Monday, April 23, 2018

Deramakot - Day 7,8 and 9

I am combining three days this time because none of these days were great picture days...again.  This was becoming an alarming trend unfortunately.

Since we weren't asleep until well after 3AM after the epic hike last night, we had no problem sleeping in until 8:30AM today.  When I got up and stumbled into the bathroom I noticed a couple purple marks overlapping on my neck from where the leech bit me.  It looked like a leech hickey!  Geez, it didn't even buy me dinner first.

If the truth be told, we really only woke up to go to breakfast and toss the unkillable leeches outside since they were still writhing around in the common area.  Then we went back to our room and napped until lunch.  So, that pretty much used up over half the day.

The plan for the afternoon drive was to leave at 4PM and drive all the way to the river and back.  After all the walking and leeches from the  night before we were all happy to just stay in the truck today.

So, at 4PM we took off for our drive.  Just as we were leaving camp we heard a weird "twang" noise from under the truck. But, nothing seemed wrong so we continued.  It wasn't long before Mike spotted an Orangutan in a tree. It was just sitting near the top of this palm and was, unfortunately, facing away from us. So, we decided to wait..and wait.  Just as we thought about moving on, the Orangutan swung around and in a split second had climbed down the tree.  I managed to get off a few rapid fire shots and only one ended up in semi decent focus.  We were all amazed at how quickly it moved:

Orangutan Fast Climbing

A short while later the rare Storm Stork flew by and a Bearded Pig crossed the road.  Then, Tim grabbed at his ankle and pulled off a leech.  Aha!  Tim had now joined the club and was no longer a leech bite virgin.  This particular one must have been waiting in ambush in the truck overnight and all day.  I guess patience does have it's reward.

Then, all of a sudden, the back of the seat Tim and I were sitting on made a sharp breaking noise and shifted about 1/2 an inch.  That can't be good...

Upon inspection, some of the brand new welds done to the metal frame of the seat had failed on the left side of the back seat.  It was now unstable to lean against the back.  So, Tim and I climbed up to the 2nd row and Andrea graciously moved to the first row with Mike.  It was tight, but workable.

However, it wasn't much later when we heard another "twang" from under the truck.  This time Mike had Lang stop and they did an inspection.  It turns out that "twang" was the sound of lug nuts from the back left tire breaking and shooting off.  We were down to only 2 apparently which wasn't good.  After some discussion, Mike and Lang agreed to try to get all the way to the river since we had less than 10K to go and that was the closest location with cell reception.

With about 3K to go..."Twang"!  The second to last lug nut shot off.  Well, that was it.  We couldn't risk losing the tire on those roads so Lang found a place to pull over and we got out.  Mike jogged ahead to the river where he could get cell reception to call for a vehicle to come get us.

From there, the 5 of us did a slow walk to the river and looked for critters along the way.  The walk started in the daylight but the sun went down quickly and it got dark before we arrived at the river buildings.  But, along the way we did see a few frogs and had a great look at a Slow Loris in a nearby tree:

Slow Loris...slow climbing

It was close to 8:30PM when we arrived at the river and we had no choice but to wait for our new ride.  A while later, our rescuer showed up.  It was Gidi and she came with food!  She made some noodles for us which were very tasty.

After dinner, we headed out for a night drive in the new vehicle.  It was actually a really good night drive. We saw another Colugo, many Sambar Deer, and even more Flying Squirrels which we didn't even stop for anymore.

At one point, we rounded a bend and there on the side of the road was a Malay Civet:
Malay Civet

It didn't stick around long though.  About an hour later, something small crossed the road in front of us..."Long-tailed Porcupine" Mike yelled.  The Porcupine was a little slower than the Pen-tailed Shrew from a few nights back so I was actually able to get one picture before it disappeared.  Unfortunately, it was only of the back half.  But, you can see the distinctive tail:
Long-tailed Porcupine

About a 1/2 hour later, we spotted another Malay Civet and I managed to get a picture of this one too:
Another Malay Civet

While these aren't great pictures, I am quite happy with the performance of my speedlight flash and flash extender.  Without them, the pictures would have been much worse.  So, it's nice to have some decent night shots of animals.

We got back to the camp around 2AM and hit the sack.

With no AM drive again on day 8, we didn't get up until 8:30AM.  Sleeping "in" was becoming a habit.  We lounged around the camp until the afternoon 4PM drive.  I attempted to get some bird pictures in between "lounging" and managed a couple.

Crested Serpent Eagle:
Crested Serpent Eagle

Rufous Piculet:
Rufous Piculet

It was around this time that Karen mentioned her foot had swollen up due to the humidity but it really wasn't slowing her down at all.  She showed her new "club foot" to me and it was, in fact, quite hideous.  Some things you can't "unsee"...

During the beginning of the drive I got a picture of one of the warning signs just out of camp that showed all the wildlife that one could see in Deramakot:

Yup, saw them all...

After looking at the sign I was like "Screw the Tarsier, where can we find the King of Pop!"

Naturally, looking for MJ was on my mind the rest of the drive and it was a pretty good drive.  First we encountered this mother and baby Pig-tailed Macaque:
Pig-tailed Macaque Mamma and Baby

But we Beat It out of there pretty quickly so as not to disturb them.

A short while later, Mike spotted an Orangutan so we stopped.  It was a Pretty Young Thing that I nicknamed Ben:

I ended up taking a lot of pictures of this Orangutan and felt kind of Bad but Mike said Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough. So, I kept shooting.

Next we passed a Whiskered Treeswift on a branch that amazingly didn't fly away and let us get right next to it.  That's one good looking Treeswift.  It's like looking at the Man in the Mirror:
Whiskered Treeswift

We also spotted the amazing Asian Paradise Flycatcher.  We watched it glide quickly from tree to tree with its long tail waving behind.  But, like some sort of Smooth Criminal, it never stopped long enough to get a picture.

Next we came upon another female Orangutan in a tree. Not far away was a much smaller one that must have been her offspring.  We stopped and watched these two until the sun went down and the sky turned purple. The whole experience was Off the Wall:
Orangutan at Sunset

Once we reached the river it was dark and everyone took a bit of a break.  They have some outdoor toilets there where I found a few cool looking Four-lined Tree Frogs:
Four-lined (Farting) Tree Frog

Of course, Tim and I used other toilets since we didn't want to bother the frogs.  But, Karen decided to use the one "occupied" by the frog.  Right after she went in we heard this sound repeatedly.

Without missing a beat, Tim says "Karen...really...".  That got all of use laughing pretty good.  After all, laughing at fart noises is just Human Nature.

We left the river at about 7:30 and our first big sighting of the evening was another Malay Civet.  It's hard to know whether its main color is Black or White.  What do you think?
A 3rd Malay Civet

For once, Mike stopped at a Flying Squirrel sighting.  That's because this Flying Squirrel was pretty close to the road and looked like it was about to take off for another tree.  Sure enough, after just a few minutes it took off for a nearby tree and Mike followed it in the spotlight so we got an awesome look at it.  What was amazing is that this squirrel glided away from the tree and then circled back only to land on a tree really close to the first one.  It was almost a full 180 degree turn.  I didn't realize that they could control their gliding so much.

On this night drive we also saw Bearded Pigs, 2 Island Palm Civets, a Striped Civet, and various frogs.  So, it wasn't bad but there was nothing really new and exciting either other than the Flying Squirrel and we actually ended the drive around 10:30PM because we hadn't had dinner yet and everyone was pretty hungry.

During the night, I dreamt that I was being chased by this slow moving creature.  It walked with a thump and then a drag on the floor.  Thump...then drag....thump then drag.  However, I realized I wasn't dreaming and it was just Karen and her "club foot" coming back from the bathroom...

The next day we were up early for a 5:30AM drive hoping to see Gibbons again.  But, we didn't.  In fact, all we saw were a couple Buffy Fish Owls at dawn and a Macaque.  We did get blocked on the road by the forestry service as they loaded logs onto a truck.  It actually was interesting to watch the guy running the loader . It must have taken a lot of skill to gently lay those huge logs down on the truck and ensure everything was balanced properly.

The drive ended around 10AM and we didn't do anything but lounge around until the 7PM night drive.  See, now you know why I combined 3 days...few pictures.

Almost immediately after starting, Mike spotted a Colugo on a tree trunk that was close to the road.  We stopped to watch it because it looked like it might fly.  It would look at a nearby tree and then look back...then look at a nearby tree...and look back:
Colugo About to Fly...

I tell you, it was a real Thriller waiting to see if it would fly..or not fly.  But, finally it did take off and just like the Flying Squirrel in Sepilok I managed to get an out of focus shot of it in mid air:
Colugo Flying

It was really cool to see the Colugo fly.  We saw a lot of them this trip (and will see some more) but this is the only one we saw fly.

Farther along in the drive we encountered a young Sambar Deer on the road:
Baby Sambar Deer

Then, not long after, we saw a Buffy Fish Owl bringing food back to a juvenile.  It appeared to be a File-eared Frog.  Unfortunately, the frog seemed just a bit too big for the young owl to handle.

Feeding Time

The Transfer

The poor owl sat there for a long time with these frog legs just hanging out.  We actually left before seeing the final outcome but we assume the owl did Eat It (what a Weird Al parody song doesn't count?)

Tim captured some great video of this encounter:

10 minutes later a Mouse Deer ran down the road in front of the truck.  I  have pictures but they are all from behind so you can't see the markings on the neck which is the only way to distinguish between the Greater and Lesser Mouse Deer as far as I know.  So, we are just calling it a Mouse Deer.

We also had 2 skittish Leopard Cats, another Mouse Deer, and what we thought was a snake.  But, it turned out to be a root.  It had most of us fooled for a bit though.

The last picture of the night is of yet another Buffy Fish Owl with a frog.  It was not a good night for File-eared Frogs:
Another Meal Later That Night

That was our last night drive in Deramakot unfortunately.  While we did see some cool new mammals on drives, like the Binturong, Long-tailed Porcupine, Pen-tailed Shrew, and Horsfield's Flying Squirrel, none were that amazing sighting that can be had in Deramakot.  Even the cat sightings were just limited to a few Leopard Cats that moved so fast there was no time for pictures.

The best activity we did was probably the Tarsier hike.  Not only is it a great memory but the Malay Porcupine and Banded Civet encounters were amazing.  Those are the main things I will remember about Deramakot wildlife this trip.

But, over all I am going to leave Deramakot disappointed.  We certainly weren't disappointed by the quality of the guiding or the food.  We were disappointed for not finding a Tarsier and disappointed for not seeing something amazing on the drives.  Sorry, Deramakot but that's The Way You Make Me Feel.

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