Trip Report – October 2022
We visited a number of islands in Indonesia so I am writing this report based on the island rather than giving a daily summary. And as usual I will only list our life birds – the rest will be in the attached lists.
A couple of tips – firstly we hired a ‘Meet & Greet’ company (Asia Fast Track) to get us our Visa-on-Arrival, which was excellent. We had to get our visa there because we were staying more than 30 days and had to renew it. We used a second company to organize this renewal – and I would highly recommend it because if you don’t, you have to make 2 or 3 trips to the visa office – this way we only had to make one and it was pretty efficient. Letsmoveindonesia.com
Java – Jakarta area
Our first birding was around Jakarta. We just had one day so we hired a guide to take us on a boat to Maura Angke and out into Jakarta Bay.
As expected, the first thing we had to look past was all the garbage in the water – it is truly concerning. The health of the birds and the environment are just being totally ignored and the Government clearly has no interest in doing anything about it!
By birding from the boat inside the reserve, we got our first 4 life birds for the trip – Javan Coucal, Milky Stork, Sunda Yellow-vented Bulbul and House Swallow.
A quick stop at one of the small islands in Jakarta Bay gave us Lemon-bellied White-eye and then we went further out into the bay for the Christmas Island Frigatebirds. There is quite a large colony that perch on the sticks which form part of a large floating fishing camp.
We had just booked the morning with the guide, and that was plenty of time so we spent a lazy afternoon at the hotel after that. Night at Four Seasons, Jakarta.
Our second day birding in the Jakarta area was spent at Mount Gede. The birding was very good but it absolutely poured with rain – the kind of tropical rain that is like standing under a fire hose – so it was cut a bit short. But before we had to turn back, we walked for a couple of hours up the path, birding as we went and it was really great birding.
Our guide, Desi, had picked up a local guide to take us up the mountain and he was excellent. We managed 10 lifers before the rain set in – Fire-tufted Barbet, Javan Fulvetta, Javan Owlet, Javan Tesia, Javan Whistling Thrush, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Rufous-tailed Fantail, Sunda Robin, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-babbler and White-flanked Sunbird. Night at Four Seasons, Jakarta.
Java – Surubaya area
The other area we birded on Java was Surubaya (Batu). After spending a night in Surubaya, (Grand Mercure) our new guide picked us up and we drove south towards Batu and Sendi Forest.
It wasn’t overly birdy but we got fantastic views of Black-banded, Flame-fronted and Yellow-eared Barbets – all in the same tree beside a small group of market stands and the entrance to the forest. It was a great start. But it started to rain! We continued into the forest a short way and managed Javan Hawk-eagle plus Sunda & Lesser Cuckooshrikes before the rain beat us back!
After a wonderful lunch in Batu, we went to Pucung Forest where our guide, Waskito, had a hide set up for Javan Banded Pitta. The mud was incredible and we slipped our way through the agricultural fields to an area of woodland. The rain had started again but we got to the hide and we had hardly stepped inside before the female pitta arrived – followed shortly by the male – wow! What a great experience.
Drove into Batu to our very unique and quite lovely accommodation, Kampung Lumbung Eco Resort.
The next day we went to Coban Talun Forest. We birded near the information centre and started with Ornate Sunbird and Sunda Grasshopper Warbler before walking about 2 km through agricultural fields (extremely muddy after yesterday’s rain) to the trees. It wasn’t as birdy as we had thought after all the rain but we did manage Chestnut-bellied Partridge, White-bibbed Babbler, Javan Bulbul and Blue Nuthatch.
After crossing quite a deep stream we got glimpses of White-crowned Forktail but the rain started again. We wandered on for a while but the rain became really heavy and we were concerned about getting back. We turned around and thank goodness we did because part of the route we had used to get in was already a raging torrent and would have become unpassable within a very short time.
Unfortunately, the rain stopped birding for the rest of the day – including our intended night birding so we just enjoyed the hotel. Kampung Lumbang Eco Resort.
Our last morning, we decided to bird on the road near Sendi Forest and it was very good. Quite a good number of birds and some great new birds for us – Indigo Flycatcher, Mountain Warbler, Pied Shrike-babbler, Sangkar White-eye, Sunda Minivet and both White-crowned and Sunda Forktail. We were really happy with this and decided to pop back inside the forest where we had been a couple of days ago and to everyone’s amazement we got a Crimson-winged Woodpecker. A great end to this part of our trip. Back to the Four Seasons in Jakarta.
Timor & Rote
This was certainly the most challenging birding we did in Indonesia. As with everywhere else, almost all of the lowland forest is gone and the remaining fragment a fraction of its original size which means long drives to get anywhere. That, combined with the size of the cage-bird trade, has really reduced the numbers of birds.
We had 5 days on these 2 islands. The itinerary had changed several times with the closing of the airport on Roti and then the changing ferry schedule so it was really less than ideal. Birding is limited to 3 hours in the morning and another 2 in the afternoon due to the intense heat – BUT we did get a large number of endemics in the end.
Our first birding, after arriving at Kupang airport, was Bipolo – quite a productive area because it combines forest with grasslands. We started in the forest with Fawn-breasted Whistler, Timor Blue Flycatcher, Drab Swiftlet, Streak-breasted Honeyeater, Rose-crowned Fruit-dove and Supertramp Fantail.
Then we went into a grasslands area which was great – Spotted Kestrel, Timor Zebra Finch, Australian Pratincole, Broad-billed Monarch, Timor Sparrow, Plain Gerygone and Five-colored Munia.
We had birded through the heat of the afternoon but now it was about 5pm so we started the long drive back to Kupang. Night at Krystal Hotel.
Because they had closed the airport on Rote, we had to spend the next morning taking the ferry – an experience in itself – over to Rote which wasted a good morning’s birding. We checked into our hotel, had lunch and then started driving to Sotimuri forest. Once again, we were birding in the heat of the day so, unsurprisingly, it was quiet but we gradually teased out some good birds and it picked up as the afternoon cooled down. Barred Dove, Apricot-breasted and Flame-breasted Sunbirds, Rote Myzomela, Black-cuckoo-dove, Helmeted Friarbird, Ashy-bellied white-eye, Red-chested Flowerpecker, Pink-headed Imperial-Pigeon, Rote Fantail, Timor Figbird, Wallacean Cuckoo-shrike, White-bellied Bush-chat and Rote Leaf-Warbler. It the end, quite a good few hours. Night at New Ricky Hotel.
The next morning, we drove to Keoen Forest – it was already hot by the time we arrived and we didn’t have very long as we were catching the lunch time ferry back to Timor. It was very slow but we did get some great birds – Red-backed Buttonquail, Jonquil Parrot and Orange-banded Thrush.
Back to Timor and another night at the Krystal hotel.
We spent the day driving up to Soe where would were to spend 2 nights. The birding along the way was quite frustrating. We tried several paths in Camplong and got one new species – Flame-eared Honeyeater – although it was a lovely forest, so continued on to Soe. This is a difficult place to stay! The hotel restaurant was closed and finding food that wasn’t covered in flies was very difficult – this seemed a poor move by the company that organized the trip and we were a bit frustrated (and hungry!).
The afternoon at Oelnasi was more successful than the morning with Black-banded Flycatcher, Black-breasted Myzomela, Buff-banded Bushbird, Brown Goshawk, Spot-breasted White-eye, Sunda Bush-warbler, Timor Fantail, Timor Friarbird and Timor Stubtail.
Late in the afternoon we went to try for nightjars and owls – unfortunately our guide got us lost in the forest in the dark. We did eventually get Timor Nightjar but it wasn’t a great experience! Night at Hotel Bahagia 2.
We were really sick of this guide by this time and were due to stay in Soe for a second night but with the lack of clean food we had decided that we would drive back to Kupang after the morning’s birding. It was just as well because, when the guide arrived to collect us for what he thought was to be a full day’s birding at Mount Munis, he informed us that the hotel had forgotten to prepare us any breakfast or lunch and that we were heading out for the entire day with no food. This was about the last straw and we were glad that we had already decided to head back.
Mount Munis was very beautiful but very quiet – eventually located Timor Flowerpecker, Timor Leaf-Warbler and Timor (Mount Munis) Parrotfinch but it was hard work! Drove back to the Krystal Hotel before flying to Jakarta the next day. We were quite glad this part of the trip was over!
Four Season, Jakarta – excellent!!
Grand Mercure, Surubaya – excellent!!
Kampung Lumbang Eco Resort, Batu – Unique and worth a stay.
Krystal Hotel, Kupang – OK – probably the best choice
New Ricky Hotel, Ba’a, Rote – very basic but probably the best choice (Good restaurant)
Hotel Bahagia 11, Soe – rooms good but the food situation very challenging.
Guides & Resources
Jakarta area – Desi Ayu Triana – desiayutriana @gmail.com
Surubaya area – Birdpacker Indonesia Birding Tour – www.birdpacker.com
Timor & Rote – we booked this through Birding Direct – it wasn’t’ great!
Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago, Greater Sundas & Wallacea – James Eaton
Timor & Rote