wedge-tailed eagle


Order: Falconiformes. Family: Accipitridae – hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) Brahminy More »

hyottoko mask

Japanese Cultural Night #2

Saturday Night Live. Last night I went out to the second Japanese Cultural Night at the Ski-jo up the road(Furano, Hokkaido, Japan). The last one was a few weeks ago so I More »

ski furano

Furano Skiing 3

Skiing at the Furano Zone. I woke up this morning an looked out the window and there was about ten centimeters of fresh snow on the cars. Which was a very good More »


On to Hokkaido

Arrived in Furano. I am so tired. My eyelids are drooping and my shoulders feel like the weight of the world is upon them. My head feels heavy and I am almost More »

oasis hummingbird

Best Bird of the Year 2010

Best Bird of 2010 I saw a post on 10,000 birds about the best bird of 2010 so I was curious as to what defines the “best” bird of the year. I More »

Pacific Gull

2010 Birding Photography Retrospective

2010 Looking Back Well here we go again. Another year bites the dust. I can remember doing my Overview of 2009 just like it was yesterday. The new year of 2010 started More »

la hoya skiing

South America Overview

South America I flew into Buenos Aries from Sydney after a horrendous 14 hour flight. It took me a few days to readjust my body clock. Meanwhile I was really enjoying going More »

Snowy Egret

More Chicama Surf, Birds

More Surfing and Birds at Chicama, Peru. This morning after my surf at Chicama, I saw an Egret down on the rocks below the hostel. I had seen a couple of them More »

American Oystercatcher

El Chaco, Paracas NP

El Chaco Birding. El chaco is the town and port at the entrance to Paracas Nature Reserve in Southern Peru. This morning after I arrived here, I went for a walk along More »

Andean Lapwing

Bird of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Copacabana and Isla del Sol, Bolivia. The Puna Teal is found on the Andean altiplano. Its Chilean name is Pato puna. They have a black cap that extends to below the eyes. More »


Raining in Sabah

Klias River and Gunung Kinabalu.

Yesterday I went on a tour to see the Proboscis Monkeys at Beaufort, south of Kota Kinabalu. Half way there we encountered a massive storm coming and it started raining patchily here and there.

storm is coming
Storm is coming.

We got to the river and had a cuppa and the weather was fine.

klias river
River bank.

As soon as we got out on the river, it started bucketing down. We did see some Proboscis Monkeys but you could not see a thing it was so dark. ha ha What a waste of time and money.

raining on the river
Raining on the river.

Our boatman stopped at some tribal people who had prawn traps and some tourists bought some prawns and these yabbie-looking things. Maybe small lobsters or marron or similar.

our boatie getting drenched
Our boatie getting drenched.

Mount Kinabalu

The next day I jumped on a van to Mount Kinabalu. Again, halfway up the hill it started pouring and did not stop all the way. After I got there , it did let up, so I photographed some birds in the garden of my lodge and then went for a walk up the park. It is open at 7am. If it is not raining, I am up there.

mount kinabalu
mount kinabalu in the fog.

White-throated Fantail
White-throated Fantail ( Rhipidura albicollis)

This is the same one as back home. doh!

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush
Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush (Garrulax treacheri treacheri)

The Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush is endemic to Borneo. It was split from Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus).
There are three subspecies:
treacheri – Sabah
griswoldi – Central Borneo.
damnata – East Sarawak and East Kalimantan.


Kota Kinabalu – Sabah

Fish Markets and Wetlands.

This morning I woke up early at 6am, had a kopi-o down the road and headed to the harbour.

Me at KK harbour
Me at harbour

There were heaps of fish being sold and bundled around here and there. The floors were slippery with fish slime and you had to be very careful or you could go arse over tit real easy.

fish market
Selling Fish.

The bad dudes wanted me to take their photo, so I obliged.

bad boys in the fish market
Bad mofos

Lots of trawlers were docked in the harbour.

Kota Kinabalu Trawlers
Master of all I survey.

After breakfast, I arranged for a taxi to come take me to the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands. The tide was high so it was not the best time to go there I think.

Kota Kinabalu wetlands

I managed to get at least one tick, the Ashy Tailorbird. This one is a juvenile which is paler and has a whitish throat. They are found low down in mangroves, scrub, riverside bush. They range from Burma to Palawan and Java.

Ashy Tailorbird
Ashy Tailorbird (Orthomotus ruficeps)

Mangrove Skink
Mangrove Skink (Emoia atrocostata), Bengkarong in Malay.

The Mangrove Skink has smooth and brownish to greyish metallic skin. Eyelids are movable and the tail detaches easily. Retreats at night in bases of the tree buttresses. Active at dawn whilst foraging for insects. Most active when the body temperature is between 25-27 degrees Celsius. Most skinks lay eggs but some bear live young.


Miri Waterfront

A Walk To The Beach.

It took me a while to get going, but eventually I got motivated and started out late into the heat of the morning sun. I should have got going earlier, doh!

miri river
Miri River.

I walked along the Miri River to the mouth, then turned left towards the beach.

Miri River mouth
Boat heading out the mouth of the Miri River

A dark morph Reef Egret flew past but I was too slow to get a decent shot.

dark morph Reef Egret
dark morph Reef Egret

The beach had some ridable little waves but the water was like mud – very dirty. And there may be crocodiles in the water. I think crocodiles are more deadly than sharks.

Miri Point
Miri Breakwater. Surf, anyone?

I was not game to walk along the beach and stick my toes in the water. Chicken!

Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite

It was getting hot so I headed into town and saw a stall with some coconuts, so I asked for a kelapa mudah. Yip. Ibu chopped the top off and stuck a straw in it and away I sucked. She was from Kalimantan in Indonesia. I think there might be a lot of Indonesians in Sarawak, but I have a feeling they keep a low profile.

Miri Bird List

Yellow-vented Bulbul
dark morph Reef Egret
Brahminy Kite
Little Egret


Bintulu Birding

The Chinese Cemetery.

I found a little bit of bush just down from where I was staying near the Bus Terminal. It was just a raggedy bit of scrub next to the Chinese Cemetery. There were quite a few birds about. Nothing really new except for a Black-and-White Bulbul. The egrets were just pecking away next to the highway, oblivious to the passing traffic.

ID needed please
Not sure what this is.

The light was horrendous. It was overcast and dark and most of the photos were coming out all yucky. But I perservered and hopefully I will get something out of this maelstrom. The monsoon rain has eased off and today was fine but cloudy all day.

Pink-necked Green-Pigeon
Pink-necked Green-Pigeon

This is a pretty good tick for me. I have never seen one of these before.

Black-and-White Bulbul
Black-and-White Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanoleucos)

Asian Glossy Starling
Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)

Chestnut Munia
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)

Bintulu bird list

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Cattle Egret
Pink-necked Green-Pigeon
House Swallow
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)
Black-and-Wihte Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanoleucos)
Yellow-vented Bulbul


Early Morning Sibu

A walk along the river.

This morning I got up at 6 am and went along the river for a walk. It was still dark, so I stopped for a kopi-o at a cafe and continued on my way. There are heaps of sparrows around but not much else. But at least it was a lot cooler early in the morning than later.

Olive-backed Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)

There were a few Olive-backed Sunbirds in the flowers and some egrets and terns along the river.

monsoon coming
Approaching storm clouds

The monsoon has started and these clouds were threatening from a distance. Later in the morning it bucketed down, then kept up till mid-afternoon.

Boat coming up the river.


Kuching to Sibu Ekspress

A Longer Boat Ride

I was sad to leave Kuching this morning. I quite enjoyed the town and the hotel I was staying at. I got a lift to the port and boarded the boat bound for Sibu. We were going down the Sarawak River, across the South China Sea and then up the Rejang River to Sibu.

Sibu Ekspress
The Sibu Ekspress

We left on time, which gave me quite a shock. Thanks to the captain and crew.

o captain, o captain.
Our fearless captain

Then out the mouth of the Sarawak River and out into the South China Sea. There were heaps of boats around, mainly fishing and barges carrying cargo.

Leaving Sarawak River
Out into the South China Sea.

There was heaps of timber along the shore being loaded onto barges, then loaded onto waiting ships.

timber barge
A timber barge.

We made the Rejang River and headed upstream. We made a few stops but I have no idea what the names of the towns were.

rejang river town
Leaving some random town.

We made it to Sibu in about five hours which was heaps better than 8 hours by bus. The bus cuts the distance in half. I found a hotel across from the wharf, aptly named River View Hotel. After a shower and a rest, got my watch fixed, and I went for a walk along the river. This Big Goose is a bit weird. I have no idea what it is supposed to be. doh! Every town needs a big something or other. Edit: It was a big swan.

The Big Swan. the big swan

Even the joss sticks are huge in Sibu. These ones were very impressive at the Chinese Temple.

big joss sticks
The Big Joss Stick.

There were some very colourful boats along the river.

sibu waterfront
Lots of Colour.

Addendum: Lucky I wrote that last night, because I have forgotten all that. doh!


Borneo Orangutans

Semenggoh Wildlife Park.

Kuching. 6am. Get out of bed, put camera in bag, walk downstairs into the dark and just miss the bus. Oh well, it is only about 2 kilometers to the bus terminal. Get a bottle of water from the 7/11 on the waterfront. I am there with plenty of time to spare so I can get a Laksa Sarawak from the restaurant. Drain down a kopi-o.

Orangutan having breakfast

The bus takes off, through the suburbs and kampungs, past the Kuching Sentral Terminal. There are about half a dozen gaijen on the bus and locals getting on and off along the way. The feeding frenzy starts. The photographers go wild.

feeding frenzy
Feeding time at the zoo

We go into the jungle a little way and a mum and baby come down from the trees. They guts into bunches of bananas, stuff their faces full and climb away from the smorgasbord.

baby orangutan

Another pair of orangutans come down. We finally see three pairs of mother and baby.

Guts face

Then a little squirrel darts down from the trees and sneaks into the feeding trought. Later I ask the ranger what type of squirrel it was and he says it is a Prevost’s Squirrel (Callosciurus prevostii). They are a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. They eat fruits, nuts, seeds, buds, flowers, insects and bird eggs. They are found in the Thai-malay peninsula, as well as Sumatra and Borneo. It is amazing what you learn on wikipedia, isn’t it?

Prevost's Squirrel
Prevost’s Squirrel (Callosciurus prevostii)

The show is over, it is time to go home. I trudge back along the road and wait for the bus, get in and sleep most of the way. It is much nicer very early in the morning. I think I shall endeavour to get up earier henceforthwith.


Kuching Day 2

Sarawak River Cruise.

It is my second day in Sarawak and I am not getting used to the heat at all. I will eventually but I am not rushing into it madly. I have sequestered myself in my air-conditioned room during the afternoon and have diligently taken my Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) to deal with any dehydration. Today was a lazy day, getting up, making breakfast, and strolling down the river to go on cruise.

Sarawak boatman

This guy was waiting for customers to take across the river to get the local cake.

Our skipper
Our Skipper

We got going on our little cruise boat and headed down-river first, passing the parliament building which the local wags call the lemon squeezer. I wonder why?

the lemon squeezer
The Lemon Squeezer.

There were a few fishing boats docked along the river. Some of them looked a bit beat about, but others looked very sea-worthy.

Fishing boat
Fishing Boat.

Not many birds about. I only saw a Yellow-vented Bulbul in the trees near the wharf and a Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), hanging out on a boat.


Oxley Highway

New England Birding.

The Oxley Highway goes from Port Macquarie, through Wauchope, Walcha, and joins the New England Highway at Bendemeer, near Tamworth. It has some great rugged bush and winding roads through the mountains.

Ellenborough Reserve

This is a nice camping spot by the river. Good for walking, birding and fishing.

ellenborough river
Ellenborough River

Red-browed Finch
Red-browed Finch

Brown Cuckoo-dove
Brown Cuckoo-Dove

Stockyard Creek

There is a nice rest area here where there were dozens of Satin Bowerbirds grazing on the grasses.

male Satin Bowerbird
Male Satin Bowerbird

female Satin Bowerbird
Female Satin Bowerbird

White-browed Scrubwren
White-browed Scrubwren

Mummel Gulf National Park

Mummel Gulf is way up on top of the mountain, with huge trees and fern trees scattered throughout.

Mummel gulf NP.
big trees


Ski Plan Japan

Hokkaido Skiing Itinerary

I had to plan an itinerary for my mate Andy, so I thought I may as well share it with everyone because it would be helpful for others.


Rusutsu is sick. Wide-open powder and plenty of trees. There is no cheap dirt-bag accommodation so you have to stay at the ultra-expensive hotel or some mid-range pensions. Here are a few recommendations.

1. Pension Sky Be

2. Ohisama House

3. Pension Lilla Huset

4. Pension Clydesdale

More Options for hotels

To get there, take the bus from Sapporo Airport , Niseko, or Sapporo.


Kiroro has got some great powder runs. But there are only expensive hotels there. So unless you are a super-rich yuppy, then the only option is to stay at Otaru and catch the bus up the hill each day.

Smile Hotel Otaru, Dormitory L, and Otaru Guesthouse Harvest are close to the station and reasonably priced.


You can stay at Sapporo and ski a couple of resorts close to the city such as Kokusai and Teine.

Hotels near station – APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino Ekimae , Nest Hotel Sapporo Odori. Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Sapporo-eki Minami-guchi, Richmond Hotel Sapporo Odori.


Niseko can get crowded and tracked-out early. But if you know what you are doing and get out of bed early then there is some of the best skiing in the world. Here is my secret tip. Stay at Annupuri and ski that side before all the maggotts do the traverse over from Hirafu. If you want you can buy an all-mountain pass and ski hirafu and hanazono as well.

Alex gate 9
Annupuri Gate 9

For a room, have a look at the Niseko Annupuri Youth Hostel

Also, have a look at Moiwa. Some great powder skiing there, and there is a reasonable lodge right at the bottom of the lifts.


There are two parts to Furano, Kitanomine and Furano. It is a nice place because it still has the feel of a Japanese town, not a resort.

Place to stay include: Furano Alpine Backpackers, Furanui.

Kitanomine ski resort


Close to Asahikawa, this resort has some fantastic powder skiing. Although, it may be hard to find a room at the resort, you may have to stay in Asahikawa.

Best Plan for a month

Fly into Shin-Chitose. bus to Niseko. Stay in either Annupuri or Moiwa.
Bus to Rusutsu, stay at pension near lifts.
Furano, with day trips to Kamui and/or Tomamu.
Sapporo, ski at Kokusai/Teine.