Friday, April 20, 2018

Sukau - Day 12

Today started off with the usual early alarm so that we could be at the boat by 6AM.  We hadn't seen any Silvered Leaf Monkeys this trip at all so that was the goal of all boat cruises at this point.  But, as usual, the slow trolling along the river shoreline continued for this boat trip.  Stephen took us up the small channel yet again and seemed to be going even slower today.  But, slow speed did mean the chance for some bird photography:

Black and Red Broadbill Pair:
Black and Red Broadbill Pair

Stork-billed Kingfisher:
Stork-billed Kingfisher


We continued up the river at a snail's pace and we were all getting a bit impatient since this channel trip appeared to be Stephen's only plan for the whole 2 hour boat trip and it was obvious that there were no primates around.  So, after we turned around I suspected that Tim had enough.  He turned to Stephen and asked "Stephen, is there a reason we are going so slowly?".  To that Stephen responded "Much to see like Crocodile".   Crocodile!?  But, we asked to see Silvered Leaf Monkeys and other primates.

But, this question did seem to light a very dim fire under Stephen because he did speed up shortly after this.  In fact, he sped right past some additional Broadbills on a close branch in good light that caused both Andrea and I to lift our cameras to photograph.  We looked at each other disappointingly to which Tim said "I guess we should have been going slower".  Well, in my tired and frustrated state, that line really tickled me and I couldn't stop laughing.  Soon, all of us were laughing...except Stephen.

Just where the channel empties into the main river, some cables are strung across to give the monkeys an easy way to get across.  It just so happened that the first primate of the morning crossed right in front of us using these cables.

I now present The Great LT Macaque and his dare devil tight rope walking:
Macaque Tightrope Walking

On the way back to the lodge we encountered some Proboscis Monkeys and I couldn't help but take a few photos:

Proboscis Warning

Right after we disembarked from our underwhelming cruise another guide pointed out a Colugo on a nearby tree.  It could have been the same one we saw yesterday but we were not sure:

Another Daytime Colugo

Every lodge in which we stayed had great staff.  But, the staff at SRL was extra nice.  Every single staff member we saw would say "Good Morning", or "Enjoy your meal", or "Thank you".  It must be part of their training program.  But, it never got old.  Now, if only they were trained to say "Hi, handsome" or "Have you lost weight?, you look fabulous".

After breakfast, we did another walk on the jungle boardwalk.  On the way, we had to pass a large troop of Long-tailed Macaques:
Long-tailed Macaque

These Macaques didn't seem afraid of us at all and were hanging out on the boardwalk.  So, we decided to just walk slowly past and ignore them.  That worked great for me but as soon as Karen walked past one jumped down and charged Karen with teeth showing.  I think I heard "Oh, shit!".  Well the Macaque was so shocked at Karen's potty mouth that it stopped its charge and she hustled past.  Good thing I married a woman with the mouth of a sailor.

Later, at the caves, we mentioned this to our guide and he said that the troop had some young babies and that a bluff charge was not uncommon. But, that they were harmless.

Back on the boardwalk we did see some interesting things like dragonflies:


And this Spiny Turtle:
Spiny Turtle

After lunch, another Orangutan was spotted on the grounds but we were along ways from it and were trying to ID this yellow and black bird that was flying around.  Then, in the trees above the bird, something moved.  It was some Silvered Leaf Monkeys...the first ones seen at the river:

Silvered Langurs Hiding

Silvered Langur

At this point, another guide showed up and we told him about the Silvered Leaf Monkeys.  He then went off to find Tim and Andrea who showed up quickly. 

We all stood around for a while hoping that the monkeys would stop playing hard to get and pose for some better pictures.  But, we eventually headed to our room to cleanup prior to our afternoon trip while Andrea stayed behind.  Well, she ended up making the right decision because she later told us that there were at least a dozen in the trees and they eventually did move off and she got some good looks at them.

This afternoon we had a different activity planned.  We had reserved a trip to see Gomangtong Caves.  One of the other guides at SRL would be taking us and he was great although I didn't note his name unfortunately.

The caves are only about a 30 minute drive from the SRL dock which was only a 5 minute boat ride from the lodge itself.  But, before we arrived at Gomangtong Caves, the guide stopped the van by a small lake to see what birds might around.  As we were sitting there, another van passed by and stopped to chat with our guide.  You will never guess who was in the passenger seat....Gomi!  From inside our van, we started to yell and wave but he couldn't hear us and quickly drove away.  Small world...

While walking to the caves we did see some Red Leaf Monkeys but they were well hidden in the trees.  However there were a couple of photo ops:

Sabah Slender Skink:
Sabah Slender Skink

Pied Fantail:
Pied Fantail on Nest

At the cave entrance, Karen and I decided to wait outside while Tim and Andrea went inside.  The caves are really cool inside but we had gone in them last year and figured there wouldn't be anything new this trip.   I think all 4 of us were happy with the decision because Tim and Andrea enjoyed the caves a lot and we had some great sightings outside.

A small group of Red Leaf Monkeys was hanging out on the hillside above the cave:
Red langur

Red Langur

Red langur

There were also Pig-tailed Macaques hanging out grooming each other:
Pig-tailed Macaque Grooming Session

I imagined the conversation went something like this:

"Did you hear about Louise?"

"Huh, what?  No, just a bit lower"

"Gerald kicked her out of the troop"

"No, I said lower, there's something on my foot"

"I can't believe he kicked her out after all she has done for him"

"What about my foot?  Crap, I will just do it myself"

Once Tim, Andrea, and our guide made it out of the cave alive (well, you never know, it is a dark scary cave after all), our guide thought that our best vantage point to see the bat exodus would be right were we were.  Sometimes they come out other entrances but he thought we would start here and then move to the parking lot if they came out in other places.

We weren't the only ones waiting for the Exodus:

Crested Serpent Eagle Waiting for Bats

Not long after taking that picture, the Crested Serpent Eagle snagged something in mid air and took it to the ground.  It happened too fast to see if it was a Swiftlet or a Bat.  But, whatever it was, it was no more.

Not long after this, the bats started their mass exodus from the caves and we had a really good vantage point:

Lots of Wrinkle-lipped Bats

While the caves are home to a few different type of bats, Wrinkle-lipped bats are by far the majority and really the only bat we could 100% say we saw.  If you see any other kind of bat in this photo, let me know...

Wrinkle-lipped Bats

We weren't the only ones watching the bats:

It was great to watch the bat exodus because they came out in waves.  Not only was the wave continuous but the bats were actually flying in the shape of a wave.  It seemed to have a rhythm to it and our guide said they do that to confuse predators.  The wave of bats also made a noise so you could actually hear the bats rhythm as it ebbed and flowed:

The Bat Exodus Goes On and On...

I have read that there are anywhere from hundreds of thousands of bats to a couple million.  Regardless, it took close to an hour for the exodus to stop so I would lean towards the latter number.  It was really impressive and we are all glad we did this activity.

We got back to the dock after dark and did a quick night cruise on the way back to the lodge.  Tonight we didn't say anything about what we wanted to see so naturally the boatman took us to see some roosting birds.  We did see a crocodile as well but that's it.

For our final night walk, Stephen had actually showed us a trail off the boardwalk where he said Tarsier could be seen.  He had a friend who saw one there not too many days prior. 

Boy, if Stephen was right about this he would have totally redeemed himself in my eyes.

So, after the cruise we made a beeline for this area and walked around hoping....but again we struck out.  We did have a nice sized Forest Gecko but no Tarsier...again.  It's officially a nemesis mammal for me now.

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