Sunday, 31 August 2014

16th - 17th August - Days 8/9; Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo

We were up again early this morning as we were catching an early flight to Kota Kinabalu.  It was overcast and dreary, and as we travelled to the airport it started to rain once again, it looked like a familiar British scene, but a lot warmer.

Taking off from Kuching it was possible to see the huge meandering rivers that wind there way through this state.

Very quickly we were above the clouds, and it wasn't until we approached our destination that the skies cleared.  What I could see below was a lot different from that in Sarawak.  We were now coming to the second state in Borneo, Sabah.

Sabah too has many rivers crossing the state, there are ridges and river valley that cross the area.  There is a Sabah chant that translated means `"land below the wind" referring to the fact that it lies just below the typhoon region that blights the Philippines in what is know as the equatorial doldrums.

Kota Kinabalu is named after the mountain that looms over the city, we shall be visiting the park later on, and hope to be able to find a few more birds there.

Coming into land there were paddy-fields on the side of the valleys, and rivers that meandered leaving ox bow lakes.  At school I was fascinated by these lakes, and how they were created, I longed to find one but never did, here from the air I could see perfect examples of them, and could easily understand from these views how they were created.

As the rivers flowed into the sea the silt was deposited leaving large blooms of brown in an other wise blue water.

We were taken to the hotel, and checked in, as we walked around familiarising ourselves it was a joy to see and hear birds, the most numerous were the Asian Glossy Starlings, and the Tree Sparrows, but there were others including Black-naped Terns fishing just off shore, and Pacific Reef Egrets in the trees by the spa.

We spent our afternoon relaxing on the beach, looking at the island offshore.  

The sun left us around 15:00 but we still sat around and waited for the sunset.  The skies darken and while there was no actual sun filled sky, the scene was just as dramatic

Just after these photographs were taken the rain started, and continued on and off all evening, we left the sunset bar, and sought a drier location for a drink and dinner.

The rain overnight had cleared away by morning, but it was a little more overcast than yesterday.  Our room was designated a Mountain View, although yesterday we couldn't see it. This morning if I stood on a chair I could just get a picture of the mountain, Mount Kinabalu. 

After breakfast we were picked up, and after one false start to change our footwear we were off to the Gunung Kinabalu National Par, the highest mountain in Borneo, just over 4000 metres, the park covers an area larger than Singapore, and takes in several distinct mountain environments and climatic zones.  We were heading for the park HQ area at around 1500 metres above sea level, and in the Lower Montane area of the forest.

On the way we stopped for a break at a small market.  The temperature was a little cooler than in Kota Kinabalu, and less humid, it was quite pleasant walking about. It also gave me a chance to photograph some of the fruit we had been seeing.  This was the famed Durian Fruit, it has an unpleasant smell, and apparently tastes like a cross between cauliflower and brussel sprouts, but is highly sought 
after by the locals and Orang Utans.

These are Mata Kucing a type of lychee.  The name means cat's eye, s once you peal the skin off the stone though the transparent fruit looks like a cat's eye.

These are more familiar, but the fascination is the size.  Also they taste a lot sweeter than the bananas we are used too.

We were gradually climbing the side of the mountain, and there were some lovely views across the hill sides.

We arrived at the park and set off on the trail.  The ground was very wet after the recent rain, and we were very glad that we had changed our footwear.  Water trickled down over orange and red sandstone rocks.  In places there were signs of chalk, and where there was soil it was basically clay. 

With the soil being very acidic and poor the trees roots stretched out and would offer very little anchorage for the trees and we saw many fallen down.

Fungi could be seen on the trunks of the trees, and on the underneath of one bracket fungi were these brightly coloured beetles, I hasten to add these were not blue.

There were though birds about, and you could hear bird song from within the forest and the tops of the trees.  A Gold-whiskered Barbet called from the top of the trees, but we never did manage to see it, but we did come across a flock of Bornean Treepies, magpie like birds with an orange chest and long tail.  I have to say now it was very dark, and damp in the forest, and bird photography was impossible, so it will have to be descriptions

We were shown different plants and some interesting fungi.  The forest while dark and dense had a sense of magic about it, the mist hanging in the branches adding to the scene.

After awhile it started to rain, small spots at first, but then a little harder, and we had to put on the rain capes.  The shower didn't last that long and there was even the sign of perhaps the sun coming through.  But the mist in the trees became more noticeable as did the puddles on the trail.

More birds appeared, this time a flock of Chestnut-hooded Laughing Thrushes, their calls clearly being the reason they were given the name.  The other reason was a chestnut cap on the head.  They also have a yellow bill, maroon vent, and a greyish green chest.

We were shown the largest species of Moss.

And Helen found a small clump of bright red fungi.

There was one creature we were not looking forward to meeting, and that was the leeches, but we did come across some, and they took an instant liking to Helen, I had to knock one off her boots, and later one was making a bee line for her leg on her sock.  They were on the path, and would move in leech like fashion, pulling them selves forward with one end anchored to the floor, but they would also wave their body about in the air as if sensing somewhere to attach themselves.

We reached the van, and it took us down to the botanical garden, but in doing so we caught up with the rain again.  As we walked up the path to the garden the rain became a little heavier.  We stopped to look at the plants, the garden is a way of showing visitors the huge variation of plants in the park.  It is home to over 5000 flowering plants, a multitude of mosses, ferns and fungi.  There are well over 1200 species of orchid varying from flowers the size of a pinhead to those having two metre stems.

The rain became even harder, and finally our guide admitted to it being heavy and put on his waterproofs.  Despite the rain we did stop to look at samples of Rothschild's slipper orchid, one of the rarest, and some large pitcher plants.  In the same area there was a Bornean Whistling Thrush feeding on the grass.  The rain though was now making it quite uncomfortable, with the temperature being much less than we had been used to recently it felt quite cold in the damp conditions.

We left the garden, and were taken to the park centre and the restaurant for lunch.  Another very nice buffet, and while we sat and ate it we had a view across the valley towards the cloud covered slopes.  

A large clump of Giant Bamboo, and Morning Glory became an attraction for several small birds, and I managed to see and identify an Ashy Tailorbird, a Yellow-bellied Warbler, a Chestnut-crested Yunia, a type of flycatcher, and a Black-capped White-eye.  It was lovely to be able to sit and watch birds feeding in the trees, not something that has been a frequent occurrence this trip.

We passed on the gallery and decided to head back to the resort.  As we descended we passed through more cloud and rain, and as we came into Kota Kinabalu the rain started up again, and became quite heavy.

Back in our room we prepared our bags for our trip tomorrow, flying to Sandakan, and out to Seligan Island to see the turtles.  After that I took a short walk along the hotel floor, the walkway is open, and the trees had Black-nest Swiftlets flying around it.  I also managed to photograph a Yellow-vented Bulbul that was sat in the palm.

The rain never eased and that was the end of the birds for the day.  I only hope the weather improves for tomorrow, because there is little else to do on the island but swim

Saturday, 30 August 2014

13th - 15th August - Days 5 - 7; Nanga Sampa Longhouse, Sarawak Borneo

This morning we set off after breakfast, our destination Nanga Sampa Longhouse, a lodge about five hours north of Kuching.  There was however some initial confusion over exactly what we were doing, s our guide had a very different view to us.  Fortunately we were right, although later in the day we both wondered if that was actually the case.

Our journey took us on route one, which is the main road out of Kuching, and off towards Sabah in the north.  The main road though was not in the best condition and were continually bumped around as the road while looking quite smooth was full of bumps and cracks.

Our first stop was Serian, to tour around the market, we were treated to some strange new fruit, that all seemed to have the same taste.  A round brown one looking like a small potato, but once peeled looked and tasted like a lychee, and a red hairy fruit that too once peeled had a translucent look and tasted like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit.  Helen pointed out a bowl that had what looked like wood and saw dust, but was moving, and this turned out to be something called worms, something that apparently is good to eat raw.  We declined, these are actually the larvae of a large beetle, which we never found the name of.

The market itself was lively and colourful, and our guide obviously had a shopping list for the longhouse meal tonight

Back on the road we slowly travelled on, passing large construction trucks, and buses.  The next stop was at a pepper farm, and we had a short walk around and then were allowed to buy some, for the record black and white pepper are just the same, one is soaked for a period of time and goes white.

The next stop was lunch and the chance to buy more goodies which we declined, they just didn't have the right wardrobe available.  The bumping and throwing about made us drowsy and we all dropped off only to wake thinking we had been asleep for hours only to find it was a few minutes.  Our guide dropped off as well, and looked completely bewildered when we stopped and the driver told him to get out and show us a Pitcher Plant, and some flowers.

Our destination was Batang Ali Reservoir, a huge reservoir created about 20 years ago, not for water, there is plenty of that here in Borneo, but for power.  Apparently the hydro electric power from this dam can supply more than enough of Sarawak's energy demands, to the point where they have too much and are now considering building an Aluminium smelter.

As we approached the dam we saw our first egrets of the trip, it can't have been a coincidence that this was a fish farm.  On the whole of the journey we noticed once again the lack of birds.  There were doves on the power lines but that was about it.  I can only assume the doves do well because of the amount of palm trees that provide suitable nest trees.  There were a few more birds as we approached the reservoir, but unidentifiable.  The egrets too I was not sure of.

Another feature of the landscape was the amount of Palm Trees, they were everywhere in all stages of growth, again it can't be a coincidence that where there are a lot of palms there are few birds.  The natural vegetation has been removed and replaced with this sterile and choking crop.  I appreciate the vale of palm oil, but is is very sad to see the lack of wildlife.  Perhaps the saddest thing of all though is the sight of a tall rain forest trees sticking out of the middle of a Palm oil plantation.

At the boat lodge we waited for the long boats to arrive to take us up river to the longhouse.  

It was not a large boat, and narrow so one had to sit behind each other, powered by an outboard motor, with a paddle and pole used at the front.  Our bags were loaded and we gingerly boarded, and headed out onto the reservoir.  The water level was quite low as these are the dryer months.  Large expanses of sand could be seen where the water had dropped and exposed the sandy mud, while there were also the dead branches of trees that had been submerged when the valley had flooded once the dam was built.  The water was a green colour, and not the muddy colour of all the rivers we had seen so far, this is probably due to the dam holding the water back and it settling.

There were islands with old tin shacks on it, where people had to abandon them when the reservoir was created.  

The whole lake was though completely devoid of wildlife, there were a few Swifts, and a couple of butterflies, an then a little further in, Black-naped Terns.  Once we started to see houses, the House Swallows appeared, dipping low over the water

We made good time through the deeper part of the reservoir, but then we came to a set of rapids and a waterfall, that was to prove a major problem.  With the falling water level this time of year, we had to get out of the boat, and clamber up the side of the valley.  This would have been ok, if (a) we didn't have to carry bags, and (b) it wasn't raining.  I slipped and hurt my food, and had to help Helen, a little further along I slipped again and could have fallen quite a distance but managed to save myself on a pole.  At the same time I dropped Helen's bag and fortunately we only lost a bottle of water.

Finally we managed to make it up river, and on to a bluff where we could board the boat once again.  I must admit to being furious about this, we were given ono warning or chance to ensure we had equipment that would have made this easier to negotiate.  The whole preparation for this part of the trip had been handled very poorly.

One positive was that we began to see wildlife, Helen picked out a European Kingfisher, and there were birds calling close to the river.   The water level continued to be low, and we had to keep stopping to punt the boat through shallow areas.  We arrived at the Longhouse and were given a cup of tea, we rested and calmed down before going to our room.  It was very basic, very similar to our Indian experience.  We sat there and sorted our bags in silence, this was not what it looked like on the intranet.  We were informed about the fire in the original longhouse back in May, but not about this basic situation.  The new longhouse looks very nice, but it is not finished yet, we were just too late.

I decided to check out the bird life, there were  Tree Swiftlets in the top of the trees and I managed to get some pictures.

But just then it started to rain hard, something it continued to do for well into the evening.  the rain was incredible hard at time, lets hope it fills the river and the rapids.

As darkness fell we wondered what we will do for the evening, despite the fact that it was wet and humid and impossible to get dry it was also a very "dry" place.

We were awoken at 2.30 by crowing cockerels, goodness knows what they were up at that time for, but they were and they continued to crow for the rest of the night.  Sleep was fitful, and I finally decided to get up at 6:15 as it was just getting light.  I could hear bird song, and hoped there would be some around the lodge.

I grabbed a cup of tea and walked around the area.  The Tree Swiftlets were buzzing around catching insects and always returning to the same perch to wait for another hunting opportunity.

I came across a small blue and yellow bird that I assume was a Broadbill, but could never get a close enough view to agree on a firm identification.  All the other birds were distant and impossible to identify.  
The river looked a little calmer after the rain overnight

The morning dawned to mist high in the trees, and the sun rose there was some blue sky.  After breakfast we were off on a hike through one of the jungle trails ending up at another longhouse.

We were told about how the native persons used the vegetation for string and medicine, and all about the types of different plants, and all the various fruits that were edible.  We were given a wild pineapple which tasted much nicer than the domestic ones, and there was the hairy red fruit known as Rambutan, and the potato looking lychees, Mata Kucing.  These are the Rambutan fruits.

It was a dark and dense jungle, photography was difficult, and all the birds remained hidden just their song to let you know they were there.  The forest floor was covered with decaying leaves, and amongst them would be fungi, this lovely delicate cap being the largest we could find.

The trail was difficult as last nights rain had made the clay soil quite slippery.  We were show platforms in the trees that were the remains of an Orang Utan nest.  the Orang Utans are nomadic, and move through the forest making a new nest to sleep on every night.  We would scan across the forest canopy for any sign, but without any luck.

Another find on the path was this venomous Centipede, it can bite from the front, and sting like a scorpion from the back, quite a nasty individual, which won't kill you but deliver a very painful reaction.

Once again there were some lovely unidentifiable butterflies.

About halfway through the walk it started to rain, big spots at first then it became very heavy, and the walking became even more treacherous.  Finally we reached the longhouse and were able to shelter from what was now heavy rain.

The longhouse is exactly that a long house with one long room and rooms off the large one.  It was a bit like being in a shed.  Our plans were changed and we were now to have lunch while the rain fell, visiting the waterfall later in the afternoon once, hopefully when the rain had stopped, but for now it just poured.

The view from the house was typical of these sorts of villages, shacks and plenty of dogs, chickens and rubbish.

Inside our fellow travellers tucked into the rice wine along with the locals.

Eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out and it became quite humid, this did though bring out the butterflies, and a few birds, we were visited briefly by an unidentifiable sun bird, 
 a pair of Verditor Flycatchers and this Red Breasted Sharma. 

As the rain eased the swifts came out, they are difficult to identify as they wiz by but this one was definitely a White-throated Needletail.

After lunch the drinking and dancing continued, but finally they brought it to a close, and our hosts then sobered up to take us up river to the waterfall in the long boats.  The river was still quite low, and the journey involved racing through the deep water, and punting and pushing through the shallows.

The waterfall was quite impressive, and must be an amazing sight when the river is high in the monsoon.

Paddling in the water small fish would nibble at your feet.  Leaving the waterfall and heading down stream was easier than going up, and we made good time cruising through a different river now that it was sun lit.  A brief glimpse of a Stork-billed Kingfisher was also brightened the journey.

Whilst the majority of the locals sobered up, one was left behind, and as we came back past the longhouse he was just beginning to wake up.

Back at the lodge there were no more birds, but a few dragonflies enjoying the sunshine.  The river too, looked completely different.

We then set off up the side of the valley in search or Orang Utan.  Our guide had seen the a few days ago, and was hopeful we may be able to relocate them, but apart from the now familiar nest platforms, we saw very little else.  As we walked back down the trail the sky looked black, with thunder rumbling away in the distance.  It was a cold shower, and dream of ice cold beer and a glass of wine, before dinner. Instead it was tea.  I know the first thing I will do when i reach the hotel tomorrow.

The night was again long, we had experienced similar situations in India, but in th jungle while the setting is impressive the view is not something you leap out of bed for at first light.

Through the night there had been lots of noises and at one point something gnawing at the roof, we survived though to daylight.

We had an early breakfast, and was on the long boat just before 8:00.  With all the ran the river had risen overnight, and had turned the muddy brown colour as a result of the rain washing silt and mud down the valleys.  The journey to the waterfall was not to difficult, and we had very few stops compared to the same trip up river.

At the waterfall we left the boat, and our main bags and then walked up the side of the hill.  Having made the journey once, and also the trekking yesterday we knew now what to expect, and it wasn't too bad.  We then watched our boat go over the waterfall, thankfully our bags were out as it filled up with a lot of water.  Once baled out and the bags loaded once again we were off.  The water now was sufficiently deep for us to carry on without stops straight to the boat jetty.  The journey took one hour and fifteen minutes.  In the initial stages there were house swallows and house swifts flying low over the water all around us, but as we reached the deeper water the wildlife dried up, and we the noise of the engine and the rocking of the boat had a soporific effect on me.

Off the boat and into the bus, the bouncing road, monotonous landscape and the fact that we were both exhausted continued with the soporific conditions.  We stopped for lunch at the same cafe, and then back into Kuching around 15:00.

We were staying in the same hotel with the same Tree Sparrows, Spotted Doves and Starlings.  The room was very welcome after the basic conditions of the jungle, the shower welcome, and the bar wonderful, the view from the hotel room quite impressive.

Tomorrow we are of to Kota Kinabalu, and the Shangri La resort, hopefully Sabah will turn up more birds.

12th August - Day 4; Bako National Park, Sarawak Borneo

The morning was bright, many clouds about but also plenty of sunshine.  Looking out from the hotel window there were swifts flying low over the tree tops.  The overnight rain had died away but everywhere still looked very damp.

We went down for the usual breakfast bun fight, its amazing how unruly some of these large hotel buffet breakfasts can become.

We were picked up at 8.30, and the drive to the boat station took about 30 minutes.  Our guide was able to give us some background on the history of both Kuching and Borneo.  Kuching is said to derive from the Malay name for cat kucing, but it is also said to come form the name of an abundant fruit called mata kucing, which is know as cat's eyes.  Whatever the reason the city seems set on being linked to cats and you can see statues everywhere.

On arrival at the boat station we were greeted with a warning sign for crocodiles.  Apparently they have Saltwater Crocodiles here, and in quite a large density, but we did not manage to see one. 

There was quite a bit of activity around the jetty, with plenty of colourful boats both on and off the water.  The houses too are a colourful site along the edge of the river.

The tide was falling, and there was quite a current rushing down river and towards the sea.  Once aboard the little boat it raced down river, passing more houses and fishing poles. 

The breeze was a very welcome distraction from the humidity and the heat.  Looking across the river there were mountains on the other side.  Bako is not on an island, but is a peninsula.  However roads do not access it as they are trying to maintain the wilderness, so the only way in is by boat, which can be managed.

As we approached the park headquarters sandstone cliffs loomed in front of us.  Both sea and wind erosion have shaped these rocks producing some very distinct cliffs.

As it was low tide we had to remove our boots and wade on to the beach.  As we walked across the sand we could see the little balls that are created by crabs that live in holes on the beach.

Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak, and the second oldest in Malaysia.  It has a large diversity of landscapes going from beach, mangrove, heath and mixed forest.  We were hoping to see Proboscis Monkey, the park's speciality, but there are also Bearded Pig, crabs frogs and snakes to find.

After registering with the park HQ we were given our packed lunch, and we started off towards the trail.  Helen couldn't get her lunch into her bag, so had it tied to the side.  As we left a Macaque monkey walked towards us, and it quickly sized up Helen's lunch and ran straight at her to grab it.  I turned round to see her pulling her bag, and the monkey pulling at the plastic bag with her lunch in it.  Helen saved her bag but the monkey managed to grab her lunch, and ran off to the amusement of others and then sat eating her chicken sandwich.

Drama over we walked around a clump of trees by the beach and found a small group of Proboscis Monkeys feeding in the trees.  These were apparently a bachelor party, young males yet to find their females.  

One had a well developed nose while the others were a lot smaller.  The larger the nose the more dominant the male.  

As the males grow older they have to leave the group, typically they have to swim, and it is thought that as a result of this the males have developed the long proboscis nose as a snorkel to help them swim away to start a new group.

The monkeys are an orangey tan colour, and as a result they have been given the name Orang Belanda in Malay.  Orang means people, while Belanda means dutch,.  The monkeys are only found around the mangroves, an area that the natives didn't usually get to, but with the Dutch opening up the island they began to see them and as a result the monkeys were named after the Dutch settlers because they were seen as ginger orange haired men with big noses and fat stomachs.

We walked one of the trails hearing more monkeys crashing in the trees around.  There were plenty of other jungle sounds, the cicadas and many frogs, but very few birds.  We did manage to see a pair of Racket-tailed Drongos, but apart for the it was very quiet.

There are little pools and streams, and in one we found a tortoise, apparently if it has a pointed nose it is a terrapin, and if it is in the see it is a turtle, as this met neither of these criteria, by default it is a tortoise.

Also in the pools were small catfish, and one loan frog that was tiny.  The vegetation thick, and the trees extremely high, many different plants were pointed out, but I must admit to not remembering them.  However as you would expect from hot and humid conditions there were butterflies and dragonflies, all for the moment I am afraid unidentifiable.

On the way back we came across a Flying Lemur, attached to the side of a tree.

These are nocturnal hence the large eyes, and they climb the trees and glide across the canopy on stretched skin between their legs.  They are not actual lemurs, or even monkeys, they are a separate  species closer to apes than monkeys.

While watching the lemur a Bird-wing butterfly came past and settled, this appropriately is the Helene Butterfly.

From the jungle trail we headed to the beach, and walked around the mangrove.  There were plenty of butterflies now, but as always they are difficult to photograph because they don't settle, and when they do I struggle to identify them.  

We came across another group of Proboscis Monkeys, this one is a young male with a smaller nose.

Closer to the park buildings we found the Long-tailed Macaques.  This is the individual that stole Helen's lunch recognisable by the damaged eye.

Another visitor to the park buildings is the Bearded Pig, they too have learnt that where there are humans there will always be the opportunity for food.  The pigs are similar to the Wild Boar we saw in Sri Lanka.

Small streams snake out across the beach to the estuary, and a few waders were on the sand.  This is a Malaysian Plover.

On the banks of the stream there were Mud Skippers, some were up to six inches long, and when disturbed "run" across the top of the water to escape.

We climbed up on the board walk, and came across another bachelor party of Proboscis Monkeys, this time with a larger male, who initially sat in the tree giving excellent views.

After they came down we watched them cross the stream and make their way through the mangrove trees.  The fur on them looks like a very elegant waistcoat.

The boardwalk led through the mangroves, and looking down on the mud there were plenty of brightly coloured fiddler and normal crabs, all searching for food.

Many of the trees had died leaving a surreal scene looking out across the mud and beach.

The Proboscis Monkeys had made their way through the trees and were searching for food on the open mud.

We then took on a very arduous climb on a trail that would ultimately reach the beach.  It was hot and humid, and I can not remember feeling so wet away from water before.  The temperature was 31 degrees and almost 100% humidity.  Finally the trail made its was down hill and out on to the beach.  We were though alerted to the presence of two snakes.  Getting close we could see a small green snake wrapped around a branch.  It was difficult to see the actual head.

Then another was pointed out, and it was possible to see the large triangular head, which made me think this might be a Pit Viper.

My identification was confirmed, it was a Waggler's Pit Viper, and I then had to take in the fact that I was about six feet from a very venomous snake.

We then had some time to rest on the beach, eat our lunch (well I could Helen's had become a monkey lunch!), and watch the Hermit Crabs as they scuttled around the rocks, some with some very exotic shells.

While others were more intent on eating and defending the core of Helen's apple.

The beach also gave some great views out to the sea, with more sandstone mountains in the distance.

More dragonflies teased as they perched on the high grasses.

After lunch we headed back, but not taking the same route, this time crossing through the mangrove.  Some of these trees have died, and have made a scene very similar to that we experienced in Namibia last year in Dead Vlei.

We stopped for a drink at the HQ, and watched the antics of the Macaques once again as they looked to steal food and drink from the tourists.  Some of the tourists seemed not to understand that these animals were wild and could hurt them.  This individual made its way across the lawn very purposefully, and suddenly made a leap for one of our drinks.

We made one final short walk around the lodges, A group of macaques entertained in the trees as they groomed, and looked like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

 We came across another Flying Lemur, this time asleep with its head up and eyes closed.  There were also a few more dragonflies about, and this lovely blue butterfly.

There was just time for one more look at the Proboscis monkeys, getting quite close to this individual.

Back on the boat, and with the benefit of the cooling breeze we headed back to the boat station.  Black-naped Terns were fishing around the mangroves, and as we returned their were House Swallows flying across the river at the boat station.

The sky was very dark back towards Kuching, and as we drove back it was clear from the road flooding that we had missed a rain storm.

Back at the hotel, we spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool.  I became completely fascinated by a huge insect that looked liker it had been made up like a Mr Potato Head.  It had the  eyes of a dragonfly, the wings of a bee and huge wing cases.  It was about 50 mm long, and would buzz around but always return to the same spot to rest.  This amazing insect turns out to be a Carpenter Beetle.

As well as the swifts there was also a small group of White-breasted Woodswallows, that would fly around, and then settle together on the "H" of the Hilton sign on the side of the hotel.

House Swallows and House Swifts flew around the pool and high rise of the hotel, using the uplift from a breeze that began to get stronger.

The Tree Sparrows collected by the small puddles on the walls for a scrub and wash.

Its amazing to think these sparrows have become quite rare in the UK, but thrive here, I can only assume they have no competition and thrive in the niche they have found.

The skies darkened and the wind picked up, and with a few spots of rain we decided to retreat to the hotel room to get ready for tomorrow's excursion into the jungle, and tonight's dinner. 

Back in the room we watched the palm tree close to our window.  The wind was whipping it about, and we were a little concerned for the Spotted Dove's chick.