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Field Guides Tour Report
Borneo I 2020
Feb 25, 2020 to Mar 13, 2020
Megan Edwards Crewe, Hamit Suban, Azmil & Melvin

Borneo is a haven for endemics, some big and colorful, some (like this Eyebrowed Jungle-Flycatcher) small and plain. Photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

What a wonderful time we had in Borneo! And how lucky we were to revel in the verdant steaminess of one of the world's riches jungles for more than two weeks, enjoying a fortuitously complete tour before being forced to tuck ourselves away for weeks (months?) to avoid the insidious threat of novel Coronavirus. For sixteen days, we explored luxuriant, tangled lowland and hill forest. 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 heights of the spectacular Mount Kinabalu massif, where we wandered through beautiful cloud forest bedecked with masses of mosses and ferns and epiphytes. And through it all, a constant stream of birds, mammals, herps, insects and plants enthralled and entertained us. The weather cooperated, we were undaunted (mostly) by the leeches, and the birds -- well, the birds were amazing!

Where do you start a "highlight list" for a trip with so many of them? Perhaps with the scattered gang of Bornean Bristleheads rummaging through the treetops near the Borneo Rainforest Lodge's canopy walkway. Or maybe with the jewel-bright Blue-headed Pitta, that suddenly, silently, appeared on a foot-high branch right beside the road, spotlit by the sunshine against a shadowy background. Or with the half dozen endangered Storm Storks we saw perched atop dead snags or circling over the Kinabatangan's tributaries -- a significant proportion of the country's remaining birds. Perhaps I should start with the pair of Sunda Frogmouths, with their wispy plumage that reminded us so comically of Bernie Sanders. Or with the Bornean Ground-Cuckoo that slipped along the banks of the Menanggul, calling repeatedly. Or with tiny Bornean Stubtail pivoting his way across the mossy forest floor, singing his incredibly high-pitched song. Or the Whitehead's Trogon that materialized out of the fog and drizzle and sat in view for 20 minutes -- long enough that those who'd given up and returned to the hotel could race back for a look. Or with the pair of White-crowned Hornbills we FINALLY spotted as daylight faded on our very last afternoon along the Kinabatangan. Or maybe I should start with the nose-y Proboscis Monkeys draped across branches along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries. Or with one or more of the dozen or so Orangutans we encountered -- maybe with the youngster sucking meditatively on a broken sugar cane stalk or the mama munching fruit right over our heads (well, nearly -- we didn't want to get RIGHT underneath them!) with her half-grown toddler and brand-new baby. Wow -- so many choices!

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 sturdy canopy 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: a reach-out-and-touch-them pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds, 5 species of woodpeckers -- including a courting pair of Crimson-winged, a foraging pair of Banded, and two tiny Gray-and-buff hitching along a vine -- a male Diard's Trogon eyeing berries from his perch, a foraging Bold-striped Tit-Babbler, a pair of Greater Racket-tailed Drongos (with one missing its racket-shaped tail feathers) and dozens more. On the grounds of our hotel, we added a busy pair of Large Woodshrikes and our first looks at some fruit-gobbling Rhinoceros Hornbills.

At Borneo Rainforest Lodge, a Chestnut-necklaced Partridge scuttled back and forth across the trail several times, singing loudly. A Great-billed Heron hunted in the shallows along the river's edge. A plethora of babblers -- 14 species in all, including noisy hordes of Chestnut-winged Babblers, a wing-waving trio of Chestnut-rumped Babblers, a skulking but eventually showy pair of Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers, and gaily whistling Sooty-capped Babblers -- challenged our powers of observation. A Bornean Wren-Babbler sang his heart out from a challengingly dense tangle of branches along a forest trail, a Black-throated Wren-Babbler shouted challenges from a waist-high stump, and a Striped Wren-Babbler did the same from wide-open branches elsewhere. Whiskered Treeswifts and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters made frequent short forays from favored perches. A handsome male Crested Fireback strutted across the road, a handful females in his wake. A tiny Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher sat above the bar at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, looking for all the world like a particularly realistic carving (until it flew off into the afternoon sunshine). A Barred Eagle-Owl made an unexpected appearance in a tree right outside the dining room. Yellow-breasted, Yellow-rumped and Orange-bellied flowerpeckers shared a fruiting bush yards from where we stood. Purple-naped Spiderhunters swarmed over a flowering tree. Dusky Munias flicked through roadside grasses. A female Rufous-collared Kingfisher flashed in to land right in front of us -- in the middle of the forest. A Binturong sprawled, snoozing, on a branch dozens of yards up into a huge fruiting fig tree. A fabulously patterned Malay Civet padded along the edge of recently cut forest. And who will soon forget that fabulous first night drive in Danum Valley, where a Leopard Cat sat tucked up on a log right beside the road, a fighting pair of Thomas's Flying Squirrels tumbled out of the canopy and plummeted earthwards before separating and gliding away into the dark, Long-tailed and Common porcupines scuttled along the roadside, and multiple Sambar slipped into the forest?

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 Black-nest and Mossy-nest swiftlets sitting atop their distinctive nests (the latter too messy to warrant cleaning for bird's nest soup). As dusk fell, and the tens of thousands of Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bats that call the cave home ventured out to feed, six Bat Hawks, two Rufous-bellied Eagles, a Brahminy Kite and a high-flying Peregrine Falcon 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 scarlet-bellied Black-crowned Pitta stood stock-still on an eye-level branch. A pair of White-fronted Falconets perched atop a dead snag, until the male shot off and caught a swift -- and passed it adroitly to the female, who carried it off to eat. And a Moustached Hawk-Cuckoo led us on a merry chase up and down the road, singing from a series of frustratingly hidden branches before finally reveal himself.

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. These proved good places to see raptors: several Gray-headed Fish-Eagles sat perched beside waterways (including one right across the Tenanggang from a Changeable Hawk-Eagle), a massive adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle flapped past overhead (and a soggy youngster sat morosely in a tree after a rainy squall), and a Crested Goshawk flew in to land over the boardwalk trail. Among other highlights were a violet-tinged Ruddy Kingfisher calling from a treetop along the Menanggul, an ankle-level Rufous Piculet investigating branches along the boardwalk, big flocks of Cinnamon-headed Green-Pigeons preening in treetops, a few flying pairs of Wrinkled Hornbills (their pale heads and tails gleaming against green hillsides), and some wide-eyed Buffy Fish-Owls staring into the water, lit by our spotlights on night cruises. Brown Barbets played follow-the-leader across narrow creeks, stunning pairs of Black-and-red Broadbills sat beside straggly nests, Long-tailed Parakeets and Dollarbirds decorated dead snags like animated Christmas ornaments, and a carved-out bit of riverside rock let us get bird's-eye views of a few hundred Plume-toed Swiftlets on their nests.

After the heat of the lowlands, we welcomed the cool, refreshing highlands, where we finished the tour amid a host of endemics. On the sunny heights of Gunung Alab, we got up close and personal with a singing Mountain Black-eye, a very confiding Sunda Bush-Warbler and a couple of Mugimaki Flycatchers. 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 Mountain and Bornean barbets and elegant Long-tailed Broadbills. Bornean Green-Magpies flicked through mossy forests in flashes of emerald green. Two Everett's Thrushes trotted back and forth across a quiet corner of the park road, chasing insects -- with one of them approaching to within yards of where we stood. A trio of Red-breasted Partridges scratched among the leaf litter. A Mountain Wren-Babbler chortled from a tangle of branches mere yards from our boot tips. Two Whitehead's Broadbills burst from the forest and landed on mossy branches just up the hill, their iridescent plumage gleaming. Noisy gangs of Sunda and Chestnut-hooded laughingthrushes boiled through the midstory. Male Temminck's Sunbirds glowed against foggy treetops. Eyebrowed Jungle-Flycatchers hunted from guard rails and concrete culverts, and an Orange-headed Thrush bounced along the roadside. An afternoon's trip to Poring Springs yielded an impressive second-day Rafflesia flower, plus a very nice lunch and a final handful of new birds.

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, Azmil, and Melvin, to our great support staff (especially Karen at FGI), our skilled Sukau boatman, all of our BET drivers, and the attentive staffs at our great accommodations. Thanks to many of you for sharing your wonderful photos and to all of you for your fine companionship throughout; it was a lot of fun sharing the magic of Borneo with you!

-- Megan

In the following list, RDC stands for Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Center, SNR stands for Sepilok Nature Resort, and BRL stands for Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

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

The island is a great place to see hornbills. Eight species are possible, with Oriental Pied-Hornbills (shown here) probably the most common. Sadly, the Helmeted Hornbill eluded us this year, and was a "heard-only". Photo by participant Karen Olsen.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RED-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila hyperythra) – Fabulous views of a trio scratching in the leaf litter down the hill from the Timpohon Gate on our first morning at Kinabalu NP. It took a bit of patience -- and some creative maneuvering -- but we got there in the end! We spotted another along the park road, just downhill from the park's highest bathrooms. [E]
CHESTNUT-NECKLACED PARTRIDGE (SABAH) (Arborophila charltonii graydoni) – One snuck across the Hornbill trail a couple of times, in pursuit of Azmil (and his recording). The bird's second crossing was particularly nice, as he lingered for a while in the open. We were serenaded on multiple other occasions at BRL, along the Menanggul River and on the Gomantong Caves road.
GREAT ARGUS (Argusianus argus) – Well, we certainly HEARD this big pheasant -- even close to the road near the open part of the BRL's canopy walkway. Unfortunately, we never laid eyes on one. [*]
CRIMSON-HEADED PARTRIDGE (Haematortyx sanguiniceps) – Marshall was the lucky one who found one wandering along the Silau-Silau trail during an afternoon break (when he went back to photograph the Bornean Green-Magpie nest), but the rest of us had to be satisfied with hearing their serenades -- over and over and over, all throughout Kinabalu NP. [E]
CRESTED FIREBACK (BORNEAN) (Lophura ignita nobilis) – Lovely views of these handsome birds on a couple of days, when little coveys crossed the main drive (single file) just beyond the frog pond at BRL.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis) – A pair on a pond in the palm groves near Sukau for the third year in a row. Though the field guides suggest this is a winter vagrant, Hamit says this pair has now been documented breeding -- with four chicks in tow at one point.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Hundreds and hundreds gathered on the grounds of the Sabah state mosque in Kota Kinabalu, with a handful of additional birds around Lahad Datu. [I]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – Scope views of one sitting on a wire not far from where we stopped to check out the Long-tailed Shrike on our way to the Gomantong Caves road, with others in KK's Tanjung Aru park and sprinkled on roadside wires along some of our travel routes.

Raptors are well-represented in Borneo too, and we were able to get up close and personal with many -- like this Gray-headed Fish-Eagle. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

LITTLE CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia ruficeps) – Our best views came near Kinabalu NP's Timpohon Gate, when we found one preening on a branch right over the road.
ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) – Good looks at these scaly little doves on a wire along a side road in Sepilok, seen as we walked down to the RDC. We heard others singing on the grounds of the SNR, and saw more nicely near the pond in the palm grove where we found our Little Grebes and at Tanjung Aru park in KK. This species was introduced to the island. [I]
PINK-NECKED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron vernans) – Great scope views of a small flock scattered among a horde of Asian Glossy Starlings in a dead tree we passed on our way to the Gomantong Caves road. This species is common across Borneo in open habitats (including roadside, parks and gardens, as well as mangroves and forest edges).
CINNAMON-HEADED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron fulvicollis) – Super studies of a flock of 16 preening in a treetop along the Menanggul River one morning, with some flyover birds on the Kitabatangan later in our stay. This is one we regularly miss, so it's not surprising eBird challenged our count number!
THICK-BILLED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron curvirostra) – Our first green-pigeon, with big numbers seen high in a fruiting fig tree along the Segama trail. Finding them among the leaves proved to be surprisingly challenging, but I think we all got there in the end.
GREEN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula aenea) – Regular in small numbers across the lowlands, most often in flight. We did get nice looks at a perched bird along the Menanggul River, and John spotted us another perched in a treetop on the Gomantong Caves road.
MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula badia) – One along the park road in Kinabalu NP, seen on our second pre-breakfast outing. Like the previous species, this is a sizable bird, measuring a good 4-5 inches longer than a Rock Pigeon!
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
BORNEAN GROUND-CUCKOO (Carpococcyx radiceus) – WOW!! After many fruitless miles of trolling, we finally got a response from a bird far up the Menanggul while exploring during a high tide one afternoon. It spent the next 20 minutes or so wandering back and forth along the riverbank, while Nasirun expertly maneuvered our boat to give us multiple views. [E]
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis) – Good looks for the front vehicle on our drive out of BRL, when one just about became a hood ornament while attempting to cross the road. We got longer views of another galloping up a branch along the Kinabatangan one afternoon. This is the largest of Borneo's coucals.
RAFFLES'S MALKOHA (Rhinortha chlorophaea) – Lovely looks at several rummaging, squirrel-like, along branches in trees at RDC -- including one munching on a huge katydid. We had others at BRL. This is the smallest (and most common) of Borneo's malkohas.
RED-BILLED MALKOHA (Zanclostomus javanicus) – One bounced through the tops of some trees across the road from the BRL canopy walkway, giving us multiple chances to check out its diagnostic red beak.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) – One of these big malkohas -- Borneo's largest -- skulked through the trees along the RDC's Ridge trail, making seeing it well a bit of a challenge. The chestnut (rather than white) tail tips are diagnostic.
VIOLET CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) – A male sitting in a treetop along the BRL's Jacuzzi trail proved a bit of a challenge -- mostly because we had to position the scope halfway down a rather slick, muddy hill to get a look at it. We saw (and heard) others in their bounding flight displays over the forest at the Gomantong Caves.
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus) – Scope studies of one in a treetop near the river view platform at BRL at the start of our first afternoon's walk. It was seen again from our lunch table a few days later.
BANDED BAY CUCKOO (Cacomantis sonneratii) – This was (inexplicably) one of our last afternoon cleanup birds at Poring Hot Springs; normally, we've found multiple birds before our final day! Fortunately, we had a great encounter with a territorial bird singing from a big tree near the Sambar pen at the top of the hill.
PLAINTIVE CUCKOO (Cacomantis merulinus) – The loud calls of this species echoed through the grounds of SNR each morning and evening, and we heard plenty of others at BRL before finally connecting with a singing male along the main drive there. We saw another well at the edge of a palm plantation along the Tenanggang River.
SQUARE-TAILED DRONGO-CUCKOO (Surniculus lugubris) – Our first shouted its challenges from a treetop along the main road at BRL, but our best looks probably came near the visitor's center at the Gomantong Caves, where we found one sitting in a fruiting tree. The clear rising whistles of this species ("one two three four five six" or "I'm a drongo cuckoo") were a regular part of the tour soundtrack in the lowlands.
MOUSTACHED HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx vagans) – A territorial bird along the Gomantong Caves road gave us repeated flight views as it coursed from one side of the road to the other, singing incessantly. Some of the group also saw it sitting on one or more of its various perches -- which was always tucked into the densest, most difficult-to-see places. Azmil and Wayne saw another briefly along BRL's Hornbill trail.
DARK HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx bocki) – We heard the repeated "brain fever" calls of this species in the highlands of the Crocker Range and Kinabalu NP. [*]

We stay at some lovely lodges. Participant Marshall Dahl got this serene shot of the dining room at the Sepilok Nature Resort, where we started our tour.

MALAYSIAN HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx fugax) – One fluttered down to the middle of the road just short of Kinabalu NP's Timpohon Gate and pounced on something there. Seconds later, it moved to a nearby sapling, where it sat for several minutes with its back to us before flashing off into the forest. This site was about 200m higher than the recorded typical upper end of the elevation range for the species.
INDIAN CUCKOO (Cuculus micropterus) – We heard the four-note song of this species ("MADaGAScar") regularly in the lowlands. [*]
SUNDA CUCKOO (Cuculus lepidus) – Another heard-only bird, this time only in Kinabalu NP. Its hollow, three-note call was heard daily there. [*]
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
LARGE FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus auritus) – One along the Segama trail one evening proved frustratingly elusive. It sang and sang and sang, but only made one all-too-brief appearance -- perching very close on a dead snag for two or three seconds before winging off into the night. That was just enough time to register its huge size, boldly spotted wings, and shaggy, buffy-white "eyebrows".
GOULD'S FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus stellatus) – We heard the very soft calls of two of these small frogmouths along the BRL entrance road on our final night drive. Unfortunately, though, they both stayed well out of sight! [*]
SUNDA FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus cornutus) – Two in the same tree near the BRL entrance gate were certainly a highlight of our first night drive there. We reckoned they looked a bit like caricatures of Bernie Sanders, with those distinctively long tufts of thin hairlike feathers on both sides of their heads.
Apodidae (Swifts)
SILVER-RUMPED NEEDLETAIL (Rhaphidura leucopygialis) – Great views of this handsome species at SNR, where they swooped low over the pond to get drinks, with others from the canopy towers at RDC.
BORNEAN SWIFTLET (Collocalia dodgei) – Small numbers zoomed around over the deck at the Timpohon Gate, giving us brief glimpses through the trees and against the hillsides. This is closely related to the next species, and closely resembles it. Its upperside, however, is brownish (glossed with green) rather than the dark blue of the Plume-toed. We saw an old nest in the peak of the entryway into the Timpohon Gate, but no bird appeared to be using it this year. [E]
PLUME-TOED SWIFTLET (Collocalia affinis cyanoptila) – Abundant throughout most of the tour, with great views of nesting birds in a crack in the rocks along the Kinabatangan River, and under the eaves of our lunch restaurant at Gunung Alab and the Kinabalu visitor's center. This species was split from the former Glossy Swiftlet. [N]
MOSSY-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus salangana) – Scores twittered on their nests near the entrances to the Black Nest Cave at the Gomantong Caves. Unlike the next species, this one can't echolocate, so has to stay in better lit parts of the cave system. [N]

Into every life, a little rain must fall. Fortunately, we didn't get much this year -- and some well-coordinated umbrella action kept us mostly dry. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

BLACK-NEST SWIFTLET (Aerodramus maximus) – The Black-nest Swiftlet is a bit larger and a bit darker than its white-nest cousin, but that can be tough to judge when they're in flight. Fortunately, though the nests of virtually all the White-nest Swiftlets in the Gomantong Caves had been harvested shortly before our arrival (darn!), the black nests were still much in evidence -- and largely occupied. So we're SURE we saw that species! [N]
HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis) – A few of these big swifts rocketed over the town of Nabalu, on the lower flanks of Mount Kinabalu, easily distinguished by their larger size and big white rump patch. We saw a number of their distinctive nests -- round globes of grassy material with lots of white feathers woven in. [N]
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)
GRAY-RUMPED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne longipennis) – Very common in the skies over RDC, with especially nice views of some coming down low over the pond near the dining room at SNR. Generally, they hold their long forked tails tightly closed. This is the more common and widespread of Borneo's treeswifts.
WHISKERED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne comata) – Small numbers in several spots around BRL, including one resting in a tree near the main building as we headed out on one of our night walks, a pair on the cables holding up part of the BRL canopy walkway and a pair making baby Whiskered Treeswifts near the suspension bridge out to the Segama/Jacuzzi trails.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus) – A few along the Telipok River (seen from the bridge as they launched themselves from one dense patch of vegetation to another), with others wandering along the back edge of the trash-filled pond where we checked for whistling-ducks on our way back in to KK. This species has been split from the Common Gallinule of the Americas.
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus) – Regular along the banks of the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, including an adult with a fluffy black chick one afternoon, and a pair of adults chasing each other under a wooden platform near the start of the Sukau River on another afternoon. We heard their bubbling serenades on several days.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus) – A half dozen or so strode around on their long pink legs in a pond near the Telipok River. This is a winter visitor to Borneo. [b]

Orangutan is always high on everyone's "must see" list, and we saw them in spades this year, with multiple sightings nearly every day in the lowlands. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
KENTISH PLOVER (Charadrius alexandrinus) – A trio rested on a mudflat near KK's Blue Mosque, not far from our first Whimbrel. This is another winter visitor, split relatively recently from the New World's Snowy Plover. [b]
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula) – Still another winter visitor, with one seen resting on the back edge of a pond near KK -- though how it found a place to stand among all the rubbish heaped up on the shore remains a mystery! [b]
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – I tried hard to turn at least one into an Eurasian Curlew, but I just couldn't do it. Some of the females looked significantly longer-billed than some of the shorter-billed males, but they just weren't long enough -- and the birds just weren't big enough! [b]
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – One teetered along the edge of the Kinabatangan River one afternoon, looking rather like a winter-plumaged Spotted Sandpiper (to which it's closely related), and several others fluttered past as we motored along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries. We saw a couple of others in wet spots around KK. This is a winter visitor to Borneo. [b]
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus) – One stood, well camouflaged, among the vegetation that covered most of the Telipok River -- good spotting, Wayne! This species looks rather like the New World's Solitary Sandpiper, to which it is closely related. [b]
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) – A single bird walked back and forth along the back edge of a pond near the Telipok River, taller than all but the stilts. This is the Old World replacement for the Greater Yellowlegs, which it strongly resembles in structure and behavior. [b]
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola) – One along the edge of the Kelananap oxbow lake, right where it changed into a rushing stream. But our best views came at a trashy pond near KK, where one stood under a dead snag in the water, demanding scope studies. This is yet another winter visitor. [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida) – A handful of birds in non-breeding plumage coursed back and forth over a small pond near the Telipok River on our last afternoon, occasionally dipping down to the water's surface. This is a winter visitor to Borneo. [b]
Ciconiidae (Storks)
STORM'S STORK (Ciconia stormi) – Considering the latest estimate of 400-500 birds left in the world, we did very well to see the half dozen we did! This species is highly endangered, primarily due to habitat loss; the lowland forest it needs for feeding and nesting is being lost to logging, dam construction and oil-palm plantations. It was named for Hugo Storm, a German sea captain who was also a collector of zoological specimens.

We had some super encounters with Storm's Storks, a declining and endangered species. We saw at least 7 of the 150 or so thought to remain in Malaysia. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

LESSER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos javanicus) – Singles on a couple of days over or along the Kinabatangan -- one perched atop a dead snag, showing well its bald head and heavy bill, and two others circling high over the river. This species is more common well downriver, closer to the coast.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster) – Scattered individuals on the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, plus one drying out in a palm near the pond where we found our Little Grebes and another soaring over the Gomantong Caves road. This species is declining across Borneo, particularly along the coasts.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
YELLOW BITTERN (Ixobrychus sinensis) – Our first flew, legs dangling, across the roadside pond where we found our Little Grebes, among the palm plantation -- good spotting, Wayne! We spotted a second as it flew from a concrete pond to a marshy area nearby at Tanjung Aru park in KK.
GREAT-BILLED HERON (Ardea sumatrana) – One hunting along the edge of a gravel bar in the Danum River got our first afternoon's walk at BRL off to a good start -- nice spotting, Steph and Karen!
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea) – Small numbers of these dark herons around the Kinabatangan (including over the surrounding palm groves and nearby Gomantong Caves), always in flight. This is a resident species, but its population swells in the winter thanks to visitors from further north.
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – Small numbers scattered along the edges of the Kinabatangan, including one already starting to show hints of the pale legs and dark bill it will have in full breeding plumage -- certainly a different look than that of North America's Great Egrets!
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia) – Scattered birds on scattered days, with especially nice views -- and comparison with the previous species -- at the Kelananap oxbow lake. The gape line on this species stops at the eye, rather than extending well beyond it, as the gape of the Great Egret does.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – The least common of the tour's egrets, seen only along the edges of Kelananap Lake and in one of the ponds we visited outside KK. This is the Old World replacement for the Snowy Egret -- even down to the "golden slippers"!
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – Particularly abundant around KK, with thousands and thousands sprinkled in roost trees along pond and marsh edges. We saw others in livestock pens and pastures across Sabah -- including a few balanced on water buffalo along the Telipok River.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – One stared fixedly at the water along the banks of Kelananap, and another hunted among the lily pads at Tanjung Aru park in KK.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A youngster rested in the center of a short palm near the pond where we found our Little Grebes, and we saw others youngsters -- and adults -- among the more numerous next species in a breeding colony in KK. This species is resident on Borneo, though numbers may be supplemented by winter visitors from further north.
RUFOUS NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus) – A nesting colony on the outskirts of KK gave us some lovely views of preening adults, plus a fluffy white chick head and a streaky half-grown youngster. [N]
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Two flapped past (separately) over Tanjung Aru park in KK -- one along the coast, and the second further inland. This is a winter visitor to Borneo. [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus) – One or two seen by some of the group hovering over fields along the road between BRL and Sukau, but our best views came near the Telipok River on our last day, when we watching one hunting over a smoky fire nearby. This species was formerly lumped with North America's White-tailed Kite.
ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus) – A pair along BRL's main drive allowed nice scope studies -- though things did go all x-rated at one point! This species specializes in bee larvae, rather than the honey that its common name suggests.
JERDON'S BAZA (Aviceda jerdoni) – Lovely views of an adult perched along the Gomantong Caves road. Its brown face, long wings and partially unfeathered tarsi are all good field marks for separating it from the similarly-plumaged Wallace's Hawk-Eagle.
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela) – Common and widespread, seen well both in flight and perched on many days in the lowlands. The wide white band across the end of its primaries made it easy to identify in flight.
BAT HAWK (Macheiramphus alcinus) – Two flapping over the trees at SNR late one afternoon were a bit of a surprise; it's the first time I've ever seen one there. They made a few circling passes before heading off out of view. We saw a half dozen others expertly hunting the emerging bats at the Gomantong Caves, and found another sitting on its stick nest along the entrance road there. With their strongly pointed wings, this species looks more like a falcon than a typical hawk in flight. [N]

And here we are, looking at that Storm's Stork from our comfortable boat on the Tenanngang. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (CHANGEABLE) (Nisaetus cirrhatus limnaeetus) – Our best views came along the Tenanggang River, where we found a dark morph bird perched in a treetop right across the water from a perched Gray-headed Fish-Eagle. We saw another, more distant, perched pair in the palm plantation near Sukau. As its name suggests, this one comes in a few color morphs.
BLYTH'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus alboniger) – Our first was a rather distant bird coursing along the ridge across the river from the BRL's main lodge. Fortunately, we got much better looks at several birds in the highlands, including one right over the road in the Crocker Range.
WALLACE'S HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nanus) – An adult preening in a tree near the BRL entrance gate allowed good scope studies. We could clearly see the rusty breast bars that separate it from the next species. We had a youngster in the same area on another day that might also have been this species, but they're virtually indistinguishable from young Blyth's Hawk-Eagles. A youngster along the Menanggul was definitely not a Blyth's!
RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE (Lophotriorchis kienerii) – Our first was a rather unsatisfying view of a distant bird in terrible light over the ridge visible from the main lodge at BRL. Fortunately, we had better looks at a couple of others hunting bats over the Gomantong Caves.
CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus) – One flashed in to land in a tree near the boardwalk trail at Sukau, giving us great opportunities to study it in the scope (and allowing several bemused general tourists to get a look as well). We saw others along the Tenanggang and the Gomantong Caves road.
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – Scattered individuals in the skies over RDC and SNC, including a pair circling lazily over the grounds near where we found our first Orangutan. We saw another adult hunting bats -- rather ineptly, to our eye -- over the Gomantong Caves on our evening visit.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – A massive youngster perched just upriver from SRL was our first -- good spotting, Marshall! We watched an adult soar past along the Kinabatangan as we reached the boat dock on the day we transferred to KK. This enormous bird has an equally enormous wingspan -- 6-7 feet!
GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus) – After dipping on them for much of our stay in the lowlands, we found two different birds on the same morning: one perched along the edge of the Kelananap and the second just across the Tenanggang from a Changeable Hawk-Eagle. The large size and black-tipped white tail help to separate this species from the Lesser Fish-Eagle.
Strigidae (Owls)
MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (Otus spilocephalus) – Many of us heard the clear two-note whistles of this highland species from our beds on several nights (or early mornings) in Kinabalu NP. [*]

It's always exciting to get a good look at an owl. To get a good look at a Barred Eagle-Owl from the dining room of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge was exceptional! Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

BARRED EAGLE-OWL (Bubo sumatranus) – One sitting right outside the BRL dining room one evening was certainly a surprise -- particularly considering it stayed put for a good five minutes while a whole procession of people watched and photographed it.
BUFFY FISH-OWL (Ketupa ketupu) – Regular around the Sukau Rainforest Lodge, with multiples seen on our night floats. They're gratifyingly habituated to passing boats, which gives us a great chance to study -- and photograph -- them. As its name suggests, this one is a fish specialist.
BROWN WOOD-OWL (BORNEAN) (Strix leptogrammica vaga) – One trying to hide behind a big dead leaf along the road out to BRL's suspension bridge soon fled back to the branch its mate was roosting on and snuggled up next to him/her. We saw what was probably one of the pair -- in the dark this time -- perched over the cabins on our walk back from the search for Gould's Frogmouth. The subspecies vaga is endemic to northern Borneo.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
RED-NAPED TROGON (Harpactes kasumba) – We heard one calling from the forest while birding along the BRL's Hornbill trail, but it never came close enough to see. [*]
DIARD'S TROGON (Harpactes diardii) – We heard a male calling from the forest at RDC and managed to track him down along the Kingfisher trail for some lovely looks. His missus was nearby, giving equally nice views. We saw another pair hunting something low along the roadside at BRL.
WHITEHEAD'S TROGON (Harpactes whiteheadi) – It was dark and wet and he was beautiful anyway! After waiting out the worst of a downpour in a convenient shelter -- and wandering birdless down the road for a bit -- some of the group decided to head back to base while the rest of us kept going. And within 50 meters of getting dropped off, and four notes of playback, we had a male shoot in. Though the light was appalling and the rain relentless, we had very satisfying scope views -- and even managed to get all the early departers back for a look. Yahoo! This species is named for John Whitehead, the British explorer-naturalist who worked in northern Borneo in the late 19th century. [E]
SCARLET-RUMPED TROGON (Harpactes duvaucelii) – A male along the BRL entrance road was very cooperative, showing us his scarlet rump repeatedly as he flicked from perch to perch. This is a Sundaland specialty.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
WHITE-CROWNED HORNBILL (Berenicornis comatus) – Yahoo! A pair found along the Kinabatangan right at dusk by Nasirun (what spotting!) made a great finale to our last afternoon on the river. With those shaggy crests, they look a bit like the glam rockers of the late 1970s.
HELMETED HORNBILL (Buceros vigil) – Darn. We heard one calling repeatedly from somewhere in the middle distance along the BRL entrance road, but just couldn't encourage it to move closer. [*]
RHINOCEROS HORNBILL (Buceros rhinoceros) – Fine views of a pair gliding across the pond at SNR and landing in a fruiting fig tree across the water from the dining room. They clambered their way up through the branches, nibbling as they went. We saw others along the Kinabatangan, including a female with a fully-grown, fledged youngster just as we exited the Resang River What spectacular birds!
BUSHY-CRESTED HORNBILL (Anorrhinus galeritus) – We found a noisy group along the Gomantong Caves road, and managed to get a few of them in the scopes before they moved off. We had another gang in a tree along the Kinabatangan while we waited for the White-crowned Hornbills to make an appearance. This is Borneo's only hornbill with no white in its plumage.
BLACK HORNBILL (Anthracoceros malayanus) – Regular in the lowlands, typically in pairs or trios. A few of the males (including one yelping along the Menanggul River one morning) showed a broad white stripe from beak to nape -- a less common variant.
ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris) – The most common hornbill of the trip, abundant in the lowlands, with many pairs perched in treetops and seen well. The wide white trailing edge to the wing of this small hornbill made it easy to identify in flight.
WREATHED HORNBILL (Rhyticeros undulatus) – A distant trio flew past over the hillside beyond the Masakob Waterfall Garden, their white heads and tails and all-black wings clearly visible.
WRINKLED HORNBILL (Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus) – Best seen along the Kinabatangan, where we watched a pair fly across a sunny hillside with a Slender-billed Crow in hot pursuit. Their yellowish bills GLOWED against their dark plumage.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis) – Marshall and I happened to be looking in the right direction when one of these winter visitors flashed across the pond at SNR during lunch. Fortunately for the rest of the gang, we found another perched along the edge of the Kinabatangan on one afternoon's outing. This is a winter visitor to Borneo.

We got up close and personal with a confiding pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds on our very first day -- one of 8 sunbird species we recorded on the tour. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

BLUE-EARED KINGFISHER (Alcedo meninting) – Abundant along the Menanggul, with at least a dozen seen flashing along the river or perched in low branches -- including one little "headless" ball of feathers seen snoozing low over the river during one of our night floats.
RUFOUS-BACKED DWARF-KINGFISHER (Ceyx rufidorsa) – One perched above the bar at BRL on our arrival afternoon completely interrupted our arrival briefing. We had some excellent views before it finally exited, stage right. We saw others along the Menanggul, and in one of the tiny rivulets in the forest along the Gomantong Caves road.
BANDED KINGFISHER (BLACK-FACED) (Lacedo pulchella melanops) – We heard one singing -- repeatedly, and for long periods -- near the frog pond corner on the BRL entrance road, but it never came close enough to actually see. [*]
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis) – Small numbers along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, including some wide-eyed birds gazing down at us from their spotlit perches on our night floats.
RUDDY KINGFISHER (Halcyon coromanda) – After hearing two having a "sing-off" along the Gomantong Caves road -- and seeing one flash back and forth across the road once -- we had much more satisfying views of another singing among the leaves in a treetop along the Menanggul River. The subspecies found in Sabah is the maroon-glossed "minor".
COLLARED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus chloris) – Regular in open country, including some sprinkled on roadside wires on our transfer days and others interacting near where we found our Long-tailed Shrikes. One we found along the road on our walk between the SNR and RDC allowed particularly nice scope study.
RUFOUS-COLLARED KINGFISHER (Actenoides concretus) – Lovely, though relatively brief, views of a female along the rather rough terminus (thanks to that huge fallen tree) of BRL's Gate trail. She landed in a tree right near the group, and looked around for 15-20 seconds before flying off again into the forest.
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
RED-BEARDED BEE-EATER (Nyctyornis amictus) – One along the lower Hornbill trail at BRL alerted us to its presence with its rather harsh call -- after we'd been standing right near where it was perched for at least five minutes. This forest bee-eater is far less common than the widespread Blue-throated Bee-eater.
BLUE-THROATED BEE-EATER (Merops viridis) – Daily in the lowlands, with many fine views -- including the regular handful hunting from wires right outside the BRL dining room each breakfast and lunch.

Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were seen every day in the lowlands, often returning again and again to the same perches. Photo by participant Karen Olsen.

Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – One sitting on a dead snag along the road in to BRL gave us the chance to study it in the scopes -- and to stretch our legs! We saw many more along the Kinabatangan, including a group of a half dozen decorating each snag tip in a dead tree (except the one the Long-tailed Parakeet had taken).
Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)
BROWN BARBET (Caloramphus fuliginosus tertius) – One along the Menanggul River shared a treetop with a male Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker and we had a clown car's worth of others along the Resang River. We thought we saw four fly in, but ten flew out! We saw a final trio along the Gomantong Caves road on our last visit there. Surprisingly, we dipped completely on this species at BRL. [E]
BLUE-EARED BARBET (BLACK-EARED) (Psilopogon duvaucelii duvaucelii) – One perched atop a tree visible from the SNR dining room gave us nice scope views the first morning. The "ear" of this one is black, not blue -- despite its common name. The repetitive two-note song of this species was a near-constant background noise in the lowlands.
BORNEAN BARBET (Psilopogon eximius) – A youngster in a tree across the hairpin by the Masakob Waterfall Garden sat for long minutes in a tree fork, giving everybody the chance to study it repeatedly in the scopes. And how Hamit ever managed to spot it in the first place shall remain a mystery! [E]
RED-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon mystacophanos) – As usual, we heard far more of these than we saw, but one near the frog pond on our first afternoon at BRL showed well. This is the only Bornean barbet that has red on the throat.
GOLDEN-NAPED BARBET (Psilopogon pulcherrimus) – Reach-out-and-touch-it views of one gathering berries in a bush right next to the group at the top of Gunung Alab. It clearly had a busy nest somewhere, given the number of fruits it was cramming into its beak. [EN]
YELLOW-CROWNED BARBET (Psilopogon henricii) – Heard daily at BRL, but not seen. [*]
MOUNTAIN BARBET (Psilopogon monticola) – The last of our mountain barbets to show itself -- and we very nearly missed it after hearing them calling all over the Crocker Range on the day we transferred to Mount Kinabalu. Fortunately, one appeared in the fruiting tree we were watching from the gazebo near Tambunan, and proceeded to wander all over the tree in search of the perfect snack. [E]
GOLD-WHISKERED BARBET (GOLD-FACED) (Psilopogon chrysopogon chrysopsis) – After hearing them daily in the Danum valley (with others along the Gomantong Caves road), we finally caught up with one just down the hill from the Masakob Waterfall Garden in the Crocker Range. Its huge bill quickly separated it from the other barbets we were seeking there. We had even better looks at another singing from a branch over the road at Poring Springs. The subspecies chrysopsis is endemic to Borneo, and is a possible candidate for a future split; stay tuned!

A trio of tailorbirds, including this jaunty Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, are common and widespread in the lowlands. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)
RUFOUS PICULET (Sasia abnormis) – Best seen at Sukau, where one investigated some tangled tree roots right near the Hornbill boardwalk trail. We had others at BRL, including one that flitted through some saplings along the drive near the start of the nature trail, and at the RDC.
GRAY-AND-BUFF WOODPECKER (Hemicircus concretus) – A couple of these tiny woodpeckers -- which sport an outlandishly large crest -- crawled over the branches (or clung to their undersides) of a large tree along the RDC's Ridge trail.
SUNDA WOODPECKER (Yungipicus moluccensis) – One of these tiny woodpeckers flashed across the grassy lawn of Tanjung Aru park and disappeared into a nest hole. It peeked out again a few minutes later and then bounded off across the park again. Some of the books call this one the Sunda Pygmy-Woodpecker, while others refer to it as the Brown-capped Pygmy-Woodpecker. [N]
GRAY-CAPPED WOODPECKER (Yungipicus canicapillus) – One hammered on a dead limb in a big tree visible from the Gomantong Caves road, spotted as we admired a perched Crested Serpent-Eagle. The books call this one the Gray-capped Pygmy-Woodpecker.
MAROON WOODPECKER (Blythipicus rubiginosus) – A noisy bird made multiple passes over the BRL's entrance road, interacting with another bird we never saw. Many of us spotted another as we descended the BRL Hornbill trail after wrestling with the Bornean Wren-Babbler, and we found still another along the Kinabalu park road early one morning. That dark red color -- and the notably pale bill -- make it tough to confuse with any other species.
ORANGE-BACKED WOODPECKER (Reinwardtipicus validus) – One shouted challenges along BRL's Jacuzzi trail, returning again and again to the same big tree and giving us the chance to see its distinctively orange-checked wing panels. In reality, only the male is orange-backed. The female's back is white.
RUFOUS WOODPECKER (Micropternus brachyurus) – One along BRL's entrance drive gave us a good chance to study it in the scopes as it flicked through tangled growth. Its dark bill and finely-barred plumage help to separate it from the equally dark Maroon Woodpecker.
BUFF-NECKED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tukki) – Two hammered on vines dangling in the forest along the RDC's Ridge trail, and another flicked through a shrubby tree along the Woodpecker trail there, in company with a Rufous Piculet and Buff-rumped Woodpecker. Its distinctive neck patch looks almost white at a distance.
BUFF-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Meiglyptes tristis) – A pair along RDC's aptly-named Woodpecker trail, with another -- in close comparison with the previous species -- in a sapling further along.
CRIMSON-WINGED WOODPECKER (Picus puniceus) – One along BRL's entrance road positioned itself nicely, so we could see that distinctive reddish wing, plus its unstreaked green back and uncollared neck -- things that help to separate it from the Banded and Checker-throated woodpeckers.

A chance roadside encounter with a fruit seller gave us the chance to try some unfamiliar fruits -- including the infamously smelly Daurian. Thumbs up guys? I don't think so! Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

BANDED WOODPECKER (Chrysophlegma miniaceum) – A noisy pair seen well near the intersection of the Ridge and Woodpecker trails at RDC. They chased each other through the branches, calling repeatedly, before a vigorous bout of making baby Banded Woodpeckers. The combination of heavily barred plumage (upper and underside) and rufous wing is unique among Borneo's woodpeckers.
CHECKER-THROATED WOODPECKER (Chrysophlegma mentale) – A very territorial bird near the upper Silau-Silau trailhead was shouting challenges virtually every time we stopped there. We had nice views of him one morning, when he happened to be crawling up trunks fairly close to the road. Like the previous two species, this is a Sundaland specialty.
WHITE-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus javensis) – Arg! We heard one calling several times from the forest edging the Menanggul River, but our only views were of it flying straight away from us down the river.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
WHITE-FRONTED FALCONET (Microhierax latifrons) – Some great spotting by Wayne netted us scope views of one perched atop a dead snag at RDC, and we spotted another pair perched up along the Gomantong Caves road. The male had caught a swift -- amazingly -- and transferred it to the female, which took it off to another snag to dismember it. This Borneo endemic is Near Threatened. [E]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – A high-flying bird hunted bats over the Gomantong Caves, looking subtly slimmer-winged and longer-tailed than the ubiquitous Bat Hawks. Though there's a resident population of this species in the mountains, birds in the lowlands are winter visitors to the island. [b]
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
LONG-TAILED PARAKEET (Psittacula longicauda) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, including a big group clambering around in a dead tree along the Menanggul and one sharing another dead tree with a gang of Dollarbirds near the Kelananap oxbow lake.
BLUE-NAPED PARROT (Tanygnathus lucionensis) – We found our first in a scruffy tree right by the entrance to Tanjung Aru park in Kota Kinabalu. It was bopping along to (LOUD) music being blared by a nearby speaker, grabbing a nearby twig and bobbing its whole body in time to the beat. We found others elsewhere in the park. The population in Kota Kinabalu was introduced from offshore islands. [I]
BLUE-CROWNED HANGING-PARROT (Loriculus galgulus) – For much of this tour, this species registered as little more than jingling calls issuing from bullet-shaped birds rocketing past overhead; we joked they had no feet to land with! Fortunately, we finally ran into a pair prospecting for nest holes along the Gomantong Caves road on our final visit there, and they allowed us some great scope views.

Borneo is a center of endemism for many groups, including plants. It's the epicenter of pitcher plant speciation, including these two: tiny (2-inch) Nepenthes tentaculata on the left and much bigger (8-inch) Nepenthes fusca on the right. Photos by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

Calyptomenidae (African and Green Broadbills)
GREEN BROADBILL (Calyptomena viridis) – A handful snatching berries from a fruiting tree near the BRL entrance gate showed nicely -- in fits and starts. With patience, we all got good scope looks by the end. This is the smallest and plainest of Borneo's green broadbills.
WHITEHEAD'S BROADBILL (Calyptomena whiteheadi) – Fabulous views of a pair along the Kinabalu Park road. After seeing several birds hurtling past (looking rather like thrown footballs) on earlier outings, it was great to get the chance to really study them. Their feathers are remarkably iridescent. And remarkably green! [E]
Eurylaimidae (Asian and Grauer's Broadbills)
BLACK-AND-RED BROADBILL (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) – Our first were a pair along the BRL's main road, but our best views came on the Kinabatangan and nearby Kelananap, where we found several pairs nest-building on snags protruding from the water. Those Day-Glo beaks are amazing! [N]
LONG-TAILED BROADBILL (Psarisomus dalhousiae) – A calling, tail-flicking pair along the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden -- dividing attention from the Bornean Leafbirds we were enjoying -- with another pair near the Tambunan Rafflesia Center. The pair flitting around Kinabalu NP's Timpohon Gate were a bit of a surprise to me; I hadn't seen them in the park before.
BANDED BROADBILL (Eurylaimus javanicus) – We found our first, rather flighty bird along BRL's main road, but a pair along the trail near the BRL's entrance gate were far more obliging, with one peering around for long minutes from a fat branch. We had another pair building their hanging nest from a tiny protrusion on a huge trunk at Poring Springs -- with one of the birds carrying up a HUGE mouthful of material to add. That mouthful was so heavy, the bird could barely fly; it had to bounce up the branches through the tree! [N]
BLACK-AND-YELLOW BROADBILL (Eurylaimus ochromalus) – By far the most common broadbill of the tour, recorded daily in the lowlands. As usual, we heard far more than we saw, but a handful along the Gomantong Caves road proved particularly showy.
Pittidae (Pittas)
BLACK-CROWNED PITTA (Erythropitta ussheri) – Our first was a round, headless, red-bellied ball snoozing in the open on a branch right near the road during our first BRL night drive. Fortunately, we found another wide-awake bird singing from an eye-level branch along the boardwalk trail out to the Gomantong Caves -- and it allowed long scope studies. We heard the slurred whistles of this one on many days in the lowlands. [E]
BLUE-HEADED PITTA (Hydrornis baudii) – For a brief, shining moment, one perched on a low branch in the open -- glowing in the sun against a darkly shadowed background -- and everybody was looking in the right direction. Wow!! Some of the group got a quick view of another one along BRL's Hornbill trail, while we angled for views of the singing Bornean Wren-Babbler. [E]
HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – A calling bird near the start of the boardwalk trail at the Gomantong Caves proved a bit elusive as it moved from perch to perch -- but I think we all got a look in the end.

The aptly-named Little Pied Flycatcher was one of more eye-catching flycatcher species that we recorded. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
GOLDEN-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone sulphurea) – A busy pair flicking through the trees at the Masakob Waterfall Garden were obliging, regularly pausing in the open as the worked their way along branches. We had a nice serenade from them -- a complex, twittering song -- as we watched.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris) – A little group flicked through trees near the start of Kinabalu NP's Silau-Silau trail, showing their bold wing stripes as they flew. We saw others around Kinabalu's Timpohon Gate. Males look very similar to the males of Borneo's other minivet species, but females are much grayer-faced than other females.
SUNDA CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina larvata) – One actively hunting above the Kinabalu park road, not far from Timpohon Gate, gave us some great views as it posed on various snags and branches. As its name suggests, this uncommon species is a Sundaland specialty.
LESSER CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage fimbriata schierbrandi) – At least one male with a mixed flock along the BRL's main road (and a noisy male at that) with others on the Gomantong Cave road. This is another Sundaland specialty.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLYTH'S SHRIKE-BABBLER (BLYTH'S) (Pteruthius aeralatus robinsoni) – Very common in the highlands, where we heard their loud "chupp" calls everywhere. We had great looks at a close pair rummaging along branches near the Masakob Waterfall Garden, with others near the Timpohon Gate. This was formerly part of the White-browed Shrike-Babbler complex.
WHITE-BELLIED ERPORNIS (Erpornis zantholeuca) – One of these fairly plain little birds accompanied a mixed flock along the BRL entrance road on our first afternoon there, not far from the frog pond. This was formerly thought to be a yuhina, but genetic analysis showed otherwise.
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
BORNEAN WHISTLER (Pachycephala hypoxantha) – Scattered pairs in the highlands, often as part of larger mixed flocks. We had especially nice looks at a pair alternately singing and foraging through trees uphill from the Kinabalu park road on our last morning. [E]
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
DARK-THROATED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthonotus) – We never got the right-out-in-the-open look many were hoping for, but most got a glimpse or two of one working back and forth through a roadside bush during one of our stops on the drive in to BRL. We had another the next day along the BRL entrance road.
BLACK-AND-CRIMSON ORIOLE (Oriolus cruentus) – Fine views of several in the Crocker Range. This chunky highland oriole is found only on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo.

Sunbirds are the Old World replacement for hummingbirds -- and some of them, like the Crimson Sunbird, are nearly as bright! Photo by participant Karen Olsen.

Artamidae (Woodswallows, Bellmagpies, and Allies)
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – Our first sailed over the Kinabatangan, hawking insects, while its fellows sat on the nearby high-tension wires. We found others hunting along the roadside through the palm plantation, not far from where we spotted our Long-tailed Shrike, and saw still more at Tanjung Aru in KK.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
LARGE WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis virgatus) – Two (or maybe three) flew in and landed at eye level in some trees just in front of us as we birded late in the afternoon on the grounds of the SNR. Its longer bill, narrower mask and white rump help to separate it from the true shrikes. The subspecies "frenatus" is endemic to Borneo.
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus) – A pair in the Crocker Range, just up the road from the Masakob Waterfall Garden, with others near Kinabalu NP's Timpohon Gate. The extensive white on the wings helps to quickly separate this species from the next.
BLACK-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus hirundinaceus) – A busy group -- presumably a family with recently-fledged youngsters -- swirled around us along the RDC's Kingfisher trail, and we saw others at BRL, along the Sukau boardwalk and on the Gomantong Caves road. This is the lowland sister-species of the Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, though there is some elevational overlap.
RUFOUS-WINGED PHILENTOMA (Philentoma pyrhoptera) – The first of our philentomas, seen along the BRL entrance road, not far from the start of the boardwalk nature trail. Its pure, whistled song first drew our attention to its presence, and whistling back to it soon brought it close for some great views.
MAROON-BREASTED PHILENTOMA (Philentoma velata) – The larger of the philentomas we saw, in a tangle of trees a bit further down the road from the previous species. We found a singing male not far from the road, and with some patience, everybody got great scope views of his maroon breast.
Pityriasidae (Bristlehead)
BORNEAN BRISTLEHEAD (Pityriasis gymnocephala) – YAHOO!! After searching anxiously for several days, we ran into a flock right across the road from the BRL canopy walkway. There were at least 6-7 birds working through the treetops, popping in and out of view -- and occasionally sitting for long minutes right in the open. Phew! The bird's generic name comes from the Greek word for "suffering from dandruff" while its specific moniker means "bald-headed." The bright yellow-orange "bristles" on its crown are actually a dense carpet of filaments -- the most basic type of feather growth. [E]
Aegithinidae (Ioras)
COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia) – Our best looks probably came on our last afternoon near KK, when we found a singing bird in a shrub near a house along the Telipok River. We saw another pair flicking through a tree along the Menanggul, and a scattered few in Tanjung Aru park.
GREEN IORA (Aegithina viridissima) – A handful worked through the leafy tips of branches hanging over the RDC's Kingfisher trail, showing themselves in fits and starts. But our best view came along the Gomantong Caves road, where we found a rather soggy male preening quietly on a branch.
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
MALAYSIAN PIED-FANTAIL (Rhipidura javanica) – One flipped through a tree over the road on our hike down to the RDC, demonstrating nicely how it got its name.

The gorgeous Black-and-yellow Broadbill was regular in the lowlands -- though why that strikingly pink belly gets no mention in its common name is beyond me! Photo by participant Karen Olsen.

WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis) – Two danced around us as we descended Gunung Alab, and we saw two more in the fog along the Silau-Silau trail -- where their white throats gleamed. We found several pairs with mixed flocks along the Kinabalu park road.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
ASHY DRONGO (BORNEAN) (Dicrurus leucophaeus stigmatops) – Common in the Crocker Range, where they proved quite distracting during our search for bulbuls. We saw others in Kinabalu NP, including one right over our breakfast restaurant.
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (BORNEAN) (Dicrurus hottentottus borneensis) – One with a mixed flock along the Mempening trail in Kinabalu NP was a nice find on our last full day there. It was certainly noisy, with lots of loud whistles and clinks.
GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus brachyphorus) – Nice studies of several pairs -- including one lacking its long tail plumes -- at RDC. We heard their distinctive calls on other days in the lowlands.
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea) – Pairs seen twitching busily through the trees on BRL's main road and along the Menanggul. But our best views came on our final night float, when we found a brilliant male snoozing (or trying to, anyway) on a branch right over the river.
BLYTH'S PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone affinis) – A rusty-brown female hunted over BRL's Segama trail one afternoon, flitting from perch to perch.
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach) – One of the local subspecies (bentet) sat on a roadside wire in the oil palm plantation we passed through en route to the Gomantong Caves, carefully studying the ground below it. This species was formerly restricted to the island's southeastern corner, but is rapidly spreading from there. Marshall spotted us a bird of the subspecies "nasutus" -- a dark-headed form that is a rare winter visitor to Borneo.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BLACK MAGPIE (BORNEAN) (Platysmurus leucopterus aterrimus) – They made us work for it, but a handful finally showed themselves nicely along the Gomantong Caves road on our last visit there. With the scopes, we could clearly see their reddish eyes and short crests. This is an endemic subspecies.
BORNEAN GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa jefferyi) – Two of these gorgeous birds at a partially-completed nest along the upper Silau-Silau trail were a treat, and we found another bird closer to the trailhead the following day. This endemic species was split from the Common Green Magpie, which differs in eye color, undertail and tertial patterns, habitat, and voice. [EN]

There are some beautiful barbets in Borneo, including this endemic Golden-naped Barbet, which truly glowed in the sunshine. Photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

BORNEAN TREEPIE (Dendrocitta cinerascens) – Daily in the highlands, often with mixed flocks of laughingthrushes and drongos. For such a big bird, they can be surprisingly good at hiding themselves in the treetops! This endemic species is restricted to mountain ranges, which in Sabah means primarily in the Crocker Range and on Mount Kinabalu. [E]
SLENDER-BILLED CROW (SLENDER-BILLED) (Corvus enca compilator) – Daily in the lowlands, where we often heard their grating calls even when we didn't see them. Unlike many crow species, this one is pretty wary, and seldom seen around human habitations.
Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis) – Two bathing in the little stream below the suspension bridge on BRL's Jacuzzi trail were fun to watch as they flung themselves repeatedly into the water and then retreated to the bushes to preen.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus atrogularis) – One in a bush near where we stopped for our first Storm's Stork was certainly cooperative, as was another along the Gomantong Caves road. Though widespread, this is typically the least commonly seen of the tailorbirds on the tour.
ASHY TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus ruficeps) – Very common in the lowlands, with some especially nice views on our first morning at RDC. We certainly heard plenty of them! This is another Sundaland specialty, and the subspecies on Borneo (borneoensis) is endemic.
RUFOUS-TAILED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sericeus) – Our best views came on the road in to RDC, where we found one flicking through vines low over a watery culvert. As usual, we heard far more than we saw!
YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (Prinia flaviventris) – We heard a few singing from weedy fields on our walk to RDC, but it took until we reached the Kinabatangan to actually see one. They were common in the tall reeds along the river margins, and we had some fine views of them as they shouted challenges from flower heads.
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
STRIATED GRASSBIRD (Megalurus palustris) – One surveyed its domain in a vast palm grove near Sukau from the top of a roadside telephone pole. This is a recent self-introduced colonist from the Philippines, spreading along Borneo's northeastern coasts.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Small numbers over the Kinabatangan River system, with much bigger numbers -- presumably migrants -- one afternoon. This is a non-breeding visitor to Borneo.

With the help of a fellow participant's camera skills (and some careful cropping), Chuck, Karen and Stephanie "summit" Mount Kinabalu -- thanks to a convenient mural. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – Abundant throughout, seen on all but one day of the tour -- and we probably just weren't paying enough attention that day! [N]
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
PUFF-BACKED BULBUL (Brachypodius eutilotus) – Two along the main road on our first afternoon at BRL showed their pointed crests nicely. Their "puff backs" -- in actuality, long feathers on their rumps -- aren't typically visible in the field.
BLACK-HEADED BULBUL (Brachypodius atriceps) – A handful seen gorging themselves in the big fruiting fig tree along BRL's Segama trail, with others along the Gomantong Caves road. Less expected were the ones we spotted in the highlands -- two perched atop some bamboo behind Kinabalu NP's Bamboo Cafe, and a small group high in a treetop on a curve in the road just down from the Timpohon Gate.
SPECTACLED BULBUL (Rubigula erythropthalmos) – Regular in the lowlands, with particularly nice scope views of one singing from a tree near the intersection of two bits of the boardwalk trails at Sukau.
SCALY-BREASTED BULBUL (Rubigula squamata) – One flicked through the top of a fruiting tree at Poring Springs, proving more than a bit challenging for most of the group to find -- even WITH the scope!
BORNEAN BULBUL (Rubigula montis) – Lovely views of several groups busily foraging along the road through the Crocker Range. This species was split from the Black-capped Bulbul. [E]
FLAVESCENT BULBUL (PALE-FACED) (Pycnonotus flavescens leucops) – Four of these montane birds boiled through some roadside shrubs just down the hill from Kinabalu NP's Timpohon Gate, part of a fast-moving mixed flock. The local subspecies, "leucops", is endemic to the island.
YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus goiavier) – Common and widespread in second growth, gardens and more open habitats throughout, with scope views of some on the grounds of the SNR.
OLIVE-WINGED BULBUL (Pycnonotus plumosus) – One flitted along the edge of the Resang River, not much above eye height as we floated past. The olive patches can be tough to see, and the bird strongly resembles the next species, but its vocalizations are quite different -- and fortunately, our bird was calling!
RED-EYED BULBUL (Pycnonotus brunneus) – One of the tour's most common bulbuls, seen regularly in the lowlands.
HAIRY-BACKED BULBUL (Tricholestes criniger) – A few in the same fruiting tree as some Yellow-bellied Bulbuls, which led to some momentary confusion. This Sundaland specialty has a distinctively yellow face.

The lovely Indigo Flycatcher was one of a handful of blue flycatcher species we found on the tour -- and the common one in the highlands. Photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

FINSCH'S BULBUL (Alophoixus finschii) – A few of these Sundaland specialties were seen -- and heard -- in tall trees along the road near the end of BRL's canopy walkway. We heard this rare resident's distinctive song first, which allowed us to track a couple down. We saw a handful of others in the fruiting trees near the hot pools at Poring Springs. They were so intent on the fruit that we could approach within yards of them!
OCHRACEOUS BULBUL (CHESTNUT-VENTED) (Alophoixus ochraceus ruficrissus) – We encountered pairs regularly at Kinabalu NP. The white throat of this species, which it often puffs out, is really eye-catching -- particularly in the fog, as our pair at the top of the Silau-Silau trail was.
GRAY-CHEEKED BULBUL (Alophoixus bres) – A couple swirled along the edge of the RDC's Kingfisher trail, occasionally hovering briefly to pluck fruits from hanging clusters. We saw others near the start of the trail up the hill towards the end of our afternoon at Poring Hot Springs. This is the lowland replacement of the previous closely-related species.
YELLOW-BELLIED BULBUL (Alophoixus phaeocephalus) – A trio along the BRL entrance road one morning, foraging in a fruiting bush and having a bit of a preen.
CHARLOTTE'S BULBUL (Iole charlottae) – One along the RDC's Kingfisher trail proved very obliging as it gobbled some berries, and we saw another in a fruiting tree with some Finsch's Bulbuls near the end of the canopy walkway at BRL. This is one of Borneo's newest endemics, split from the Buff-vented Bulbul. [E]
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
ARCTIC WARBLER (Phylloscopus borealis) – Somehow, it's hard to imagine a bird that breeds north of the Arctic circling wintering in the steamy lowlands of Borneo, but that's exactly what they do! We watched one flicking through roadside trees near the start of BRL's canopy walkway, searching for insects.
YELLOW-BREASTED WARBLER (Phylloscopus montis) – These little pumpkinheads were quite regular in the mountains, typically in pairs and often accompanying big mixed flocks. What cuties! This is another Sundaland specialty.
MOUNTAIN LEAF WARBLER (MOUNTAIN) (Phylloscopus trivirgatus kinabaluensis) – Daily in Kinabalu NP, typically with mixed flocks. The rather drab subspecies we saw (kinabaluensis) is endemic to the mountain itself.
Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)
BORNEAN STUBTAIL (Urosphena whiteheadi) – This one provides a true hearing test! Those still capable of hearing very high frequencies heard several -- including one we tracked down along the start of the upper Silau-Silau trail. That so much sound could come from such a tiny bird is amazing! We had good views of one singing from the fern-bedecked, moss-draped forest floor. [E]

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrushes were abundant and easy to see in the highlands -- particularly this one, which was checking itself out in car mirrors before returning to a fruiting tree near our breakfast restaurant. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

YELLOW-BELLIED WARBLER (Abroscopus superciliaris) – Our first flicked along the edge of some slightly taller trees on Gunung Alab, not far from the end of the road. A few folks spotted another in some bamboo along the Kinabalu park road. This species is a bamboo specialist, and the subspecies "schwaneri" is endemic to Borneo.
MOUNTAIN TAILORBIRD (Phyllergates cucullatus) – Daily in the mountains, with an especially nice study of a singing bird along the Mempening trail. Though it resembles the true tailorbirds, this species is not closely related to them.
SUNDA BUSH WARBLER (Horornis vulcanius) – Very common at our highest elevations, with some lovely views of one mooching along the ferny edge of the road on Gunung Alab, and of others along the Kinabalu park road. The slurred whistle of their song was a regular part of the tour soundtrack in the highlands.
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
CHESTNUT-CRESTED YUHINA (Yuhina everetti) – Daily in the highlands, always in big, busy groups -- they never travel with a dozen or so of their closest buddies! This species is endemic to the submontane and montane forests of Borneo. [E]
PYGMY WHITE-EYE (Oculocincta squamifrons) – A little group boiled through some roadside trees along BRL's entrance drive, near where we spotted our Arctic Warbler. This species is also known as Bornean Ibon; "ibon" is Tagalog for "bird," a name that was given to some white-eyes found in the Philippines, the country where Tagalog is the basis for the standardized national language. This is another Bornean endemic. [E]
MOUNTAIN BLACK-EYE (Chlorocharis emiliae) – After considerable effort, Hamit managed to call a single bird into some close trees at the top of the Gunung Alab road. This "white-eye" is in its own genus, and is quite strikingly different from the other white-eyes. [E]
BLACK-CAPPED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops atricapilla) – A few scattered small groups in the mountains, always part of a larger mixed flock. The gang near the Kiau Viewpoint probably gave us our best views. This is still another Sundaland specialty.
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)
BOLD-STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis bornensis) – Lovely views of one investigating vine tangles along the RDC's Ridge trail, showing its bright yellow eye nicely. We had others along BRL's main drive. This was split from the former Striped Tit-Babbler complex.
FLUFFY-BACKED TIT-BABBLER (Macronus ptilosus) – An obliging pair of these dark babblers were seen along the BRL entrance road, where they showed their fluffy backs -- and those stylin' blue eye rings / wattles -- to perfection.
CHESTNUT-WINGED BABBLER (Cyanoderma erythropterum) – Common in the lowlands, with small groups seen well in a number of places. Their lively hoots were a regular part of the tour soundtrack.
RUFOUS-FRONTED BABBLER (Cyanoderma rufifrons) – A couple of these small babblers accompanied a busy group of Chestnut-winged Babblers along the edge of BRL's main drive, not far from the start of the canopy walkway late one morning.
CHESTNUT-BACKED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus montanus) – We heard one calling -- repeatedly, for long minutes -- from above the trail near the BRL entrance gate, but just couldn't find an angle to actually SEE the bird. Arg! [*]
BLACK-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigricollis) – A small group twitched through the roadside vegetation (seemingly favoring the densest, darkest tangles of vines wrapped around tree trunks) along the Gomantong Caves road on a couple of our mornings there. The bold white spot on their faces were certainly eye-catching.
CHESTNUT-RUMPED BABBLER (Stachyris maculata) – A trio interacting along the main road at BRL were fun to watch, particularly when two of them went into wing-waving, bowing mode near a spray of dead palm fronds. This species, which often accompanies mixed flocks, typically feeds by gleaning bark and foliage.
GRAY-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigriceps) – Common in the highlands, where we saw them daily in Kinabalu NP -- including a little gang materialized out of the foggy gloom at the top of the upper Silau-Silau trail (interrupting our search for Bornean Stubtail). We got better looks at the same group later, when the fog had lifted a bit further down the park road.
GRAY-HEADED BABBLER (Stachyris poliocephala) – We had poor views of our first, creeping through foliage along the edge of the main road at BRL. Fortunately, we found a much more obliging gang working low along the trail at Poring Hot Springs. A couple of them were gathering nesting material, pulling determinedly at a variety of bark strips and grass stems. [N]
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)
MOUSTACHED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnirostre) – Our best looks came along BRL's Segama trail, when one came in as we tried to get a look at some Short-tailed Babblers; it proved extremely distracting! We had others along the BRL's main road, not far from the frog pond.

Mount Kinabalu gave us many different looks during our stay. This was one of its clearest; minutes later, it disappeared completely behind clouds! Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

SOOTY-CAPPED BABBLER (Malacopteron affine) – Seen on scattered days in the lowlands, and heard even more frequently. The clear whistles of this species sound remarkably like a human whistling to themselves. This is yet another Sundaland specialty.
SCALY-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron cinereum) – A noisy little group along BRL's Hornbill trail, near where we found our Striped Wren-Babbler, gave us a good chance to study their pink legs -- far easier to see than the very narrow black edges to their crown feathers. We had others along BRL's Segama trail.
RUFOUS-CROWNED BABBLER (Malacopteron magnum) – A few near the BRL frog pond on our first afternoon were very cooperative, letting us get good looks at those rusty crowns -- and the gray legs that help to separate them from the previous, slightly smaller, species.
BLACK-CAPPED BABBLER (Pellorneum capistratum) – One strode around near the BRL nature trail boardwalk (and then perched in a number of nearby shrubs), giving us a great opportunity to study it from close range. What a little cutie! We heard others along the Gomantong Caves road.
TEMMINCK'S BABBLER (Pellorneum pyrrogenys) – Unfortunately, only a few got a look at one of these as it flitted through the thick understory along the Silau-Silau trail, singing and singing and singing.
SHORT-TAILED BABBLER (Pellorneum malaccense) – Poor looks at a couple of very flighty birds along the Segama trail. They zoomed back and forth through the undergrowth at roughly eye level, but never really landed where we could see them.
WHITE-CHESTED BABBLER (Pellorneum rostratum) – Great looks at several pairs along the edge of the Menanggul, either bouncing along logs beside the water or investigating the muddy banks themselves. This Sundaland species is a riverbank specialist.
FERRUGINOUS BABBLER (Pellorneum bicolor) – One near the BRL frog pond sat right out in the open on our first morning walk there, giving us the chance to study it at our leisure, and we found another on the far side of the creek as we walked the Jacuzzi trail. The rufous plumage of this understory species is distinctive.
STRIPED WREN-BABBLER (Kenopia striata) – Super scope studies of one singing (and singing and singing) from in a half-grown sapling not far off the BRL's Hornbill trail. We had to bushwhack a bit, but it was worth it for the view!
BORNEAN WREN-BABBLER (Ptilocichla leucogrammica) – A loudly singing bird strode back and forth along the forest floor near BRL's Hornbill trail, occasionally bouncing up to the top of a big dead log and its tangled branches. Unfortunately, not everyone was well-placed to see it. [E]

We ventured down to Poring Springs one afternoon to see Rafflesia keithii, the world's second-largest flower. Though some are nearly a meter across, the one we saw probably only measured 24-25 inches. Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

HORSFIELD'S BABBLER (Turdinus sepiarius) – One of the first babblers we saw at BRL, this one showed its rusty flanks nicely as it flicked through the trees (singing incessantly) near the boardwalk nature trail.
BLACK-THROATED WREN-BABBLER (Turdinus atrigularis) – Compared to the Bornean Wren-Babbler, this endemic proved to be very obliging, sitting for long minutes on a dead stick and singing away, giving all of us multiple chances to study it in the scopes. This insectivore spends most of its time on the forest floor, gleaning in the leaf litter. [E]
MOUNTAIN WREN-BABBLER (Turdinus crassus) – One belted its song from a tangle of branches along Kinabalu's Mempening trail, sometimes approaching to within mere feet of where we stood. What a little charmer! [E]
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
BROWN FULVETTA (Alcippe brunneicauda) – Seen most days at BRL (and heard far more frequently than seen). The pair near the stream by BRL's canopy walkway provided especially nice looks. This is another Sundaland specialty, and another species considered to be Near Threatened.
SUNDA LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax palliatus) – Not quite as common as the next species, but encountered regularly in Kinabalu NP -- including a group of 7 or 8 swirling along the roadside near the Kiau Viewpoint. This species is found only on Sumatra and Borneo; the subspecies we saw (schistochlamys) is endemic to Borneo.
CHESTNUT-HOODED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla treacheri treacheri) – Common and widespread in the highlands, often in sizable (sometimes noisy) flocks. This was formerly considered a subspecies of the Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush. The subspecies treacheri is endemic to Sabah. [E]
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis) – One crawled along the trunk and branches of a mostly dead tree along the skyline above the Kinabalu park road on our final morning, giving us all multiple chances to study it in the scope. This widespread Asian species is found as far west as India, but the subspecies corallipes is endemic to Borneo and the Maratua islands.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
ASIAN GLOSSY STARLING (Aplonis panayensis) – Very common around Sepilok, with good looks at a trio of scarlet-eyed males in a tree en route to the RDC. We also saw a restless group of females circling around a leafless tree top in the same general area.

Crested Serpent-Eagles were common in the lowlands, with sightings nearly every day. Photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa) – Two preening in one of the huge trees visible from the canopy walkway distracted us briefly from our enjoyment of the bristlehead flock. Nice spotting, Wayne! We saw what was probably the same two birds fly over on a different day, flashing their big white wing spots.
JAVAN MYNA (Acridotheres javanicus) – Abundant along roadsides between Sepilok and the Sukau turnoff, with some nice scope views of a pair investigating a potential nest hole on our walk to the RDC. [I]
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
EVERETT'S THRUSH (Zoothera everetti) – Spectacularly good looks at this very rare, endemic species along the road in Kinabalu NP one morning, making all those early departures worthwhile! Two hopped around in the road and along the edges for bit -- and one foraged within yards of us while we were birding further along the road a bit later in the morning. Wow! [E]
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (ORANGE-HEADED) (Geokichla citrina aurata) – One bounced along the edge of the road at Kinabalu NP, flicking through the masses of dead leaves and occasionally leaping to the top of the guard rail -- great spotting, Steph! On Borneo, this species is a rare resident in a few mountain ranges in Sabah. The subspecies here is "aurata".
EYEBROWED THRUSH (Turdus obscurus) – The flock of a dozen or so thrushes that flew over us towards the end of our visit to Poring Springs was almost certainly this species -- the only thrush which overwinters here in significant numbers.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa sibirica) – Single birds on a couple of days along the BRL's main road, returning again and again to the same perches between sallies out after insects. This is a winter visitor to (and passage migrant through) northern Borneo. [b]
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (BLACK) (Copsychus saularis adamsi) – Scattered sightings, including a male bouncing around on the grassy lawn below Kinabalu NP's Bamboo Cafe one morning. The subspecies we saw, "adamsi", is one of three endemic subspecies on the island. Adamsi is found only in northern Borneo.
RUFOUS-TAILED SHAMA (Copsychus pyrropygus) – We heard one singing (and singing and singing) from the forest along the BRL's Gate trail, always a few dozen steps ahead of where we were. Despite Azmil's best whistles, it just wouldn't show itself. [*]
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (WHITE-CROWNED) (Copsychus malabaricus stricklandii) – Very common and widespread in the lowlands, though its loud, rich song was heard far more regularly than the bird was seen. Unfortunately, that song makes it a favorite with the caged-bird trade. The subspecies "stricklandii" is sometimes split out as a distinct species: White-crowned Shama.

Stopping our river explorations mid-morning for a coffee (or tea) was very civilized -- and kept us going after those early starts! Photo by participant Marilynne Keyser.

MALAYSIAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis turcosus) – Our first was a surprisingly skulky male near the suspension bridge on BRL's Segama trail. Fortunately, the many pairs along the Menanggul and Tenanggang rivers proved far more obliging. This is a Sundaland specialty.
BORNEAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis superbus) – A pair along BRL's main road gave us a good chance to study them up close and at leisure; the female was first to appear, followed (some time later) by her mate. We saw another male sitting wide-eyed in the glare of our spotlight on the way back from our night hike on the Jacuzzi trail. [E]
BLUE-AND-WHITE FLYCATCHER (Cyanoptila cyanomelana) – We saw this winter visitor on most days in the highlands, including a male near the Tambunan Rafflesia Centre in the Crocker Range. The black face, chest and flanks help to separate this male from the other blue flycatchers found in Borneo. [b]
INDIGO FLYCATCHER (Eumyias indigo) – Common and widespread in the highlands, with some lovely looks at them along the Kinabalu park road.
VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus) – One high above the "jacuzzi" waterfall pool on the Jacuzzi trail made repeated sallies after insects. We had much better views of another over the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden, and a final one at Poring Hot Springs.
EYEBROWED JUNGLE-FLYCATCHER (Vauriella gularis) – Often spotted in the road first thing in the morning at Kinabalu NP, as we searched for thrushes. That big pale lore spot -- and the white chin -- is visible even in the half-light! [E]
WHITE-BROWED SHORTWING (BORNEAN) (Brachypteryx montana erythrogyna) – We certainly all heard the crescendoing, complex song of this understory skulker! Getting a look at it proved rather more challenging as it crept back and forth -- occasionally sitting right out in the open on a stump or fallen branch -- on a hilly corner of the Kinabalu park road.
BORNEAN WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus borneensis) – Daily in Kinabalu NP, including some hunting for moths attracted to the lights outside our rooms at Hill Lodge and others bouncing along the roadsides. [E]
WHITE-CROWNED FORKTAIL (WHITE-CROWNED) (Enicurus leschenaulti frontalis) – One along the road the canopy walkway at BRL was not very cooperative, disappearing around a bend in the river shortly after it was spotted. Some taxonomists split this lowland subspecies from the endemic highland subspecies also found on the island.
NARCISSUS FLYCATCHER (Ficedula narcissina) – A female along BRL's main road on our first afternoon was a nice surprise. This is an uncommon winter visitor to Borneo. [b]
MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER (Ficedula mugimaki) – Our first was a pair near the end of the road up Gunung Alab; that male was certainly eye-catching! We saw a couple of females along the park road in Kinabalu, including one hunting on the road right near the Kiau Viewpoint.
SNOWY-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hyperythra sumatrana) – Especially nice views of a pair nest-building along the Kinabalu park road -- one of the few nests we found there that the University of Montana researchers hadn't already spotted! We found another pair hunting from the guard rail near the Bukit Ular trail, seen as we searched for Everett's Thrush. [N]
PYGMY FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hodgsoni) – A singing male along the Silau-Silau trail flicked through branches right over our heads, and we heard another singing (though never spotted him) along the park road later in our stay. This species used to be called Pygmy Blue Flycatcher.
LITTLE PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula westermanni) – A few with mixed flocks in the highlands, including a pair near the Masakob Waterfall Garden, some near the Kiau Viewpoint and two hunting from the bamboo stand below Kinabalu's Bamboo Cafe one morning.
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
YELLOW-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER (Prionochilus maculatus) – Regular around the main building at BRL, including a knee-level bird foraging in a bush near the bottom of the boardwalk ramp as we gathered for our first morning's walk there. We saw another nicely along the main road while waiting for Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers to move into view.
YELLOW-RUMPED FLOWERPECKER (Prionochilus xanthopygius) – One shared a bush with the previous species near the main building at BRL, and we saw others along the Menanggul. But a female foraging at eye-level in a tree along the path at the Adena Rafflesia Garden gave us our best view. [E]
THICK-BILLED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum agile) – Some of the group got to the scopes quickly enough to see a distant bird foraging in the top of a huge fig tree across the river on BRL's Segama trail. Unfortunately, it didn't stay in view for long.
YELLOW-VENTED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum chrysorrheum) – Another bird seen in the top of the huge fruiting fig tree along BRL's Segama trail. This one proved slightly more accommodating, and I think most everyone got a look.

Who knew that Yellow-rumped Flowerpeckers had see-through wings? Not me, before we spotted this one! Photo by guide Megan Edwards Crewe.

ORANGE-BELLIED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum trigonostigma) – Seen on a number of days in the lowlands, with especially nice studies of these tiny flowerpeckers in a big fig tree near the RDC ticket booth, and of a male sharing a fruiting bush with Yellow-breasted and Yellow-rumped flowerpeckers. Both males and females have an orange rump patch.
BLACK-SIDED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum monticolum) – Our first was a very plain female with a little mixed flock on the slopes of Gunung Alab. We spotted a male foraging in some bright red flowers at the top of tree over the parking lot at the Silau-Silau trailhead -- until the fog moved in, that is! This species is endemic to Borneo's north-central mountains. [E]
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD (Chalcoparia singalensis) – Super studies of a pair along the RDC's Kingfisher trail, part of a flurry of birds we found there. We found others near the suspension bridge on BRL's Jacuzzi trail and along the Gomantong Caves road. The peachy-orange throat and breast of both males and females are diagnostic -- at least among the sunbirds on this tour.
PLAIN SUNBIRD (Anthreptes simplex) – Best seen in a flowering bush along the road near the start of the BRL canopy walkway, where several foraged among the blossoms. This one is certainly well named! It's another Sundaland specialty.
BROWN-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes malacensis) – Regular in some of the more open areas of the tour, with a female above the road on our walk to RDC, several in Tanjung Aru park in KK and others along the lower stretches of the park road at Kinabalu NP. As its name suggests, the local subspecies, borneensis, is endemic to Borneo. This was split from the former Plain-throated Sunbird complex.
RED-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes rhodolaemus) – This sister species to the previous one is found in good primary forest -- like that in the unspoiled Danum Valley, where we found ours -- rather than in edge habitats. Still another Sundaland specialty.
COPPER-THROATED SUNBIRD (Leptocoma calcostetha) – Reach-out-and-touch-them views of a pair working their way along a strip of flowering bushes near the entrance to the RDC. This species is restricted to the coastal region of Borneo.
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis) – Found in a variety of open habitats from the scruffy roadsides through the palm plantations around Sukau, to the diminutive forest at the end of the road on Gunung Alab, to the little park at the edge of Nabalu.
TEMMINCK'S SUNBIRD (Aethopyga temminckii) – Regular in the highlands, with some lovely views around Kinabalu's Timpohon Gate and a male (or two) sipping from matching red flowers at the top of a tree over the parking lot at the Silau-Silau trailhead.
CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Aethopyga siparaja) – The lowland replacement for the previous species, seen well at RDC and BRL.
PURPLE-NAPED SPIDERHUNTER (Kurochkinegramma hypogrammicum) – Seen on most days at BRL, with especially nice looks at one perched in a sapling near the start of the BRL nature trail on one afternoon's walk. We had others foraging along the Menanggul. Formerly known as Purple-naped Sunbird, this species was reclassified as a spiderhunter after DNA studies showed it was more closely aligned with the latter.

A male Proboscis Monkey surveys his domain (and his nearby harem) from a riverside treetop. Photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

THICK-BILLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera crassirostris) – I think Karen and I were the only ones to get on one feeding in a flowering tree at Poring Hot Springs. Unfortunately, it moved off almost as soon as we spotted it.
LONG-BILLED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera robusta) – One flew past as we birded at the top of the hill towards the end of our afternoon at Poring Hot Springs. This is the largest of the spiderhunters at nearly 8 inches in length -- but nearly 2.5 of that is beak!
LITTLE SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera longirostra) – Probably the most common spiderhunter this trip, with good views -- eventually -- of one singing in a tree near the Sukau boardwalk. We had others at BRL and Poring Springs.
WHITEHEAD'S SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera juliae) – Arg! The only ones we had were flyovers (rocketing past over the parking lot at the Silau-Silau trailhead). We heard some calling there too. Sadly, we never got a proper look. [E]
YELLOW-EARED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera chrysogenys) – We spotted one from the BRL dining balcony on the morning we transferred to Sukau, watching as it fed among the flowering bushes. We had another at Poring Hot Springs.
BORNEAN SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera everetti) – Super views of one feeding in a treetop near the river at BRL, seen as we stood on the platform watching the Great-billed Heron. We found another along the main road there the next morning. This endemic was formerly considered to be a subspecies of Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter. [E]
Irenidae (Fairy-bluebirds)
ASIAN FAIRY-BLUEBIRD (Irena puella) – Quick views of a female sharing a treetop with a Blue-eared Barbet across the pond from the SNR dining room, with a male for others in a fruiting fig along BRL's Segama trail -- until that naughty monkey chased it away!
Chloropseidae (Leafbirds)
GREATER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis sonnerati) – Far less common than the next species in the lowlands, seen on only a couple of days -- including a female foraging along the Gomantong Caves road. Females, with their yellow throats and eye rings, are easy to distinguish from female Lesser Green Leafbirds. Males? Not so much!
LESSER GREEN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis cyanopogon) – By far the most common leafbird (despite being Near Threatened), seen on most days in the lowlands. Females are particularly easy to identify, due to their almost complete lack of field marks. A few were lucky enough to see the blue malar stripe on one or two of the otherwise grass-green females.
BORNEAN LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis kinabaluensis) – A big flock working along the edge of the road near the Masakob Waterfall Garden in the Crocker Range gave us plenty of opportunity for leisurely study of this handsome endemic. Its blue wing quickly separates it from Sabah's other leafbirds. [E]

The Kinabatangan River and its tributaries proved a great place to see kingfishers well -- including this Stork-billed Kingfisher, which was snoozing on a branch over the river until we passed it on one of our night cruises. Photo by participant Wayne Whitmore.

Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
BAYA WEAVER (Ploceus philippinus) – A busy colony squabbled in a tree near the SNR, busily weaving their elaborate nests, with males wing-waving at each other from their creations. This species has been introduced to Borneo. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
DUSKY MUNIA (Lonchura fuscans) – Probably the most common and widespread of Borneo's endemics, including some showy birds in a shrub near the Telipok River, and restless flocks nibbling grass seeds along the edge of the road at BRL. [E]
CHESTNUT MUNIA (Lonchura atricapilla) – Good studies of a handful of birds along the road in to the RDC, including one perched in one of those red-stemmed palm trees. We had others along the roadsides in the palm plantation near Sukau, and a few more near the trashy pond on Sulaman Road near KK.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – Particularly common around Sepilok, where we had small parties bouncing along the roadsides, with others chattering around the buildings at RDC. We had others along roads between Lahad Datu and Sukau. [I]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea) – Single birds flushed away from us on a couple of occasions. The first flushed off the riverbank as we crossed the suspension bridge at BRL and bounded off down the river. The second flew up from the stairs down to the Bamboo cafe one morning as we headed to breakfast. This is yet another winter visitor to Borneo. [b]

LESSER SHORT-NOSED FRUIT BAT (Cynopterus brachyotis) – At least four hung from the eaves of the crumbling old visitor's center building (now replaced) at the Gomantong Caves. At least one was rocking gently, perhaps trying to look like a leaf in the wind.
WHISKERED MYOTIS (Myotis muricola) – The little bat we found in the rolled-up Heliconia leaf along the BRL entrance road belonged to this species. However, recent DNA research suggests that this "species" is actually a COMPLEX of species, and I'm not sure which one this bat will eventually turn out to belong to.

Red-and-black Broadbills were regular along the river systems, with many building their scruffy nests (designed to look like flood debris) in places overhanging the water. Photo by participant Karen Olsen.

WRINKLE-LIPPED FREE-TAILED BAT (Chaerephon plicatus) – Thousands and thousands and THOUSANDS flew out of the Gomantong Caves in a flapping, black ribbon, looking like a smoky tornado (or crude skywriting) and sounding like distant applause. They made a tempting target for a host of raptors, including at least a half-dozen Bat Hawks.
LESSER TREESHREW (Tupaia minor) – Singles on scattered days: one along the BRL's main road, another climbing a tree near the Gomantong Caves road and a final one in Kinabalu NP. Their long muzzles help to distinguish them from squirrels.
SLENDER TREESHREW (Tupaia gracilis) – Though it can be positively distinguished from the previous species only by checking its teeth or hind feet, this endemic species is reputed to have no reddish tinge in its fur and a bushier tail. We found a treeshrew which might have been one near Kinabalu's Timpohon Gate. [E]
CRAB-EATING MACAQUE (Macaca fascigularis) – Abundant along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with others at BRL -- including a big group of females and youngsters near the dining room one morning, and an aggressive male that was determined to keep Karen in her cabin! Also known as Long-tailed Macaque.
PIGTAIL MACAQUE (Macaca nemestrina) – Also seen at BRL and Sukau, though far less common than the previous species, with smaller group sizes as well.
SILVERED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis cristata) – Several small groups scattered along the Kinabatangan and the Menanggul. Most were a uniform dark gray, but one group included a rare orange adult; normally, only the infants are orange.
RED LEAF MONKEY (Presbytis rubicunda) – A little group of these brightly colored monkeys munched in some trees up the hill from the main drive at BRL. Later, they scampered up a larger tree, and one of them made a prodigious leap to the next tree. We saw them most days at BRL, with others along the Gomantong Caves road. Also known as Maroon Langur. [E]
PROBOSCIS MONKEY (Nasalis larvatus) – Very common along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, with scores and scores seen well. The big male gazing down at us from above Sukau's Hornbill boardwalk trail was particularly impressive -- in more ways than one!! [E]
GRAY GIBBON (Hylobates muelleri) – We heard the amazingly complex hoots and whistles of this long-limbed primate on many days in the lowlands, but never actually spotted one. [E*]
ORANGUTAN (Pongo pygmaeus) – Gratifyingly common this year, with at least one seen on most days in the lowlands. Our first was a sleepy-looking youngster munching on a bit of sugar cane in a tree on the grounds of the SNR. Our best views may have come near the Sukau dining room, where we found a female and her youngster munching fruit in a tree beside the boardwalk. Or maybe it was at BRL, when we found another mom with her toddler and infant right over the road near the main building. [E]

We encountered several bright flocks of Gray-chinned Minivets in the highlands. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

PALE GIANT SQUIRREL (Ratufa affinis) – Huge! We found one high in a tree along the RDB canopy walkway, and it looked nearly big enough to be a monkey! This is Near Threatened, and a Sundaland specialty.
PREVOST'S SQUIRREL (Callosciurus prevostii) – Abundant throughout the lowlands, where we saw it daily.
PLANTAIN SQUIRREL (Callosciurus notatus) – Regular in the lowlands, including a few along the Sukau boardwalk trail and one scurrying along branches visible from the BRL canopy walkway. The black and buff stripes on its sides make this one easy to identify.
BORNEAN BLACK-BANDED SQUIRREL (Callosciurus orestes) – Like the previous species, this one shows black and white stripes on its sides too, but it's smaller and only found at higher elevations. We had them daily in Kinabalu NP -- including the inquisitive bunch investigating outstretched fingers for potential treats on the platform above Timpohon Gate. [E]
LOWE'S SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus lowii) – One shuffled through the leaf litter under the boardwalk trail at Sukau. The short, bushy tail and whitish underparts help to quickly identify this one.
JENTINK'S SQUIRREL (Sundasciurus jentincki) – Regular in the mountains, where they are the most common species. These Bornean endemics scampered so quickly through the trees that we nicknamed them "Jetpack Squirrel"; they certainly did seem turbocharged! [E]
BORNEAN MOUNTAIN GROUND-SQUIRREL (Dremomys everetti) – Two mooched around on the grass below the Bamboo Cafe, occasionally venturing down in the concrete ditches, on a couple of mornings as we enjoyed our breakfasts. The long muzzles on these very dark brown squirrels make them look like treeshrews. [E]
PLAIN PYGMY SQUIRREL (Exilisciurus exilis) – One of these thumb-sized squirrels scrambled up the branches of a tree along the RDC's Kingfisher trail, drawing plenty of "awwwww"s, and we saw singles elsewhere throughout the lowlands. They feed on moss and lichens. [E]
THOMAS'S FLYING SQUIRREL (Aeromys thomasi) – We saw surprisingly few flying squirrels this year, but all the ones we DID see belonged to this species, which is told from the Giant Red Flying Squirrel by the lack of a dark tip to its tail. We even saw a few "fly" when a pair of fighting animals dropped out of the treetop they were in and separated to glide to two different nearby trees. [E]
NORWAY (BROWN) RAT (Rattus norvegicus) – One scuttled across the giant pile of guano in the middle of the Gomantong Caves, then flashed under the boardwalk and scampered up a nearby wall. And considering its neighbors (cockroaches, long-legged centipedes, huge spiders and other assorted creepy-crawlies), we decided it was the cutest thing in there! [I]
GRAY TREE RAT (Lenothrix canus) – One climbed a small tree along the Menanggul, seen as we drifted past in our boat. The long tail of this species is dark near the body and white near the tip.
LONG-TAILED PORCUPINE (Trichys fasciculata) – One scuttled along the edge of the road during the first of our night drives at BRL. Ours was missing the tuft off the end of its tail -- a sign it had had a close encounter with a predator at some point in its past.
COMMON PORCUPINE (Hystrix brachyura) – Surprisingly, found right with the previous species on our first night drive at BRL. This porcupine has long white quills and a short tail.
SUNDA STINK BADGER (Mydaus javanensis) – Unfortunately, there's no code for "smelled only", which is what we did with this species along BRL's Segama trail. Though maybe it's a good thing we didn't meet up with one in person; it can squirt the smelly secretions from its anal gland several yards! Also known as Malay Badger or Teledu.
COMMON PALM CIVET (Viverra zibetha) – One clambered around in a palm tree near the start of the Menanggul, seen on our second night float. This nocturnal animal is found in secondary forests, plantations and gardens, rarely venturing into tall primary forest.
MALAY CIVET (Viverra tangalunga) – We spotted one wandering through the newly-cut forest patch along the river at BRL, and spotted a second on a night float at Sukau. This striking animal is primarily terrestrial, but occasionally ventures up into the trees.
BINTURONG (Arctictis binturong) – One sprawled out and snoozing on a branch in a huge fruiting fig tree along the Segama trail was a nice surprise. This slow-moving animal is typically nocturnal, but is sometimes active during the day.
LEOPARD CAT (Felis bengalensis) – One of these gorgeous little cats lay curled on a log right beside the BRL road, seen on our first night drive there -- and amazingly, it didn't run away even when we pulled up right beside it! Though the species is widespread from India through Asia and Sundaland, the taxon we saw, borneoensis, is endemic to Borneo.
BEARDED PIG (Sus barbatus) – Some of the group saw one or more rummaging under the raised walks leading from the cabins to the main building at BRL. The rest of us caught up them along the Menanggul -- including a sow and her half-grown piglets snuffling along the river bank.
LESSER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus javanicus) – We spotted our first in the underbrush near the main trail out to BRL's suspension bridge when returning from our Large Frogmouth excursion, and saw others on each of our night floats at Sukau. These tiny deer aren't much bigger than hares, standing a mere 12 inches high at the shoulder and weighing only 5 pounds.
MUNTJAC (BARKING DEER) (Muntiacus muntjak) – Those of us in the van on our drive in to BRL spotted one standing along the side of the road.

An immature Wallace's Hawk-Eagle gave us a nice look along the Menanggul. The short primary extension (three primaries showing instead of five or six) and feathered tarsi (i.e. not scaled like the toes) help to identify it. Photo by participant Karen Olsen.

SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor) – Seen on each of our night drives at BRL -- typically disappearing into the dense underbrush. This is the largest of Borneo's deer.
COMMON HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus frenatus) – Common around lights in the dining rooms each evening just about everywhere we went in the lowlands. The numbers in the entrance hall to BRL's dining room were truly staggering!
FILE-EARED TREEFROG (Polypedates otilophus (Rhacophoridae)) – We found a male clinging to some bendy twigs near the construction barrier at BRL, while heading back from our Large Frogmouth excursion. He stayed put even as we all filed past, moving his twigs as we went.
KINABALU HORNED FROG (Xenophrys baluensis (Megophryidae)) – We heard their loud calls on several nights around our cabins in Kinabalu. [*]
SALTWATER CROCODILE (Crocodylus porosus) – Daily on our cruises along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries, including a few hauled out on the banks. We saw a couple of truly gigantic individuals -- easily the length of our boat.
CRESTED GREEN LIZARD (Bronchocela cristatella) – One along the boardwalk trail at Sukau showed nicely the distinctive little crest along its back, but the one clambering around in the palm tree just outside the windows of our lunch restaurant in Poring Springs probably gave us our best looks -- particularly when he started waggling his dewlap!
HORNED FLYING LIZARD (Draco cornutus) – A few individuals on scattered days through the second half of the trip -- including one that made a PRODIGIOUS flight near the Masakob Waterfall Garden, "flying" in from somewhere out of our view and sticking its landing on a trunk right in front of us.
BLUE-EYED ANGLE-HEADED LIZARD (Gonocephalus liogaster) – One along BRL's main road was probably this species; I find the angle-headed lizards a bit challenging!
SMITH'S GIANT GECKO (Gekko smithii ) – We heard the loud, almost owl-like, calls of this big species -- also known as Barking Gecko -- on many days (and nights) in the lowlands. [*]
COMMON SUN SKINK (Eutropis multifasciata) – One scurried along the edge of the trail at RDC on our first morning, flicking leaves out of its way as it searched for prey.
WATER MONITOR (Varanus salvator) – One paddled its way across the pond at SNR, and we saw others in the Tenanggang River, Tanjung Aru park and the trashy little roadside pond we stopped at near KK on our last afternoon. We even found one in the palm oil plantations near Sukau, where they are incredibly common, as a result of the lack of mammalian competition and a plethora of food.
ROUGH-NECKED MONITOR (Varanus rubicollis) – This was the big land monitor we spotted swaggering along under the cabins at BRL.

Full battle gear! The gang models the latest in leech socks. Photo by participant Marshall Dahl.

Other Creatures of Interest
RAFFLESIA (PORING) (Rafflesia keithii) – A visit to the Adena Rafflesia Garden near Poring Springs netted us good looks at several fat black buds and an enormous newly-opened flower -- complete with confused flies trying to find the "rotten meat". This species is currently has the second-largest flowers in the world. Sadly, the current record holder is going extinct. [E]
PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes fusca) – These were the larger green pitchers we found under the Gunung Alab park sign. [E]
PITCHER PLANT SP. (Nepenthes tentaculata) – And these were the smaller red pitchers we spotted nearby.
BROWN LEECH (Haemadipsa zyelanica) – Probably the more common of the tour's two leech species, and certainly the one that gave us the most bites. This species injects an anesthetic so its bite is not felt at all -- which means the first time you typically notice them is when you discover a bloody mark on your clothing after they've fallen off! It's typically found on the ground.
TIGER LEECH (Haemadipsa picta) – This species, on the other hand, injects no anesthetic, so its bite is felt. Its named for the yellow stripes that run the length of its body. This one is typically found on leaves some distance off the ground.
LIME GREEN SNAIL (Rhinocochlis nasuta) – We watched a Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker attack one that was hanging on a thin vine near the BRL canopy walkway. It hammered at the snail's foot until the latter finally dropped away out of view.
BORNEAN PILL MILLIPEDE (Glomeris connexa) – We found these giant millipedes -- which roll up rather like pill bugs, but the size of ping pong balls -- on three days at BRL, including a trio right in the middle of the road one afternoon.
LONG-LEGGED CENTIPEDES (Scutigera spp.) – Creepily abundant in the Gomantong Caves, where they clung to the walls all the way around the boardwalk trail. Definitely the stuff of nightmares!
GIANT FOREST ANT (Camponotus gigas) – Seen on scattered days in the lowlands, typically marching across the forest floor -- or a nearby trail or road. This is one of the world's largest ants.
TRILOBITE BEETLE (Platerodrilus cf. paradoxus (Lycidae) ) – One in the middle of the road in Kinabalu NP was a nice find. We transplanted it to the leaf litter at the edge to keep it from getting squashed. It was conspicuously like one of the bigger millipedes we spotted during tour -- perhaps a defense mechanism against predators, as millipedes exude a nasty substance when things try to eat them.
COMMON BIRDWING (Tioides helena (Papilionidae)) – Regular throughout, often flitting along roadsides through the forest. The species is widespread across southeast Asia, with 17 distinct subspecies.
COMMON TREE NYMPH (WOOD NYMPH) (Idea stolli (Nymphalidae)) – Daily in the lowlands, where they floated like wisps of tissue paper through the forest. Their striking black and white wings are aposematic, warning potential predators that they're toxic (due to foods they ingest as larvae, much like North America's Monarchs are).
CLIPPER BUTTERFLY (Parthenos sylvia (Nymphalidae)) – Regular along the Kinabatangan and its tributaries.


Totals for the tour: 286 bird taxa and 34 mammal taxa