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CUCKOO!

CUCKOO!

My time in Borneo, like many of my trips, is focused on seeing certain cats. Of course I don’t ignore birds on such trip, but I also try to see as many as possible. It’s already been an excellent trip with the special endemic Bristlehead, but I was also succesful in seeing all hornbills, definitely one of my favourite birdfamily 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 to see much 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 succesfully 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, 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!

Not sharp, but no time!

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 mange to get a more or less clear view of the cuckoo when we all lie 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, sharpen 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 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 forestfloor so they can get to the insects and other small stuff.

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.

 

LennartVerheuvel

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