The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia

JAVA, BALI & KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA – a feast of Greater Sunda endemics

Friday 5th August – Thursday 18th August 2022

Leaders: Craig Robson and skilled local bird guides in most locations

14 Days Group Size Limit 7
Kalimantan Extension

Thursday 18th August – Tuesday 23rd August 2022

6 Days Group Size Limit 7
Wednesday 6th September – Tuesday 19th September 2023

Leaders: Alex Berryman and skilled local bird guides in most locations

14 Days Group Size Limit 7
Kalimantan Extension

Tuesday 19th September – Sunday 24th September 2023

6 Days Group Size Limit 7

JAVA, BALI & KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA: OVERVIEW

Birdquest’s Java, Bali & Kalimantan, Indonesia birding tours explore three fascinating islands that between them hold a large number of endemic birds and restricted-range Sundaic birds. Our Java, Bali & Kalimantan, Indonesia birding tour offers comprehensive coverage of an as-yet under-birded part of Asia, including such major specialities as Bali Starling and the beautiful Bornean Peacock-Pheasant.

During the main part of the tour, we will first explore the western part of the island of Java, the southeasternmost of the larger Greater Sunda Islands.

Java, the heartland of Indonesia, is a land of great beauty, dominated by its mountainous interior, where high peaks and smoking volcanoes are flanked by forests and fertile terraced fields that trip down the slopes like giant steps. The birds here have more in common with those of mainland South-East Asia than with those of eastern Indonesia, beyond ‘Wallace’s Line’, which have shared affinities with the Australasian avifauna. Boasting over 300 species, of which 35 are strictly endemic and many others endemic to the Greater Sundas as a whole, Java offers a birding experience not to be missed.

Java, with its population of around 100 million, plays a central role in Indonesia’s economy and culture. Besides being the geographical and political hub of the country, and hosting Indonesia’s three largest cities, many of Indonesia’s most significant historical developments took place here, including the struggle for independence. As with Sumatra, Java’s people are mainly Malay in origin.

From the city of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, we travel inland to Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, named after the sister volcanoes Gede and Pangrango which tower to over 3000m and which are still active to this day. With its hot springs, spectacular waterfalls, billowing plumes of sulphurous gases and beautiful moss-encrusted montane forest, this amazing national park holds nearly all of Java’s endemic birds, including Javan Hawk-Eagle, Chestnut-bellied Partridge, Javan Trogon, Flame-fronted and Brown-throated Barbets, Javan Whistling Thrush, Javan Tesia, Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Fulvetta, Rufous-tailed Fantail, Pygmy Bushtit, Mees’s White-eye and the exquisite White-flanked Sunbird.

Next, we travel to the more remote Gunung Halimun National Park, the largest tract of true rain forest on Java, and the only place where we can go birding in intact lowland rain forest. Based at a research station inside the forest, we will search for the many specialities of this beautiful and little-known protected area, which include Sumatran Green-Pigeon, Javan Scops Owl, White-breasted Babbler, Spotted Crocias, White-bellied Fantail, and Javan Sunbird, as well as one of Java’s few healthy populations of the endangered Javan Gibbon.

Afterwards, we will visit the Carita area, where endemic and near-endemic specialities include the gorgeous Javan Banded Pitta, Black-banded Barbet, Yellow-eared Barbet and Grey-cheeked Tit-babbler.

In the Jakarta region, we will look for such specialities as Javan Plover, Javan (or Sunda) Coucal, Javan White-eye and White-capped Munia.

As something of a contrast, our last birding in west Java will involve a boat trip to Pulau Rambut, a small island in the Java Sea off Jakarta, where we should find the declining Milky Stork as well as Christmas Frigatebird and Pied Imperial Pigeon.

During the second part of the main tour, we will have the opportunity to explore the fascinating emerald isle of Bali and adjacent East Java. The peoples of both islands are Malay in origin, but the Muslim faith of the Javanese is in stark contrast to the Hindu beliefs of the adjacent Balinese. Bali’s geographical location and the tides of history have served to isolate it from the Hindu mainstream in the Indian subcontinent, but this very isolation has been responsible for the extraordinary vitality of its culture. From the wonderful costumes and dances to the incredible number of temples (in some districts there seem to be more temples than houses!), Bali and its friendly people constantly fascinate and delight the traveller.

On Bali, we will search for the beautiful but sadly extremely endangered Bali Myna, probably the rarest bird in Indonesia, as well as Javan Kingfisher and the endangered Black-winged Myna of the Bali form.

Afterwards, we will take the ferry across the narrow Bali Strait to East Java, where we will begin with a visit to Baluran National Park. Here, with the extinct Baluran volcano looming over us, we will explore the dry savanna and open woodland which, with its several species of large grazing mammals, seems strangely out of place on this tropical island in Indonesia. Highlights here include the magnificent but endangered Green Peafowl, Green Junglefowl and in particular Javan Flameback, a species endemic to East Java and Bali, and the Javan form of Black-winged Myna. We also have further opportunities for the superb Javan Banded Pitta and the rather less dramatic Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler.

From Baluran we will travel a short distance to the southwest and explore the wonderful forests flanking the eastern slope of the Ijen Plateau, famed for its sulphur production. Here we will be seeking the highly distinctive Grey-breasted (or White-faced) Partridge (only found in East Java), Javan Bush Warbler (endemic to East Java and Bali) and Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot (a Javan endemic far more likely in East Java than further west). We will also have good backup opportunities for the beautiful Pink-headed Fruit Dove and the handsome Black-banded Barbet.

During the optional extension, and in complete contrast, we will explore the Balikpapan area of Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo). Here, the superb Sungai Wain Forest Reserve protects a bird-rich and valuable tract of lowland forest.

The star attraction of Sungai Wain is the lovely Bornean Peacock-Pheasant, a top endemic species not seen on birding tours to Sabah or Sarawak. This is also a good place for the furtive Bornean Ground Cuckoo.

We will also be looking out for many other specialities, including Malaysian Honeyguide, Blue-headed Pitta, the strange Bornean Bristlehead (a monotypic bird family) and Grey-breasted Babbler, as well as a really huge number of Bornean forest birds in total.

Birdquest has operated Indonesia birding tours since 1984.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good or medium standard. There is one night of simple camping at Gunung Gede on Java. Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during our Java, Bali & Kalimantan birding tour is mostly easy, except at Gunung Gede where the walking is moderate or harder.

Climate: In most areas, the weather should be mainly hot and dry with perhaps an occasional, sometimes prolonged shower. At Gunung Kerinci and at Gunung Gede the weather will be warm or hot lower down but can be quite cool higher on the mountains. At this time of the year, the weather is often largely dry, though afternoon showers are a common feature.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Java, Bali & Kalimantan birding tour are worthwhile.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Little-known specialities of Indonesia’s Greater Sunda islands – a bevy of endemics
  • A selection of colourful trogons, highlighted by the lovely Javan Trogon
  • The thrilling sight of a lovely Javan Banded Pitta as it hops into view from the forest recesses
  • Javan Cochoa – the challenge of seeking out a sultry and shy upper-montane endemic
  • Spotlighting for Javan Scops Owl, Salvadori's Nightjar and Javan Frogmouth
  • A great selection of endemic babblers, including White-breasted, White-bibbed and Crescent-chested Babblers
  • Ascending Gunung Gede in search of Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Spotted Crocias and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush
  • Secluded Gunung Halimun, one of the last lowland rainforest refuges in Java – the realm of the Javan Hawk-Eagle
  • Endangered Christmas Island Frigatebirds and Milky Storks along the mangrove-fringed shores of Jakarta Bay
  • Lovely Bali Mynas at their last refuge along the northwestern shores of the peaceful isle of Bali
  • Open savanna and fringing woodlands in impressive Baluran National Park, home to Green Peafowl, Javan Flameback, Black-winged Starling and Java Sparrow
  • The lush forested slopes of Ijen volcano, home to Grey-breasted Partridge
  • Exploring the swamp-forests on the Indonesian side of Borneo, as yet visited by just a tiny number of birders
  • See the rare Bornean Peacock-Pheasant at Sungai Wain reserve, the only reliable site for this species
  • Bornean Ground Cuckoo and Malaysian Honeyguide are regularly observed at Sungai Wain
  • Bornean Bristlehead (a monotypic family) and Grey-breasted Babbler are both distinct possibilities
  • Enjoy seeing the jewel-like Blue-headed Pitta and the vibrant Garnet Pitta

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • MAIN TOUR
  • Day 1: Midday tour start at Jakarta airport. Drive to Cibodas near Gunung Gede.
  • Days 2-3: Exploring Gunung Gede (including one night camping on the mountain).
  • Day 4: Gunung Gede, then drive to Gunung Halimun.
  • Day 5: Gunung Halimun National Park.
  • Day 6: Gunung Halimun, then drive to Jakarta. Flight to Yogjakarta.
  • Day 7: Yogjakarta, then drive to Surabaya.
  • Day 8: Surabaya, then drive to Baluran National Park..
  • Day 9: Baluran National Park, then drive to Banyuwangi.
  • Days 10-11: Ijen Plateau. Overnights at Banyuwangi.
  • Day 12: Ferry to Bali. Drive from Gilimanuk to Labuan Lalang. Visit Bali Barat National Park.
  • Day 13: Drive to Denpasar area for overnight. Benoa Harbour.
  • Day 14: Morning tour end at Denpasar.
  • KALIMANTAN EXTENSION
  • Day 1: Morning tour start at Denpasar airport. Fly to Balikpapan in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).
  • Days 2-5: Exploring Sungai Wain Forest Reserve. Overnights at Balikpapan.
  • Day 6: Morning tour end at Balikpapan.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights: Jakarta-Denpasar and (for those taking the extension) Jakarta-Balikpapan-Jakarta

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2022: £3420, $4890, €3980, AUD6300. Jakarta/Denpasar.
Kalimantan Extension: £1360, $1950, €1580, AUD2510. Denpasar/Balikpapan.


Single Supplement: 2022: £320, $460, €370, AUD590.
Kalimantan Extension: £100, $150, €120, AUD190.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

JAVA, BALI & KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA BIRDING TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Java & Bali: Day 1  Our tour begins around midday at Jakarta airport on the island of Java.

From Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, we will travel inland to Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, the most famous of the few natural forested areas remaining in western Java, for a three nights stay. (We will spend two nights in total at the Cibodas Botanical Gardens and one night camping on Gunung Gede itself.)

Java & Bali: Days 2-3  Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park is a tribute to the Indonesian conservation effort, especially in view of the overwhelming human population pressures to which Java and indeed much of Indonesia are exposed. This magnificent reserve harbours virtually all of Java’s endemic birds and most are seen here regularly.

Even to those without an interest in natural history, the beauty and richness of Java’s montane forests are apparent from the moment one enters them. Starting at 1400m we will follow a well-laid trail that winds upwards through the forest to the summit of the Gunung Gede-Pangrango volcanic massif. Fortunately, it is not necessary to climb to the top in order to see Java’s montane specialities and we will concentrate mostly on the lower to middle sections, spending one night camping on the mountain so we can explore the higher areas at the best time of day.

Typically the forest can appear lifeless one moment and the next resound with a cacophony of sound and activity as a mixed-species flock sweeps across our path. Led invariably by the ubiquitous endemic Javan Fulvetta, an overwhelming mass of little birds rushes by. Characteristic species in these flocks include Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, the tiny endemic Pygmy Bushtit, Blue Nuthatch, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler, the endemic Spotted Crocias (not as easy here as at Gunung Halimun), the endemic Pied Shrike-babbler, Trilling (or Chestnut-fronted) Shrike-babbler, Sunda Warbler, Mountain Leaf Warbler, Indigo Flycatcher, the endemic Rufous-tailed Fantail, the endemic Mees’s (or Javan Grey-throated) White-eye and the exquisite endemic White-flanked (or Kuhl’s) Sunbird.

If we locate a fruiting tree we may find a gathering of frugivores such as the endemic Flame-fronted (or Orange-fronted) and Brown-throated Barbets, and Orange-spotted and Sunda Bulbuls. The open parts of the trail attract the endemic Javan Whistling Thrush, Sunda (or Sunda Blue) Robin and Snowy-browed Flycatcher, while the endemic Chestnut-bellied Partridge sometimes scratches about in the leaf litter at the margins of the trail.

Needless to say, the forest floor and understorey provides a home for many of the most sought-after species, and we should see Eyebrowed Wren-Babbler, Pygmy Cupwing, the superb White-bibbed and smart endemic Crescent-chested (or Pearl-cheeked) Babblers, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings, and the cheeky endemic Javan Tesia, perhaps the most obliging member of its genus.

Paying attention to what is happening above us should result in at least one sighting of the endemic Javan Hawk-Eagle, and there is a slim chance of seeing the rare Giant (or Waterfall) Swiftlet.

As dusk gathers, we will hope to spot a resting Salvadori’s Nightjar, while other nightbirding sorties will target the elusive endemic Javan Scops Owl, as well as the commoner Sunda Scops Owl, Javan Frogmouth and the endemic Javan (or Javan Barred) Owlet.

We should also see at least one or two of the park’s rarest or most secretive inhabitants, which include Rufous (or Dusky) Woodcock, the colourful but inconspicuous endemic Javan Trogon, the endemic and endangered Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush, the sultry, fruit-loving endemic Javan Cochoa, Sunda Thrush and Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch. Fire-tufted Barbet, a species previously thought to only occur in the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, has also been seen on recent tours.

Amongst the many other birds we may well see in this splendid part of Indonesia are Sunda and Rusty-breasted Cuckoos, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Banded Broadbill, Sunda and Lesser Cuckooshrikes, Ashy Drongo, Horsfield’s Babbler, Sunda (or Lesser) and Southern White-crowned Forktails, Mountain and Olive-backed Tailorbirds, Little Pied Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker and Oriental White-eye.

In addition to a number of squirrels and treeshrews, we also have a good chance of seeing the endemic Grizzled Leaf Monkey and Javan Langur, as well as Javan Ferret-Badger and Sunda Stink Badger.

Java & Bali: Day 4 After some final birding at Gunung Gede we will travel west to Gunung Halimun National Park for a two nights stay. We should arrive in time for some initial exploration.

Java & Bali: Day 5  Although the forests of the Gunung Halimun massif are the largest tract of true rainforest now remaining on Java, the area’s particular importance for wildlife protection was only acknowledged as recently as 1992, when the national park was established by Indonesia’s government. The wide altitudinal range (600-1927m) contributes to the great diversity of habitats and birdlife. In contrast to Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, the 40,000 hectares of Gunung Halimun National Park, which includes seven peaks above 1450m elevation, have been comparatively little researched; the still strong conviction that the mountains are haunted meant that early researchers found it very difficult to employ guides here!

Neatly situated inside the forest is a research station with accommodation for visitors, accessed by a rough unsurfaced road. This track enters one of Java’s few remaining intact tracts of lowland broadleaved evergreen rainforest some 6 kilometres before the research station, and this is where we will enjoy our first taste of the quite superb avifauna of this hidden gem of a national park.

In the early mornings and evenings, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeons can be heard booming from the tree-tops, and we have a good chance of seeing Sumatran Green Pigeons perched high on exposed branches or zooming overhead. Javan Hawk-Eagle occurs here also, and we will try and spot one soaring over the canopy. Groups of the endemic Volcano Swiftlet and of Brown-backed Needletail can sometimes be encountered.

Periodically, as we walk, we will encounter large bird-waves which here often contain several species that are now very hard to find elsewhere in Java, notably the threatened endemic White-breasted Babbler, the endemic White-bellied Fantail and the scintillating endemic Javan Sunbird. Additionally, Sunda Minivet and the garrulous Spotted Crocias are usually much easier to see here than at Gunung Gede.

A network of trails leading from the research station will take us deep inside untouched primary forest, where we can search for some of the park’s more secretive specialities, such as Javan and Orange-breasted Trogons. In the evening we will look for nightbirds including the endemic Javan Scops Owl, Javan Owlet and the bizarre-looking Javan Frogmouth.

Other species that we will be on the lookout for are Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Brown-backed Needletail, Rufous Piculet, Checker-throated Woodpecker, Malaysian Cuckooshrike, Blue-winged Leafbird, Grey-cheeked Bulbul, Pygmy Bushtit, Blue Whistling Thrush, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, as well as the odd catch-up that we may have missed at Gunung Gede-Pangrango. There is even an outside chance of Javan Cochoa and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush.

There is a healthy population of the endangered Javan Gibbon in the park and their evocative cries can easily be heard emanating from the forested ridges above the research station. We have a good chance of seeing the species.

Java & Bali: Day 6  After some final birding at Gunung Halimun we will return to Jakarta airport and take a flight to Yogjakarta, situated on Java’s southern coast, for an overnight stay.

Java & Bali: Day 7  Amongst the scrub, swamp, mangroves and open pools in the Yogjakarta area we shall look for a number of interesting species. High on our ‘most wanted’ list will be the rare and endangered endemic Javan (or Sunda) Coucal, which lurks in the undergrowth.

Other species we may well encounter include Little Black Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Javan Pond, Black-crowned Night and Purple Herons, Little and Great Egrets, Black-headed and Glossy Ibises, Sunda Teal, Black-backed Swamphen, Ruddy-breasted and White-browed Crakes, Whiskered Tern, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Asian Koel, Cave (or Linchi) Swiftlet, Collared Kingfisher, Sunda Woodpecker, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Long-tailed Shrike, Hair-crested Drongo, Black-naped Oriole, Racket-tailed Treepie, Pied Bushchat, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Bar-winged and Plain Prinias, White-breasted Woodswallow, Javan Myna, Plain-throated Sunbird and Javan Munia.

Afterwards, we will travel eastwards to Surabaya for an overnight stay.

Java & Bali: Day 8  In the morning, in the Surabaya area, we will have a good chance of finding Javan Plover and two rare specialities of Indonesia (both of which are near-endemic to Java); Javan White-eye and White-capped Munia.

Afterwards, we will head for Baluran National Park in far eastern Java for an overnight stay, arriving in time for some initial exploration.

Java & Bali: Day 9  Baluran National Park is one of Java’s oldest national parks and contains a variety of mainly dry savanna-like habitats, dominated by the extinct Baluran Volcano.

At dusk and dawn, we should hear the loud and unmistakable bugling of Green Peafowl as they venture out of the forest into more open areas. This is probably the most easily accessible site in the world for this spectacular and endangered bird, and we are sure to enjoy some wonderful views. Another speciality of the park is Green Junglefowl, which here occurs alongside the less common Red Junglefowl.

Javan Flameback, a species endemic to East Java and Bali, is quite easy to find here. In patches of broadleaf evergreen forest, we will have more chances to find the endemic Javan Banded Pitta and endemic Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler. In open areas with waterholes, we will have a good chance of coming across the endangered Black-winged Myna, here of a different form to that found on Bali.

Not surprisingly many of the birds in Baluran are similar to those of Bali Barat National Park, but additional species we may well find include Brahminy Kite, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Spotted Kestrel, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Plaintive Cuckoo, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Blue-eared and Coppersmith Barbets, Freckle-breasted (or Spot-breasted) Woodpecker, the impressive White-bellied Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Striated Swallow, Small and Scarlet Minivets, Sooty-headed and Olive-winged Bulbuls, Common Tailorbird and Hill Blue Flycatcher. After dark, we will look for Spotted Wood Owl, which is usually straightforward to find.

Much of the park comprises dry woodland and savanna which is more reminiscent of Africa than Indonesia, and there were formerly large areas of grassland that attracted herds of Banteng, a shy species of wild cattle. Unfortunately, Nile Acacia (Acacia nilotica), a native of Africa, originally planted in 1969 as a firebreak, has now invaded as much as 70% of the savanna area in the park, to the detriment of the grasslands. It is a very fast-growing species, ironically dispersed in the faeces of herbivores, and can spread at the frightening rate of 100-200 hectares per year! The authorities are currently looking at ways to control it with herbicide and other methods. In the meantime, Banteng is difficult to observe.

Fortunately, this sad state of affairs has yet to have any major impact on most bird and mammal life. We should come across Javan Langur, Eurasian Wild Boar, Rusa (or Timor) Deer and Indian Muntjac, and there is an outside chance of seeing a small pack of Dhole (or Asian Wild Dog).

Later in the day, we will drive to the outskirts of Banyuwangi for a three nights stay.

Java & Bali: Days 10-11  The principal focus of our attention will be the Ijen Plateau, which lies to the northwest of Banyuwangi and is situated in the centre of the Ijen-Merapi Maelang Reserve. The reserve protects much of the mountainous region directly west of Banyuwangi and borders on Baluran National Park in the northeast.

The principal touristic attraction at Ijen is the large, sulphurous crater lake at about 2300m elevation and the tough local men that transport baskets full of sulphur blocks entirely on foot. The mine yields 9-12 tons of sulphur per day, and individual loads of up to 70kg are carried the 17 kilometres down the mountain to a factory near Banyuwangi.

Fortunately for birders, the entire eastern slopes of the volcanoes, above about 1000 metres (3281ft), are still clothed in superb montane forests, through which runs the narrow road up to the plateau. We will spend the whole day birding along this road and its side trails.

Our prime target species will be the restricted-range and highly distinctive White-faced Partridge (endemic to east Java), Javan Bush Warbler (endemic to East Java and Bali) and Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot (a Javan endemic that is hard to see elsewhere).

Other important specialities include such Javan endemics as the gorgeous Javan Banded Pitta, Black-banded Barbet, Yellow-eared Barbet and Grey-cheeked Tit-babbler. We also have another chance for Javan Barred Owlet and Javan Frogmouth and will be on the lookout for such interesting species as Black-naped Fruit Dove, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Banded Kingfisher, Black-capped Babbler and Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher.

This is a remote and very birdy area, where we will have a good chance of seeing Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove, as well as more chances for Pink-headed Fruit Dove and the endemic Black-banded Barbet.

Sunda Bush Warblers haunt the roadside scrub and tangles and Horsfield’s Thrushes feed along shady sections of the road at dawn and dusk.

Other species that we may see here include Besra, Black Eagle, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Red-billed Malkoha, Wreathed Hornbill, Crimson-winged and Grey-and-buff Woodpeckers, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Mountain White-eye.

Afterwards, we will catch a flight to Denpasar on the famously beautiful island of Bali. We will stay overnight nearby.

Java & Bali: Day 12  Today we will catch the ferry across the narrow strait from Banyuwangi to Gilimanuk in Bali. From Gilimanuk, at the western tip of the island, we will drive to Labuan Lalang, close to Bali Barat National Park.

Bali Barat National Park is clothed in open dry woodland with wetter broadleaved evergreen patches and holds some interesting birds.

Our primary objective here will be to see the endemic Bali Myna (or Bali Starling), surely one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Although it is kept widely in captivity, the number of individuals actually living in the wild in the park (its only home) is currently thought to be fewer than 30 individuals. There is a captive breeding centre here, from where small numbers are annually released into the forest. Unfortunately, a combination of high mortality rate (due to being bred in captivity) and ongoing illegal capture for the cage-bird trade is making it difficult for the species to build up its numbers again. Ideally, we will hope to see wild-born offspring from the reintroduced birds.

Another speciality we are likely to find at Bali Barat is the Indonesian-endemic Lemon-bellied White-eye.

More widespread birds include the handsome Black-thighed Falconet, Barred Buttonquail, Zebra and Common Emerald Doves, Asian Palm Swift, Edible-nest Swiftlet, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Chestnut-headed and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Lineated Barbet, Australasian Bushlark, Common Iora, Black Drongo, Cinereous Tit, Black-naped Monarch and Mangrove Whistler. We also have another chance for the uncommon Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher.

Along the coast, we may also see Great-billed Heron, Pacific Reef Egret, Lesser Adjutant (and perhaps also Woolly-necked Stork), White-bellied Sea Eagle, Beach Thick-knee and Black-naped and Greater Crested Terns.

Java & Bali: Day 13  After some final birding in west Bali we will drive to the Denpasar area for an overnight stay. Our journey will take us through emerald-green rice paddies dotted with exotic Hindu temples, the most evident aspect of Bali’s rich cultural heritage. This exquisite island is everything that has been written about it and far more besides.

Along the way, we will look out for the magnificent Javan Kingfisher (endemic to Java and Bali).

This afternoon we will have the opportunity to do some birding in the nearby Benoa Harbour area. At low tide, the mudflats here attract a variety of shorebirds, including the restricted range Javan Plover and near-threatened Far Eastern Curlew. Other shorebirds that we may find include Grey (or Black-bellied), Pacific Golden, Greater Sand and Mongolian Plovers, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common and Terek Sandpipers, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. If we are fortunate, we will encounter one of the rarer migrant shorebird species, such as Great Knot.

Large numbers of Javan Pond Herons dot the mudflats, flocks of Sunda Teal are usually much in evidence in the backwaters, and the attractive Cerulean Kingfisher can often be seen perching on posts around the margins of the wetlands. The resident Collared Kingfishers are very conspicuous and are often joined by a migrant Sacred Kingfisher. Other waterbirds at Benoa typically include Little Pied Cormorant, Grey and Striated Herons, and Little and Gull-billed Terns.

The coastal scrub and mangrove patches harbour a range of landbirds, including Island Collared and Spotted Doves, Savanna Nightjar, Pacific Swallow, White-shouldered Triller, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Olive-backed Sunbird, the glowing Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Eurasian Tree Sparrow and Scaly-breasted Munia all likely. With luck, we will see Racket-tailed Treepie or White-headed Munia.

Java & Bali: Day 14  Our tour ends at Denpasar this morning.

 

KALIMANTAN EXTENSION

Kalimantan: Day 1  The extension begins at Denpasar airport this morning. From here we will fly to Balikpapan in Kalimantan, the section of the island of Borneo that is administered by Indonesia, for a five nights stay. We will most likely need to travel via Makassar or Jakarta.

Kalimantan: Days 2-5  During these four full days we will explore the Sungai Wain Forest Reserve, an area of protected lowland rainforest situated not far to the north of the city of Balikpapan. The forest is now given over to conservation and research, so a good trail network allows us access to a variety of microhabitats. Here at Sungai Wain the huge trees, clambering lianas, spectacular butterflies, strange-looking insects and a bewildering variety of birds are all integral features of this superbly-balanced and stable environment – the end-product of millions of years of evolution. Rainforests are the richest habitat on earth and those of Southeast Asia are the richest of all. There are more tree species here than in Amazonia and this floristic wealth has a profound influence on the avifauna.

Many bird families reach their greatest diversity in rainforests such as this, different species adapting to different modes of life whether in the sunlit canopy or on the gloomy forest floor. As dawn breaks the chorus of broadbills, babblers, bulbuls and endemic White-crowned Shamas is soon joined by the superbly evocative bubbles and trills of Bornean Gibbons as the family groups greets the new day.

Sungai Wain hosts a superb selection of bird species, and among the Bornean endemic specialities are several pittas. These include the gorgeous Blue-headed Pitta, a bird which very much lives up to the old name for the family of ‘jewel thrush’ as it bounds over the forest floor. In contrast, the distinctive Black-crowned (or Black-and-crimson) Pitta sits calling in the deepest shadows, glowing like a hot coal. Harder to find are the stunning Blue-banded Pitta and Bornean Banded Pitta. While we are on the subject of the pitta-fest at Sungai Wain, we should also mention the lovely Garnet Pitta, a more widespread species that is pretty straightforward here.

The star attraction at Sungai Wain is the beautiful endemic Bornean Peacock-Pheasant, which we have a high chance of seeing during our visit. Sungai Wain has to be the place for seeing this wonderful bird, which is not seen on bird tours to Sabah or Sarawak.

Additional special birds of Sungai Wain are the secretive Bornean Ground Cuckoo, which we have a good chance of encountering as this is one of the best sites for the species, and the uncommon Malaysian Honeyguide, which is regularly recorded here.

With luck, we will find a Bornean Ground Babbler walking like a miniature rail over the ground, whilst its close relative, the stocky Black-throated Wren-Babbler, ascends into the trees to scold us.

Amongst other Bornean endemics we will be concentrating on during our visit are White-fronted Falconet, Bornean Black Magpie, Bornean Blue Flycatcher, Bornean Wren-Babbler, Grey-breasted Babbler, Bornean Spiderhunter and Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker.

Another great prize here is the strange endemic Bornean Bristlehead (now elevated to its own monotypic family), and we will hope to hear its strange whistles and growls coming from the canopy and then catch sight of a party of these strawberry-headed enigmas moving through the treetops.

The most spectacular of Borneo’s birds are surely the hornbills, and the raucous trumpeting of Rhinoceros Hornbills as a party flies overhead should become a familiar sound. Helmeted Hornbills are also very vocal, giving a succession of ‘toohoop’ notes culminating in a manic ‘chop-your-mother-in-law-down’ crescendo, but they are often much shyer and harder to get views of. Other hornbill species at Sungai Wain include Bushy-crested, Wreathed, Oriental Pied, White-crowned (uncommon) and Asian Black. Another vocal species is Great Argus, whose call can be heard from well over a kilometre away. However, this largest of all the pheasants, with its long train of elongated wing feathers, is usually difficult to see.

Nightbirding may turn up Buffy Fish Owl, Brown Wood Owl and Large Frogmouth, and there is a chance for Barred Eagle-Owl.

Amongst the many other species we may encounter here are Oriental Darter, Black-crowned Night Heron, Lesser Adjutant, Brahminy Kite, Crested Honey Buzzard, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Lesser Fish Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Rufous-bellied and Wallace’s Hawk-Eagles, Green Imperial Pigeon, Little and Thick-billed Green Pigeons, Common Emerald Dove, Long-tailed Parakeet, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Violet and Plaintive Cuckoos, Raffles’s, Red-billed and Chestnut-breasted Malkohas, Greater Coucal, Brown-backed Needletail, Silver-rumped Spinetail, Grey-rumped and Whiskered Treeswifts, Diard’s, Red-naped and Scarlet-rumped Trogons, Rufous-backed, Blue-eared and Stork-billed Kingfishers, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Gold-whiskered, Red-throated, Yellow-crowned, Blue-eared and Brown Barbets, Rufous, Buff-rumped, Buff-necked, Grey-capped, Grey-and-buff and Orange-backed Woodpeckers, and the huge Great Slaty Woodpecker.

The many passerines include Black-and-red, Black-and-yellow, Banded and Green Broadbills, Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Large Woodshrike, Fiery and Scarlet Minivets, Common and Green Ioras, Lesser Green and Greater Green Leafbirds, Asian Red-eyed, Black-headed, Cream-vented, Olive-winged, Grey-bellied, Spectacled, Puff-backed, Grey-cheeked, Yellow-bellied, Hairy-backed, Streaked and Buff-vented Bulbuls, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Greater Racket-tailed and Bronzed Drongos, Dark-throated Oriole, Crested Jay, Slender-billed Crow, Rufous-fronted, Black-capped, Short-tailed, Ferruginous, Horsfield’s, Sooty-capped, Moustached, Rufous-crowned, Scaly-crowned, Chestnut-rumped, Chestnut-winged and White-chested Babblers, Striped Wren-Babbler, Bold-striped Tit-babbler (restricted to Borneo and Java), Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler, Brown Fulvetta, White-bellied Yuhina, Rufous-tailed Shama, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-crowned Forktail, Dark-necked, Ashy and Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds, Sunda Blue (or Large-billed Blue), Malaysian Blue and Verditer Flycatchers, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarch, Maroon-breasted and Rufous-winged Philentomas, Spotted Fantail, Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker, Plain, Plain-throated, Red-throated, Ruby-cheeked and Purple-naped Sunbirds, Little, Spectacled and Yellow-eared Spiderhunters, and Common Hill Myna.

We should also find a few of the scarcer or harder to see species of wider distribution, which include the secretive Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Crested Fireback, Jambu Fruit Dove, Banded Bay and Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoos, Blue-banded and Banded Kingfishers, Olive-backed Woodpecker, the strange Dusky Broadbill, Black-and-white and Finsch’s Bulbuls, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Thick-billed Spiderhunter and Thick-billed and Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers.

Sungai Wain is rich in mammals by the standards of Indonesia, especially apes and monkeys. Bornean Orang-utan, Bornean Gibbon, Silvered Leaf Monkey (or Silvery Lutung), White-fronted Langur (or White-fronted Surili) and Southern Pig-tailed and Crab-eating (or Long-tailed) Macaques all occur at Sungai Wain. Even Sun Bears live here, although we are unlikely to see one.

Kalimantan: Day 6 Our tour ends at Balikpapan this morning.

(There are direct flights from Balikpapan to Jakarta and other Indonesian cities. If you arranging your own flights to and from the tour, but would find it more convenient if we were to supply your domestic flight from Balikpapan to Jakarta, Denpasar or anywhere else, we will be pleased to do so on request.)

SUMATRA & JAVA, INDONESIA TOUR REPORT 2018

by János Oláh

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Other Indonesia birding tours by Birdquest include: