Around Kota Kinabalu
Most visiting birdwatchers will most probably arrive and depart Sabah in her capital city of Kota Kinabalu. This seaside city of 450,000 inhabitants has a few surprises for the birdwatcher with a few hours to spare.
Tanjung Aru Beach
Located about 5km outside the city is the popular Tg. Aru beach and Prince Philip Park. Here look for 3 species that you probably have to travel a long way to see elsewhere. Ie. The Blue Naped Paroot Tanygnathus lucionensis, the Java Sparrow Padda Oryzivora, and the Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus. Other birds easily spotted include Green Imperial Pigeon, Pink Necked Green Pigeon, Zebra Dove, Pied Thriller, Olive backed and Brown Throated Sunbirds.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the endemic Dusky Munia should be found among overgrown grass and hedges.
Look out for Whiskered, Great Crested & Black Naped Terns, White bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, and Pacific Reef Egret.
Just north of the city, this is the nearest spot to see the Purple Heron and the Oriental Darter. The Darters would probably be just on a fishing foray from their usual roosting area in Tuaran, about 30km further north. There are other birds here but be prepared the constant traffic going past you.
In the nearby district of Penampang, there are several spots interspersed between small villages and the foothills of the Crocker Range, the main mountain range in Sabah. You will need your own vehicle to get to these areas.
- Inobong substation, Crocker Range National Park
- Sugud Recreation Forest
- Kg. Kituau, Limbanak
The density of birds in these areas may be considered low but every now and then you turn up great gems like the White Fronted Falconet, Red Crowned Barbet, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Thick Billed Pigeon. The northern migration brings varieties like Hodgson’s and Violet Cuckoos, Pied Bushchat, Narcissus Flycatchers, Japanese Sparrowhawk, etc.
A ten minutes boat ride to one of the 5 islands making up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park would bring you face to face with the Tabon Scrubfowl Megapodius cuminggii. The “jogging track” on Manukan Island offers the most likely encounter. The bird is extremely sensitive to any presence. So be quiet.