Mystery Bornean Rhino!

Wong Tsu Shi and I were accommodated at the Heritage Hotel and Spa in Kundasang. I did a bit of birding around the hotel grounds on 7 October, and was amazed to come across a jungle-flycatcher Rhinomyias sp., which clearly wasn’t an Eye-browed, the only species one would expect at that altitude (1,350m asl).

This was the only view I got of the adult (left) before it scooted into thick secondary forest, never to be seen again. I managed to see the juvenile one more time.

The only resident Rhinomyias in Borneo with pink legs are Fulvous-chested (has been recorded up to 900m exceptionally, but is usually a lowland forest and coastal species (Myers)), Grey-chested (occasionally recorded up to 1220m (Smythies) but mainly a lowland species), and Rufous-tailed (seen on Gunung Kinabalu as high as 915-1220m  and up to 1530m in Sarawak (Mann) and typically a montane and submontane resident). This one does not look particularly rufous-tailed, but could it be? If it is, it’s likely to be the ruficrissa race, which has been recorded on Mount Kinabalu previously (Mann).

This map shows the place where the birds were, in case anyone wants to go check it out.


9 thoughts on “Mystery Bornean Rhino!

  1. Dave, per Fedrick Sheldon et al, there was a sighting of Rufous-tailed Jungle Flycatcher in the 60s, I suppose, at Sinsuran Road (somewhere in Crocker Range) at 1500 m by K V Thompson.

    • Thanks for that Wong. These Rhinomyias are quite fascinating. James Eaton says the vocalizations of Sabah Rufous-tailed are still unknown, so it be well worth going back to the Tambunan bird and getting somne sound recordings.

    • Hi Jason, yes. Climb the hill up the steps to the highest chalets. The adult was initially disturbed sitting outside Chalet 16 or so. I then climbed to the water tanks at the very top and sat looking down the edge of the ‘forest’. By the way, that place is also the easiest place to see Pygmy Ibon I have found in Sabah – they seem very common there.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your thoughts – I think you may be right. Do you have a reference for Fulvous-chested occurring as high as 1500m? The highest I can find in literature is 900m, although James Eaton tells me he’s seen it as high as 1300m in Sumatra. I would be interested in seeing any photos of juv jungle-flycatchers, especially if seen with the parent!

  2. i have a juve Grey Chested Flycatcher that was taken in lok Kawi. Unfortunately its was taken with flash… look different with your bird.
    Jurvenile Flycatcher...Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher "Rhinomyias umbratilis"

    • Hi Ron

      Interesting! Are you 100% sure it was Grey-chested? I seem to remember Fulvous-chested has been photographed near Lok Kawi Bird Park – am I right? The colouration of the flanks looks better for Fulvous-chested perhaps? The bill and head patter look very similar to the bird I photographed.

      • This juve was spotted together with its parents but did not mange to get a good shot of them.

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