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Borneo: Sarawak & Bulwer's Pheasant

Different from other tours to Sarawak, this short tour will stay only in comfortable accommodation, with no camping or sleeping bags required! A prime focus is visiting a new reliable hide for the stunning Bulwer's Pheasant, with the secretive Crested Partridge also in attendance! This site is also excellent for some scarce Bornean endemics, like Black-throated Wren-babbler and Dayak Blue Flycatcher. Highlights at other stops include Hook-billed Bulbul, Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, Blue-banded Pitta, Bornean Banded Pitta, Hose's Broadbill, Black Oriole, Bornean Frogmouth and Dulit Frogmouth, and we should also see Crested Jayshrike and possibly Malaysian Rail-babbler, among many other Sundaic specialties.

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

7

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Bornean Peacock Pheasant Extension

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

6

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Accommodation:

Comfortable hotels and guesthouses throughout, all with hot water (except at Ba’Kelalan, where basic facilities are shared). No sleeping bags required!

Walking difficulty:

Generally easy walking on roads and small forest trails, with some full-day walks at Paya Maga (several kilometres on a gradual incline at birding pace, easily achievable with moderate-average fitness).

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: Arrivals into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) in Sabah for an overnight stay near the airport.


Day 2-3: Leaving early, we will head towards Trus Madi, where new feeding hides for the mythical Bulwer’s Pheasant have now been reliable for more than three years! Several individuals attend multiple times each day, and we expect to see at least some of the males in exquisite plumage! The hides are also regularly visited by Crested Partridge, Dayak Blue-Flycatcher, and a few very friendly Bornean Banded Pittas! With some exceptional luck, Jambu Fruit Dove could even appear among many more widespread Bornean specialties known from the lodge grounds – it is quite regular in a particular fruiting tree each July! Other endemics here include Bornean, Mountain, and Bornean Brown Barbets, Black-throated Wren-babbler, “Bornean” Black-capped Babbler, and the scarce Bornean subspecies of White-necked Babbler. The hides are also attended by an exceptional diversity of treeshrews and squirrels, while civets and a resident Barred Eagle Owl can often be seen at close range feeding around the awe-inspiring moth traps each night. Binturong is another likely mammal, for those who wish to put in some time at night staking out any fruiting fig trees. Nights at Trus Madi.


Day 4: After a final morning of birding at Trus Madi, we will return to the coast for an overnight stay at Beaufort, arriving in time for some initial afternoon birding at Klias. Here, we will be targeting restricted peat-swamp species like Hook-billed Bulbul, Red-crowned Barbet, and Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker. Night in Beaufort.


Day 5: After a morning birding at Klias, we continue into Sarawak, heading inland to Ba’Kelalan, deep in the Kelabit Highlands. This evening, we go in search of one of the least-known endemics of Borneo: the amazing Dulit Frogmouth. We will have at least six chances for this species between our pre-dawn and post-dusk sessions over the coming days, as well as our first opportunities to try for Bornean Frogmouth. Night at a simple but comfortable guesthouse in Ba'Kelalan.


Day 6-7: There is plenty of birding to be done in this rich area, and we will certainly come across a wide range of lovely Malaysian species while dedicating most of our time to some major specialties. We will focus on Hose’s Broadbill and Blue-banded Pitta, while the monotypic Crested Jayshrike, scarce Mountain Serpent Eagle, and beautiful Whitehead’s Spiderhunter will also be high on our agenda. There is also a real chance to encounter the magnificent Malaysian Rail-babbler. More widespread species of Borneo and the Greater Sundas might include Sunda Owlet, Orange-breasted Trogon, Pygmy Ibon, Cream-eyed Bulbul, and Black-thighed Falconet. Nights at a simple but comfortable guesthouse in Ba'Kelalan.


‍Day 8: Today, we will transfer to a pleasant hotel in the hills of Long Tuyo, which will be our base for the next three nights.


Day 9-10: Rather than camping at Paya Maga (as on most tours), we will instead be slowly walking the old logging track each day in search of specialties before returning to our comfortable accommodation each night. There will be plenty of time to go all the way up to the camp (an approximately three-hour walk each way at birding pace) to see Black Oriole, which is common enough around the clearing. We should see this range-restricted species on the first day, after which we will focus on the lower stretch of track, which is always very birdy. Possibilities include Malaysian Rail-babbler, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Dark Hawk Cuckoo, and Black-throated Wren-babbler. There will be more chances for Blue-banded Pitta, Bornean Banded Pitta, and Hose’s Broadbill, and several other more common Bornean endemics are likely, including Bornean Leafbird, Bornean Bulbul, and Black-sided Flowerpecker, along with Grey-headed and Temminck’s Babblers, Banded and Rufous-collared Kingfishers, and Black-bellied Malkoha. In the evening, we can again go in search of the elusive and seldom-seen Bornean Frogmouth if we did not already see it near Ba’Kelalan. Nights near Long Tuyo.


‍Day 11: After a final morning of birding, we return to Kota Kinabalu. We may stop at Klias again if we missed anything on our earlier visit, or otherwise visit a secondary Bulwer’s Pheasant hide and/or add some bonus birding at Gunung Alab for extra highland endemics. Night in Kota Kinabalu.


Day 12: The tour ends this morning with transfers to the airport.


Most birders who have visited Borneo in the past will have missed one or two endemics somewhere between Mount Kinabalu and Danum Valley, so do let us know if there is anything you wish to try for and we will try to coordinate a plan between participants!



BORNEAN PEACOCK PHEASANT EXTENSION


Day 1: After dropping the main tour group back in Kota Kinabalu, we will transfer east to Telupid for overnight. Note that to reduce the cost of this extension, participants will be going with a local guide, not the Ornis tour leader.


Day 2-3: At the time of writing, a male Bornean Peacock Pheasant is reliably visiting a new feeding hide. If he is still regular, this extension will run with anybody who wishes to spend the required minimum of two days in the hide in order to see this fabulous and previously near-mythical species! This extension will be run at-cost, but this is reliant on whatever the fee is for the hide. Currently the going rate is about $1000 for the whole four days. At sunset on Day 3, we will drive back to Kota Kinabalu.


Day 4: The extension ends this morning with transfers to the airport.

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