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My time in Borneo, like many of my trips, was focused on seeing certain cats. Of course I don’t ignore birds on such a trip, but I try to see as many as possible. It had already been an excellent trip since I saw the special endemic Bristlehead, but I was also successful in seeing all hornbills, definitely one of my favourite birdfamilies on the planet. Now I am at the Kinabatang river and the goal is to get a Bornean Ground Cuckoo. This is an extremely elusive bird of the rainforest that you don’t get to hear that often and see it even less. So a real challenge!

I tried for two days to see it. The way to do it is to go with a guide and a boat along the riverbanks and try to find a calling bird. When you have successfully managed to do that, you try getting it closer using playback. We managed to find a calling bird on both mornings, but were unlucky with calling it in. Now it’s my  last afternoon and I don’t expect to see the bird anymore. I am with two French birders and we are sailing on one of the tributaries of the Kinabatang looking for other birds. Then the guide says: “Orang Utan”! At about ten meters away we see a huge male Orang Utan hanging in the branches, a couple of meters above the ground. I hadn’t seen a male Orang Utan yet and it’s big! I take the first pictures, but then we suddenly hear a Ground Cuckoo calling very close! My photo’s aren’t sharp, but I leave the Orang alone: first that cuckoo!

Bornean Orangutan

We peer into the thick foliage. At a certain point we manage to see the distinctive head: YES! We get the boat close and the three of us manage to get a more or less clear view of the cuckoo if we all lie down on the tip of the boat at a certain angle. It’s very dark in the rainforest so there is no choice but to crank up the ISO, focus by hand and hope for something good. We get great views and can follow it a little when he goes foraging on the forestfloor. We then see that there are actually two Ground Cuckoos! It’s also really cool to see how they follow a group of Bearded Pigs around, this is very distinctive behaviour for this bird, because the pigs mess up the forest floor so they can get to the insects and other small stuff.

Bornean Bearded Pig

At a certain point the group disappears into the forest again and the Ground Cuckoo’s move along with them. Tomorrow I will leave for another place so this was a really nice way to finish the trip! The photo’s turned out to be okay as well.

Bornean Ground Cuckoo

Want to see some more pictures of Borneo?

Find out more about my encounter with Bornean Clouded Leopard!

Finding the very rare Marbled Cat was a really nice experience!

Or get a glimpse of a Flat-headed Cat!

Sunda Leopard Cat is a really beautiful cat too!

Or see more of the beautiful civets of Borneo including the rare Otter Civet!

Owls are never boring and there are some nice ones on Borneo!

And here is a tripreport!


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