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:
We met the client at 05.00 am 26th August 2019 on his accommodation around Banyuwangi, then we drove to the location. At around 5.45 am, we arrived at the location then we stayed in the partridge feeding station which was built by a local guide.
We spent the whole day there, but unfortunately rainfall started at midday until dusk. Even the partridge did not shown, several birds come to the station such as:
1. Red Junglefowl 2. Javan Banded Pitta 3. Temminck’s Babbler 4. Lesser Shortwing 5. Javan Whistling Thrush 6. Indigo Flycatcher 7. Snowy-browed Flycatcher 8. White-flanked Sunbird 9. White-bellied Fantail 10. Crescent-chested Babbler 11. Sunda Cuckooshrike and above us there is a fruiting tree that attract 12. Wreathed Hornbill 13. Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon 14. Grey-cheeked Green-pigeon and, 15. Pink-headed Fruit-dove.
So, after dropping off the clients on his accommodation we agreed to go on the next day. Started at the same time as yesterday but arrived earlier at 5.30 am.
Sat and waited again in the station while we enjoyed breakfast, coffee and tea. The weather was better than yesterday.
At 8.20 am we heard the partridge in the distance, then we played the playback. Slow but sure, the sound of the partridge came closer to the station.
Then at 8.40 am we heard the partridge so loud to the left of the station and came closer. Finally, a pair of White-faced Partridge came into the station.
Enjoyed when it was foraging in front of us for about 5 minutes. That was a very proper view of this partridge that was requested by our client.
Satisfied with that, we decided to go outside from the station. The local guide told us that he knows the roosting site of Javan Frogmouth. Just 200 meters away from the station, we saw three Javan Frogmouths perched on the same horizontal branch.
Before midday we tried another station, but until 11.00 am the partridge did not shown. So, we decided to have lunch at a local restaurant and the two birding tours in mount Ijen, Banyuwangi, East Java ended.
We have a successful four day birding tour in East Java, starting from 10 – 13 August 2019 for Germany clients. Three birding locations were visited, such as Bromo Tengger Semeru NP, around Probolinggo and Baluran NP.
114 bird species managed to collect in the tour list.
On the first day, we met up in Juanda international airport of Surabaya, East Java. The flight was delayed, so around 6.00 pm I started driving to the accommodation near the Bromo Tengger Semeru NP. So, the night just for rest and overnight.
Then, on the second day we started at very early morning, 04.00 am. The client has a special request to see the sunrise with the landscape of Bromo, Batok, Semeru and other mountains.
This is a famous location for a typical visitor in this national park.
Arriving at the sunrise view point at 5.15 am, we still get the first light of the day. Luckily, the weather was so bright and clear.
Spent for half an hour, then we had breakfast and coffee time at a small canteen around the viewpoint.
After that, we drove to the sand sea below the view point. Stop by to explore the birds around.
Our next stop is Ranu Pani village. We have to change the vehicle from a Jeep into an MPV car in that village.
Nothing left in the first vehicle, then we drove down in lower altitude step by step while looking for birds.
In the afternoon we have to transfer to the next accommodation in Lumajang, East Java.
Check in and dinner at the restaurant of the hotel, finished at 7.30 pm. Then we went to our rooms overnight.
We had a long drive on the third day.
After breakfast, we started driving to the next birding location in Probolinggo.
Arrived at 9.15 am, then we birded in a lowland area where the habitat is mangrove and estuary.
At 11.15 am continue driving to the last birding location in Baluran NP. Stop by the restaurant for lunch.
We still have a time when we arrive in Baluran, so we enter the forest and birded until dusk.
Same as the second day, dinner provided by the accommodation. Eat dinner, then go to bed.
On the last day, we started at 5.00 am and entered Baluran NP.
First stop was the monsoon forest before Bekol grassland-like-savannah when the birds perched, singing and drying up for the first light.
While enjoying the birds passing by from where we stopped, coffee and tea were served to our clients and team.
Then at 8.00 am changed the location to Bekol savanna and birding trek in Bama beach.
AT 11.00 am the birds were low activity, so we broke for lunch at the canteen after Bama beach.
Start birded at 1.00 pm in Bekol savanna until 3.30 pm.
The tour ended when we dropped off the clients in their accommodation inside Bali Barat NP, Bali.
During the birding tours, we nailed 114 birds species with the highlight:
On the first day we met up in the airport hotel in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, East Java at 07:00 am. Then we drove to a hotel in Malang near the national park. Arrived at around 11:00 am in the hotel, checked in and dropped our luggage and kept our birding stuff.
Then we drove for a half hour to the first location in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
The weather was so good in the locations where raptors are usually recorded, but that day is Sunday in one of the popular national parks in Indonesia where so many visitors came to holiday.
We tried to walk and avoid the crowd while keeping our eyes on the sky, searching for any raptors which may fly.
Until afternoon we just managed to see one species of raptor, Changable Hawk-eagle.
Then we went back to the hotel overnight.
On the second day, after we packed our breakfast we started to move to a second location in the same national park.
It takes 3 hours to drive to reach it.
The altitude of the second locations is lower than before, it’s about 100-200 asl surrounded by lowland forest and plantation.
We spent the time here until afternoon and the result was much better.
Oriental Honey-buzzard, Black-thighed Falconet, and the endemic Javan Hawk-eagle recorded so well.
Before dark we went back to the same hotel to stay.
On the third day, after breakfast and check out from the hotel, we tried again in the same location as the first day.
We’re back in around 1400 above sea level at the ridge surrounded by the vast rainforest of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. We spent from 07:00 – 11:30 am, the weather was bright and good for raptor.
After waiting for about 2,5 hours, a raptor was soaring on top of the hill quite far from us. An adult Javan Hawk-eagle encountered again.
Not long after, a Black Eagle floated just above us with a distance of about 10 meters.
After saw the Black Eage then we changed birding location to Raden Suryo Greater Park Forestry, Batu, East Java.
Arrived at 02:30 pm then hung out around twin bridges, a good place to spot Raptor from any direction surrounded by good rain forest.
This location is on the west slope of Mt. Welirang at around 1.200 asl.
Until almost dark we’re just managed to see Changable Hawk-eagle in this last location.
Then we drove to a hotel around Batu city, East Java.
On the last day we changed the plan to not birding or looking like raptor but just drop off the clients to the airport in Surabaya.
So, during 29 June – 02 July 2019 raptor that we managed to see are:
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 HBW.com 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 byAgung 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.
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.
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 tocontact us.
We have good news of Grey-backed Myna this month by encountering their successful breeding in one of the remaining safe areas.
For two days at the end of the rainy season, we get good and clear weather.
This endemic to the eastern part of Java island is known to be nested in February and June in east Java island and there is no more information about the breeding period (hbw.com).
The birds that we encountered used a hole in a dead palm tree, around Baluran NP, East Java on March 15-16, 2019. Height of the nest is about 10 meters away from ground level.
The nest hole is not circular, instead it tends to be rectangular with dimensions of around 8 x 17 cm. Inside the nest hole we saw 2 young birds, those who are ready to fledgling can be seen from their complete feathers.
We observed quite far from the nest.
Adults are always close to the nest and look for meals for their chicks no more than a 500-meter radius from the nest.
We saw one of the adults pick small insects like a cricket on the ground around the palm trees.
On the last day, the chicks actively looking out around the nest. Respond to the call of their parents.
Almost all endemic birds in Java island can be found in western part of this island. Birders will stay longer to swipe up on them in Gede Pangrango NP, Halimun Salak NP, around Carita and north-coast of Jakarta-West Java.
Even so, still left 2 species to catch up in eastern Java to complete all endemics. There are Grey-backed Myna Acridotheres tricolor and Grey-breasted Partridge Arborophila orientalis.
The myna is relatively easy to find. You can put effort in Baluran or Alas Purwo NP to find it.
The partridge is another exception.
You can hear it sounds loudly, but it is very difficult to see. So damn elusive species.
This species lives from Yang to Ijen mountains. Most birders came to Ijen, which is close to other main birding areas, so much data of this species is even heard-only or sight.
Yesterday (March 13, 2019) I visited Mt. Ijen took some pictures of the partridge.
Local guides at their successful made feeding site for this species that is also known as White-faced / Grey-breasted Hill / Horsfield’s Hill-partridge.
As his information, the birds show up about 3 times such as at around 06.00-07.00, 13.00-14.00, and 15.00-16.00.
Heavy rainfall in the morning until 11.30 then becomes shower rain.
We entered the site at 12.00.
While waiting for the rain to stop, we enjoyed our coffee.
At 13.30 the rain stopped for a while, so we tried to play the sound records.
15 minutes later, a medium sized-bulky bird (about 28 cm) climbed up to a big fallen tree in front of us.
Then followed by 5 other birds, it was a very clear view and just about 8 meters away from us was blocked by a camouflage tent.
A group of Grey-breasted Partridge foraging the meals which we have put before.
We’re just silent while clicking the shutter of the camera.
They spent 10 minutes foraged then disturbed by other birds, such as Javan Whistling-thrush, Horsfied’s Thrush, and Snowy-browed Flycatcher.
The final encounter that day was a single female almost eaten by Javan Mongoose at 16.30. It’s run away then we also pack our stuff, out from the hide and head back to home.
Now this elusive partridge is stable and easy to see, drop us amessage if you want to encounter this mega target of East Java endemic.
Finished accompanied by a friend from Hong Kong to photograph Kingfisher around Malang, East Java. During April 26 – 29th 2018 we visited four birding locations.
The main target of this trip is the Indonesian endemic, Cerulean Kingfisher Alcedo coerulescens which can be found in Streams, canals, ponds, swamps, tidal estuaries, mudflats, mangroves, fish ponds, flooded paddyfields; from coast up to 800 m along South Sumatra through Java, Kangean Is and Bali to Lombok and Sumbawa; recorded also on Flores.
On the first day, Kevin and I met at Javan Banded Pitta’s site in Tretes, East Java that was managed by Heru Cahyono (Malang Birding Tours) in the afternoon. Before dark we move to a hotel in Batu city, dinner on the way.
Starting early in the morning we visited Batu Apple Farm to take pictures of Javan Kingfisher until 8.00 am. We have to hurry to reach the main target location on the south coast of Malang.
After lunch we arrived, then put up camouflage-tent around the fish-pond which is our favorite perch for.
About 30 minutes later, Cerulean Kingfsiher perch in 8 meter ahead. Along the afternoon the shutter was not stop clicking.
On the last day, we only have time until lunch time for the last target in the estuary area of south Malang. Ruddy Kingfisher.
Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda has widespread distribution, from NE China through Sulawesi island.
In Java (H.c. minor) this species has a few records, seems rare to find. In Kondang Merak, south Malang has many records compared to other locations in Java island but still challenging. The race minor is very small than the other, much darker, washed with violet, large silvery rump patch.
Quickly we waited in the location which usually this bird encountered. We were disturbed by the passing of other visitors, several of them curious with us. Until really quiet at around 10.30 am the Ruddy Kingfisher appeared.
Kevin took many shots, he even had time to change lenses because the birds perch to close about 3 meters away.
2 hours stayed in front of the tent, until Kevin was satisfied, then we had a long drive to his hotel in Surabaya before he took off back to Hong Kong the next day.
We have been visited by friends from England during his research in Java, Indonesia. He accompanied by local teams drove to our base-camp in Batu city, East Java. Suddenly the next day (July 7th 2018) we went to the Cangar hot spring part of Tahura R. Soeryo, indeed for birding!
With 9 people in the group, we started looking at the birds around the Cangar hot spring. The weather was so good and very cool for us, but not for Harry.
Any tourist attractions would be visited by many visitors. We also experienced that condition on that day. So we tried to hike in a jungle track behind the hot spring.
The length of the circular track is about 1 Km, with a fairly steep incline at the beginning and before half the length of the track.
We stopped for a while in front of a Japanese cave, scanned all directions and paid attention to every movement of leaves or twigs, hoping there was a bird behind the movement.
The pace of the trip was so dynamic, at the beginning we just saw a few bird species then after leaving the Japanese cave, we were stopped by a mix flocks. Then when we are at the half of the track, the birds become low again until the end of the track.
Orange-breasted Trogon was the main target for Harry, but only 3 of us successfully encountered it and made Harry Jealous.
This happened when I invited Harry and 5 other friends to chase the bird’s sounds, while three other friends waited on the main track. When we were near the source of the sounds, the bird even went out to near 3 of our friends.
Highlights of the day were:
1. Four individuals Javan Yellownape Chrysophlegma mentale.
– Saw around Japanese Cave, possibly 2 young and a pair of adults.
2. Pink-headed Fruit-dove Ptilinopus porphyreus
– Single female bird near the Japanese Cave
3. Black-banded Barbet
– Single bird near the Japanese Cave and 2 before half of the jungle track.
The rest of bird-list is below.
I invited the groups for lunch in Sendi, to taste local food called Nasi Jagung (corn rice) equipped with salted fish, tofu, tempe, water spinach and sambal. Then we moved to jembatan Cangar (Twin Bridge) for dessert, which was Tape Ketan (fermented black sticky rice).
While we enjoyed the dessert, we waited for the Javan Hawk-eagle. Sadly the birds was not shown, only a single male White-flanked Sunbird seen by me.
At around 2.30 pm, we agreed to finish the trip and head back home.
Although birding this time was quite chaotic, at least Harry got 3-4 lifers and enjoyed the birding and also the food on the sidelines of his research.