Birding Sukau, Sabah, Borneo – 10,000 Birds

Sukau birding primarily means staying in a more-or-less snug lodge on the banks of the Kinatabagan river, and taking boat excursions on more-or-less rickety boats on the river. The mosquitos and the warmth and the sweat are free, the lodges are usually not. That is the way it appears to be like like:


Or at sundown:

A species I didn’t come for from Shanghai is the Black-crowned Night time Heron. Sure, we’ve them in Shanghai as effectively. Undecided why they spend time in Shanghai in winter once they may come right here although, however then once more, I often don’t perceive many of the habits of people both.

Blue-throated Bee-eaters construct nests on sticks protruding of the water. They give the impression of being crap however presumably provide some safety for the chicks, although not from one another (see the murderous actions throughout the nests in my earlier publish).

As a result of these nests look so dangerous, I took a bribe from the Affiliation of Bornean Bee-eaters to not present them (truly, I simply forgot to take a photograph, silly me). So, simply images of the birds themselves.

The juvenile within the again has simply caught one thing. The mum or dad should be so proud …

The Sabah Partridge is listed as Close to Threatened. Its species identify graydoni is in honor of Philip Newenham Graydon (1864-1940), a British planter in Sabah. Why that makes Mr. Graydon worthy of getting a hen species named after him is a thriller to me.

The HBW calls it a “boldly-marked partridge” whereas eBird goes for “intricately-patterned partridge” which is nearly the other – verify for your self which one of many two descriptions is nearer to the reality.

And if you’re in Sabah, you can even verify whether or not the hen is “unusual … all through its vary” (eBird) or quite “domestically frequent” (HBW).

Weirdly, a meta-analysis undertaken by Lim and Mojiol quoted within the HBW discovered “Sabah Partridge to be most ample in business forest reserves, and fewer so in state-owned areas and guarded reserves”. A hen with a powerful perception in non-public property, perhaps?

The Massive Frogmouth is considered one of these splendidly bizarre hen species that make birding such a pleasure, when you recover from the warmth and humidity and mosquitos and leeches of Borneo’s lowlands.

It’s listed as Close to Threatened – the HBW states that it’s an “unusual or uncommon hen that’s virtually definitely declining owing to destruction of its lowland-forest habitat”.


The HBW additionally remarks that there’s “no apparent sexual dichromatism, though feminine is claimed to be typically plainer and duller” – my recommendation to HBW employees is to not make such statements at events, as this may make you comparatively unpopular besides with essentially the most boorish of male visitors.

If you wish to know what occurred on August 31, 1984, I can identify not less than one occasion: Within the Padang-Sugihan Wildlife Reserve in South Sumatra province, a Massive Frogmouth was mobbed by a Better Racket-tailed Drongo, as described right here. At between 4 pm and 6 pm, to be precise. In fact, many individuals nonetheless know precisely what they did when this occurred.

Apparently, when breeding, the 2 mother and father divide incubation duties, with one hen taking up the daytime duties and one other one the nighttime. Consequently, a paper describing this talks of the “day shift” and the “night time shift” hen. The paper can also be value trying out for some quite cute images of the frogmouth chick.

For some, the glass of water is all the time half full. For others, it’s all the time half-empty (I, being extra real looking than most individuals, often doubt there may be any glass in any respect). Anyway, the Latin identify of the Mangrove Blue Flycatcher interprets as one thing just like the Pink-bellied Flycatcher (rufigaster is the species identify). Completely different views.

Whereas it’s a very engaging hen, its habitat in swamps and mangroves apparently makes it troublesome for armchair ornithologists to check it, so there are few or no papers on the hen.

The hornbills of Sukau are featured in a separate publish – they’re one of many essential points of interest of this location although.

Ditto for Storm’s Stork.

Blue-eared Kingfishers assume that sustainability is essential. They continuously reuse nest holes, thus saving very important pure assets although cleansing out the used nest gap takes about one week (supply).

Sadly, the Latin species identify meninting doesn’t consult with a possible merciless Dutch governor with a sideline in naturalism however is simply the Javanese identify for the Deep-blue Kingfisher. One good little story for my weblog publish misplaced.

Like different kingfishers, Blue-eared Kingfishers nest in excavated tunnels – however in comparison with different kingfishers, these tunnels appear to be fairly brief with a median size of solely 25 cm. A kingfisher with a considerably poor work ethic, I assume. Or speluncaphobia?

The Stork-billed Kingfisher is far larger and simpler to see.

Some scientists at Chittagong College, Bangladesh noticed the habits of Stork-billed Kingfisher and Pied Kingfisher at – guess the place – Chittagong College campus (presumably they’ve some issues expensing journey prices).

They noticed the Pied Kingfisher enterprise 8 actions whereas the Stork-billed Kingfisher was noticed performing solely 6. The 2 lacking ones have been hovering (too huge, too fats, too lazy, I assume) and bathing. The final level makes me fear a bit about getting too near Stork-billed Kingfishers. Perhaps they turn into fairly smelly? I didn’t get shut sufficient to search out out although.

The Collared Kingfisher is much more frequent – it may continuously be seen sitting on wires and posts alongside the principle roads.

So frequent that my native hen information truly gave the species for example of a quite common hen he was nonetheless blissful to see throughout the COVID lockdown when it confirmed up in his yard.

The resident trend critic of eBird is just not very impressed with the Orange-backed Woodpecker, stating that it’s “dressed all in patchwork”.

It has one of many extra stupid-sounding genus names – Reinwardtipicus, which is made up of the identify of Dutch naturalist Prof. Caspar Georg Carl Reinwardt and picus, which suggests woodpecker, with the ti that connects the 2 components probably additionally having some form of which means. That is solely partly compensated by the species identify validus (sturdy), of which presumably the species is sort of pleased with.

Maybe not attention-grabbing to anyone besides me, the HBW profile of the hen has a quick part on the writer, Chuenchom Hansasuta, who obtained a Physician of Dental Surgical procedure from Chulalongkorn College in Bangkok. I keep in mind that once I was nonetheless a analysis chemist creating dental supplies, I as soon as gave a presentation at that college, which was adopted by my receiving a hideous and really colourful plate as a present afterward. With an image of the then-queen of Thailand on it, if I keep in mind accurately. So, fairly probably that made me commit lese majeste once I conveniently “forgot” the plate in my resort room when leaving Bangkok – a room in a resort that was considerably distinguished by all vaguely engaging younger females getting into the resort having to depart their ID playing cards on the reception. On reflection, it form of makes me surprise what picture the organizers who booked the resort for me had of German tutorial guests …

A lot for my quasi-madeleine second, although in fact much less emotionally engaging than the one described by Mr. Proust. Again to birds.

The Oriental Darter is assessed as Close to Threatened – the explanations are the same old ones: habitat loss, searching, and air pollution. Humankind, you probably did it once more, congratulations.

The Latin species identify melanogaster highlights the black stomach of the hen (melanos = black, gastros = stomach). A good friend of mine who’s a bit terrified of snakes thinks of it because the snakebird although, which isn’t unreasonable given the snake-like neck of the hen.

The Pacific Swallow is the resident swallow right here – in winter, it’s apparently joined by an abundance of barn swallows that don’t benefit from the coldish winter in locations akin to Shanghai.

Based on eBird, the barn swallow has longer outer tail feathers and a darkish line separating the throat and breast that are missing within the Pacific Swallow. Nevertheless, it’s best to not name a Pacific Swallow short-tailed as they may regard this as insulting, notably the males.

Purple Herons are usually not quite common and fairly shy in Shanghai whereas right here, they behave like they personal the place.


The species identify of the Scarlet-rumped Trogon, duvaucelii, makes it sound a bit like it’s sponsored by a battery producer but it surely actually simply commemorates Alfred Duvaucel (1796-1824), a French naturalist who probably was killed by a tiger in Madras (supply), although one other supply has him killed by a rhinoceros (in these areas, there are lots of such selections obtainable). I assume he ought to have caught with the considerably much less harmful trogons.

Male (purple breast) and feminine (orange)

The Scarlet-rumped Trogon is assessed as Close to Threatened regardless of being apparently nonetheless pretty frequent on Borneo. It’s the smallest of all trogons.


Its blue eyebrow makes it appear to be it both is consistently uncertain about one factor or different, or a long-time participant in some form of cosplay.


The Frequent Iora (species identify tiphia) apparently will get its identify from Tiphys of Greek mythology, the pilot of the Argonauts. And the Argonauts have been a band of heroes in Greek mythology, who within the years earlier than the Trojan Battle accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to search out the Golden Fleece (please lookup for your self who Jason was, the place Colchis is and what the Golden Fleece was).

Tiphys died both of a snakebite or of a mysterious sickness however he was not killed by both a tiger or a rhinoceros. Fortunate him, proper? Although he ended up lifeless anyway.

My unfounded guess is that there may be a hyperlink between the Golden Fleece and the yellow coloration of the Iora – goldenfleecii would sound form of silly as a species identify, and why not showcase along with your classical schooling when there’s a probability to take action?

Then, there are raptors. The Bat Hawk primarily eats bats, because the identify suggests – in a curiously exact assertion, Wikipedia claims that 49.3% of its hunts are profitable. Different helpful info within the Wikipedia article consists of the factoid that it reveals very fast ingestion charges, taking over common 6 seconds for the prey to achieve the abdomen after seize (motto of this weblog: We learn Wikipedia for you so that you don’t have to).

A Crested Serpent Eagle, wanting a bit ridiculous after a rain.

It is a juvenile Gray-headed Fish Eagle, until it’s one other fish eagle just like the Lesser (the dearth of any gray head makes me doubt the identification a bit, but it surely appears juveniles can’t afford a gray head but).

A paper on the Gray-headed Fish Eagle states that it “most well-liked nesting nearer to everlasting water than anticipated” – which makes me surprise who on earth has particular expectations about the popular nesting distance of the eagle from water. Effectively, it appears such individuals exist.

This can be a Jerdon’s Baza – the HBW warns that it might simply be confused with a number of different raptors, and I’m not that good a birder.

The ebook “Raptors of the World” describes it as a “sluggish-looking” hen, which strikes me as a bit bizarre for a raptor.

The baza is known as after British zoologist Thomas Caverhill Jerdon (1811 – 1872). His Wikipedia entry has its fair proportion of ineffective however amusing info on him: “In his private issues he was stated to be careless and forgetful. He typically had bother together with his collectors and throughout the time of his demise, he was discovered to be bancrupt. Jerdon has additionally been famous as being rash. On one event, he tried catching a cobra by the tail and acquired bitten on the tip of finger which he slashed with a pocket knife. He was additionally practically strangled by a pet python that he saved.

One other “perhaps that is” species: a attainable Wallaces Hawk-eagle. I’ll write extra about it in a later publish, as I noticed it nesting at Sepilok.

The ultimate hen of this publish is the White-bellied Sea-eagle, a species that the HBW happily describes as unmistakable. The writer of the HBW entry is identical feminine Thai dentist named within the Woodpecker part – she appears to have an virtually scary obsession with plumages, going to nice lengths to explain the totally different ones. I assumed this type of obsession was restricted to gull fans, but it surely appears I used to be incorrect.

Lastly, I’m blissful to share some helpful hints for photographers with you. Right here is one: when taking images of elephants, an 800 mm tele lens is just not the perfect gear. Even when – as in Borneo – the elephants are comparatively small (they’re truly known as Borneo pygmy elephants).

If that triggers you to go looking your mind for long-lost information and provide you with the time period “insular dwarfism“, congratulations – you as soon as discovered one thing, although it was most likely a very long time in the past and doesn’t have any sensible use for you now as it’s not even continuously requested for in crossword puzzles.

If not realizing this info any longer and thus suspecting you may be affected by dementia, there are all the time another animals round to facilitate assisted suicide.

Alternatively, you could take consolation from the truth that you’ll by no means be as ugly as this distant relative of yours.

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