit. This is one of a number of species created from the breakup of the former Purple Swamphen.


Striped Wren-Babblers can be real skulkers, so to have one cavort in the open right in front of us, singing, was unexpected. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus) – Small numbers at various wet spots, including one with two small chicks (which tried hard to eat the green dot) along the edge of the Resang River, and another that flew repeatedly back and forth across one corner of the pond that held our Little Grebes.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
LONG-TOED STINT (Calidris subminuta) – The scattering of small peeps spotted in the muddy flats of the wetland near Tuaran were probably this species, based on likelihood, and the grayish wash to their chests. All were still in non-breeding plumage and unfortunately, we couldn't see the legs of a single bird! [b]
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – The most commonly recorded shorebird for the tour (appropriately, given its name!), typically singly, or occasionally in small numbers, along the shores of the island's rivers. The stiff-winged flight of this species reminded many of us strongly of that of its close relative, the Spotted Sandpiper. [b]
MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis) – One strode around the muddy flats at the wetlands near Tuaran, looking pale and pointy-billed compared to the nearby Wood Sandpipers. [b]
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola) – A dozen or so fed in the wetlands near Tuaran, giving us the chance to study them in the scopes -- at least until the Peregrine went over and flushed them all! This is the most common shorebird in freshwater marshes in Borneo. [b]
Ciconiidae (Storks)
STORM'S STORK (Ciconia stormi) – One flew back and forth across the Menanggul River one morning (identifiable as the same bird thanks to a missing wing feather), a trio circled high above the same river later in the morning, two sat high in treetops along the Resang River one evening, and another soared over the Gomantong Caves road one morning. Considering that the global population is thought to number less than 500, we saw a significant number of them!
LESSER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos javanicus) – Two soared high over the Kinabatangan, distinguished from the previous species by their all-white underparts.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster) – Small numbers on the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, including a few standing spread-eagled on branches (drying out) and one wrestling with a fish along the edge of the Menanggul. We saw others around the marsh near Tuaran on our last afternoon.


Sunset on the Kinabatangan after a great afternoon along the river. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
YELLOW BITTERN (Ixobrychus sinensis) – One stood on a downed palm frond lying along the back edge of a little pond in the middle of the huge palm oil plantation we passed en route to the Gomantong Caves road, and a couple of others stalked the edges of a drying marshy spot near Tuaran.
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea) – One along the edge of a big pond in the palm grove we passed through on our way to the Gomantong Caves road. This is a winter visitor to the island. [b]
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea) – Very common around the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with scattered dozens seen flying over as dusk approached each day, and conversely another dozen seen flying over the Gomantong Caves road as the sun rose. This is a resident species on the island, though numbers are supplemented by winter visitors from further north.
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – Common around the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with others seen on the airfield at Lahad Datu. The subspecies found in Borneo (modesta) has a black bill and reddish legs in breeding plumage. This is another winter visitor. [b]
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia) – Seen in small numbers on scattered days, including a few along the edges of the Lahad Datu airfield, and others on waterways seen on our drive to the Gomantong Caves road. This species is smaller than the previous, with a shorter bill and a shorter gape line which doesn't extend back beyond the eye. This too is a winter visitor to Borneo. [b]
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – Less common on our tour route than the previous two species, but a few scattered birds on ponds in the palm grove near Sukau with a couple of others at the wetland near Tuaran. This is a winter visitor to Sabah, though small populations breed elsewhere on the island.
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – Seen on scattered days, typically in little groups in pastures, with others on the fringes of the Lahad Datu airfield. Some of these winter visitors were already showing traces of their pinkish-buff breeding plumage.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Singles on the Tenenggang and the Kinabatangan, both standing hunched along the river's edge, staring into the water. This is the Old World (and South American) replacement for North America's Green Heron.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A single bird flew past at dusk along the Kinabatangan on the day we travelled up to the Tenenggang River. This is a resident species on Borneo, though numbers may be supplemented by nonbreeding visitors from further north.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus) – Unfortunately, the only one we saw disappeared behind the trees almost as soon as it was spotted over the wetlands we stopped at near Tuaran on our last afternoon. This species was formerly considered conspecific with the White-tailed Kite of the Americas.


The fabulous Whitehead's Broadbill is one of the most sought-after of Borneo's birds. What a color! Photo by participant Myles McNally.

MOUNTAIN SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis kinabaluensis) – Some very distant views from the Timpohon Gate (where we couldn't convince ourselves of whether we were really seeing one) were followed by a right-over-our-heads view of a calling, displaying bird along the road near the Kiau Viewpoint. Yahoo! This is the upland replacement for the far more common Crested Serpent-Eagle. [E]
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela) – Very common in the lowlands, with good looks at both perched and flying birds, including an impressive five at once soaring and calling over the Gomantong Caves road one morning.
BAT HAWK (Macheiramphus alcinus) – Our best views probably came from the BRL canopy walkway one morning, where one circled around low over the trees, in the company of a Black Eagle and a Crested Goshawk. Those long, pointy wings and white throat are good field marks. We saw others at a more typical time for this crepuscular species: two hunting bats as they emerged from the Gomantong Caves at dusk, with another powering along the Kinabatangan River after sunset one afternoon.
CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus limnaeetus) – Fairly brief views of two dark adults over the Menanggul one morning.
BLYTH'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus alboniger) – One turned lazy circles over the forest on the Crocker Range, and another glided high above a distant ridge visible from the Timpohon Gate on our last morning. This is the high-elevation replacement for the previous species.
WALLACE'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nanus) – Particularly common around the RDC, including a trio of youngsters tangling over the parking lot shortly after we arrived, and another perched in one of the huge Dipterocarps as we birded the canopy walkway.
RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE (Lophotriorchis kienerii) – One made repeated plunges through the river of bats exiting the Gomantong Caves, and we spotted another over the Kinabatangan River on our way up to the Tenenggang.
BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis) – Fine views of one soaring low over the forest from the BRL canopy walkway, with what was probably the same bird flying over much higher on another day.
CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus) – One perched along the Kinabatangan gave us a great chance to study it -- though it took us a few minutes to work out what it was! We had another in flight over the BRL canopy walkway, with its undertail coverts fluffed out so much that it looked like it had a white rump patch and white outer feathers half-grown-in.
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – Small numbers on the first few days of the tour, including a couple circling very high in the sky over the Sepilok Nature Resort with a White-bellied Sea-Eagle on our first afternoon, and one raking low over the wetlands near Tuaran on our last day.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – Scattered individuals, from an incredibly high bird on our first afternoon together to a some flyovers along the Menanggul and Kinabatangan to a nearly-ready-to-fledge youngster on a huge nest along the villa boardwalk trail at Sukau.
LESSER FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus humilis) – Our best looks came along BRL's Danum trail, when Diane F. spotted us a bird perched along the river. Its all-gray tail helps to separate it from the previous species -- as does the fact that it was found on a small inland river.
GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus) – An adult flew past (high on the left) as we motored along the Resang River, shortly after we left the massive Proboscis Monkey troop, and we spotted another along the Kinabatangan the following afternoon. This species is larger than the last, and has a white tail with a broad black terminal band.
Strigidae (Owls)
REDDISH SCOPS-OWL (Otus rufescens rufescens) – The soft calls of this small owl were heard along the Menanggul on one of our night floats, and on each of our night drives at BRL. [*]
MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (Otus spilocephalus) – Heard most nights around our Kinabalu hotel -- including one that came in oh-so-close -- but we just couldn't get in a spot where we could see them. [*]
BUFFY FISH-OWL (Ketupa ketupu) – One low in a drowned tree not far from the edge of the Kinabatangan, with another seen on each of our night floats on the Menanggul. The latter was on the same branch both nights; that must be a particularly good fishing perch.
COLLARED OWLET (SUNDA) (Glaucidium brodiei borneense) – At least two different birds called from the forest along the park road on our last morning at Kinabalu, as we walked the road in the early morning looking for thrushes. [*]
BROWN WOOD-OWL (Strix leptogrammica) – A wide-eyed bird sitting above the BRL entrance road (near the main building) put a great cap on our first night drive there. Some taxonomists split this out as Bornean Wood-Owl, though Clements hasn't done that yet. Watch this space!
Trogonidae (Trogons)
RED-NAPED TROGON (Harpactes kasumba) – A male along the Menanggul River on each of our visits showed his distinctive red nape collar nicely. This species is only found in undisturbed primary forest, and typically hunts higher in the trees than does the Diard's Trogon.


The introduced Zebra Dove (first recorded in the wild in 1965) is now widespread in the lowlands. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

DIARD'S TROGON (Harpactes diardii) – A male near the intersection of RDC's Woodpecker and Pitta trails put on quite a show, and some of the group spotted another along the Jacuzzi trail on afternoon. And we heard plenty of others!
WHITEHEAD'S TROGON (Harpactes whiteheadi) – All of those cameras pointing in the same direction along the road near the Silau-Silau trail told us something was afoot -- though we soon discovered they weren't actually aimed at anything! Fortunately, we were able to spot the calling bird for them (and ourselves), giving us fine views of this most handsome of trogons. This scarce endemic is Borneo's only truly montane trogon. [E]
SCARLET-RUMPED TROGON (Harpactes duvaucelii) – A trio -- two males and a female -- chased each other around along the edge of the Menanggul one day. The bright scarlet rump patch of the male (pink on the female) is diagnostic. This is the smallest of Borneo's trogons.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
WHITE-CROWNED HORNBILL (Berenicornis comatus) – This is a species we sometimes struggle with, so to see SIX (!!) along the Kinabatangan -- and to have them glide past overhead, one after another after sitting in the open for long minutes -- was a real treat! The males remind me of glam rockers.
HELMETED HORNBILL (Buceros vigil) – We heard the wonderful laughing call of this endangered species daily around BRL, and finally caught up with the tail end of a female (back and tail, if we're honest) perched in a distant tree along the entrance road. David was the lucky one looking in the scope when she turned around briefly right before flying away. That long, graduated, white tail is distinctive. These big hornbills have huge territories -- almost 8 square kilometers (which is nearly 2000 acres)!
RHINOCEROS HORNBILL (Buceros rhinoceros) – Recorded on most days in the lowlands, including a noisy pair that flew off across the Danum River in the half-light each morning, seen from our spots at the breakfast table. We had especially nice looks at a trio along the Kinabatangan River one evening, sharing a tree with a couple of Wrinkled Hornbills.
BUSHY-CRESTED HORNBILL (Anorrhinus galeritus) – A couple of birds flicked through one of the big emergent trees along the BRL entrance road, not far from the main building as we returned from our first morning's walk there. When they flew, they were joined by a trio of others that we hadn't seen.
BLACK HORNBILL (Anthracoceros malayanus) – A pair sharing fruits over the RDC parking lot were the first hornbills of the tour.
ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris) – Quite common along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, and along the Gomantong Caves road. The combination of the wide, white trailing edge to the wing, white belly and white undertail is distinctive in flight.


The handsome Stork-billed Kingfisher was the largest of the tour's kingfishers. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

WRINKLED HORNBILL (Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus) – Best seen along the Kinabatangan River, where we saw several pairs in flight and others perched in dead snags along the water's edge. The bright red face and casque of the male is eye-catching, even in flight. This hornbill doesn't hold a territory.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BLUE-EARED KINGFISHER (Alcedo meninting) – One hunted along the edge of the big pond at the start of the RDC trail (just past the entrance booth) and we saw others along the edges of the Menanggul -- including one blinking in the torchlight during one of our night floats.
RUFOUS-BACKED DWARF-KINGFISHER (Ceyx rufidorsa) – Splendid views of one near the start of the Sukau River; it sat low along the edge of the river just past a cluster of fishing boats, peering down into the water and occasionally lifting its tiny rufous tail. What a little cutie!
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis) – A few scattered along the Menanggul, including one singing loudly from the top of a bamboo stand at the very start of the river on our first visit. David spotted one along the Danum River (from the dining room after lunch one day) and we saw another hovering over the wetland near Tuaran. This is the largest of Borneo's kingfishers.
RUDDY KINGFISHER (Halcyon coromanda) – One along the Resang River (just past the huge Proboscis Monkey troop) put a nice cap on our late afternoon exploration of the river.
COLLARED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus chloris) – Regular in open country in the lowlands, including some on wires along the Sukau highway through the palm oil grove, with others near the start of the Gomantong Caves road. We heard the loud call of this species on several days, including one shouting from a clearing up the hill from the Sepilok Nature Resort on our first afternoon's walk.
RUFOUS-COLLARED KINGFISHER (Actenoides concretus) – Super views of a male singing from the mid-canopy of the tall forest at Poring Hot Springs; eventually, we got to see just about sides and angles of this handsome forest species!
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
BLUE-THROATED BEE-EATER (Merops viridis) – Common in the lowlands, with some lovely studies of birds hawking insects from treetops and wires around the BRL dining room. The birds at BRL appeared to be nesting in the ground along the river; several were seen digging holes. [N]
Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, typically sitting right up at the top of a treetop or dead snag, or sallying out over the river. The large white circle in each wing gives the birds their name; apparently those spots resembled silver dollars to whoever named them.


If only all spiderhunters were as cooperative as this Little Spiderhunter was! Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)
BROWN BARBET (Caloramphus fuliginosus tertius) – Most common along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with others along the Gomantong Caves road -- including one that sat perched for long minutes at the very top of a dead snag over the road, allowing nice scope looks. This is one of Borneo's newer endemics, split relatively recently from the Sooty Barbet of Sumatra and the Malaysian mainland. [E]
BLUE-EARED BARBET (BLACK-EARED) (Psilopogon duvaucelii duvaucelii) – Certainly one of the tour's most common barbets, though heard far more frequently than seen. We had great views of one on the grounds of the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon, followed by even closer looks at another from the RDC canopy walkway the following morning. Males of the subspecies on Borneo (duvaucelii) actually have black, rather than blue, ear coverts; the female's ear coverts however, are indeed blue.
BORNEAN BARBET (Psilopogon eximius) – We certainly heard far more of these than we saw in the Crocker Range -- a very fast, seemingly endless series of high toots echoing down from the slopes above the road -- but it took until the very last minutes to find one. Fortunately, Hamit spotted one perched in a huge emergent tree just across the valley from where we stood, which allowed us some great scope studies. Definitely worth standing in the rain for! [E]
RED-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon mystacophanos) – After hearing dozens during much of the lowland section of the tour, we finally caught brief views of a singing bird over the hilly section of the paved road at Poring Hot Springs. Unfortunately, it quickly relocated to the top of a very dense tree, which rendered it invisible again!
GOLDEN-NAPED BARBET (Psilopogon pulcherrimus) – Common in the highlands, with particularly lovely views of one almost at eye level in a fruiting bush along the path to the Timpohon Gate on our first foggy morning there. We saw another well as it sang from a pine tree near our lunch restaurant one afternoon. [E]
YELLOW-CROWNED BARBET (Psilopogon henricii) – Another species that was far more frequently heard than seen in the foothills section of the tour. Fortunately, we found one singing from high in a tall tree over one of the gardens at the Poring Hot Springs; sat for long minutes in the same spot among the leaves, letting us get looks (at bits and pieces, at least!) in the scopes.
MOUNTAIN BARBET (Psilopogon monticola) – Seen particularly well in a fruiting fig tree not far from the Masakob Waterfall Garden (where we found a half dozen or so) with others a bit further uphill along the road. This endemic was the plainest of the barbets we saw in the Crocker Range. [E]


The elegant Ashy Drongo was common in the highlands. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

GOLD-FACED BARBET (Psilopogon chrysopsis) – A territorial bird along the BRL entrance road gave us our first views (sort of -- it was largely hidden behind leaves for some), but our best views probably came in a fruiting tree along the road in the Crocker Range, where we found one perched on an open branch. This species was recently split from the Gold-whiskered Barbet, and is one of Borneo's newer endemics. [E]
Indicatoridae (Honeyguides)
MALAYSIAN HONEYGUIDE (Indicator archipelagicus) – One sitting quietly in a tree near the villas at Poring Hot Springs was a surprise. This is a rare resident of Borneo, and is only rarely found away from primary forest -- so a double rarity! Little is know about is biology.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RUFOUS PICULET (Sasia abnormis) – Seen on several days through the tour, including a pair twitching through stream-side vegetation along the Menanggul and one investigating branches along the BRL entrance road.
GRAY-AND-BUFF WOODPECKER (Hemicircus concretus) – Two in one of the big trees near the RDC parking lot got our morning there off to a good start, as they checked out some of the bigger branches, looking a bit like nuthatches as they did so.
MAROON WOODPECKER (Blythipicus rubiginosus) – We got a couple of brief glimpses of birds flying over the Menanggul -- dark red bounding birds with pale bills -- but never saw one perched. We heard others in the foothills of Danum Valley and the Crocker Range.
RUFOUS WOODPECKER (Micropternus brachyurus) – We found some territorial birds at Poring Hot Springs, but they were back behind the villas and just wouldn't come out to where we could see them. [*]
BUFF-NECKED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tukki) – Stunning views of a confiding couple near the intersection of the Pitta and Woodpecker trails at the RDC; the pale neck patch on both males and females makes the ID easy on this one.
BUFF-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tristis) – One hammering away on branches near the intersection of the Woodpecker and Pitta trails at RDC showed well -- one of four species of woodpeckers we saw from the same spot.
OLIVE-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dinopium rafflesii) – One called several times, then flew past us along the BRL entrance road near the start of the canopy walkway on our last morning in the lowlands.
CRIMSON-WINGED WOODPECKER (Picus puniceus) – One investigating a tree trunk or two over the intersection of the Woodpecker and Pitta trails at the RDC gave us a fabulous view of its green back and red wings.
BANDED WOODPECKER (Chrysophlegma miniaceum) – And this one was right beside it. Overall, it was far less active, spending most of the time sitting quietly on a branch facing us, so we could see its very barred belly.
CHECKER-THROATED WOODPECKER (Chrysophlegma mentale) – One over the park road at Kinabalu hitched its way up several nearby tree trunks -- giving us some great views -- before moving off to more distant trees up the hill.
GREAT SLATY WOODPECKER (Mulleripicus pulverulentus) – WOW! A family group of four -- mom and three youngsters -- flew across the Menanggul River and landed in a big tree not far away, calling and spreading their sizable wings repeatedly in an apparent territorial display. They continued for some minutes before moving on to a bout of preening.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
WHITE-FRONTED FALCONET (Microhierax latifrons) – One hunted from the top of a dead snag along the Gomantong Caves road, returning to the same perch a few times before disappearing off behind the trees. [E]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Two hunted bats with a cadre of other raptors over the Gomantong Caves on our late afternoon visit there, but our best views came at the wetland near Tuaran, where one caught and then dropped -- repeatedly -- a swift or swallow, clearly practicing its technique. Eventually, it dropped the now-lifeless bird and went upon its way.
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
LONG-TAILED PARAKEET (Psittacula longicauda) – Regular in small numbers -- usually small, screeching numbers -- over the Menanggul River. Several of them appeared to be missing their longest tail plumes.
BLUE-CROWNED HANGING-PARROT (Loriculus galgulus) – Many seen in flight over the lowlands; they're small, rather bullet-shaped, and very fast! We did find one female perched among the leaves (and looking very leaflike herself) along the Gomantong Caves road, which allowed us to study her in the scopes.
Calyptomenidae (African and Green Broadbills)
WHITEHEAD'S BROADBILL (Calyptomena whiteheadi) – Wow! After trying for days to track down one of these gorgeous birds -- and hearing them calling from the forest along the Silau-Silau trail more than once -- we were rewarded for our persistence with right-over-the-road views of a pair early on our final morning at Kinabalu. What stunners! [E]


The lovely vista from the Kiau Viewpoint, high in Kinabalu NP. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Eurylaimidae (Asian and Grauer's Broadbills)
BLACK-AND-RED BROADBILL (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) – Lovely views of several pairs along the Menanggul and Kinabatangan, including one sitting above its ragged nest (which looks quite a bit like the debris left behind by a flood) on a dead snag in the Kinabatangan. On our night float, we could see a neon blue beak poking out of the nest as we motored past. [N]
LONG-TAILED BROADBILL (Psarisomus dalhousiae) – Super looks at several along the road in the Crocker Range, including an active pair right near the Masakob Waterfall Garden. What a gorgeous bird!
BANDED BROADBILL (Eurylaimus javanicus) – One near the start of the Hornbill trail, just across from the (currently closed) entrance to the BRL canopy walkway. It played hard-to-get initially, but eventually showed reasonably well for everybody.
BLACK-AND-YELLOW BROADBILL (Eurylaimus ochromalus) – Easily the most common broadbill of the trip, recorded nearly every day in the lowlands. One on our first morning at RDC ventured so close as it pursued various prey items around the trail edge that it was almost too close to focus our binoculars on!
Pittidae (Pittas)
BLACK-CROWNED PITTA (Erythropitta ussheri) – After hearing their low two-note whistle echoing from the forests on several days, we finally connected with one along the Gomantong Caves road, thanks to some expert spotting by Hamit. It moved from perch to perch as it sang, always at least 10 feet or so off the ground. [E]
BLUE-BANDED PITTA (Erythropitta arquata) – Yahoo -- and arrrgg! Those of us who first scrambled way up the hill at the end of BRL's Lost trail were rewarded with views of a calling male flicking from branch to branch. Unfortunately, by the time the rest of the gang clawed their way up to us, the bird had moved back over the ridge line and out of view, and we couldn't entice it out again. [E]
BORNEAN BANDED-PITTA (Hydrornis schwaneri) – We heard one calling (and calling and calling) from a tangle of vegetation in a gully along the BRL entrance road, but just couldn't get an angle to get a view. [E*]
BLUE-HEADED PITTA (Hydrornis baudii) – Yahoo! After hearing these endemic pittas calling from forests for days and days and days, those who slogged up the BRL Hornbill trail on our last morning there were rewarded with views of a gorgeous singing male -- through the tiniest of holes in the understory. Thank goodness for green laser dots! [E]


We spotted this little Wagler's Pit Viper coiled in a treetop near the RDC canopy walkway, waiting for an unwary meal to pass by. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – Our first was a most uncooperative bird near the end of our walk at RDC; it flashed past us and dove into a thick tangle of brush, never to be seen again! Fortunately, we found a much more agreeable bird later near the start of the Gomantong Caves boardwalk trail. It called several times (attracting our attention), and sat right in the open on a low branch in a nearly leafless tree. Normally, this species is very common along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries; this year, we didn't even hear a single one there!
Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
GOLDEN-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone sulphurea) – After hearing the complex song of this canopy species from the BRL canopy walkway, we caught with one near the Tambunan Rafflesia Center when it flicked through the same trees as a little group of Pygmy White-eyes.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
LARGE WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis virgatus) – One hunted along the edge of the BRL entrance road, keeping us entertained while we waited for the Helmeted Hornbills to move closer.
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus) – Two with the mixed flock near the Masakob Waterfall Garden showed the long white wing patch that helps to identify them.
BLACK-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus hirundinaceus) – Seen particularly well in the RDC parking lot, where we found a pair building a nest. We had others along the Menanggul and on the Gomantong Caves road. This is the lower altitude replacement for the previous species, which it strongly resembles -- though without the bold white wing blaze. [N]
RUFOUS-WINGED PHILENTOMA (Philentoma pyrhoptera) – A cooperative pair near the frog pond got our first morning walk at BRL off to a good start.
Artamidae (Woodswallows)
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – A few scattered along the banks of the Kinabatangan, including a trio hunting near the mouth of the Sukau River, with others hawking over the wetlands near Tuaran on our final afternoon.
Pityriasidae (Bristlehead)
BORNEAN BRISTLEHEAD (Pityriasis gymnocephala) – Our first approached slowly from well out in the forest edging the Menanggul; we heard their odd calls getting closer and eventually saw first one, and then the other, fly across the river. Fortunately, we found another quartet -- a bit more confiding -- along the BRL entrance road that spent some time rummaging through nearby trees before disappearing off into the distance. [E]


Participant Myles McNally snapped this portrait of an intent Buffy Fish Owl on one of our night floats along the Menanggul River.

Aegithinidae (Ioras)
COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia) – Diane F. spotted one along the Resang River and got Hamit on it before it moved out of view. She saw another one along the Menanggul a couple of days later.
GREEN IORA (Aegithina viridissima) – Small numbers on the first few days of the tour, including an eye level bird from the RDC canopy walkway, one along the edge of the Menanggul and a handful along the Gomantong Caves road. We found one right outside our lunch restaurant on our last day in the mountains.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
FIERY MINIVET (Pericrocotus igneus) – A pair along the RDC canopy walkway our first morning, distinguished from the Scarlet Minivets seen later by their smaller size and single colored wing patch.
GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris) – Daily in the highlands, often as part of a mixed flock -- including an active pair by the foggy Timpohon Gate our first morning at Kinabalu.
SCARLET MINIVET (Pericrocotus speciosus) – A noisy group of a half dozen or so seen from the RDC canopy walkway, with more along the Gomantong Caves road; Dennis and Cecille spotted others from the BRL dining room. This is the largest of Borneo's minivets.
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
BORNEAN WHISTLER (Pachycephala hypoxantha) – Regular in small numbers in the highlands, often with mixed flocks. We found our first on that foggy morning near Kinabalu's Timpohon Gate, and had other nice views along the Silau-Silau trail. [E]
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach) – A few sprinkled on the utility wires running alongside the highway through the massive palm grove near Sukau, and other hunting from a roadside fence near the Tuaran wetlands on our final afternoon. Phillipps's field guide suggests the Sukau birds are probably resident while the Tuaran bird is likely a winter visitor.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLYTH'S SHRIKE-BABBLER (BLYTH'S) (Pteruthius aeralatus robinsoni) – Best seen around the Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu NP, with others in the Crocker Range. This species was recently split from the White-browed Shrike-Babbler of mainland Asia.
WHITE-BELLIED ERPORNIS (Erpornis zantholeuca) – A little gang of these social birds boiled through the forest along BRL's Danum trail, investigating twigs and the undersides of leaves as they went. Surprisingly, recent DNA analysis shows that this species is a vireo relative rather than a yuhina.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
DARK-THROATED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthonotus) – Small numbers on scattered days throughout the lowlands, including a male over the Gomantong Caves road on our first morning visit.
BLACK-AND-CRIMSON ORIOLE (Oriolus cruentus) – Seen very well in several spots in the Crocker Range, mostly in fruiting trees.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
ASHY DRONGO (BORNEAN) (Dicrurus leucophaeus stigmatops) – Small numbers in the highlands, typically flinging themselves after passing insect prey. This is the palest of Borneo's drongos -- charcoal gray, rather than black.
BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus) – One returned again and again to the same perch along the Gomantong Caves road, giving us plenty of opportunities to study it in the scope. It was particularly convenient to have a Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo nearby to compare it to.
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (Dicrurus hottentottus) – All-too-brief views of a pair that flashed across the road near the start of Kinabalu NP's Bukit Ular trail. Unfortunately, they didn't hang around.
GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus brachyphorus) – Best seen at RDC our first morning, where one made several hunting passes over our heads. We saw others over the Menanggul. Those long, spoon-tipped tailed feathers are sure distinctive!
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
SPOTTED FANTAIL (Rhipidura perlata) – A flighty bird along the BRL's Danum trail one afternoon took a bit of work to find as it sallied and danced through the trees, but I think we all got there in the end.
MALAYSIAN PIED-FANTAIL (Rhipidura javanica) – Very common in the lowlands, seen in good numbers every day, including a few twitching through the gardens at the Sepilok Nature Resort and others seen from the BRL dining room.


Somehow, it's always surprising that the pink gets no mention in the Black-and-yellow Broadbill's name. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis) – One in the Crocker Range proved surprisingly elusive. Fortunately, we had much more cooperative birds at Kinabalu NP, including one hunting along the chainlink fence at the Timpohon Gate.
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea) – Common in the lowlands, recorded in small numbers nearly every day, including several pairs flashing low over the waters of the Menanggul.
BLYTH'S PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone affinis) – Super views of a gorgeous male from the BRL canopy walkway. After a bit of flitting around (and chasing away another male), it settled on a dead branch below us in plain view. In flight, they look rather like little comets! We had a young short-tailed, rufous-backed male singing along the BRL nature trail late one morning.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLACK MAGPIE (BORNEAN) (Platysmurus leucopterus aterrimus) – A pair on the Menanggul sang their distinctly musical songs as they moved along the riverside.
BORNEAN GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa jefferyi) – Best seen on our drive up from the breakfast cafe to our lodge one morning, when we found a group along the start of one of the trails -- great spotting Myles! I think the park staff appreciated the excuse to down tools too. We found others further up the park road (closer to our lodge) the following day. This species was recently split from the Common Green-Magpie. [E]
BORNEAN TREEPIE (Dendrocitta cinerascens) – Daily in Kinabalu NP, with especially nice studies of an active family group near the Timpohon Gate one foggy morning. They often associate with mixed flocks with laughingthrushes and magpies. [E]
SLENDER-BILLED CROW (SLENDER-BILLED) (Corvus enca compilator) – Common in the lowlands, where (as usual) we heard even more than we saw. Most were seen in flight, but we did find a few perched along the Tenenggang.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with some significant numbers hunting low over the Tenenggang as dusk approached -- perhaps they were starting to stage for their journey north. We saw others in the highlands, though in smaller numbers.
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – Daily, including some hunting from poles in the river near the Sukau dining room and others nesting under the eaves of the main building at BRL. This species lacks the long tail streamers of the Barn Swallow. [N]


This Mountain Tailorbird was sporting lots of bling -- a result of being part of an ongoing study of Kinabalu NP's bird life, being carried out by the University of Montana. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis) – Our first was hunting from tree just above one of the cabins at BRL (one of OUR cabins, as it turned out) and we saw others along the BRL entrance road and in the Masakob Waterfall Garden. Generally, this species hunts in the mid-story, regularly flicking its tail while perched.
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
BLACK-HEADED BULBUL (Brachypodius atriceps) – We saw a number in flight over the Menanggul and Sukau rivers, where their small size, olive-yellow plumage and dark heads helped to identify them.
SPECTACLED BULBUL (Rubigula erythropthalmos) – Our first was one feeding on some mistletoe berries right over the RDC walkway. We had other nice looks from our table in the BRL dining room; they were feeding daily in the fruiting shrubs right off the balcony.
GRAY-BELLIED BULBUL (Rubigula cyaniventris) – Myles got a great picture of one feeding in the same fruiting shrubs as the previous species, and several other people caught up with one or more over the ensuing days.
SCALY-BREASTED BULBUL (Rubigula squamata) – Fine looks at these handsome little bulbuls in the open area near the villas at Poring Hot Springs.
BORNEAN BULBUL (Rubigula montis) – Common in the Crocker Range, where we came across several noisy bands of them, typically swirling through a fruiting tree or two. This species (and several others) was recently split from the former Black-capped Bulbul complex. [E]
FLAVESCENT BULBUL (PALE-FACED) (Pycnonotus flavescens leucops) – Two with a big mixed flock near the Timpohon Gate on our foggy first visit were a nice surprise. This higher-elevation species is one we don't always catch up with.
YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus goiavier) – Common and widespread in the lowlands and foothills, with dozens seen well. The dark "mohawk" crest of this one is distinctive.
OLIVE-WINGED BULBUL (Pycnonotus plumosus) – Two near the pond at the start of the RDC trail system, with others along the Resang River. The olive wing panel on this otherwise brown bird is a subtle, but visible, field mark.
RED-EYED BULBUL (Pycnonotus brunneus) – One of the more common lowland bulbuls -- and also one of the drabbest! It's uniformly brown, except for that bright red eye. We got one in the scope at the little bridge crossing the pond at the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon.


Whitehead's Trogon is widely regarded to be one of the world's most beautiful trogons -- for obvious reasons! Photo by participant Myles McNally.

HAIRY-BACKED BULBUL (Tricholestes criniger) – As opposed to the field mark this one is named for -- which is nearly impossible to see in the field! Fortunately, the bright yellow face and underparts and large yellow eye ring are easier to see.
FINSCH'S BULBUL (Alophoixus finschii) – We heard the distinctive call of this uncommon species on several days near the BRL canopy walkway, but could never locate the singer. [*]
OCHRACEOUS BULBUL (Alophoixus ochraceus) – Great views daily in the highlands, including one chortling from the branches over our heads along the Silau-Silau trail, with its bright white throat feathes fluffed extravagantly out.
GRAY-CHEEKED BULBUL (Alophoixus bres) – Best seen along the BRL entrance road, with another pair on the Sukau boardwalk trail. This is the lowland replacement for the previous species, and looks a lot like it -- though with a grayer face.
YELLOW-BELLIED BULBUL (Alophoixus phaeocephalus) – Especially nice looks at one preening on a looping vine along the trail at Poring Hot Springs, with others seen along the BRL entrance road and the Gomantong Caves road.
CHARLOTTE'S BULBUL (Iole charlottae) – Best seen in the fruiting shrubs just off the balcony from our BRL dining table. The pale eye and long beak of this species are distinctive. This is one of Borneo's newest endemics, split from the Buff-vented Bulbul in 2018. [E]
Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)
BORNEAN STUBTAIL (Urosphena whiteheadi) – One of these endearing little birds flicked through the undergrowth just down the slope from one of the parking shelters at Kinabalu NP, bouncing in and out of view. The song of this one is so high pitched that most of the group couldn't hear it! [E]
MOUNTAIN TAILORBIRD (Phyllergates cucullatus) – Common in the highlands, with superb views of a point-blank male in the tall reed grass along the park road (down along the river) and long looks at a female preening in a spill of vines visible from the Balsam Cafe dining room balcony. The cheery song of this species was a regular part of the tour soundtrack.
SUNDA BUSH WARBLER (Horornis vulcanius) – One crept through the bamboo along the Kinabalu park road, keeping itself out of view until it finally climbed right up to the top of some of the taller vegetation for a sing and a look around. We heard them regularly in the higher sections of the park.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
YELLOW-BREASTED WARBLER (Phylloscopus montis) – Common in the highlands, typically in ones or twos with a mixed flock. The name of this one is a bit misleading; the whole BIRD is yellow, except for that distinctive orange head!
MOUNTAIN LEAF WARBLER (MOUNTAIN) (Phylloscopus trivirgatus kinabaluensis) – Another regular in the highlands of Kinabalu NP, also typically as part of a mixed flock. The subspecies on the mountain is kinabaluensis (which is quite drab), but we did see a strikingly yellowish bird near the Balsam Cafe that had us wondering if we might have seen something else.
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
STRIATED GRASSBIRD (Megalurus palustris) – Our first was one perched on a wire along the road through the vast palm grove near Sukau, but our best views came in the wetlands near Tuaran, where a half-dozen or more were singing from tree tops and engaging in display flights (and energetic chases) around the marsh.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus atrogularis) – Seen on several days along the BRL entrance road, where we could see the distinctive dark neck patches of the males nicely. We saw a plainer female (which lacks the dark neck) in one of the shrubs just off the BRL dining room balcony one lunchtime.
ASHY TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus ruficeps) – Abundant at RDC and along the Gomantong Caves road, with others around the Kinabatangan and its tributaries.
RUFOUS-TAILED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sericeus) – One twitched through some vine-covered trees along one of the paved tracks at the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon, peering down at us. His song (when he started shouting challenges) reminded many of us strongly of that of the Carolina Wren. We saw others elsewhere in the lowlands and foothills -- particularly around BRL.
YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (Prinia flaviventris) – We heard far more than we saw, but had great views of one along the Kinabatangan, with others in the grassy roadsides through the palm grove between Sukau and the Gomantong Caves road.
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
CHESTNUT-CRESTED YUHINA (Yuhina everetti) – Abundant in the highlands, with noisy flocks swarming through treetops at several spots in the Crocker Range and Kinabalu NP, and others scrambling through the chain-link fence near the Timpohon Gate, searching for moths that had been attracted by the site's lights overnight. [E]


A sizable silk moth (species unknown) spotted on a wall near one of our lunch restaurants. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

PYGMY WHITE-EYE (Oculocincta squamifrons) – These proved a bit frustrating for most as they flitted back and forth from one side of the road to the other in the Crocker Range, always landing just out of view behind a branch or leaf. [E]
BLACK-CAPPED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops atricapilla) – Very common in the highlands, with especially nice views of a few investigating twigs and branches almost within arm's reach of the Balsam Cafe dining room during breakfast one morning.
EVERETT'S WHITE-EYE (Zosterops everetti) – A little group twitched through the foggy trees near the Timpohon Gate on our first visit there, always well over our heads.
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)
BOLD-STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis bornensis) – A noisy little group near the start of the Gomantong Caves road showed well on our first morning visit there, and we heard others on the drive into the Danum Valley. They were mystifyingly scarce along the Kinabatangan this year -- normally, they're abundant there!
FLUFFY-BACKED TIT-BABBLER (Macronus ptilosus) – A handful twitched through the knee-high vegetation along the Gomantong Caves road, flickering in and out of view. I think we all got good looks at their distinctive blue eye wattles in the end -- though their fluffy backs proved rather more elusive!
CHESTNUT-WINGED BABBLER (Cyanoderma erythropterum) – One of the most common of the babblers this time around, seen well on most days in the lowlands and foothills. There are "good" babblers (easy to see) and "bad" babblers (NOT so easy to see), and these definitely qualify as "good".
RUFOUS-FRONTED BABBLER (Cyanoderma rufifrons) – We heard the all-on-the-same-pitch song of this babbler near the turnoff to the BRL staff quarters on several days, and finally caught up with one near the frog pond on our last morning there. It sure looked small compared to the Horsfield's Babbler we'd just been looking at!
CHESTNUT-BACKED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus montanus) – One on the BRL's Lost Trail spent long minutes chortling from the mid-canopy over our heads, giving us occasional views of its distinctively long, curved, yellow bill.
BLACK-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigricollis) – A noisy little gang of these skulking babblers (which definitely qualify as "bad" babblers, given how challenging they were to see) worked along the edges of the Gomantong Caves road, occasionally popping out into the open for a few brief seconds on a vine or branch. The very white cheek patch was distinctive when we finally laid eyes on one.


Though the male Crested Fireback proved elusive, this female put on a fine show, parading around right near our vehicle. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

CHESTNUT-RUMPED BABBLER (Stachyris maculata) – Two chortled from some small trees along the Gomantong Caves road on our final visit there, giving us a great chance to study them in the scopes. They were doing quite the territorial display, with lots of bowing and waving of wings as they sang.
GRAY-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigriceps) – Regular in the highlands, with particularly nice studies of a little group working along the stream on Kinabalu NP's Silau-Silau trail, not far from our first Eyebrowed Jungle-Flycatcher. This species generally stays within a few meters of the ground -- and often lower.
GRAY-HEADED BABBLER (Stachyris poliocephala) – Heard from some of the thickest tangled brush along the BRL entrance road (always in overgrown clearings), but never seen. [*]
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)
MOUSTACHED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnirostre) – A quiet bird poking along at eye level on the BRL's Nature Walk trail one afternoon was reasonably cooperative, allowing us the chance to study its distinctively dark malar stripe. We saw another, more active bird singing along the Lost trail on our last full day at BRL.
SOOTY-CAPPED BABBLER (Malacopteron affine) – Regular in the lowlands, particularly along the Gomantong Caves road, where we saw them on each visit. The little group we found near the BRL canopy walkway gave us particularly nice comparisons with a nearby group of quite similar Rufous-crowned Babblers.
SCALY-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron cinereum) – A little group worked low in the understory along the BRL's Jacuzzi trail, which made their scaly crowns and pink legs easier to see. Their pinkish legs are diagnostic, helping to separate them from the very similar Rufous-crowned Babblers, which have gray legs.
RUFOUS-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnum) – After hearing them singing from the forest in the Danum Valley, we had a birds-eye view of them below us at the canopy walkway -- which made their rufous crowns much easier to see!
BLACK-CAPPED BABBLER (Pellorneum capistratum) – Particularly nice studies of a trio interacting at the right-angle corner of the boardwalk trail at the Gomantong Caves. They strutted around on the ground almost under the boardwalk, peering under downed branches and low leaves.
TEMMINCK'S BABBLER (Pellorneum pyrrogenys) – After hearing their distinctive calls on several days in the highlands, we finally caught up with a little group along the Kinabalu park road on our last morning in the park -- at the same magical spot where we found our Whitehead's Broadbill.
SHORT-TAILED BABBLER (Pellorneum malaccense) – Our first was one we found hopping along the ground near the Sukau boardwalk trail, in the company of a few Chestnut-winged Babblers. But our best views were probably of a singing bird flitting through an open bush right beside the BRL's Hornbill trail -- briefly interrupting our dash for the main road (and the truck) when the bristleheads were reported from the area of the canopy walkway.
WHITE-CHESTED BABBLER (Pellorneum rostratum) – Common along waterways in the lowlands, with especially nice looks at several pairs along the Menanggul.
FERRUGINOUS BABBLER (Pellorneum bicolor) – The ultimate in "good" babblers -- a male that sang (and sang and sang) from eye-level branches right along the Gomantong Caves road on our first morning visit. In fact, he kind of got in the way -- repeatedly -- as we tried to get a look at the far more skulking Black-throated Babblers twitching through some of the same bushes.
STRIPED WREN-BABBLER (Kenopia striata) – A spectacularly cooperative bird along BRL's Danum trail one afternoon. It was calling along the trail as we walked by, rocketed in immediately when I played a squirt of tape to it, and proceeded to sit on a nearby branch and sing for a good 10 minutes -- allowing great scope views -- before flitting off again. And we found another confiding bird along BRL's Lost trail for those who'd opted out of the Danum trail hike.
BORNEAN WREN-BABBLER (Ptilocichla leucogrammica) – A loudly singing bird flicked across the forest floor along BRL's Jacuzzi trail, pausing periodically on a branch, rock or pile of sticks. A dark bird in a dark forest made for a bit of a challenge to spot it; good thing we had the scope! [E]
HORSFIELD'S BABBLER (Turdinus sepiarius) – A singing bird right near the turnoff to the staff quarters was the first new bird of our last morning at BRL. It was a bit of a challenge to spot in the dark understory -- our first cloudy day! -- but we got there in the end.
BLACK-THROATED WREN-BABBLER (Turdinus atrigularis) – Arg! They sang quite insistently from the start of the trail we edged down in our search for Great Argus, but they just wouldn't come close enough to see. [E*]
MOUNTAIN WREN-BABBLER (Turdinus crassus) – Lovely views of these social little endemics near the start of the Mempening trail in Kinabalu NP one cloudy morning. At least three (and possibly more) swirled through the undergrowth, singing loudly. [E]


It's hard to believe the Gray-bellied Bulbul's name doesn't make mention of those amazingly chartreuse wings and tail! Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
BROWN FULVETTA (Alcippe brunneicauda) – Two bathing in the little stream near the BRL canopy walkway were cooperative, standing on rocks or splashing in the water as we watched through the scopes.
SUNDA LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax palliatus) – Best seen around the Timpohon Gate, where intent birds carefully scanned tree branches and hopped along the ground, searching for insects that had been attracted to the bright lights around the generating station. Away from such attractions, this species can be considerably harder to see.
CHESTNUT-HOODED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla treacheri treacheri) – Abundant in the highlands, seen in good numbers every day there. [E]
Irenidae (Fairy-bluebirds)
ASIAN FAIRY-BLUEBIRD (Irena puella) – A male flew in and landed at the top of a tall tree right along the BRL entrance road on our last morning there, just before we reached the out-of-commission end of the canopy walkway. Fortunately, it then switched position to another tree where we could actually get a glimpse of its lovely color against the trunk.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
GRAY-STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa griseisticta) – The first of our flycatchers along the BRL entrance road on our first morning there; this was the one with the even streaking over the entire underparts.
DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa sibirica) – The second of our flycatchers along the BRL entrance road, this one was hunting from the bottom branch of a sizable tree near the canopy walkway. The heavy, dark streaking on the flanks and upper chest of this species help to ID it.
ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa dauurica) – One near our Gray-streaked Flycatcher gave us a good chance for comparison. We found another hunting low along the road near the stream by the canopy walkway.
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis) – Individuals or pairs on a few scattered days in the lowlands, including two on the grounds of the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon, and one near the Sukau boat dock on the day we transferred to BRL.
RUFOUS-TAILED SHAMA (Copsychus pyrropygus) – We heard one singing along BRL's Jacuzzi trail one afternoon, but got distracted by a closer Bornean Wren-Babbler -- and by the time we'd had our fill of that one, the shama had moved away. We found another along the edge of the BRL entrance road the following morning. It was a bit unfriendly, popping into the open only for some of the group.


Pigtail Macaques were common around Sukau. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (WHITE-CROWNED) (Copsychus malabaricus stricklandii) – Regular in the lowlands, with especially nice looks at one hunting along the edge of the BRL entrance road one morning. The two Bornean-area subspecies (this one and "barbouri" of the Maratua Islands north of Borneo) have distinctive white crowns.
HILL BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis banyumas) – A couple of females along the road in the Crocker Range -- one at the Masakob Waterfall Garden and a second up near the Tambunan Rafflesia Center. The plain brown upperparts, lack of wingbars, warm rusty-orange throat and breast, and noticeable eye ring helped us clinch the ID.
SUNDA BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis caerulatus) – One along the BRL entrance road, showed nicely its blue chin -- right before we found a Bornean Blue Flycatcher for convenient comparison. This species was formerly known as Large-billed Blue Flycatcher.
MALAYSIAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis turcosus) – Scattered pairs along the Menanggul -- far fewer than are seen most years. However, they proved exceedingly obliging, perching low over the river, often in the open.
BORNEAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis superbus) – A handsome male singing near the start of the BRL canopy walkway late one afternoon was a consolation prize for missing the Bornean Bristleheads that had been reported from the area. [E]
BLUE-AND-WHITE FLYCATCHER (Cyanoptila cyanomelana) – One hunted beyond the chainlink fence near the Timpohon Gate on our foggy morning visit, and we found another along the Kinabalu park road the following day. This is a winter visitor to the island.
INDIGO FLYCATCHER (Eumyias indigo) – Diane and Dick spotted one -- and got its picture -- from their balcony at our Kinabalu lodge, and the rest of us caught up with one along the park road the next day. This resident species is restricted to Sabah's highest mountains.
VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus) – One flew in and perched on the top of a dead tree right beside the road in the Crocker Range, giving those who'd braved the rain a chance to study it in the scopes -- nice spotting, Diane F! It made a few sallies from the treetop before flying off over the road.
EYEBROWED JUNGLE-FLYCATCHER (Vauriella gularis) – Our first made repeated sallies from an eye-level branch along the upper Silau-Silau trail, in the company of a handful of Gray-throated Babblers. We saw another hunting along the Kinabalu NP road a few days later. [E]
WHITE-BROWED SHORTWING (BORNEAN) (Brachypteryx montana erythrogyna) – We heard the song of this secretive species -- very complex and steadily increasing in volume from beginning to end -- daily in the mountains. [*]
BORNEAN WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus borneensis) – Regular in the mountains, with a few bouncing along and across the park road early each morning, and a bird nest-building in the "gate" at one of the park's trailheads. [EN]


We had a stupendous encounter with a hunting Clouded Leopard along the Menanggul on one of our night floats. For a few heart-stopping seconds, it even looked like it might join us in the boat! Photo by participant Myles McNally.

WHITE-CROWNED FORKTAIL (WHITE-CROWNED) (Enicurus leschenaulti frontalis) – One flushed off the BRL entrance road as our electric cart approached the creek near the canopy walkway. Unfortunately, it dropped down off the side of the road and was never seen again!
WHITE-CROWNED FORKTAIL (BORNEAN) (Enicurus leschenaulti borneensis) – One sat, tail waggling, tucked under some of the vegetation over a roadside ditch near the Masakob Waterfall Garden and a lucky few saw another flash along the park road one morning as our bus made its noisy way down the hill. Some taxonomists split this endemic island subspecies from White-crowned Forktail, but the Clements list does not.
MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER (Ficedula mugimaki) – A female or young male hunted along the chainlink fence near the Timpohon Gate on a couple of mornings, and we found another further down the Kinabalu park road. This is a winter visitor to Borneo. [b]
SNOWY-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hyperythra sumatrana) – Splendid studies of a confiding male along the Silau-Silau trail, hunting from a pipe, a log, and several rocks in the stream. It was completely unfazed by our presence.
LITTLE PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula westermanni) – Very common in the highlands, with pairs seen well every day but our last (and we did hear it that day). The ones hunting around the Timpohon Gate -- occasionally perching on the top of the chainlink fence around the generator buildings -- were particularly showy.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
FRUIT-HUNTER (Chlamydochaera jefferyi) – Arg! We heard the high thin whistle of this species near where the bus had parked one morning along the Kinabalu park road -- and Hamit even spotted it among the leaves in the canopy -- but it flew off before any of the group had a chance to get a look. This endemic is widespread, but scarce, in the mountains. [E*]
EYEBROWED THRUSH (Turdus obscurus) – We flushed one of these migrants off the side of the road as we walked down from the Timpohon Gate towards our bus one morning; it flew up and landed in a tree up the hill, allowing scope views of its backside (and, when it turned its head, its face with that distinctive eyebrow). Some evidence suggests this species may be a major disperser of fruit seeds in the mountains of Sabah. [b]
Sturnidae (Starlings)
ASIAN GLOSSY STARLING (Aplonis panayensis) – Especially nice looks at a trio of preening males -- and a lone female watching from a nearby wire -- up the slope from the Sepilok Nature Resort's main buildings our first afternoon. Those are seriously large red eyeballs!
COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa) – We spotted a couple perched up on some dead snags across the street from the RDC parking lot our first morning together, with another small group in another dead tree near the Sukau boat landing as we departed for Lahad Datu on our last morning there. The bright yellow wattles on the head of this declining species (popular with the caged bird trade) are distinctive.


The entrance to the famed Gomantong Caves, home to thousands of nests of White-nest, Black-nest and Mossy-nest swiftlets. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

JAVAN MYNA (Acridotheres javanicus) – Two sat quietly in a silk tree near one of the cabins at the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon, and we saw dozens of others along roadsides throughout the lowlands. The books don't show this introduced species anywhere near Sabah, but it's very common along the north coast now. [I]
Chloropseidae (Leafbirds)
GREATER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis sonnerati) – Less common this year than the next species, seen only on the Gomantong Caves road and the BRL entrance drive. A female and youngster along the Gomantong road showed the yellow throats and eye rings that help to separate them from the next species.
LESSER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis cyanopogon) – Seen very well around the RDC and BRL canopy walkways, where they were gobbling small fruits from nearby trees. Females of this smaller species are very plain, though they do show a small blue malar stripe.
BORNEAN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis kinabaluensis) – Several small groups swirled through treetops in the Crocker Range or probed the bright orange flowers in a few scattered flowering trees. This highland species was split from the Blue-winged Leafbird. [E]
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
YELLOW-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER (Prionochilus maculatus) – One foraged very low along the BRL entrance road late one morning, showing its yellow-striped breast and orange crown patch to perfection.
YELLOW-RUMPED FLOWERPECKER (Prionochilus xanthopygius) – Best seen right over the entrance gate into the Gomantong Caves road, while we waited for someone to come and unlock things on our first morning visit there. We had another along the Menanggul and a final male just a few yards along the BRL entrance road from the previous species. [E]
YELLOW-VENTED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum chrysorrheum) – Great studies of one near 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) – Especially nice views of one of these tiny flowerpeckers along the RDC canopy walkway our first morning. Measuring just 3.25 inches from beak to (very short) tail, this is one of Borneo's smallest birds.
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) – Best seen in a treetop near our lunch restaurant one afternoon just outside the Kinabalu park entrance (a male), with others in the park itself seen only fleetingly. [E]


A diminutive Snowy-browed Flycatcher entertained us along the Silau-Silau creek. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

SCARLET-BACKED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum cruentatum) – A male along the Menanggul was pretty eye-catching as he foraged among some just-above-eye-level branches.
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD (Chalcoparia singalensis) – Our first was an orange-chested female spotted along the Menanggul, followed a few days later by a busily foraging male on the same waterway. We saw others from the BRL canopy walkway. This species lacks the tubular tongue of most sunbirds and is considered by some taxonomists to be a more primitive ancestor of the others.
PLAIN SUNBIRD (Anthreptes simplex) – Quick looks at one of these aptly-named sunbirds along the RDC canopy walkway, with another from the BRL canopy walkway.
PLAIN-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes malacensis) – As a group, we had our best looks along the Gomantong Caves road, though many also saw them around the grounds of the Sepilok Nature Resort. This species is also known as the Brown-throated Sunbird.
RED-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes rhodolaemus) – A few of these Sunda regional endemics seen well along the RDC canopy walkway. This species is far less common than the previous, and more likely to be found in primary forest.
VAN HASSELT'S SUNBIRD (Leptocoma brasiliana) – Fine views of several males perched near the RDC canopy walkway and towers; their colors, when the rising sun caught them, were pretty spectacularly iridescent!
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis) – Regular in more open habitats, including a few males foraging in the flowering bushes right around the cabins at the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon, with others along the road through the palm groves near Sukau and around our Kinabalu lunch restaurants. This widespread species is Borneo's most common sunbird.
TEMMINCK'S SUNBIRD (Aethopyga temminckii) – This, the highland replacement for the next species, was seen on all but one day in the mountains -- and we undoubtedly just didn't look hard enough that day! The brightly-colored males were particularly noticeable.
CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Aethopyga siparaja) – This one (the male at least) definitely qualifies as eye candy -- wow! We saw many well in the lowlands, particularly around the Sepilok Nature Resort.
LONG-BILLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera robusta) – All-too-brief views of one perched at the top of a tree near the RDC canopy walkway on our first morning; it was perched right in the open, but not everybody got on the right tree before it shot up and over the top and disappeared. This is the largest and longest-billed of Borneo's spiderhunters.


Amazingly, Large Frogmouth was one of two species of frogmouths we saw on this tour. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

LITTLE SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera longirostra) – The most common of the tour's spiderhunters, seen well on several days in the lowlands, including a trio of singing, interacting birds along the RDC's Woodpecker trail and a few foraging just off the boardwalk trail at Sukau.
PURPLE-NAPED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera hypogrammicum) – One along the Sukau boardwalk trail for those who walked around it late on our first morning there, with another along the Gomantong Caves road the next morning. This species was formerly known as Purple-naped Sunbird, until genetic studies showed that it was more closely related to the spiderhunters than the sunbirds.
WHITEHEAD'S SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera juliae) – One called several times as it foraged in a flowering tree over the road in the Crocker Range, alerting us to its presence. It flicked through the nearly leafless canopy, flashing its striped belly and yellow vent at those who got on the right part of the tree -- which, unfortunately, wasn't everybody! It returned to the same tree at least once later in the morning. [E]
YELLOW-EARED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera chrysogenys) – Brief looks for Adzel and Tim of one visiting a flowering tree across the road from the start of the BRL canopy walkway.
SPECTACLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera flavigaster) – This one, visiting the same tree as the previous species, proved far more accommodating, sitting for long minutes in the same place as it foraged or preened and allowing repeated scope studies.
BORNEAN SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera everetti) – One over the gate at the Masakob Waterfall Gardens investigated a bevy of branches and leaves, searching for tidbits. [E]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea) – A few wintering birds in the highlands, typically seen flying away up the road as the bus approached them. One along the road in the Crocker Range flew up out of a drainage ditch and landed briefly on a roadside utility wire when a car drove past. [b]
PADDYFIELD PIPIT (Anthus rufulus malayensis) – A few strode along the grassy edges of the runways at the Lahad Datu airport, and others walked on the lawns just outside the waiting room windows.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – A little gang of six or seven charged around the dusty front yard of a roadside bar across the street from the Sepilok Nature Resort our first afternoon, with a few stopping to take vigorous dust baths, and we saw others around the main building at BRL. [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]
CHESTNUT MUNIA (Lonchura atricapilla) – Best seen along the drive in to the Danum Valley, when we found a restless group of 15 or so swirling along the roadside. We saw others in the marshy wetland near Tuaran on our last afternoon.

MAMMALS
COLUGO (Cynocephalus variegatus) – One glided in and landed on a trunk right beside the Gomantong Caves road -- great spotting, David! Through the scopes, it looked like a sun-dappled part of the trunk, though with a bit of effort, we could make out a shiny eye. They're mostly nocturnal, but are sometimes (as we saw) active in the morning and late afternoon as well.
LESSER SHORT-NOSED FRUIT BAT (Cynopterus brachyotis) – One hung from the eaves of the decaying building at the far end of the parking lot at the Gomantong Caves, its ears twitching as it peered down at us.
WHISKERED MYOTIS (Myotis muricola) – Adzel showed us one snoozing in a curled up Heliconia leaf along the BRL entrance drive.
DIADEM ROUNDLEAF BAT (Hipposideros diadema) – This was the reddish bat with the big white spots on its sides that we found hanging by one foot from a branch over the road during our first night drive at BRL. "Roundleaf" refers to the shape of part of its nose.
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, and tens of thousands more emerged from another cave mouth in a seemingly endless, twisting stream as dusk approached.


The Orange-bellied Flowerpecker is typically the commonest flowerpecker of coastal and secondary forests. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

MOUNTAIN TREESHREW (Tupaia montana) – One snuffled its way along the ground on a bank above the Kinabalu park road. The uniformly brown pelage, longer tail and longer snout of this species helps to separate it from the Bornean Mountain Ground-Squirrel. [E]
LESSER TREESHREW (Tupaia minor) – One scrambled around in a small tree along the Gomantong Cave road, distracting us during our search for Ferruginous and Black-throated babblers.
LARGE TREESHREW (Tupaia tana) – Seen on a few scattered days in the lowlands, incudling one climbing a tree along the edge of the Menanggul.
HORSFIELD'S TARSIER (Tarsius bancanus) – Some great spotting by Adzel netted us extended views of one of these primitive primates as it stared wide-eyed into the forest. Unlike most nocturnal animals, this one doesn't have reflective eyeballs -- which makes it a real challenge to spot in the dark!
CRAB-EATING MACAQUE (Macaca fascigularis) – Very common around Sukau, with scores (including plenty of playful youngsters) seen along the various waterways. We saw a few others along BRL's Jacuzzi trail. This species is also known as Long-tailed Macaque.
PIGTAIL MACAQUE (Macaca nemestrina) – Also regular around Sukau, though less common than the previous species. This is Borneo's only short-tailed monkey.
SILVERED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis cristata) – Quite uncommon, though seen in a couple of locations around Sukau -- two along the Menanggul (near a big troop of Long-tailed Macaques) and a mother with her pale orange baby along the Sukau boardwalk. This species is declining, and is now rated as "near threatened".
RED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis rubicunda) – Regular in small numbers in the lowlands, particularly around BRL. Our first was a single animal keeping a wary eye on a bunch of stone-throwing youngsters who were trying to drive it away from some houses along the Kinabatangan. Also known as Maroon Langur. [E]
PROBOSCIS MONKEY (Nasalis larvatus) – Multiple nice encounters with these endangered endemic monkeys along the Kinabatangan River and its tributaries, ­­including a few "Jimmy Durante" males and many pug-nosed females. Fortunately, they're good swimmers (given that we saw a few lose their grips on the monkey ladders and plummet into the water). 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 his 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 and foothills, and caught fleeting glimpses of these long-limbed, agile monkeys on a couple of occasions -- in some big trees near the RDC parking lot, and along the Gomantong Caves road. Also known as Bornean Gibbon. [E]


The Malay name for the Orangutan translates as "person of the forest". Photo by participant Myles McNally.

ORANGUTAN (Pongo pygmaeus) – Our best views came on our very first morning, when we found a mother and toddler (as was) in trees right near the road out of the RDC trail system. Those in the second vehicle spotted another on the drive into BRL, and Diane S. saw one along the entrance drive there while walking back to the lodge one morning. And we all saw a big male (well, the ARM of a big male, anyway) shaking some trees as it climbed up and away along the same road a few days later. This species is sadly declining across Borneo, primarily as a result of habitat loss and hunting. [E]
PALE GIANT SQUIRREL (Ratufa affinis) – One nibbled bark on a tree right near the RDC canopy walkway, sometimes sprawled along the topside of a branch and sometimes clinging to the bottom. And occasionally hanging completely upside down! This species is a Sunda specialty.
PREVOST'S SQUIRREL (Callosciurus prevostii) – Abundant in the lowlands, seen nearly every day there. There are eight subspecies on Borneo, but only one -- pluto -- is found in Sabah. This is an all-black tree squirrel with rusty underparts.
KINABALU SQUIRREL (Callosciurus baluensis) – Similar in size to the previous squirrel, but paler on the upperparts, with black and white side stripes. This species is found only in the mountains of northwestern Borneo, where we found it near Kinabalu NP's Timpohon Gate. [E]
PLANTAIN SQUIRREL (Callosciurus notatus) – A scattered few of these smaller, stripe-sided squirrels were seen at RDC and along the Menanggul. This species tends to be rare in (or missing from) the taller dipterocarp forests.
BORNEAN BLACK-BANDED SQUIRREL (Callosciurus orestes) – Slightly smaller than the previous species (which it resembles, though with a whiter belly) and found only in the highlands. We found one near the Timpohon Gate (including one trying its darnedest to charm us with its "I'll reach out and touch you" antics) and another along the park road. [E]
JENTINK'S SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus jentincki) – Plenty of these little "jetpack" squirrels in the highlands, rocketing around in the trees. Their leaping ability was truly impressive! [E]
BORNEAN MOUNTAIN GROUND-SQUIRREL (Dremomys everetti) – A few of these very dark squirrels scuttled around the parking area near the Timpohon Gate on our first foggy morning in the mountains. [E]
PLAIN PYGMY SQUIRREL (Exilisciurus exilis) – There's something eminently appealing about squirrels that are smaller than your thumb! We had great looks at a number of them in various lowland locations. [E]
WHITEHEAD'S PYGMY SQUIRREL (Exilisciurus whiteheadi) – Another tiny squirrel, this one seen scurrying around in a giant tree along the Kinabalu park road. The little white ear tufts are pretty darned cute! [E]
RED GIANT FLYING SQUIRREL (Petaurista petaurista) – A couple of these huge red squirrels seen high over the BRL entrance road on our first night drive. This big species shows a black tip to its red tail, and can glide as far as 100 meters in a leap!
THOMAS'S FLYING SQUIRREL (Aeromys thomasi) – One bustled around on a couple of horizontal branches and the trunk of a tall emergent tree along the BRL entrance road, and a second glided in to join it, seen on our first BRL night drive. This endemic species is smaller than the Red Giant Flying Squirrel, and doesn't show a black tip to its tail. [E]
MALAYSIAN WEASEL (Mustela nudipes) – One of these orange critters scurried across the road in front of our bus as we drove up the Kinabalu park road one morning.
MALAY CIVET (Viverra tangalunga) – Superb views of one right beside the main building at BRL as we returned from our first night drive, with another seen more briefly in the forest there. What a gorgeous animal!
BINTURONG (Arctictis binturong) – Two high in a tree along the BRL entrance road got our first night drive there off to a great start. This arboreal civet feeds mostly on figs (and other fruits), using its long, prehensile tail to help it balance while foraging. It's also known as the Bearcat.
CLOUDED LEOPARD (Neofelis nebulosa) – WOW, WOW, WOW!! We had a fantastic encounter with this rarely-seen cat along the Menanggul on one night float. It padded along the riverbank -- once scrambling up into some trees -- for several hundred yards, seemingly unfazed by our presence. At one point, it appeared that it might even join us in the boat, to the consternation of Dick and Diane F, who were in the front seat.
BORNEAN PYGMY ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus borneensis) – One fed along the edge of the Kinabatangan one night, lit up by spotlight beams from the myriad boats making their nocturnal explorations of the river.


Gold-naped Barbets were the most photogenic of the tour's barbets. The rest seemed happiest at the very tops of the trees! Photo by participant Myles McNally.

BEARDED PIG (Sus barbatus) – One in the undergrowth along the Menanggul was a surprise. We had closer views of a badly crippled animal grazing near one of the nursery camps along the road in to Danum Valley, and those in the first vehicle spotted two more crossing the road on our drive out. This pig is named for the "beard" of bristles than protrude from its lower jaw.
GREATER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus napu) – Those who went for a night walk at BRL spotted one moving furtively through the undergrowth along the boardwalk nature trail.
LESSER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus javanicus) – One of these, smallest of Borneo's deer, trotted across the BRL entrance road on our final morning there.
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor) – A couple of these larger deer -- one a buck sporting a fairly impressive rack -- moved off the road as we approached in our electric cart during a night drive at BRL.
Herps
WAGLER'S PIT VIPER (Tropidolaemus subannulatus) – Hamit spotted us a small individual (probably a male) coiled on a branch near one of the support beams for the RDC walkway. This arboreal species eats a lot of birds, particularly chicks in nests.
BRONZEBACK TREE SNAKE (Dendrelaphis sp.) – One working its way along the boardwalk out to the Sukau dining room was attracting plenty of attention -- though it quickly disappeared back down through the cracks in the walkway every time somebody tried to get a picture. Some of the group saw another along the Sukau boardwalk on our night walk there.
MANGROVE CAT SNAKE (Boiga dendrophila) – The very large black snake with the yellow rings around its body that we saw climbing the bank along the BRL entrance road was probably this species. Unfortunately, it disappeared before we got close enough to get a picture.
HARLEQUIN FLYING TREEFROG (Rhacophorus pardalis (Rhacophoridae)) – A couple of these little treefrogs clung to vegetation around the BRL frog ponds, seen on our night walk there. This "gliding frog" is threatened by a combination of habitat loss, climate change and the deadly fungus that is wiping out so many of the world's amphibians.
GIANT RIVER FROG (Limnonectes leporinus (Dicroglossidae)) – Two or three of these big frogs, notable for the bold yellow stripe that runs down the middle of the back, sat in the shallow frog pond at BRL, making plenty of noise.
SALTWATER CROCODILE (Crocodylus porosus) – A few small ones along the banks of the Menanggul, with some larger ones on the Tenenggang.
CRESTED GREEN LIZARD (Bronchocela cristatella) – One right beside the RDC canopy walkway changed color from bright green to a muddier greenish-brown as it moved up the trunk, flashing its dewlap. We could see the little row of spikes along its back that give it its common name.


Great birds, great weather and some fine traveling companions. What more could you ask for?! Photo by driver Efendi.

HORNED FLYING LIZARD (Draco cornutus) – Especially nice views of a couple of males jousting on a trunk near the RDC walkway, with a third leaping to join them from a nearby tree. There was much flaring of yellow dewlaps involved!
BORNEO ANGLE-HEADED LIZARD (Gonocephalus borneensis) – Several of these big lizards -- with their blocky, oddly-shaped heads -- seen clinging to trunks at BRL (including a few on our night walk), with another in Kinabalu NP. Males are brown and spiky-backed, while females can be green or brownish with a much-reduced crest. [E]
SMITH'S GIANT GECKO (Gekko smithii ) – One on the wall of the Sukau dining room probably gave us our best view, and we certainly heard plenty of others, barking like small dogs from darkened lowland forests.
OLIVE TREE SKINK (Dasia olivacea) – One chased the green dot around on a tree trunk right beside the RDC canopy walkway, giving us a nice look in the process.
COMMON SUN SKINK (Eutropis multifasciata) – Best seen at RDC, where we found a couple scuttling through the leaf litter along the trails. This is a common lowland species.
WATER MONITOR (Varanus salvator) – Regular in the lowlands, including some sizable ones marching along the edge of the Gomantong Cave road. One dragging a dead eel even bigger than itself up the bank of the Menanggul was particularly entertaining.
Other Creatures of Interest
GIANT HONEY BEE (Apis dorsata) – We saw a couple of combs completely covered with these big bees hanging from the graceful white limbs of a giant Menggaris tree (Koompasia excelsa) in the forest along the Gomantong Caves road.
RAFFLESIA (PORING) (Rafflesia keithii) – We saw a number of these -- second largest flower species in the world -- at a family-run spot just outside Poring Hot Springs. There were a couple of second-day flowers, a decidedly droopy-looking third-day flower and plenty of emerging buds. [E]
PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes fusca) – These were the big green pitcher plants we found near the park sign at Gunung Alab. Unfortunately, a lot of them appeared to have died as a result of the lack of rain. [E]
PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes tentaculata) – And these were the very small reddish pitcher plants at the same location -- though behind a different sign. They seemed to be doing somewhat better, presumably because they need less water.
BROWN LEECH (Haemadipsa zyelanica) – Incredibly few this year, with only two actually found on people! This species was definitely impacted by the ongoing drought -- not that we were complaining, mind you!
BORNEAN PILL MILLIPEDE (Glomeris connexa) – A few in the middle of BRL's Lost trail (and the surrounding forest's leaf litter) showed us their "pill-making" prowess as they curled up into impenetrable balls when poked.
LONG-LEGGED CENTIPEDES (Scutigera spp.) – A few clung to the walls of the Gomantong Caves among the cringe-inducing numbers of cockroaches.
GIANT FOREST ANT (Camponotus gigas) – Seen on several days in the lowlands, with particularly good views of a line marching along a vine crossing the boardwalk trail at the Gomantong Caves. This is one of the world's largest ants.
COMMON BIRDWING (Tioides helena (Papilionidae)) – A few of these sizable butterflies (black with bright yellow hind wings) were seen in the lowlands. Though widespread across much of southeast Asia, this species is vulnerable because of its popularity with butterfly collectors.
MALAY BIRDWING (Troides amphrysus) – Seen on a few days in the mountains, including a female fluttering in the grass near the Kinabalu park road -- seemingly unable to fly.
RAJAH BROOKE'S BIRDWING (Trogonoptera brookiana (Papilionidae)) – A few seen at Kinabalu NP, including a male that flapped slowly up the road towards us and then passed right over our heads. This was one of the many insect species first described by Alfred Russell Wallace after his exploration of the Malay Achipelago.
COMMON TREE NYMPH (WOOD NYMPH) (Idea stolli (Nymphalidae)) – Abundant throughout the lowlands and foothills, where they floated like wisps of tissue paper through the forests.
CLIPPER BUTTERFLY (Parthenos sylvia (Nymphalidae)) – Common in the lowlands, where it proved to be a regular distraction during our search for various birds; it's bigger than some of the birds we were looking for!


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS


Totals for the tour: 277 bird taxa and 36 mammal taxa