Re: [Birding-Aus] Birding in Borneo – Part 1 - The Borneo Bird Festival,

To: "Birding-Aus (Forum)" <>
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Birding in Borneo – Part 1 - The Borneo Bird Festival, 10-15 October 2009
From: Chris Sanderson <>
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 22:47:42 +1000
Slow Loris was a big highlight for me Laurie, but you glossed over the most
interesting fact about them - I was stunned to find out they produce a toxin
for defense, ie. they are a poisonous/venemous mammal.  I had mistakenly
thought the only mammal to be venemous was the male Platypus.


On Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 9:26 PM, L&L Knight <>wrote:

> I had presented a seminar on Australian birdwatchers and was participating
> in an end of conference plenary when the call “Bristlehead” rang out.
>  Proceedings were suspended for ten minutes and the entire audience moved
> outside to enjoy good views of one of Borneo’s charismatic endemics.  I’m
> not sure whether that spontaneous response would occur at a Birds Australia
> meeting, but this was the inaugural Borneo Bird Festival.
> My participation in the Festival was sponsored by Sabah Tourism.  They
> wanted someone to talk on Australian birding tourism, and at the kind
> suggestion of Ken Cross (who was unable to go due to work commitments),
> contacted me.  The organisers also wanted a few “smiling Aussie birders” to
> come along, so I was joined by Carl Clifford, Chris Barnes, Chris Sanderson
> and Andrew Stafford.
> *******************
> Due to work commitments, the trip for me kicked off with a late Friday
> night flight to Singapore, followed by short hops, to Sandakan via Kota
> Kinabalu.  I arrived at my accommodation in Sepilok two hours before a bird
> race was due to commence.  I had never been to Borneo before, didn’t have a
> field guide and was feeling jet-lagged.  However, I wasn’t too worried as
> each team in the race was to be accompanied by a local birding guide, who
> would, no doubt, point out a heap of interesting birds.
> I was wrong.  The role of the guide was to vet the birds we claimed to have
> seen.  He wasn’t meant to assist us with the identification process.
>  Nevertheless, the guide accompanying the Cactus Cassowaries (Andrew, the
> two Chris’s and myself – Carl jumped ship to join a friend from Fraser’s
> Hill) did provide feedback by the manner in which he laughed when we told
> him what we thought we were looking at.  Another difference between this
> bird race and an Australian twitchathon was that it was confined to the
> Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre precinct (an area covering several
> square kilometers).
> It has been said that people shouldn’t be adding new species to their bird
> list during a twitchathon (bird race).  Just about every bird I saw during
> the bird race was unfamiliar to me.  It was a weird experience – I didn’t
> have a clue what I was looking at or where to find it in the field guide I
> had just purchased.  Fortunately Chris Barnes had prior birding experience
> in Borneo and Chris Sanderson was quick to agree with his identifications.
>  We were closing in on 20 species when dusk brought an end to the first
> session.
> We had good birding conditions during the second [morning] session – we ran
> into several bird waves.  The canopy walk was very productive about an hour
> after dawn.  We scored some good birds – a Bat Hawk gliding overhead, a
> Crested Serpent Eagle perched in a tree and an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
> digging a nest hollow.  The latter caused some consternation as we were
> unable to match it to the illustration in Susan Myers’ hot-off-the-press
> field guide.
> We had a total of 51 species by the end of the second session, so were
> confident that we wouldn’t come last.  As luck would have it, we came third
> (the winning team had 58 species).  More importantly, we finished ahead of
> Carl’s team.  The fact that we were competitive suggests that a
> well-prepared group of Australian twitchers could win next year’s bird race.
> The award ceremony was interrupted several times as a group of Black
> Hornbills passed overhead, one by one.
> *******************
> The festival was pitched at both local and visiting birders.  There were
> presentations on nature art, birding and photographic techniques and
> equipment, bird identification, birding ethics, nature conservation and
> birding tourism.  Both Susan Myers and Quentin Phillipps launched their
> birding field guides (described later). There were also guided birdwalks –
> run early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and after dark (cost 5RM or
> ~ $1.60).  The highlight of the night walks for me was a Slow Loris – a
> supercute fluffball perched on a branch.
> While the presentations were interesting, the birding at the RDC was
> <deleted> brilliant.  While they politely turned up for my presentation, my
> fellow Aussie twitchers scarpered into the rainforest at every available
> opportunity.
> To be continued …
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