We didn’t see much birdlife on the run into KK, but we did have a
chance to observe the operation of the water-cooled brakes on the
heavy trucks as we descended the Crocker Range.
We wanted to find some bitterns, pond herons and a Chinese Egret, so
had a squiz at a few rice fields and a mangrove area near an informal
settlement built out over the water. We saw a couple of waders, a few
egrets and a herd of water buffaloes, but not what we were looking
for. So we headed to the KK Wetland Centre.
The centre is located in a 24 hectare mangrove forest. It has a 1.5
km boardwalk, a large bird hide and an observation tower. Its
birdlist includes bitterns, storks, night herons, redshanks and
prinias. There is a RM10 entrance charge.
There were plenty of kingfishers in the mangroves (mainly collared,
with the occasional Stork-billed), along with significant numbers of
pigeons, bulbuls, and starlings. A fish-eagle flew overhead when
Andrew wasn’t looking. Unfortunately a woman was working in the
vegetated area in front of the bird hide, so we didn’t see much of
interest. The exception was a Purple Heron that put in a brief
appearance before taking off.
I went for an early morning walk out the front of my accommodation the
next day. There was a House Crow lurking around the fish market (a
species I won’t feel the need to tick in Australia) and a number of
Wiskered and White-winged Terns circulating over the water. I didn’t
see any gulls, and the general absence of native corvids stuck me as
I had good views of a Sea Eagle soaring past, and could make out some
raptors circling in the distance. Andrew managed to get tickable
views of the House Crows without leaving the comfort of his 9th floor
apartment. He also had good views of the swallows circulating in
front of the hotel.
Andrew was flying out to France later that day, so Carl and I waved
goodbye to him and hopped on a flight to Singapore (to start our trek
home). Carl was spending a couple of days in Singapore, so I waved
goodbye to him at Changi.
I had a few hours to kill, so went on one of the free bus tours of
Singapore. It was a nice way to fill in a couple of hours (and
cheaper than remaining in the vicinity of 100 or so duty free shops).
While I saw a fair bit of the city on the tour, I only saw two species
of birds – Rock Pigeons and Javan Mynahs.
The plane had a 240 km/hr tail wind coming in over Australia (and a
ground speed of ~1150 km/hr). I arrived back in Brisbane around 6 am
the next morning.
All up, I had ID views of more than 130 species of birds in the week I
was in Sabah. While I was familiar with some (such as the
Dollarbirds, Striated Herons, Collared Kingfishers, Cattle Egrets and
Masked Woodswallows etc.), more than 100 were new to me.
My travelling companions had more birding time than me, and would have
seen 200 species between them. I can confidently say that we all very
much enjoyed our time in Borneo and I expect that we will all be back
there at some time. On behalf of my fellows, I would like to express
my appreciation to the organizers of the Borneo Bird Festival (Sabah
Tourism and the Malaysian Nature Society) for motivating our
participation in the event and helping to sort out our itinerary.
Andrew Sebastian tells me that the
next festival is scheduled for 15-17 October 2010.
Supplementary material to follow
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