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Bornean Ground-Cuckoo at Borneo Rainforest Lodge and Other Malaysian Bird Reports

by K. David Bishop

February 2002

Originally posted to the OrientalBirding Yahoo! Group

Whilst leading a VENT tour to Sabah, Borneo we were surprised to see an adult Malayan Night-Heron stalking in the open shallow waters of the Likas Bay Nature Reserve, located on the northern outskirts of Kota Kinabalu (9 Feb. 2002). In my experience it is very unusual to see this normally crepuscular/nocturnal species out in the open especially two hours after dawn. A second bird, an immature, was flushed from the East Trail at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. (20 Feb 2002)

Other records of interest include:

1. Storm's Stork - 1 soaring over Borneo Rainforest Lodge, 17 Feb 2002. To my knowledge this may be the first record for BRL although it has been recorded elsewhere in the Danum Valley area? An adult was studied at length in trashed forest between Sukau and Gomantong (22 Feb 2002). This road with its scatter of once forest-pools now oil-palm pools and neighbouring forest remnants appears to be a regular site for this much sought after species.

2. Bornean Ground-Cuckoo - 1-2 heard and 1 adult seen <2 km from Borneo Rainforest Lodge (16 Feb 2002). Good recordings were made of a variety of sounds uttered by this enigmatic species. To my knowledge this is only the second record of this species, following that of Simon Harrap's observation, from BRL. However, many years ago Dennis Yong told me that he had observed this species on the grid at the Danum Valley Field Research Station, Sabah, Borneo.

3.Four species of Pittas were recorded on this Borneo tour, most notable was the 3-4 Blue-winged Pittas heard and seen in swampy lowland forest adjacent to the oxbow lake, above Sukau on the Lower Kinababatangan, Sabah, Borneo. (22 Feb 2002)

4. Bornean Wren-Babblers were notably common both at BRL and DVFC with possibly as many as 10-12 pairs heard or seen.

5. Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter - If Orient Birders haven't taken a look at Geoffrey Davison's superb revision of Smythies' Birds of Borneo [WorldTwitch Best Bird Book Award 2001] they should seriously consider doing so. Geoffrey has done an outstanding job of drawing all sorts of information together as well as elucidating several taxonomic questions. Not least the very interesting story concerning Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter Arachnothera affinis of montane and lowland NE Borneo, Java and Bali and the more familiar, much less streaky, Grey-breasted Spiderhunter A. modesta - note the revised specific name, of Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and the bulk of lowland Borneo. Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter was common in the grounds of BRL.

On the Malay Peninsula records of interest included:

1. A pair of Great Hornbills fighting with a group of Siamang at a fruiting fig on the new road from the gap up to Frazer's Hill. This species of hornbill is rare this far south. (26 Feb 2002)

2. Eastern Crowned Warblers were notably common, especially in mixed species flocks at middle and high elevations. (26 - 28 Feb 2002)

3. Migrant flycatchers including Dark-sided, Asian Brown and Mugimaki were notably common in and around Frazer's Hill and especially at the 3km marker from FH on the new road up from the gap. (25 - 28 Feb 2002)

The newly opened nature reserve at Paya Indah just 20 minutes drive from the new Kuala Lumpur International airport involves a massive investment of finance into rehabilitating old tin mining pools and looks set to be a must visit site for resident and foreign birds. In just a couple of hours we saw such species as: Lesser Whistling-duck, Cotton Pygmy-goose, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Pallas's Grasshopper-Warbler to mention but a few. All of which are rarely if ever seen on the usual birding circuit in the peninsula.

Finally, 30+ Rafflesia were in flower at the Tambunan Rafflesia Centre in the Crocker Range National Park, Sabah, Borneo. (6 Feb 2002). Mammal observations in the Danum area continue to impress, and the highlight of this tour was a superb Pangolin that trundled across our track on or nocturnal drive to BRL.


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