Borneo Jul 11—29, 2017

Posted by Machiel Valkenburg


Machiel Valkenburg

Machiel Valkenburg was born in 1982 in a southern province in the Netherlands where, encouraged by his parents, he began birding at an early age. During his teens he studie...

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Our 2017 Borneo tour started in Kota Kinabalu, a lovely and picturesque city located on the South China Sea and on the western part of Sabah. On our first day we explored the Kota Belud area; due to the tip of a tail of a cyclone near Philippines, it had been raining the previous days, resulting in a very wet wetland with many interesting birds. More or less all possible egrets were found with Javan Pond-Heron, Rufous (Nankeen) Night-Heron, and Cinnamon Bittern being the best. The last was seen wonderfully, hunting in some rice fields. Some other species of birds related to water found during our outing were Buff-banded Rail, Watercock, Whiskered Tern, and some early returning Oriental Pratincoles. In the afternoon we headed for the beach where Green Imperial-Pigeon, Scaly-breasted Munia, and Blue-naped Parakeet were quickly found and gave good scope views. Around the hotel parking area, Collared Kingfisher and Sunda Woodpecker gave us a good show; these birds are truly magnificent. 

Western Tarsier

Western Tarsier— Photo: Jimmy Stanley


After leaving the city of Kota Kinabalu, we headed for Mount Kinabalu by way of the Rafflesia Center in the Crocker Range. The coming days meant mountain birding, but we were very unfortunate with a lot of rain, leftover from the previously mentioned cyclone. We did what we could and still got good looks at Bornean Bulbul, Mountain Barbet, and Bornean Leafbird in the Crocker Range—all of them desired endemics—as well as Golden-bellied Gerygone and Black-and-crimson Oriole. In the endemic-filled Kinabalu Park, the views were very poor, as this amazing forest was completely fogged in. During these days, we had a glimpse of the blue sky on only a few occasions, and when we did, we enjoyed some great birding. Some of the best birds we had splendid views of were Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Bornean Swiftlet, Golden-naped Barbet, Whitehead’s Broadbill, Gray-chinned Minivet, and Bornean Treepie. We walked over the main road and discovered a group of Sunda and Chestnut-hooded laughingthrushes foraging in the grassy patches along the road. The excitement level rose quickly when the endemic Bornean Green-Magpie was discovered; all of us had great views. All the way up at the gate of the mountain, a large group of Mountain Black-eyes gave us stiff necks from looking up; for that reason alone, a Bornean Stubtail must have decided to give us some excellent ground views of his features—he was so close we could almost touch him! 

Read Machiel’s full report in his Field List.