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Saturday, 11 January 2014


This weekend I had a visitor from the USA; Zack, who is about to go on an organized Sabah birding trip and had some time to spare before heading to Kota Kinabalu where his tour starts next week. As he was keen to get of the beaten track I invited him over for some local Brunei birding. Before Zack arrived in Panaga he already had a very fruitful morning in Wasan, including a rare sighting of a Eurasian bittern; not a bad start!

I had initially intended to take Zack into the forest close to Badas to look for some of the local peat-swamp specialists: hook-billed bulbul, cinnamon-headed green pigeon, bristlehead and possibly grey-breasted babbler. Unfortunately most of the access to the Badas peat-swamp is fully flooded so we had to settle for some roadside birding along KB road.

On Saturday we did two drives along KB road, the first one late afternoon. It was relatively quiet, but we still managed to see a nice variety of species and even successfully called in a blue-winged pitta. I had brought my camera along, just in case (I find btw that the chance of seeing rarities greatly increases when you forget the memory card in your camera or have a dead battery...).

Black-and-yellow broadbills were ubiquitous and while this is a common bird we did get some excellent close-up views of a small party at eye-level next to the car.
Black-and-yellow broadbill (Eurylaimus ochramalus)
Black-and-yellow broadbill (Eurylaimus ochramalus)
As we drove on, I noticed a small bird scuttling along the roadside grass. Half expecting a white-breasted waterhen, I put my bins on the bird and saw something very different: a band-bellied crake!
Band-bellied crake (Porzana paykullii)
The light was already fading fast and with the bird continuously moving at a fair distance I only just managed to get a few semi-decent pics with low shutter speed and high iso. The band-bellied crake is a very secretive bird and described as a rare non-breeding visitor to Borneo. A very good lifer at the start of 2014!
Band-bellied crake (Porzana paykullii)
Band-bellied crake (Porzana paykullii)
It started raining after dark and the night drive did not produce too much: the customary buffy fish-owls were seen as well as a couple of large-tailed nightjars sitting on the road. The only mammal on show was a confiding small-toothed palm civet.

Folkert, 12/01/2014

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