17 October 2011

Forgotten Tarsier...BORNEO (8 Oct)

It is a true measure of how good things were on this Malaysian tour that I have completely forgotten to fill in a significant gap between the the first afternoon's birding at Danum Valley and the following morning....Gap to be filled now! On arrival I bumped into once again Chris Kehoe and his group who gripped me off with tales of a confiding Western Tarsier that interrupted their dinner the night before, when found close to the lodge. I have yearned for this bug-eyed primate for years. Indeed, on my very first trip to Danum Valley I stayed at their famous field center, where I opted out one night's birding due to a stomach incident, only to be gutted when I was later regaled with tales of an encounter with this hard-to-find primate later that evening. And that was ten, tough, years ago! On hearing that one had been sighted recently, (something that I had never found on all my previous trips when shortly after arrival I would inquire desperately about this animal!), I quickly quizzed Vivian (our superb lodge) guide on the chances of doing a night walk for it that evening rather than one of their traditional night drives. Vivian was keen, Karen and John (my private group) were keen, and I was keen with all this history of course. We had arranged a night walk in the hope of finding it earlier on the tour at Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre, only for rain to stop play and have the night walk canceled on us. So grudges were out their, and previous disappointments were in vivid in my mind!

Late in the afternoon the skies darkened and the heavens opened as only they can in the tropics. John, Karen and I looked at the black skies and hoped that this would stop as suddenly as it started (something that can happen with tropical storms of this nature). However, over dinner (of Beef Rendang for me of course, my Malaysian staple!), the rain could still be heard on the lodge roof and our hopes were waning fast. I spoke to our guide who informed us their ranger had NOT managed to find it that evening and that it was unlikely to be active in the wet conditions, even if the rain was now easing. Reluctantly we said good night to Vivian and I readied myself for bed, only for moments later for Vivian to return with the simple words "it's there". It was so soon after he had informed me the ranger had not managed to find it, that I stupidly felt the need to ask "what's there?". "The Tarsier" he replied. My shoes were on in moments and I was at John and Karen's cabin knocking frantically. They did not need much motivation, and within minutes we were in the jungle a few minutes walk from the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, staring up at this magical creature!

This "new" system of rangers being sent out to find animals at Borneo Rainforest Lodge had already paid dividends for us with this mammalian oddity, and would continue to do do so in the coming days...

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