Sabah Trip 19-24 Aug 2020

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

5 months. It's been that long since the country borders were closed. All trips for this year are either cancelled or postponed. But with support from a KL based birder, I've arranged for a private trip to eastern part of Sabah. 

We traveled to Sandakan and made this our base so that we can make changes to our itinerary as and when required. Upon landing in Sandakan Airport, we made our way to Rainforest Discovery Center to try our luck with Black-crowned Pitta and Blue-headed Pitta but only White-crowned Shama turned up. So, without wasting anymore time, we decided to get a quick bite before continue our journey to the highland and stay for a night. 

The next day we went to a spot overlooking a valley shortly after breakfast. We got a few birds and then we drove to a feeding station for a Black-crowned Pitta. What was supposed to be a 1-2 hour session stretched to 6 hours before the 🌟 bird show up along with a White-crowned Shama and Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher. Saw a Crested Jay and heard a Rufous-collared Kingfisher but not very cooperative. The weather was a factor why we choose to leave after getting the Pitta. We returned to RDC area for a night. 

On the 3rd day, we had Robert showing us a few spot around the resort where we found White-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous Piculet, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Stork-billed Kingfisher and glimpses of Hooded Pitta. Then, we moved on to Lahad Datu. Found the spot for our next target with the help of my local guest based here. The next day, we spent the entire day waiting for the Blue-banded Pitta but no a single glimpse of it. Only heard it once. An uncooperative (bornean) Banded Kingfisher was perching nearby but we tried for it without much success. At the end of the day, we discussed and decided to return to Sandakan to spend more time rather than staying here. It was a pretty good decision as we got Diard's Trogon, Red-naped Trogon, Buff-necked Woodpecker, Raffles's Malkoha, and others. 

We came close on getting a Giant Pitta but we were short of time as we had to catch our flight home to Kuala Lumpur. 

With this mini expedition, we know what we could expect from Sabah and what to plan for in my next visit.

Licensed Guide specialized in birdwatching and photography tour in Peninsular Malaysia.

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Butterflies of Peninsular Malaysia

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Notable Plants While Birding
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I'm a bird watcher, digiscoper, photographer and a licensed nature guide. Welcome to my 'A Malaysian Birder' blog. I will post my bird sightings and photographs on this blog. I started bird watching while studying in university. After graduating with a degree in forestry specializing in parks and recreation management, I have been attached to the parks and gardens industry. My past work experiences involve conducting environmental education program, bird watching and many more. When I go out to the field, I will usually have my Kowa 10x32 BDXD binocular, iPhone and Kowa TSN-501 spotting scope with me. This is the lightest setup for me as I prefer to go light these days. Although sometimes, I will (and I need to) take out my Nikon 10x42 Monarch binocular, Nikon ED82 spotting scope, Nikon1 V1 setup for specific targets.

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There are quite a number of birding groups from Australia, United States and United Kingdom that come over to Malaysia annually visiting the traditional key sites that include Kuala Selangor, Fraser's Hill and Taman Negara. There is not doubt that the 3 sites are the preferred birding sites in Peninsular Malaysia. So if you are coming over for birding and intend to hire a guide, you can send me an email at and go over to posting section to view photos and summary of trip reports with testimonials from past clients.

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