Woodpeckers Trip Report September 2017

During 6 days (06 – 11 September 2017) we had a trip looking for three species of woodpeckers around Malang, East Java with Gerard Gorman (authors of Woodpecker of the World the complete guide). This was our first specific trip focused on a separated population of Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Javan endemic Javan Flameback and Grey-and-Buff “Lilliput” Woodpecker.

On day one, we met at the Juanda International Airport (Surabaya, East Java) around 11.30 AM and headed to Wonorejo Wetland. After walking for 300 meters around the fish-pond we managed the first target, one group-family of Freckle-breasted Woodpeckers. We tried to observe the behavior.

At least we saw two families and managed to take photographs. After that, we changed direction to Malang for the hotel and managed for the rest of the targets.

In the next morning, we began observing at several sites of Tahura R. Soeryo for Javan Flameback. At 05.30 AM we tried to call the bird until one hour later we did not hear and see any responses. So we moved to the next site.

At Watu Ondo waterfall, we waited near a half dead tree. Unfortunately the birding was low, almost quiet. After lunch we moved to Cangar for the same target. The condition was the same as before until the next day. . We didn’t want to waste more time. We finished birding here and heading to Kondang Merak on that day.

Estuary of Kondang Merak

Kondang Merak is located in southern Malang. Here is where the last of the natural lowland rain-forest of Malang still remains. In Kondang Merak, September 08, we will take a couple of nights at home-stay near the beach. Birding will start in the early morning around homestay. Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker and Javan Flameback are our main purposes here.

We must take a fast move, to play the bird calls was the best way to attract them to show up. Sadly we just saw a flash moment of the lilliput. This might be the birds on breeding periods so were not active with calls. We tried in other spots and gave the same poor result.

Until September 10 the birding was tough for us, in the afternoon we drove out to the border of the forest. We called Crimson-winged Woodpecker, and then Afwan saw a silhouette of a woodpecker on a dead palm tree. We were surprised that the woodpecker was a female Javan Flameback, and then the birds flew to another dead palm tree which had many holes.

At that moment we saw a female feeding the chick (Me and Afwan) and male perched on the top of the next dead palm tree. The female flew followed by male. We waited for four hours and they did not show up again. We went back to the home-stay and tried it the next morning.

Woodpecker holes on Dead Palm tree

At 05.00 AM we arrived at the same location as yesterday. While waiting, we played the call of Javan Flameback and Rufous Woodpecker. For a half hour the Javan Flameback finally showed up. A single Rufous Woodpecker came to the Ficus tree near us followed by two other ones.

We enjoyed the behavior, sometimes the birds reacted with the call by ‘drumming’. It’s quite difficult to get a photo because it was always hindered by the leaves. At 07.45 AM the birds flew one by one and left from our scope.

Although birding was low and tough, we finally managed to see four species of woodpeckers, three of which were targets. We drove for five hours to the hotel near Juanda international airport, the next day our Gerard will continue the search for woodpeckers in Sulawesi and Sumatra. Good Luck!

Participant: Waskito Kukuh Wibowo, Gerard Gorman & Afwan Fitria

Additional: On September 17, 2017 I and a few friends revisited Kondang Merak to document the Javan Flameback in the nest tree. Arriving at around 03:15 PM we direct/heading to the nest tree. A few minutes later, no bird activity was observed. I initiated to approach the nest tree to ensure the existence of the bird. We clearly saw the nest-hole of the Javan Flameback. Most likely the young bird has fledged out. Next we headed to the home-stay for staying at night. The next morning we tried to find Gray-and-Buff Woodpecker and Javan Flameback around the home-stay and Jungle Trek.

From 6:30 to 9:00 AM our first trail failed to get the woodpeckers around the home-stay, then we moved to the jungle track. We walked and stopped at some point to play the calls and listen to the respond from the woodpecker. Until we reached the end of the jungle track we heard it was pecking. Soon we scoped the sound source.

Finally we managed to see three Javan Flameback (two males and one female) in one tree. The adults were taking care of the juvenile with a pale red crown. The group was most likely a different family from the other one. We saw their nest in the dead palm trees with a female juvenile.

Systematic List:

1. Anas gibberifrons | Sunda Teal

2. Tachybaptus novaehollandiae | Australasian Grebe

3. Spilopelia chinensis | Spotted Dove

4. Geopelia striata | Zebra Dove

5. Treron griseicauda | Grey-cheeked Green-pigeon

6. Collocalia linchi | Cave Swiftlet

7. Centropus nigrorufus | Javan Coucal

8. Zanclostomus javanicus | Red-billed Malkoha

9. Bubulcus ibis | Cattle Egret

10. Ardea purpurea | Purple Heron

11. Egretta garzetta | Little Egret

12. Charadrius dubius | Little Ringed Plover

13. Charadrius javanicus | Javan Plover

14. Calidris ruficollis | Red-necked Stint

15. Actitis hypoleucos | Common Sandpiper

16. Tringa glareola | Wood Sandpiper

17. Sternula albifrons | Little Tern

18. Spilornis cheela | Crested Serpent-eagle

19. Nisaetus bartelsi | Javan Hawk-eagle

20. Merops philippinus | Blue-tailed Bee-eater

21. Alcedo coerulescens | Cerulean Kingfisher

22. Halcyon cyanoventris | Javan Kingfisher

23. Todiramphus chloris | Collared Kingfisher

24. Psilopogon australis | Yellow-eared Barbet

25. Psilopogon javensis | Black-banded Barbet 26. Psilopogon armillaris | Flame-fronted Barbet

27. Hemicircus concretus | Grey-and-Buff “Liliput” Woodpecker

28. Chrysocolaptes strictus | Javan Flameback

29. Micropternus brachyurus | Rufous Woodpecker

30. Dendrocopos analis | Freckle-breasted Woodpecker

31. Gerygone sulphurea | Golden-bellied Gerygone

32. Pteruthius flaviscapis | Pied Shrike-babbler

33. Pericrocotus miniatus | Sunda Minivet

34. Aegithina tiphia | Common Iora | Heard Only

35. Rhipidura javanica | Sunda Pied Fantail

36. Dicrurus leucophaeus | Ashy Drongo

37. Lanius schach | Long-tailed Shrike

38. Harpactes oreskios | Orange-breasted Trogon

39. Cisticola juncidis | Zitting Cisticola

40. Prinia inornata | Plain Prinia

41. Orthotomus sutorius | Common Tailorbird | Heard Only

42. Hirundo javanica | House Swallow

43. Ixos virescens | Javan Bulbu

44. Pycnonotus dispar | Ruby-throated Bulbul

45. Pycnonotus aurigaster | Sooty-headed Bulbul

46. Pycnonotus bimaculatus | Orange-spotted Bulbul

47. Pycnonotus goiavier | Yellow-vented Bulbul

48. Heleia javanica | Javan Grey-throated White-eye

49. Malacocincla sepiaria | Horsfield’s Babbler | Heard Only

50. Sitta azurea | Blue Nuthatch

51. Eumyias indigo | Indigo Flycatcher

52. Enicurus velatus | Sunda Forktail

53. Enicurus leschenaulti | White-crowned Forktail

54. Ficedula westermanni | Little Pied Flycatcher

55. Arachnothera affinis Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter | Heard Only

56. Lonchura leucogastroides | Javan Munia

57. Passer montanus | Eurasian Tree Sparrow


1. Trachypithecus auratus | Javan Leaf Monkey

2. Callosciurus notatus | Plantain squirrel


1. Varanus salvator bivittatus | Asian Water Monitor

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