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Friday, 3 August 2012

The regulars of KB road

A good birdwatching area close to our house is the Kuala Balai road. This road runs for roughly 16 km to the ghost town of Kuala Balai. The village/kampong used to be the center of the KB district and was an important trading place. The place is now completely deserted, most people having left to the coastal towns to pursue more lucrative jobs sourced by the oil and gas industry. Attempts to breath new life into the village as an eco-tourism attraction have thus far not been successful.

Map of the West Brunei, KB district.
The google map above shows the Kuala Balai road and surrounding areas. The road to kampong Kuala Balai offers some great birding and it is the spot that I frequent most on early morning and late afternoon birding trips. A good starting point for birdwatching along Kuala Balai can be found in an excellent document that Jeremy Moore put together: birdwatching and bird records in brunei.

I will first share some of my favorite regulars of Kuala Balai. The first one is the stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis). This magnificent kingfisher is seen, and heard (!), on most visits. It is the biggest kingfisher in Brunei and the one most commonly found along the second part of the Kuala Balai road. There is no mistaking this bird and the ditches next to the road (and the road itself) seem to be a favorite hunting-ground.

Stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis)
The second species, the black-and-yellow broadbill, is a lot smaller then the previous bird. The call of this broadbill species is arguably the most distinct of all Borneo's resident birds and they can be heard on most occasions. Despite their bright plumage they can be surprisingly hard to spot! The bird pictured is the same one pictured in the blog heading. It was very obliging one Sunday morning and allowed me to take some very nice pictures.

Male black-and-yellow broadbill (Eurylamus ochromalus)
Another bird with great presence is the greater racquet-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus). This species is also hard to miss. They're loud and bold birds; at Kuala Balai I've seen a drongo bullying a pair of Raffles malkoha's and I once saw a drongo chasing off a brahminy kite. Note that the distinctive racquets are not always present.

Greater racquet-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
The fourth and final species I'll share today is also a very common resident: the little spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra). Most of the time they can only been seen whizzing by, calling as they do so. If you do see a flowering ginger- or wild banana tree, it's worth while to wait a while as you'll stand a good chance of seeing the little spiderhunter drop by for a little snack.

Little spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra)
All pictures were taken at the Kuala Balai road. In a future posting I will share some more on the species diversity of Kuala Balai road.

Folkert, 03/08/2012

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