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12 Days Birding & Bird Photography Tours In Sabah, Borneo

Monday, March 21, 2022

Mt. Trusmadi Part II + Sook Lake + Klias Peatswamp + Tinagat Tawau + Silam Coast + Sandakan Trips

 4th - 16th March 2022

The gang decided to try for the Bulwer's Pheasant, Rail-Babbler, Bornean Frogmouth and Crested Partridge at Mt. Trusmadi and then 2 nights at Sook Lake, Keningau and got the Bornean Black Magpie, Little Bronzed Cuckoo, female Black Partridge (seen only by John!) and plenty Malaysian Eared Nightjar in the evening while watching the sunset. What a special moment! At Klias Peatswamp Forest, Beaufort, we got the rare Hook-billed Bulbul (sound recordings + pics) including Brown Hawk-Owl, nesting Cinnamon-headed Pigeon and Great Slaty Woodpecker!

Then I continued with Syamimi for her Waders of Sabah project at Tinagat Beach, Tawau where we counted a small numbers of migrants such as Far Eastern Curlew, Red Knot, Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattler and Common Greenshank. In between the survey, we visited Tawau Hills Park and I got the Horsfield's Babbler, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Scaly-crowned and also Short-tailed Babbler along the Hot Spring Trail. 

For Silam Coast Conservation Area, Lahad Datu, not much was seen and heard due to the not favorable tides except for the Hooded Pitta. But plenty migrants behind the seafood restaurant in town such as Common Redshank, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover and also Common Sandpiper

Surprisingly in Sandakan, behind the Taman Harmoni mudflats, we got around 18 species of waterbirds with the number per species was more than 50 individuals. 3 Chinese Egrets was seen as well on the 16th morning including the noisy Oriental Reed Warbler! Short visit to Kg. Dandulit at Mile 12, we counted around 61 Great Crested Tern resting on the rocky islands.

Total birds seen and heard:

  1. Crested Partridge (h)
  2. Crimson-headed Partridge
  3. Black Partridge
  4. Red-breasted Partridge
  5. Bulwer's Pheasant (h)
  6. Storm's Stork
  7. Nankeen Night Heron
  8. Striated Heron
  9. Grey Heron
  10. Purple Heron
  11. Little egret
  12. Great Egret
  13. Chinese Egret
  14. Pacific Reef Egret
  15. Lesser Frigatebird
  16. Changeable Hawk-Eagle
  17. White-bellied Sea Eagle
  18. Brahminy Kite
  19. Crested Serpent Eagle
  20. Changeable Hawk-Eagle
  21. Black-winged Kite
  22. Peregrine Falcon
  23. Japanese Sparrowhawk
  24. White-breasted Waterhen
  25. Kentish Plover
  26. Lesser Sand Plover
  27. Greater Sand Plover
  28. Pacific Golden Plover
  29. Grey Plover
  30. Far Eastern Curlew
  31. Whimbrel
  32. Terek Sandpiper
  33. Common Redshank
  34. Common Greenshank
  35. Common Sandpiper
  36. Grey-tailed Tattler
  37. Red-necked Stint
  38. Red Knot
  39. Black-headed Gull
  40. Greater Crested Tern
  41. Gull-billed Tern
  42. Philippine Cuckoo-Dove
  43. Little Cuckoo-Dove
  44. Zebra Dove
  45. Spotted Dove
  46. Emerald Dove
  47. Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon
  48. Pink-necked Green Pigeon
  49. Green Imperial Pigeon
  50. Mountain Imperial Pigeon
  51. Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot
  52. Dark Hawk-Cuckoo
  53. Oriental Cuckoo (lifer)
  54. Indian Cuckoo
  55. Violet Cuckoo
  56. Little Bronze Cuckoo
  57. Banded Bay Cuckoo
  58. Plaintive Cuckoo
  59. Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo
  60. Short-toed Coucal
  61. Greater Coucal
  62. Lesser Coucal
  63. Chestnut-breasted Malkoha
  64. Red-billed Malkoha
  65. Raffles's Malkoha
  66. Brown Hawk-Owl
  67. Sunda Scops-Owl
  68. Reddish Scops-Owl
  69. Mountain Scops-Owl
  70. Bornean Frogmouth
  71. Malaysian Eared Nightjar
  72. Large-tailed Nightjar
  73. Asian Palm Swift
  74. Pacific Swift
  75. Grey-rumped Treeswift
  76. Plume-toed Swiftlet
  77. White Nest-Swiftlet
  78. Brown Needletail
  79. Silver-rumped Spinetail
  80. Diard's Trogon
  81. Red-naped Trogon
  82. Collared Kingfisher
  83. Blue-throated Bee-Eater
  84. Dollarbird
  85. Bushy-crested Hornbill
  86. Oriental Pied Hornbill
  87. Asian Black Hornbill
  88. Wreathed Hornbill
  89. Rhinoceros Hornbill
  90. Golden-naped Barbet
  91. Mountain Barbet
  92. Bornean Barbet
  93. Gold-faced Barbet
  94. Red-crowned Barbet
  95. Red-throated Barbet
  96. Blue-eared Barbet
  97. Bornean Brown Barbet
  98. Rufous Woodpecker
  99. White-bellied Woodpecker
  100. Banded Woodpecker
  101. Checker-throated Woodpecker
  102. Orange-backed Woodpecker
  103. Rufous Piculet
  104. Buff-rumped Woodpecker
  105. Grey & Buff Woodpecker
  106. Black & Red Broadbill
  107. Banded Broadbill
  108. Black & Yellow Broadbill
  109. Long-tailed Broadbill
  110. Whitehead's Broadbill
  111. Bornean Banded Pitta
  112. Hooded Pitta
  113. Fiery Minivet
  114. Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike
  115. Sunda Cuckoo-Shrike
  116. Lesser Cuckoo-Shrike
  117. Pied Triller
  118. Bornean Whistler
  119. Black & Crimson Oriole
  120. Asian Fairy Bluebird
  121. Ashy Drongo
  122. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
  123. Hair-crested Drongo
  124. Bornean Black Magpie
  125. Slender-billed Crow
  126. Bornean Treepie
  127. Barn Swallow
  128. Pacific Swallow
  129. White-breasted Woodswallow
  130. Dark-necked Tailorbird
  131. Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
  132. Ashy Tailorbird
  133. Mountain Tailorbird
  134. Yellow-bellied Prinia
  135. Black-headed Bulbul
  136. Cinereous Bulbul
  137. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  138. Red-eyed Bulbul
  139. Hook-billed Bulbul
  140. Charlotte's Bulbul
  141. Penan Bulbul
  142. Olive-winged Bulbul
  143. Bornean Bulbul
  144. Golden-bellied Gerygone
  145. Oriental Reed Warbler
  146. Mountain Leaf-Warbler
  147. Yellow-breasted Warbler
  148. Sunda Bush-Warbler
  149. Striated Grassbird
  150. Black-capped Babbler
  151. Temminck's Babbler
  152. Short-tailed Babbler
  153. Horsfield's Babbler
  154. White-chested Babbler
  155. Scaly-crowned Babbler
  156. Grey-throated Babbler
  157. Rufous-fronted Babbler
  158. White-necked Babbler
  159. Chestnut-rumped Babbler
  160. Chestnut-winged Babbler
  161. Rail-Babbler (h)
  162. Chesnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler
  163. Bold-striped Tit-Babbler
  164. Brown Fulvetta
  165. Erpornis
  166. Chestnut-crested Yuhina
  167. Blyth's Shrike-Babbler
  168. Sunda Laughingthrush
  169. Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush
  170. Hume's White-Eye
  171. Swinhoe's White-Eye
  172. Black-capped White-Eye
  173. Bornean Ibon
  174. Javan Myna
  175. Pale-bellied Myna
  176. Hill Myna
  177. Asian Glossy Starling
  178. Oriental Magpie Robin
  179. White-crowned Shama
  180. Orange-headed Thrush
  181. Darks-sided Flycatcher
  182. Grey-streaked Flycatcher
  183. Asian Brown Flycatcher
  184. Mugimaki Flycatcher
  185. Indigo Flycatcher
  186. Verditer Flycatcher
  187. Blue & White Flycatcher
  188. Dayak Blue Flycatcher
  189. Malaysian Blue Flycatcher
  190. Asian Paradise Flycatcher
  191. White-throated Fantail
  192. Pied Fantail
  193. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
  194. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
  195. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
  196. Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker
  197. Van Haselt's Sunbird
  198. Olive-backed Sunbird
  199. Eastern Crimson Sunbird
  200. Temminck's Sunbird
  201. Brown-throated Sunbird
  202. Little Spiderhunter
  203. Long-billed Spiderhunter
  204. Bornean Spiderhunter
  205. Black-headed Munia
  206. Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Recordings of birds at Xeno-Canto:

Images taken with Swarovski Optik and c. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

With Gary, one of the bird guides in Sabah plus specialized in filming for documentary

Eastern Crimson Sunbird

Little Bronze Cuckoo, one of the rare resident in Sabah


Syamimi, one of the local ornithologist on her year long waders of Sabah project

Changeable Hawk-Eagle at Bukit Gemok, Tawau taken around 1km away with Swarovski Optik STX95 spotting scope + Sony A6600!


Face mask from Swarovski Optik for the #YokoYokoBirdTeam


With Ron at Trusmadi Forest Reserve, Tambunan

What a great combo between Swarovski Optik spotting scope and Sony A6600 camera


With the gang along the access road at the reserve


Searching for the Mt. Scops-Owl

2nd visit to Mt. Trusmadi and we got the Bornean Frogmouth, Orange-headed Thrush, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, Besra and many more


At Sook Lake Forest Reserve, Keningau


Trail to the lake

Little Bronze Cuckoo!


One of the attraction for future visitors and we saw many Malaysian Eared Nightjar here during sunset


Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, one of the rare birds in Sabah, preferred peatswamp forest and these was digiscoped at Klias Peatswamp Forest Reserve, Beaufort

 Morning from Kundasang with Mt. Kinabalu at the background

Tinagat Beach, Tawau

Bukit Gemok Forest Reserve seen from the homestay. Got the Rhinoceros Hornbill and Brown Needletail here for my Sabah Big Year 2022

At Tawau Hills Park

One of the tallest tropical tree are found in Tawau. The tallest in the world at Danum Valley

Crown shyness, one of the features by Dipterocarp trees in the tropical country

Silam Coast Conservation Area, Lahad Datu

At Bukit Humunong

Plenty of waders here such as Common Redshank and Grey-tailed Tattler

Part of the mangrove forest at Silam Coast. Heard the Hooded Pitta here

Zainal from #KB4WDC in Sandakan where I got my rear tyre busted

Spring noodle at Jambatan 88 Sim-Sim, Sandakan. One of the best places for seafood meals

John checking out some waders at Taman Harmoni for the next survey in October

 At Kebun Cina

 Crimson-headed Partridge, one of the #endemic found on the higher elevation at Mt. Kinabalu. Commonly heard but quite hard to see in the open and related closely with the rarest Bornean Peacock-Pheasant (Blackwood 2014, Sun et al 2014, Syamimi Makbul 2018) based on the number of metatarsal spurs (Polyplectron) compared with other genus.



I will be off to Danum Valley next month and hope can get more Trogon, Kingfisher, Flycatcher and Pitta for the big year. Happy birding!