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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Bye Bye Brunei

Instead a long rambling post I think it is better to end my blogging from Brunei in style end share some of my favorite pics of 2014, for various reasons. In no particular order:
A band-bellied crake. The rarity of the bird makes up for any aesthetic value that this picture lacks.
Not an earth-shattering picture of a Brahminy kite. This is the most commonly seen raptor around Brunei, but in 4 years time I've never  had the good fortune to get an up-close picture opportunity.
Panaga wouldn't be the same without the ever-present collared kingfisher, its laughter being on of the most recognizable sounds in the gardens.
This common palm civet that I saw on KB road was missing 1 eye, which made it rather tough-looking.
Crimson-winged woodpeckers. One of the resident woodpeckers that can be heard and seen in the Panaga gardens.
A good number of sand plovers were present from August onwards. This is a greater sandplover.
I have a soft spot for broadbills and was very happy to come across this obliging juvenile in the Borneo highlands. 
Several grey nightjars were wintering along the KB road. This individual was found for a few months habitually on the same spot.
August and September were again good for terns. Small numbers of gull-billed terns were seen occasionally along the coast.
A harlequin tree frog. A nice pic, nothing special, but a great reminder of the Gould's frogmouth and eagle-owl we missed on that night. 
A stunning huntsman spider at Teraja. From web-reference this one is possible called Heteropoda davidbowie, or the "david bowie huntsman spider".
Not a native species to Borneo, but there are good numbers of these Java sparrows around Wasan and at Jerudong park.
Kuala Belait road, early in the morning, with a mongoose and a macaque. This road has been my local patch for the last couple of years and a final post wouldn't be complete without a including a reference.
A leopard cat. There are far better pictures of this elegant little feline, but none that were taken on the Kuala Belait road like this one.
A lesser sandplover mid morning at the Seria beach. 
I did come across a Malaysian brown snake in 2012, and had another great encounter this year. The blue tones seem a bit strong in this picture - am not entirely certain why. 
The Mantanani scops owl. I was very lucky to have a close encounter with this owl on Mantanani island.
This oriental plover was one of two birds that graced the grassy pitch in front of the Panaga clinic with its presence.
A very confiding pacific reef egret in Kota Kinabalu.
This barn swallow perched nicely when I took a visitor out earlier in the year.
Finally, a picture of a snake in my garden! Usually they are gone as soon as I run out with my camera. This time I already had a camera in hand, though admittedly not the right lens or body…. 
Sold! But not to this plaintive cuckoo, Borneo highlands in February. 
A sanderling, an uncommon wader that typically can be seen along the coast during late summer/early autumn migration.
A silver gull that was eying me suspiciously in Australia during a family holiday earlier in the year.  In 5 years Borneo I cannot claim to have seen a single gull...
A slow loris. I have seen these cute animals on various occasions in Brunei, unfortunately even a caged one on the Jerudong market. I like it a whole lot better to see them like this, free in the wild.
A swamp toad, one of the type-species of the Lower Belait peat swamps.
My visit to the Borneo highlands was very rewarding. This temminck's sunbird came very close to my lens.
A wedge-tailed eagle that I saw in Australia in May. One of the things that I have always found intriguing in Brunei was the low density of raptors and I am still not certain why this is - I doubt it has anything to do with bad luck.

That's it. I will still compile a few annotated documents about birding in Brunei, which I will post on this blog at a later time. For now it is really goodbye to Brunei, it has been a memorable adventure.


Folkert, 12/10/2014

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


This Monday was one of Godwits.

The day started off well with this flycatcher that I noticed sallying from one of the trees in our garden during breakfast. Almost an exact repeat from October last year, see garden flycatcher.
Dark-sided flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica)
We were having a day off and I took the opportunity to drive around some of the remoter areas of Brunei. First though was a stop at the very familiar grasslands surrounding Seria. This very skittish black-tailed godwit was foraging in one of the grassy pools.
Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa)
This was in fact the very first godwit ever seen by me! Next we drove on to Wasan rice fields, where numerous rarities have been recorded in the past. The first birds we saw were, waddaya know, another 4 godwits!
Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa)
Apart from the godwits Wasan didn't turn up anything special. Kolbjorn counted around 260 whistling ducks (I was too lazy to count with him) and there where good numbers of wood sandpiper and long-toed stints. Other notable birds seen where snipe, yellow- and cinnamon bittern, black-winged stilts and a lone greenshank. Noticeably absent were any raptors. We did see and hear some warblers whizzing by on a few occasions but never had prolonged views to nail the ID.

On the way back we saw this blue-necked keelback on the road. The snake was kind enough to stay with us for a few pictures.
Blue-necked keelback (Macrophistodon rhodomelas)
Blue-necked keelback (Macrophistodon rhodomelas)
Blue-necked keelback (Macrophistodon rhodomelas)
A very pretty snake to end a good day with!

Folkert 07/10/2014

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Oriental Plover

I decided this afternoon to do some easy birding as I haven't been feeling the best lately. So rather than go on a jungle walk I took out the car for a drive around the grassy areas behind the seawall.

To my surprise there were two oriental plovers on the pitch next to the clinic. Not only a great find for Panaga, but also a lifer for me. I suspect one of the birds to be a juvenile, the other an adult loosing its breeding plumage.

The second rarity drove up to my car ten minutes later, a fellow birder in the name of Kolbjorn. In my 5 years in Brunei I have never met another birder unplanned in the field; there clearly is a first for everything. We spend a good amount of time to get a photo of the plovers. There was still some distance to overcome, but in the end I did manage to get some keeper shots.
Oriental plover (Charadrius veredus)
Oriental plover (Charadrius veredus)
Oriental plover (Charadrius veredus)
Oriental plover (Charadrius veredus)
Not bad for a casual drive on a leisurely Saturday afternoon.

Folkert, 04/10/2014