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12 Days Birding & Bird Photography Tours In Sabah, Borneo

Friday, January 18, 2008

Best Of Tabin Wildlife Reserve - 94 Species Of Birds In Single Day !

4th - 17th january 2008

I was invited by Tabin Wildlife Lodge management to update their birds list with CK for 4 days 3 nights. Took the early morning flight with MASwings from Kota Kinabalu at 0700hrs and arrived at small town of Lahad Datu around 0755hrs.

Transfered to Tabin Wildlife Lodge through gravel road for one and a half hour along the oil palm plantations which belongs to few private companies and managed to see 4 Raptors namely, Black-winged Kite, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Wallace's Hawk Eagle and Crested Serpent Eagle perched on a tree near with the main road.

Type of accomodation available at the lodge

Birding started after lunch around 1430hrs along the Tomanggong road which is excellence for forest birds as it is in between the plantation and secondary forest and trees that grows here around 40 - 50 metres in heights only and provides shades and more lights can penetrates into the floor of the forest, means good for photography too.

Scanning for Bronzed Drongo with local guides

1st day ended at 1800hrs with birds seen and heard around 50 species.

Early starts on the next day and birding was done on the same road like yesterday and main mission for today was to get at least 100 birds ! Good weather the whole day with blue sky helped us a lot to identify many birds especially Bulbuls and Sunbirds together with babblers as well Warblers. Videoscoped Dusky Broadbill nesting too

Jerdon's Baza 1st digiscoped bird !

By lunch time, recorded 73 birds and it breaks my own record as my last count was last week within a day was only 51. So another 27 more birds to go ...

Continued on the same road around 1430hrs, the driver dropped us next to the junction to the mud volcano and walked back slowly to the lodge until around 1830hrs.

Best place in tabin for birding about 26 km altogether

So did we see 100 birds that day ?

No! Only 94 birds. So another excuse to come again next time hahaha!

Moon taken from the lodge ...

Dusky Broadbill with nesting material, my lifer

Wallace's Hawk Eagle perched very low on a tree next to the restaurant while it was still drizzling

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Female Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Malaysian Blue Flycather

Comfortable room offered by Tabin with attached bathroom and balcony overlooking the river

One of the highlight, Blue-banded Kingfisher ! With the helped of technology, able to see this bird after CK contacted me via cellphone

Pig-tailed Macaque came to the resort area after the rain

It rained on the 16th afternoon until we left the resort on the 17th january after lunch. So birded around the resort and saw 6 species of birds which we didnt see during the walked on the Tomanggong road

Big smile after finding the rare Blue-banded Kingfisher

Trying hard to identify another lifer of mine, Rufous-tailed Jungle Flycatcher which kept on hoping along the river bank

Time to go back ...

30 new species was recorded for the reserve and the last bird seen by CK on the 17th afternoon before lunch was a single White-crowned Hornbill and it completed the 8 species of Hornbills that could be found at Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Main highlight;

  • Malaysian Honeyguide
  • Blue-banded Kingfisher
  • 2 Rufous-tailed Jungle Flycatchers
  • Crested Goshawk (The closest I could get with the scope's minimum close focus)
  • White-crowned Hornbill

Number of species seen and heard according to the family;

  • Pelicans and commorants - 1
  • Storks, Ibises and Spoonbills - 1
  • Osprey, Hawks, Kites, Eagles, Harriers, Buzzards and Hawk-Eagles - 7
  • Megapodes and Patridges - 1
  • Fireback Pheasants - 1
  • Rails - 2
  • Sandpipers - 1
  • Green-Pigeons - 1
  • Pigeons - 3
  • Parrots - 1
  • Large Cuckoos - 2
  • Small Cuckoos - 3
  • Malkohas, Coucals and Ground-Cuckoo - 5
  • Swifts and Treeswifts - 4
  • Trogons - 3
  • Kingfishers - 4
  • Bee-Eaters, Rollers and Hoopoes- 2
  • Hornbills - 8
  • Barbets and Honeyguides - 3
  • Woodpeckers - 7
  • Broadbills - 3
  • Pittas - 2
  • Larks and Swallows - 2
  • Cuckoo-Shrikes and Fruithunter - 2
  • Minivets - 2
  • Leafbirds - 2
  • Bulbuls - 8
  • Drongos - 2
  • Orioles and Fairy Bluebird - 1
  • Crows and Bristlehead - 1
  • Jungle-Babblers - 5
  • Scimitar-Babbler and Wren Babblers - 1
  • Tree-Babblers - 2
  • Tit-Babblers, Fulvettas, Sibias, Yuhinas and Rail-Babbler - 4
  • Shamas and Forktails - 3
  • Flyeater, Leaf-Warblers and Reed-Warblers - 1
  • Tailorbirds and Prinias - 4
  • Jungle Flycathers and Flycatchers - 5
  • Paradise Flycatchers, Fantails and Monarchs - 4
  • Wagtails and Pipits - 1
  • Starlings - 1
  • Sunbirds - 6
  • Spiderhunters and Honeyeaters - 1
  • Flowerpeckers - 2
  • Finches and Munias - 2
  • Sparrows - 1

Non bird species;

  • Orang Utan
  • Bornean Gibbons
  • Pig-tailed Macaques
  • Striped bronze-backed Snake
  • Barking Deers
  • Wild Boars

Total species within 4 days 3 nights was 128 birds. Total lifer for myself was 6 species.

One of my best birding trip so far with the number of species seen during my stayed as it out numbered other well know birding sites in Sabah. What else can I say, Tabin Wildlife Reserve deserved to be acknowledged as another premier birding spot and a must visit for local and overseas birders.

I would like to extend my deepest thanks for the hospitality by Tabin Wildlife Lodge staffs during our stay and the warmth welcome given to us.

For more info, kindly log to their website at

Ck's website

Further reading about birding in Tabin, click Borneo's bodacious birding heaven

Pictures digiscoped with Nikon Fieldscope ED82, SRB-Griturn adapter and Fujifilm f31d

Happy birding !

Sunday, January 13, 2008

digiscoped quarter moon

13th january 2008

while preparing my stuffs for tomorrow, lit a cigarette outside and when i looked up at the sky, saw this moon which i've been waiting since last month, so setup my scope and camera and took few frames.

tried few magnifications from 1-3x of my fujifilm f31d and this picture was on max zoom and been adjusted using CS3.

click at this pic to view the actual size !

i'll be off to tabin wildlife reserved tomorrow and hope can see my main target, bornean bristlehead which i've been searching with no luck since last year at danum valley and sepilok orang utan centre.

hope can post something from my trip while at tabin as i've been told by the manager that cellphone coverage is available with full bar at their lodge hahaha :p

Thursday, January 10, 2008

raining again ...

10th january 2008

went birding today with keith and maureen from england and they arrived in kota kinabalu this morning around 7.30am tru costa allerga cruise ship originated from HK.

so covered 3 districts today as it is too late to go up at kinabalu national park for endemic birds of borneo, so drove to kota belud for waders, then tuaran for the whistling ducks then to tg aru beach in kota kinabalu for the parrots and mynas.

weather has been cloudy then rained few times today as expected from the meteorological department forecast and enjoyed birding with them as i saw quite a surprised species such as adult and juvenile changable hawk-eagle at tuaran, chinese egret at tg. aru beach then before left back to the port, instead of java sparrow, saw another migrant , the eastern reed-warbler !

was it a nest up there ?

total species seen today was 51 birds and could be more if the weather was fine hehehe :p

Sunday, January 6, 2008

good shot of brown shrike !

6th january 2008

woke up late today as had ceremony at my parents house last night and was undecided either go birding or continue surfing the internet. then i remembered that few birders at brunei found another vagrant from north asia, northern lapwing at wasan rice field !

only few sighting of this bird in borneo so left around 3 pm alone to tempasuk rice field again hoping who knows to get the same bird hahahah.

after spending few hours looking at some waders, managed to get quite closed with this brown shrike even though it kept on flying from one post to the other each time i walked toward the bird.

at last it perched for few less than a minute and sufficient enough for me to captured this brown shrike before it flew off again with the coming herd of oxes ...

digiscoped with nikon ED82, srb-griturn adapter and fujifilm f31d

and no northern lapwing today ...

Friday, January 4, 2008

happy new year !

4th january 2008

been busy with group from tourism malaysia and only today had chance for short birding after sending my lovely fiance back home from the office as the weather been cloudy since new year.

then drove to one of the rice field at tuaran where i saw the crow-billed drongo last november which is a migratory bird from north asia.

so target this year is; nocturnal birds of borneo !

have a nice new year n hope to see more lifers this year and i'll be off to tabin wildlife reserved for few days birding with my guru ck from the 14-17th january hahaha :p

black-headed munia together with a juvenile

digiscoped with nikon ED82, srb-griturn adapter and fujifilm f31d