KINABATANGAN RIVER & SUKAU
|# Excl Vagrants:||242|
|# Near Endemics:||14|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
The Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Borneo. The upper part of this 560km long river has been severely damaged by excessive logging, while the lower section is largely surrounded by oil palm plantations. What remains is some wonderful lowland rainforest largely along the river banks. Hence, much of the birding is by boat. Adjacent to the river is the Sukau Rainforest Lodge, where many visitors stay and where boat tours can be organized.
Birding along the Kinabatang River is spectacular. Notable species include the rare and endangered Storm's Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Lesser Fish-Eagle, Gray-headed Fish-Eagle, and Ruddy Kingfisher. Of special note are the hornbills. All 8 Borneo hornbills can be seen along the river and along the 1500m hornbill walkway at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, including the extraordinary Rhinoceros Hornbill. Going out on a night boat ride offers a good chance of seeing Buffy Fish-Owl and Leopard Cat. At the lodge are several trails through rainforest where birds such as Red-naped Trogon, Diard's Trogon, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Black-crowned Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Black-capped Babbler, and many other lowland forest species can be found. The very secretive Bornean Ground-Cuckoo is also a distinct possibility in the forest.
Of special note is the excellent mammal watching along the Kinabatang. Ten species of primates are found in the area, many of which can be seen along the river. Notable are Silvered Langur, Long-tailed Macaque, Pig-tailed Macaque, the extraordinary Proboscis Monkey, and the endangered Bornean Orangutan. Also sometimes seen is the small race of Asian Elephant, called the Bornean Pygmy Elephant.
Nearby are the Gomontong Caves where some 2 million mostly Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bats emerge at dusk and a similar number of White-nest Swiftlets (also called Edible-nest Swiftlets) return for the night. A number of raptors such as Bat Hawk, Rufous-bellied Eagle, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon are typically in attendance to take advantage of this explosion of potential prey.
LOCATION OF SITE
The Kinabatangan River area where birders visit is located near Sukau on the west coast of Borneo, about 2 hours by asphalt road from Sandakan town. Sandakan can be reached via regional flights or by road from Kota Kinabalu, the latter via mostly good road that typically takes about 5-6 hours driving.