Have we got a record here? More of the hornbills in a moment....
I have embarked on the fieldwork for the project I am working on.
Yep, visiting six National Parks or State Conservation areas is work, you know...
We started off with Royal Belum in northern Perak, bordering the Perak border. And of course, got Noramlyed* again. What did you expect? [*disastrous events occurring whenever the Noramly family travel]
We were supposed to start off from Banding Island in Temengor Lake ( a man-made lake) at eight oclock in the morning - but didn't get started until 12.30, because the police didn't sign our permits the day before to enter a restricted area as expected (the OCPD was busy), and then the Parks department gave him the wrong forms anyway...and as a result we spent a morning twiddling our thumbs at the jetty.
Ah, but what happened next was pure magic. Apart from the fact that Royal Belum is stunning - a lake cradled by rainforest-clad hills, fringed with flowering bongor trees, scattered with islands, and veining rivers outwards into valley after valley - in the next 24 hours we saw nine species of hornbill. That's right: nine.
And the next day, as we travelled out - with ten minutes to go, and two hundred meters to travel, the boatman pointed - and lo, species number ten flew into a nearby tree. The perfect moment.
Malaysia has ten species of hornbill, and we had seen them all in just over a day. Can there be a single other place in the world that can offer something as magical as that?
Oh, and did I mention that we also saw nine species of raptor? The last was a migrating Osprey overflying just as we crossed over the Park border on our way out...
I have the best job in the world.