Atdahl

Borneo - From the Highlands to the Lowlands, it's a Wet Land

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Well I hope that Safaritalk readers haven't overdosed on Borneo after reading Jo's (KittyKat) great ongoing report. While our itineraries were pretty similar and we saw some of the same things, I think there are enough differences here to keep you interested. This is especially true if you are thinking about going to Borneo. And, you should. We think it's fantastic and we plan to go back...maybe even next year if we can rustle up a few people to join us.

 

Our itinerary was as follows:

 

1 night KK

3 nights Mt Kinabalu

4 nights Deramakot

2 nights Sepilok

2 nights Kinabatangan River

3 nights Danum

1 night KK

 

We used Adventure Alternative Borneo to plan and book our entire trip. We had 1 serious birder on the trip and the remaining 3 of us were more generalists. So, we tried to plan an itinerary that catered to birding, mammaling and herping as best we could.

The reports can be accessed on my website and are still a work in progress as I finish them. I hope to add a new entry every few days.
Alan
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Alan, no such thing as overdosing on trip reports. (Well, maybe there is, but is that such a bad thing?)

 

As always, I appreciate your sharing your resources (trip organizers, details regarding lodgings, etc.). Glad you've managed to get one of the Whitehead's (pygmy squirrel) so far. That shot of the Indigo Flycatcher is just great.

 

When were you there exactly? February? March?

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The birds, the tufted squirrel and upgraded accommodations all were out in force for you!

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Thanks @@Atdahl - I love the Indigo Flycatcher and White-throated Fantail especially!

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Thanks everyone.

 

@@Alexander33 - Our trip occurred the last week of March through the first week of April. I think we were there about a month after Jo was. The "dry" season is supposed to start around March. HA! That's a laugh as you will see. Yes, seeing the Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel was a definitely highlight. That was the mammal that we wanted to see at Mt K and I think we got lucky by seeing two of them.

 

@@Atravelynn - Yes, going from a "twin share" to a luxury lodge was super nice. I had a hard time finding prices for that lodge after we got back but did see one tour company mention it was $1000 a night to rent it. Ouch.

 

@@offshorebirder - the Fantails in Borneo are great fun to watch. I was really lucky to actually get a picture of it "fanning" since they tend to do it quickly.

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Posted (edited)

I hope you won't mind my adding that your and Jo's trip reports are very timely. As I started thinking a few months ago about future trips for 2018 and 2019, Borneo was on my mind. I always like to research destinations and, especially, photographic opportunities there, so I ended up using a Barnes & Noble gift card I had received at Christmas to order a book published last year entitled "A Visual Celebration of Borneo's Wildlife" by Fanny Lai and Bjorn Olesen.

 

I thought it would just be a fluffy coffee table book with some pretty pictures, but at least it would give me a better idea of the flora and fauna I could expect (hope?) to see there. As it turned out, the book is 450 pages of not just gorgeous photographs of a bewildering assortment of the mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, sea life, and landscapes of Borneo, but it also contains fascinating textual insights, including a section on the indigenous peoples and another on the various parks and other wildlife hotspots that deserve attention.

 

The book is also available on Amazon. It's worth a look for anyone considering a trip to Borneo.

Edited by Alexander33

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Nice to reminisce about kinabalu park. Fantastic shot of Whitehead's pygmy squirrel. I saw one there but didnt get a decent photo. A shame you didn't go beyond the Timpohon gate. We did go through the gate up to a couple of the rest areas and thats where I spent some time filming the tree shrews. The bins along that road are good for giant rats at night too.

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@@Alexander33 - Thanks for the book tip. It looks really good. We are likely going back next year and cost sharing is desirable. So, if you are interested, let me know.

 

@@kittykat23uk - I was disappointed that we couldn't go past the gate. Things there seem really regulated now (and expensive from what I hear). I am not even sure the park let's people past the gate anymore unless they are climbing to the top (which we weren't interested in doing). I would have loved to see some Tree Shrews though :) . When we go back, I think we will leave Mt K off the destination list. So, maybe we will get lucky with shrews elsewhere.

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That's a shame. I am also interested in going back. Mostly to Deramakot of course! :)

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@@kittykat23uk, Yes I REALLY want to go back to Deramakot too. I mean the Danam was great but Deramakot will definitely be the center point of our next trip.

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Here are a couple reports that finish up our time at Mt K and include our travel day to Deramakot.

 

We were actually very impressed with the infrastructure in Borneo. So, travel days were a breeze for the most part. For whatever reason, I thought it would be more "3rd world" than it was. The roads, restaurants, public bathrooms, etc were all better than we experienced in other countries. Costa Rica for instance.

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-4-mt-kinabalu.html

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-5-mt-kinabalu-to-deramakot.html

 

Alan

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Yeah its very westernised. I think they actually have bigger malls and more big brand shops in KK than we do in Norwich.

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@@Atdahl what a fun report! that "green cake" sounds suspiciously like a pandan chiffon cake which is ubiquitious in Singapore and Malaysia. light and fluffy and without much taste but just sweet.

 

you had great captures of the birds - that green magpie is fantastic as was the indigo flycatcher. I think you did very well considering how the branches and twigs and leaves often get in the way. and rain - yes, well, you are in rainforests.....but hopefully you didn't get too rained out!

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@@kittykat23uk, you are right. For some reason that surprised me. I just wasn't expecting it.

 

@@Kitsafari, I think you are right about the cake. The color is right but at Mt K it appeared to be slices off of a roll of cake since there was a twirl of something in it. Anyway, sugar in the morning is good so I wasn't complaining. I agree that Green Magpie was something else. They had a great call too. I just wish I was able to get a better picture since Mt K is really the best place to find them.

 

 

Now the fun really begins with this report. I was getting a little "twitchy" from a lack of mammals. Deramakot made up for that in a big way.

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-6-deramakot.html

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-7-deramakot.html

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Posted (edited)

@@Atdahl Fantastic report (as usual!), love the bird pics and am glad you have details on Deramakot as it's on my wishlist. Looking forward to the rest. Any idea when you might return next year?

 

@@Alexander33 The book is also going on my other (Amazon) wishlist, thanks for the tip.

Edited by Livetowander

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Maybe we should plan a safaritalk borneo trip! :)

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I have been two times in Borneo , Sarawak and Sabah, and always enjoyed it very much.

We had very good guides and at Kinabatangan River we really saw a clouded leopard. Our guide was so excited, he had never seen one in the wild.

 

If someone is interested in birdwatching tours , please have a look at

http://www.cedeprudente.com/about/

 

Cede has also written some interesting books

 

http://www.northborneosafari.com/

In any case I would like to return.

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@@Livetowander, thank you. We plan to go back whenever it's not raining. If you know when that will be, let me know. :)

 

@@kittykat23uk, I like that idea. We are definitely going back next year. I have yet to start the official planning with AA Borneo yet though.

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@@reisetasche, we are all jealous of your Clouded Leopard sighting!

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Wow, that marbled cat put on quite the show for you. I would have been thrilled!

 

I think you did quite well with the bird photography under the circumstances. So many unusual species -- all would be new to me. That's a great shot of the black and yellow broadbill. I almost had an ethical lapse in thinking that you could Photoshop some bark onto that power line.

 

The torrential rain certainly made for a trying time. I have to respect the way you maintained such a positive attitude. At least a good dinner topped off with leopard cats for "dessert" made it all worthwhile.

 

Sounds like you had some long days, though. I think I would have struggled to stay awake -- but maybe the adrenalin would have pushed me through. Looking forward to more.

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@@Alexander33 - Thanks. I have to admit that there were lots of bad bird pictures. But, of course I don't keep those. To top it off, my tripod never got unpacked. I decided to handhold the entire trip based on the moisture, my bad ankle, and the great VR of the Nikon 200-500 lens. I am afraid my photoshop skills aren't good enough to get away with fixing the power line. Plus, I wouldn't do it anyway just on principle. But, the thought did cross my mind.

 

Yes, that Marbled Cat was a real highlight. Mike, Jo (Kittykat), and I had a brief discussion on Facebook about whether the cat she saw and the one we saw were the same since they exhibited the same behavior. So, I did a side by side compare and it turns out they are different cats based on the markings:

 

 

post-47251-0-27051100-1495811367_thumb.jpg

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@@Atdahl

 

That's a great shot of the black and yellow broadbill. I almost had an ethical lapse in thinking that you could Photoshop some bark onto that power line.

 

 

I am afraid my photoshop skills aren't good enough to get away with fixing the power line. Plus, I wouldn't do it anyway just on principle.

 

Totally agree. I had added one of those smiley faces to the end of my "ethical lapse" comment just to reinforce the fact that I was kidding, but it didn't come through -- maybe because I was working off my iPad.

 

Anyway, I can certainly identify with the challenges you had in getting good bird photos. Interesting comparison in the markings of the marbled cat. You're right -- they are different. I had to squint at first.

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Posted (edited)

Wow @@Atdahl - just read the Mt. K. installment with Temminck's Sunbird - awesome image of a super bird!

 

And seeing a King Cobra in the wild is fantastic.

Edited by offshorebirder

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@@Alexander33 - I did know that you were kidding about photoshop...sorry if I didn't phrase my response that way. Your replies all always appreciated on my reports so keep them coming :)

 

@@offshorebirder - thanks. I still fantasize about getting the iconic Cobra shot with expanded hood...Of course it would be at full 500mm zoom since I would likely be shaking too much any closer to a 12 foot King Cobra...

 

That Temminck's Sunbird is stunning. I am glad we saw one. Spoiler alert...we see the similar looking Eastern Sunbird in Sepilok and those days are coming soon...

 

Alan

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Here are reports from the last two days at Deramakot and the first night in Sepilok. Thinking back, other than Yellowstone, I don't think I have ever been somewhere that I didn't want to leave as much as Deramakot. Plus, I was ready to go back a day after leaving. I think it's because you see so much there and the lure of possibly seeing mystic wildlife like Clouded Leopard, Sun Bear and more is a real possibility. You never know what is around the next bend but chances are it's fantastic. Yellowstone does that for me (not as much after 10 trips) and I bet Africa does that for most folks on this forum (one day I will get there).

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-8-deramakot.html

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2017/04/borneo-day-9-deramakot-to-sepilok.html

 

Alan

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