Borneo Jun 30—Jul 17, 2012
Posted by David Bishop
Any tour to Borneo is, by definition, special, and this one was no exception. It was a pleasure to lead such a delightful group of participants who enjoyed and made the very most of whatever came their way, whether it be spectacular storms; electrically-colored millipedes; spiders of every size and shape; an amazing 32 species of mammals including numerous encounters with wonderfully confiding orangutans; and, of course, some absolutely stunning birds. As if all that weren't enough, there were huge pitcher plants, ferns, fungi, and some exquisite orchids. Add to this some magnificent landscapes including vast primeval forests that are literally soul-rejuvenating; delicious food–—and some good wine; and a charming, gracious, and genuinely friendly people, and you have all the ingredients of a very special tour.
Orangutan— Photo: K. David Bishop
It was an unusually wet tour and at times extremely humid; many birds were breeding, either on nests or attending young, and this undoubtedly contributed to the paucity of song and infrequency of tape-playback-response. However, this is all part of the natural tropical forest biological rhythm and was interesting in its own right, if at times a little frustrating. I think it safe to say that everyone enjoyed a magnificent tour with some truly outstanding highlights. Thanks to the absence of hunting in areas such as the Danum Valley, primates and many other mammals and large birds were notably common and easy to see including numerous hornbills such as the incomparable Rhinoceros. Proboscis monkeys seemed at times almost de rigueur and Bornean gibbons accompanied us with their evocative calls almost constantly. Sadly, such a situation is becoming a rarity rather than the norm in Southeast Asia, and I always relish my annual return to Danum.
VENT's tours of Borneo are among the finest natural history experiences anywhere on our planet. This is largely because Borneo is one of the most exciting, vibrant, and biologically diverse places on earth. The combination of immense forests replete with a fabulous array of towering trees, plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates serviced by some of the most comfortable and attractive accommodations anywhere in the Tropics, together with some truly sumptuous meals, guarantees an unforgettable experience.
Recent genetic studies have underscored, more than ever, just how distinctive Borneo is. For example, new studies now indicate that the Bornean pygmy elephant is indeed a very distinct taxon; the Borneo population of orangutan should be treated as a separate species; and, most recently, studies of the clouded leopard show that it too is a separate species from mainland Asia. And so it is with birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates too. Clearly Borneo exhibits more than its share of weird and wonderful creatures, and our experiences exemplify what a fantastic tour this is. Merely listing our totals of 269 birds; 32 species of mammals; a plethora of neat reptiles and frogs; numerous gorgeous butterflies; and a wonderful collection of other unusual invertebrates; not to mention some fascinating flowering and non-flowering plants, barely does justice to what was a truly delightful experience.
It was a real joy to share a place I love so much with such an appreciative group. My aim, as always, is for each and every client to see each and every species well and ideally on more than one occasion, and in this I believe we were very successful. Possessing an intimate knowledge of the calls of the birds and where to find them is a key to our success and has been built upon over many years of studying the birds of Borneo and the surrounding regions of Asia. I cannot wait until my next trip!
Thanks to you all: Peter and Nancy, Carmen, Nancy, Al, Ian, and Mary for helping to make this tour such a great success! Thanks too, especially, to my wonderful colleague Adrian, as well as all our various boatmen, drivers, local guides, and the many other people who helped make our stay in Borneo so safe, friendly, and fulfilling. It was a pleasure traveling and birding with you and I look forward to traveling with you again soon.