Brunei: Lower Belait, 26 June

Angus and I revisited the area we went to on 20 June, and this time we managed to get into freshwater swamp forest and eventually, kerangas heath forest.

IMG_2190Green-pigeons were again very visible in the dead trees, catching the first rays of sun in the burnt area. These are two female Cinnamon-headed – with their distinctively small, red-based bills.

IMG_2206A subadult Grey-headed Fish-eagle, showing the relatively long neck and small head of this species compared to Lesser.

IMG_2214White-bellied Woodpeckers seemed numerous, and included one which flew right overhead, showing symmetrical holes in the wings!

IMG_4328After a couple of kilometers walking through a huge burnt area, we entered the freshwater swamp forest where the going underfoot was wet but firm. The tannin-loaded water flows over whitish sand, a beautiful rich mahogany colour.

IMG_4334This is definitely the most visually stunning of the poor-soil forest types.

IMG_4341Seeing birds in the tall, dense trees, with very little understorey, was hard work though. We had a pair of Bristleheads briefly overhead.

IMG_2248Once we got into kerangas, birds became more numerous, with Rufous-tailed Shama being one of the best birds. There were some interesting insects too, including this blue and red stick insect. This is obviously a popular colour combination in these parts (reminding me of the spider I saw on the first day).

IMG_2252This hairstreak was a stunning purple on the upperside of the wings. Too bad it wouldn’t open them when resting.

IMG_2262When we got into a small burnt area of kerangas I came across a small fruiting fig with a few birds in it, one of which was this Brown-backed Flowerpecker, which was a long-awaited lifer. I concealed myself near the tree and waited for it to return for over an hour, and, although it did so, it never came out into the open.

IMG_2275 IMG_2274Poor photos of a Cream-vented Bulbul.These mostly have red eyes in Borneo, making them a challenge to distinguish from Red-eyed. Note the blood red eye and dark brown upperparts. The underparts are noticeably paler than Red-eyed, and they don’t seem quite so heavily built.

IMG_2278IMG_2281This Black-capped Babbler was torn between flight and curiosity. It was definitely tring to work out what I was!

IMG_2289On our way back we were virtually mobbed by a small flock of Scaly-crowned Babblers.

IMG_2310 IMG_2304In addition to the crown, underpart and leg colour, the flesh-coloured lower mandible is a useful distinguishing feature from Rufous-crowned (at least the nominate race).

On our way back through the burnt area I took a close look at some of the many mammal tracks along the track – Leopard Cat, Sambar, Bearded Pig, and this:

IMG_4347One of the large otter species.


One thought on “Brunei: Lower Belait, 26 June

  1. great shots of all the rarities!! The ‘Brown-backed Flowerpecker’ photo shows an immature male of either a Crimson-breasted or Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker. The dark mottling you can see on neck/nape and mantle, and dark wingcoverts are the first molted parts of the adult male plumage. In time, it will achieve the full aduilt male plumage, get a darker richer iris color, the orange gape will disappear, and the yellow lower mandible will become gray.

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