My Borneo Birding Adventure - Manukan Island etc - Nov 2018

There are so many things you can actually see and do in Borneo. Its a land with multi layered culture and ethnicity, vast landscape with virgin forest and plenty of wildlife - birds included !  A visit to Mantanani Island would be ideal but i landed on an island called Manukan instead.

How to get there?
From KK International Airport (KKIA), request the taxi to take you to Jesselton ferry terminal. The fare would be around RM30.00. Alternatively you can get a metered cab or a Grab car if you do not like to bargain. You can also take a local bus which should be much cheaper but it might take you longer than the 20 minutes trip by a car. From the jetty, the boat fare will be around RM23.00 and another RM7.00 when you reached the island. You can actually see the island from the jetty itself. Powered by a twin 150 HP Mercury outboard motors you will reach the island within 15 minutes. In this trip my entire family followed and they did bring some good luck to me actually. 

We reached the island at around 10.30am which is actually a bit late in birding terms. While my family enjoyed the sun and the clear sea water, i ran straight to the trails like a man possessed by some bird spirits. My target bird was none other than a bird which look like a small chicken. At the beginning of the trail which is just behind the registration counter, it was pretty quiet with occasionally a few olive-winged bulbuls foraging in the foliage. As i reached the 1000 meter stone mark, my eyes nearly pop out from its sockets! Right in front was my major lifer for year 2018 -  a 1st winter male Narcissus Flycatcher ! My hands were trembling not because of the fear that the bird would eat me but more of hoping that the bird would stay put so that i could take some decent photos of it.

Narcissus Flycatcher (Male) - Ficedula narcissina

This old world flycatcher has no representative (i.e monotypic) and it is a long distance migrant bird. Reported to be abundant in Sakhalin and from the literature's description, this bird is closely related with F. elisae. This sighting is the first on this island as far as eBird Malaysia record is concerned. I will probably wont get any medal for this sighting but its more like a case of "shiok sendiri" (self satisfaction).

The bird was obviously in the hunt for his breakfast as it was observed looking for some insects as it flew deeper into the island forest.

As i walk further up and reaching the 1300 meters mark, my spectacles nearly cracked into pieces. There it was the chicken like bird which i was looking for. Two Tabon Scrubfowl / Tabon Megapode were seen scuttling down the ravine trying to conceal themselves as much as possible. I stayed quietly for 30 minutes hoping that they would move to some open space in the thick foliage but alas they refuse to bulge from their hideout. Hence no photos were taken but the satisfaction to see them with my own eyes was good enough despite that it was nearly noon at the time. From the record of sightings in this location, the usual times to see them in the open are between 7.30am to 9.30am. 

As my heartbeat went back to normal, i continued my bird watching session. 

Other birds seen later on this island were rather common though. 
Zebra dove

Plain-throated Sunbird (female)

Olive-winged Bulbul

Rufous-tailed Tailorbird

Oriental Magpie Robin (female)

i have often been looked at this way (the side ways) by birds - not sure why?

Pacific Reef Egret (Dark Morph)

Mangrove Whistler (juvenile)

Common Sandpiper

This was the only wader seen on this island.

Since there were no cats or dogs around, i guess this lizard is the primary land-based predator on this island.

Next location is a much cooler place called Kundasang.
Kundasang at dawn.

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush.

Despite its common presence and bubbly calls, this was the first time i was able to get a decent shot of this bird.

Crow-billed Drongo

This is a migrant Drongo, perched high up on a casuarina tree.

Ashy Drongo (Dicrunus leucophaeus)

This should be a resident drongo. Note: its white eye patch which can be clearly seen here.

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Another migrant bird has landed.

Oriental Magpie Robin (male)

Note its all black underbelly as compared to its cousins in Peninsular Malaysia / nearby regions. An US Professor in a literature was quoted saying that birds from Sabah is closely related to those from Java while the ones from Sarawak are more a less the same as the ones in Peninsular Malaysia.

Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris palustris)

Lifer # 3 ! 

A mystery bird with an almost all white plumage. I believe it was a juvenile Rufous-bellied eagle - no?

My last stop was at another famous location i.e Tanjung Aru
Blue-naped Parrot

I told the taxi driver that i will not go back until i see this parrot. Miraculously he has waited for me in his cab.

The main attraction for birders to visit this beach front was likely due to the presence of this parrot. Despite its feral status, it was simply fascinating to see it flying freely. Hope the state government will protect the tree trunk in the middle of the park for this precious and vulnerable parrot !

Lifer # 4.

An Oriental Pied Hornbill been mobbed by a White-breasted Woodswallow.

White-breasted Woodswallow

Despite its small size and the possibility of it been eaten by the hornbill, it has continuously harassed  the hornbill (kamikazi style) until it gave up and flew away.

Oriental Pied Hornbill - flying away

These two Asian Dollar birds were sharing the same tree trunk as the Blue-naped parrot.

Like how i started this trip, i have ended it with another lifer.

Green Imperial Pigeon

I have no time to adjust any settings and just gave it a shot. My hunch was correct. As soon as i shot this photo it flew off.

Lifer #: 5

I have enjoyed this trip thoroughly.

Amazing Borneo/Sabah indeed !



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