We were picked up from the Jessleton Hotel (who kindly agreed to store some of our luggage until we returned) at 07.15 for the 2 hour minibus ride north to the jetty at Kota Belud where the boats depart for the island. We arrived early having seen 2 Black-crowned Night Herons on the way but whiled away some time watching the numerous Whiskered Terns near the quay.
The boat trip itself wasn't without it's moments - we saw c10 Black-naped Terns and 4 Bridled Terns on the crossing.
Small islands aren't renouned for a large variety of species and Mantanani Besar is no different. It does have some goodies though and a late afternoon/early evening walk north along the coast from Mari Mari Backpackers gave me one of them - Christmas Island Frigatebird, in fact dozens of them amongst Lesser Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds coming in to roost on a offshore islet. White-breasted Woodswallows, Pacific Swallows and Collared Kingfishers are common on the island and I also managed some Germain's Swiftlets, Olive-backed Sunbird, 2 Pacific Reef Egrets and White-bellied Sea Eagle.
After dinner that evening a torchlit walk a few hundred yards north of Mari Mari Backpackers gave me my much wanted Mantanani Scops Owl. We had at least 4 calling and eventually I managed a brief view of one but it was spooked by my torch and flew off!
The following mornign we went for a long walk south of Mari Mari Backpackers and then inland near the school to eventually emerge on the opposite side of the island. My hoped for Tabon Scrubfowl proved nice and easy with 5 seen but it was pigeons that kept us amused trying to get a decent view. 1 group of c8 Metallic Pigeons were flushed out of the top of a fruiting tree early morning and we went on to see several Grey Imperial Pigeons and just a single Pied Imperial Pigeon. On the long hot walk back I photographed a raptor passing over a clearing that was later id'd by the resident birder/guide at Mari Mari Backpackers as a Japanese Sparrowhawk. Near the school on the way back a Paddyfield Pipit was beside the path. The last decent bird was a very close Pink-necked Green Pigeon as we sat having lunch.
Christmas Island Frigatebird
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
That pretty much concluded birding for the trip with a night in back KK at the wonderful fish quay with its food stalls and a morning exploring the city a bit before making our way to the airport for the mega journey home.
Trip list 256