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LESSER SUNDAS

Sunday 4th September - Thursday 22nd September 2011

Craig Robson

Two male Komodo Dragons fighting (Craig Robson)

Two male Komodo Dragons fighting (Craig Robson)

The latest Birdquest to the Lesser Sundas, the seventh, logged a record 268 species. The bird of the tour was the truly awesome Flores Hawk-eagle that we found near Ruteng and Labuan Bajo. What an uplifting experience it was to see this unique and stunning raptor sailing majestically around the steep forested slopes of its home. Number two was the fantastic little Flores Scops-owl that performed so well for us, as we sat motionless in the damp, dark forest understorey; an unforgettable experience. Other highlights during the tour included Sumba Buttonquail, lengthy scope views of Timor Black Pigeon and Barred-necked Cuckoo-dove, Timor Imperial Pigeon, Citron-crested Cockatoo and Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Wallace’s Hanging-parrot, ‘as-long-as-you-like’ views of the declining Olive-shouldered Parrot, Australian Barn Owl, a roosting Moluccan Scops-owl in broad daylight, good spotlight views of Sumba, Little Sumba and Streaked Boobooks (the latter also seen in daytime), close encounters with the freshly split Timor Nightjar, Sumba Hornbill, multiple sightings of Cinnamon-banded and White-rumped Kingfishers, excellent perched and feeding views of Elegant Pitta, multiple sightings of Chestnut-capped, Chestnut-backed and Orange-sided Thrushes, superb views of Black-banded Flycatcher, Flores Monarch, and Timor Sparrow. A vagrant Hardhead on Sumba was most unexpected, as were three Asian Dowitchers that we found on Timor. Our ‘extra’ birding opportunities on Bali added an impressive pre-roosting flock of 13 Black-winged Mynas and a scoped Javan Kingfisher. Thankfully the weather was more typical this year, and we had rain on only one evening in the field, for a short period.