Friday, July 3, 2009
Today was my birdday! I got one of the best presents I've ever had. In our fist day in the forest we saw the elusive Bornean Bristlehead - 4 of them - a bird we missed in 1993 and a monotypical family. Another milestone. I've seen at least one representative of all but two of the world's families of birds. Wahooooooooooooooo. Also, on the first hour in the forest we came across a young female orangutang, No.107 written in a magic marker on her inner thigh. She hung by an arm and a leg and ate fruit while we watched. Glorious!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
No matter how many times I go to Asia, Japan has always been my favorite doorway. And a Japanese inn (ryokan) in the city of Narita one stop and ten minutes from Tokyo airport is my favorite first night stopover. Wakamatsu Honten greeted us after the long flight from LA with an incredible meal and a view of Shinshoji Temple. The next morning we joined the obosans (priests) for a morning chant at 5 am and walked the temple grounds in the mist to bow to the images of the buddha, and Fudomyo, the destroyer of passions and seducer of enlightenment.
We heard then found uguisu (Japanese Bush Warbler) in the woods behind the temple, and heard Japanese Hill Patridge in the bamboo. Doi san served a big breakfast and we were driven back to the train station to get back to the terminal for our flights to Singapore, then Kuala Lumpur.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This is a symbolic return to Borneo for me. In 1993, Joseph and I went there on our first overseas bird watching trip and we didn't know what the hell we were doing. Danum Valley was magic at the research station and we would lie in bed for an hour listening to the best dawn chorus I've ever heard: first cheeps, then caws, then the whoops of the gibbons layer on layer. We spent one quality afternoon with a young male orang. Hornbills flew over us, their wings sounding like silk taffeta. Bats chased us out of the research grid at the end of the day. We watched a flying squirrel bomb over the river every evening at sunset. Magic. But the rest of the time in Borneo was a nightmare. We were there in the rainy season and sometimes couldn't leave our room. The rooms were sometimes moldy and cold. Joseph fell a couple of times. We didn't see the birds we wanted to. It was an unfinished adventure we promised to resolve some day. Today is that day.
It's all about the birds we didn't see, some of which were not even being seen. One of them is Bornean Ground Cuckoo, which hadn't been seen for decades. We're heading to the Kinabatangan River to try for it. Here it is when others saw it. I hope we are as lucky.