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@kittykat23uk - I didn't explicitly ask Mike about his last CL sighting but if Facebook posts are any indication it was late last year I believe.  If I remember correctly while there were a few sightings in spring 2017 there were even more in summer 2017.  So, that may be a better time of year for them.  I am not sure though.  And, yes all our sightings were great but were fleeting as well expect for the Colugos and Malay Porcupine (which was outstanding).  I didn't expect to see a CL this trip but I did expect to see a Tarsier so maybe that's why I left a bit disappointed.


@lmonmm - Thanks very much, I am glad you are enjoying the report.  It's good to know that "body" noises make other people laugh too.  That frog "called" multiple times in different locations and always made us giggle.   None of the guides seemed to giggle though...:)


@CheetahFan - What a great first post!  Thanks for sharing that video, it does bring back good memories.  Feel free to post as many videos as you like! ;)


@xyz99 - He is cute, but also venomous believe it or not. 

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Deramakot to Sukau - Day 10


We had a 7:30AM departure from Deramakot so we got up around 5AM to pack, have breakfast, and say our goodbyes.


One thing I failed to mention were my shower adventures in Deramakot.  Because I couldn't get my bandage wet, I had to figure out how to take a shower.  The solution was in the form of a plastic chair to keep my left leg up and a large plastic bag to wrap around my knee.  This actually worked really well because the shower head was removable and I could use it to locate the spray accurately.  


Although, I ended up having to hop around on my other leg the whole time to get the soap and water in certain "strategic" locations.  but, not once did I get my knee wet in the shower.  The same can't be said for just standing out in the humidity though.  Everything gets wet within 5 minutes of doing that in Borneo.  But, I digress...


The drive to Telupid and then all the way to Sukau was uneventful except for Eric briefly getting lost trying to find the Sukau Rainforest Lodge dock at the river.  But, that did give us a chance to pass a school where all the kids were getting out for lunch.  They all wore uniforms and outside the school were tables set up where people were selling sweets.  Of course, the kids rushed over to the tables to get their sugar rushes.  Kids are the same everywhere...


Once we found the right dock and called the lodge, they sent a boat to pick us up and we were whisked away to Sukau Rainforest Lodge.  This was the only new lodge for us this trip.  We didn't particularly care for the Kinabatangan Jungle Camp were we stayed last year but this place looked great online so we had AA Borneo book it.


We arrived at about 1PM for lunch and a quick orientation.


The Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL) is very nice.  Much more upscale than we thought.  The restaurant was on the river with a great view:


It was pretty unique...





SRL Full Dining Area


SRL Outdoor Dining Area


They have a lounge (where people hung out because of the WiFi) called the 'Gecko Lounge'.  And, it did live up to its name since geckos were plentiful there at night:


Sukau Rainforest Lodge Lounge


They had raised boardwalks all around the grounds which we walked frequently:

Uncovered Walkway


The walkways back in the jungle were even covered:

Covered Walkway


It was here at the covered walkways that we found our first flying lizard.  We even got an opportunity to see it fly briefly.  This is a black-bearded Gliding Lizard:

Black-bearded Gliding Lizard


Right after that, a walking stick with what appeared to be pink wings flew past and landed on a nearby branch.  We never would have seen it had it not flown past us:


Stick Insect


We met our guide Stephen at 4PM for the afternoon boat trip.  He seemed a nice enough fellow but I just wasn't getting a good initial vibe.  His enthusiasm was just about non-existent.


The boats at SRL are nice.  They have individual seats with backs as opposed to benches.  But, like all things in Borneo, there wasn't a huge amount of legroom between seats.  Luckily, the boats are pretty sturdy so we were never in danger of Karen's "club foot" tipping us over.


Also, the boats are equipped with electric engines but for some reason Stephen just used the gas one all the time.


We had just turned off the main river and into a small offshoot when the word came that some Borneo Pygmy Elephants had been sighted.  We thought they were close by but it turned out to be almost a 1/2 hour ride to see them.  When we got there we could tell there were elephants in the jungle but they were not revealing themselves.  This was about the best look we were getting:


First Elephant Look



But, after a while of watching and waiting, they finally came out and just like last year the light was really nice.  So, we got some great views despite Stephen's attempts to strain our necks by always facing the boat in the wrong direction:


Bornean Pygmy Elephant




There was even a mother and baby:


Bornean Pygmy Elephants


Drink Time


Move along!



It was great to watch and especially listen to the elephants.


Plus, we saw some familiar faces.  In another boat also watching the elephants was Addie who was one of our guides at Deramakot.  She had left a few days back to guide another group and we just happened to cross paths on the river.


We also saw another couple on the river who was also at Deramakot.  Borneo is truly a "small world".


A bit later we had an Orangutan sighting but it had already built a nest and climbed into it for the night so all you can see are some hairy appendages.  Orangutan in Nest


Our final sighting was of a shy troop of Proboscis Monkeys.  The photo ops were tough because they didn't stick around long so I only managed one decent shot:

Proboscis Monkeys


Every night after dinner, we had arranged for a night boat cruise.  The night cruises were given by different boatman who specializes in them I guess.  Unfortunately, it seemed like they cater to the cell phone tourist crowd because we spent way too much time looking at roosting birds and our boatman got way too close to them and even caused a few to fly off which isn't good.


The lodge did look nice all lit up though:

Sukau Rainforest Lodge


The best sighting of the night was only about 50 yards from the lodge where there was a fruiting tree.  We saw 3 different Striped Palm Civets in that tree:


Striped Palm Civet


Striped Palm Civet Eyeing Dinner


The cruise is only an hour (8PM to 9PM) so we decided to walk the boardwalk to see what might be out and about.  However, all we saw was a roosting bird and some insects.


So, that's another day under our belt and a pretty good one at that.  The weather was still really good since we only had one brief rain shower in the afternoon.  Let's hope that continues.  Of course, the Elephants were the highlight today but it was cool seeing all the civets in the fruiting tree as well.

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Pygmy Elephant at Kinabatangan river is a special sighting. And civets also. Very fruiting day @Atdahl!

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Slow loris is venomous? Who would've thought....but it seems this doesn't deter their pet trade. You see, you got me reading about them :)

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The MJ songs; too funny, LOL!

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You'll always be young pups to us!  I hope you got the guide you want.  GOMI was not it.  Your wife is clever with acronyms.  Tremendous sightings, and that is just page 1. The proboscis video reminds somewhat of a diner not too far from here.  Really. 


I was going to write that leeches are good luck, but 8 stitches is not so lucky.  $50 for them could be considered a lucky price, though. You must have been in pain between the fall and getting the wound stitched up.  Maybe leeches just bring good animal sighting luck, like the Pygmy Eles!


If I ever encounter a friendly Philippine Slow Loris, I'll be sure not to cuddle. 


Despite your injury, you had a great trip.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Sukau - Day 11


This morning we had a 6AM boat cruise scheduled so we were all up early.  We departed promptly at 6AM and at exactly 6:05AM (if my camera time is to be believed) we were looking at a bright red erect penis.  Who needs caffeine to wake you up...right?




And, as you can see by the picture, we weren't the only ones "staring"...


But, size really doesn't matter because a few minutes later a Pig-tailed Macaque arrived on the same branch and the Proboscis Monkey beat a hasty retreat:


Macaque Alarm!




The boat cruise was really pretty and peaceful with the mist swirling around the tops of the trees.


Morning Mist


As you can imagine, boat trips are a great way to see birds.  However, we never expected to get close to a rare Storm's Stork:

Storm's Stork


We even saw some Long-tailed Parakeets:

Long-tailed Parakeets


Unfortunately, we spent long periods of time seeing nothing because Stephen's modus operandi was to drive slowly, real slowly, along one bank.  He would take us to a place that was supposed to have Silver Leaf Monkeys or Proboscis Monkeys or some other target but when they weren't there he really didn't seem to have a plan other than to drive slowly along the banks.


This differed greatly to our experience on the river last year where our boatman would drive quickly down the middle of the river scanning both shores and then shoot over to the shore when he saw something.  That method was a lot more successful.  Stephen was recently pulled out of retirement to help at the lodge and I honestly don't think his eyesight was that great.


At one point, while we were cruising agonizingly slow along the shore we encountered another boat and their boatman was nice enough to point out a Striped Palm Civet in a tree eating fruit:


Striped Palm Civet


Breakfast Time


To Stephen's credit, his method did find a small Saltwater Crocodile for us which was cool:

Juvenile Crocodile


We also saw a huge crocodile on this trip and a large monitor lizard hanging out on the tree but those pictures weren't very good.


After a nice breakfast back at the lodge, we ventured to the jungle boardwalk.  It was here that we saw our first Pygmy Squirrels of the trip.  These guys are so fun to watch but they are quick so it's hard to get a decent photo:

Bornean Pygmy Squirrel


As we were walking around, a guide summoned us over to see a Colugo that was just hanging out on a tree near the boardwalk looking around:

Daytime Colugo


Look at those big eyes.


We certainly had great luck seeing nocturnal animals in the daytime on this trip.


A little while later, the word came that an Orangutan was spotted back near the jungle boardwalk.  So, we headed back there to check it out.  As usual, the sighting was mostly obscured by limbs and leaves.  Orangutans just don't seem to hang out in wide open spaces with good light.  They aren't very considerate of us photographers.  But, they are still really fun to watch:

Typical Orangutan Sighting


After lunch, I went on another walk about and that's when the rain came. Luckily, I was in the covered area of the boardwalk so I didn't get wet.  It ended up raining for over an hour which was the first major rain we had in a while.  But, that didn't stop us from seeing a Sunda Giant Squirrel and another Orangutan.


SRL has both standard rooms and villas.  We stayed in a standard room that was quite nice but the walls between rooms were rather thin.  Here is a shot of the courtyard area after the rain where you can see the rows of rooms on both sides:

The Cheap Rooms (where we stayed)


By 3:30PM the rain had stopped and we headed out for our afternoon river cruise.  Our first stop was to see some Glossy Swiflets that had built their nests into the side of a cliff:

Glossy Swiftlets and Nests


And then, the slow shoreline river cruising began again.   Luckily, there were some things to see like this Water Monitor:

Large Water Monitor Basking



Then we had our first (and last) White Crested Hornbill sighting.  This is one of the rarest Hornbills so we were very lucky to see it:

The Rare White-crowned Hornbill


One benefit of the slow cruise was all the bird photos ops like this Purple Heron:

Purple Heron


And this Wrinkled Hornbill:

Wrinkled Hornbill


Next, our guide took us up a narrow channel where we spied this Blue-eared Kingfisher.  It was sitting on a branch but would constantly dart to the water to make a splash and then go back to its roost. It did this over and over.  It didn't appear to be bathing. Stephen said it was actually fishing.  Apparently, disturbing the water can attract fish.  We never did see it catch anything but watching it dart back and forth was fun.


Blue-eared Kingfisher


Blue-eared Kingfisher...fishing


We also had fleeting looks at an Orangutan, Proboscis Monkeys and some Long-tailed Macaques on the cruise.


At dinner, we talked about the upcoming night cruise and we all agreed that we didn't want to see the same stuff we saw last night.  So, when we got to the dock, Tim told the boatman "No birds" and that we were hoping to focus on mammals.


So, the boatman took us up the same narrow channel we had been up during the daytime.  It actually seemed like great habitat to find a Flat-headed Cat since the shoreline was exposed on both sides.  But, since only the boatman had the spotlight it was impossible for us to find anything since we couldn't see any eye shine.


We did manage to have 4 sightings.  Two were Mousedeer, another was some sleeping monkeys, and the final one the boatman said was a "cat". But, by the time we got close the eye shine had disappeared so we saw nothing.  I did get a photo of a Greater Mousedeer:

Greater Mousedeer


The fruiting tree near the dock was devoid of Civets tonight.


Since the boat trip ended at 9PM, we decided to walk back to the jungle boardwalk again tonight just in case there was a fist sized primate with huge eyes begging for its picture to be taken.  But, alas, no Tarsier again.   However, Karen did spot this Malayan Bridle Snake on one of the posts:


Malayan Bridle Snake


So, that was a great way to end the day.




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Ugh, what a bummer that you didn’t get the tarsier!  I guess we all have our nemesis species. You’ll just have to keep trying — eventually, you’ll get it, and it will be so worth it then.


That was quite a night walk, though, and you did a great job of conveying the joyous misery (or is it miserable joy) of walking through the rainforest at night. 


Apologies if you already covered this and I missed it, but what kind of extender were you using with your speedlight?

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@Alexander33 - Yes, I will find one of those big-eyed little buggers someday.  Regarding my flash extender, it's from MagMod.




It worked really well on my Nikon SB-600 and helped me get shots that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.  



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Sukau - Day 12


Today started off with the usual early alarm so that we could be at the boat by 6AM.  We hadn't seen any Silvered Leaf Monkeys this trip at all so that was the goal of all boat cruises at this point.  But, as usual, the slow trolling along the river shoreline continued for this boat trip.  Stephen took us up the small channel yet again and seemed to be going even slower today.  But, slow speed did mean the chance for some bird photography:


Black and Red Broadbill Pair:

Black and Red Broadbill Pair


Stork-billed Kingfisher:

Stork-billed Kingfisher





We continued up the river at a snail's pace and we were all getting a bit impatient since this channel trip appeared to be Stephen's only plan for the whole 2 hour boat trip and it was obvious that there were no primates around.  So, after we turned around I suspected that Tim had enough.  He turned to Stephen and asked "Stephen, is there a reason we are going so slowly?".  To that Stephen responded "Much to see like Crocodile".   Crocodile!?  But, we asked to see Silvered Leaf Monkeys and other primates.


But, this question did seem to light a very dim fire under Stephen because he did speed up shortly after this.  In fact, he sped right past some additional Broadbills on a close branch in good light that caused both Andrea and I to lift our cameras to photograph.  We looked at each other disappointingly to which Tim said "I guess we should have been going slower".  Well, in my tired and frustrated state, that line really tickled me and I couldn't stop laughing.  Soon, all of us were laughing...except Stephen.


Just where the channel empties into the main river, some cables are strung across to give the monkeys an easy way to get across.  It just so happened that the first primate of the morning crossed right in front of us using these cables.


I now present The Great LT Macaque and his dare devil tight rope walking:

Macaque Tightrope Walking


On the way back to the lodge we encountered some Proboscis Monkeys and I couldn't help but take a few photos:


Proboscis Warning




Right after we disembarked from our underwhelming cruise another guide pointed out a Colugo on a nearby tree.  It could have been the same one we saw yesterday but we were not sure:


Another Daytime Colugo


Every lodge in which we stayed had great staff.  But, the staff at SRL was extra nice.  Every single staff member we saw would say "Good Morning", or "Enjoy your meal", or "Thank you".  It must be part of their training program.  But, it never got old.  Now, if only they were trained to say "Hi, handsome" or "Have you lost weight?, you look fabulous".


After breakfast, we did another walk on the jungle boardwalk.  On the way, we had to pass a large troop of Long-tailed Macaques:

Long-tailed Macaque


These Macaques didn't seem afraid of us at all and were hanging out on the boardwalk.  So, we decided to just walk slowly past and ignore them.  That worked great for me but as soon as Karen walked past one jumped down and charged Karen with teeth showing.  I think I heard "Oh, shit!".  Well the Macaque was so shocked at Karen's potty mouth that it stopped its charge and she hustled past.  Good thing I married a woman with the mouth of a sailor.


Later, at the caves, we mentioned this to our guide and he said that the troop had some young babies and that a bluff charge was not uncommon. But, that they were harmless.


Back on the boardwalk we did see some interesting things like dragonflies:




And this Spiny Turtle:

Spiny Turtle


After lunch, another Orangutan was spotted on the grounds but we were along ways from it and were trying to ID this yellow and black bird that was flying around.  Then, in the trees above the bird, something moved.  It was some Silvered Leaf Monkeys...the first ones seen at the river:


Silvered Langurs Hiding


Silvered Langur


At this point, another guide showed up and we told him about the Silvered Leaf Monkeys.  He then went off to find Tim and Andrea who showed up quickly. 


We all stood around for a while hoping that the monkeys would stop playing hard to get and pose for some better pictures.  But, we eventually headed to our room to cleanup prior to our afternoon trip while Andrea stayed behind.  Well, she ended up making the right decision because she later told us that there were at least a dozen in the trees and they eventually did move off and she got some good looks at them.


This afternoon we had a different activity planned.  We had reserved a trip to see Gomangtong Caves.  One of the other guides at SRL would be taking us and he was great although I didn't note his name unfortunately.


The caves are only about a 30 minute drive from the SRL dock which was only a 5 minute boat ride from the lodge itself.  But, before we arrived at Gomangtong Caves, the guide stopped the van by a small lake to see what birds might around.  As we were sitting there, another van passed by and stopped to chat with our guide.  You will never guess who was in the passenger seat....Gomi!  From inside our van, we started to yell and wave but he couldn't hear us and quickly drove away.  Small world...


While walking to the caves we did see some Red Leaf Monkeys but they were well hidden in the trees.  However there were a couple of photo ops:


Sabah Slender Skink:

Sabah Slender Skink


Pied Fantail:

Pied Fantail on Nest


At the cave entrance, Karen and I decided to wait outside while Tim and Andrea went inside.  The caves are really cool inside but we had gone in them last year and figured there wouldn't be anything new this trip.   I think all 4 of us were happy with the decision because Tim and Andrea enjoyed the caves a lot and we had some great sightings outside.


A small group of Red Leaf Monkeys was hanging out on the hillside above the cave:

Red langur


Red Langur


Red langur


There were also Pig-tailed Macaques hanging out grooming each other:

Pig-tailed Macaque Grooming Session


I imagined the conversation went something like this:


"Did you hear about Louise?"


"Huh, what?  No, just a bit lower"


"Gerald kicked her out of the troop"


"No, I said lower, there's something on my foot"


"I can't believe he kicked her out after all she has done for him"


"What about my foot?  Crap, I will just do it myself"




Once Tim, Andrea, and our guide made it out of the cave alive (well, you never know, it is a dark scary cave after all), our guide thought that our best vantage point to see the bat exodus would be right were we were.  Sometimes they come out other entrances but he thought we would start here and then move to the parking lot if they came out in other places.


We weren't the only ones waiting for the Exodus:


Crested Serpent Eagle Waiting for Bats


Not long after taking that picture, the Crested Serpent Eagle snagged something in mid air and took it to the ground.  It happened too fast to see if it was a Swiftlet or a Bat.  But, whatever it was, it was no more.


Not long after this, the bats started their mass exodus from the caves and we had a really good vantage point:


Lots of Wrinkle-lipped Bats


While the caves are home to a few different type of bats, Wrinkle-lipped bats are by far the majority and really the only bat we could 100% say we saw.  If you see any other kind of bat in this photo, let me know...


Wrinkle-lipped Bats


We weren't the only ones watching the bats:



It was great to watch the bat exodus because they came out in waves.  Not only was the wave continuous but the bats were actually flying in the shape of a wave.  It seemed to have a rhythm to it and our guide said they do that to confuse predators.  The wave of bats also made a noise so you could actually hear the bats rhythm as it ebbed and flowed:


The Bat Exodus Goes On and On...


I have read that there are anywhere from hundreds of thousands of bats to a couple million.  Regardless, it took close to an hour for the exodus to stop so I would lean towards the latter number.  It was really impressive and we are all glad we did this activity.


We got back to the dock after dark and did a quick night cruise on the way back to the lodge.  Tonight we didn't say anything about what we wanted to see so naturally the boatman took us to see some roosting birds.  We did see a crocodile as well but that's it.


For our final night walk, Stephen had actually showed us a trail off the boardwalk where he said Tarsier could be seen.  He had a friend who saw one there not too many days prior.  


Boy, if Stephen was right about this he would have totally redeemed himself in my eyes.


So, after the cruise we made a beeline for this area and walked around hoping....but again we struck out.  We did have a nice sized Forest Gecko but no Tarsier...again.  It's officially a nemesis mammal for me now.





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More funny stories from Borneo! Comparing photography conditions in Costa Rica and in Borneo, how similar/different they are? Is using a flash (with extender) obligatory?

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@xelas , @Atdahl and anybody else with an opinion:

Great question! Because I was just wondering what others do....do you normally use a flash? I never do, but I'm wondering how dark the Peru jungle is, and if I should get one. Do you use it on its own, or with an extender? During day time when it's dark under foliage, or just at night time? Any other tips and suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.


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@xyz99, I have almost never used a flash during daytime photography; nighttime photography, of course one has to use it. And in my case it was only the flash of the camera; this time around I will bring also the "stand alone" flash however I don't have (as of today) any extender. In Costa Rica I am not forecasting any major nighttime photography, not many mammals there anyway. Borneo would be a different story.

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@xelas - Costa Rica and Borneo have a lot in common like any two areas would that are rain forest.  Heat and humidity come to mind off the bat.  But, when it comes to the forest itself I found the forests in Borneo to be a bit more open and the trees are much taller.  My understanding is that Borneo has the largest rain forest trees on earth but they are a bit farther apart.  That is what caused many of the creatures to evolve the ability to glide. That way they could travel tree to tree without going down to the ground.  So, what does that mean for photography?  Not much.  In both locations you are taking photos of back lit animals in the trees and trying to find a clear shot through the foliage which is always a challenge.


@xyz99 - My flash use may not be typically, but here is what I have done in the forest.  During the day, I have used "fill flash" with my camera's pop up flash to get some more light on a subject that isn't too far away.  In fact, in hindsight I wish I did this more since I had other opportunities and forgot to do it.  For night photography I mainly use my pop up flash.  I do that around our property when taking photos of the desert creatures I can get close to and I would do the same when traveling to the rain forest.  Sometimes when traveling I will use my speed light as a slave to the master pop up to get a different angle of light when taking a picture. My wife will usually hold it off camera a bit to get a nicer shadow and reduce any critter red eye.  The flash extender comes in handy when things are more open and your target is farther away.  For me, the perfect time to do this is on a night drive because you can't get close to your target and you don't have to lug the extra weight and awkwardness of the speed light and extender attached to the camera.  This combination was perfect for Deramakot or anywhere else I would do a night drive.  I was going to do the same in Kenya when we go next year but I learned that they don't really want flash photography there and since we have to pack so light I probably won't take the speed light or extender on that trip.  


So, my summary of how I use flash would be:

- Fill flash during the day with pop up flash when the target is 10 yards or closer and is back lit or just needs a bit more oomph.

- Pop up flash at night when I can get 10 yards or closer to my target

- Pop up flash and off camera speed light at night when the target is closer AND I want a different angle of light

- Speed light with extender on camera during night drives when the targets are 10 yards and farther


Hopefully, that explains the flash method to my madness.  I would be interested to hear how others manage their flash photography since I still have a lot to learn.



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I have no idea why I never thought of using the pop up flash...I guess I was afraid it would distort the colors, but I think that's true only when the subject is very close. I should work well when the subject is a few feet away.


We are not planning any night drive in Peru, but I know we are going to a tapir clay lick, and that's a night activity. Hope to see some :) They say "flash photography is not just permitted, but encouraged." This sounds weird to me, I was always told "no flash", but maybe tapirs are not sensitive to it? 

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Day 13 - Sukau to Danum


We had a 7AM departure today which was before breakfast was typically served but the lodge does put out a "mini breakfast" for people going on the 6AM boat cruises so we had that which held us until lunch.


Overall, I would recommend Sukau Rainforest Lodge.  The standard rooms are nice, albeit with thin walls, but the grounds, staff, and food are great.  I think we got a bit unlucky with the private guide we got since we did meet some of the other guides and they seemed at least more enthusiastic.


After the 5 minute boat ride to the SRL dock, our driver Eric was waiting for us as usual.  We then had a 2.5 hour drive to Lahad Datu where Eric dropped us off at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge office.


I had talked to Eric a few days back and mentioned the need to get my stitches removed.  After we arrived in Lahad Datu, he pointed up the street from the BRL office and said, "There's your clinic".


So, while the others waited in the office, I headed up to the clinic for another great Borneo medical experience.  This one took 15 minutes to get the bandage and stitches removed.  Plus, they gave me some topical ointment to put on the wound which was healing nicely.  This all cost me about $12.  Easy peasy...  I was free!  Also, I have to mention that Karen's "club foot" was back to normal by now...well, as normal as her feet could be.


Once we were all checked in at the BRL office, they loaded us up into a van and off we went for the 2.5 hour drive to the lodge.  On the way, something crossed the road in front of us.  At first I thought it might be a cat but the look was so fleeting I couldn't be sure.  Upon reflection, those of us that saw it think it was a Banded Civet.  The rest of the drive was uneventful except for us noticing how much smoother the drive in was this year.  They must have fixed the road since last year.


We saved Borneo Rainforest Lodge until last for a reason...luxury!  BRL is not cheap but it is so worth it.  We were really looking forward to our stay.  Once we arrived we were greeted in style by the staff of Borneo Rainforest Lodge with cold towels, cold drinks, and more.


Also, waiting for us was Azmil our private guide.  We requested Azmil because he did such a great job for us last year.  It was good to see him again.  Plus, he had some news for us.  We were being upgraded to a premium villa for our stay!


But, seeing the premium villa would have to wait because it was lunch time.  BRL puts out an amazing spread at meal times.  Not only are there 6 to 8 choices in the buffet they all have make to order burgers, noodles, satay and more.  No one was going hungry here.


After lunch, we followed Eric (a BRL staff member, not our driver) along the raised boardwalk towards our premium villa but we didn't get too far before he let out a muffled scream and shot back behind us.  There on the walkway was a really cool snake (Eric admitted to not liking snakes).  It was a Blue Bronzeback and it was looking right at us:


Blue Bronzeback


We watched it for a bit before it moved off towards the edge of the boardwalk and proceeded to climb straight up a tree:


Blue Bronzeback


This was a really cool sighting because it almost completed our Borneo flying animal list.  So far we had seen flying squirrels, the flying Colugo, flying lizards, the flying Harlequin Frog, and now a flying snake.  Now, we only saw of few of these animals actually flying but seeing one of each was still very cool.  All that was left to see was a flying gecko.


Now it's time to show off our room...ahem "premium villa".


The Villa


Premium Villa Free Upgrade!


Borneo Rainforest Lodge Villa


River view:

The Deck


Two sinks, a tub, AND a 100% private outdoor shower:

The Bathroom


It was stunning really.  Plus, there was a fridge with complimentary beer and soda.  Oh, and unlike a lot of other rooms at BRL, the premium villas have air conditioning!  But sadly, there was no personal butler.  That was a real shame especially considering that Karen had no intention of fulfilling that role either.  Who was going to draw my bath?


We had just enough time to settle in and enjoy a chilled beverage before our 3:30PM hike with Azmil.  While we enjoyed hiking around the forest we didn't see much except for mud, some cool Pill Millipedes, and poor looks at some Red Leaf Monkeys.


At dinner, the conversation turned to the desserts that could be seen in a display case nearby.  I am not sure whose eyes lit up more but it was clear to Tim, Andrea and I that no dessert would go uneaten.  A  lunch and dinner time tradition began that would cause me to gain 5 pounds.  But, it was sooooo worth it!


At 8PM tonight, our activity was a group night drive.  This is all part of the package at BRL but the night drive here obviously pales in comparison to those in Deramakot.  But, since Azmil was the designated spot lighter on the drive we had no other options.  The drive lasts about an hour and we saw roosting babblers, a Thomas' Flying Squirrel that flew, and a glimpse of a Malay Civet.  We also heard a bit of a "farting" noise when the truck stopped to turn around.  Karen said it was the same kind of frogs from the bathroom at Deramakot.  Yeah, sure it was...


After the drive was done, we walked to the frog pond to see what was around.


File-eared Frog:

File-eared Frog


Masked Tree Frog:

Masked Tree Frog


While the frogs were cool, I was still looking everywhere for a Tarsier and by now I had picked the brain of every guide so I knew what to look for.  Look for a fist sized blob hanging on to the side of a thin vertical sapling.  There is little to no eye shine.


Well, right behind the pond were lots of vertical saplings so I naturally examined them closely.


What?...Wait!  That was faint eye shine!  Holy shit there is something hanging on the side of that thin vertical sapling.  I slowly crept forward with my heart beating a mile a minute.  But, it was still a bit too far to clearly make out the animal with my naked eye.  Excitedly, I lifted up my camera to take a picture.  I quickly looked at the picture and saw this:


Tarsier Mimicking File-eared Frog


It was a FUCKING frog!  ARRGH!


I really thought I had a Tarsier but it was another damn File-eared Frog.  At that moment, part of me was hoping a Buffy Fish Owl would swoop down and grab the little bastard. But, it wasn't the frog's fault of course.  Dang...dang...dang!


As we walked back to our premium villa, I noticed some rustling in the bushes.  It turned out to be a Malay Civet.  It was likely the same one we had seen a bit earlier at the end of the night drive.


Back at our premium villa, the geckos were out in force including this Kuhl's Gliding Gecko which officially completes our Borneo flying animal sightings:


Kuhl's Gliding Gecko


And so ended our first day at BRL.  It was really hard falling asleep in our premium villa.  The king sized bed with soft fluffy pillows was just soooo uncomfortable...


I think we fell asleep in 5 minutes.



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Wow, what a decadent luxury in the midst of the Borneo rain forest! But well deserved as you have suffered a lot on this trip. As for the frog, it looks very nice, and you should try to get another shot of it :D.

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That villa looks really "premium", it reminds me of one of our Thailand experiences, although our villa did not have a view. But it had a nice (very nice, I should say) private plunge pool. The day we got there and had time to enjoy it, it was cold and rainy. No pool.

The other couple of days we stayed there we were up at 5am (darn wildlife gets up early) and back at night, exhausted. No time for pool, plus, the water was still cold.

The day we left...yay! the sun was out, the water had warmed up...and we had no time for the pool because we were leaving. I think it was the nicest villa we ever stayed in. Hope you got time to enjoy that porch and the view.


Frogs are cool! 


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I am a big fan of frogs too, but that frog at that moment was not a welcome sight...:)

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Danum - Day 14


After a great night's sleep in our premium villa (did I mention we stayed in a premium villa?), we were up early for a 7AM jungle walk with Azmil.


The morning hike starting out with a mist in the tops of the trees and Gibbons calling.  It was a perfect morning.  The Gibbons were moving quickly through the trees but Azmil managed to both predict and track their movements to get us into a spot where we could see them.


At first, the looks were very fleeting.  Can you spot the Gibbon?


Can you See the Gibbon?


But, then Azmil got us in position to see them more clearly.


Can you See the Gibbon?



They were still a long way off but at least we were able to see faces.  Karen loves their fuzzy little tushes so this picture is for her:


Gibbon Booty


These were our best Gibbon looks ever so that was a real treat.  There were also a couple Orangutans in the trees that morning but they were way too hidden for pictures.


Towards the end of the hike, we spotted some Red Leaf Monkeys:


Red Langur Eating


With this little troop was a very energetic juvenile who was running along the branches and hopping up and down.  It was great fun to watch:


Baby Red Langur





Here is an animated GIF that Tim put together showing this little guy leaping around:





On the way back to the lodge Azmil spotted not one, but two gorgeous trogons.


Scarlet-rumped Trogon:

Scarlet-rumped Trogon


Diard's Trogon:

Diard's Trogon


Back at the lodge, I tried unsuccessfully to get close to the nesting Blue-throated Bee Eaters.  They were not cooperating so I took a scenic shot instead:


Blue-throated Bee Eaters


After lunch, the rain came and didn't let up until around 7PM.  So, our afternoon hiking plans were spoiled.  But, that didn't stop us from enjoying the view from the outdoor tub in our premium villa.  I even cracked open some free beer and drank it out of the chilled champagne glass in the fridge.  Boy, it's tough "roughing it" in the jungle.


At dinner time, the battle for desserts erupted again.  They had so many great desserts on display that we couldn't decide so Tim, Andrea, and I would typically try two each (hey, don't judge, we were on vacation!).  Karen usually doesn't have dessert right after dinner but she managed to ALWAYS sample some of mine much to my displeasure.


One of tonight's desserts was especially noteworthy.  I think Tim innocently chose this dessert at first.  But, when he showed up at the table with this round cone-shaped supple cake with a dollop of perky chocolate on top all of us took notice.  It was a perfect delicious looking boob!


But, when the perky chocolate topper fell off, Karen let Tim know that "You have to take care of the nipple".  That got a good laugh out of everybody before Tim said straight-faced "I will need to stay abreast of that situation".  And with that we all pretty must lost it for a while.  Luckily, we were able to compose ourselves prior to our 8PM night hike.


Once again, and unsurprisingly, a big goal on the hike was to find a Tarsier.  They can be seen around BRL but they are by no means common.  Just like last year, Azmil worked really hard looking for one as did the rest of us.  But, once again we struck out.  However, the night hike was still really good.


The first encounter was a great one and I still don't know how Azmil spotted a snake about 10 meters off the boardwalk.  But, he did.  And, he also managed to find a reasonably open path to it so that we could get some pictures.  It was a beautiful Sumatran Pit Viper:


Sumatran Pit Viper Coiled and Ready


Sumatran Pit Viper


You can see that it was just hanging down waiting to ambush its dinner.


We also encountered this cute little Forest Crab:

Forest Crab


Our next encounter can't be called cute.  But, it was impressive none the less.  It was a huge male Bearded Pig:

Huge Bearded Pig


We saw this Bearded Pig near the employee lodging.  Azmil had taken us here because he had gotten word that a Leopard Cat had just been spotted in the area.  We did manage to see a shape moving along the cottages but it was impossible to identify it.  But, I did see a Malay Civet take off in the other direction while we were following the supposed Leopard Cat.


The rest of the hike turned up a cool Angle-headed Lizard, some Mouse Deer with super bright eye shine, a roosting Black-crowned Pitta, a White-lipped Frog and multiple leeches that seemed to like Andrea and Karen more than the boys.  I guess they are just sweeter than us.


At around 11PM we called it quits and headed back to the cool comfort of our premium villa.

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The trip is winding down now.  Only a couple of days left.


Danum - Day 15


After another great night in our premium villa, we hit the restaurant for an early breakfast so we would have time to digest prior to our planned 7AM hike with Azmil.  I could certainly get used to someone making me eggs to order for breakfast all the time. Hear that Karen!


Once again, there was some mist in the trees this morning and the Gibbons were calling.  I don't think there could be a more perfect environment to do a hike.  All of our senses were being tingled by the great sights and sounds.


Morning Fog in Danum


Once again, Azmil did a great job getting us in position to see the very elusive North Bornean Gibbons.  We got even better looks today and were able to see a mother and baby. It was a great experience even if the pictures weren't great.  This is the best of the bunch:


Mother Gibbon and Baby


At one point, a huge male Bearded Pig came rambling out of the forest and almost ran into us before veering off.  He was actually too close for me to get a decent picture at my minimum 200mm focal distance.  But, Tim got another great video of him:



Not long after that, we came upon a Short-crested Forest Dragon having its breakfast:

Short-crested Forest Dragon


According to Azmil, this lizard has the ability to change its color a bit to blend into its surroundings which makes sense given that it blended in so well against the tree trunk from most angles.


During most of our hikes in Danum, we passed little mud columns and I finally remembered to ask Azmil about them during this hike:


Giant Earthworm Tube


They are actually tubes formed by Giant Earthworms as they dig in the ground.  The species in Borneo isn't that big but they have one called the Mekong Giant Earthworm in Vietnam that can get up to 10 feet long!  Imagine trying to get that on a fishing hook.


Our morning hike concluded with two great encounters.


First, Azmil took us to look for a male Orangutan that was last seen in the vicinity.  He was able to spot it high in a tree and we got some decent looks and pictures:


Climbing Up


Smiling Male Orangutan


Then, Azmil heard a Great Argus Pheasant calling so we left the Orangutan (imagine that!) to go find it.  The Great Argus is extremely rare and the last one seen at BRL was along time ago.  But, apparently this one had been hanging around a specific trail recently calling for the ladies.  It was this call that we followed.  Eventually, we got into position and we all got great looks at it:


Great Argus


With that excitement out of the way, Azmil left us on the trail for a bit because he wanted to go track down that male Orangutan again off trail.  So, we hung around and talked until he came back and led us off trail to a great vantage point of the male who was now resting up in a tree:


Just Chillin'


We watched him for a while until he moved further along the branch to take a snooze.   Wow, it was really cool to finally see a male with flanges (the large flappy check pads).  Apparently, the bigger flanges the better when it comes to finding a mate and this guy had some good sized ones.


The only other action during the hike were all the Tiger leeches that we flicked off, but amazingly none of us got bit.  Since we were all "experienced" leech food by now, they didn't bother us as much anymore.


We ended up hiking for over 5 hours but it sure was worth it.  The cold wet washcloth offered up by a BRL staff member on our return was AMAZING!


After a lunch that included HUGE prawns (boy, were we getting spoiled) and a Water Monitor "crawl by", we lounged around our premium villas until our planned later afternoon hike.


Wandering Water Monitor


The afternoon hike was going to be much easier than the morning one.  We planned to take a trail to the waterfall to experience a fish massage and would stop by a suspected Asian Fairy Flycatcher nest on the way.


Unfortunately, the nest was abandoned which is a shame because I really wanted some pictures of that flycatcher.  It's one of the more spectacular birds in Borneo.


So, next up we visited the waterfall for the famous fish massage.  But first, we spotted this Rock Hopper Frog:

Rock Skipper Frog


Now, if you have ever been to SE Asia you undoubtedly have seen road signs advertising fish massages.  Contrary to what you might think, they don't lay you face down and place a huge flopping fish on your back.  Although, I bet people would pay money for that so I will write that idea down...


Instead, you take off your shoes and socks and place your feet in a pool with certain species of fish that proceed to eat the dead skin off your feet.  I am sure it's all very comfy when down at one of these roadside locations.


But, we were in the middle of the jungle standing by a pool at the base of a waterfall with only large sharp rocks to walk on and nowhere to sit.  Tim and Andrea sat down near the water to take off their shoes and socks which was wise.  However, Karen and I sat on a rock about 10 yards from the water so once the shoes and socks came off we had to walk on the sharp rocks to the waters edge.  What followed were lots of high pitched "Ow...OW...OWWWW!" sounds and bit of profanity thrown in for good measure.  And, that was just from me.


Surely this brief agony would all be worth it when the pleasures of the fish "massage" overwhelmed my feet.  Right?




Instead of gentle satisfying nibbles, the fish around us must have been buck-toothed Piranha because they went at our feet like sailors scraping barnacles off a boat.  To top it off, they didn't go for the hard callouses (not that I have any of the those...).  They preferred the soft and delicate sides of our feet that really had no extra skin to give.


Karen was the first to yield and I only lasted a little longer.  Apparently, once we were out and yelping our way back to our shoes, the buffet going on around Tim and Andrea jumped into warp speed.  So, they were done not long after I was.


While I am glad I did this for the experience and story, I sure wouldn't call it a fish "massage".  A fish "foot feeding frenzy" or a fish "skin scraping" would have been much more appropriate names but those names would hurt sales for obvious reasons.


If we had brought flip flops at least all the screaming outside the water would have gone away.  So, we will remember that next time.  Yeah, like there will be a next time...


Now, while all of this was going on, some Red Leaf Monkeys were in the trees above us and looking on with much amusement I am sure.


"I'm limber":



On the hike back to the lodge I finally got a picture of the cool Pill Millipede.  When disturbed, this guy will roll into an armored ball that looks like a brown golf ball.  It would actually be great if they had golf ball markings on them so we could tell them apart.  That way the conversation would exactly match the ones I have on the golf course.  "Well, there's a Titleist 4 in the mud down by that pond and a Top Flight 2 over behind those trees."


Pill Millipede


We also found another daytime Colugo before reaching the lodge.  I have actually lost count of how many Colugos we saw this trip but we did see at least one in all locations and probably about 10 total.


Just as we got back to the lodge, the rain started and never stopped.  So, our night walk had to be cancelled.  Instead, we enjoyed some cocktails in the restaurant, a tasty dinner, and the usual battle over the best desserts.  We were all winners in that battle by the way.


But, we went to bed sad in our premium villas because it was our last night at the amazing Borneo Rainforest Lodge.  It's truly a special place and worth EVERY penny.

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Day 16 and 17 - Danum to Sepilok to Home


The rain stopped during the night sometime, but we don't know when because we were sound asleep in our huge soft bed.  When our alarm went off we did not want to get up because we didn't want to leave BRL and our premium villa.  But, all good things must come to an end.


At breakfast we soaked in the atmosphere as much as possible.  The sun was out but there was still some mist in the trees.  Too bad there were no Gibbons calling today though.  We did see a Pygmy Squirrel darting up and down a tree near the restaurant which was our last mammal sighting at BRL.


At 7AM, we reluctantly climbed into the van for the 2.5 hour trip back to Lahad Datu.  But, Danum wasn't done with us yet because on the drive back we encountered both a Crested Fireback and a Jungle Fowl.  


Question: Why did the Jungle Fowl cross the road?

Answer: So, I could get a blurry picture of it through the windshield of the van.


That's one good looking wild chicken:

Jungle Fowl Through the Windshield


Before we knew it, we were at the Lahad Datu airport to drop off Tim and Andrea.  They were great traveling partners and we hope we get to go on an adventure with them again some day.  In fact, their adventure wasn't even done because they were flying to India to spend a few days looking for Tigers.  Yes, we WERE jealous.  Anyway, after exchanging some hugs, we were off to Sepilok for one last night at the Forest Edge Resort.


On the way to the lodge, we had Eric stop at the RDC where we booked a private night walk for later on.  I wasn't giving up on seeing Tarsier without a fight dagnabbit!


We got to the Forest Edge Resort for a late pizza lunch which was delicious.


At 6PM, the taxi picked us up and took us the short distance to the RDC where we met our guide and spotter.   Since it wasn't quite dark yet, we headed up to one of the towers where we watched a Giant Red Flying Squirrel wake up and climb up a nearby tree.  Then it took off and glided right past the tower so we got a great view.  It's so cool to see them fly.


For the next two hours we searched high and low for Tarsier but came up empty... AGAIN!  We did see some frogs and our guide managed to track down an Oriental Bay Owl hiding in some dense foliage.  We both got a glimpse before it flew away.  The highlight of the walk was seeing a Moonrat.  It's really just a big white rat but the name "Moonrat" makes it sound cooler.  It was really moving fast in the leaf litter but I did manage to get one blurry shot of it as proof.


Fast Moving Moonrat


After thanking our guide, we returned to the Forest Edge Resort for dinner. I had to have Dry Noodles one last time since that's my go to Malaysian dish.


After dinner, we did a brief night walk around the grounds where we saw more frogs.


Four-lined Tree Frog:

Four-lined Tree Frog


Then we went back to the insect sheet that the resort lights up at night to see what it attracted.  There we saw lots of small bugs and this one large Praying Mantis hoping to dine on some of them:


Praying Mantis


Our last night at the resort was in a standard room as opposed to a deluxe room and despite not having as nice a shower I think we preferred the standard room.  It had night stands and more places to put stuff which was very nice.  Of course, it had air conditioning too which was great.


Since we didn't have to leave the resort until 1PM, we slept in which felt REALLY good.  Of course, sleeping in on this trip meant until 6:30AM so it was by no means egregious.


We took both a before and after breakfast walk around the grounds to see what final Borneo critters we could see.  But, I ended up taking photos of some flora instead of fauna.




Tree Balls?

Tree Balls?


We did have some critters pose for pictures like this Stork-billed Kingfisher which had just nabbed some breakfast:

Stork-billed Kingfisher with Fish


And, best of all, we were able to find yet another Lesser Treeshrew.  These guys are so cute so it was great to make this the final mammal sighting of the trip:


Another Lesser Treeshrew


After packing and showering back in the room (did I mention how nice it was to shower without a plastic bag on my leg?), we headed to reception to wait for our taxi where we sadly said our goodbyes to Borneo.  Two years ago, I never even had Borneo on my list but here it is two years later and we have made two trips there.  The people, food, and wildlife in Borneo are amazing which is why we took back-to-back trips a year apart.  And, we may have to take another one at some point since that damn Tarsier didn't cooperate again this trip.


I would like to say that the travel days home were uneventful, but they weren't.  We had baggage issues again in KL because ANA had no employees staffed since the next flight out was ours 12 hours in the future.   But, we managed to locate their office in the grey cement bowels of the airport where the staff there went out of their way to tag our checked bags and hold them for us so that we could enter the International terminal where our hotel room was for the long layover.


When I read this report in the future, I want to make it clear to myself to NEVER book flights with long layovers in the future since they caused nothing but problems. I had no idea that if you have a layover longer than 6 hours, most airlines won't check your bag through to your final destination.


Also, since I have my attention, don't book travel with 4 legs. Idiot!  Our Sandakan to KL to Tokyo to SFO to Tucson trip took 48 hours door to door and was exhausting.  To top it off, we actually flew on my birthday which is NOT a present I want in the future.  You would think having a 39 hour birthday would be a good thing.   But, that's not true when you spend it in airplanes and airports.  Conveniently, as a present for enduring all the travel, I got sick after arriving home.  It was just a cold, but it lasted a couple weeks and was not a great souvenir to bring back from a trip.


From a wildlife perspective, our trip was a huge success even without the F@#$% Tarsier.


We saw 35 species of Mammals (10 Lifers in Bold)

Prevost Squirrel

Plantain Squirrel

Low’s Squirrel

Sunda Giant Squirrel

Pygmy Squirrel

Thomas’ Flying Squirrel

Horsfield’s Flying Squirrel

Red Giant Flying Squirrel

Lesser Treeshrew

Silvered Leaf Monkey

Red Leaf Monkey

Long-tailed Macaque

Pig-tailed Macaque

Borneo Orangutan

Borneo Colugo

Philippine Slow Loris

Proboscis Monkey

North Bornean Gibbon

Banded Civet

Island Palm Civet

Striped Palm Civet

Malay Porcupine

Long-tailed Porcupine

Pen-tailed Shrew

Bornean Pygmy Elephant

Smooth Otter


Leopard Cat

Sambar Deer

Greater Mouse Deer

Lesser Short-nosed Fruit Bat

Wrinkle Lipped Bat


Bearded Pig

Unknown Rat at Labuy Bay


35 Species of Herps (26 Lifers in Bold)

Four-lined Tree Frog

Masked Tree Frog

Rock Skipper Frog

Asian Toad

Dark-eared Tree Frog

Puddle Frog

Malesian Frog

Tree-hole Frog

File-eared Frog

Harlequin Flying Frog

White-lipped Tree Frog

Common Rice Field Frog

Common Greenback

Giant Bent-toed Gecko

Spotted House Gecko

Spiny-tailed Gecko

Flat-tailed Gecko

Large Forest Gecko

Kuhl's Gliding Gecko

Rough-necked Monitor

Water Monitor

Short-crested Forest Dragon

Black-bearded Gliding Lizard

Green Tree Lizard

Sabah Slender Skink

Many-lined Sun Skink

Dog-faced Water Snake

Sumatran Pit Viper

White-bellied Rat Snake

Malayan Bridle Snake

Painted Bronzeback

Red-tailed Racer

Bornean Keeled Pit Viper

Blue Bronzeback

Salt Water Crocodile


For birds, I only wrote down the 20 lifers that we saw:

Grey and Buff Woodpecker

Brahminy Kite

Reddish Scops Owl

Emerald Dove

Orange-backed Woodpecker

Black-bellied Malkoha

Gold-whiskered Barbet

Blue-crowned Hanging  Parrot

Yellow Bittern

White-crowned Hornbill

Blue-eared Kingfisher

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Great Argus

Jungle Fowl

Gray-headed Canary Flycatcher

Green Iora

Brown-capped Woodpecker

Oriental Bay Owl

Changeable Hawk Eagle

Black-hooded Oriole

Scaly-crowned Babbler

Spotted Fantail

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Well, that wraps up THIS Borneo trip :).


A big thanks to everyone that read and commented on the report.  I appreciate all the kind words.



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Many thanks for this report, I enjoyed your very entertaining writing style and the great photos a lot! Very sorry that you did not find the f*ܧ$(/ (friendly, yes?) Tarsier but you had great sightings otherwise. And I´m glad that you started to copy your reports over here in full as well, much prefer this format. Thanks for sharing!

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A fantastic trip report Alan! It was great for us to share the trip with you and Karen.


I think we all miss the premium villa.

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