Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala): Mission accomplished!

It was a last minute arrangement. We decided to fly off to Sandakan for the weekend. I got my break when my 3day annual leave is finally approved. Rushed, my wife checked every available flights to Sandakan.

Meanwhile in Labuan, disgusted with the unreasonably ridiculous air fare I decided to take a speedboat ride to Menumbuk and later continue the journey to Kota Kinabalu by land. I could use the extra cash in Sandakan. Good food waiting!

Unexpectedly, I had a little too much excitements in my journey to home. I left the office early only to see the BIG handwritten signboards with the word 'CLOSED' lying nicely across the Menumbuk counters. I was so sure that was the end of the beginning.

What do you know? For some unknown reasons, I did get myself to Menumbuk soon after. Only about RM3.00 more and 30 minutes later than usual. Not by the express boats...by a fishing boat! I couldn't believe myself I agreed to this ride. The slightly rough sea didn't help at all.

Terrified not to make the wife worry, I ignored her calls and only sending a text message.."On The Way"! I assure you she knows how an out boat engine sounds like! Worse still, I also had to leave behind my morale values when we arrived at Menumbuk (Apology to my Mum & Dad).

There were ten of us and there was only one seven-seater cab on duty. I didn't run, but I walked so fast towards the cab and so to, to run off my guilt I guess, I had to. If any of the guys on the same boat came across this story, I apologized and perhaps...try to travel lightly the next time : ).

So much so with that, I arrived 3 hours earlier compared to taking flights. I have to say that I had such an experience flying with Airasia to Sandakan the next day. I was so impressed, they are so efficient and the air conditioner on board was excellent! Bravo Airasia, my first impression with you went excellent!

A rival company I have to say is left behind and lagging BIG TIME! If your scheduled flights suit mine, you will definitely be my choice! Of course my delight only began there. We feasted with some of the finest food Sabah has to offer in Sandakan. The famous grilled fish at SimSim, Prawn mee at Bandar Kim Fung, Seafood haven at Kampung Pukat, Coto Makassar by the Bus Station, Steamed fish opposite Wisma Khoo, etc,etc.

Truly the gateway to wildlife in Borneo, my camera and gears had to work their value in Sandakan. They did all that! Sepilok to my joy (Click Pics to enlarge);

DAY 1 (OCT 18, 2008)

1. Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

2. Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)-female

These shots were taken just by the reception office. The flowers were blooming and there were so much activities going on. They are garden birds, worth all the shots nonetheless.
3. Babbler
I just couldn't determine the exact ID of this babbler. Hopping around the dark bushes and forced me to use the flash. Of all the attempted shots, I'm afraid this is the best one. They are cheeky and never sit still.

4. Flying Squirrel

5. Flying Squirrel in action I

6.Flying Squirrel in action II
I got more than I wished for when the Flying squirell appeared from nowhere! I had a hard time trying to shoot them in flight with the low lighting condition, but my 40D rarely dissapoint me as what you can see here. They are nocturnal animals and I had the chance of a lifetime to capture their images in action. I'm a lucky guy!

Day 2 (Oct 19, 2008)

7. Thick-billed Spiderhunter (Arachnothera crassirostris)

8. Thick-billed Spiderhunter (Arachnothera crassirostris)

8. Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris)
Again, we started near the reception office. I was trying to take pictures of the ever-busy spiderhunter when I saw the malkoha at the other other side of the fence observing what I was doing.
9. Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Halcyon concreta)-female

10. Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Halcyon concreta)-male
I still remember the first time I saw these little guys on my previous trip here. Hiding in the lower storey, they could withstand our small group with the vigorous clicking of the shutters. These time around, even the four of us they didn't wait.
Jonathan with his monstrous gear, D3+600mm+1.4X made every moments counted. Mouth watering stuff, I tell you! Alphon a.k.a the beastmaster made sure we would get our shots. He tracked their every movement like a highly experienced and skilled hunter. Thanks man!

11. Raffles's Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus chlorophaeus)

12. Checker-throated Woodpecker (Picus Mentalis)
We found a Raffles's Malkoha, two species of Woodpeckers, Drongo, Babbler and few others at the exact same spot. Talk about bird density! However, light condition didn't help at all. Only managed to capture a couple of species...next time.

13. Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra)

14. Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja)
With the hot and humid condition, we headed back to the car to get some refreshments. Garden birds pumped up the excitements back.

15. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis)
A Velvet-fronted Nuthatch paid a visit to us under the canopy. I got a reasonably good shot compared to the previous ones...Grateful!

16. Paparazzi
The man himself in action Mr. Alphonsus a.k.a Beastmaster. Such high quality of bird pictures collection this man's got. That time, trying to get hold of the flying squirell!

Day 3 (Oct 20, 2008)

17. Black-and-Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchus)
A personal best shot of the Black-and Red Broadbill. Love it!

18. Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)

19. Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)

20. Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)-female

21. Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)-male
The collection of the Bornean Bristlehead wrapped up our visit to Sandakan this time around. I almost shed tears of joy when I looked at the images on my Laptop. I've dreamed of capturing their pictures eversince I first saw them. My dream came true and that means a lot! Without Alphon, these shots would have never been shot. Period!

22. Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
Just another one for the collection.

23. Flying Squirrel II?
Noticed that little grey dot on the center of the pic? It was a flying squirrel or mice, believe it or not. It glide like the Flying squirrel but the size is only a fraction of the squirell...more to a mice to me! This place never ceased to amaze me. Apart from birds, there are lots more to be found here. Great place.

Well, everything went well for us. Luck was on our side. We flew back to Kota Kinabalu on Oct 21st. Of course we would want to stay longer, but with such success for a short period of time we can afford to wait another few months. Alphons and Jonathan, thanks for everything! until next time. Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)...I GOT YOU!..mission accomplished.


Tabib said...

Congratulation! [clap-clap]
You got the trophy

You have so many beautiful bird this time and so lucky for photographing those exotic Bornean birds.
I contented myself with the same garden birds for now!

Jordan Sitorus said...

Luck was on our side. I'm really happy with the results. Planning to go there this december, hopefully OK and get to see the Trogons. None seen this time.

Jason Bugay Reyes a.k.a horukuru said...

buss what a captured !!!

excellent details of the bornean bristlehead and thick-billed spiderhunter hahahah u got it now !!!

Kleine Feder said...

I understand why you called the bristlehead a beautiful-ugly bird... No, in fact it IS beautiful!

You caught an impressive collection of variously flying creatures, congrats!

Gary Albert said...

What a lucky day for you in just a few days.

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John Koprowski said...

The small flying squirrel in Pic 23 is Hose's pygmy flying squirrel. Although a distant shot, I have not seen any better photographs. Would you be willing to donate it to a book 'Squirrels of the World' by the non-profit Johns Hopkins Univ Press? If so, you can contact me at the Univ of Arizona: squirrel@ag.arizona.edu

John Koprowski
Wildlife Conservation and Management
Univ of Arizona