Along the Kinabatangan River

Borneo Proboscis monkeys

All the monkeys seemed to live in family groups and you could see adult females passing babies between them. Pig tailed Macaques littered the waters edge. One seemed to badly injured, maybe a male who had fought and lost control of his family of females. Beautiful elegant white Egrets were everywhere lining the shoreside and we saw a purple heron flying above us. The rooms were in log cabins up flights of stairs and a owl sat on the steps each evening eating beetles and insects. Huge moths and bats flew around the open air restaurant. And in the mornings I was woken by young Macaques play fighting on the roof and chattering on the walkway outside the door.

 moth borneo

The second day we were there we got up really early and were on the river by 6.30am. It was light but already heating up. There were different birds around at this time of day. Including a Fish Eagle and Hornbills. On the way down the river there was a crocodile in the water raising its head to bite at a black plastic bin bag of fishing bait. Impressive sound! On the way back the boatman took us in close to the bank where a crocodile was having a post-prandial snooze, before it registered the attention it was getting and and lowered itself into the water and swam off quite slowly. It was huge, amazing to see all of it and wonderful to watch such a big creature submerge itself like a submarine with barely a ripple. Hands strictly inside the boat at this point!

Borneo Crocodile

Further up the river along with several other boats we were able to observe an Orangutan high up in the forest canopy. Amazing that a monkey of that size does not just break the branches. I watched a beautiful butterfly, white with dark dots and strangely shaped wings. It just floated around like a piece of tissue paper being blown by a soft breeze.

After a late breakfast we took a walk into the jungle. The birds were dozy but there were beautiful butterflies again. A smallish brown one with blue around the bottom edges and a largish brown one with white spots. Out guide pointed out a couple of Orangutan nests high in the trees but no monkeys to be seen. It was hot and humid – totally draining. From the top of the observation tower there was a view out over the river revealing it in all its meandering majesty. There had been no sense of how near it was to being an ox-bow lake when we had been on the water. Almost at the end of the trail there was a tree of vast circumference but dead and hollow now. We crawled inside it and saw bats roosting high up. Apparently during the second world war villagers used to hide in there. After lunch there was another river trip. There were more macaques and proboscis monkeys and two monitor lizards blending themselves in so efficiently with the trunk of a dead tree that it was amazing that the guide spotted them. They watched us watching them fro a while and then sure of their camouflage they went back to sleep. Between two and three feet long and much more reptilian they make the lizards we seen in France seem very insignificant.

IMG_3673

A group of macaques with lots of babies were at the waters edge. The young ones were playing and chasing each other. One really tiny one with a large black head, I assume because it was so young, kept trying to climb a tree and almost falling. Its mother or another adult female was keeping a close eye on it and at one stage positioned itself so the baby could walk across her back to safety. There was a stork billed Kingfisher too who obligingly sat on a branch, quite still, before taking off in a typical straight as an arrow flight.

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