Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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25 May 2017 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community "Extortion" is the only word that emerg- es from the accent. Price paid, the gate raises, and chickens scatter. Finally, we reach our last gate, the one operated by Sabah Forestry at the border of Deramakot. Our permits are examined, and we enter the reserve. From here to our accommodations, it's a 40-kilometer drive over rough logging roads punctuated by heaps of elephant dung. We pass by a nursery, a log yard, and sunny secondary forest. I wonder how Deramakot will compare to Danum Valley Conservation Area, which I'd visited a few months earlier. Danum is one of Southeast Asia's ecological gems and a real nature-lover's paradise. There, Crested Firebacks saunter around the paths; the canopy walkway provides a kaleidoscopic experience of joining bright leafbirds and flowerpeckers in massive treetops; if you're lucky, you'll experience the uncanniness of lock- ing eyes with an orangutan. Danum is phenomenal, and its reputation for pro- viding a premier Asian rainforest expe- rience is well-deserved. Although both Danum and Deramakot are state-run, there is a key difference: at Danum, log- ging is banned, and some of the forest has remained intact. Deramakot is man- aged as a multi-use forest, one where revenue, conservation, and recreation are all priorities. There, logging is a reg- ular activity. The four days Scott and I spend at Deramakot are a thorough exploration, a medley of sweating (and sometimes swearing) up hilly paths and sitting qui - etly at murky swamp forest stakeouts. During tropical downpours, we linger at meals under the ambiance of a pop- ping bug-zapper; later, we hop into the back of the truck to cruise the steamy, sparkling jungle night—stars above, fireflies around, civet and flying squir- rel eyeshine in the trees, Mike plying the light while our driver Lang deftly ma- neuvers the ruts. Time and time again, Deramakot proves its merit. There's the road that provides access to an area strewn with the sign of banteng, a shy, endangered forest cattle, haunted by a Giant Pitta whistle—an area that was logged just the previous year. There are numerous orangutan nests and sight- ings, the Bornean Bristleheads we luck into during a midday walk down the main road, innumerable tales from Mike about clouded leopards, elephants, and n The entrance to Deramakot Forest Reserve is a welcome sight for visitors. Photo © Alison Világ n Asian Paradise-Flycatchers are delightfully common at Deramakot. Photo © Cede Prudente

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