Despite my fears our names were on the DVFC system and with a delay of an hour we set off on our drive to DVFC. The drive takes about 3 hours with the last 2 of those being on dirt roads. And boys did we hit it lucky on the road - 3 and then a single Asian Pygmy Elephants on the road (but quickly disappearing into the bushes), 3 Sambar Deer, a Bornean Yellow Muntjac, a white-phase Asian Paradise Flycatcher and then a mega Crested Fireback beside the track too. Things were looking promising as we checked in after dark and looked forward to our few days here.
During the following days we slogged the forest trails and it was HARD work! Very hot and humid and sadly the meals and accommodation at DVFC didn't offer any comfort - they were terrible. Boiled rice and cabbage and gristly bones plus chicken nugget for breakfast. A small amount of melon each day for dessert but you had to be quick before it ran out! If you go, take my advice and take plenty of snacks, we were so glad we did!
The powers that be at DVFC will try to insist you have to have a ranger with you on most of the trails (at MYR 20 an hour) but we didn't bother, walked wherever we wanted and never got challenged!
Our days typically involved a 2-3 hours walking trails after breakfast, several hours downtime in the heat of the day and then another couple of hours walking trails in the late afternoon.
I spent a lot of time trying to lure pittas and managed 2 more Black-crowned Pittas but nothing else was responding. Green Imperial Pigeons were seen daily with 2 Large Green Pigeons, 2 Grey-rumped Treeswifts and 3 Brown-backed Needletails. Raptors included Black Eagle and Changeable Hawk-eagle and the hornbills were represented by 1 Helmeted Hornbill and 2 Oriental Pied Hornbills.
A round up of the best of the rest included Black and Red Broadbill, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Blue-rumped Parrot, 2 Bornean Brown Barbets, 1 Red-crowned Barbet by our room, 2 Grey and Buff Woodpeckers, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Buff-rumped and Buff-necked Woodpeckers, Lesser Green Leafbird, a mega White-crowned Forktail on the Coffin Trail, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Chestnut-winged Babbler, an educational id challenge with Rufous-crowned and Scaly-crowned Babblers, Slender-billed Crow and a very welcome Bornean Black Magpie around the buildings one early morning.
One afternoon we killed a couple of hours during the heat of the day on a balcony overlooking the river and some flowering bushes - it proved a spiderhunter mecca with Yellow-eared, Spectacled, Bornean and Little Spiderhunters plus Van Hasslet's, Red-throated and Crimson Sunbirds.
On the final day I went on a long hike along the Tembaling Waterfall trail and managed to find Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, Banded Broadbill and a superb Red-bearded Bee-eater. Later that day the hanging bridge area and a trespass onto the grid trails gave me Ferruginous Babbler, Green Iora, Plain Sunbird, Black and Yellow Broadbill then at the death a marvellous Whiskered Treeswift on the bridge itself. For sheer uniqueness it was one of my birds of the trip.
We booked on a night drive on our 2nd night which produced some good stuff but it was all duplicates of stuff we'd already seen - Giant Flying Squirrel, 2 roosting Crested Firebacks, Sambar Deer, a similarly roosting Crested Serpent Eagle plus Common Palm Civet. A Buffy Fish Owl was in a tree by the badminton court after we got back from the drive. Other mammals seen during our stay were Maroon Langur and Pig-tailed Macaque.
15 April was the day we left on the 08.30 transfer minibus and this time the entrance road came up trumps again with a surprise and awesome Sumatran Rhino crossing the road in front of us!!
Luckily we managed to get on a much earlier flight back to KK from Lahad Datu (11.10 instead of 16.00!) and back in KK had loads of House Swifts, several Whiskered Terns by the fish quay plus Pacific Reef Egret, White-bellied Sea Eagle, White Wagtail and Olive-backed Sunbird.
Crested Serpent Eagle
Black and Yellow Broadbill
Lesser Green Leafbird