KINABALU NATIONAL PARK & PORING
|# Excl Vagrants:||304|
|# Near Endemics:||45|
|Habitat: Lowland Dipterocarp forest, sub-alpine forest, montane forest|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
Kinabalu National Park is a premier birding destination in Sabah, Malaysia on the northeast corner of the island of Borneo. Adjacent to the park entrance is Poring Hotsprings, a tourist attraction but also a good place for lower elevation birds on the lower slopes of Mt Kinabalu. Birding in the national park is excellent and is easily worth spending 3-4 days there. The best time to visit is March to October, with many birders visiting in August. The largest vegetation zone is Dipterocarp forest between 750-1900m. Upper montane forest featuring conifers, Rhododendrons, pitcher plants is found from about 2000-3300m. Mosses and liverworts thickly cover the trees in this zone. Above that is sub-alpine forest, where trees cannot survive and shrubs predominate.
The park headquarters is at 1500m elevation and features several forest trails as well as the Power Station road leading to the Timpohon Gate. Excellent birding is available in this area. Some notable species include (i>Golden-naped Barbet, Bornean Green-Magpie, Bornean Treepie, and Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush. When flowers are blooming and bamboo is seeding, Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch and Black-sided Flowerpecker are usually present. The prized Whitehead's Spiderhunter has sometimes been seen in this area. The Timpophon Road itself is also worth birding.
Several trails offer birding through the main vegetation zones in the park. The Kau View Trail ascends 2½km from the entrance to the Power Station road. It's a drier, steeper trail than the others and has numerous mature, high canopy trees with less mid-story vegetation. This area is also hilly with small gullies filled with dense vegetation. It's a good place to look for Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Whitehead's Broadbill, Bornean Whistler, Gray-throated Babbler, and Whitehead's Spiderhunter.
The Liwagu River Trail goes 5km from the restaurant to the Timpohon Gate and is the best birding trail in the park. The trail goes uphill through sometimes more open forest and sometimes densely thicketed understory. Interesting species include Whitehead's Trogon, Whitehead's Broadbill, Bornean Stubtail, Javan Whistling-Thrush, Fruit-hunter, Mountain Wren-Babbler, and Bornean Spiderhunter. The Bukit
Ular Trail starts at the Power Station and extends downhill for about 1km. The upper section goes past a limestone cliff where raptors are possible. This section is shielded from the sun until about 10:00am so is dark and shady, a good place to look for Red-breasted Partridge. The lower section opens up into pre-montane forest with a high canopy. This section is good for woodpeckers, babblers, and warblers.
The Silau-Silau Trail is actually a network of trails through rich forest with thick canopy and mid-story filled with epiphytes. Possibilities include Crimson-headed Partridge, Whitehead's Trogon, and Borneo Forktail, a possible split from White-crowned Forktail.
The higher elevation sub-alpine zone can be accessed via the Summit Trail. Bornean Stubtail and Friendly Bush Warbler can be found, sometimes with effort, in the scrub around 2400-2600m. At the treeline Sunda Bush Warbler and Mountain Black-eye are common, as are Borneo Thrush, a possible splite from Island Thrush.
Poring Hotsprings can sometimes be really slow for birding, but is worth checking out. The habitat is more disturbed than in the national park, but the prized Rufous-collared Kingfisher is possible there. The Dipterocarp forest features many species including Banded Broadbill, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, White-tailed, Blue Flycatcher, Hairy-backed Bulbul, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, and Gray-breasted Spiderhunter.
LOCATION OF SITE
Kinabalu National Park is located 90km NE of Kota Kinabalu, the usual arrival point to Borneo. It's about a 2½hour drive. Poring Hotsprings is located about 47km from Kota Kinabalu en route to the national park.