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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July 2013

I was just cleaning up some of last month's pictures. And rather than putting them at risk to end up in one of the dusty corners of my computer I might as well share them!

These first pics are from a small recce with Kolbjorn into the more remote parts of the lower Belait peat swamp. After the eye-opening field surveys conducted by Wetlands International I am really keen to get some good pics of both hook-billed bulbul and grey-breasted babbler (please see Dave's excellent blog for a good description of the surveys at Still plenty of room for improvement, but the pics of the hook-billed bulbul are getting better.
Hook-billed bulbul (Setornis criniger).
Hook-billed bulbul (Setornis criniger).
This grey-chested jungle flycatcher also showed quite nicely, though the lighting conditions were definitely not ideal for handheld shooting.
Grey-chested jungle flycatcher (Rhinomyias umbratilis).
The next pictures are from a small night drive along KB road. As usual a couple of Buffy fish-owls were on show.
Buffy fish-owl (Ketupa ketupa)
This Malay civet, also known as Tangalung, was walking ahead of my car for a while. I failed to persuade the animal to look my way when I took a few snapshots from the vehicle.
Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga). 
Finally some pictures of little terns that I accidentally stumbled upon close to the coast. This colony of around 80 birds had chosen a rather opportunistic cleared area as breeding site, but it seems to work out very well.
Little terns (Sternula albifrons).
I don't normally see many terns around Seria outside the migrating season, so this flock of little terns forms a nice change!
Little terns (Sternula albifrons).
Little terns (Sternula albifrons).
 Folkert, 31/07/2013.

Monday, 22 July 2013


This weekend I treated my mom -who is visiting again- and myself to a small overnight trip to the Ulu Ulu resort in Temburong, the "other" part of Brunei. Temburong is only a short 2 hour journey from Bandar; a simple hop on a fast ferry to Bangar, followed by a small bus ride and another 30 minutes upstream by longboat and you'll find yourself surrounded by pristine jungle.

The last time I visited Temburong was well over 2 years ago and especially the canopy proved very rewarding then; a lot of species allowed very close views, like this velvet fronted nuthatch.
Velvet-fronted nuthatch (Sitta frontalis).
We arrived in Temburong around 4:30 PM and I spend the last hour or so of daylight around the resort. The white-rumped shama was impossible to miss.
White-rumped shama (Copsychus malabaricus).
During the evening we joined a short night walk up a tiny stream from the main river. 17 people on a night walk is really too crowded and I didn't have high expectations to encounter a lot of wildlife. Still I enjoyed this, as the stream proved a good place for frogs and I got a couple a great close-ups. As I am definitely not a frog specialist any correction/addition to my ID's are appreciated. I suspect the tiny fellow pictured below to be a Microhyla species.
Microhyla sp.
I think this is Hylarana megalonesa.
Hylarana megalonesa
The below frog is definitely a horned frog species!
Bornean horned frog (Megophrys nasuta).
The next morning we got up very early to be in time for sunrise at the canopy walk. Nowadays, you can only get to the start of the trail to the canopy by boat as the bridge crossing the river is in dire need of some repairs. After a half hour walk, scaling 290 meters elevation to the base and another 40+ meters to the canopy itself, you are rewarded with a wide 360 degree view over the awaking jungle. The rising fog and the morning calls of gibbons makes this almost perfect - next time I'll bring some warm coffee for a nice finishing touch!
Canopy walkway & tower, Temburong.
I spend a little over two-and-a-half hours at the canopy walk way listening to the gibbons and recording several different birds. This male black-and-yellow broadbill was seen and heard most of the time.
Black-and-yellow broadbill
A spectacled bulbul also provided some good views. Even though this is a supposedly common species of all primary forests type in Borneo, I don't see them that often closer to home and was therefore quite pleased with this individual checking me out at close range.
Spectacled bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmus).
Besides the gibbons, the calls of both rhinoceros and helmeted hornbill seemed equally far carrying. A family of 4 rhinoceros hornbills flew by over the canopy, adding to the majestic scenery with the morning fog rising through the forest. One parent lead the way.
Rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros).
 And was eagerly followed by two juveniles
Rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros).
At 08:30 we decided to move down and try for some birds lower to the ground. I had expected to see and hear more babblers, but the only ones I picked up were chestnut-winged babblers, which seemed to be everywhere, and a small family group of scaly-crowned babblers.
Scaly-crowned babbler (Malacopteron cinereum).
An incessantly calling diard's trogon was already heard from the canopy-walk and at least 2 different males and one female were seen on the relatively short walk from the tower back to the river.
Male Diard's trogon (Harpactes diardii).
As my mom had not joined the trip to the canopy walk because of a weak knee I felt some social obligation to not stay out all morning and returned back to the resort close to 10 AM. Together we walked around the resort grounds looking for some resident wildlife. Fruitbats were easily seen overhead at the wooden boardwalks. I think this is the Sunda short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopteros brachyotis).
Fruitbat sp.
Flowering bushes close to the river were a good spot for both leafbirds and sunbirds. 
Male Lesser green leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon).
A nice surprise was this yellow-breasted flowerpecker. Just a small bummer that I failed to get a proper photo. Oh well.
Yellow-breasted flowerpecker (Prionochilus macalatus).
Just before heading back to Bandar this very bold pygmy squirrel seemed completely unbothered by our presence and I even had to stand back to get the animal properly into frame!
Plain pygmy squirrel (Exilisciurus exilis).
Plain pygmy squirrel (Exilisciurus exilis).
Around 1:30 PM we left again, back to Panaga. A great little trip and I am certain that with a little more dedicated effort some great species can be picked up in Temburong!

Folkert, 21/07/2013

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Pelong Rocks

A quick summary of a weekend morning spend on the water for a change. I recently got invited to join a little snorkeling trip to Pelong rocks. As most of my forays are into the jungle, this was also a great opportunity to test the waters for some pelagic species. We met up with everyone in Muara and were introduced to our friendly hosts of the day: Nad and Sean, two local divers (and, as someone nicely put it, a real power couple!).
Tug boats in the harbor of Muara.
En route to Pelong rocks we noticed this wreck in the distance and innocently informed with Sean if he ever had dived there. He had not, the main reason being that this was the first time he saw this wreck! And indeed we were soon informed by another boat that the ship had only run to ground during the previous night. Luckily the crew of 11 got of unscathed.
A very recent wreck!
Back to Pelong rocks. Pelong rocks is a small rocky formation roughly 3 miles of the shore from Muara. The main outcrop has some trees on it, some of the other parts are completely bare. According to previous records both bridled and black-naped terns are known to breed on these rocks.
On the way to the rocks we did see terns, mostly bridled with an occasional black-naped tern. In the below picture a bridled tern is coming my way with part of Pelong rocks as the backdrop.
Bridled Tern, with Pelong Rocks in the background.
And a little closer.
Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus).
Terns seem to still be breeding on the rocky formations, though in small numbers only. We passed by the outcrops too fast & distant for a proper count, but I would estimate that around 25 birds where hanging about.
Bridled terns (Sterna anaethetus).
In front of the main island we got out to do some snorkeling. The water was clear and the snorkeling was absolutely great! I will definitely have to go here again to show some other Panaga uninitiated this spot.
Pelong rocks; main island.
I was thoroughly enjoying looking at all the fish, still I couldn't help myself to occasionally lift my gaze skyward. These gazes were quickly rewarded with views of about 10 pied imperial pigeons hiding in the foliage of the 4 bigger trees on the island.
Pied imperial pigeon (Ducula bicolor).
When the wind picked up we left Pelong rocks and moved to some of the fish farms and our BBQ destination. Along the way a lone little tern was seen and we also passed this beacon. Judging by the white smudges on the green paint this seems a favorite hangout of the black-naped terns.
Black-naped terns (Sterna sumatrana).
Finally a capture of our reliable transport, a custom build dive boat.
The dive boat
This was a very memorable day. Thanks to Guenter for inviting me along and a very big thanks to Nad and Sean for the perfect organization!

Folkert, 16/07/2013