Luckily, our short visit to Baluran National Park at the end of last May managed to find Black-winged Kite’s nest. In Indonesia, records of nesting of this bird are very rare. Without waiting for a long time, we set up blind hiding. With this blind hiding, we hope to be able to observe the kite’s nesting behavior without disturbing it.
Like other small eagles, Black-winged Kite nests are placed on trees that are not too high. About 7 meters from the ground. Placed on the Acacia nilotica tree, where almost the entire trunk of the tree is filled with thorns and densely thorny small branches. It seems that no predator can reach the nest position with the tree conditions like that.
Both parents look have great communication each other in guarding the nest and caring for the chicks. The female males take turns entering the nest to feed, dispose of pellets and/or monitor the condition of the chicks. Both of them are often seen perched away from the nest tree to monitor from a distance while distracting intruders, including us. As the name suggests, the main food that is brought into the nest is mice. We haven’t encountered any prey other than rats during our observations.
During 24, 30, 31 December 2022 and 01 January 2023 we have clients from Vietnam who want to birding in Jogja and Banyuwangi.
Yogyakarta or Jogja
Our first birding tour was in Yogyakarta or simply called Jogja.
We went to Gunung Merapi National Park to kick off the tour. Due to the activity of Merapi volcano we visited
Turgo hills, one of the prime birding locations around the national park that is still in the safe zone.
Start at around 6.00 AM in the parking area. The weather was shower rain and cloudy but we encountered some brilliant birds such as: Blood-breasted Flowerpecker, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Olive-backed Tailorbird, Scarlet Minivet, Yellow-breasted Hanging Parrot fly over us, including two rare birds are Sangkar White-eye and Javan Leafbird.
Then we moved to the lower section of the hills, where we could see lava lane and Merapi volcano. Even though the weather is cloudy, the views of the volcano are so clear. Our clients enjoyed it!
Here we found Sooty-headed Bulbul, Crested Serpent-eagle, Ashy Drongo, Orange-spotted Bulbul and spectacular views of an endemic Black-banded Barbet.
Our plan was just birding around the lower section. We attempted to hike some but the birding was slow and quiet. After discussion we decided to move to the next location.
We arrived in Jatimulyo village at around 11.00 AM, and soon we transferred to the hide/blind of Oriental-dwarf Kingfisher. The kingfisher came in just a few minutes and in very close distance. After enjoying the kingfisher we had our lunch in Kopi Sulingan.
Our lunch is Javanese traditional food called “Nasi Tumpeng”, the clients are so happy with that. Following the lunch we serve local bird-friendly coffee from the village. Enjoyed our coffee while Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Little Spiderhunter, Olive-backed/Ornate Sunbird, and the brilliant endemic Javan Sunbird came to the garden.
After that we continued afternoon birding around the village. We went to another bird-hide. Same as the previous hide, we did not wait longer to see Horsfield’s Babbler, Rufous-browed Babbler and the critically endangered endemic Javan Blue-flycatcher.
We were lucky with the afternoon weather, continued our walk around the village and packed several birds into our list including: Oriental Honey-buzzard, Black-naped Monarch, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Ruby-throated Bulbul.
We had 3 days in Banyuwangi, East Java on 30, 31 December 2022 and 01 January 2023.
On the first day our client planned to hike Ijen crater to see Blue Fire and the views up the volcano. We started in the morning at 01.40 AM and shortly we arrived at the blue fire spot at 04.50 AM.
Enjoy the views then we start climbing down the volcano while birding. We packed several special birds such as Sunda Grasshopper Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Javan Grey-throated White-eye, Mountain White-eye, Olive-backed Tailorbird, Mugimaki Flycatcher, and Crescent-chested Babbler.
We moved to a grassland area and added Striated Grassbird into our list. At lunch time we got an open view of Javan Kingfisher.
After lunch, we transferred our clients to the hotel for rest.
On the second day, we visited Alas Purwo National Park at the southern-east of the island. Start birding at 06.00 AM while enjoying morning coffee. We just saw a Yellow-throated Hanging-parrot fly over us. Soon we moved to Sadengan grassland. Around the parking area we saw Green Peafowl, Slender-billed Crow, Red-billed Malkoha.
There are plenty of Banteng (Bos javanicus) grazing in the grassland and several birds such as Lesser Adjutant, Asian Woollyneck, Javan Myna, Collared Kingfisher and Cattle Egret.
Then we walked to a birding track. Lots of fallen tree branches and twigs, possibly there was a storm the previous day. Birding was slow, added Ruby-throated Bulbul, Mangrove Whistler and Great Slaty Woodpecker to the list.
Move to Pancur beach for lunch in a food stall. We got Green Imperial Pigeon and clear views of Wreathed Hornbill foraging in palm trees near the stall. We took about 45 minutes to enjoy and photograph the hornbill.
We went back to the grassland then it rained. After the rains stop we want to try to get better views and some photographs of the woodpecker in the birding trek. We stopped for a while when Javan Broadbill responded to our playback.
We failed to photograph the woodpecker but at least one of our clients saw it clearly. Continue our drive to the hotel for rest.
Our last day in Banyuwangi was so challenging. Birding in Baluran National Park when so many tourists came to celebrate a new year in grassland like savannah Bekol and Bama beach.
Luckily, our guide had some birding locations where other tourists did not enter the area.
We spent the morning started at 05.30 AM and packed several birds to the list such as: Javan Cuckooshrike, Green Junglefowl, Short-tailed Starling, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Ruddy Cuckoo-dove, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Collared Kingfisher, Red-breasted Parakeet, Black-naped Monarch, Long-tailed Shrike before the crowds come.
Then we had an early lunch in a food stall near the Bama beach.
After lunch we did not enter the birding trek due the crowds. Decided to take a nap in the ranger office and wait for the afternoon section.
There is a small swamp outside the national park around paddy fields and fish ponds. We went there for our last afternoon birding.
Our target was Cerulean Kingfisher, but after trying to find one we failed to get one. From here we listed Javan Pond-heron, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Scaly-breasted Munia, and Common Moorhen on the nest.
When we drove back to the hotel in Banyuwangi, we stopped for a while to photograph the Rock Pigeon race in the paddy fields.
Transferred our clients to their hotel in Banyuwangi and the birding tours ended.
During the 4 days birding tours in Jogja and Banyuwangi we collected 84 birds including other wildlife, here is the list in below:
This was a one-day birding trip that planned suddenly when we were still on a trip to Probolinggo. Our British clients asked to do so in Baluran NP on January 24, 2019.
The trip started at 06.00 am by meeting up at their accommodation next to the national park. We drove into the national park and stop-by for look at the birds. In the morning the weather was bright even though it’s in the rainy season. Baluran is famous for its dryness with yellowish vegetation but on this trip, it all looks green and dense.
As planned we stopped in the middle of the journey to Bekol, where there was a bird perched on a tree. Rushed out of the vehicle then saw binoculars to identify it. The bird is an Orange-breasted Fruit-dove. Then from behind us, there were 3 birds that were the same as the ones we saw at the beginning. Slowly the sounds of the birds around us were heard and one by one began to appear.
Sooty-headed Bulbul, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Island Collared Dove, Long-tailed Shrike, Cave Swiftlet, Common Tailorbird, Black Drongo and Racket-tailed Treepie nailed to identify.
Before the birds get low, we continue to drive in. Not long after, a Green Junglefowl crossed the road in front. We really got a clear view from this striking male. The Green Junglefowl is plenty and easy to find in Baluran, while the Red Junglefowl is less frequent, but we managed to see a male who was scavenging the ground in a roadside bush.
At 08.30 am we arrived in Bekol savanna or at this moment better to mention the Bekol grassland. Not too many visitors around, also birds begin to quiet as the intense sun. We only saw Spotted Dove flying and noisy Common Iora. Slowly head towards Bama beach.
In the middle of the Bekol-Bama road, we stopped to look around. On the north side, there is a dead Gebang tree and there are several holes in the top. Suddenly there was a medium-sized black-and-white bird coming out of the hole. Moments later the object landed on the tree for a long time, we managed to recognize the bird was Grey-backed Myna.
Our clients were very happy to meet this critically endangered species after encountering the Junglefowl earlier. Satisfied with the Myna, the journey continues until Bama beach.
Before entering the Bama coastal forest, stop in the small canteen for coffee and tea. At 9:30 a.m., I began to walk into the Bama beach forest bird watching trail. Slowly one by one we saw the Oriental-pied Hornbill. Its size is quite large, noisy, in groups making it easy to see at the dense canopy of the Bama beach forest.
Suddenly the dominant red-sized small object flew around us and then landed 300 meters in the bush right after us. When it’s perched, it’s clearly visible through binoculars and scope, birds with long; straight and dagger-like bill; short legs. An Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, another delightful sighting that day.
Other birds we saw here were Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, Green Imperial Pigeon, Cerulean Kingfisher, and Olive-backed Tailorbird.
The sky began to turn into black clouds at 1:00 p.m. With 23 bird species on record we decided to end this trip and rush out of the national park to our clients’ lodging with satisfaction.
We were so happy after a successful trip with clients from the US. During April 4 – 7th 2018 between their honeymoon in Indonesia, together we were birding in Bali and East Java. The tours were fantastic with a total of 118 species, also main target Bali Myna and Javan-hawk Eagle success to be recorded. 90% of the birds we found were new for Casey and Versha.
The tours started in Bali where we visited main birding locations such as around Bedugul Botanical Gardens and Bali Barat National Park. Then the following day we visited great forests around mount Ijen and savanna like grassland in Baluran NP and Alas Purwo NP. Casey and Versha were amazed with the habitat in each birding location and they enjoyed the pace of the tours.
Here the itinerary of the tours:
Day 1 – April 4th 2018 Meet up at hotel in Benoa, Bali at 5.00 am then drive to Bedugul Botanic Garden in search of montane birds. Arrived here at 7.00 am, then we birding until 11.00 am. Lunch at a small restaurant near the locations, 00.30 pm continue birding around lake Beratan and Buyan. Suddenly the rain fell so we decided to change the birding area in Bali Barat NP for the main target, Bali Myna/Starling.
We were so lucky, when we arrived the rain stopped and the wild (no rings on its legs) Bali Myna perched on the rooftop near the parking area. We spent just 30 minutes then looking at other birds in another part of Bali Barat NP while we drove to the port of Gilimanuk.
Before dawn we took a ferry and crossed the Bali strait. Then drive to the Grand Harvest Resort near Mount Ijen. We stayed overnight here before boarding Mount Ijen the next day.
Day 2 – April 5th 2018
Check out from the hotel then drive for 30 minutes to the forest around mount Ijen. When we arrived, we quickly looked for the most targeted birds in Ijen, Grey-breasted Partridge. Sadly, we only heard after hanging up for half an hour. Continue looking at other montane birds. Lunch in Paltuding (entrance ticket to hike mount Ijen), where plenty of small restaurants are available. After that at 00.30 pm drive down while stopping by in search of endemics and others.
At 02.00 pm we finished birding in mount Ijen, then we drove to the small marshes near Baluran NP. Our target is Asian Golden Weaver, successfully added to our list. After dinner we stayed in Watu Dodol for the next two nights.
Day 3 – April 6th 2018
After breakfast we went to Baluran NP, while driving-in the park we stopped in an evergreen area. Then we continue looking for other lowland birds in the mangrove area until 11.00 am. Lunch at a small canteen near the Bama beach, after that Versha wanted to enjoy the sea while we rested for a while. In the afternoon, drive-out then stop in Bekol savannah-like grassland to enjoy the sunset.
Day 4 – April 7th 2018 We had a long drive on the last day. In the morning at 6.30 am we arrived in Alas Purwo NP at the south-eastern part of the island. First location was Sadengan grassland. We enjoyed our morning coffee while Banteng was grazing in front of us. We were birding in Alas Purwo until 9.00 am the drive out to a restaurant at Banyuwangi before we took ferries to cross Bali strait again.
111 species is ‘lifer’ or new for Casey, all kingfishers on this trip become Versha’s favorites, also the Long-tailed Macaque and Javn-leaf Monkey / Javan Langur. Here the highlight birds and the systematic list:
Highlights of the trip:
1. Bali Myna (Starling) Leucopsar rothschildi
Found in Teluk Trima, Bali Barat NP. 1 wild bird and about 10 individuals with rings on its legs.
2. Javan Hawk-eagle Nisaetus bartelsi
Single adult bird was soaring in the forest around Mount Ijen.
With the large number of kingfishers (8 of 14 kingfisher in Java) in one area (we called “One Stop Birding”), making Baluran more attractive and valuable to visit, especially for birding and bird-photography.
Kingfisher has wide distribution around the world, though concentrated in the Southern Hemisphere continents, the kingfishers are well-known as fish-eaters, but despite their name, most members of this family take a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate prey. Characteristics are cartoon include a relatively large head with a long dagger-shaped bill, short legs and weak feet, in which the second and third front toes are fused at the base. Beside the unique it forms, all kingfishers has colorful feathers made this creatures are one of photogenic birds in front of lenses bird-photographer. One example, Alan McFadyen a wildlife photographer from Scotland has spent patience for six years since 2009 (about 4200 hours and produced 720 thousand photos) to get the perfect photo of Common Kingfisher.
At the end of 2016, Heru Fitriadi photographed Ruddy Kingfisher in Baluran National Park for the first time. Heru is local residents who live in the Wonorejo village, directly adjacent to the National Park. Increasingly the number of birds in Baluran National Park added from the record of Ruddy Kingfisher, as well as the number of species of kingfisher. Heru meet this bird in Bama beach while searching for Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. Did not find it, suddenly he saw a red figure perched on a branch that is not too high from the ground. Then he approached the object, and with his camera he took some portraits and eventually knows that a red figure is Ruddy Kingfisher. The next day he revisited the area again but the bird did not appears until today. Besides Ruddy Kingfisher, Baluran National Park has seven others, there are:
1. Collared Kingfisher
Undoubtedly the commonest kingfisher in Indonesia, and probably the whole of south-east Asia, this species is a familiar sight on overhead wires and telegraph poles in cities, towns and other anthropogenic habitats. In Baluran, it is almost annoyingly abundant, occupying every available habitat, although it is rarely seen in the savanna. Its raucous call, usually given from an exposed tree perch, betrays its presence throughout the day. On the coast, at low tide, is often seen perched on isolated rocks or tree stumps on mudflats, habitats shared with the somewhat similar, migratory Sacred Kingfisher.
2. Sacred Kingfisher
A breeding resident of Australia, this species migrates north and west during the austral winter to New Guinea and much of Indonesia, including Java and Bali, but only occasionally reaching as far as Sumatra. In Java it is common along the coast from April to September, and in Baluran, is mainly associated with mangrove forests. It typically perches on low branches and aerial roots of mangrove trees, but also often alights on mudflats and sandy beaches, as well as moored boats and poles.
3. Cerulean Kingfisher
Also called Small Blue Kingfisher, this species is endemic to Indonesia, being found only from Sumatra to Sumbawa. In Baluran, it is common in coastal mangrove forests as well as fish ponds, and is often seen perched low on mangrove stilt roots or on the top of stumps or poles in the middle of ponds, from whence it dives into the water to catch aquatic invertebrates and small fish. In such open habitats, it can also be seen flying from one location to another, like a bullet travelling just above the water surface.
4. Blue-eared Kingfisher
This species has the largest geographical range of the local dwarf kingfishers, stretching from India to Sulawesi and Lombok. In Baluran, however, it is not an easy bird to find due to its small population and restricted distribution, apparently limited to the dense littoral forest at Bama and along Bajulmati River. Here it perches unobtrusively on horizontal branches or roots just above the water, periodically plunging into the water to spear small fish, which are then carried to another perch, bashed against the substrate until dead, then swallowed head first.
5. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Ranging from Peninsular Malaysia through the Greater Sundas to Sumba, this beautiful species is one of the latest additions to the Baluran checklist. It was first found in Baluran in 2011, when one individual was seen on Curah Uling, a rain-fed river in evergreen forest, and in Manting block coastal forest. This species normally lives in the vicinity of streams and pools within lowland forest, where it feeds on aquatic insects and small fish. As with other dwarf kingfishers, while watching for prey this bird often jerkily bobs its head, while keeping the rest of the body perfectly motionless. As the Rufous-backed Kingfisher hybridizes with the more widely-distributed ‘Black-backed Kingfisher’ in several parts of its range, both are now usually treated as subspecies of a single species, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (C. erithaca).
6. Banded Kingfisher
The only member of its genus, this species is unusual among kingfishers in that the female has a completely different plumage to the male. A denizen of lowland and hill forest, it ranges from Thailand through the Greater Sundas, but is generally rare in Java and entirely absent from Bali. In Baluran, it is possibly the rarest of the kingfishers, having been recorded only from the crater of Mount Baluran. It prefers undisturbed forest with a dense canopy, where it perches at a range of heights, and feeds on various grounddwelling invertebrates and lizards.
7. Javan Kingfisher
This beautiful and most elusive kingfishers is found only on Java and Bali, yet is surprisingly common in wetlands and fields throughout these islands. Widely-distributed in Baluran, it is easiest to observe in open habitats such as paddy-fields, yet is also occurs in forest with dense canopy such as in the crater of Mount Baluran. Perching on a low branch or at the top of a pole or thatched roof of a pondok (cottage), it swoops down on its prey, which consists of eels, frogs, lizards and large insects (Mason and Jarvis 1989).