On the weekend of September 29 and 30th, 2012, Eileen and I took our grandson Ryan to Borneo Highlands Resort, for the 2012 Sarawak Nature Festival, organized by the Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch. I was there as a lecturer, Ryan was there as a participant, and Eileen was there to make sure things didn't get out of hand.
Ryan's Uncle Bryan came along for the first day; here he is taking his nephew for a stroll at the Indonesia border overlook.
The overlook, of course, is a favourite spot for birders (I have featured it many times on this blog).
I try to photograph interesting plants at the overlook, some of which I can identify: this is a fine clump of Bird's-nest Fern (Asplenium nidus).
This is, I believe, a species of Pandanus.
This one, though, I don't know - I'd like to, though. The fruit is rather like a bright-red eggplant, or a gigantic strawberry.
The overlook seems seems to be a good place to turn up mystery squirrels. This is a species of Sundasciurus
– but when I couldn't get past that with the material to hand, I sent
the photo off to Quentin Phillips, who startled me somewhat by
identifying it as Low's Squirrel (Sundasciurus lowii), a species
that (according to the guidebooks) is not supposed to be in this part
of Borneo (it does occur further to the northeast). Well, there it is.
Nonetheless, when the chance came to do a spot of birding (and bird photography) before the event got rolling, those of us so inclined headed not for the overlook, but for the edge of the golf course to visit a particularly cooperative Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus).
The pale whitish lores (the area between the eye and the bill) and the red iris mark this as the endemic north Borneo race stigmatops, a common bird of the highlands over 500 m., rather than one of the migrant continental Asian races that could conceivably show up here.
The golf course is also a good place to see Blyth's Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus alboniger), truly one of the most striking raptors in the world and, for me, an iconic bird of the highlands.
Meanwhile, Ryan was growing increasingly enthusiastic at the prospect of the various children's activities, organized by Susan Teal of MNS.
Before getting started, I took him on a walk around one of the ponds on the golf course, where, to his delight, we found a number of Green Paddy Frogs (Hylarana erythraea).
Once Ryan got busy, I had a chance to get in a bit of insect watching on the streambeds around the resort. These were good spots for the dragonfly Trithemis festiva.
Mineral salts (I presume) on the streambed rocks made them attractive to butterflies, too. This is a Straight-line Mapwing (Cyrestis nivea).
Mapwings are handsome butterflies; this one is the commonest Malaysian species, identifiable because the narrow black lines on the wings are (as you might expect from the name) more or less straight. It appears to be too pale for the otherwise-similar Cyrestis theresae, a Borneo-Sumatra endemic, assuming that the photo I found of that species on the web is correctly identified.
The damp streambed rocks also attracted a White Dragontail (Lamproptera curius). Dragontails are miniature members of the swallowtail family, and seem particularly partial to running water. There are only two species, both of which are found in Borneo, and they are very similar to each other. However, the fact that the stripe along the wings appears pure white rather than pale greenish suggests that this is, indeed, L. curius and not the Green Dragontail (Lamproptera meges).
Identifying butterflies in Borneo is hampered by the lack of a really complete guidebook, particularly when you get to the trickier groups such as some of the sulphurs. This may be Eurema ada, a species that lacks a common English name.
I also have difficulty with the many species of Sailor (Neptis and related genera). I think this one is a Malay Sailor (Neptis duryodana), but I am not at all sure.
This one is much easier: a Chocolate Pansy (Junonia iphita).
By the end of the day, the Nature Festival was ready to get underway in earnest. Here you see Ryan and I getting ready for a particularly exciting activity: a night walk, led by my friend Hans Breuer. To see what we found, though, you're have to wait for my next post!