Place of Gunung Merapi National Park, Merapi is the most active volcano on earth despite recovering from a damaging eruption in 2010, it still remains an excellent place to go forest birdwatching and the best area in Jogja. Located just about 45 minutes to one hour north of the town, this volcano holds more than 160 species. For your productive birding, Kaliurang and Plawangan Hill are the two major sites that you can choose. An easy access with easy to moderate tracks are available.
In Kaliurang, you might have chance to see various endemics, such as Javan Kingfisher, Javan Hanging Parrot, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, with many other resident birds, such as Black Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Striated Grassbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Long-tailed Shrike, and more.
Plawangan hill can be accessed by two paths, Telogo Putri and Telogo Nirmolo. Tlogo Putri is the easiest to reach, and is the entrance gate to the park, but the path is in poor condition with several dangerous cliffs (nice if you like a bit of adventure!). To access the trail take a small upward path on the left side just after the ticket office.
Before you start climbing, try to go to the waterfall for waiting White-crowned Forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti) and Lesser Forktail (Enicurus velatus). While you wait around the area various birds might be seen such as Ashy Drongo, Oriental White-eye, Short-tailed Starling, Little Pied Flycatcher, Red-breasted Parakeet and more. After looking at the forktails around the waterfall, go start climbing to see Black-naped Fruit Dove, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler, Orange-spotted Bulbul, White-flanked Sunbird, White-bibbed Babbler and Javan Hanging Parrot. At the end of the track you will come to a junction and from here you can choose if you want to continue struggling up to the peak of Plawangan Hill or to continue at a more easy pace on the good condition path between Goa Jepang and Tlogo Nirmolo.
Tlogo Nirmolo is located approximately 3 km from Tlogo Putri. The path from here is a good location to see Javan Whistling Thrush, Pink-headed Fruit-dove, Javan Fulvetta, Sunda Minivet, White-flanked Sunbird, Javan Hanging Parrot, Sunda Bulbul, Crescent-chested Babbler, Mees’s White-eye, and Indigo Flycatcher. The path is linked to the trail to ‘Goa Jepang’; a series of 18 caves made by the Japanese Military before Indonesian independence. After the caves, the trail continues a short distance and this can be a good area to see Black-banded Barbet. With some luck, you might see other birds like Javan Tesia, Sunda Bulbul, White-bellied Fantail, Great Tit, Blue Nuthatch, Oriental White-eye, and more. Don’t go too far as the trail ends in a cliff.
BEST TIME TO BIRDING: May – October
ACCESS AND ACCOMODATION:
Merapi National park can be accessed via the park entrance at Tlogo Putri; reached easily by public transport from Jogja city. Get first to Jalan Kaliurang and then take a bus going to Pakem. From there catch another bus going to Kaliurang and get off at the Tlogo Putri terminal. But it better to rent a car for acces the other birdwatching sites (Kaliurang and Telogo Nirmolo). Hotels are available pretty much at the Yogyakarta with excellent quality. One nice option to stay overnight is the Paraksari Hotel at Pakem and make shorter the distance to the park, at around Rp 150.000 for a room with AC and hot water, the birdwatching is interesting around the hotel (Javan Kingfisher, Sunda Scops Owl) and it is only 30 minutes from the park entrance by bus.