Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 3rd June - Wednesday 27th June 2012
This was the eighth Birdquest tour to this endemic-rich Sundaic island but only the third time we have made a pre-tour extension in search of the little-known Sumatran Ground Cuckoo and our second visit to the remote island of Enggano. In total we recorded 25 species of endemic birds, a high number of Sundaic specialities and a total of 86 ‘diamond’ bird species amongst a very respectable 313 species. We also had 23 species of mammals on the tour which included the trio of Flat-headed, Leopard and Fishing Cats! Sumatra is the largest entirely Indonesian island and the sixth largest island in the World! The longest axis of the island runs approximately 1,790 km northwest–southeast, crossing the equator near the centre. The interior of the island is dominated by two geographical regions: the Barisan Mountain Range in the west and swampy plains in the east. The highest peak is Mount Kerinci with an impressive 3805 meter. A good part of our tour was spent in the mountains, which support all the endemic birds of this fantastic island.
This is surely an essential destination for any birders interested in pittas, night birding and special Asian birds and the 2012 tour did not disappoint as we managed to see four species of pittas - including the endemic Graceful and Schneider’s Pittas – five species of frogmouth and specialties such as Storm’s Stork, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Large and Sumatran Frogmouth, Bonaparte’s Nightjar and Sumatran Cochoa. Sumatra however is also very well known for its extremely difficult birding conditions and most of the special birds being very hard-to-see so a fair amount of work and devotion is required. We definitely experienced this on the 2012 tour, however, in return we had many memorable encounters with most of the specialties of this remarkable place. We did not have wet weather like on our previous tour but prior to our arrival there was plenty of precipitation so conditions in the swampy forest of Way Kambas were not ideal for the White-winged Duck but in the mountains we had excellent weather throughout!
The forests of the Greater Sundas and especially of Sumatra are in grave danger of deforestation and habitat loss. We all speak about the fast disappearing forests of Indonesia but actually seeing it progress at such an alarming rate year after year is a truly disappointing experience. The forest of Mount Kerinci is a sad sight – vegetable fields creeping up the slopes rapidly and one can only wonder what is going to happen in the not too distant future. The number of cage birds and bird trappers is also very frustrating. We met hunters in the national parks as well and saw many birds freshly trapped for either eating purposes or for the cage bird trade. A very good example of not seeing a single wild Oriental Magpie Robin on the entire tour while we saw hundreds in cages! A visit to Sumatra soon is highly recommended!