Day Six of Sepilok Wildlife

Malaysia's flag
Asia » Malaysia » Sabah » Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary
June 16th 2018
Published: June 16th 2018
Edit Blog Post

There's wasn't much about in the morning but I did hear Bornean Gibbons calling. I'm hoping to actually see them at Danum. I also got my first leech at Speilok. I haven't been wearing my leech socks at all and hadn't encountered any leeches up to this point but the rain may have brought them out now. I was expecting more really. I did find another not-nondescript (descript?) bulbul: Black-and-white Bulbul, as well as a fruiting tree filled with Black Hornbills. Most odd though was a way overhead flyover by two White-bellied Sea Eagles extremely high above the forest flying past. An odd species to see here but nothing else as far as I can see has that tail shape, no particular long beak, and that pattern of white and dark on wings and body. I guess it's not that far from the sea here but still strange.

I've got into a routine now, morning birding, pop back for breakfast, then back into the forest while there's still some bird activity until lunch. Relax after lunch, then back in the evening for evening birds and spotlighting. I really could just spend weeks doing this, it's really relaxed and although the accommodation is more expensive than ideal, my overall costs are still well within what I need to average per day on this trip because my only other costs are two more meals at less than RM20 each and the RM15 RDC fee. I am ready to move on though to new places and new animals, there's a lot more to see in Borneo and today was my last full day with the Kinabatangan bus coming tomorrow afternoon (that’s the theory anyway)

While I was up in the canopy walkway at about 10 o'clock with the only bird being a Wallace's Hawk Eagle sitting motionlessly on an emergent tree surveying the forest, I was just thinking that it was as too hot and I should go down to the shadier forest floor, I saw a very small bird out of the corner of my eye. A small barbet or something I thought but no. It was the 'common' bird I keep mentioning not being able to find: a Black-and-Yellow Broadbill. It was tiny, much smaller than I had expected. I had been expecting a stubby-shaped Black-and-red in size but this was way smaller and it was right there, super close on the canopy walkway. It's possibly the cutest looking bird I have ever seen, but a long-awaited bird is always better than one seen easily once you finally get it. Amazing black and yellow patterning with the pink wash on the breast and comical looking head with yellow-on-black eye-ring and that massively oversized bright blue bill. Lovely bird, and showy too. I love broadbills. And that's broadbill species number 5 for the trip and there are a few more species still to get.

Later in the morning I found a group of extremely confiding Maroon Woodpeckers as well as a Raffles Malkoha which I spent ages trying to photograph but was only moderately successful because although it was very visible, it was just too deep in the vegetation for autofocus and it always moved to the next branch just as I had it manually focused. Really interesting chocolaty-beige coloured bird.

The afternoon/evening birding began with three Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers around one of the streams, lovely little birds. I also went back around the spot where the Bearded Pig was yesterday and the ground was an absolute muddy mess. I think there must have been more than a single pig later last night. I also got a Bornean Black Magpie showing very well and with a pair mobbing a Wallace's Hawk Eagle, presumably they must be nesting nearby somewhere. Even after six days here in the tiny patch of forest walking the same trails, I'm getting new endemics. The biodiversity here really is incredible.

The official guided walk had an insane number of people tonight. Probably more than 50. There was a different night guard as well who didn't want to let me in and wanted to 'call his boss's but confidently saying that I had spoken to Ben and pointing at the stack of papers saying they have a permission form did the trick. Now I'm not endorcing cheating but... Any mammal watchers here visiting in future may be able to use that line? (Unfortunately as I was walking away thinking I could get away with staying later, I looked back and saw the usual guard showing up so the 8PM limit still stood.) That's the one major annoyance here at Sepilok.

The night started with some very exciting eyeshine that turned out to be a domestic dog, quite far from the entrance actually but luckily it ran away. I saw a couple of slow lorises, the first was far away and not really countable but the eyes move in a distinctive enough way, and the second was close enough to see properly. A bit later, I heard what I think must have been a tarsier in the vegetation moving between trees. It seemed quite close and there may even have been more than one. They kept moving around in the dense vegetation but I just couldn't see them/it at all. They seemed really close and I'm pretty sure they were tarsiers but I couldn't see them at all and after a while the sounds moved away. If only the bloody things had eyeshine, I'm sure a would have seen one.

So no tarsiers, but as I was heading back (quite late because of how long I'd spent looking for invisible tarsiers) something rather interesting crossed the road in front of me. It stopped halfway across then continued and went into the forest. My first thought was a Malay Civet but after a few moments I could tell it was not. The 'jizz' was just completely wrong. It was rather elongated looking and was clearly a civet but almost seemed like a stretched out cat. Can you guess what it is yet? I had a guess. And as I got closer to it, just as it was about to disappear into the vegetation, a dark buffish colour with a long tail ending with black (and what seemed to be striped markings further up the body but which I couldn't see that well because of the angle)... A Banded Palm Civet!!! Amazing! No tarsiers (though I’ve still got a chance at Danum), but what a great ending to the spotlighting at Sepilok.

Speaking to some people on the official night walk afterwards (they didn't see a Banded Palm Civet but did see a loris, the I've spoken to the night walk participants every time and all but one night walk saw slow loris) and they mentioned that they had seen a pangolin in Kota Kinabalu outside Borneo Backpackers. A what? The look of incredulity on my face prompted them to get out a phone and show pictures of a pangolin along a roadside and under a lantana bush. Then a video of it walking across a lawn... Well then. I guess the roadside verge in a large city is the best place to find a pangolin.

Banded Palm Civet is amazing though!

New birds:

Black-throated Babbler

Black-and-white Bulbul

White-bellied Sea-eagle

Black-and-yellow Broadbill

Bornean Black Magpie

Bornean Blue Flycatcher


Banded Palm Civet

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


16th June 2018

Till we hear from you again!
Another fun day for you William. Mom says we wont be hearing from you for a while. Enjoy to the fullest son and do write when you can!
17th June 2018

I won't be going offline quite yet. The next two nights are at Kinabatangan followed by one night at Lahad Datu and I should have internet/phone connection in both those places but after that is 5 nights at Danum Valley where I believe I will have not internet or phone reception at all. So don't expect to hear from me from the 20th-25th unless there is some unexpected internet.

Tot: 0.194s; Tpl: 0.011s; cc: 12; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0857s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb