Saturday, April 1, 2017

Borneo The Last Days - BRL, KK and Home

We got up early yet again, although "early" really had lost its meaning on this trip since "early" really meant "normal" now.  I was on a mission this morning.  The first was to find a Gibbon.  Before the trip I pretty much thought seeing one was guaranteed but here we were on our last day with no Gibbon sightings.  The second was to photograph some of the forest at Danum.

As I mentioned before, the forest was incredibly beautiful and impressive.  We have been to the rain forest in Belize, Costa Rica, and the Amazon but the forest here was the most amazing of them all.   I will never forget walking on the road among those majestic trees watching the fog swirling around their branches as the distant sounds of Gibbons echoed through the air.

The Forest at Dawn

The Forest

The Forest

Those Gibbons stayed too distant however and we never ended up seeing them.  Hearing them was great but after not seeing yet another target mammal the plan to come back was gaining major steam.

There was time to photograph one more lifer on the walk that only landed for a split second before taking off again.  Hence the slight blur in the photo.

Rufous-winged Philentoma:
Rufous-winged Philentoma

The Canopy Tower was quiet except for this Striped Tree Skink:
Striped Tree Skink

Back at the lodge, we hung out on their viewing platform over the garden watching another Pygmy Squirrel go about its business when this large Water Monitor went swimming by underneath:
Water Monitor Swimming

On a nearby tree was this exquisite Green Tree Lizard:
Green Tree Lizard

And another Striped Tree Skink:
Striped Tree Skink

We had a final excellent lunch and prepared to leave around 12:30.  We said our goodbyes to Azmil who was a great guide and is highly recommended.  Not only did he know his birds but he was just as interested in other wildlife as well.  Plus, he tried really hard to find a Tarsier for us.

The Borneo Rain Forest lodge is a must visit location in Borneo.  The food, service, wildlife and surrounding forests are all amazing.  It's not cheap, but it's worth it.  Our timing was bad regarding the weather, incomplete canopy tower and chalet remodeling but none of that ruined our stay.  All it did was give us the feeling that we needed to return to complete some unfinished business.  I'm talking about you Gibbons and Tarsier!

The road back to Lahad Datu seemed better going out.   There were a few large earth moving vehicle that may have graded the road a bit.  Plus, I think the shocks on this second van were much better.  In any case, the drive back was bumpy but much better.  Right as we turned off the last bit of dirt road our driver spotted a huge troop of Pig-tailed Macaques going through some trash bins.  It definitely wasn't photo worthy but I was impressed by the size of some of the males.  They were much bigger than the ones we saw in the forest.

The flight from Lahad Datu back to KK was uneventful which is just what you want from a flight.

We got an ocean view room at the Hotel Grandis for our last night and the view was tremendous:
Kota Kinabalu Hotel Room View

We had a final celebratory dinner with Bill and Peggy at the Hotel Grandis that was only marred by the late arrival of our cocktails.  So, we couldn't toast our successful trip until halfway through our main courses. But, toast we did because it was a really successful trip despite a few disappointments.

First off was the rain.  We had planned our trip during the "dry" season but got really unlucky.  March and April saw heavy rain in Borneo which wasn't expected.  I hear it was pretty dry the same time the year before.  We figure we lost close to 1/3 of our activity time due to the weather.  We still saw an incredible amount of wildlife.

We were also a little disappointed by the quantity of birds seen especially at Mt K.  We totaled about 150 birds photographed (I don't tend to count ones seen or heard unless I get a photo) which is very good but the quantity was sparse.  We never really saw any mixed flocks or any groups of birds.

Snakes aren't everyone's cup of tea, but we love them.  However, we only saw 5 the whole trip and only 3 different species which is much less than we had hoped.  We just missed seeing a Spitting Cobra at KJC which would have been great but I only came back with one decent snake photo which was too bad.

And of course, I was disappointed by not seeing two main target mammals; the Tarsier and Gibbon.

But, and this is a HUGE badonkadonk but, the trip was a major success.  The initial twinges of disappointment have disappeared now that we are home looking at our pictures and writing these trip reports.  There is a mystique about Borneo that is really alluring.  Maybe it is the tremendous people we met, or fantastic food we had (I miss Dry Noodles!), or the amazing and varied wildlife.  Most likely, it is all three.

Borneo is still calling and I think we need to answer that call again, and soon.

Here's a short video of highlights from the trip.  Can you guess the recurring theme?

From a wildlife perspective, this trip was a huge success.  Other than a few of the birds, all other animals seen were brand new to us since this was our first trip to Asia.

176 new bird species and counting... - That's way too many to list.

36 new mammal species:
Long-tailed Macaque
Whitehead's Pygmy Squirrel
Bornean Black-banded Squirrel
Bornean Mountain Ground Squirrel
Thomas's Flying Squirrel
Jentink's Flying Squirrel
Red Giant Flying Squirrel
Marbled Cat
Malay Civet
Banded Civet
Three-striped Palm Civet
Sambar Deer
Sunda Giant Squirrel
Leopard Cat
Plantain Squirrel
Pig-tailed Macaque
Prevost Squirrel
Bearded Pig
Bornean Pygmy Elephants
Bornean Pygmy Squirrel
Proboscis Monkey
Silvered Langur
Red Langur
Philipine Slow Loris
Jentink's Squirrel
Lesser short-nosed fruit bat
Common Palm Civet
Greater Mouse Deer
Malay Porcupine
Lesser Running Mouse
Otter Civet
Giant Flying Fox
Lesser Mouse Deer
Black Flying Squirrel

7 new amphibians:
Harlequin Frog
File-eared Tree Frog
White-lipped Tree Frog
Wallace's Flying Frog
Common Rice Field Frog
Kinabalu sticky frog

15 new reptiles:
Dog-toothed Cat Snake
King Cobra
Saltwater Crocodile
Water Monitor
Mangrove Snake
Borneo Anglehead Lizard
Rough-scaled Brown Skink
Striped Tree Skink
Large Forest Gecko
Changeable Lizard
Green Tree Lizard
Asian Sun Skink
Many-lined Sun Skink
Dusky Flying Lizard
Malayan flat-shelled turtle

No comments: