Borneo, Days 11 - 14, 5 - 8 April 2016 - Kinabatagnan River & Gomantong Cave

The  few days we spent at Kinabatagnan Jungle Camp with Robert Chong and our excellent guide Romzi were certainly one of the highlights of the whole trip.
We were picked up from Sepilok and after a 2 hour drive were at the small jetty in the village of Bilit where a boat took us 20 mintes along the river to the camp where we spent 3 nights. On the last 2 nights we were the only people staying there so were treated like royalty with huge spreads of some of the best food we had in the 3 weeks. The deal consisted of 7 boat trips (including 1 night trip) along the river and side tributaries (including the large Teneggang River) looking for birds and mammals. I'd booked a birding package but as we had a boat and guide to ourselves we were able to mix things up so Belinda got some good looks at mammals and crocs and stuff as well! The boat trips were typically at 06.30 and again at 15.30 and each lasted about 3 hours.

The 'signature bird' here is the rare and elusive Bornean Ground Cuckoo and great effort was made to connect with it. Finally we scored on day 3 after much playback from the opposite side of the river then moving in when a response was heard. Luckily a bird showed in a 'hole' in the vegetation even allowing me to get a few record shots. We were very fortunate as many fail completely. Hornbills are also a big feature and we managed 5 species here - the common Oriental Pied Hornbill, Black Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Bushy-crested Hornbill and then on the last morning finally the rare White-crowned Hornbill.

Blue-eared Kingfishers and Stork-billed Kingfishers proved quite common while we also connected with 2 superb Ruddy Kingfishers and a single Common Kingfisher. Green Imperial Pigeons were seen daily whilst we also had c4 Pink-necked Green Pigeons and a single Emerald Dove lurking near a side creek. Cuckoos were represented by Violet Cuckoo, Plaintive Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo and a Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo. The latter isn't supposed to occur with only 1 Sabah record (Square-tailed is) but my photo clearly shows a very forked tail!

On of the other target birds on the river is Storm's Stork and we saw these daily including a pair wandering through the lodge grounds. Other waterbirds included 2 Striated Herons, 3 Purple Herons, Great White, Intermediate and Little Egrets and several Oriental Darters.  

Rhinoceros Hornbills

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Crested Serpent Eagle

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Indian Cuckoo

Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Ruddy Kingfisher

Storm's Stork

White-fronted Falconet

Pacific Swallow

Black Hornbill

Malaysian Blue Flycatcher

Buffy Fish Owl

Bornean Ground Cuckoo

Large Frogmouth

Blue-eared Kingfisher

Raptors are another big draw and we scored with plenty - Osprey, Jerdon's Baza, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Wallace's Hawk-eagle, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Lesser Fish Eagle, Grey-bellied Fish Eagle and Brahminy Kite.

A Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Dollarbird, several Blue-throated Bee-eaters, Blue-rumped Parrot, Black and Red Broadbill, Black and Yellow Broadbill and 2 Bornean Brown Barbets were also clocked up and a daytime roosting Large Frogmouth allowed me to get some great shots! Other birds seen included Buff-necked Woodpecker, 2 stunning White-fronted Falconets (a new family for me), Fiery Minivet, Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Olive-winged Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Bulbul and White-crowned Shama.

Continuing the passerine list (!) - Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Black-naped Monarch, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Bold-striped Tit-babbler, White-chested Babbler, Black-throated Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Common Hill Myna and Dusky Munia. 

Our night boat trip was also superb - Buffy Fish Owl was the highlight for me but Large Frogmouth and Black-crowned Night Heron were also seen well. We also tried for Oriental Bay Owl but dipping this was no big deal as we'd seen the species at RDC.

The non-avian highlights were numerous Proboscis Monkeys, Oran-utang, loads of Long-tailed Macaques, Silvered Langur, Estuarine Crocodile and Mangrove Snake. 
Crested Serpent Eagles

Black-throated Babbler

White-crowned Hornbill

Bornean Brown Barbets

Bushy-crested Hornbill

Wallace's Hawk Eagle

We had one late afternoon trip (in a tropical storm!) to Gomantong Cave where we had some truly memorable views of Oran-utang, Hooded Pitta along the entrance boardwalk, Edible-nest, Black-nest, Mossy-nest and Glossy Swiftlets and then 2 Bat Hawks and a Peregrine hunting the bats at dusk! Also c6 Maroon Langurs.

Walks around Kinabatagnan Jungle Camp were quite limited with only one partially blocked trail to walk but along there I regularly had Sooty-capped Babbler, Black-capped Babblers and Chestnut-winged Babblers.     

Sooty-capped Babbler


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