“Dry spell at Sepilok finally broke. Impending rains fallen the night before, sent winged termites out of their quarters to mate. Having achieved the ultimate act, these paired insects met their doom.
“While some struggled on their last breaths, others dropped their wings and collapsed waiting for ‘avian undertakers’ to finish the job on the premises of the RDC cafeteria.
“Meet Red-eyed Bulbul (Pyconontus brunneus) doing inspection at cafeteria’s veranda before announcing breakfast gong (below-left)
“An adult was observed stripping off insect’s wings and devoured carcass whole (above-right).
“July was a good time of year to observe bulbul species and their juveniles. No less than three species were observed with their parents.
“Here, a juvenile Red-eyed Bulbul was photographed at waiting area – a Bambusa spp. grove (left).
“A juvenile Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus) was observed to be on its way to feeding independence (below-left).
“A juvenile, strange looking feathering of a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) too was waiting its turn with the adults (below-right).
“A Chestnut-winged Babbler (Stachyris erythroptera) stole the show for its smaller size and bravado at the steps (below-left).
“Six species of Woodpeckers kept me going to observe their foraging habits by drumming at dead tree trunks/branches. They got at tree grubs and insects by stripping off tree barks, drumming and chiselling with their bills, and probing dead leaves amongst wild orchid and epiphytes for insects.
“Here are the magnificent five with photographs.
“Buff-Necked Woodpecker (Meighyptes tukki) (above-right, below).
“Buff-rumped Woodpecker (Meighyptes tristis) was too busy probing decayed foliages and epiphytes to take notice of my presence (below).
“A breeding pair was also observed sharing nesting duties in tree excavation at unusual pre-dusk hours (left).
“A Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos moluccensis) was spotted to perch and forage at a straight branch. Drumming up a wind-pipe instrument as well perhaps (below-left)?
“Maroon Woodpecker (Blythipicus rubiginosus) was a surprise find at lowland forest elevation. Single female bird provided long periods of observation under a dark, tree canopy coverage while vigorously excavating for wood grubs with its yellow, daggered bill. I have never had such a close encounter. My previous recorded sightings would usually be a foraging pair, observed at great distances away, alerted by the birds’ locating call ‘tick…tick…tick’ as they took to rapid flights from tree to tree (below-right).
“White-Bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis) – A foraging pair descended noisily onto a decayed, fallen tree and began drumming at trunk and branches. Such encounters with huge woodpeckers are rare (below). I had two missed photo opportunities with the Rufous Piculet (Sasia abnormis) foraging at old tree stumps.
“A female Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) was spotted walking briskly and foraging along a leaf- littered pavement and appeared to be in luck for breakfast of invertebrates (below-left).
“The besotted green jewel of my trip to N. Borneo is no other than ground dweller – Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida). I finally caught up with three birds. A pair spotted foraging creepy crawlies on littered trail at pre-dawn and another, foraging vermin at an abandoned vegetable patch (above-right).
“Being mainly vermivorous and posing more challenging observations, this ghostly bird deserves a separate article…”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
Copyright article and copy bird images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund