Big Year 2015: July Summary

I started the month in the highlands of east Sarawak and finished it in Kinabalu National Park in Sabah. In between I had a week of survey work in the Tawau area of eastern Sabah, and a single visit to Sungai Sedim in Kedah. These perambulations netted me 253 species in the month, of which 32 were new for the year, bringing me to 544, exactly 50 species ahead of where Dennis was at this stage in 2006.

The month began as I was coming to the end of an exceptionally productive Birdtour Asia tour of east Sarawak and west Sabah. Our last couple of days netted us some quality birds in the form of Ferruginous Partridge, strutting its stuff across a road in front of us, the less spectacular but extremely restricted-range Hook-billed Bulbul, and a world lifer in the form of both male and female Sunda Frogmouths.

The following week I was surveying oil palm plantations in eastern Sabah, where new birds were markedly less numerous. I picked up just a single new one for the year – White-bellied Munia, but these can be tricky in Peninsular Malaysia, so I wasn’t complaining! I did entertain the idea of visiting some of the islands off Semporna for rare pigeons and the like, but decided to heed local advice that the security situation in the area didn’t really warrant taking the risk.

Back home I managed a single trip out in the ensuing two weeks, and decided to visit Sungai Sedim, Kedah, where Rufous-tailed Shama and Pin-tailed Parrotfinch had been seen recently. I didn’t manage to see either of these, but was well pleased to catch up with three potentially tricky species – Rufous-backed KingfisherLong-billed Spiderhunter and Red-throated Sunbird.

Then it was time for my next Sabah tour, which proved, like the Sarawak trip earlier in the month, to be exceptional! A write-up of the trip, which extended into August, is here. It has plenty of photos in it, which I won’t reproduce here, but I’ll add a few below which didn’t make it into the report.


Mount Kinabalu summit. Awesome!



Two of the seven Whitehead’s Broadbills we encountered.


This young male Whitehead’s Trogon looks bright…


…till you see an adult (sadly, more distant)!


This Mountain Serpent-Eagle perched for over 10 minutes was a personal highlight.


Not a great photo but great views of two Malay Weasels on the same day. That makes three I’ve seen in the Park and five overall (a certain tour leader who can’t be named but has the initials JCE still hasn’t seen any!).


Pale-faced Bulbul – the berries helped!


Golden-naped Barbet showing why it is so-named.


We kept bumping into these – seemingly easier to see now that there are fewer visitors to the Park.


Bornean Stubtail and bling!


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