Brunei: Lower Belait, 27 June

On my last day in the field I was joined by Kolbjorn to attempt to walk through some peat swamp forest to a sandy ridge. However, the trail led us in a circle without getting near it, and so we were back at the vehicle pretty early, which meant I had half a morning left.

There was really only one thing to do – head back down the trail we had been on on the 19th to the spot where we’d seen the Grey-breasted Babblers when my camera was on the blink!

Once at the spot I got the camera out, played the song, and bingo! At long last I was able to snap away at this bird of my dreams!

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2325The supercilium takes an exaggerated arch over the eye around a crescent of black feathers above the eye.

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2334Apart from the supercilium, the endemic Bornean subspecies moultoni has a buff ‘supraloral tuft’ which I think is unique.

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2340The lower edge of the ear coverts takes a right angle downwards, which makes them look like they are sporting an enormous moustache when seen head-on!

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2356Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2362Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2443The amazing head pattern is rounded off by a blood red iris – what a bird!

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2471Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2480Giving me the eye! They have an interesting habit of landing on the base of a vertical vine and then hopping all the way to the top. Once I worked this out, I could focus on the vine above the bird and wait for it to hop into view!

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2497Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2506I tried a few with flash.

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2512Suddenly a juvenile appeared! Most of the bill and a thin eye-ring were orange-yellow.

Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2514Grey-breasted Babblerl_Badas hydro_270613_IMG_2515Shinning up another vine.

IMG_2531 IMG_2537I was momentarily distracted by a Mangrove Whistler feeding on a stick insect. This species was surprisingly common in peat swamp forest.

IMG_4351A last shot of the stunnning Nepenthes bicalcarata.

Getting photos of Grey-breasted Babbler was the perfect end to the trip, and hopefully it won’t be the last time I venture into peat swamp forest.

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