Sunday, April 9, 2017

Borneo Day 3 - Mt Kinabalu

We were all anxious to start our first full day in the park so when the alarm went off at 4AM, there was only minimal cussing.  We walked down the road to the van at 5:30AM and promptly saw a flying squirrel in a tree.  Just as we shone the light on it, it soared from the tree to a nearby bush.  It was light in color and likely a Jentink's Flying Squirrel.

The plan was to drive up to the Timpohon Gate and look for birds and other animals.  This was as high on the mountain we could go since we didn't have permits to climb to the top.  Things are very regulated at Mt K it seems as they only allow a certain number of people to climb it each day.

Since they had signs like this up, I certainly wasn't going to go where I wasn't supposed to:

While there were a few wildlife watchers at Mt K, most folks were there to climb the mountain.  Here is a map showing both the park HQ area and the trail to the summit:
Mt Kinabalu Map

Every day, local workers would haul food and supplies the 6 KM up to the "base camp".  They would do this by strapping the supplies to a long board and then wearing that board like a backpack.  It didn't look very comfortable.

The reason for going to Mt K in the first place was due to some endemic birds that could only be seen here.  The holy grail would be to see the Whitehead's trio which consisted of the Whitehead's Trogon, Whitehead's Broadbill, and Whitehead's Spiderhunter.  Since we were also after mammals, there was a Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel that was also possible.  We ended up having good luck with birds around the Timpohon Gate and along the road as we walked down the hill even though no "Whiteheads" showed up.

Chestnut-hooded Laughing Thrush:
Chestnut-hooded Laughing Thrush

Black-capped White-eye
Black-capped White-eye

Indigo Flycatcher:
Indigo Flycatcher

White-throated Fantail
White-throated Fantail

We also saw a very interested beetle at the gate:


We then headed back for a nice buffet breakfast where, once again, they made eggs to order.

After breakfast, we went back up the road to the area where we stopped before breakfast and continued a slow descent looking for anything that moved.

Golden-naped Barbet:
Golden-naped Barbet

Mt Kinabalu:
Mt Kinabalu

Then, we saw something moving on a nearby tree.  It was a tiny bird...maybe a woodpecker?

Holy crap, it was a tiny squirrel with white ear tufts.  That's the Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel!
Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel

Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel

This little squirrel was about the size of your fist and would dart around the trunk of the tree gnawing on the bark. It was great fun to watch but it darted out of sight all too soon.

For lunch today, we went back to the Liwagu Restaurant.  I ordered Chicken Satay which was good but really didn't provide much food.  Karen ordered a chicken sandwich.  But, as we do in all foreign countries with suspect water, she had them hold things like lettuce and tomato.  So, when the waiter kept answering "Sure, OK" with each thing she held we figured he had it.  We figured wrong.  The sandwich came out with a huge piece of lettuce sticking out on all sides and two big juicy slices of tomato.  

Overall, we really didn't encounter any language barriers in Borneo except at this restaurant (wait until tomorrow's lunch) and one other restaurant at Poring.  Most everyone we encountered spoke English which was a pleasant surprise.

After lunch we went back up the road to walk around.  Unfortunately, the fog came in and with it lots of cold air so we really didn't see much.  To top it off, I had hurt my ankle just before the trip and the constant downhill walking on the pavement had really aggravated it.  Had we known that this would be our last day without rain for the REST OF THE TRIP we might have stuck around longer but we packed it in a bit early today.

We had an average buffet dinner and then planned to walk around a little in the dark but the winds really picked up and made it cold and nasty out.  So, we just retired for the evening which gave me a chance to ice my ankle a bit.


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