To The Kinabatangan!

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June 17th 2018
Published: June 17th 2018
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I started with an early morning at the RDC for my last morning here and it was quite a cool morning. The metal of the canopy walkway was actually cold to the touch and covered in condensation which is much better than the situation in the afternoon of minor burns to the touch.

There were quite a number of birds seen from the canopy walkway including some new for Borneo but seen on the Peninsula like Long-tailed Parakeet, some completely new like Thick-billed Green Pigeon and Golden-faces Barbet and other not new but still extremely impressive like Rhinoceros Hornbill. Also extremely cool to watch was the resident pair of Wallace's Hawk Eagles right by the tower and one of them dived down to the canopy and came up with a Plantain Squirrel which it flew with to an exposed perch on a nearby emergent tree and ate the squirrel, all in full view. Really spectacular thing to watch.

After breakfast, I went back for a short visit to the RDC before check out at 12. This being my 7th day at the RDC means I've now got their coloured sticker for each day of the week. I imagine most visitors don't stay this long! (I originally only intended on a 4 night stay which got pushed to 5 to line up with the Danum Valley bus transfer times and then to 6 when Kinabatangan was cut to 2. It doesn't feel too long though: new birds every day and new mammals every night! Although ideally I think I could do with a few more nights the other side of Danum. I didn't see a huge amount in the late morning, though I did hear what I think might have been a Helmeted Hornbill but I'm not sure because I don't know exactly what they sound like and it's a restricted species on Xeno-Canto (do they even occur at Sepilok though?). No more Bristleheads at all though so I was very lucky to see them flying over on the first evening.

After lunch, the minibus from the Kinabatangan accommodation picked me up just after 1PM (with a few other people on it and another group from the Sepilok B&B too). Apart from the occasional settlement or electricity substation, the drive just past through endless oil palm plantations as far as you could see and the occasional hill showed that it was really very far indeed. And there were numerous big tanker trucks labelled 'palm oil' along the way too. Most of the plantations were labelled 'Sime Darby Plantations Berhad'.

I got to the accommodation at Kinabatangan, I'm staying in a dorm at a place called Sukau Greenview on a two night package, after a couple of hours and after quickly putting the stuff away was an afternoon cruise up the Kinabatangan. Just to briefly describe the place: the Kinabatangan is a large river with extensive primary rainforests along the flood plain which in particular areas are connected to form large patches of primary forest. Most of the wildlife is the same as at Sepilok and Danum but with some additional riverine species here that aren’t at either place like Proboscis Monkeys and, in theory, Flat-headed Cats (though chances for the latter are extremely slim indeed).

Obviously you can't identify the small birds because it's a wide river and you're going past, though slowly, in a small boat. But you see lots of the most impressive birds like hornbills and birds of prey and things, and of course mammals too. The best mammals were proboscis monkeys and most excitingly, a group of Bornean Pygmy Elephants feeding by the river which was great. They do look stockier than typical Asian elephants. A pygmy elephant really is the sort of thing that 18th century explorers ventured out into the heart of the Bornean rainforest to find. Very relaxing and lots of cool bird flyovers with four species of hornbill seen and a couple of fish eagles.

After the late afternoon/early evening cruise for a couple of hours was dinner followed by a night cruise. The number of sightings per hour of night cruise was actually quite low, but there were crocodiles which I assume must be Saltwater Crocodiles? As well as Large Flying Foxes and a Bornean Small-toothed Palm Civet showing well. A roosting Stork-billled Kingfisher too. I was hoping for some owls, but none seen unfortunately.

New birds:

Thick-billed Green-pigeon

Golden-faced Barbet

Lesser Fish-eagle

Eastern Great Egret

Great-billed Heron


Asian (Bornean Pygmy) Elephant

Bornean Small-toothed Palm Civet

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


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