Crested Serpent Eagle

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
Tabin Wildlife Reserve (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/400 sec., f 6.3, ISO 2500

Another day, another predator-prey interaction in Borneo.

Poor lizard probably never saw it coming.

Blue-throated Bee-eater

Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis)
Danum Valley (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/1000 sec., f 6.3, ISO 2500

Why are they called bee-eaters, again?

These are the perfect birds for a long lens. They zip out, grab food, bring it back to the same perch, whack the prey on the branch to immobilize it, and then pound it back. This perfectly timed shot was pure luck.

Later, I saw a bird at the same perch eating a moth. After all, who wants to be constrained by a label? These are really good-looking birds.

Sheath-tailed Bat

Sheath-tailed Bat (Emballonura sp.)
Tabin Wildlife Reserve (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/250 sec., f 9.0, ISO 2500, with flash

If you ever have have the good fortune of staying at the Tabin Wildlife Resort, request “River Lodge #4,” and you’ll have a colony of these cute sky puppies above your porch.

There are two species of Emballonura in Borneo (E. monticola and E. alecto), and they have overlapping forearm lengths, so even if I had gotten one in hand (which I did not), I probably wouldn’t know who this is. Apparently, its roosting posture (thumbs not touching substrate) suggests it is E. monticola, but that seems like a dodgy character to use, so I’m playing it safe. It’s Emballonura.

Giant Millipede

Really Big Millipede (Photo by Shelby Riskin)
Danum Valley (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/15 sec., f 5.0, ISO 200

I wish I knew what species this is. So far I haven’t even been able to get down to family.

As far as I know, centipedes can hurt you, and millipedes can’t. When I picked this one up, that hypothesis was not disproven.

Sunda Frogmouth

Sunda Frogmouth (Batrachostomus cornutus)
Danum Valley (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/15 sec., f 6.3, ISO 2500

We spotted this beauty on a night drive, while spotlighting. I snapped a bunch of shots, letting my camera pick the best shutter speed. To avoid red-eye, I was not using a flash. I’m pretty amazed that a 1/15 shutter speed didn’t blur. The pictures on either side of this one are quite blurry, so I will chalk it up to luck.

Looks like a muppet, doesn’t it?

These aren’t easy to find. It was our local guide’s first time seeing one, and if I’m not mistaken, this is the first observation of its species to be entered into the iNaturalist database!

Caprimulgiformes for the win!

Proboscis Monkey mom and baby

Proboscis Monkeys (Nasalis larvatus)
Kinabatangan River (Borneo), Malaysia
1/1000 sec., f 5.3, ISO 1400

Honestly, this was one of the species I most wanted to see on the trip, and let me tell you, proboscis monkeys do not disappoint. They’re CRAZY-looking. They’re also fairly easy to photograph, since they tend to be in the trees right along the water, but when they’re jumping around, they’re often obscured by trees.

It wasn’t until after I snapped this that I realized I she had a baby on her chest. Photography lesson: shoot first, ask questions later.

Proboscis monkeys show a really nice example of sexual dimorphism in mammals. Female and male shown below.

Bornean Orangutan

Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
Danum Valley (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/500 sec., f 5.3, ISO 2500

Once you get into wildlife reserves, like the one at Danum Valley, orangutans aren’t actually very hard to find in Borneo. They’re big and fairly loud as they move through the branches. Getting a clear shot of one, on the other hand, is a considerable challenge. I have about 90 photos of orangutans, but most are patches of hair behind leaves. This shot is my favourite, though. I got it on a hike we took where we, and the orangutan, crossed a stream toward the rising sun. That opened up the foliage a bit, and allowed me to get this clear, decently lit shot. The look on this ape’s face is exactly the same as the look we all had on our faces, while we were looking up at her.

It’s worth mentioning that orangutans in Borneo are in trouble, despite how much everyone loves them. About half of them have been killed in the last 16 years, and many of those deaths were well inside the reserves set aside for them. Perhaps more worryingly, though, is that the populations that remain are all pinched off from one another, making it difficult for the animals to avoid inbreeding.

Five hundred years ago, people estimate more than a million orangutans lived in Borneo. Now, only 100,000 or so remain.

Red Leaf Monkey

Red Leaf Monkey (Presbytis rubicunda)
Danum Valley (Borneo), Malaysia (iNaturalist entry)
1/500 sec., f 5.6, ISO 2500

I spent two weeks in Borneo, and this is the first of the photos from that trip.

I caught a glimpse of these while on a massive hike. They were hidden by trees, and despite lots of waiting for them to emerge from the foliage, all I could get were partial shots. Then the next day, a whole troop came and posed in front of the lodge where we stayed. That’s how I got this shot.


Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Anna Maria Island, Florida
1/640 sec., f 8.0, ISO 400

This bird was a million miles away, and I was on a rocking boat without a tripod. I saw it come down from the sky and fired away as it took a fish and then came away with it. If I’d been closer I might have caught a decent pic, but instead of a great photo, I ended up with a nice one.

I’ll take it.

I think that’s a catfish.

Common Raccoon

Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Toronto, Canada
1/1000 sec., f 6.3, ISO 1800

I don’t know if the “trash panda” moniker holds outside the GTA, but it’s a good one. I know they’re dirty. I know they destroy property. I know they can spread diseases like rabies and raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris), but they’re just so damned charismatic.

This young one was chilling up a tree outside my house, posing like it was in a Sears portrait studio. Had to snap a shot or two.