Tuesday, 7 August 2012

BORNEO August 2012: RIC & Poring

6-7 August 2012.  Getting back to Kota Kinabalu and picking up our hire-car earlier than expected gave us time to visit the Rafflesia Information Centre in the Crocker Range for a couple of hours before dark.  Birding the roadside here produced our first sub-montane species of the trip with Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Mountain Barbet (new for me), Black & Crimson Oriole, White-throated Fantail, Bornean Treepie, lots of Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrushes and a Temminck's Sunbird.  We then drove to Ranau where we found a cheap hotel and Chinese restaurant, the latter rather better than the former.  We left the hotel at 5am for the 30 minute drive to Poring.

At Poring we walked fairly quickly to the upper part of the main waterfall trail where we spent the morning hoping to find a fruiting tree which might attract a Hose's Broadbill.  It was a steep climb initially and the whole area seemed depressingly birdless although the waterfall at the top was worth seeing.  We walked the last, most promising, part of the trail a couple of times but to no avail.  We had no pitta encounters, not even a distant call, and the only fruiting tree was rather lower than necessary although it did have a superb pair of Green Broadbills in it.  So near yet so far ... 

We returned to the car and although we'd read to expect it, the number of locals using the hot-springs came as a surprise.  As did encountering a very friendly Burmese birder, Lay Win, understandably struggling with Craig Robson's South-East Asia Guide as his only ID reference.  Nick and I immediately started thinking of a trip to Mount Victoria for the nuthatch ....

Other birds seen at Poring included an excellent Red-bearded Bee-eater, Gold-whiskered Barbets, Maroon Woodpecker, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babblers, Grey-headed Babblers, White-crowned Shama and a Hill Blue Flycatcher.

Without sign of a fruiting tree we felt spending more time at Poring was unlikely to greatly increase our chance of seeing Hose's Broadbill so we decided to leave and head back to Sepilok where I hoped to catch up with Bornean Bristlehead.  It was about 4 hours drive and we set off mid afternoon hoping to do most of the journey in daylight.  Things went to plan until we reached the Lahad Datu turn-off  where traffic increased significantly.  From here we were on the lookout for a cheap hotel as we felt the lodges at Sepilok would be too expensive and we only hoped to be there for a few hours.  Nothing was obvious although by now it was dark which didn't help.  There was nothing obvious along the Sepilok approach road so we continued for half an hour to Sandakan finally finding somewhere surprisingly nice at Mile 4.  

one of the few viewpoints on the climb to the waterfall at Poring
the lower waterfall

the upper waterfall
an attractive butterfly

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