Friday, April 7, 2017

Borneo Day 5 - Mt Kinabalu to Deramakot

Once again we were up in time to meet everyone at 6AM.  The plan was to drive up to the Timpohon gate for birding which was getting a bit repetitive but it is the best place in the park for birds.  However, there was very little bird action this morning with the exception of the following.

Sunda Laughing Thrush:
Sunda Laughing Thrush

Chestnut-hooded Laughing Thrush:
Chestnut-hooded Laughing Thrush

Another look at the Bornean Treepie:
Bornean Treepie

We did watch another Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel for a while which was fun.

The breakfast buffet was good again and I capped off the meal with more green cake.  Did I forget to mention that the green cake was out at breakfast too?  It actually didn't have much taste but I liked the sugar rush.  Since today was Karen's birthday I offered to get her a slice of green cake for breakfast but she turned me down for some reason.  Come on, cake for breakfast in Borneo.  Top that!

Over all, the wildlife at Mt Kinabalu was disappointing.  We expected no mammals excepts squirrels but the quantity of birds was really low.  John commented that it has been getting worse over the years and he talked about the bird waves that just don't seem to come anymore and when they do come there are less birds.  Nobody is sure why that is but the forests around Mt K are suffering and I have to think that is a contributing factor.

The highlight of Mt Kinabalu for us was the Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel but we also saw some great birds like the Indigo Flycatcher, Bornean Treepie, Temminck's Sunbird, Bornean Green Mapie, Whitehead's Trogon and more.  We counted 22 new birds for us here which isn't bad for folks who don't consider themselves birders.

The plan now was to drive about an hour to Poring Hot Springs for lunch and more wildlife watching.  The drive was nice and at one point we went past the best outdoor market I have ever seen.  There was tent after tent after tent of stuff.  There must have been dozens that housed produce and that produce was all in pristine condition.  John said it was likely they would sell all of it in one day.

Here's a shot of the perfect produce:
Perfect Produce

On the way to Poring, I saw signs for a "Fish Massage".  It sounded weird but I bet it would be "fintastic".  Especially if you ask for "Gil".  He has hands like a "sturgeon"...

Once at Poring we wandered around looking for wildlife.  They have some animals there but I stopped taking photos once I realized they weren't wild.  So, all that was left were a few birds.

Scaly-breasted Bulbul:
Scaly-breasted Bulbul

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (what a cool looking bird!):
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

We also saw a Red-throated Barbet but it really played hard to get and the best shots I have are 75% obscured by branches and leaves.

We were looking forward to a different lunch today but as bad luck would have it, the same company (Sutera) runs the restaurant at Poring.  Rather than ordering Satay again, Bill and I ordered hamburgers.  But, they came out with ground chicken with orange bits in it and it took a while for the waiter to admit the mistake so we sent them back.  10 minutes later we got our lunches and I swear it was exactly the same ground chicken just reheated. But, rather than wait longer, we decided to eat our mediocre lunches anyway.  Maybe I should have ordered a baguette instead...

After lunch we drove to Telupid which is where we would be picked up by 4x4s to take us into Deramakot.  On the way, we stopped at a store for some essentials like soda, rolls, and rum.  We struck up a conversation with the nice cashier who made sure we knew that we were "very tall".

On the way to Telupid we did see our first primate.  Peggy spotted a Long-tailed Macaque sitting about 30 feet off the ground on a power line.  Not exactly photo worthy so we didn't stop.

After meeting our driver in Telupid (Lang), we set off for the 3 hour drive to Deramakot.  The first 30 minutes was on pavement but the rest was on bumpy, hilly, rocky dirt roads which led us through palm oil plantations as far as the eye could see.  It's sad to think that this was pristine forests not that long ago.

We reached the gate to Deramakot and stopped for a nature break.  It was now dusk.  Our drive in was planned perfectly so that we would have a night drive as part of our arrival.

Not 5 minutes past the gate we saw a Leopard Cat sitting on the road.  Once we stopped, it calmly walked into the bushes.  That's a good start!

A few minutes later I yelled "Snake"..."Python" just as we came upon an snake moving off the road.  I got a quick glimpse as we slowed down just passed it.  The snake was long and girthy which is why I thought it was a python.  I managed to only get a quick shot of the tail as it slithered away:

King Cobra Disappearing

After looking at the photo, I realized it wasn't a python.  So, I talked to John who had seen it more clearly and he said it was a King Cobra.  Wow, that's a snake I would have loved to get a better look at.

A bit later, we had a Common Palm Civet cross the road and move quickly out of sight.  Then, we had another snake on the road and this one posed for pictures. This is a Dog-toothed Cat Snake:
Dog-toothed Cat Snake

About an hour after entering the gates of Deramakot, we arrived at civilization and headed up a steep driveway to our rooms.  A Buffy Fish Owl took off from a nearby branch just as we pulled up.

It was here that we met Mike.  Mike would be our guide (along with John) for our 4 nights at Deramakot.  We also met a few of the other residents including huge moths and this giant Rhinoceros Beetle:
Rhinoceros Beetle

After settling in our room, we walked down the hill to the restaurant where we met our chef.  I think her name was Giddy...or maybe Gilly.  In any case, she was an outstanding chef.  Our first dinner was lemon Fish with rice and kale.  It was really tasty.

After talking to Mike for a bit about what we wanted to see, we retired for the night.  The rooms at Deramkot are basic.  There are 2 buildings at the top of the hill each with 3 rooms and a common area.  Our room had two beds, a  wardrobe and a "wet" bathroom typical of Asia.  But, it did have air conditioning which really took the edge off the during our stay.

Deramakot Room

Deramakot Bath and Wardrobe

Travel Tip:
The beds in Borneo are hard.  So, it took a while to get used to them.  On top of that (well actually NOT on top) is that hardly any of the beds had a top sheet.  So, you just had either a blanket (like you can see folded up in the picture above) or a duvet.  It was really weird not having that top sheet.  It just didn't feel right for some reason. But, most of the time we were too tired to really care.

The rooms at Deramakot aren't much to look at, but we knew what to expect here before we arrived and it really wasn't that bad since we brought things like a hand towel, wash cloths, and hangers.

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