The Best Location to See White-rumped Woodpecker!

Some authors have split one of the sub-species of Buff-rumped Woodpecker that lives on Java into full species. It is White-rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tristis).

Basically, at a glance, the two species are relatively the same in size, body shape, call, habits, habitat etc.

Based on the morphological difference in which White-rumped Woodpecker has dominantly black abdominal feathers, stony-white barring and spotting on all areas of plumage, white rump, dense black-and-white barring continuing around eyes and male have a slightly brighter red moustachial stripe than Buff-rumped Woodpecker males.

According to HBW and birdlife, this bird’s threat status is endangered. It is estimated that there are only around 1000 – 2499 individuals present and living in certain areas on the island of Java.

Besides that the habitat has been converted and fragmented, on this basis its status is endangered.

A recent survey conducted in several fragmented forests of West Java, found no existence of this bird. In fact, in October 2014 and October 2015 White-rumped Woodpecker was found in one of the national parks in East Java by Agung Sih Kurniawan, et al.

It is interesting to see the distribution map of this ‘black’ woodpecker in some field guides that look like those found only in West Java and a small part of Central Java.

In 2018, we tried to search in Meru Betiri NP, East Java where Agung met with this species.

Me and Heru Fitriadi tried to search for this endemic for 3 days.

We visited many locations such as grass land, the edge of forest, coconut, rubber; and teak plantations.

On the first two days, we failed to find it. Only managed to see Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker which is very abundant in Meru Betiri NP, especially in coconut plantations. Finally, we looked for rangers and local residents to ask for whereabouts and locations to see this.

Adult female White-rumped Woodpecker

Most of them thought what we were looking for was Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, but there was one local resident who was observant after we showed the difference between White-rumped Woodpecker and the other. He guided us to the last time he met.

On the last afternoon, with him looking for grass for his livestock, we waited in a shelter in the middle of the chinese albizia plantation on the edge of the river.

Every bird that alighted like a woodpecker we scoped straight for almost 1.5 hours.

Until 3:00 p.m. I turned on playback with a feeling of almost despair. Slowly from the back of the shelter there is a voice that is similar to the playback that I play. Initially I thought only the response sound was in the playback, suddenly two woodpeckers flew from behind the shelter to the front.

Suddenly my binoculars aimed at the target, quickly my binoculars lowered and changed to the camera while calling Heru Fitriadi who was looking at the riverbank. I pressed the camera shutter nonstop. This is the bird we were looking for for 3 days at Meru Bert NP, White-rumped Woodpecker.

Heru (left) and local guide sitting on the shelter

Complete, male and female seen together. Both of them respond to my playback sound. His voice is almost no different.

The striking black color on the chest and abdomen makes this bird very frightening.For 2 hours this bird circled around the shelter, until satisfied with observing and taking photos, then at 5.00 pm we decided to go home leaving Meru Betiri NP. So that is the best location in East Java, Indonesia to look at it. If you also want to see them, feel free to contact us.

Birding and Primate Tours in Tanjung Puting NP, Central Borneo

Kalimantan or Borneo is the third largest island in the world.

On this island there are various kinds of diverse habitats, such as lowland rain forests and the famous peat swamp forest.

Here is located the longest river in Indonesia, the Kapuas river, which reaches 1,143 Km.

For biodiversity, Kalimantan is important for the life of one of the great apes in the world, the Bornean Orangutan, which is increasingly threatened by survival because one of them is the destruction of its natural habitat.

As long as I live, only once have I set foot on the island. Precisely in 2010 with friends from university visiting the province of South Kalimantan in the Karst Meratus area.

The main purpose at that time was not for bird watching, but for research on the diversity of bats that live around the Meratus karst.

Indeed, on the sidelines of the research schedule, I took the time to observe birds. But not so many species of birds that I managed to see.

In late March and early April, I had the opportunity to visit the island of the native Dayak tribe, precisely in the province of Central Kalimantan in the area of Sampit and Tanjung Puting National Park.

The main objective this time was for training bird monitoring in Sampit and then followed by a boat trip in Tanjung Puting National Park for birding and primate tours.

Proboscis Monkey foraging at edge of the Sekonyer River

In Sampit, the event is held for 3 days, the location is around the High Conservation Value (HCV) area of one of the oil palm plantation companies.

I share with plantation employees about the techniques of identifying, surveying and monitoring birds, so that they are aware of the diversity and importance of bird species in the wild.

Besides birds, there was also training on monitoring primate and herpetofauna by two other presenters. Before leaving Sampit, we were given the opportunity to share with one of the junior high schools near the HCV area. This is a good activity to introduce awareness to the preservation of birds in the wild to young people.

Students were very enthusiastic to hear stories about bird diversity, primate and herpetofauna in Indonesia, especially on their island of Borneo. After that, I continued my journey to the very popular National Park to see Orangutans along the Sekonyer Kanan river using the “Kelotok” boat.

This trip is managed by Orangutan Applause, a very experienced tour operator taking care of boat trips in the national park. For 3 days and 2 nights guided by Arif who is very professional and knowledgeable about the ins and outs and biodiversity of Tanjung Puting National Park.

Arif had worked for a long time as a research assistant-staff at the research station in the park. Previously, on campus he joined a bird watching club and was involved in water bird surveys for avian influenza.

One of six Common Hill Myna during our trip in Tanjung Puting NP

Armed with this experience, he and his wife opened the Orangutan Applause. For two years 2017-2018 the company received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor. And of course I saw his skills and professionalism in the field.

Although the main menu is primate, his sharp eyes in finding and identifying birds are still extraordinary. We visited 3 Orangutan feeding places including: Tanjung Harapan Camp, Camp Leakey, and Pondok Ambung. During the trip in the river and trekking it was my chance and Arif searched for birds.

Then on the last night there was an opportunity for a short two-hour night trekking in Pondok Ambung to look for night animals. The next day, after breakfast we visited the last location in the Pesalat area for tree planting. During the journey to Pesalat, there is one species of bird that flies following our kelotok.

This bird is one of the targets that I want to see and clearly as a highlight. A total of 7 Storm Stork flew slowly and occasionally soaring like eagles, then overtook the kelotok and entered the forest. What a great prize for my trip to Tanjung Puting.

One of the seven Storm Stork as end-highlight of the tours

For 3 days 2 nights, the following is a list of birds that I noted:

  • Storm Stork
  • Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot
  • Stork-billed Kingfisher
  • Green Broadbill
  • Black-and-red Broadbill
  • Striated Heron
  • Rhinoceros Hornbill
  • Black-winged Kite
  • Wallace’s Hawk-eagle
  • Brahminy Kite
  • Long-tailed Parakeet
  • Glossy Swiftlet
  • Blue-eared Kingfisher
  • Buff-necked Woodpecker
  • Sooty-headed Bulbul
  • Short-tailed Babler
  • Malaysian Pied Fantail
  • Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
  • Crimson Sunbird
  • Common Hill Myna
  • Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
  • Black-and-yellow Broadbill
  • Yellow-vented Flowerpecker
  • Pacific Swallow
  • Spotted Dove
  • Green Imperial Pigeon
  • Greater Coucal
  • Sunda Scops Owl
  • White-throated Kingfisher
  • Blue-eared Kingfisher
  • Blue-thoated Kingfisher
  • Malaysian Honeyguide
  • Banded Woodpecker
  • Green Iora
  • Yellow-vented Bulbul
  • Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler
  • Rufous-tailed Tailorbird
  • Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
  • Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker
  • Brown-throated Sunbird
  • Olive-backed Sunbird
  • Javan Myna
  • Blue-eared Barbet.

Other Taxa:


  • Proboscis Monkey
  • Bornean Orangutan
  • Long-tailed Macaque
  • Bornean White-bearded Gibbon
  • Silvered Langur


  • False gharial