Thursday, 13 November 2014

Sabah, Borneo, August 2014 Part 4



Andrew Siani, Bird Guide extraordinaire and young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


I am continuing my young birder's summer trip to Sabah, Borneo.  After saying goodbye to Andrew Siani, one of the best guides ever, we had a day of diving planned.  We met up at the harbour for our boat out to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.  We were doing a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course, with training and then two dives.  We had already done two pool dives at home and so this helped us get off to a great start.  Our first dive was amazing, going down to 12 metres.  We saw loads of fish even at that depth and Dad and I definitely got the bug.  Mum got a little bit freaked, but still did really well.



Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig on diving boat
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


We had lunch on a nearby island with a couple of ticks thrown in.  Then in the afternoon, we had a second dive.  This time the reef and fish were stunning.  The highlight was a tiny clown fish species that did look just like Nemo.

Back in Kota Kinabalu, we went back to our favourite amazing vegetarian Chinese restaurant.

The next morning we were picked up by our taxi for a two hour drive to meet our boat over to Mantanani Island.  Whilst we waited, we managed to see Scaly-breasted and Streaked Munia which was a bonus.  



Asian Glossy Starling, Kuala Abai Jetty, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig




Collared Kingfisher, Kual Abai Jetty, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


The boat was small and travelled really fast over the waves, lifting up and banging down on the sea.  It was really hard not to be thrown around the boat and I ended up with bruises everywhere.  It was such an awful journey that I wasn't looking forward to the return journey.  We were staying at the Mari Mari Backpackers Lodge.  The accommodation was lovely but quite basic. Mum had ordered our food in advance, so we ended up with far too much for the three of us.


Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright young birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


At first glance, the island looked idyllic with white sandy beaches lined with palm trees and deep blue sea.  However it was far from this.  The coral around the main island had been destroyed by dynamite fishing by the locals.  They also tipped their rubbish into the sea, causing a lot of it to end up back on the beaches, which were covered in plastic and rubbish.  This island was badly in need of a proper conservation project where some of the money from the two lodges is used to educate and give financial incentives to the local people to behave in an environmentally friendly way.



The other side of Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Wesley was the resident bird expert and showed us around.  The big target bird was Mantanani Scops Owl, but we had to wait until later for this.  We went out in the afternoon and were amazingly successful.  We saw the critically endangered and very range restricted Christmas Island Frigatebird, flying around an island in the bay.  With them were Lesser Frigatebird and Black-naped Tern.  We also saw Metallic Pigeon, Grey Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Germain’s Swiftlet, Pied Triller, Grey-streaked Flycatcher and Dark-sided Flycatcher. 



Common Emerald Dove, Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Lesser Frigatebird, Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


After dark, we went into a small wooded area not far from the lodge.  We heard a Mantanani Scops Owl almost immediately and so followed the call, eventually finding it, before getting fantastic views.  We went back to the lodge very happy, just to hear another one there!  Our total success meant that we could spend the next morning on the beach.


Mantanani Scops Owl, Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


We spent the next morning swimming and relaxing in hammocks with the only additional bird being Greater Crested Tern.  I was dreading the boat journey back, but this time it was much calmer, which was a big relief.


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig





Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig - finally some relaxation time, Mantanani Island, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig



Our taxi driver was waiting for us and it was nice to get back to the same hotel in Kota Kinabalu and the same lovely vegetarian Chinese restaurant. 

The next morning we had a really early start and had to have our bags ready for 5.20 am.  We were heading for the Padas River for a morning of white water rafting.  Our mini bus first took us to Beaufort where we had breakfast and then boarded an old train.  Apparently the train was from the days of British rule.  It wasn’t too bad until a local woman got into our carriage with a sack of durian fruit.  That made all the tourists feel sick.



Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Padas River, Sabah, Borneo
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig




Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig Padas River, Sabah, Borneo



Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig Padas River, Sabah, Borneo


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig Padas River, Sabah, Borneo


It had been raining for a couple of weeks up river in Mount Kinabalu and so the Padas River was swollen and fast moving.  The rafting levels were meant to be grade III-IV but the river was really fasting moving and so was definitely IV+.  We started off at Pangi and, after a bit of training, spent two hours travelling 10 miles down the river.  




Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig Padas River, Sabah, Borneo


Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig Padas River, Sabah, Borneo

The rapids were called things like Head Hunter and Washing Machine.  It was absolutely fantastic and I’d love to do it again.  Mum fell into the boat twice and then into the water on the last rapid, BBQ.  Our guide jumped in and got her out and she was laughing a lot until he told her that she was lucky to have fallen into that one as it didn't spiral but the earlier one, Snake House would have dragged her deep down underwater.  We still laughed a lot though.  The other boats capsized a couple of time, so we did really well.



Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig Padas River, Sabah, Borneo


After lunch and getting changed, we headed back on the train to Beaufort.  From here we would be making the complicated overland journey from Sabah, through Sarawak to Brunei.


Next Brunei.






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