Chasing Dwarfs, Stalking Kingfishers in Sepilok


The Rainforest Discovery Centres (RDC) brilliant natural surroundings have made Sepilok the quintessence of tropical wilderness that brought into existence, a rare form of dedication for bird photography. In the third inception of the 3-day Borneo Bird Festival held annually, birdwatchers & bird photographers from all over the world had flocked to the quiet town to catch a glimpse of lifers, a term used for a rare bird sighting for the first time.
View from atop the Canopy Walk!

The lush vegetation growing from natures little spaces in the recesses between gigantic trees have created an undiscovered paradise beckoning to be marvelled at. Despite the high humidity, bird enthusiasts endured the sweat to stake out the popular spots to wait for the elusive Ruddy Kingfisher & the colourful  little Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher measuring only about 8cm in size.
The festival in Sandakan was held over 14 – 16 October 2011. Guided bird tours by experienced guides who can tell you what bird it is just by the sound of its call, lectures by consultants in environmental protection institutes, authorities of wetlands, authors of bird books & photography experts who congregate for one purpose was made accessible to members of the public.There were workshops by craft-makers, painters etc. while birders staked out the hotspots where the Ruddy & the Dwarfs were initially spotted.
Sabah Tourism’s counter of shirts & paraphernalia!
Exhibitors of the fair made up of societies, bird clubs, tour organiser, organisations of wildlife conservation, photographic & fieldscope gears and the Sabah Tourism Board. It was very well organised with the concerted effort of the Borneo Bird Club, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Parks, North Borneo Safari Tours, bird guides, volunteers & the most substantial support from Sabah Tourism. It attracted approximately 4,000 people to the fair, notably, a veteran from Hong Kong aged 80 years who lugged around his 800mm prime lens to staked out 4 hours straight to get a shot of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher. His effort got him a special award for being the most dedicated senior veteran at the fair!
Chan Pak from Hong Kong, receiving his special accolade from Cede Prudente for being the most senior birder on the field in this festival!

North Borneo Safari showcasing their birding expeditions!

Sandakan Photo’s booth coupling with Nikon as the main prize sponsor.

Borneo Bird Club’s booth.

Other notable highlights was the honouring of the birding legends, my best friend Choo Tse Chien (bird photographer & guide), Lee Teck Seng (bird & nature guide) & another naturalist, Isnadil Mohd who all passed away within 48 hours of each other. The birding world was shaken with the loss of three fantastic birders who contributed much to the field & as such, a tribute was given at the welcoming dinner by Sabah Tourism to their parents who were present for the event. Chien was the reason I got into birding & I would have to live on & continue his legacy as The Wannabe.

Tribute wall of Chien, Teck Seng & Isnadil.

Note:- Right after the Bird Festival, I headed to Sukau along Kinabatangan River & internet access here is limited. More stories & pictures will be uploaded when I have better internet connection when I get into Sandakan!

More on birding:- The Challenge of Bird Photography In The Rainforest of Borneo.


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