We didn’t need the alarm clock this morning as we were all woken by a dreadful screeching outside. We start with an early morning cruise up the Kinabatangan River, the longest in Sabah, looking for birds and monkeys. It is not long before we see our first proboscis monkey tribe, high in the branches of a tree, looking impossibly ungainly and large for such slender branches.
It is not as easy to see the birds, although we often hear them. Five darkly coloured hornbills fly lazily overhead and we spot a few storks and kingfishers. Further on, a large male orangutan keeps watch from a treetop, then three more later, possibly two adults and a child. Another hornbill and a glimpse of its brightly coloured beak. As we return, Peter points out a rhinoceros hornbill, but my view of it is too fleeting.
We have breakfast on our return, and then laze about. Helen, Rob, Steve, and I decide to take a walk around the lodge. With some difficulty, we find the way through the neighbouring lodge and on to the nature trail leading into the jungle. We’re only in sandals, and are somewhat wary of coming across leeches, but it seems to be clear. But no sooner do I remark “Well, I haven’t seen any leeches yet”, down I look and there two are attached to my ankle. “Apart from those two”, I finish lamely, as I bend down to flick them away. Suddenly, every leaf has a leach waiting on it, and we beat a hasty retreat to the lodge.
We have another boat trip booked for 3 pm, but on the dot of three it begins to rain. When we do finally get underway after the rain has stopped, we head downriver, opposite to this morning’s trip, and then up a tributary. There are many proboscis monkeys here, and they seem to be engaged in some serious reproductive activities. We hear what sounds like bad-tempered grumbling from the dominant male.
Of course, no mention of proboscis monkeys would be complete without the Proboscis Monkey Song, so here it is!
Nobody’s got a nose like me, (except me!) How could such noses be? They call me proboscis (and me!) Proboscis monkeys we. Peek-a-who? Peek-a-me? Peek-a-boo. Oh, peek-a-you! Peek-a-proboscis monkeys. But confidentially Just between you and me (and me) This nose of mine (and mine) Is no real nose at all It’s just to make a noise with (that’s all) A bit like a trumpet call. A honk honk! What a hooter! What a beauty! Proboscis monkeys we.
Derek Griffiths (Realplayer version here thanks to TV Cream.)
Further on, there are more long-tailed macaques, and Peter somehow spots a small python and a green tree viper in the branches just above our heads. A kingfisher sits majestically in a branch just a few meters away, but soon it is too dark to take any more photographs and we return to the lodge.