This summer I visited Borneo to show my son the island where he was born. I wanted to put a few pictures of our adventure on this weblog, which has been dormant again for a number of years, but thought it chronologically better to start with my previous visit from October 2019 when I had to make a small business trip back to.... Brunei! It had been 5 years since I was last in Asia and it felt really great to be back and meet up with some former colleagues and friends. I had only limited leisure time during the week but did have a full weekend to myself. Rather than focus on my old local birding patches close to Panaga I had contacted Jungle Dave, a nature guide, in advance to scout some areas that I had not visited during our years in Brunei.
On Friday night Dave picked me up in Kuala Belait and we drove to his farmstay. When we arrived it was dark, but there was still plenty of time for a night walk in the neighboring forest. We weren't very lucky with any nightbirds, but the forest had plenty of other interesting finds and we did still see a good number of animals: Sunda slow loris, black flying squirrel, a few frogs, a sleeping kingfisher, mouse deer, bearded pig and a neat tarantula.
The next day Dave took me to a small ridge overlooking a large fruiting tree some distance away and we were immediately rewarded with a flock of around 20 large green pigeons that were gorging on the fruits. This species is not common to see and while I had encountered it twice before, these views were a lot better! Unfortunately the large green pigeon is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN with only an estimated 10.000 - 20.000 individuals left in the wild globally. Because of the relatively large distance no close-ups but I did still capture a few birds on camera.
|Large Green-Pigeon (Treron capellei) - 6 birds in this shot|
|Large Green-Pigeon (Treron capellei)|
|Large Green-Pigeon (Treron capellei)|
When we were about to move on, a male helmeted hornbill flew closely overhead followed by a female wreathed hornbill. Dave and I were rather surprised seeing two different hornbill species fly together as if they were a pair, something neither of us ever witnessed before. Unfortunately this all happened rather fast and I was too slow for any pictures. We did get a distant flyby of the same pair about fifteen minutes later. Reduction of suitable habitat, and especially poaching for the solid casque has drastically reduced numbers and the helmeted hornbill is now listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. For more information have a look here https://www.speciesonthebrink.org/news/conservation-plan-to-save-the-helmeted-hornbill/.
|Black-throated Babbler (Stachyris nigricollis)|
|A well camouflaged Lesser Green Leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon)|
The remainder of the morning we spend inside the forest. As it was now getting later the activity level was already going down and we saw only a small number of different species. We did try to get some visuals of a suspected fairy pitta we heard calling but the bird never showed. Later in the day we moved on to Wasan to look for some migratory birds.
In the evening we tried to locate a large frogmouth, a bird high on my target list. With it's strange head and cryptic plumage this large bird has amazing appeal for me. When we still lived in Panaga I had heard this species a few time along KB road but, frustratingly, had never been able to see it. This time we did find the bird and got some excellent views! And just in time too, as rain was coming and by the time we got back at the farmstay it started to pour down.
On Sunday we slowly made our way back to Kuala Belait, stopping at some sites that I had also frequented during our time in Brunei. We saw a good number of different hornbills along Labi road and some of the side roads (wreathed, wrinkled, rhinoceros, pied) and it was great to hear the unmistakable calls of a small party of bristleheads in the distance.
|Green Broadbill (Calyptomena viridis)|