Kinabalu Park is one of the premier birding destinations in Borneo. The Park encompasses a range of habitats, with lowland rainforest found in the Poring Hot Springs region (around 550 meters above sea level), and lower montane forest around the Park Headquarters (1, 500 meters). Around Mesilau Nature Resort, on the eastern part of the park (2, 000 meters), the area is covered by montane forest.
The richest bird community is found in the lowland rainforests of Borneo. Nevertheless, Kinabalu Park offers many birds which are only found in mountainous region, including 58 strictly montane birds—17 of which are endemic Bornean species. In the words of one birding expert, Kinabalu Park offers “many local curiosities and specialties”.
Early in the morning, insect eating birds will be visible especially at the main entrance of the Liwagu restaurant, opposite the chalets. Other birds expected to be seen are the large Malaysian Treepie, the Ashy Drongo, the Laughing Thrush, Short-tailed Magpies, and flocks of birds such as the Mountain Leaf Warblers, Chestnut-crested Yuhina, the Temminck’s sunbird, various flycatchers and babblers.
Along the forest trails, it is possible to spot the velvet-fronted nuthatch, Bar-winged Cuckoo-shrike, the Sunda Whistling Thrush, and the iridescent green Whitehead’s Broadbill. Other species that might be seen include the Black Laughing-thrush, Blue-winged Leafbird, and various barbets, woodpeckers and bulbuls.
Kinabalu Park Headquarters is located approximately one-and-a-half hours (90 kilometers) away from Kota Kinabalu by road. It can be reached via tour buses, long-distance taxis and public buses or mini buses. Shuttle bus services operate between Park Headquarters and Mesilau Nature Resort. Inquiries are to be made at the reception counter by the Park entrance.
Crocker Range National Park
A range of steep-sided mountains known as the Crocker Range divides the coastal plains of Sabah’s West Coast from the valleys of the interior district. This mountain range has two areas frequented by birdwatchers: the Rafflesia Forest Reserve and the Headquarters of the Keningau head-station of Crocker Range.
The Rafflesia Forest Reserve is located on the road to Tambunan, on the eastern side of the mountain range several kilometers down from the Sinsuron Pass (approx. 1, 659 meters). This is an excellent location for a day trip, being only one-and-a-half-hours away from Kota Kinabalu.
Trail leading to sites where the strange parasitic flower, the Rafflesia, grows also offers the opportunity to spot typical birds of the lower montane forest. The small fruiting trees close to the information centre attract birds such as Sunda Laughing Thrushes and other species of avian such as the Chestnut-hooded Thrushes, the endemic Mountain Barbet, Whitehead’s Broadbill, the Bornean Barbet, Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, Blythe’s Hawk-eagle, Red-breasted Partridge and Whitehead’s Spiderhunter.
Highlights within this area of the Crocker Range Park include several species of hornbill, the Great Argus Pheasant, the endemic golden-naped Barbet, and the world’s smallest raptor, the White-fronted Falconet which is only found in the far northwest of Borneo.
The Crocker Range Park Keningau, Head-Station of Sabah Parks which manages all parks and reserves within the state offers a range of accommodations which makes this a good place to spend the night. The park is situated only 12 kilometers away from Keningau town which offers a good range of restaurants.
The easiest way to reach the Rafflesia Forest Reserve and the Keningau Head-station of Crocker Range National Park is by hiring a car or a long-distance taxi. Please call Sabah Tourism Board at +6088-212121 for the contact numbers of recommended taxi drivers.