Thursday, 8 December 2016

Day 3, Taman Negara, exploring the trails to Blau...

Day 3, Taman Negara National Park - 26 November 2016

Map showing the area around the Mutiara Resort, Taman Negara
Every morning we were greeted by Oriental Magpie Robins,
easily the commonest bird.
Proper rainforest. The clouds could descend one minute
only to vanish again the next.
Everything near the river floats, even the restaurants.
After an early breakfast we set off south along the Tembeling River by boat to Pengkalan Belau, where we jumped ashore and joined the trail towards the Blau Hide. Before disembarking we had my first new bird of the day in the shape of a lone Black Hornbill, which perched just long enough for a poor photo record. 
Brief views of a Black Hornbill - 1st tick of the day!
Having rained heavily the night before the trails were muddy and it wasn't long before the leeches started emerging and our guide Wilbur was the first to find one on his lower leg. My spray had worked and I avoided being a meal - although not harmful the bite site itches and I counted myself lucky to avoid them. We were also extra fortunate to be the only people walking the trail that day as it had been recently closed and access had only been granted to the four of us.

Boat ride along the Tembeling River, Taman Negara

Although the birding was slow to begin with it soon started to pick up with species such as Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Raffles's and Black-bellied Malkoha, Yellow-bellied and Gray-cheeked Bulbul and the amazing Black-and-yellow Broadbill. However the bird we were all after (but didn't expect to see) was the Crested Jay. We had three of these magnificent birds, with there machine gun like calls and huge crests, flying around us and occasionally, though briefly, showing well - unusual for this notoriously difficult species. This wasn't the most difficult bird of the day though - that title goes to the Large Wren Babbler, a very elusive, skulker which took ages to show. All the more satisfying when you've seen it though.

Pair of Yellow-bellied Bulbuls
Greater Coucal
Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo
Difficult terrain to bird in. After a few days of this
you get lots of stiff necks.
Progress is not helped by this - rattan is a constant reminder
that you have to keep your eyes open on the trails or
you get a very nasty surprise.
Around 150ft tall these enormous trunks drive
straight up before leafy branches reach out from
the very tops.
Back at the Mutiara a quick look for the Crested Fireback at the campsite revealed a few Bulbuls and Spiderhunters but no fancy pheasant. This is supposed to be one of the best places to see this rare bird but it's so far eluded us. There were a few nice butterflies drinking from the path though:
Campsite at Mutiara Taman Negara
Fivebar Swordtail
Great Jay
Malayan Baron looking a bit worse for wear
Magpie Crow
In the afternoon we walked from the resort towards Lubok Simpon and added Spectacled and Gray-breasted Spiderhunters to the list along with Stripe-throated Bulbul, Sooty-Capped Babler, House Swift and Black-naped Monarch.

The boardwalk towards Lubok Simpon

A pair of Black and Red Broadbills hiding in the canopy
Lubok Simpon - Blue-banded Kingfisher territory.
Although it looked like a great spot, unfortunately there was still no Blue-banded Kingfisher to be seen. The restaurant that evening at the Mutiara was alive with non-paying guests, including a number of these Flat-tailed Geckos Hemidactylus platyurus.

Flat-tailed Geckos Hemidactylus platyurus.

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