Trip report: Peninsula Malaysia and Borneo (June-July 2006) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Sam Woods. This is a combined report for the Malaysia and Borneo tours.

Malaysia is quite simply the very best of southeast Asian birding – an English-speaking area with superb infrastructure (the Borneo Rainforest Lodge at Danum possibly being the finest lodge in the region), good Asian cuisine and a great set of birds. On this tour we sampled all of this firsthand. When most birders come to Malaysia they think of Pittas, Broadbills, Trogons and other colorful families. That is exactly what we set about seeing, with highlights including arguably the World’s best looking bird, a breeding plumage male Banded Pitta on the Peninsula, along with the almost as impressive Garnet Pitta – both in the lowland rainforest of the famous Taman Negara National Park; while the montane areas on the Peninsula, around Fraser’s Hill and The Gap, produced Silver-breasted Broadbill, Orange-breasted Trogon, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Slaty-backed Forktail to name a few. Borneo allowed us to see some of the very best of the Peninsula birds again, although also allowed us to add some very special birds to that island. Among these in the lowlands at Danum, included both the lowland endemic Wren-Babblers – Bornean & Black-throated Wren-Babblers both seen well there, along with arguably Borneo’s top endemic – the enigmatic Bornean Bristlehead, an endemic species and in its own monotypic family. Whilst in the mountains on Kinabalu highlights included the rare Everett’s Thrush, the final endemic Wren-Babbler – Mountain Wren-Babbler and a whole bunch of other endemics including Mountain Black-eye and Golden-naped & Mountain Barbets. Borneo is also a good place for mammals and Danum provided numerous encounters with the amazing Orang-Utan, and other interesting sightings like Slow Loris, Maroon Langur, Flying Lemur and Bornean Gibbons swinging by the lodge every morning.

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