Sunday, April 2, 2017

Borneo Day 10 - Sepilok

Today we planned to go to the Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC) in the AM, the Orangutan Sanctuary for the 3 PM feeding, and hopefully a night walk at the RDC after dusk.

That's a full itinerary and after hearing rain most the night, when the alarm went off at 4:30 AM and it wasn't raining, we were a bit re-energized.   I use that term loosely in Karen's case since "4:30 AM" and "energy" are not two terms Karen is familiar with simultaneously.  Also, on a sad note, no Orangutan entered our room overnight to spoon.  Well, we do have one more night...

Rainforest Discovery Center

We were at the RDC at dawn.  John is a member and can pretty much come and go with his groups as he pleases.  Getting there early meant there was no one else there.  It felt like we had the place to ourselves.  The RDC is a really nice facility with a long and sturdy canopy walkway and lots of walking trails through the forest.  It's also designed to blend in well with the jungle.

RDC Wall

RDC Sign Post

Diard's Trogon:
Diard's Trogon

Black and Red Broadbill:
Black and Red Broadbill


As you can tell, the RDC is a great place to bird but they are also supposed to have mammals and reptiles so we were looking hard for everything.  At one point we were walking around and we heard this loud trumpeting.  We all stopped and even John did a double take.  It sounded like Elephants.  But, that could not be right....then we heard the sound again.  As we rounded a bend we passed an outdoor eating area where they were cleaning the floor.  When they moved the chairs, they scraped against the wood floor and made a trumpeting sound just like an Elephant.  Even John was fooled. We got a good laugh out of that.

After about 2 hours the skies clouded over and the rain came...hard.  We took shelter for a while but it showed no signs of letting up so we eventually gave up, covered up, and left.

We had many hours to kill before the 3PM Orangutan feeding so we cruised the grounds of the resort when it wasn't raining too hard.  There was a lot of life moving around despite the rain.  The animals were obviously more used to it than we were.

Lesser Green Leafbird (Almost as wet as we were):
Lesser Green Leafbird

A standoff at the feeder between and the Leafbird and Asian Glossy Starlings:

At one point we were walking around under a shared umbrella to stay reasonable dry and I heard a commotion real close.  Not 10 feet away was a pair of Crimson-winged Woodpeckers chattering away at each other:
Crimson-winged Woodpeckers

Javan Myna in the rain:
Javan Myna

Brown-throated Sunbird:
Brown-throated Sunbird

Here's a better look at the cool (but somewhat evil looking) Asian Glossy Starling:
Asian Glossy Starling

Olive-backed Sunbird:
Olive-backed Sunbird

I even finally got a shot of a Tree Nymph Butterfly.  We saw these guys at Deramakot all the time. They barely flapped their wings and instead would just soar around usually 20 feet over our heads.  They were really cool to watch:
Tree Nymph Butterfly

We arrived at the Orangutan Sanctuary for the 3 PM feeding.  We choose this over the 10 AM feeding since I read it was less crowded.  

Welcome to the Orangutan Sanctuary

Before we even got to the feeding platform we saw a couple Orangutans including this one that was quite curious about us:

They set out food twice a day for the Orangutans.  Most are being rehabilitated but since the center opens up to actual wild forest you can see 100% wild Orangutans once in a while.  But, I don't know how you would be able to tell.  It was great fun to see the Orangutans swinging in the branches and dangling from tree limbs.  All told, I think we saw about 5 different individuals.

First to the food:
First to the Food

Mother Orangutan with Baby and some Pig-tailed Macaques:
Orangutan with Baby

The wild Macaques have figured out the feeding times and they can easily be seen walking around as well.

Pig-tailed Macaque:
Pig-tailed Macaque

We also went to the nursery they have.  Here, you sit inside in an air conditioned room and watch the juvenile Orangutans playing outside. My thoughts immediately turned to Homer Simpson "Mmmmm....Air Conditioning....."  We could have been watching paint dry for all I cared.  It was nice and cool in there.  Anyway, the young Orangutans were fun to watch but they are really strict about closing times. At 3:50 they kicked everyone out.  At 3:58 they started to lower the gates and didn't seem to care that the ladies were in the restroom.  In fact, one of the workers yelled in the restroom for Karen to hurry up.  No pressure there...

Next we headed back to the RDC to hopefully see some late afternoon wildlife and maybe even do a night walk.  The parking lot had lots of blooming plants and the birds were taking advantage of the relatively dry conditions.

Copper-throated Sunbird:
Copper-throated Sunbird

Brown-throated Sunbirds:
Brown-throated Sunbird Pair

Eastern-crimson Sunbird:
Eastern Crimson Sunbird

Eastern-Crimson Sunbird

Juvenile Easter Crimson Sunbird:
Juvenile Sunbird

Just as we were finishing up shooting all these great sunbirds, the rain came again.  We took cover in the van and waited a little bit.  But, it showed no signs of letting up so we just headed back to the resort.  Another activity was rained out...

As you would imagine, the Satay in Borneo was pretty good.  We had that plus some awesome spring rolls for dinner which we washed down with ice cold beer and a margarita.  Not a bad way to end the day but we would rather have been out on a night walk.

Travel Tip:
I have mentioned "wet" bathrooms a couple times.  When you have an eastern toilet, which is basically a toilet embedded in the ground that you squat over, the best way to clean is to just hose everything down.  Plus, all toilets had a hose and bucket for "personal clean up".  Toilet paper is not used much in Asia you see.  Unfortunately, even bathrooms with western toilets were still cleaned by hosing things down. So, most of the public restrooms were wet.  In fact, most of the bathrooms in our rooms were wet because the shower was open and right next to the toilet.  So, if you are going to Asia, be prepared for "wet" bathrooms.  And remember that you likely will not be wearing any shoes either. We never got used to that.

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