Java and Sumatra

Subject: Java and Sumatra
From: stuart dashper <>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 19:19:58 +1000
Dear All,

A conference in Japan recently gave me a brief chance to do some birding in
that country and to enjoy a couple of weeks in Java/Sumatra. Here are some
of the highlights of the Indonesian leg and general impressions. The trip
was in mid-July and the weather was near perfect, very little rain and
fairly mild.

We visited three main sites in Java, Gunung Gede (Taman Nasional
Gede-Pangrango) which is a national park encompassing the peaks of Gede and
Pangrango approximately 100 km south of Jakarta. The entrance to the park
is through the township of Cibodas where there is an extensive  botanical
garden. Gunung Gede is an active volcano and is 2958 m high. We stayed at
Freddy's Home Stay and I highly recommend it. At ~$10 a night for a double
its great value. Freddy, his wife and sons Eddy and Ibrahim  are very
charming. Freddy speaks a little English as does Eddy but Ibrahim is quite
fluent. Eddy can be hired as a bird guide and he has a very good knowledge
of local species. Birding guides can also be obtained from the KPB CIBA
(Society for Bird Conservation) office which is hidden on the left just
past the main entrance gate to the national park. There is a single main
walking trail that ascends the mountain, unfortunately for us it was school
holidays and ever teenager in Jakarta heads for the hills at this time to
go hiking and camping. Consequently the trail was crowded and noisy, not
great for birding! However the rewards were well worth the effort.
Highlights included Chestnut-bellied Partridge, Javan Hawk-Eagle,
Yellow-throated Hanging-Parrot, Volcano Swiftlet, Javan Trogon (Blue-tailed
Trogon), Flame-fronted Barbet, Rufous-tailed Fantail, Sunda Minivet,
Mountain Serin, Blue Nuthatch, Pygmy Tit, Javan Tesia, White-bibbed
Babbler, Spotted Crocias, Indigo Flycatcher, Sunda Robin and Sunda Forktail.
We were also shown what was claimed to be a Javan Scops Owl in the Cibodas
Gardens however methinks it was in fact a Sunda Scops-Owl, although the
taxonomy of Scops Owls in this part of the world is far from clear. I'd be
interested to hear from anyone who has experience with both of these
species. Mammals included Ebony Langur, Javan Langur and Red Giant Flying

Carita Beach on the mid-western coast of Java, a popular area with local
tourists was the next stop. Public transport in Java may be cheap but it is
fairly awful, schedules do not exist and express buses seem to be an
illusion, if travelling by bus leave lots of time and take your worry
beads. We stayed at the excellent Niguadarma Hotel which is near the
entrance to the forest. The forest here encompasses a small river and
waterfall and is a 'scenic' reserve. The forest is shrinking rapidly due to
the efforts of woodcutters etc and what is left is only a small remnant. It
is however one of the best places to find some of Java's lowland endemics.
The density of birds is low but you will see some good species. We had good
views of the endemic Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, White-breasted Babbler and
Black-banded Barbet. We also encountered a superb pair of Banded
Kingfishers, Banded Broadbill, Banded Pitta, Bay Banded Cuckoo and a few
non-Banded things. The area is reputed to be good for nocturnal birds but
torrential rain curtailed our spotlighting. Mammals included Javan Mongoose.

Maura Anke a small wetland remnant in Jakarta, that once had an extensive
boardwalk. The boardwalk is now less than 20 metres long and there were a
couple of people living in the observation tower! It is now totally
surrounded by housing developments but surprisingly still harbours a
reasonable number of birds.

Way Kambas National Park in south-east Sumatra is a 130,000 hectare lowland
swamp forest surrounded by agricultural land that is easy to reach by car
or public transport. While it is partly degraded by logging it is now well
protected and offers refuge to a number of endangered species including
Sumatran Tiger, Javan Rhino, White-winged Duck and Wrinkled Hornbill. We
stayed at the exceedingly basic guesthouse at Way Kanaan, clean and vermin
free. You will need to bring your own food and a mosquito net if you stay
here and ask the rangers to lend you their 'kitchen'. River trips are the
best way to see this national park and the collapse of the Indonesian
currency means that the boat trips are now cheap, and the boatman is very

The main quarry here was the White-winged Duck and nightbirds. We saw only
one duck in a small swamp off the main road. We were lucky to see
Bonaparte's Nightjar, Brown Hawk-Owl and Gould's Frogmouth. Cinnamon-headed
Green Pigeon is common on the river and we had a few excellent sightings of
the stunning Small Blue Kingfisher. We had less success with the Look Trail
which is reportedly good for pheasants and partridges but Banded Pitta was
seen very well a few times here and on the main road. Other highlights
included Crested Fireback, Bat Hawk, Black-thighed Falconet, Blue-crowned
Hanging-Parrot, Grey-rumped Treeswift,  Red-naped Trogon, Diard's Trogon,
Dusky Broadbill, Black-and-red Broadbill, Banded Broadbill and
Black-and-yellow Broadbill. Mammals included Siamang, Lesser Mouse Deer,
Barking Deer(Muntjac) and Sunda Giant Squirrel. 

All up a terrific trip into one of the most densely populated parts of the
planet that still supports an amazing (if diminishing) variety of wildlife. 

For a more detailed report and full bird list visit Susan's website,

Stuart Dashper

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