Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sabahtical - Day 7 - Fortuities

Once again we started birding early. This time it was at the Bukit Tupai trail not that far from the Liwagu Restaurant. It was another disappointment. It rained again the night before and the trails were muddy. Because of this Cynthia preferred the more open and relatively dryer lawn-like area. On the other hand I was slowly roaming around around hoping to encounter birds along the way. At one point I had to cross a very short wooden bridge to get to where my wife was standing. As soon as I stepped on it I slipped! Thankfully there was a hand rail which was strong enough to hold my weight (and that of my gear) that prevented me from injuring myself and/or destroying my precious camera and big lens. Perhaps it was the moss on the wet wooden floor that caused it. Nevertheless I was so grateful for that fortuitous moment that I did not even feel any pain afterwards.

But what hurt was the completely absence of birds! The morning passed slowly and after going through the motions of lunch we returned to our room to pack. Since our flight back home doesn't leave until the wee hours of the next day we opted for a late check-out of 3pm.

At three in the afternoon we arranged for a transportation to take us to Kota Kinabalu Airport. Normally there were taxis available by the reception area but this time zero. Thirty minutes later and still nothing and we were getting worried. One of the staff at the reception area noticed our dilemma. He talked with a guy who we thought was the driver of a tourist van. Soon he came over and introduced Albert. Albert brought another fortuitous moment in our lives. As we suspected, he was picking up his clients (he works for a tour company) who would be getting down from their climb that afternoon and going back to their hotel in Kota Kinabalu. He said there was still space in his van because he would only be picking up four people. He quoted us a price that was even cheaper had we taken a taxi! Albert was even apologetic that we had to wait for his passengers. Then he suggested if we wanted to come with him to Timpohon Gate where he would be picking up the mountain climbers. We were like "are you kidding?" We so wanted to go to that place (we were told by friends that that was where the birds were) but 1) it was too far and too steep for walking and 2) the park does not allow their vehicles to take their guests there. We of course readily told Albert that yes we would love to go to Timpohon Gate.

As soon as we got there, Albert pointed to a tree next to the gate. We looked and an Indigo Flycatcher was nonchalantly perched perhaps waiting for the slight drizzle to end.

Inasmuch as his passengers were still on the way to their meeting place, Albert told us to explore the area and not to worry because he'll call us when everyone's accounted for. There were more birds for sure but none were new to us. The usual Gray-chinned Minivets and Yellow-breasted Warblers were all waiting for the rain to pass. 

I had to answer the call of nature and as I was walking towards the loo I saw a black bird behind a parked car. I took several shots of the Bornean Whistling Thrush but since the call of nature was getting louder I passed the camera on to Cynthia to take over photographing the thrush.

As I came out, Cynthia was telling me to hurry as the mountain climbers were now aboard the van. Two hours later we were at the Kinabalu Airport. We settled in for another long, sleepless night.

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