[Oversea] Kinabalu National Park, Sabah - May 2014

Kinabalu National Park, Sabah - May 2014

Ever since I visited in July 2012, Sabah have always been at the back of my mind as a place to go back for more! The biodiversity is simply so vast that it will take a life time to get bored of the sheer number of species; both birds and other wildlife you can find here. As I didn't visit Mt. Kinabalu on my last visit, I thought it's only fair for me to visit this endemic rich mountain range in the North Western of Sabah. This was planned as a self driven leisure bird watching trip (on a budget), with no intention on hiring a guide. Therefore, a lot of pre-trip studies must be made before hand especially the bird calls...Though I am sure we still missed a ton of birds due to lack of knowledge of their habits and sounds, but overall we did fairly well, connecting with two of the main targets at Mt. Kinabalu and got a fairly good selection of lowland birds at Poring including two species of Trogons. With camera gears, photographing birds in tropical rain forest is never easy, it's nearly constantly dark and rains a lot, rain cover is highly recommended and a tripod comes in handy, but I do shoot hand held half the time since the trails are too narrow for tripods to stand straight. Expect ISO to be above 3200 a lot of the time!

Our itinerary are as follows:

11th May: Arrived > Tanjung Aru Beach - Kinabalu Park
12th May - 14th May: Kinabalu Park
15th May: Kinabalu Park - Poring Hot Spring
16th May: Poring Hot Spring
17th May: Poring Hot Spring - KKIA > Hong Kong

11th May: We took the 9:25am flight to KK, Air Asia flights can be very cheap if you look for them in the right time! We pre booked a car with "Extra Rent a Car", their online booking services was superb and their admin replied within hours. Their agents waited for us at the gate of KKIA terminal 2, the whole process was done on the bonnet of the car as they don't have a proper office at the airport, but everything went smoothly and you pay onsite. The car was a Proton Saga 1.3, fairly new and adequate even for going up hill at Mt. Kinabalu! We got our phone cards at the airport as well, the only telecom company at terminal 2 was DIGI so we went with it, the one week internet plan was fairly good, just 15RM for unlimited data and limited minutes, this proved very useful as our phones was served as our GPS as well! Reception was generally good and we even got 3G signals at Timpohon Gate.

Once we got kitted up and ready, we skipped lunch and drove straight to Tanjung Aru Beach for our first spot of birding. This is a popular tourist spot and the beach was packed with people on a Sunday afternoon, however a walk around Prince Philip Park gave us a good introduction into birds we won't find in "better" habitat later on. Plus this is a good place to see the Blue-naped Parrot, a bird difficult to see anywhere else on earth except here. Pink-necked Green Pigeon made a short appearance only, so did the Copper-throated Sunbird. Once the shower sets in we decided to eat at the food-court next to the beach, it's not the cleanest place but quite good value.

Pied Triller

Zebra Dove

White-breasted Woodswallow


Asian Glossy Starling

Oriental Magpie Robin adamsi

Green Imperial Pigeon

Collard Kingfisher

Long-tailed Parakeet

Blue-naped Parrot

The drive to Kinabalu Park was longer then expected, it's about two hours to get from KKIA to the Park HQ, roads are generally good and traffic was not as bad as I expected. It was 6:30 by the time we arrived and was all dark. However we did got to stop by the roadside and got some species such as Grey-rumped Treeswift and Ashy Drongo. The scenery driving up the mountain was enjoyable as well, as we admired the sun setting and the lights turned Mt. Kinabalu red! We stayed at Tahubang Lodge, a budget hostel right outside the Park HQ main gate, a twin room is just 100RM per night, considerably cheaper then living inside the park. Rooms are clean and staffs are friendly, the only complain is that rats seems to run on the roof all night, other then that it's actually pretty acceptable. There's a small restaurant and store right next to the lodge.

Grey-rumped Treeswift

Mt. Kinabalu

To be continued...

[ Last edited by kmatthew at 23/05/2014 00:13 ]
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


12th May: The next day we woke up at 6am, the first night of sleep wasn't too great, so we simply walked up to the park HQ and first birded along the Power Station Road. We got greeted by a group of laughingthrush, comprising of Sunda and Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush, then further on a pair of obliging Indigo Flycatcher stood for as long as we wanted to watch, further up the hill at Grace Hostel we heard a group of Bornean Green Magpies making their way up hill, we waited and saw them through the trees, below them a small flock of Temminck's Babbler made an appearance (the ONLY!). Highlight was a little further up the road just before the bend leading to the Liwagu Restaurant, a female Whitehead's Broadbill made a brief appearance! It first made it's distinctive call and was then spotted on a fruiting tree ahead. 30 seconds later it flew uphill and out of sight, we waited a little longer but it never returned, making no calls at all.

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush

Indigo Flycatcher

Bornean Green Magpie

Temminck's Babbler (record shot)

Whitehead's Broadbill

We walked the Silau-Silau trail back down, with little sucess except for a flock of Chestnut-crested Yuhina, we heard the Bornean Whistling Thrush but it never showed. Walking back down to the hostel we noticed the swiftlet nests under the roof of the HQ buildings, these are "supposedly" Bornean Swiftlets, with their greenish rather then bluish sheen.

Chestnut-crested Yuhina

Bornean Swiftlet

After lunch it started raining, once it subsided a little we headed out again. First were a few Bornean Treepies right outside our hostel, you can hear them pretty much constantly in the mountain. We again followed the Power Station Road, outside the Botanical Garden and Liwagu Restaurant were these fruiting bushes, here you can find Black-sided Flowerpeckers, Ashy Drongo, a family of Indigo Flycatchers and Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush. This spot proved to be quite successful on the coming few days as well, as different birds tend to show up here if you give it some time.

Bornean Treepie

Ashy Drongo

Indigo Flycatcher

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush

Black-sided Flowerpecker

On the way back we encountered a bird wave with Bornean Whistlers, Yellow-breasted Warblers, Mountain Leaf Warblers, Ochraceous Bulbul and White-throated Fantail. Most were too quick and I couldn't get any good photographs, however the Whistlers were slightly more cooperative, willing to stay long enough for us to take some photographs.

To be continued...
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


13th May: After a better night sleep, we woke up at 5am, quickly freshen up we headed out with the car. The plan was to drive straight up to Timpohon Gate and get there before sunrise. Timpohon gate is the main entrance for hikers who wish to challenge the summit to go through, you can walk the first part of the summit trail without any guide, as long as you pay the entrance fee, however if you go any further permission is needed and they require you to get a guide. We however have no intension to go up there, and since most endemics except the Friendly Bush Warbler can be found below the gate we decided not to go in. Looking at past reports, I have heard that Everett's Thrush may forage along the roadside before dawn, however we saw nothing of that sort for the few days we were there, only Whistling Thrushes.

Upon arrival, we waited at the metal platform of the Timpohon Gate, this is a good place because it sits above the trees and is bright enough to see the surrounding areas. The first birds that appeared were a flock of Sunda Laughingthrush and Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush. A Bornean Whistling Thrush decided to make an appearance at the platform, eating up some leftover biscuits someone have left on the railings from the day before. This individual we saw at the gate seems to be quite tamed, however there's an infection with it's foot which might explain it's unusual behavior.  Another individual was observed at the public toilet.

Sunda Laughingthrush

Bornean Whistling Thrush

As the sky brightens up, we heard Red-breasted Partridge calling, this is one of two endemic partridges you can find on Mt. Kinabalu. With some playbacks we managed to drew a pair close towards the platform, suddenly they appeared! right beneath us, foraging away and seems very much unbothered by our existence. After some satisfying views for ten minutes (behind metal fences!), they disappeared into the jungle.

Red-breasted Partridge

More birds joined in as the sun rose higher, including Mountain Blackeyes and Mountain Leaf Warblers, others include Grey-chinned Minivets, Chestnut-crested Yuhinas, Black-capped White-eyes and White-throated Fantails.

Mountain Blackeye

Mountain Leaf Warbler

White-throated Fantail

We decided to walk down the Liwagu trail, it's the longest trail so we thought we would walk the first part down the hill and back up to our car. The first bird we saw here was a Sunda Bush Warbler, it was very curious and came within a meter to us upon hearing a playback. We heard Orange-backed Woodpecker calling, but it didn't want to show, staying a long distance away. A flock of Yellow-breasted Warbler, Bornean Whistler and Grey-throated Babbler however were more cooperative.

Sunda Bush Warbler

Grey-throated Babbler

Yellow-breasted Warbler

A Mountain Wren-Babbler called very close by, a little playback reveal it's location, but it mostly stayed in cover, however gave us prolonged views of this modest looking endemic.

Mountain Wren-Babbler

We turned around when we got to the river, the steep hike back up was just as productive in a form of a fine male Crimson-headed Partridge! It was not bothered by our presence and called from a log to it's mate. Feeling lucky to have seen both endemic partridges close up on one single morning, we headed back down the hill. On the way down we spotted a female Snowy-browed Flycatcher in the car, which allowed us to get a pretty close look at it.

Crimson-headed Partridge

Snowy-browed Flycatcher female

Our car stopped at the entrance of the Mempening Trail, which we decided to take a short walk into the trail. About 20 meters in, a bird flew and perched on a branch close-by, and what a bird it was! A male Fruithunter! What a smart looking bird, gathering moss for it's nest. It perched for a minute or so, allowing some photographs to be taken and flew away out of sight. At the same location, a pair of Orange-backed Woodpeckers started calling and perched above us, obviously curious to our playbacks, they moved on shortly leaving us with just their calls echoing. Things quiet down a little after that, seeing little except a Mountain Tailorbird, which I think give a slightly different call to those we have in Hong Kong, there is an extra note in their wobble, but other then that pretty similar.


Orange-backed Woodpecker

Mountain Tailorbird

After lunch at the Liwagu Restaurant, we birded at the garden outside again, rain started to fall but a few birds still decided to make an appearance, including Black-capped White-eyes, Black-sided Flowerpeckers, Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush and a Golden-naped Barbet; a bird we hear constantly but only showed itself this one time. We wanted to walk the Silau-Silau trail again, however the rain didn't stop so we called it a day.

Black-capped White-eye

Black-sided Flowerpecker

Golden-naped Barbet

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush

To be continued...

[ Last edited by kmatthew at 23/05/2014 21:34 ]
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


Amazing photos- Mt Kinabalu is a fabulous place for birding; I have been several times and will return!  Do you mind posting details of where you stay, car hire etc?  I normally stay in the park itself but this has become an expensive option in recent years.  I didn't have a car last time I visited but the drivers were very good about giving a hitched lift up to the Timpohon gate.  There is a US university studying the Mt Kinabalu birds, hence all the colour rings.  The students are worth talking too if you encounter them.  They directed me to a few birds I was keen to see.



Original posted by subbuteo at 23/05/2014 18:48
Amazing photos- Mt Kinabalu is a fabulous place for birding; I have been several times and will return!  Do you mind posting details of where you stay, car hire etc?  I normally stay in the park itsel ...
Thanks Dylan, I did mention the hostel name in the first thread, but here it is. Tahubang Lodge, it is a fairly new hostel that's just been opened for three years, right opposite of the park's main entrance. I hired the car through "Extra Rent a Car", they are very good might be a little cheaper then all the big brands. Cheers! And yes, we saw the students there, they were very busy setting up nets and were running up and down the mountain! They must have been considering over 30% of the birds we saw had rings on them....
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


14th May: We got up the same time again and left on the car by 5:30am. Again, the drive up produced no Everett's Thrush, however a stop at the view point had us listening to a Sunda Cuckoo far away. The "usuals" were there in the form of Sunda and Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush, as well as the Whistling Thrush. A new bird to us was the Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher, another mountain endemic to our list! A bird wave soon arrived, with Mountain Leaf Warblers, Black-capped White-eyes, Yellow-breasted Warblers, Grey-chinned Minivets, Bornean Whistlers and a single female Blyth's Shrike-babbler. We waited for the partridges, hoping our luck from the previous morning will continue, but nothing. They kept at a distance and didn't come closer. Not far off a fruiting tree with a dozen of Little Cuckoo-dove, but they were at quite a distance, however were close enough that we checked that there were no Ruddy Cuckoo-dove amongst them.

Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher

Blyth's Shrike-babbler

Little Cuckoo-dove

Little else were seen around Timpohon Gate, so we drove down to Mempening Trail once more, we plan to walk from Mempening trail all the way to Bukit Burung trail and back up the Silau-Silau trail onto the Power Station Road, weather was very good with the sun coming out, we took that as a good sign. And once again 20 meters in, the Fruithunter was there again, this time a little further away, but again collecting moss as nesting materials. It gave us a much longer time to appreciate it's features then disappeared once again into the jungle.


We took this as a good omen and pressed on, however activities stopped completely and we saw nothing for the next hour or so. It was until we went passed Bukit Burung shelter that activities started to pick up once more. There we encountered a flock of Bornean Green Magpies, with it came a flock of Bornean Treepies and a pair of Checker-throated Woodpecker. Further on, a Black-and-Crimson Oriole joined in, foraging with the group. As we went passed the Bukit Buring shelter walking on a ridge, we heard the call of a Whitehead's Broadbill, it wasn't far off so we immediately scanned the trees for any movement, but nothing moved. There we could see the Power Station Road, and actually it wasn't too far off where we saw the Broadbill on the first day, so we thought it could be the same individual or pair, but we will never know for sure.

Bornean Green Magpie

Checker-throated Woodpecker

Black-and-Crimson Oriole

As we got to Silau-Silau trail, things quietened down a little, but was still nice as a very bold Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher made an appearance to forage along a flock of Grey-throated Babblers. Further up ahead a beautiful male Snowy-browed Flycatcher gave us a good look before flying off. We kept our eyes out for the Whitehead's Trogon as we've heard this is the trail you will most likely see them, but saw nothing. As we hit the Power Station Road, we connected with another flock of Green Magpies and Checker-throated Woodpeckers; this time with three. Walking all the way back up to our car we drove down to Liwagu Restaurant for lunch.

Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher

Grey-throated Babbler

Snowy-browed Flycatcher male

Rain was a big issue that afternoon, it was very heavy at times and surely we couldn't walk the trails in this condition. So, we decided to wait out at the garden outside the restaurant hoping something will appear. There we found a smart looking male Little Pied Flycatcher, singing away on it's perch. It later decided to come check us out and flew right up in front of us on a low branch, either it was just bold or it was claiming it's territory against us. We saw little else though, except for a little more cooperative Temminck's Sunbird, another common mountain endemic. They are actually very common and can be heard and seen everywhere, however none decide to come down to feed at the flowers while we were there, so I have to live with having just a distance photograph of them. However they are still a delightful bird to see, a dazzling Ferrari red. With the heavy showers continuing, we decided to call it a day early. The rain continued on all night.

Little Pied Flycatcher

Temminck's Sunbird

To be continued...

[ Last edited by kmatthew at 20/09/2014 08:33 ]
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


15th May: This was our last morning at Mount Kinabalu, and we were desperate to get the Trogon onto our list! We were up again before dawn, drove up to Timpohon Gate and waited. The sky was very clear after yesterday's shower, and we had an amazing view looking at the summit. The tamed Bornean Whistling Thrush was yet again there to greet us, it gave us very close views beneath the shelter at Timpohon Gate, it was picking insects off the floor; likely to be attracted by the lights that were left overnight, a free buffet for birds! Activity was surprisingly low, with the usual crowd of birds. Around 6:30, a group of birdwatchers arrived, and who may it be but David Bishop, leading a group of American birders! It was a huge coincidence as we met each other the last time I visited Sabah at Danum Valley in July 2012, and here we met again in Sabah at another location, what were the chances! It was their first day at Mt. Kinabalu, so we exchanged some information about whereabouts of birds including the Fruithunter's location, he pointed out we should try find the Trogon by the main road along Silau-Silau trail.

Bornean Whistling Thrush

But before that, we decided to try out Bukit Ular trail, supposedly the most likely trail you will encounter the elusive Everett's Thrush. However, we saw very little in the trail, except for a huge group of Long-tailed Macaque. So we got back to our car as quick as possible and drove down to the Silau-Silau trail. As we birded along the road we met David again and he pointed out a group have just been photographing the Trogons at the 1.5km mark earlier in the morning! So off we went to the location, by that time it was 9:30am, and we knew it was a long shot, but we gave it our best and waited for an hour. The Trogon never came, only a flock of Ochraceous Bulbul and a pair of Indigo Flycatchers. Having arranged to check out by 10:30am, we left and accepted it was not our time to see the Trogon this time, it will have to wait!

Ochraceous Bulbul

Indigo Flycatcher

It was a very short and straight forward drive to Poring, stopped at Ranau to refuel and we arrived at the reception by 11:30am. Poring Hot Spring is a local holiday resort that boasts it's natural hot springs and is very popular amongst local bathers. The weather was considerably hotter then that of Mount Kinabalu. We stayed at the pre-booked Serindit Hostel, a comfortable shared building with private rooms but shared bathrooms and TV lounge. It was a lot more luxurious then Tahubang Lodge and includes breakfast, but the price was also considerably higher. Birding was done mainly on a single trail leading towards Langanan Waterfall, the trail is 3.8km one way, mostly up steep hill. As we plan to start our walk to the waterfall trail early tomorrow morning, we arrange a packed breakfast service with the reception. The staffs were very friendly and helpful, so all in all i think the higher price tag is still acceptable and considering we are only staying here for two nights it's not so bad.

During lunch we sat at the balcony looking out, here we spotted many lowland species such as Red-eyed Bulbul, Common Iora, Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike and Lesser Green Leafbird. However they were on a tree very far away and there really wasn't much point in photographing them. It started raining during lunch so we retreated to our air conditioned rooms until the rain subsided.

Red-eyed Bulbul

Once the rain stopped we headed out, we walked the area around the football field as well as walking to the Kipungit Waterfall; a much smaller waterfall compared with Langanan but still nice to see. We spotted an out of place Mountain Barbet at a fruiting tree, Brown Fulvettas, Crimson Sunbirds, Black-headed Bulbul at a distance and other bulbul species such as Red-eyed, Spectacled and Scaly-breasted Bulbul, all too far away.

Mountain Barbet

Brown Fulvetta

Crimson Sunbird

Black-headed Bulbul
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


16th May: We started our walk at 5:30am, park staff waited for us at the ticket checking booth to hand over our packed breakfast, we walked through the hot springs and made our way to the beginning of the trail. We stationed ourselves at a little garden beside the Langanan Waterfall trail's gate entrance, it's a good place to wait for birds activity as it's considerably brighter then the surrounding areas. The first activity started around 5:45am, as a flock of noisy Horsfield's Babbler foraged along the path. A Grey-cheeked Bulbul soon joined in, along with a Bornean Spiderhunter. We also saw a flying squirrel gliding across the trees!

Grey-cheeked Bulbul

Horsfield's Babbler

We started our steep climb to the waterfall, the trail was a bit wider then those at Mt. Kinabalu, but the rain have made it very slippery at some sections, a few fallen branches and trees blocked our way at a few locations. The other problem will be leeches, you can't go five minutes without seeing one making it's way up your shoes! So, leech socks will be highly recommended. The near 8km hike is claimed to take 2 hours there and 2 hours back, but being birders we of course walked at a slower pace. At Kipungit Waterfall you must cross the river by hopping on boulders, then it is a steep ascend towards the bat cave. The bat cave itself is not that impressive but you still get a wave of ammonium smell drifting towards you as you approach, there were some Swiftlets flying in and out of the cave which looked like Glossy to me. Past the bat cave we found a pair of Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babblers, not far ahead a flock of Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers made an appearance, however were so quick they were near impossible to photograph(for me)! Birding was fairly slow, the only other good birds were a pair of Raffle's Malkoha very high up at the canopy.

Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler

Fluffy-backed Babbler (Record shot)

We arrived at some tall bamboos and decided to give the Blue-banded Pitta a try, nothing responded to the playback. Feeling slightly disappointed (though expected), we continued on the next corner and found a large flock of bulbuls gathered at a single fruiting tree, this consists of Hairy-backed Bulbuls, Scaly-breasted Bulbuls, Red-eyed Bulbuls and Spectacled Bulbul. A female Asian Fairy-Bluebird also made an appearance. A single Rufous Piculet was observed, however was too quick for me to take any photograph. We also saw a single Helmeted Hornbill around the area but was way behind the trees at the Canopy and flew away very quickly.

Hairy-backed Bulbul

Scaly-breasted Bulbul

Asian Fairy-Bluebird

The rest of the hike towards the waterfall was gruelling, it was hot and humid, bird activity seems to have came to a halt. We managed to pull ourselves up to the waterfall in the end, it was just around noon. The 120m tall waterfall itself was very impressive and the cool breeze gave us a refreshing refuge to rest. We ate our packed breakfast of sandwiches, fruits and a can of Sprite (definitely saved our lives) and headed down the trail again. It was much easier going down hill, and bird activities also seemed to have picked up a little. We first encountered a beautiful Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, then we heard an Orange-breasted Trogon not far off and found a male calling from a branch just beside the trail. Minutes later, a female Olive-backed Woodpecker gave us a brief eye-level view and disappeared up a trunk. Just as we thought our luck couldn't be getting any better in that short period of time, a pair of Red-naped Trogon started calling ahead, we slowly make our way forward and found the pair sitting quietly on the branches starring at us in a way only Trogons can do. The male especially gave us very close and prolonged views, showing off it's brilliant red nape and blue skin around it's eyes. Satisfied, we made our way back down to the resort for a very late lunch, it was 2:30pm by the time we got back.

Damselfly species

Langanan Waterfall

Chestnut-breasted Malkoha

Orange-breasted Trogon

Olive-backed Woodpecker

Red-naped Trogon female

Red-naped Trogon male

After a short rest in our air conditioned room, we headed back out in late afternoon. The sky was dark and we heard thunder coming our way but it never rained, we made good use of this surprisingly dry afternoon and walked the area around the Bamboo Garden and Tropical Garden. We found a family of Fulvous-breasted Jungle-flycatchers at the Bamboo Garden, they seems to be pretty abundant here at Poring. We also found a few Olive-winged Bulbuls. A flock of Chestnut-winged Babblers foraged nearby and a White-crowned Shama flew back and forth in the undergrowth, singing it's melodious song. You need to pay to enter the Tropical Garden but there was no one at the ticketing booth, the main door was opened though the gates towards the other exhibits were closed, we saw some domesticated Sambar Deers in there. A Plaintain Pygmy Squirrel and Low's Squirrel along with a few Rufous-crowned Babbler kept us entertained . A flock of Racket-tailed Drongo hawking along the road ended our day.

Fulvous-breasted Jungle-Flycatcher

Olive-winged Bulbul

Chestnut-winged Babbler

White-crowned Shamma

Sambar Deer

Plain Pygmy Squirrel

Low's Squirrel

Rufous-crowned Babbler

[ Last edited by kmatthew at 24/05/2014 16:47 ]
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


17th May: Our last morning before flying back to Hong Kong, our flight was scheduled at 4:25pm, so we could still spend the morning birding. We decided not to go far as we didn't want to leave too late, so we birded the area around the resort and to Kipungit Waterfall. It started as usual near the trail gate, here we saw a Spectacled Bulbul and a very distant Gold-whiskered Barbet; they are more commonly heard then seen.

Spectacled Bulbul

Gold-whiskered Barbet

On our way towards the Kipungit Waterfall we heard a Raffle's Malkoha making it's unusual yelping call near by, we waited and soon got our eyes on them, a pair tending to a juvenile, feeding it in turns. This gave us an opportunity to finally appreciate this beautiful bird up close, the male differs from the grey headed female with it's rusty orange head. They gave us prolonged views for over 15 minutes, then we decided to leave them in peace to tend for their young.

Raffle's Malkoha male


We saw very little else on the trail so we headed back towards the trail entrance. There we encountered a few Black-capped Babbler, a very peculiar bird that walks like a wagtail half the time and when alarmed will hop onto branches in a very babbler like fashion. They continue to make their fairly distinctive pi-weee whistle as they hop into the bushes. Not far off, a pair of Crested Jays started calling, we heard the bird the day before but it never showed, this time they came upon our paths, however our meeting was short lived, they were only visible for ten seconds and flew straight off, disappearing into the trees, leaving us with their machine gun like call.

Black-capped Babbler

Crested Jay

At 7:45am, we saw a park staff walking up to the canopy walkway gate and opening it. We asked whether we can go in a little early but he insisted we waited till 8am; in the end he let us in five minutes early. The canopy walkway at Poring is quite popular amongst tourists, they are really just a series of very unstable rope bridges connected to wooden platforms between trees. However, having heard the Banded Broadbill and the Black-and-Yellow Broadbills calling constantly for two days made us want to go look for them up at the canopy. Early morning will be the best time to go up as all the tourists have yet to arrive, the walkway is quite crowded in late morning and afternoon. On our way up to the walkway we found a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo with no racket, hawking on insects from its perch. Suddenly, we were interrupted by a Buff-necked Woodpecker! With a little help of an audio playback, it came into full view and perched right above us! A very curious bird indeed.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

Buff-necked Woodpecker

On the canopy walkway we kept our eyes out for the Broadbills, but by 8:30am most have fallen silent. We did find a Verditer Flycatcher and a Red-throated Barbet up on the platform though. Then a Dark-throated Oriole came into sight, a fine male perched on a branch close-by, it circled around us a few times and left us in peace. Another bird was flushed, this time a Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, distinguished from other Hawk Cuckoos by it's neck collar. On our way down, a Bornean Spiderhunter hopped into view, seems we interrupted it from feeding on a banana flower.

Dark-throated Oriole

Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo

Bornean Spiderhunter

Feeling quite content from the birds we saw on the last morning, we headed back to our room and packed our stuff. The drive was suppose to be three hours long so we spared some time and left at 10:45am, we arranged with the car rental company to pick the car up at the airport at 2pm. However, we were very much delayed by a car accident on the A4 on the way. The road was completely blocked for a solid two hours! The accident was horrific, a lorry crashed into two cars and killed one driver, others badly injured. So, advice will be to leave a little earlier if you can because the A4 and A1 are pretty much the ONLY road from Ranau to KK.

So that sums up our short trip to Kinabalu National Park. Some useful information below:

Book used:
"Birds of Borneo" - Susan Myers, Princeton Field Guides

Mobile Company:
-DIGI, 1 week data plan, 15RM

Car Rental:
- Extra Rent A Car

- Tahubang Lodge (Mt. Kinabalu)
- Serindit Hostel, Sutera Harbour (booked through Agoda)

[ Last edited by kmatthew at 24/05/2014 23:58 ]
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


Thanks, Matthew.  You cleaned up on the birds!  I am inspired to go back, I've never ben to to Poring but it definitely looks worth a try.



A very successful birding trip and an excellent report! Thanks for sharing, Matthew.


Thanks Dylan and Cherry, glad to share with you! I do understand why Poring gets very mixed reviews from birders, as I see many people go to Danum first before going there and find very little "new" species at Poring. It is by no means richer in bird life then Danum but if you are on a budget and have limited time then it is a very good place to boost your trip list up. I find it especially good for Bulbuls and Babblers.

For your reference, here is our full trip list in excel: ... t%20May%202014.xlsx
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


Tks for your sharing


Very interesting ! Lots of Kinabalu memories….