REDISCOVERED the Mutis Parrotfinch in West Timor, Indonesia

In the book of “Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago – Greater Sundas and Wallacea” written by Eaton J., et al which was published in 2017, stated that there are 18 species of birds that have not been scientifically described. Of these 16 are split species and the two remaining are newly discovered.

One of them is “Mutis/Timor Parrotfinch” Erythrura sp. nov, which was first discovered and documented by James Eaton in the Euclyptus forest around Mount Mutis, West Timor in 2012. After the first encounter, other birders also tried to find this parrotfinch without a legal Indonesian name in the same location, even some researchers who try to get holotype to be officially described.

On August 12, 2018, the birdpacker team (Swiss Winasis, Waskito Kukuh and Nurdin Setio) visited Fatumnasi village which is located at the foot of Mount Mutis. Guided by Sam, son-in-law of local village chief Mateos Anin, we tried to explore the birds there with the main target “Mutis Parrotfinch”.

Sam often guides overseas bird watchers, showing that some of the main locations that are commonly visited to see the parrotfinch which perhaps most closely resemble Red-eared Parrotfinch E. coloria that are currently only known from Mindanao in the Philippines, 2,000 km away.

The book states that this parrotfinch is usually observed alone or in pairs and rarely mixes with Tricoloured Parrotfinch E. tricolor which is quite common in West Timor. The place for food its foraging almost the same, from the bottom of the forest, shrubs to Eucalyptus top canopy. So far, this bird is found at an altitude of 1400-1850 asl.

It is quite difficult to find this bird, its small size; green dominant body; and the sound is very similar to its brother. Starting from morning to noon we visited 3 spots that usually have some records. Until we decide on the 4th spot to wait longer until late afternoon.

While making coffee and instant noodles on the spot while sharpening your ears and eyes, prepare for the sound or appearance of the main target. Until the supplies we make are finished and packed, we have not seen it coming. Then we decided to go back and repeat the luck tomorrow.

However, just shifted about 50 meters suddenly Sam and Swiss, who happened to walk more in front stopped and then lifted the camera. The shutter starts to sound without a word mentioning the name of the bird.

Waskito and Nurdin just kept quiet and did not make disturbing movements. After a while there was a small green object from the bush flying up to the middle canopy then perched on one of its branches. Simultaneously the two people behind lifted the binoculars and cameras slowly. Together the shutter flare alternately sounds for almost 2 minutes. After that, the object flew leaving the four of us, spontaneously we immediately shouted relieved that the object was a adult male Mutis Parrotfinch who we were looking for all day. “Yeeaaaahhhh … !!!”

Adult female Mutis Parrotfinch encountered in second day near the same spot
Adult female Mutis Parrotfinch encountered on the second day near the same spot.

On the second day, we tried again to repeat the same place earlier and pass by shortcut to arrive quickly. About 100 meters before the destination, we met female birds completing our search for a mysterious parrotfinch from the mountain forest of Mutis.

The difficulty of finding this bird is, like the literature, it moves solitaire; small size with ripe green; and a sound that is almost similar to the Tricoloured Parrotfinch “psssttt … psssttt” in flight. But it can be guarantee, this bird really exists!

Bima, Sumbawa Island

Birding in part of Lesser Sunda archipelago that many people, even Indonesian, are still confused with Sumbawa and Sumba, it’s a totally different island!. It lies adjacent to Lombok and west-north of Sumba. Bima is the eastern part of Sumbawa island.

Duration to birding: 3-4 Days.

There are three birding spots to clean up bird list on the Bima area:

1. Madapangga Nature Reserve

TWA Madapangga is located in the west of Bima city with a distance of about 45 Km or takes about 1 hour drive by car. The area of 232 Hectares is administratively in the village of Ndano, Bolo sub-district, Bima district, West Nusa Tenggara Province.

This nature park is a source of water for the dryness of the surrounding area. Residents around the area are very dependent on the river and its springs. In the morning and evening could meet with residents who bathe or wash clothes in the river that is located exactly on the road which connects Bima with Sumbawa city. The topography of this location is generally hilly with a slope of 15 – 40 degrees, only a small part is a relatively flat area with varying heights from 200 to 600 m above sea level.

Birding spots are relatively easy to reach, such as following the loop-track of the camping ground, around the river, and garden of the pool. We tried all those spots while we were there. Elegant Pitta, White-rumped Kingfisher, and Flame-breasted Sunbird are the icons for the area.

2. Degradated forest around Kaowa village

Kaowa, Lambitu, Bima, Sumbawa island

Flores Hawk-eagle often recorded here. Lambitu sub-district 2 hours heading to the east of central Bima city. In this hilly village is widely used as a garden or farm area by residents with the rest of the monsoon forest on each hilltop. Birding spots are located around the village water springs and the edge of forests after farm areas close enough to residents’ houses.

3. Sape

Located at eastern-coast of Bima city, take to 1 hours and 30 minutes (50 Km) drive time from city center. The habitat for looking birds in Sape is around river with dense vegetation. Perfect for looking at Nusa Tenggara Paradise Flycatcher. Also around coastline for waterbirds.

Transportation and Accomodation

Birding will be easy especially to reach the birding spot in Bima by hiring a car that is available in Bima city. We recommend staying in Hotel around in Bima city since the birding spot is not far enough.

No.English NameScientific Name
1.Orange-footed ScrubfowlMegapodius reinwardt
2.Asian Blue QuailSynoicus chinensis
3.Red JunglefowlGallus gallus
4.Green JunglefowlGallus varius
5.Wandering Whistling-duckDendrocygna arcuata
6.Lesser Whistling-duckDendrocygna javanica
7.Pacific Black DuckAnas superciliosa
8.Sunda TealAnas gibberifrons
9.Little GrebeTachybaptus ruficollis
10.Sunda Collared-doveStreptopelia bitorquata
11.Metallic PigeonColumba vitiensis
12.Eastern Spotted DoveSpilopelia chinensis
13.Ruddy Cuckoo-doveMacropygia emiliana
14.Little Cuckoo-doveMacropygia ruficeps
15.Barred DoveGeopelia maugeus
16.Nicobar PigeonCaloenas nicobarica
17.Grey-capped Emerald DoveChalcophaps indica
18.Pink-necked Green-pigeonTreron vernans
19.Flores Green-pigeonTreron floris
20.Green Imperial-pigeonDucula aenea
21.Dark-backed Imperial-pigeonDucula lacernulata
22.Black-naped Fruit-dovePtilinopus melanospilus
23.Black-backed Fruit-dovePtilinopus cinctus
24.Large-tailed NightjarCaprimulgus macrurus
25.Savanna NightjarCaprimulgus affinis
26.Glossy SwiftletCollocalia esculenta
27.Edible-nest SwiftletAerodramus fuciphagus
28.Pacific SwiftApus pacificus
29.Lesser CoucalCentropus bengalensis
30.Western KoelEudynamys scolopaceus
31.Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckooChalcites basalis
32.Shining Bronze-cuckooChalcites lucidus
33.Brush CuckooCacomantis variolosus
34.Large Hawk-cuckooHierococcyx sparverioides
35.Oriental CuckooCuculus saturatus
36.Sunda CuckooCuculus lepidus
37.Red-legged CrakeRallina fasciata
38.White-breasted WaterhenAmaurornis phoenicurus
39.White-browed CrakeAmaurornis cinerea
40.WatercockGallicrex cinerea
41.Purple SwamphenPorphyrio porphyrio
42.Common MoorhenGallinula chloropus
43.Dusky MoorhenGallinula tenebrosa
44.Asian WoollyneckCiconia episcopus
45.Royal SpoonbillPlatalea regia
46.Yellow BitternIxobrychus sinensis
47.Cinnamon BitternIxobrychus cinnamomeus
48.Black-crowned Night-heronNycticorax nycticorax
49.Rufous Night-heronNycticorax caledonicus
50.Green-backed HeronButorides striata
51.Javan Pond-heronArdeola speciosa
52.Cattle EgretBubulcus ibis
53.Great-billed HeronArdea sumatrana
54.Purple HeronArdea purpurea
55.Great White EgretArdea alba
56.Intermediate EgretArdea intermedia
57.Little EgretEgretta garzetta
58.Pacific Reef-egretEgretta sacra
59.Australian PelicanPelecanus conspicillatus
60.Lesser FrigatebirdFregata ariel
61.Great FrigatebirdFregata minor
62.Red-footed BoobySula sula
63.Brown BoobySula leucogaster
64.Masked BoobySula dactylatra
65.Little Pied CormorantMicrocarbo melanoleucos
66.Oriental DarterAnhinga melanogaster
67.Beach Thick-kneeEsacus magnirostris
68.Black-winged StiltHimantopus himantopus
69.Grey PloverPluvialis squatarola
70.Pacific Golden PloverPluvialis fulva
71.Little Ringed PloverCharadrius dubius
72.Kentish PloverCharadrius alexandrinus
73.Javan PloverCharadrius javanicus
74.Malay PloverCharadrius peronii
75.Lesser SandploverCharadrius mongolus
76.Greater SandploverCharadrius leschenaultii
77.Greater Painted-snipeRostratula benghalensis
78.Comb-crested JacanaIrediparra gallinacea
79.WhimbrelNumenius phaeopus
80.Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponica
81.Black-tailed GodwitLimosa limosa
82.Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpres
83.Great KnotCalidris tenuirostris
84.Broad-billed SandpiperCalidris falcinellus
85.Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferruginea
86.Long-toed StintCalidris subminuta
87.Red-necked StintCalidris ruficollis
88.SanderlingCalidris alba
89.Asian DowitcherLimnodromus semipalmatus
90.Pintail SnipeGallinago stenura
91.Swinhoe’s SnipeGallinago megala
92.Terek SandpiperXenus cinereus
93.Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucos
94.Grey-tailed TattlerTringa brevipes
95.Common GreenshankTringa nebularia
96.Common RedshankTringa totanus
97.Wood SandpiperTringa glareola
98.Marsh SandpiperTringa stagnatilis
99.Red-backed ButtonquailTurnix maculosus
100.Australian PratincoleStiltia isabella
101.Brown NoddyAnous stolidus
102.Sooty TernOnychoprion fuscatus
103.Bridled TernOnychoprion anaethetus
104.Little TernSternula albifrons
105.Common Gull-billed TernGelochelidon nilotica
106.Whiskered TernChlidonias hybrida
107.White-winged TernChlidonias leucopterus
108.Roseate TernSterna dougallii
109.Black-naped TernSterna sumatrana
110.Common TernSterna hirundo
111.Lesser Crested TernThalasseus bengalensis
112.Greater Crested TernThalasseus bergii
113.Northern BoobookNinox japonica
114.Wallace’s Scops-owlOtus silvicola
115.Moluccan Scops-owlOtus magicus
116.OspreyPandion haliaetus
117.Black-winged KiteElanus caeruleus
118.Oriental Honey-buzzardPernis ptilorhynchus
119.Pacific BazaAviceda subcristata
120.Short-toed Snake-eagleCircaetus gallicus
121.Flores Hawk-eagleNisaetus floris
122.Rufous-bellied EagleLophotriorchis kienerii
123.Bonelli’s EagleAquila fasciata
124.Chinese SparrowhawkAccipiter soloensis
125.Lesser Sundas GoshawkAccipiter sylvestris
126.Brown GoshawkAccipiter fasciatus
127.Japanese SparrowhawkAccipiter gularis
128.White-bellied Sea-eagleHaliaeetus leucogaster
129.Brahminy KiteHaliastur indus
130.Black KiteMilvus migrans
131.Blue-tailed Bee-eaterMerops philippinus
132.Rainbow Bee-eaterMerops ornatus
133.Oriental DollarbirdEurystomus orientalis
134.Oriental Dwarf-kingfisherCeyx erithaca
135.Azure KingfisherCeyx azureus
136.Common KingfisherAlcedo atthis
137.Stork-billed KingfisherPelargopsis capensis
138.White-rumped KingfisherCaridonax fulgidus
139.Collared KingfisherTodiramphus chloris
140.Sacred KingfisherTodiramphus sanctus
141.Sunda Pygmy WoodpeckerPicoides moluccensis
142.Spotted KestrelFalco moluccensis
143.Australian HobbyFalco longipennis
144.Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
145.Yellow-crested CockatooCacatua sulphurea
146.Scarlet-breasted LorikeetTrichoglossus forsteni
147.Red-cheeked ParrotGeoffroyus geoffroyi
148.Elegant PittaPitta elegans
149.Scaly-crowned HoneyeaterLichmera lombokia
150.Brown HoneyeaterLichmera indistincta
151.Helmeted FriarbirdPhilemon buceroides
152.Black-naped OrioleOriolus chinensis
153.Bare-throated WhistlerPachycephala nudigula
154.Rusty-breasted WhistlerPachycephala fulvotincta
155.Flores MinivetPericrocotus lansbergei
156.Black-faced CuckooshrikeCoracina novaehollandiae
157.Wallacean CuckooshrikeCoracina personata
158.Sumba CicadabirdEdolisoma dohertyi
159.White-shouldered TrillerLalage sueurii
160.White-breasted WoodswallowArtamus leucoryn
161.Brown-capped FantailRhipidura diluta
162.Wallacean DrongoDicrurus densus
163.Black-naped MonarchHypothymis azurea
164.Nusa Tenggara Paradise-flycatcherTerpsiphone floris
165.Brown ShrikeLanius cristatus
166.Long-tailed ShrikeLanius schach
167.Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos
168.Grey-headed Canary-flycatcherCulicicapa ceylonensis
169.Great TitParus major
170.Horsfield’s BushlarkMirafra javanica
171.Zitting CisticolaCisticola juncidis
172.Golden-headed CisticolaCisticola exilis
173.Australasian Reed-warblerAcrocephalus australis
174.Red-rumped SwallowCecropis daurica
175.House SwallowHirundo javanica
176.Barn SwallowHirundo rustica
177.Yellow-vented BulbulPycnonotus goiavier
178.Arctic WarblerPhylloscopus borealis
179.Kamchatka Leaf-warblerPhylloscopus examinandus
180.Mountain WarblerPhylloscopus trivirgatus
181.Russet-capped TesiaTesia everetti
182.Aberrant Bush-warblerHorornis flavolivaceus
183.Cream-browed White-eyeHeleia superciliaris
184.Yellow-spectacled White-eyeHeleia wallacei
185.Crested White-eyeHeleia dohertyi
186.Thick-billed White-eyeHeleia crassirostris
187.Mountain White-eyeZosterops montanus
188.Oriental White-eyeZosterops palpebrosus
189.Lemon-bellied White-eyeZosterops chloris
190.Tenggara Hill MynaGracula venerata
191.Short-tailed StarlingAplonis minor
192.Sunda ThrushZoothera andromedae
193.White’s ThrushZoothera aurea
194.Chestnut-backed ThrushGeokichla dohertyi
195.Chestnut-capped ThrushGeokichla interpres
196.Russet-backed Jungle-flycatcherCyornis oscillans
197.Lesser ShortwingBrachypteryx leucophris
198.Snowy-browed FlycatcherFicedula hyperythra
199.Little Pied FlycatcherFicedula westermanni
200.Pied BushchatSaxicola caprata
201.Golden-rumped FlowerpeckerDicaeum annae
202.Black-fronted FlowerpeckerDicaeum igniferum
203.Brown-throated SunbirdAnthreptes malacensis
204.Olive-backed SunbirdCinnyris jugularis
205.Flame-breasted SunbirdCinnyris solaris
206.Red AvadavatAmandava amandava
207.Black-faced MuniaLonchura molucca
208.Scaly-breasted MuniaLonchura punctulata
209.Five-coloured MuniaLonchura quinticolor
210.Pale-headed MuniaLonchura pallida
211.Timor Zebra FinchTaeniopygia guttata
212.Tawny-breasted ParrotfinchErythrura hyperythra
213.Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus
214.Paddyfield PipitAnthus rufulus
215.Grey WagtailMotacilla cinerea
216.Eastern Yellow WagtailMotacilla tschutschensis
217.Matsudaira’s Storm-petrelHydrobates matsudairae
218.Streaked ShearwaterCalonectris leucomelas
219.Bulwer’s PetrelBulweria bulwerii

Fun-Birding on Bima, Sumbawa Island

Reports from Gizan Hila on his latest birding trip in Sumbawa island.

Two days birding was done on February 28th 2018 and March 1st 2018 at two locations in Sumbawa island, West Nusa Tenggara part of Lesser Sunda archipelago. This trip was more like fun birding. We enjoyed the landscape while the birds showed up to complete the panorama.

Nisa Nawi beach from Nanga Nur, Sumbawa island
  • Day One – Feb 28th 2018

We visited Nisa Wawi beach at Nanga Nur peninsula, administered in Sangia village, Sape sub-district, Bima regency. To reach this small island we had to drive for 40 minutes from Bima city (boat trip for 20 minutes from Sape harbor).

Only tamarinds which is a big tree on this island, in addition reeds, Lote trees and shrubs that grow around beaches and limestone peninsulas. Finish enjoyed the “beach watching” then we start birding on 8.00 pm, focused for owling until 10.00 pm.

  • Day Two – Mar 1st 2018

Drive west for 30 minutes from Sape harbor to reach a river which is surrounded by dense vegetation in Diwu Konca (an hour from Sultan Muhammad Salahuddin Airport) . Administered in Sari village Sape sub-district, Bima regency.

We also visited other habitats such as terraced rice fields and bamboo clusters for afternoon birding starting from 3.00 pm until 6.00 pm.

Mollucan Scops Owl from Nisa Wawi, Bima, Sumbawa island

17 participants were joining this party. Managed to see 20 bird species. Here with the highlights such as:

Mollucan Scops Owl, 5 individuals seen at Nisa Wawi

– 30 individuals White-shouldered Triller at Nisa Wawi – Golden-rumped Flowerpecker, 10 individuals seen at Diwu Konca – Two pairs of Rusty-breasted Whistler at Diwu Konca – A single Grey-capped Emerald Dove at Diwu Konca

Other notable birds included:

Scaly-breasted Munia, Black-naped Monarch, Zitting Cisticola, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Cave Swiftlet, Lemon-bellied White-eye, Yellow-ringed White-eye, Olive-backed Sunbird, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Collared Kingfisher, Lesser Coucal, Spotted Dove, Red Junglefowl, Long-tailed Shrike.


Endemic and Highlighted Birds during Trip on Sumbawa island

Sumbawa island is part of the lesser sunda area, it’s located between Lombok, Flores and Sumba islands. In terms of birding activities, this island is often missed or skipped by most birders. Fortunately there are some local birders who are avid enough to explore and document the existence and diversity of birds. Surprisingly, almost all the endemic species are relatively easy to photograph, which was suitable for bird photography tours on Sumbawa island.

For six days (09 – 14 November 2017) we were in Bima, Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara. Precisely in TWA Madapangga to attend the Pertemuan Pengamat Burung Indonesia VII (Indonesian Bird Watchers’ Meeting VII) on 10-12 November 2017 and extended two days to focus on birding in other locations.

Mega! The critically endengared Flores Hawk-eagle from our trips in Sumbawa island©Alkharim Yoshe

At the meeting there were birdwatchers from Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Malang, Bali, Lombok and from local birdwatchers of Bima. The Sindikat Fotografer Wildlife Bima-Dompu was the organizer and host of the meeting.

TWA Madapangga is located in the west of Bima city with a distance of about 45 Km or takes about 1 hour drive by car. The area of 232 Hectares is administratively in the village of Ndano, Bolo sub-district, Bima district, West Nusa Tenggara Province.

Forest and houses at Kaowa village, Bima, Sumbawa island.©Waskito K Wibowo

This nature park is a source of water for the dryness of the surrounding area. Residents around the area are very dependent on the river and its springs. In the morning and evening I could meet with residents who bathe or wash clothes in the river that is located exactly on the road which connects Bima with Sumbawa city. The topography of this location is generally hilly with a slope of 15 – 40 degrees, only a small part is a relatively flat area with varying heights from 200 to 600 m above sea level.

Birding spots are relatively easy to reach, such as following the loop-track of the camping ground, around the river, and garden of the pool. We tried all those spots while we were there.

After the meeting, we moved to Kaowa village, Lambitu sub-district, 2 hours heading to the east of central Bima city. In this hilly village is widely used as a garden or farm area by residents with the rest of the monsoon forest on each hilltop. Birding spots are located around the village water springs and the edge of forests after farm areas close enough to residents’ houses.

Juvenile Mollucan Scops Owl from Kaowa village, Bima, Sumbawa island


Swiss Winasis, Waskito K Wibowo, Ah Saiful Abid, Imam Taufiqurrahman, Alkharim Yoshe, Afran “Tpal Duablas”, Abdul “Gizan Hila” Azis. ITINERARY: 09/11/2017 – At the evening arrived in Airport and drive to TWA Madapangga. Overnight on the tents. 10/11/2017 – Morning birding until noon. Lunch and follow the meeting until 09.00 PM. Owling for one hour. Overnight on the tents. 11/11/2017same as above 12/11/2017 – Morning birding until noon. After lunch moved to Kaowa village. Arrived at 06.00 PM then dinner with local families. Owling until 10.00 PM. Overnight in local families. 13/11/2017 – Full day birding around the edge of forest and water spring. After dinner owling around water spring again until 10.00 PM. Overnight in local families. 14/11/2017 – Drive to the airport, birding on the way. At noon we flight home and birding trips in Bima, Sumbawa island was ends.

Pitta elegans concina from TWA Madapangga, Sumbawa.©Waskito K Wibowo

HIGHLIGHTS: Glittering or White-rumped Kingfisher – 2-3 birds seen at looping track at the TWA Madapangga. 2-3 birds seen at garden and around water spring of Kaowa village.

Elegant Pitta – 5-6 birds seen behind the camping ground and edge river of TWA Madapangga. 2 birds seen at water spring of Kaowa village. Relatively vocal during our visit.

Flores Hawk-eagle – A clear view of a single bird while perched near the road at the edge of Kaowa village. Mollucan Scops-owl – 30 minutes clear view of single perched bird behind the camping area of TWA Madapangga. 3 birds (two adult and one juvenile) seen at water spring of Kaowa village. Wallacean (Flores) Drongo – Two nest about 6-8 birds seen around the pool of TWA Madapangga. Two nests are also around the garden and water spring of Kaowa village. Flame-breasted Sunbird – Male and female birds at flowering Water rose apple tree around the pool of TWA Madapangga. 2 birds at garden of Kaowa village. Black-fronted Flowerpecker – 2 birds seen near river at fruiting tree’s TWA Madapangga. Yellow-spectacled White-eye – Common in all birding spots visited. Flores Minivet – A pair on the way to the Airport from Kaowa village. Brown-capped Fantail – Single bird at loop trek’s TWA Madapangga.

Other notable birds included – Spotted Dove, Barred Dove, Cave Swiftlet, Lesser Coucal, Black-winged Kite, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Short-toed Snake-eagle, Oriental Dwarf-kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Spotted Kestrel, Scaly-crowned Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird, Black-naped Oriole, Rusty-breasted Whistler, White-shouldered Triller, White-breasted Woodswallow, Black-naped Monarch, House Swallow, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Brown-throated Sunbird, Scaly-breasted Munia, Eurasian Tree Sparrow.


Birding on Sumba

Sumba is part of East Nusa Tenggara, famous for its megalithic traditions, one of which is Pasola. On this island, grassland and monsoon forest are still well preserved place for various animal species. Approximately ± 200 species of birds, ± 110 species of butterflies, ± 35 species of herpetofauna and ± 23 species of mammals. In particular, Sumba island has 36 endemic species and about 14 species of islands endemic.

For birdwatchers, Lewa, Yumbu-bridge and Manurara are mandatory locations to seek endemics. In August 2017 we found a new birding site in Sumba island. In the area of the only national park on the island, named Billa. This location is better than Lewa, especially for bird-photography. Almost all endemic species are within a very close distance and can be accessed by foot. Yet, by far the best location to see Sumba Buttonquail, is the grassland around Yumbu.

The following information on the birding site in Sumba:

Billa, Praingkareha Resort

It is part of Manupeu Tana Daru and Laiwangi Wanggameti National Park, located in the southern part of the island. Administratively entered into District Tabundung East Sumba, Nusa Tenggara province. To get to Billa from Waingapu is about 4-5 hours (110 Km).

Almost all endemic species can be found (except for Sumba Buttonquail) without moving from one site to another. Paradise for bird-photographers especially in August – October when the river dries up until the remaining small pools.

All passerine like Spectacled Monarch, Sumba Brown Flycatcher, Sumba Jungle Flycatcher, Sumba Flycatcher, Orange-backed Thrush, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Arafura Fantail, Oriental-dwarf Kingfisher, Paradise-flycatcher and Elegant Pitta Paradise will come for a drink, easy to taking a photo. On the edge of the river can be found Red-naped Fruitdove, Sumba Green Pigeon, Sumba Cicadabird.

There is a hill called Laibola, about 30 minutes from the camping area to its peak. The best location in the morning to see Billa landscape along with the rising of the Sun, the birds will start actively looking for perch such as dozens of Sumba Hornbill before the breeding period, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Electus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Great-billed Parrot and Marigold Lorikeet.

Greater Sumba Boobook easy to find in Billa

At night, just go to the public toilet Greater Sumba boobok will sound and be easily observed along with a dozen Least Sumba Boobooks and Meesi Nightjar.


A village located in the middle of the island, still has a nice monsoon forest to see the endemics, accessible by driving from Waingapu (City center) about 1 hour 30 minutes (55 Km).

The main location consists of several sections along the connecting roads of West and East Sumba, among others: a patch of degraded forest east of Lewa at KM51 on the road, c10km west of Lewa at KM68-72; c20km south of Lewa near the village of Watumbela; and about 30km west of Lewa at KM93-98.

Elegant Pitta, endemic race of the island

The birds might be can see Sumba Green Pigeon, Elegant Pitta, Chestnut-backed Thrush, Mees’s Nightjar, Orange-crested Cockatoo, Sumba Hornbill, Pale-headed Munia, Five-coloured Munia, Barn Owl, Greater Sumba Boobook, Little Sumba Boobook, Sumba-jungle Flycatcher, Sumba Flycatcher, Sumba-brown Flycatcher.

Yumbu Grassland

This site was commonly visited for Sumba Buttonquail. An area of open savannah like grassland east of town (12km from the airport). Aim for a road bridge at Yumbu. Walked the grasslands south east of the bridge, and also briefly north of the bridge.

Access and Accommodation

The best way for you to get to all the locations in Sumba is by renting a car, because it makes it easier to reach each site. The trails can be a bit confusing so you may consider asking a local for assistance as a guide.

In Billa there are no hotels or homestays. Asking local people for stay at night or build a tent on a camping area (close with spring water and public toilet). Unlike Lewa and Yumbu, you can stay at night at Hotel in Waingapu and drive to the site in the early morning.

New Birding Site on Sumba Island DISCOVERED!

Only Sumba Buttonquail Turnix everetti and Mees’s Nightjar Caprimulgus meesi were not seen through our binoculars or lenses during the 9 days we were in Sumba. Sumba is an island in southern Indonesia, rich in various ikat weavings, vast grasslands, a strong ethnic culture and an endless list of interesting spectacles for tourists to enjoy. We came here looking for new birding spots to see the island’s endemic birds.

Depart from Juanda International Airport and transit briefly at Ngurah Rai International Airport and arrive at Umbu Mehang Kunda Airport, Waingapu, East Sumba Regency at 11:40 on 17 August. From 18 August to 22 August 2017 we attended the 2017 Birding and Photo Competition held by Manupeu Tana Daru & Laiwangi Wanggameti NP at Praingkareha resort in Billa Village, which was attended by about 55 participants from many regions in Indonesia. After the event was over, we stayed for the next 3 days and nights to watch and take documentation of the birds.

The day before the competition started, we went to Lambanapu village, 7 Km south of Waingapu for a short birding. We met with Pak Kornelis, a woven ikat craftsman who still practices in the traditional style using natural dyes. He kindly let us, with permission, go birding in his garden and rice fields, only 300 meters from his house.

Ikat weaver of Lambanapu village, East Sumba

His garden area contained many plants including Tamarind, Morinda, Kapok Randu, Indigo. We were accompanied by two teenagers, who acted as our guides. For nearly two years, the boys have been diligently documenting the local biodiversity including birds around the Village, so they are well aware of the birds that live there.

Around big Tamarind tree we observed Arafura Fantail, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Indonesian Honeyeater, Sumba Flowerpecker, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Ashy-bellied White-eye and our main target Asian “Nusa Tenggara” Paradise-flycatcher.
Around 15:00 we continued observations from the edge of the paddy fields that were filled with shrubs along the banks of the river. We saw Pale-headed Munia, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Scaly-breasted Munia, Pied Bush-chat, Paddyfield Pipit, Brahminy Kite and at the end of the session a few flocks of “Timor” Zebra Finch.

That night we stayed at Waingapu then on the following day along with the participants, we left for Billa using local public transport called OTO. OTO is a truck modified in such a way as to transport humans, agricultural produce and even livestock!. It was an epic form of public transportation!

The trip from Waingapu to Billa (110 km to the south) took 4 hours , including about 1.5 hours of fine asphalt road, and numerous stops along the famous Wairinding hill, and several other interesting locations to enjoy views of the picturesque Sumba landscape. The rest of the journey (2.5 hours) was along an ugly 1980s asphalt road that wasn’t in good condition at all, making the ride very bumpy and uncomfortable.

We finally arrived at Praingkareha resort, Billa Village at 15:00, and headed to a river that still runs as a small stream, with some puddles at the end of the dry season. Along the river various kinds of trees grow, the fallen leaves scattered on the rocky bottom, yet the water still flows over them.

During our stay (until 25 August 2017) the river was an ideal place to search for endemic and resident birds.

Birds that we met here such as:

Endemic Chestnut-backed Thrush , which can be found every day, sometimes perched on a branch above the river or looking for insects behind leaves and near puddles. Orange-footed Scrubfowl scavenged busily on the ground oblivious of us despite being in plain sight, from morning to afternoon. Mixed flocks of Spectacled Monarch, Arafura Fantail, Broad-billed Flycatcher often visit the river in the afternoon to bathe or drink. They all got very close to us , all the better to take photographs.

Clear view of Chestnut-backed Thrush

Sumba Brown Flycatcher, Sumba Flycatcher, Sumba Warbler (Jungle)-Flycatcher visited one by one, to perch on small branches and swoop down to catch their prey or simply wait silently on stones.

Sumba Flowerpecker were also seen eating tiny yellow fruits that grow on riverside plants. In the undergrowth, at least two individuals of Elegant Pitta were heard but trickier to catch a glimpse. Little Cuckoo-dove and Asian “Gray-capped” Emerald Dove would appear at the edges of the river to drink, and above female Pale-shouldered “Sumba” Cicadabird move from branch to branch.

We found a big dry tree that in the morning hosted many species such as Great-billed Parrot, Sumba Green-pigeon, Marigold Lorikeet, Green Imperial Pigeon, the endemic race of Yellow ‘Citron”-crested Cockatoo, Red-naped Fruit-dove and even Sumba Hornbill.

The smaller branches were observed being picked by Red-naped Fruit-dove for material to construct their nests.

Jewelry Sumba forest, Red-naped Fruit-dove | Ptilinopus doherty

We visited the Laibola hill on 20 August 2017 at around 06.00, from this location one we enjoyed a beautiful panorama of the landscape around Praingkareha resort. As the sun slowly rose the birds began actively seeking perches, and we managed to see several pairs of Electus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, dozens of Slender-billed Crow and around 40 Sumba Hornbills.

Flock of Sumba Hornbills | Rhyticeros everetti from Laibola hill

Below the hill there is a forest patch, great for seeing Cinnamon Banded Kingfisher especially in the morning before 09:00 this bird can be easily located from their chirping, and seen perched quite low. From this vantage point, it is easy to find Sumba Myzomela, Apricot-breasted Sunbird, Wallacean Drongo, Ashy-bellied White-eye, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Black-naped Fruit-dove, Helmeted Friarbird, Rusty-breasted Whistler, Short-tailed Starling. Along the forest patch we heard Elegant Pitta calling one to the other.

During our last three days in Billa, especially in the evening, we focused on finding two endemic species of boobooks. We found one only 400 meters from the camping ground, using playback techniques to discover a pair of Greater Sumba Boobook.

Couples of Greater Sumba Boobook

On the final night after observing the Greater Sumba Boobook, we searched for Little Sumba “Least” Boobook. After walking about 3 Km from the camping ground we stopped in a vast grassland, started calling, and scoped around the area. At the far end of grassland in the middle of a tree trunk, we finally saw one individual. We tried to get as close as we could and managed to get a photograph.

The bird flew into the forest so we had to follow it in, looking for the elusive critter. Surprisingly, we soon heard at least fours individuals, managing to get clear and short views better than before. At 23:30 we finished owling, and set off back to the camp.

Little Sumba "Least" Boobook

On the last day prior to Waingapu, we returned to the river. We waited on the other side of the almost dry pool, when at 08:00 an Elegant Pitta, which is usually only heard, came down from behind a bush.

The gorgeous bird started flipping leaf litter with its bill while hopping to the nearest pool. We did not stop pressing the camera shutter while sitting as still as we could behind some rocks. Finally, the bird perched on the highest rock, and in that moment we were amazed at the blend of colour all over its body.

Although we were only in Sumba for 9 days, and only visited two locations we successfully managed to spot 19 endemic species, and 43 resident species, missing only Sumba Buttonquail and Mees’s Nightjar. Although, according to the park ranger, these Lesser Sunda endemics are also present on Billa.

The bird of the last day in Billa, Elegant Pitta

We were amazed by Billa, a place to see almost all endemic Sumba by just sitting waiting by the river, or simply walking around the camp area. We called it One Stop Birding Site, the best place to photograph almost all the endemics! Hopefully we will go to Sumba again to complete the endemic list, and explore more, anyone want to join? Feel free to contact us via e-mail for information about the site and organising a tour.

Sumba Birds List (18 – 25 August 2017)

  • Orange-footed Scrubfowl | Megapodius reinwardt reinwardt
  • Green Junglefowl | Gallus varius | Heard Only
  • Eastern Spotted Dove | Spilopelia chinensis
  • Little Cuckoo-dove | Macropygia ruficepsorientalis
  • Barred Dove | Geopelia maugeus
  • Asian “Grey-capped” Emerald Dove | Chalcophaps indicaindica
  • Sumba Green-pigeon | Treron teysmannii
  • Green Imperial-pigeon | Ducula aeneapolia
  • Black-naped Fruit-dove | Ptilinopus melanospilus melanauchen
  • Red-naped Fruit-dove | Ptilinopus dohertyi
  • Savanna Nightjar | Caprimulgus affinis
  • Glossy Swiftlet | Collocalia esculenta sumbawae
  • Australian “Brush” Cuckoo | Cacomantis variolosus | Heard Only
  • Common Barn-owl | Tyto alba sumbaensis | Heard Only
  • Sumba Boobook | Ninox rudolfi
  • Least Boobook | Ninox sumbaensis
  • Oriental Honey-buzzard | Pernis ptilorhynchus orientalis
  • Brown Goshawk | Accipiter fasciatus tjendanea
  • Brahminy Kite | Haliastur indus intermedius
  • Spotted Kestrel | Falco moluccensis microbalia
  • Sumba Hornbill | Rhyticeros everetti
  • Blue-tailed Bee-eater | Merops philippinus
  • Oriental Dwarf-kingfisher | Ceyx erithaca rufidorsa
  • Common Kingfisher | Alcedo atthis floresiana
  • Collared Kingfisher | Todiramphus chloris chloris
  • Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher | Todiramphus australasia australasia
  • Yellow “Orange/Citron”-crested Cockatoo | Cacatua [sulphurea] citrinocristata
  • Marigold Lorikeet | Trichoglossus capistratusfortis
  • Eclectus Parrot | Eclectus roratuscornelia
  • Red-cheeked Parrot | Geoffroyus geoffroyi floresianus
  • Great-billed Parrot | Tanygnathus megalorynchos sumbensis
  • Elegant Pitta | Pitta elegans maria
  • Indonesian Honeyeater | Lichmera limbata
  • Helmeted Friarbird | Philemon buceroides neglectus
  • Sumba Myzomela | Myzomela dammermani
  • Rusty-breasted Whistler | Pachycephala fulvotincta fulviventris
  • Pale-shouldered (Sumba) Cicadabird | Coracina dohertyi
  • White-shouldered Triller | Lalage sueurii
  • Arafura Fantail | Rhipidura dryas sumbensis
  • Wallacean Drongo | Dicrurus densus sumbae
  • Broad-billed Flycatcher | Myiagra ruficollis ruficollis
  • Spectacled Monarch | Symposiachrus trivirgatus trivirgatus
  • Slender-billed Crow | Corvus enca
  • Large-billed Crow | Corvus macrorhynchos
  • Olive-backed Tailorbird | Orthotomus sepium | Heard Only
  • Yellow-spectacled White-eye | Heleia wallacei
  • Ashy-bellied White-eye | Zosterops citrinella
  • Short-tailed Starling | Aplonis minor
  • Chestnut-backed Thrush | Geokichla dohertyi
  • Sumba Brown Flycatcher | Muscicapa segregata
  • Sumba Jungle-flycatcher | Cyornis stresemanni
  • Sumba Flycatcher | Ficedula harterti
  • Pied Bushchat | Saxicola caprata francki
  • Thick-billed Flowerpecker | Dicaeum agile tinctum
  • Sumba Flowerpecker | Dicaeum wilhelminae
  • Apricot-breasted Sunbird | Cinnyris buettikoferi
  • Scaly-breasted Munia | Lonchura punctulata sumbae
  • Black-faced Munia | Lonchura molucca propinqua
  • Pale-headed Munia | Lonchura pallida
  • Timor Zebra Finch | Taeniopygia guttata
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow | Passer montanus
  • Paddyfield Pipit | Anthus rufulus albidus