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Sumatra and west Java,
Indonesia 3rd 23rd April 2016
Leader: Mike Nelson
Participants: Howard Ackford, Elena Babij, Richard Clifford, Terry Doyle and Kathy OReilly-Doyle, Martin Painter
Javan Trogon Mike Nelson / Birdtour Asia
With a slew of endemics always the main attraction, our West Java and Sumatra tour always delights along with several more widespread highlights also showing well. Starting in the sweltering lowlands of Java and working our way up into the mountains we tracked down such gems as Javan Trogon, Hawk-Eagle and Frogmouth, Spotted Crocias and Javan Banded Pitta also did well. Rain was a bit of a hamper but we struggled through to Sumatra where a new range of endemics awaited with both Schneiders and Graceful Pittas, the engimatic Sumatran Cochoa, a manically aggressive Salvadoris Pheasant, Rajah Scops Owl, Sumatran Peacock Pheasant and a slew of other montane endemics, along with some great night birding in Way Kambas and some unexpected birds we had an overall successful tour.
For several of us that showed up early in Jakarta we took a boat out into Jakarta Bay and after some scanning found a large roost of Christmas Island and Lesser Frigatebirds. Once wed obtained some nice views we
continued on to a small island where we found several Milky Storks circling their breeding colony. Once wed had a good look at these birds we headed back as it was getting hot picking up Little Black Cormorant and White-bellied Sea Eagle along the way.
At the nearby Muara Angke, on the outskirts of Jakarta we picked up Javan Coucal and a quick shot of Black Bittern as it flew off.
The next morning, we set off for some local rice paddies and once there got onto one of our main targets in White-capped Munia with several of these colorful birds flying in small groups around the rice. Our walk through the mangroves and rice paddies gave us opportunities for Cerulean Kingfisher, Australasian Reed Warbler, Yellow Bittern, Javan and Pacific Golden Plover as well as Sunda Collared Dove, though unfortunately Javan White-eye has seemingly been trapped-out of this area now, with numbers dwindling fast, along with everywhere else of this highly endangered species.
From here we drove inland to the base of the endemic melting-pot, Gunung Gede and the Cibodas Botanical Gardens where we birded for the remaining hours of the afternoon getting great looks at Blue Nuthatch, Pied Shrike-babbler, Pygmy Bushtit, Sunda Forktail and Javan Munia.
Javan Frogmouth and Orange-spotted Bulbul
We began the next day in the predawn gloom making our way slowly up the trail leading to the top of Mount Gede. Once into a bit of good habitat we tried for Javan Frogmouth and were quickly rewarded with three birds close by, one almost at eyelevel. We then continued up along the trail where soon we were surrounded by the dawn chorus as the light came up. A little time spent on the lower section of the trail gave us great looks at Orange-spotted Bulbul, Fire-fronted Barbet, Javan Tesia, endangered Javan Crocias, Indigo Flycatcher and our first of many Sunda Minivets.
The rest of the morning was spent hiking up to our camp site with breaks along the way for Fire-tufted and Brown-throated Barbet, Javan Sunda Bulbul, Eye-browed Wren-Babbler, Javan Whistling Thrush, Sunda and Mountain Leaf Warblers and Lesser Shortwing. Once we arrived at camp the weather closed in and soon after the heavens opened up and our camp was soon awash which meant a stop to the birding for the day.
We woke early the next day to try for some night birds but the continued dampness from the night before had most things silent, even when dawn broke there was a distinct lack of birds around. After a quick breakfast we packed up and headed down slowly keep an eye out for our targets the first of which was a brightly colored Javan Trogon which showed very nicely above us and close by as it flitted around. The trio of barbets made and appearance with Fire-tufted particularly common, despite originating from escapees but Brown-throated showed fleetingly. Both Pied and Trilling Shrike-Vireos put in an appearance in a large flock that also contained Rufous-tailed Fantail as well as Sunda Warbler and Mountain Leaf Warblers. The hooting calls of Javan Scimitar Babblers got our attention and we finally tracked down the group farther along the trail where we managed some nice views as they foraged at eyelevel then above us as they moved through. This was followed shortly after by a small group of Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush which was a welcome sight as the previous day wed
only gotten some silhouettes before a rain shower. Both Javan Fulvetta and Crocias were seen as well as a couple of Javan Dark-eye and a calling White-flanked Sunbird and as we approached the bottom of the trail a loud racket led us to a group of White-bibbed Babbler that continued to pop and drop down but we all managed to get onto them. It was here that a lone Chestnut-bellied Partridge ran across in front of a couple of us before the rains again bucketed down putting an end to the birding.
We again birded the botanical gardens the next morning picking up a nice Javan Blue Robin in the dawn light singing next to the trail we also had Horsfields Wren-Babbler, Crescent-chested Babbler, Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker, Olive-backed Tailorbird and a flyover Javan Kingfisher. In the mid-morning we packed up, and drove west to Gunung Halimun-Salak National Park, a huge reserve with adequate access to the mid-elevational forest. Once in suitable habitat we stopped for a roadside lunch and did some birding along the track here getting White-crowned Forktail, a potential split as Javan Forktail, before rain forced us to the lodge for the afternoon.
The next couple of days was spent in the rich forest of the Halimun-Salak forest which produced some great birds for us. Orange-backed Woodpecker, Melodious Bulbul (a split from Grey-cheeked), White-breasted Babbler, Javan and Orange-breasted Trogons, Sunda Minivet and Forktail, Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker, Javan Sunbird, Pale-blue Flycatcher and Trilling Shrike-babbler were some of the many great birds we saw here. We also had a lunch time fly over of the endangered Javan Hawk-Eagle, the emblem of Java. We also had good flight views of the newly split Parzudakis Cuckoo Dove with it rufous finery passing through a forest clearing. Of note here is Blue-winged Leafbird that looks a likely future endemic split, safely for us in escrow awaiting that IOC update!
We also spent some time in the tea plantations looking for Brown Prinia. We first picked up a singing Plaintive Cuckoo while we were searching. Then from behind us came a mass of commotion as a male Red Junglefowl shot out of the tea bushes rising straight up like a rocket, floppy tail trailing below it like an Astrapia. Once it reached azimuth it shot down the slope like a ballistic chicken towards the forest and was gone much to our amazement. Hilarity factor put aside we then continued on till we found several Brown Prinias calling from some of the lone trees spread through the plantation.
Our next destination was some lowland coastal forest at Carita that we arrived in at dawn and were greeted by two stonking Javan Banded Pittas along the entrance track which was a nice start. We then hiked through some forest picking up Javan Tit-Babbler, Wreathed Hornbill, Blue-eared Barbet, Rufous Piculet, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-headed Bulbul, Black-capped Babbler, Plain Flowerpecker, Little and Javan Spiderhunter and Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike an impressive haul!
After lunch we drove back to Jakarta for an overnight stay. We again birded Maura Angke the next morning getting some fantastic views of Javan Coucal as well as Purple Swamphen, Bar-winged Prinia, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, several waterbirds including Purple Heron, Striated Heron, Javan Pond Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow Bittern and Black Bittern, Golden-bellied Gerygone and Sunda Pied Fantail. From here we caught a flight to Sumatra. We arrived in the hot lowlands and drove to our lodge and quickly dropped our gear and headed out for the afternoon to bird the brilliant park of Way Kambas.
The next two days were spent along the long track through the forest, out in some flooded forest and along the roadside and we did well finding Raffless, Black-bellied and Red-billed Malkohas, Crested Goshawk, Diards, Red-naped and Scarlet-rumped Trogons, Red-crowned Barbet, several Olive-backed Woodpeckers along with Rufous, Buff-necked and Crimson-winged Woodpeckers, Banded and Checker-throated Yellownapes, colorful kingfishers with Rufous-collared, Stork-billed and Blue-eared plus the diminutive Red-backed Dwarf perched over a tiny pond in the forest. Hooded Pitta took a bit of tracking down one morning but the pair of Malayan Banded Pittas showed well on the track in front of us one afternoon. Bulbuls were abundant with Olive-winged, Cream-vented, Hairy-backed, Yellow-bellied and Buff-vented all accounted for. Babblers were also conspicuous with Pin-striped and Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, Chestnut-winged and Chestnut-rumped common. Sooty-capped, Scaly-crowned, Rufous-crowned, White-chested, Ferruginous, Short-tailed and Black-capped Babblers continued the theme and we also tracked down a pair of the rare Buettikofers Babblers too a species that only our tours picks up here. We also spent some time looking for White-winged Duck which was found at the second time of askingand a lovely pair of Crested Firebacks crossed the road in front of us. Sadly, not seen by all this was remedied a short while later with two pairs on the track.
Way Kambas is rightly famed for its night birding, which was excellent once again, with early morning and late evening forays