Saturday, 17 March 2018

Borneo - Part 15 (Night Hiking in the Danum Valley)

Introduction
October 3, 2017 - Day 1 on Mount Kinabalu
October 4, 2017 - Day 2 on Mount Kinabalu
October 5, 2017 - Poring Hot Springs
October 6, 2017 - Day 3 on Mount Kinabalu
October 7, 2017 - Day 1 at the Crocker Range
October 8, 2017 - Day 2 at the Crocker Range, Kota Kinabalu
October 9, 2017 - Klias Peatswamp Forest Reserve
October 10, 2017 - Arrival at Sepilok
October 11, 2017 - Sepilok
October 12, 2017 - Sepilok, travel up the Kinabatangan River
October 13, 2017 - Kinabatangan River
October 14, 2017 - Gomantong Caves, travel to the Danum Valley
October 15, 2017 - Day 1 at the Danum Valley
October 15, 2017 - Night Hiking in the Danum Valley

----------

October 15, 2017 (continued)

The air was still and the clouds had retreated by the time we left for our evening nightwalk, though the warm temperatures and high humidity had of course remained. 

Due to the long day we had already experienced, the night walk would be for only an hour and a half or so. But even in the short time that we were out we had a bevy of great sightings, including various insects, herps, birds and mammals. 

Borneo Forest Dragons (Gonocephalus bornensis) (E) proved to be common and we spotted a three or four, sleeping on thin branches and often at eye level.

Borneo Forest Dragon (Gonocephalus bornensis- Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Borneo Forest Dragon (Gonocephalus bornensis- Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

We came across a single Long-nosed Horned Frog (Megophrys nasuta) (E) among some trailside leaf litter. As large as a fully grown Bullfrog, this was an impressive Anuran to say the least!

Long-nosed Horned Frog (Megophrys nasuta) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia


We approached a small man-made pond located adjacent to the main entrance road, and as expected the amphibian life was more frequent here. File-eared Treefrogs (Polypedates otilophus) (E) were the dominant species as they use this particular pool to breed. Females will create a foam nest on the underside of a broad leaf overhanging the pool. After hatching, the tadpoles will wriggle free from the nest and drop into the water to continue their life cycle.

File-eared Treefrog (Polypedates otilophus) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

metamorph File-eared Treefrog (Polypedates otilophus- Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

While outnumbered by the File-eared Treefrogs, several Harlequin Treefrogs (Rhacophorus pardalis) were also noted on the vegetation surrounding the pool. I was particularly happy to see this species since it was my first ever "flying frog". Harlequin Treefrogs are a canopy dweller, where they use the excessive skin between their toes to help glide from one branch to the other on occasion. They are not quite as adept at gliding as their much larger and more famous cousin, the Wallace's Flying Frog, which also has excessive membranes along its sides in addition to the toepads.

Harlequin Treefrog  (Rhacophorus pardalis) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Of course with all the amphibious life around the margins of the pond it was not too surprising to find a few snakes trying to take advantage of the situation, looking for a meal. We found two Triangle Keelbacks (Xenochrophis trianguligerus), both probably only a year or two old and reminding me very much of our Nerodia watersnakes from back home in North America. 

Triangle Keelback (Xenochrophis trianguligerus) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Finishing up at the pool, we began heading back down the entrance road to the lodge since the minutes were ticking by. Some rustling in the leaf litter drew our attention to a Greater Mousedeer which hung around long enough for a few distant photos.

Greater Mousedeer - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

By the staff accommodations, we found a Buffy Fish-Owl perched on one of the goalposts of the football pitch.

Buffy Fish-Owl - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia


While walking back to the lodge I caught some eye-shine in my headlamp and seconds later was staring at a Slow Loris only a few dozen meters away. For the next ten minutes we watched the unusual primate as it climbed along a rusty cable passing through the a patch of forest towards the lodge.

Slow Loris - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Slow Loris are unusual among primates in that they have a brachial gland (located on the inside of the elbow) that secretes a clear liquid which the Slow Loris licks and spreads over its fur. This fluid repels ticks and leeches, while there is evidence that it also helps to prevent depredation from Sun Bears. This liquid becomes "activated" by the saliva, turning into a powerful poison that can cause severe reactions in humans, even occasionally causing death.

Slow Loris - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Slow Lorises are nocturnal and often climb slowly and deliberately through the forest. They generally exhibit fairly low densities of less than 5 individuals / km so I was pretty happy that we were able to spot one!

Slow Loris - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

That evening I stayed up at the main lodge for an extra hour or so, taking advantage of the wifi there to call home while sipping on a beer. It was relatively late when I got up to walk back to my cabin, and in the dim moonlight I thought I saw a serpentine shape on the railing of the boardwalk which I was walking on. I turned on my flashlight and felt my heart beat with excitement as a heavily marked snake approximately 7 feet in length appeared before me and slowly slithered off the railing into a nearby tree.

Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynadon) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

The snake appeared to be a Boiga, but I did not have any references on me and so was not sure of the species at the time. After taking a few photos to ID later, I did what any reasonable herper would do - I very carefully caught the snake by grabbing the end of its tail (the only part I could reach) and slowly reeling it back in. It appeared to have strong jaws and big teeth based off of its side profile and I did not want to risk a nasty bite. Luckily the snake cooperated and a minute later I was admiring it from up close!

Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynadon) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynadon) - Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia

I knew my group would be interested in seeing such an impressive snake, so I may or may not have used one of the freshly washed pillowcases off my bed in which to temporarily store the snake overnight. I was really hoping that it would not defecate in the pillowcase because then I might have some explaining to do to the cleaning staff! Fortunately the snake was calm through the ordeal and no messes were made through the night.


----------

Introduction
October 3, 2017 - Day 1 on Mount Kinabalu
October 4, 2017 - Day 2 on Mount Kinabalu
October 5, 2017 - Poring Hot Springs
October 6, 2017 - Day 3 on Mount Kinabalu
October 7, 2017 - Day 1 at the Crocker Range
October 8, 2017 - Day 2 at the Crocker Range, Kota Kinabalu
October 9, 2017 - Klias Peatswamp Forest Reserve
October 10, 2017 - Arrival at Sepilok
October 11, 2017 - Sepilok
October 12, 2017 - Sepilok, travel up the Kinabatangan River
October 13, 2017 - Kinabatangan River
October 14, 2017 - Gomantong Caves, travel to the Danum Valley
October 15, 2017 - Day 1 at the Danum Valley
October 15, 2017 - Night Hiking in the Danum Valley

No comments:

Post a Comment