Birdingpals Trip Report
Bali and Java, July 21 – July 31, 2010
Douglas J. Futuyma (Stony Brook, New York, U.S.A.), Douglas E. Gill (College Park, Maryland, U.S.A.), in part Report written by D. Futuyma (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As a prelude to an organized birding tour of West Papua that was scheduled to depart from Jakarta, I decided to spend some days birding in Bali and Java, expanding on a short previous visit in 2008, when I spent two days at Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park. Doug Gill, who also took the West Papua tour, arrived in Jakarta on the evening of July 27.
In Bali and eastern Java, I engaged Oswald Huma as a guide, having found his entry in Birdingpal.org and exchanged correspondence. Oswald has worked for about 20 years in ecotourism throughout Indonesia, and started focusing on birds 8-10 years ago. I found him knowledgeable and capable; he devised a good itinerary and schedule, knows where to look for target species, and knows birds well by sight and often by vocalization. In Baluran National Park, we were joined by a young park ranger, Hery Kusuma, who is an enthusiastic and able birder. In parts of Bali Barat National Park, Eko, another ranger who is also quite knowledgeable, accompanied us. From Bali, I flew to Jakarta on July 25 and was met by Indra Ferdinand, a well known birding guide who lives in Cibodas, at the edge of Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park. Indra’s father, Freddy, operates “Freddy’s Homestay,” and has hosted birders for many years. Indra and his brother Eddy had been my guides on my previous visit. Both are very familiar with the local birds; Indra has expanded his scope and knows sites and birds throughout western Java.
For the Bali + eastern Java leg, I paid Oswald US $1079, which included “costs for land arrangements for 4 days” ($501), hotel in Kuta, 2 nights ($90), hotel in Gilimanuk, 2 nights ($62), accommodation in Baluran NP, 1 night ($18), bird guide fee for 4 days ($300), and air ticket Denpasar – Jakarta on Garuda ($108). I wired this sum to Oswald.
Indra’s fee and other costs in western Java were quoted (and paid) in Indonesian Rupiah (Rp). The short tour (for one person) to Pulau Dua and Carita was Rp 9,000,000; the boat to Pulau Rambut was Rp 2,000,000, and the tour of Gede-Pangrango National Park and of Muara Angke (for two people) was Rp 12,500,000. The exchange rate at the Jakarta airport was ca. Rp 8700 per US dollar. These costs included all hotels, meals, transportation, park and reserve fees, and guide fees. I did not ask for a breakdown of costs.
Schedule and Itinerary:
Flight arrived in Denpasar, Bali at 0:45 a.m. (Cathay Pacific from New York and Hong Kong); Oswald met me and took me to the nearby Palm Beach Hotel in Kuta. He came (with car and driver) at 9:00 and we drove to Gilimanuk (arriving 12:40), to take the ferry to eastern Java, where we drove northward to Baluran National Park, arriving 1:30 pm Java time (2:30 Bali time). From arrival until dusk, we birded our way to our lodging, a cabin complex at Bama, on the shore of a bay. Note that it is necessary to bring food and drink if staying in the park; the cabin has kitchen facilities.
Baluran National Park until dusk; then returned to Gilimanuk and the Sari Hotel. Strong wind throughout the day made birding conditions less than ideal. Most of the park supports second-growth seasonal forest that was losing foliage at this time; there are also small areas of moist riparian forest, mangrove, and savannah. Most of the formerly extensive savannah now is dominated by an invasive small tree, Acacia nilotica from Africa. I was told that populations of species such as Green Peafowl and Banteng (native cattle) have greatly decreased as a result. An Acacia-less savannah of moderate size is maintained near the cabins.uk Peninsula, landing near Teluk Brumbun, a management and study site for the Bali Myna. We departed at 1:15, and birded sites in the national park along the road that runs southeastward from Gilimanuk, including the well-groomed park headquarters and a narrow road toward Pura Segara Rupak. The limestone-based hills near Teluk Brumbun have seasonal forest, of low stature except in protected coves; a trail runs along the landward edge of some mangrove. The sites we visited near Gilimanuk included a mangrove-lined estuary and a large area of scrubby second growth with patches of taller trees.
Morning in the same and nearby second growth sites near Gilimanuk; departed about noon eastward along the road that runs along the northern coast, stopping for roadside birding near the Munduk Peak overlook, in mist and light rain. We then made an unfortunate decision to proceed to the Bedugul Botanical Garden, which we found was enveloped in thick fog. As darkness fell, we returned to the hotel in Kuta.
A flight on Garuda Indonesian Airlines (arranged by Oswald) at 6:20 arrived in Jakarta at 6:50 Java time (7:50 Bali time). Indra, with car and driver, met me, and we drove to a small coastal bird sanctuary, Pulau Dua, near Banten, chiefly to look for Javan Plover. The park itself is a narrow strip of beach and mangrove where we spent little time; the birds of interest are seen mostly in the ca. 1.5-kilometer walk to the beach through a complex of fish ponds. The site is accessed via a bewildering (to me) route of small roads and streets. We returned to the highway and proceeded to Carita, on the west coast. (After passing Merak, at the northwest “corner” of Java, the road is terribly potholed, and progress is painfully slow.) We arrived at 3:00, checked into a hotel on the road, and walked about 200 meters to the entrance to Carita Nature Forest Preserve, where we birded until 7:30, well after nightfall. I learned from Indra that entrance to these several sites required him to obtain permits that cost fairly steep fees. The Carita preserve is excellent rain forest; the first 1.5 kilometers of the road have seen considerable logging, but after that the forest is more intact, and very beautiful.
In Carita Preserve from 6:00 to 1:00. Some light rain during the day was followed, in mid-afternoon, by heavy rain that prevented us from searching for night birds.
Heavy rain all night, continuing until dawn and thus preventing predawn search for owls. We birded the preserve from ca. 6:00 until 8:00, in intervals between bursts of heavy rain. Left Carita 9:30, arriving at 3:00 at a site on Jakarta Bay whence we were taken by boat to the ‘bird island,’ Pulau Rambut. My main targets here were Milky Stork and Christmas Island Frigatebird (en route). The island is a bird sanctuary with great numbers of nesting herons, and is fitted with an excellent observation tower. We were back at the harbor at 5:30, and drove to Jakarta Airport. We met Doug Gill and then drove to Cibodas, arriving at 11:30 p.m. at Freddy’s Homestay.
Our guide today was Indra’s older brother Eddy, who is also very familiar with the local species. We spent several hours in the Cibodas Botanical Garden and much of the rest of the day in the lower reaches of Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park (The park entrance is at about 1300 meters asl.) In late afternoon, we visited an agricultural area and stream in the valley below the village. This national park, with superb forest, is well known at the best single birding site in Java. It has a single rocky trail that is wide and easy as far as the side trail to Cibeureum Waterfall, but which becomes steep and narrow thereafter.
We left with Indra at 4:45 a.m., to search for Javan Scops Owl, and proceeded slowly as far as the “second shelter,” at ca. 1800 m., spent considerable time along this part of the trail, and returned slowly.
With Indra, we left the homestay at 5:45 to look for Sunda Thrush in early light (dipped), then went as far as the “first shelter,” having spent considerable time at the boardwalk, where a panoramic view provides opportunity to watch for raptors. We returned to Cibodas in late afternoon.
We drove from Cibodas to Muara Angke, a coastal (mangrove) reserve on the outskirts of Jakarta, which we birded from 7:00 to 9:30. The reserve has been “improved” since I visited it in 2008, meaning that the boardwalk ends in the midst of mangrove, rather than at the edge of the bay (so one no longer must be appalled by the extreme quantities of garbage, but neither are you likely to see frigatebirds and the like). We then went to Jakarta Airport, where we parted from Indra and met the arriving members of the tour group. Because the flight to West Papua did not leave until late in the evening, we birded several nearby sites after lunch, including the grounds of the Sheraton Hotel, some nearby fish ponds, the border of the bay shortly beyond the entrance to the Muara Angke preserve, and Muara Angke (again).