The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia

SUMATRA – The Ultimate Sumatran specialities tour

Wednesday 13th July – Thursday 28th July 2022

Leaders: Craig Robson and skilled local bird guides

16 Days Group Size Limit 7
Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Extension

Saturday 9th July – Wednesday 13th July 2022

5 Days Group Size Limit 7
Northern Sumatra Extension

Thursday 28th July – Thursday 4th August 2022

8 Days Group Size Limit 7
Friday 7th July – Saturday 22nd July 2023

Leaders: János Oláh and skilled local bird guides

16 Days Group Size Limit 7
Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Extension

Monday 3rd July – Friday 7th July 2023

5 Days Group Size Limit 7
Northern Sumatra Extension

Saturday 22nd July – Saturday 29th July 2023

8 Days Group Size Limit 7

SUMATRA, INDONESIA: OVERVIEW

Birdquest’s Sumatra, Indonesia birding tours explore this huge but fascinating island that is visited by few birdwatchers yet has a very high number of endemic birds and restricted-range Sundaic birds. Our Sumatra, Indonesia birding tour offers the most comprehensive coverage of any Sumatra tour. Sumatra’s many special birds include mouth-watering species such as Salvadori’s Pheasant, Roll’s Partridge, Silvery Woodpigeon, Sumatran Ground Cuckoo, Sumatran Trogon, Sumatran Woodpecker, Schneider’s and Graceful Pittas, Aceh Bulbul, Sumatran Wren-Babbler, Sumatran Laughingthrush, Sunda Blue Robin, Temminck’s Sunbird, Red-bearded Bee-eater and Rufous-collared Kingfisher, as well as a surprising number of nocturnal species, including three species of frogmouth.

Lying at the northwestern end of the Indonesian archipelago, the fascinating and little-explored island of Sumatra is the second largest of the Greater Sundas – one of the biologically richest areas on Earth. Stretching nearly 2,000 km from end to end, it is not only the largest island of Indonesia but also one of the world’s largest islands. Less populated than adjacent Java, Sumatra has an extraordinary wealth of natural resources which today form an integral part of the economy of Indonesia. Its remote jungles, forested volcanoes and fascinating variety of peoples and cultures make any visit to this mystical island an unforgettable experience.

Sumatra boasts nearly 400 resident species, many of which are shared with the Malay Peninsula and the other Greater Sundas. Of primary interest, however, are the 29 or so (depending on which taxonomic authorities you believe) strict endemics, although some of these are known from just a handful of specimens or are from small offshore islands, and the several Sundaic endemics that are shared only with Borneo or Java.

Although our Sumatra, Indonesia birding tour is primarily a tour for those who want to see the exciting endemics of these important islands, our exploration of Sumatra will also give us the opportunity to see a wide variety of Indo-Malayan species, from the broadbills, trogons and hornbills of the lowland rainforest to the many montane species that inhabit the highland forests. Fortunately, Sumatra is endowed with some excellent national parks, and we will be concentrating on two of these; Way Kambas, a lowland rainforest in the south, and Gunung Kerinci, a forested volcano (still active!) in the centre of the island.

The first part of our Sumatran journey features the Way Kambas reserve, in the south of the island. Way Kambas is perhaps best known ornithologically for its population of the endangered White-winged Duck, which we have a good chance of seeing. In addition, many lowland specialities of Sumatra occur here: storks, including the rare Storm’s Stork, fly over the river and the dense forests hold a whole host of species ranging from the spectacular Green Broadbill and Malayan Banded Pitta to rare nocturnal denizens such as the remarkable Large Frogmouth.

Next, we travel to the city of Padang, situated on the western coast of Sumatra.

From Padang, we will first visit Sipora Island in the Mentawai islands, where we will look for Barusan Cuckoo-Dove (endemic to several islands off west Sumatra) and pure Mentawai endemics such as Mentawai Malkoha, Mentawai Scops Owl and Mentawai Drongo, as well as numerous endemic subspecies (some candidates for future splits) and some endemic primates.

Next, we will make our way to Gunung Kerinci which, at 3805m, is the highest peak in Sumatra. This remote area of Indonesia has recently hit the headlines with detailed reports of a new terrestrial ape, as yet unknown to science. Here we will explore the mist-clad montane forest as well as nearby submontane forest and waterfalls.

During our visit to Gunung Kerinci and the Mauro Sako area (near Sungai Penuh), we will find many of Sumatra’s endemic species, with good chances Sumatran (or Pale-headed) Frogmouth, Cream-striped and Spot-necked Bulbuls, Sumatran Drongo, Sumatran Treepie, Rusty-breasted and Sumatran Wren-Babblers, and Shiny and Sumatran Whistling Thrushes. We will also find a good variety of Sundaic endemics including many of the following: Sumatran Green Pigeon, Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Sumatran Trogon, Sunda Cuckooshrike, Sunda Minivet, Sunda Bulbul, Sunda Laughingthrush, Sunda Blue Robin, Lesser Forktail, Sunda Warbler, Indigo Flycatcher and Black-capped White-eye. We will also have a good chance of finding some of Sumatra’s rarest endemic birds, which include Salvadori’s Pheasant, Schneider’s and Graceful Pittas, and Sumatran Cochoa.

During our special Sumatran Ground Cuckoo pre-tour extension we visit Bukit Barasan Selatan National Park in southwestern Sumatra, home to the rare endemic Sumatran Ground Cuckoo and also the little-known endemic Buettikofer’s Babbler.

At the end of the main tour, there is an unusual opportunity to visit the northern region of Sumatra.

Initially, we head to Aceh province in the far north of the Sumatran mainland, for the endemic Sumatran Laughingthrush, Roll’s Hill Partridge and the recently-split Aceh Bulbul.

Finally, we explore the Simeulue islands in search of the endemic Simeuleu Scops Owl, Simeulue Serpent Eagle and Simeulue Parrot, Silvery Woodpigeon (endemic to a number of small islands in the region, but only recently recorded here) and a number of endemic subspecies.

Birdquest has operated Indonesia birding tours, including Sumatra birding tours, since 1984.

Enggano Islands Extension: The situation with Enggano Island (which has four widely recognized endemic bird species plus some potential splits) is very tricky and unpredictable. The ferry service to the island involves very basic conditions (sleeping on a camping mattress on deck), infrequent services (once or twice a week, overnight) and sudden schedule changes. This makes a visit to Enggano hard to incorporate into any Sumatra birding tour itinerary. The construction of an airport on the island has now been completed, but it is not known when an air service will commence. If the airport is functioning by the run-up to the tour, we will include Enggano in the itinerary, as an optional extension (prior to the Sumatran Ground Cuckoo extension). The ideal stay is two nights and we have included the extension details in the Detailed Itinerary. However, it is not possible to give precise dates, duration or price for the extension when so much is still uncertain.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good or medium standard. At Keresek Tua we will be staying in a basic but friendly family guesthouse with very basic shared bathroom facilities and no hot water. There are two nights of simple camping at Way Titias during the Sumatran Ground Cuckoo extension (tents are available for both twin and single occupancy). Road transport is by minibus/passenger van and roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during our Sumatra birding tour is generally easy to moderate, but possibly harder at times at Gunung Kerinci.

Climate: In most areas, the weather should be mainly hot and dry with perhaps an occasional, sometimes prolonged shower. At Gunung Kerinci the weather will be warm or hot lower down but maybe 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 Sumatra birding tour are worthwhile.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Endangered White-winged Ducks and Storm’s Storks in the swamp forests of Way Kambas National Park
  • Little-known montane specialities of Indonesia’s largest Greater Sunda island – a bevy of endemics
  • Visiting the rich remnant forests of Aceh, where rare endemics such as Sumatran Woodpecker, Aceh Bulbul and Sumatran Laughingthrush still hang on
  • Birding the slopes of Indonesia’s highest volcano on the renowned Mount Kerinci trail
  • Schneider’s Pitta and Salvadori’s Pheasant, two of the grail-birds of Sumatra, seen well on recent tours
  • An amazing selection of colourful trogons, highlighted by the lovely Sumatran
  • Stunning pittas: the fantastic Malayan Banded and the superb Graceful
  • Sumatran Cochoa – the challenge of seeking out a sultry and shy upper-montane endemic
  • A great selection of endemic babblers, from Rusty-breasted, Marbled and Sumatran Wren- to White- breasted, White-bibbed and Crescent-chested
  • Spotlighting thrills, when we look for Oriental Bay and Reddish Scops Owls and Large and Sunda Frogmouths
  • A great opportunity to find additional nightbirds, including the superb Rajah’s Scops Owl and the endemic Sumatran Frogmouth
  • Excellent opportunities to see a range of great primates, including Sunda Slow Loris and Siamang
  • A good chance to see the rare and spectacular Sumatran Ground Cuckoo, a species that was lost to science for over 80 years!
  • Visiting some of the most remote and least birded islands on the planet to find a suite of little-known endemics
  • A great opportunity to see three highly distinctive island endemic scops owls
  • The chance to see the critically endangered Silvery Woodpigeon, a species that was ‘lost’ for 77 years until its rediscovery in 2010
  • Seek out a number of distinctive restricted range subspecies which may yet make the grade as full endemic species, especially in the current ‘splitting’ climate!
  • The chance to see some of the endemic primates and squirrels in the Mentawi Islands

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • SUMATRAN GROUND CUCKOO PRE-TOUR EXTENSION
  • Day 1: Midday tour start at Bandar Lampung airport. Drive to Liwa.
  • Day 2: Hike to Way Titias in Bukit Barisan National Park for 2 nights camping..
  • Day 3: Way Titias.
  • Day 4: Way Titias, then return to Liwa.
  • Day 5: Return to Bandar Lampung and meet up with rest of group.
  • MAIN TOUR
  • Day 1: Midday tour start at Bandar Lampung airport. Drive to Way Kambas.
  • Days 2-4: Way Kambas National Park.
  • Day 5: Return to Bandar Lampung and fly to Padang via Jakarta.
  • Day 6: Fast day ferry to Sipora Island in Mentawai group.
  • Days 7: Sipora Island.
  • Day 8: Sipota Island, then fast ferry to Padang.
  • Day 9: Drive to Keresek Tua. Begin exploration of Gunung Kerinci.
  • Days 10-12: Exploring Gunung Kerinci. Overnights at Keresek Tua.
  • Day 13: Gunung Kerinci, then drive to Sungai Penuh.
  • Days 14-15: Mauro Sako area. Overnights at Sungai Penuh.
  • Day 16: Mauro Sako area, then drive to Padang airport for afternoon tour end.
  • NORTHERN SUMATRA EXTENSION
  • Day 1: Fly to Medan.
  • Day 2: Fly to Meulaboh in Aceh province and explore vicinity.
  • Days 3-4: Exploring Meulaboh region.
  • Day 5: Meulaboh, then return to Medan.
  • Day 6: Fly to the Simeulue islands.
  • Day 7: Simeulue Islands.
  • Day 8: Simulue, then fly to Medan for afternoon tour end.

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: Bandar Lampung-Jakarta-Padang and (for those taking the northern extension) Padang-Medan, Medan-Meulaboh-Medan and Medan-Simeulue-Medan.

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: £3670, $5250, €4270, AUD6770. Bandar Lampung/Padang.
Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Extension: £940, $1350, €1100, AUD1740. Bandar Lampung/Bandar Lampung.
Northern Sumatra Extension: £1710, $2450, €1990, AUD3160. Padang/Medan.
2023: provisional £3740, $5350, €4360, AUD6900. Bandar Lampung/Padang.
Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Extension: £970, $1390, €1130, AUD1790. Bandar Lampung/Bandar Lampung.
Northern Sumatra Extension: £1740, $2490, €2020, AUD3210. Padang/Medan.

Single Supplement: 2022: £300, $430, €350, AUD550.
Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Extension: £60, $90, €70, AUD110.
Northern Sumatra Extension: £140, $210, €170, AUD270.
Single Supplement: 2023: £300, $440, €350, AUD560.
Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Extension: £60, $90, €70, AUD110.
Northern Sumatra Extension: £140, $210, €170, AUD270.

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.

Single rooms may not be available at Keresek Tua for all those requesting them, as the lodge has only a limited number of rooms. Anyone having to share unexpectedly will be given an appropriate refund.

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.

SUMATRA, INDONESIA BIRDING TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

 

Sumatra: Day 1  Our tour begins around midday at Bandar Lampung airport. Bandar Lampung is the capital of Lampung province in southern Sumatra.

(If you arranging your own flights to and from the tour, but would find it more convenient if we were to supply the domestic flights in Indonesia, we will be pleased to do so on request.)

From Bandar Lampung we shall proceed by road to Way Kambas National Park for a four nights stay. On the way, we will pass through many small rural settlements and paddyfields before we catch our first sight of the forest.

We will be staying at a pleasant lodge at the edge of the national park, and as we drive inside we will stop en route in the degraded secondary forest to look for a few species we will not find in the forest proper, such as Red Junglefowl. As we leave the degraded areas behind us, we will continue a few kilometres through the forest to the Way Kanan sub-station, situated adjacent to the river of the same name, which will be our ‘birding base’ while we visit the park. This afternoon we will have our first opportunity to explore the bird-rich forest around Way Kanan.

Sumatra: Days 2-4  Way Kambas National Park contains some of the best and most easily accessible lowland rainforest in Sumatra and indeed all Indonesia. Although most of the area has been selectively logged in the past, the forest has recovered well and continues to host some of South-East Asia’s more elusive species.

During our stay here we will explore the forest around Way Kanan. A clearing at the Way Kanan river is a particularly good vantage point. Blue-crowned Hanging and Blue-rumped Parrots frequently zip overhead and we will keep a lookout for Lesser Adjutant and Storm’s Stork, as well as hornbills (including the rare Wrinkled). There are sometimes fruiting trees around the clearing and if we are fortunate enough to find any we will have the opportunity to watch barbets, including the dazzling Red-crowned, Blue-eared, Coppersmith and Brown, and pigeons including Cinnamon-headed, Little and Thick-billed Green Pigeons, and Green Imperial Pigeon.

As we move into the rainforest we will be surrounded by the sounds of bird song and cicadas, and we are likely to be greeted by the comical wailing of the resident Agile and Siamang Gibbons. Mammals are a prominent feature of the forest; tree-shrews and squirrels frequently dart across the trails, troops of macaques and wild pigs roam through the forest and langurs bound through the trees. We are also likely to encounter Siamangs here. These stocky and charismatic all-black gibbons are often seen swinging acrobatically through the foliage, advertising themselves by their varied song – a mixture of resonant booming notes and at times almost human-like cries. Way Kambas is famous for its surviving population of Asiatic Elephants and Tigers, but although we may hear elephants trumpeting in the distance, we would be very lucky to see either species.

As we walk quietly through the forest we have a good chance of finding a Malayan Banded Pitta – this electrically coloured gem somehow becomes almost invisible in its forest environment. Other skulkers we may see include the colourful Crested Partridge (with its punk-like crest), Crested Fireback and many babblers, including the strange Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler and Black-throated Babbler. If we are really lucky we will encounter the elusive Malaysian Rail-Babbler.

Higher up, in the mid-canopy and canopy, there is plenty to look for. Among the more interesting species we may see are Red-billed, Chestnut-breasted, Black-bellied, Chestnut-bellied and Raffles’s Malkohas, Scarlet-rumped, Red-naped and the beautiful Diard’s Trogons, Banded, Rufous-collared and Rufous-backed Dwarf Kingfishers, Banded, Black-and-yellow, Dusky and Green Broadbills, Fiery Minivet and Rufous-tailed Shama. Woodpeckers are also a prominent feature of the park, ranging from the diminutive Rufous Piculet to the giant White-bellied Woodpecker, and also including Common Goldenback, Rufous, Checker-throated, Crimson-winged, Buff-necked, Grey-and-buff, Maroon and Sunda Woodpeckers, whilst flycatchers include Pied Fantail, Black-naped Monarch, Rufous-winged Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and the elusive Grey-chested Flycatcher.

We will also spend time exploring the swamps and open forest along the Way Kanan river. We shall explore up-river, either travelling in small dug-out canoes, if conditions allow, or on foot to a larger swamp. Our main goal here is the endangered and elusive White-winged Duck, which still survives in small numbers. It is thought the birds are mainly nocturnal, raiding the adjacent paddyfields under cover of darkness to feed. Strangely, many of the individuals at Way Kambas are partly albino.

Other birds we may see close to the river include Lesser and Grey-headed Fish Eagles, the bizarrely-shaped Silver-rumped Swift, Blue-eared and Stork-billed Kingfishers, Pink-necked and Cinnamon Green Pigeons (the latter a surprisingly difficult species to catch up with anywhere else), Black-and-red Broadbill (with its amazing two-tone bill), Malaysian Blue Flycatcher and White-chested Babbler, and with luck we will find an Oriental Darter or a Jerdon’s Baza.

Way Kambas is an excellent locality for nocturnal species. During our pre-dawn forays into the forest we may see, amongst others, Reddish Scops Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Brown Wood Owl and the stunning Oriental Bay Owl as well as Gould’s, Sunda and even Large Frogmouths, though all of these can be frustratingly difficult to spot amongst the dense foliage. In addition, Malaysian Eared Nightjars are often a prominent feature around the clearing at dawn and dusk, and we have a good chance of seeing the rare and little known Sundaic-endemic Bonaparte’s Nightjar.

Other species we may well see at Way Kambas during our stay include White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Black-thighed Falconet, Emerald Dove, Zebra Dove, Banded Bay, Rusty-breasted, Plaintive, Violet and Drongo Cuckoos, Greater Coucal, Asian Palm Swift, Whiskered Treeswift, White-throated Kingfisher, Dollarbird, Black Hornbill, Scarlet Minivet, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Green Iora, Greater Green, Lesser Green and Blue-winged Leafbirds, Olive-winged, Cream-vented, Red-eyed, Spectacled, Hairy-backed, Yellow-bellied and Buff-vented Bulbuls, Bronzed and Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, Dark-throated Oriole, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Slender-billed Crow, Black Magpie, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Black-capped, Short-tailed, Ferruginous, Sooty-capped, Scaly-crowned, Rufous-crowned, Moustached, Chestnut-rumped and Chestnut-winged Babblers, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-rumped Shama, White-crowned Forktail, Flyeater, Ashy and Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds, Yellow-bellied Prinia, White-breasted Wood-Swallow, Hill Myna, Plain, Purple-naped, Ruby-cheeked and Crimson Sunbirds, Little Spiderhunter, Crimson-breasted, Yellow-breasted and Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers, White-bellied Munia and, with luck, the Sundaic-endemic Javan Munia.

Sumatra: Day 5  After some early morning birding at Way Kambas we will drive back to Bandar Lampung airport and catch a flight to Jakarta with an onward connection to the city of Padang, situated on the coast of western Sumatra, where we stay overnight.

Sumatra: Day 6  From Padang we will travel by fast ferry this morning to the island of Sipora in the Mentawai Islands, situated around 150km across the Mentawai straits off the west coast of Sumatra. We will be spending two nights on the island and will arrive in time for some initial exploration this afternoon.

Sumatra: Day 7  During our time in this little-known and seldom explored island we have an excellent chance of finding such endemics and near-endemics, Barusan Cuckoo-Dove (which also occurs in the Simeulue islands), Mentawai Malkoha, Mentawai Scops Owl and Mentawai Drongo.

In addition, there are another fifteen or more endemic subspecies (depending on taxonomy followed) including the distinctive sipora subspecies of the Crested Serpent Eagle, a potential split.

There are also a number of endemic mammals including three squirrels and five endemic primates: the Mentawai or Kloss Gibbon, Mentawai Macaque, Siberut Macaque, Mentawai Langur and Pig-tailed Langur. These are highly endangered due to logging and unsustainable hunting, but we will do our best to find some of them.

Sumatra: Day 8  After some final birding on Sipora we will head back to Padang by fast ferry and overnight there.

Sumatra: Day 9  From Padang, we will travel by road to the small village of Keresek Tua near Sungai Penuh, which will be our base for the next four nights. Although not a great distance, the roads in this remote area of Sumatra are not fast. Situated right at the foot of Gunung Kerinci, only a tea plantation lies between us and the spectacular classic cone-shaped volcano. This afternoon we will commence our exploration of Gunung Kerinci.

Sumatra: Days 10-12  The moss-clad forested slopes of Gunung Kerinci, the highest peak in Sumatra and thus in all of western Indonesia, offer some of the most challenging and exciting birding in South-East Asia. The whole area is so remote and unexplored that there are even recent reports of a new species of terrestrial ape living in the forest, known to the locals as ‘orang pendek’ (Indonesian for ‘short man’). Recent surveys have also shown that there is still a population of the endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros as well as Tigers in the extensive tracts of remaining forest, though the chances of us encountering either of these species are exceedingly slim!

It was here that Schneider’s Pitta was rediscovered as recently as 1988 and amongst the other enigmatic and little known species that occur are such gems as Salvadori’s Pheasant and Sumatran Cochoa.

From Keresek Tua we will travel daily through the tea plantations, where we may encounter species such as Black-shouldered Kite, Spotted Dove, Lesser Coucal, Long-tailed Shrike, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Scaly-breasted Munia, and into the montane forest beyond. There is a narrow though well-maintained trail that leads to the summit of the volcano. Although popular at the weekends, it is usually quiet during the week and we should have the trail mostly to ourselves.

At the forest edge, we will search for the characterful endemic Sumatran Treepie and another Sundaic endemic, the Sunda Minivet (which has nearly all-red females). Many of the birds we shall be searching for are ground dwellers, and consequently difficult to see in the luxuriant undergrowth. We will hope to see the endemic Red-billed Partridge (which is sadly now very shy due to hunting pressure) and the endemic Rusty-breasted and Sumatran Wren-Babblers (the latter a rather ‘top-heavy’ looking species that has been split from Long-billed). Wren-babblers are a prominent feature here, with Pygmy and Eyebrowed also present.

Plenty of time at Kerinci is absolutely vital! With a stay of this duration, we have a good chance of coming across two or three of the most difficult endemics, which are Schneider’s Pitta, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant and the beautifully-coloured though incredibly rare Sumatran Cochoa.

The thrush family is well represented. As we walk along the trail we should encounter the endemic Shiny Whistling Thrush, which often seems inquisitive, and the shyer and more elusive Sumatran Whistling Thrush. Lesser Shortwings are replaced at higher altitudes by White-browed Shortwings, while Sunda Blue Robins (another Sundaic endemic) occasionally flick on to the path. The graceful Sumatran Trogon (another Sundaic endemic) should put in a few appearances, along with Fire-tufted Barbet (with its cicada-like song), Rufous-vented Niltava and the Sundaic-endemic Indigo Flycatcher.

We should frequently encounter bird parties. Blue Nuthatch, Mountain and Black-capped White-eyes (the latter a Sundaic endemic) and Sunda Warbler (another Sundaic endemic) will be regular constituents of the flocks, whilst larger birds may include Long-tailed Broadbill, Sunda Laughingthrush and occasionally Sunda Cuckoo-shrike (the latter two species also being endemic to the Greater Sundas).

We will also visit the forest at night when we will have a chance to look for the little-known Rajah’s Scops Owl (confined to the Greater Sundas), Salvadori’s Nightjar (endemic to Sumatra and Java) and the amazing-looking endemic Pale-headed (or Sumatran) Frogmouth, though as always they will be much easier to hear than see.

On one afternoon we will visit a nearby area of forest fragments, streams and waterfalls where we should find the elegant Sundaic-endemic Lesser Forktail as well as have a chance for the elusive Giant Swiftlet.

Other birds which we have a good chance of seeing whilst at Gunung Kerinci include Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Oriental Cuckoo, Sumatran Owlet (split from Collared), Greater Yellownape, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Grey-chinned Minivet, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Lesser Racket-tailed and Ashy Drongos, Orange-spotted Bulbul (a Sundaic endemic), Grey-throated and Golden Babblers, Chestnut-capped (or Spectacled) Laughingthrush, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Long-tailed Sibia, Mountain Leaf Warbler, Little Pied Flycatcher, White-throated Fantail and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker.

Mammals other than squirrels and tree-shrews are not prominent here, though recent sightings have included Hog-badger and Clouded Leopard!

Sumatra: Day 13  After a final morning on the slopes of Gunung Kerinci we shall drive the short distance to Sungai Penuh for a three nights stay.

Along the way, we will pass a number of paddyfields where we may encounter Purple Heron and Cattle, Intermediate and Little Egrets. Depending on when we leave Kerinci, there may be time for some initial exploration in the Sungai Penuh area.

Sumatra: Days 14-15  The road between Sungai Penuh and Mauro Sako passes some excellent forest. The forest here is at a lower elevation than the areas we will have explored at Gunung Kerinci and here we should find four more endemic species which are not usually found higher up, namely Sumatran Drongo, Cream-striped, Sumatran and Spot-necked Bulbuls, and the beautiful Blue-masked and Sumatran Leafbirds.

With persistence and a bit of luck, we will encounter one or more of the rarer species found here such as Sumatran Green Pigeon (endemic to the Greater Sundas), the shy White-crowned Hornbill, the rare and little-known endemic Graceful Pitta (split from Garnet), the poorly-known Marbled Wren-Babbler, Rufous-chested and Rufous-browed Flycatchers, and the scarce and elusive White-tailed Flycatcher. We will also have another chance to look for the secretive Bronze-tailed Peacock Pheasant and there is even a slim chance of encountering Sumatran Ground Cuckoo in this area.

We may also encounter such species as Black and Blyth’s Hawk-Eagles, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Green-billed Malkoha, White-bellied and Giant Swiftlets, Rhinoceros and Bushy-crested Hornbills, Black-browed and Gold-whiskered Barbets, Black Laughingthrush, Spot-necked Babbler, Brown Fulvetta, Hill Prinia, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Verditer and Grey-headed Flycatchers, Black-and-crimson Oriole, and Plain and Temminck’s Sunbirds.

On the lower slopes, we will search for species more typical of lowland rainforest such as Banded Kingfisher, Red-bearded Bee-eater and Black-crested Bulbul (the distinctive race here has a red throat and is sometimes split as Ruby-throated Bulbul), while the roadside scrub holds the Sundaic-endemic Bar-winged Prinia and Hill Prinia. Other species we may see while exploring the Mauro Sako area include the spectacular but endangered Helmeted Hornbill (nowadays a rare bird), Wreathed Hornbill, Red-throated Barbet, Black-headed, Cinereous (split from Ashy), Grey-bellied and Streaked Bulbuls, the attractive Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Crested Jay, Horsfield’s Babbler, Spectacled Spiderhunter and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker.

Sumatra: Day 16  This morning we will return to Mauro Sako to look for any species that we have not yet encountered. Afterwards, we will drive to Padang airport where our tour ends this afternoon.

(There are flight connections from Padang to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. If you are arranging your international flight tickets in connection with the tour, we can arrange local flight tickets for you on request.)

 

SUMATRAN GROUND CUCKOO PRE-TOUR EXTENSION

Sumatran Ground Cuckoo: Day 1  The extension begins around midday at Bandar Lampung airport in southern Sumatra. From there we will drive northwestwards to the town of Liwa for an overnight stay.

Sumatran Ground Cuckoo: Day 2  This morning we hike into the remote forest of Way Titias in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, where we will camp for two nights. The hike takes about four hours, with a few stops along the way, and takes us first through rolling coffee plantations, then down into a small stream bed which we will follow for a few kilometres before climbing up into primary forest.

On the way, we will be looking for two special birds of the forest edge and secondary scrub amongst the paddyfields; the little-known endemic Buettikofer’s Babbler and White-capped Munia (a species thought to be endemic to Java until it was discovered here in southern Sumatra). Other species of this habitat include Ruby-throated Bulbul and Baya Weaver. We will commence our explorations at Way Titias this afternoon.

Sumatran Ground Cuckoo: Day 3  Way Titias is one of those areas of accessible foothill forest where the steepness of the terrain has preserved the habitat from clearance for agriculture. Fortunately, once inside this beautiful primary rainforest, the trails are reasonably good and pleasant to bird from. Here, we will surely hear the far-carrying all of the elusive endemic Sumatran Ground-Cuckoo, a species that was lost for a century before being rediscovered here in 2007! This is surely one of Southeast Asia’s rarest and most sought-after birds, but seeing (as opposed to hearing) this remarkable creature certainly requires some luck as well as persistence.

There are plenty of other birds in this forest and amongst these, we have a good chance of finding a number that are not usually seen on the main tour, including Blue-banded Kingfisher, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Spotted Fantail, Fulvous-chested Jungle-Flycatcher, Maroon-breasted Philentoma and Yellow-eared Spiderhunter. The scarce Sumatran Trogon is surprisingly common in the forest around our camp and it is a delight to see such a bird on a regular basis. We also have extra chances here for some difficult-to-see species such as Sumatran Partridge, Ferruginous Partridge, Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Graceful Pitta and Blue-masked Leafbird.

Sumatran Ground Cuckoo: Day 4  After a last morning at Way Titias we will return to Liwa for an overnight stay.

Sumatran Ground Cuckoo: Day 5  This morning we will return to Bandar Lampung and meet up with those arriving for the main tour.

 

NORTHERN SUMATRA EXTENSION

Northern Sumatra: Day 1  We will take a flight from Padang to Medan in northern Sumatra, where we will overnight.

Northern Sumatra: Day 2  This morning we travel by air to Meulaboh in the remote northwestern province of Aceh, where we will stay for three nights. This afternoon we will go birding in the vicinity of Meulaboh.

Northern Sumatra: Days 3-4  We will explore more remote areas around Meulaboh during our stay. Here we will make a particular effort to track down the increasingly rare (due to trapping for the bird trade) Sumatran (or Black-and-white) Laughingthrush and the recently-split Aceh Bulbul. We also have a good chance of finding the rare and shy Roll’s Hill Partridge.

Other Sumatran endemics possible here include the shy Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant, the elusive Salvadori’s Pheasant, the rare and little known Sumatran (split from Grey-faced) Woodpecker, Sumatran (split from Collared) Owlet, the elusive Graceful Pitta, the attractive Blue-masked and Sumatran (Blue-winged) Leafbirds and the little-known Sumatran Babbler.

The montane and submontane forests will be birdy and we will encounter a large number of other species. Some of the more interesting species we may encounter include the sneaky Ferruginous Partridge, Black-thighed Falconet, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Silver-rumped Swift, Wreathed, Oriental Pied, Rhinoceros, Great and Helmeted Hornbills, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Red-headed Trogon, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Sunda and Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, the attractive Chestnut-naped Forktail, Large Niltava, Blue Nuthatch and Spectacled and Grey-breasted Spiderhunters, to name but a few.

Northern Sumatra: Day 5  After some final birding in the Meulaboh region we return by air to Medan for an overnight stay.

Northern Sumatra: Day 6  From Medan we will take a flight to the remote Simeulue Islands group off the west coast of Sumatra, which lie around 140km (85 miles) offshore. We will spend two nights on Simeulue, arriving in time for some initial exploration.

Northern Sumatra: Day 7  Our main targets in the Simeulue islands will be an endemic owl, the poorly-known Simeulue Scops Owl, and the endemic Simeulue Parrot, and we have an excellent chance of tracking down these little-known birds. We should also see the distinctive (and sometimes split) Simeulue Serpent Eagle, and we have a realistic chance of finding the rare Silvery Woodpigeon, which was only rediscovered here in 2010.

We will also see a selection of more common and widespread species, including a few endemic island forms that may be split in the future.

Northern Sumatra: Day 8  After some final birding on Simeulue, we will return by air to Medan where the extension ends this afternoon.

(There are flight connections from Medan to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. If you are arranging your international flight tickets in connection with the tour, we can arrange local flight tickets for you on request.)

 

ENGGANO ISLAND EXTENSION

Enggano: Day 1  Today we take a flight to Enggano Island, where we will spend two nights. We may have our first chance to explore the island this afternoon.

Enggano: Day 2  The island of Enggano lies approximately 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of the Sumatran mainland and is about 35 kilometres (22 miles) long and about 16 kilometres (10 miles) wide. This Indian Ocean island has an area of roughly 500 square kilometres, yet the highest point is only 281m above sea-level. This remarkable but rarely visited place has several types of forest habitat, some of which are still intact.

Our prime targets here will be the four widely recognized endemics; Enggano Cuckoo-Dove, Enggano Scops Owl, Enggano Thrush and Enggano Hill Myna.

In addition, the local endemic forms of the x Imperial Pigeon, Long-tailed Parakeet and Swinhoe’s White-eye are sometimes split as Enggano Imperial Pigeon, Enggano Parakeet and Enggano White-eye. , Other interesting birds on the island include Red-legged Crake and Sunda Thrush. Providing weather conditions are suitable, we also have a chance for Christmas Frigatebird.

Enggano: Day 3  After some final birding on Enggano we will catch a flight back to the mainland.

 

 

SUMATRA & JAVA, INDONESIA TOUR REPORT 2018

by János Oláh

View Report

Other Indonesia birding tours by Birdquest include: