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
> 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
> To be continued …www.birding-aus.org
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