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New Photos: Borneo 2023

Back in October I returned from the WPY festivities in London and immediately packed for my next photo adventure: scouting Malaysian Borneo!

This was not my first visit to Borneo. Back in 2012, I was assigned a photo shoot in Hong Kong, so I scheduled a side trip to Malaysia. Unfortunately, I was called back to Hong Kong early, so I only got two-and-a-half days in Borneo. Not nearly enough (but you can see the photos from that trip in the archive). This time I wanted to make it a proper visit, with the added motivation that I was scouting Borneo as a potential photo tour destination. Not satisfied with the usual Borneo fare—orangutans, monkeys, and visits to animal sanctuaries—I hoped to track down more elusive mammals. So I worked with an outfitter that specialized in itineraries with potential for encountering Borneo’s elusive feline and civet species.

Because Borneo hosts a variety of wildlife and because much of it is so different from the animals I’m used to encountering in Latin America, I knew this would be a fun and exciting experience, no matter how many cats or civets I saw. As it turned out, the cats were pretty elusive, and though we saw a number of civets they proved difficult to photograph. Thankfully, there was so much of the promised variety, from smaller bucket list creatures like tarsier and loris, to many, many other primates, to some lovely new birds… and even some macro subjects.

It was a successful trip, and I will be leading a small photo tour here in 2025 (see the bottom of the page). As always, you can jump straight to the photo archive to see the full gallery from this trip. A short preview follows…

Proboscis Monkey

It was cool seeing proboscis monkeys for the first time. Their giant leaps from tree to tree are something to behold!

Asian Palm Civet

The civets we saw were generally very difficult to photograph. This roadside sighting of an Asian palm civet was our best view during a night drive.

Oriental Pied Hornbill

We were fortunate to see all eight of Borneo’s resident hornbills. Not all posed for close photos, but this Oriental Pied Hornbill did!

Rhinoceros Hornbill

It took a while, but we also got nice views of the Rhinoceros Hornbill.

Green Broadbill

During a morning walk we targeted a few of the more spectacular birds found in Danum Valley, and lucked into a brief sighting of this jewel, the Green Broadbill.

Asian Water Monitor

Water monitors were a common sight on this trip. Most were small to medium-sized, but on a previous visit I saw very large (5 foot?) individual.

Harlequin Tree Frogs

Harlequins were the most common frog species seen on this trip. We found several during walks in Danum Valley.

Long-legged Centipede

A rather creepy-looking (but very cool!) bug I saw during my last visit to Borneo as well: the long-legged centipede.

Storm’s Stork

This Storm’s Stork is a critically endangered species, with fewer than 500 birds thought to exist in the wild.

Glossy Swiftlets

It was pretty cool seeing this colony of Glossy Swiftlets nesting in a small outcropping of a cliff along the Kinabatangan River. Bird’s nest soup is made from their nests (which are constructed using their own saliva).

Flat-headed Cat

The flat-headed cat was one of five different feline species we targeted on this trip. We only saw the two smallest (this and a leopard cat), and sadly, this was the best photo opportunity either provided.

Rufous-collared Kingfisher

The Rufous-collared Kingfisher was probably the coolest of the new kingfishers I saw. This one was photographed during a night walk.

Barred Eagle-owl

It was a real treat seeing the Barred Eagle-owl for the first time. We also caught a fleeting glimpse of a Brown Wood Owl just before this, so I was happy this one posed for photos.

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

I was very pleased to finally get a clear shot of one of Malaysia’s lovely trogons. This is the Scarlet-rumped Trogon.

View the full Borneo 2023 gallery (116 images).

As mentioned, I’ll be leading a brand new photo tour back to Borneo in October 2025! It will emphasize those elusive mammals, but gives us opportunities to see orangutans, proboscis monkeys, hornbills, owls, and so much more!

Secrets of Borneo Photo Tour

Visit the Secrets of Borneo page to learn more about this tour.


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