2 Days Birding Trips in Probolinggo & Surabaya, East Java

We had clients on the Holland America Noordam cruise ship which arrived in Probolinggo on January 22, 2019 and Surabaya on the next day. They want to take birding trips programmed during the docked ship in those cities.

First location on day one is around the north-west area of Mt. Argopuro. The habitat is agro-forest and stream. We got a problem with the tender that delivered our clients to the lands, and finally started driving very late at 10.00 am. Arrived at 12.00 am then began to look at the birds.

Spent 2 hours here then drove back before 04.00 pm that the ship will leave Probolinggo headed to Surabaya. At least we managed to see the highlight: a pair of Javan Sunbirds foraged in a coffee plantation.

On the next day, we met at the Port of Tanjung Perak in the north of Surabaya at 08.00 am. Then we drove for one hour to get to the Wonorejo mangrove and fishpond area. Due to the rainy season, the track was muddy. We got much time here for 4 hours birding but must walk slowly around the fishpond and mangrove until 01.30 pm. Highlight in here is: plenty of Javan Plover foraged at mudflat next to small canteen.

Birding in Fishpond and Mangrove area of Wonorejo, Surabaya

At 01.30 pm we started to drive back to Surabaya North Quay where the Maasdam ship docked and the two days birding trips in Probolinggo and Surabaya, East Java ended.

Other Included: Cave Swiftlet, Javan Pond Heron, Striated Heron, Little Black Cormorant, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Eastern Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Red-necked Stint, Long-toed Stint, Spotted Dove, Collared Kingfisher, Pasific Swallow, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Scaly-breasted Munia.

Photo groups in Kalianan village, Probolinggo

The Best Site to See The Survived Population of Javan White-eye in Java

On July 21st 2018 we had a client from the US looking for the main target, the Javan White-eye (Zosterops flavus) that is found only in west & south of Borneo, coastal north of Java and Madura.

Due to the massive hunting and poaching of all kinds of white-eye’s species, the population in the wild is in a crazy decline. Sounds like critically endangered.

Khaleb Yordan told us that the last time he saw this endemic white-eye in western of Java was 2 years ago. Yesterday was a reunion for him, also lifer for Mr. Russell Graham.

We saw more than 6 individuals in the safe area since the people around here are educated well for conservation of wildlife.

We started birding that day after leaving Juanda international airport, Surabaya, East Java. The location is not too far away, it takes about 30 minutes from the airport. At 6.30 am we went to a location called Wonorejo. This is a huge fish-pond and mangrove area.

On the first stop, before the parking area we tried looking at Sunda Coucal. Usually, it’s perched on tree or bushes top for sun-bathing. Sadly, the birds were not shown and we did not hear the sounds.

At least a male Freckle-breasted Woodpecker is perched on a dried branch. We don’t want to miss it.

Following the Javan White-eye movement.

Then we walk slowly, a clear call of Cerulean Kingfisher attracting us. For sure, a single bird perched in front of us, divided by the river. The kingfisher was perched on a bush near the water surface. Then it flies, responding to the other kingfisher’s calls.

We move to the parking area and prepare our stuff to get inside. But, we have to take time around the Muntingia calabura tree.

3 individuals of Scarlet-headed Flowerpeckers foraging on that tree. Our client pulled up his binocular to add it into his life-list. Bravo! new lifer again.

Satisfied with it, we continued walking to pursue our main target.

Walk for about 500 meters inside through fish-pond and mangrove trees. Then we played the Javan White-eye’s sounds. We heard the response at a mangrove tree that was full of Cave Swiftlet. This was also new for him.

We approached the tree and found the object. Voila! our ears were correct, four individuals gleaning its prey below the mangrove’s leaves at the middle canopy.

The Javan White-eye foraging in mangrove tree

Hang out and enjoy the birds also following its movement while watching other species until our clients are satisfied.

At 8.30 am we moved out to warung (small canteen) near the parking area. After taking a break for a while we continued again to other directions. But the number of birds was low and no new birds were added to the list. So we ended the trip and started driving to the airport.


  1. 6+ individuals Javan White-eye (Zosterops flavus)
  2. A male Freckle-breasted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos analis)
  3. 5 individuals Cerulean Kingfisher (Alcedo coerulescens)
  4. A pair and 1 immature male Scralet-headed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trochileum)
  5. Single adult Javan Tailorbird / Olive-backed Tailorbird (Orthotomus sepium)

Other birds are included such as:

Javan-pond Heron, Purple Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Striated Heron, Great Egret, White-shouldered Thriller, Spotted Dove, Island-collared Dove, Sacred Kingfisher, Javan Plover, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Little Black Cormorant, Sunda Teal, Racket-tailed Treepie, Cave Swiftlet, Scally-breasted Munia, Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

Other Taxa:

Javan Mongoose

Fullday Birding in Malang, East Java

On fine morning (May 16th 2018) we managed one day birding trips on Malang, East Java for a couple clients from Indonesia. 19 species succeed to observe from two birding locations such as Batu Apple Farm and Raden Soerjo Greater Park Forestry.

Our first stop was at Apple Farm for Javan Kingfisher. Not to long wait, we were immediately greeted by a Javan Kingfisher after parking our car. For 30 minutes in location, four individual Javan Kingfishers recorded. Other than that we recorded Common Tailorbird, Sooty-headed Bulbul and Yellow-vented Bulbul.

Satisfied in the first location, we continued the trip to the second location that made us drive for 30 minutes. In that tropical rain forest we managed to find Sunda Cuckooshrike, Cinereus Tit, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Sunda minivet, Scaly-breasted Munia, and Blue Nuthatch.

Then we moved to another area of the park in Watu Ondo waterfall. Montane birds such as Sunda (Javan) Bulbul, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Ruddy Cuckoo-dove, Flame-fronted Barbet, and female Little-pied Flycatcher accompany us to enjoy the breeze atmosphere. We decided to climb down toward the waterfall for a moment.

For lunch, we chose a small restaurant around the area to taste local traditional food. After that we hang out at twin bridges waiting for more birds, hoping the Javan Hawk-eagle will appear. Failed to wait more because the afternoon was getting cloudy, so we decided to finish the trip with birds closing the day such as Javan Grey-throated White-eye, Ashy Drongo, White-flanked Sunbird and Indigo Flycatcher as our client’s favorite.

5 Days Customized Birding Tours around Malang, East Java

On March 16 – 20th 2018 we managed to arrange bird photography trips for our clients from Hong Kong. This custom-tailor trip only has a few targets, Banded Kingfisher and Javan Banded Pitta. Visited five birding locations around Malang, East Java. We Met up in the afternoon in Juanda international airport, Surabaya on March 16th (Day 1) then we drove to a Hotel in Malang, while having dinner on the way.

Group photo with clients

Start birding on day two, at 5.00 am we drive to a coffee plantation in Jabung village, Malang to take shots of Javan Banded Pitta. Sadly, we failed because three different nests were empty. Maybe, taken by predators or the chicks already fledged.

Then we changed direction to Piket Nol, Lumajang in search of the main target, Banded Kingfisher. We hang out near it’s nest from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm. Lucky to see and get the pictures of the female, but we missed the male until afternoon. So, we drove to Hotel Cakra, Malang and tried another chance the next morning.

Frontal view of female Banded Kingfisher

Start driving at 5.00 am (March 18th) and reach the same location as yesterday at 7.00 am. We waited in a camouflage tent until 10.00 am with no presence of male birds. Then our friends in different spots called us via handy-talky that they saw the male.

Quickly we packed our gear and moved. For 45 minutes we enjoyed and shot many pictures of colorful male birds. Also present the Javan Broadbill that managed to save on our camera’s card.

Eye level with male Banded Kingfisher

At 12.30 pm we drove to Pasirian, Lumajang while having lunch in a small cafeteria on the way. at 2.00 pm we arrived, built the tent next to small fish-ponds waiting for Cerulean Kingfisher. How lucky we are, one family of 2 adults and 1 immature managed to get the pictures. We enjoyed moving from the area in the afternoon.

One grup family of Cerulean Kingfisher

We had a long drive on day four (March 19th), six hours driving from Pasirian, Lumajang (our clients want to take Cerulean Kingfisher in early daylight) to Apple Farm in Batu city. When we arrived, the weather was a little rainy. Worried the Javan Kingfisher would not show, but we tried first.

Just waited for 10 minutes, the birds were coming. Perched on a small branch, we had a super close and clear view!

Super close and clear with Javan Kingfisher

On the last day, we have two hours to get another chance to shoot Javan Banded Pitta in Prigen, Pasuruan before we leave the area. At 9.00 am we finished the tour then dropped off our clients at the airport in frustration of the Pitta!

Wonorejo Wetland, Best Site to Birding in Surabaya

Birding in Wonorejo wetland, located at the Surabaya south east-coast, with a total area of approximately 50 hectares and consists of fishpond (locally called tambak), scrub and mangrove areas affected by tidal, provides a broad mudflat for feeding grounds to resident and migratory birds in estuary area. This site is important for migratory seabirds and shorebirds/waders in East Asia-Australia Fly Away, also birdlife listed Wonorejo as Important Bird Area.

Administratively in Wonorejo village, Rungkut sub district, Surabaya City, East Java. The area became the best locations for birding and bird photography in the Metropolitan Surabaya. Easy driving distance for 15 km from city centre (45 minutes). The nearest airport is Juanda International Airport (45 minutes).

Three major paths or spot to explore approximately 150 birds species in the area, read below:

1. Parking Area (Near Canteen “Mbok Rum”)

Start from around the parking area, walk and observe some birds may you see here are Collared Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, White-browed Crake, Common Moorhen, Plain Prinia, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Brown-throated Sunbirds.

Canteen Mbok Rum, parking area is behind it

Some endemic birds such as Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Small-blue or Cerulean Kingfisher, Javan Munia and Javan Plover. And during the migration season of the North Hemisphere, various migratory birds might be seen such as Red-necked Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Common Sandpiper, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover and more.

2. Fish Pond

From the parking area walk to the east towards the fishpond area. Along the paths the birds might can be seen are White-headed (pied) Stilt, Lesser Crested Tern, White-winged Tern, Little Tern, Common Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Australian Grebe, Little Cormorant, Spotted Dove, Common Iora, Javan Pond Heron. If lucky, some endemic and rare birds such as Javan Coucal and Java Sparrow. There are several fishponds where the specific shorebirds prefer presents such as Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot, Whimbrel, Far-eastern Curlew, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, and more.

Indonesia endemic, Small-blue or Cerulean Kingfisher

3. Mangrove track and Estuary

Continue walk in the east direction to explore the last birding-site, at mangrove track. Hang and walk around the mangrove until 5pm to meet Golden-bellied Gerygone, Racket-tailed Treepie, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Mangrove Whistler, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Cinnamon Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Striated Heron. With some luck the endemic Javan White-eye might be able to be seen, recently the species is hard to find because of massive poaching.

Javan White-eye, recently become rare and hard to find in this area

Access and Accomodation Many good quality hotels around Surabaya city and ask the receptionist to arrange a taxi or ojek to get to Wonorejo wetland. If you are confused to determine the birding spot, ask local guides to accompany you in the field.

Notes: We advise you to write down in the Guest Book and add some extra money for conservation donation at Canteen “Mbok Rum”. Take a scope, sun tan lotion and hat to get the most out of the site!