Brunei: Lower Belait, 20 June

Today, Folkert and Kolbjorn joined Angus and me and we visited a sand ridge where the kerangas forest had been burnt in the El Nina year of 1998. We had hoped to get into the swamp forest there, but were told that it was too swampy, so confined ourselves to the cleared area.

IMG_4193 IMG_4194First up were these amazing pitcher plants. They were hard to miss. The first sign that you were near one was a bat suddenly flying out of the undergrowth! The extraordinary thing about these pitcher plants (Nepenthes hemsleyana) is that Hardwicke’s Woolly Bat roosts in them! You MUST read this link, which explains that the pitcher is so perfectly designed to be an exact fit for the bats that they don’t even need to hold on with their feet! And, if you want to see what the bat looks like, check out this mind-blowing photo by Ch’ien Lee.


We didn’t get a good view of the Woolly Bats, but we did see a day-flying Large Flying Fox – presumably late getting back to roost after a night out boozing on fruit.

Relatively mundane by comparison, the dead trees in the cleared area were attractive to green pigeons in the early morning.

IMG_1470 IMG_1460This is a female Cinnamon-headed Green-pigeon, a species I’ve yet to see in the Peninsula, but locally common here. It is distinctively small-billed compared to otherwise similar female green pigeons, and to help further, the bill base is red. The underparts seem more uniformly green than other female green-pigeons.

IMG_1498Cinnamon-headed weren’t the only green pigeons around, and I was grateful that Kolbjorn had brought his scope. Here, a pair of Cinnamon-headed is flanked by a couple of Thick-billed GPs.

IMG_1493You might assume that a lone female (right) with two male Cinnamon-headed would be a Cinnamon-headed too, but attention to detail is needed here…

IMG_1494The yellow bill-base shows that it was actually a Pink-necked GP.

IMG_4197Below an adult male, a subadult male Cinnamon-headed shows an interesting colour combination. This and the next couple of pics were taken using my Canon S95 hand-held through Kolbjorn’s scope. Thanks for that Kolbjorn!

IMG_4206 IMG_4201A pair of Cinnamon-headed GPs.

IMG_1505Back to the DSLR again, interesting to see that the mantle and scapulars are maroon, just like on male Thick-billed, and that the ‘rear end’ is olive green.

IMG_1477While scrutinizing the pigeons, Folkert alerted us to the fact that a male Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker was sitting in a dead tree nearby. Pigeons were quickly forgotten! Sadly, the bird’s stay was momentary, and we were not able to relocate it.

It was getting rather hot out in the open, and Folkert and Kolbjorn were keen to visit the trail we scored heavily on yesterday, so we went back to the peat swamp forest.


In three years, they’ve never seen Hook-billed Bulbul from the roadside. Yet, almost as soon as we got into closed canopy, a small group of birds showed up. It seems that, to see this species, you need to get into the forest. They were much more obliging than the previous day’s individuals, and I managed to get a few shots.

IMG_1570 IMG_1567 IMG_1562None of the field guide illustrations do justice to these birds, probably because they were done with only skins to refer to. The bill colour needs altering from black to pale blue for a start! The hook at the bill tip is quite pronounced, and the whole bill shape reminded me of a slim broadbill, if that’s not a contradiction in terms!

IMG_1586 IMG_4216A couple more pitcher plants. I think the lower one might be Nepenthes bicalcarata. It has a couple of very snake-like ‘fangs’ beneath the ‘lid’, which add to its sinister appearance!

IMG_4220The lip is grooved. I’m completely ignorant about pitcher plants, but have to admit, they are fascinating!

At night we had another go at photographing Bonaparte’s Nightjar, with similar (lack of) success.

We did however, witness a Colugo make an astonishing glide of over 100 metres across the road, to land with perfect precision on a tree trunk on the other side.

IMG_1613We were even more amazed when it landed to notice that it was carrying a baby as well! Folkert has a much better shot of this and his own account of the same day here.



2 thoughts on “Brunei: Lower Belait, 20 June

  1. Hi Dave, I am very much enjoying the reads about your Brunei adventures! I find that, if you can see them, the bright yellow “socks” of the cinnamon-headed can also be a good feature in the field to tell them apart from other female pigeons.
    Glad to report that Kolbjorn and myself now also picked up the grey-breasted babbler on Wednesday – very big thanks to you guys!

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