Day 321: Birding Over Bikinis

Not even the inviting warmth of therapeutic hot springs can distract Noah from his birding mission.

November 17, 2015: Mount Kinabalu, Borneo-- After another quick boat trip down the Kinabatangan River this morning, with good views of more proboscis monkeys, Gary, John and I headed west across northern Borneo. We met Andrew Siani, a veteran Bornean birder (“a legend,” according to Gary and John) and spent the afternoon at the Poring Hot Springs, near the base of Mount Kinabalu.

Andrew grew up in a local village which, he said, used to be a week’s journey from the next nearest settlement. He remembers going out to trade for salt, one of the few things his village couldn’t produce. Since those days, he’s seen it all: The first highway built in the 1970s; logging companies clearing land in the 1980s; the gradual disappearance of some bird species from the local area; and the recent rise of birdwatching tours. 

The hot springs are supposedly therapeutic and are a popular tourist stop these days, but we walked by the thermal pools to reach a trail network in the adjacent rainforest. As the three of us strolled past boardshort- and bikini-clad crowds, I was reminded of the many beautiful beaches I have visited this year in full birding attire. Someday I’ll relax in one of these places, but not in 2015... A White-tailed Flycatcher made the trip worth it!

New birds today: 9

Year list: 5266

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