I had the opportunity to visit Raden Soerjo Greater Park Forestry, Malang. The area is a mountainous forest on the slopes of Arjuno-Welirang-Anjasmoro mountains. This place is one of the best locations to birding/bird watching and bird photography typical Javan mountain birds I have ever visited. There are two birding sites I’ve visited, Watu Ondo waterfall and hot spring baths Cangar. Visiting this place always makes eyes amazed with the beauty of the landscape and the colorful birds hopping among the leaves.
This second chance to visit the area, I was accompanied by a courtier of Birdpacker, Waskito Kukuh Wibowo, Nurdin Setio Budi, Swiss Winnasis, Ahmad Yanuar, Arif Budiawan and M. Hilmi. Thanks are the highest and lift the cap for those who have guided observation wholeheartedly. For nearly a week of observation, 31 species can be observed very well. Of the 31 species observed, I’ll tell you the highlights from day to day.
Day 1, Monday, December 19, 2016
I arrived at the Watu Ondo waterfall at noon, too bad. Fortunately, my observations at the very special place. Though it was daylight, there were still a lot of birds that could be enjoyed. Flame-fronted Barbet is one bird that is very easily found and photographed on the first day. A kind tree from the family piperacea that was bearing fruit became its favorite food and we can find these birds easily very closely. This bird is one of the endemic birds of Java with the dominant color green, very pretty.
Flocks of Sunda Minivet break my focus while observing and photographing barbets. Dominant orange contrasting strongly with green leaves around, makes it such a beautiful flower that broke-fracturing. This bird is endemic to the highlands of Sumatra and Java, very easy to seen in this place.
Later I was invited to the site, not far from the parking lot Watu Ondo waterfall and its location is easy to reach. After waiting a while, finally a Javan Hawk-eagle appeared and perched on a tall tree. I tried to take pictures with a 400mm lens, but it was still very far to reach.
Not long from the first encounter with the Javan Hawk-eagle, it persistently reappeared. This time perched lower than before. Even had flown right over our heads. Even had flown right over our heads. Finally I succeeded in photographing Javan Hawk-eagles from a short distance. Yeay!
On the first day I was also guided to observe the Mountain Leaftoiler’s nest. The Nests laid on top of the plant that are not too high. Several times the birds were seen carrying food into the nest. Most likely the eggs had already hatched a few days ago and now in parenting by both parents. I succeed in shots when the birds return to the nest.
Day 2, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
I was very lucky because the next night I stayed in the area, so I could birdwatch and photograph birds earlier than before. Luckily the weather was quite bright despite the night it rained. Some birds appear gathered in the courtyard of the pavilion which is filled with grass. Interestingly, among the flocks, there are several Common Myna. Its population in several places in Indonesia is the result of the introduction, mainly from domestic birds loose. Distribution of Common Myna is actually in Afghanistan to Western China, Southeast Asia and the Malay Peninsula.
After breakfast, I continue the observations in the park around the hot spring Cangar. Several kinds of small to medium sized birds such as the Little-pied Flycatcher, Indigo Flycatcher, Blue Nuthatch, Ruddy Cuckoo-dove can be easily found here. Even photographing Ashy Drongo that can be found in the tree behind the public toilet of this hot spring. Similarly, along the small stream close to the hot spring, it could meet with Grey Wagtail and Lesser (Sunda) Forktail.
From the park area I continue observations to the jogging track. Footpath through the woods located behind the hot spring Cangar. The sounds of Lesser Shortwing very loud along the way. However, to observe and photograph it took extra patiences. Besides small size, agile movements, and the color of the body is brown perfect for camouflage in the thick bush.
There are also birds that hide in the bush, but more easily observed and photographed on this path, b. Small-sized brown with white eyebrows can be found easily along the jogging track. The bushes along the track have become a favorite location for hunting small insects or spiders.
Day 3, Wednesday, December 21, 2016
I was accompanied by Waskito and Nurdin to birding in Watu Ondo waterfall. The three main targets are the Pink-headed Fruitdove, Lesser (Sunda) Forktail, and Lesser Shortwing. For the first target, I headed to a large tree that bears fruit. Waskito and Nurdin said that the tree is visited by a Pink-headed Fruitdove every day. A Pair of Pink-headed Fruitdoves foraging on that tree which the fruits are drying up. Endemic birds to Sumatra and Java, seen very pretty with a head purple and green dominate the body. Flame-fronted Barbet also foraging at the same tree. Combo!
The second target is easier than before. The location right behind the canteen, a small river crossing on the edge of the canteen is a good habitat for Lesser (Sunda) Forktail. We can wait for the birds to arrive while enjoying coffee or tea in the canteen. Camouflage tent did not need to be photographed. We can use the canteen kitchen as a safe place to observing or photograph the birds.
As we were chatting and drinking tea in the canteen, a Pied-Shrike Babbler perched on one of the trees near the canteen. This bird was seen eating a caterpillar. Likewise at the same time, the group of small birds such as Javan Grey-throated White-eye, Blue Nuthatch, Sunda Bulbul, and Sunda Minivet arrive. I get confused about which one should be photographed first.
Although I already saw Lesser Shortwing on the second day, to photograph these birds needs extra effort, patience and being smart. Waskito and Nurdin guide me to photograph Lesser Shortwing in the nest. Incidentally they’ve been monitoring the nest for a few days. I was lucky to have been guided by them. However, I am only able to photograph these birds while in the nest. I succeeded in getting a few frames before the birds left the nest for food. I was also able to photograph Sunda Warbler.
Day 4, Thursday, December 22, 2016
There are two kinds of birds being targeted on the fourth day, Orange-spotted and Sunda Bulbuls. Although both are easy to find, for 4 days of observation I have not gotten a chance to photograph it from an ideal distance. To fulfill this desire we return to Watu Ondo waterfall.
Shortly after enjoying a coffee in the cafeteria, I heard the sound of Orange-spotted Bulbul and moved to the trees near the parking area, where the birds were singing. Several Orange-spotted-Bulbuls were eating the fruits from that Piperacea’s tree. Finally, I managed to get several frames of these endemic birds.
Next we move towards the bridge Watu Ondo, not far from the waterfall to photograph the Sunda Bulbul. Soon, targets were found. Several Sunda Bulbuls were eating the fruit that was right near the bridge. They were not sensitive to the presence of us who were close enough around less than 10 m from where the bird was eating. Just like the previous target, I succeed to get a photo of Sunda Bulbul.
Malang Bird List (19 – 22 December 2016)
- Javan Hawk Eagle| Nisaetus bartelsi
- Black Eagle | Ictinaetus malayensis
- Japanese Sparrowhawk | Accipiter gularis
- Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove | Macropygia emiliana
- Little cuckoo-dove | Macropygia ruficeps
- Pink-Headed Fruit Dove | Ptilinopus porphyreus
- Spotted Dove | Streptopelia chinensis
- Mountain Tailorbird | Orthotomus cuculatus
- Ashy Tailorbird | Orthotomus ruficeps
- Sooty-headed Bulbul | Pycnonotus aurigaster
- Orange-spotted bulbul | Pycnonotus bimaculatus
- Sunda Bulbul | Iole virescens
- Javan Bush Warbler | Locustella montis
- Sunda Bush-warbler | Cettia vulcania
- Lesser shortwing | Brachypteryx leucophrys
- Pied Shrike-babbler | Pteruthius flaviscapis
- Trilling Shrike-Babbler | Pteruthius aenobarbus
- Long-tailed Shrike | Lanius schach
- Common Myna | Acridotheres tristis
- Indigo Flycatcher | Eumyias indigo
- Little Pied Flycatcher | Ficedula westermanni
- Snowy-browed Flycatcher | Ficedula hyperythra
- Grey Wagtail | Motacilla cinerea
- Lesser (Sunda) Forktail | Enicurus velatus
- Sunda Minivet | Pericrocotus miniatus
- Blue Nuthatch | Sitta azurea
- Flame-fronted Barbet | Meglaima armillaris
- Ashy Drongo | Dicrurus leucophaeus
- Sunda Warbler | Seicercus grammiceps
- Javan Grey-throated White-eye | Lophozosterops javanicus
- Cave Swiftlet | Collocalia linchi