a tale of two Pittas from our 2016 tour


Elegant Pitta on Flores - this one was a real star


Javan Banded Pitta - on Bali


sunset over a volcano - Java


Bali Starling or Bali Myna - fewer than 20 adults were left in the wild when we took this photo.

We saw three of them and they were having a very good breeding season .....thankfully




the races of Black-winged Stilt have been split and lumped so many times that we will just call this Bali Stilt

Black-winged Starling is critically endangered.


Javan Hawk-eagle


To see huge hornbills in flight is amazing in itself. These two decided that they would argue over whose airspace it was.

The ensuing fight high above the canopy was something unforgettable.





at the bottom of Mt Ijen's, crater men dig for sulphur


the yellow rock is solidified sulphur that was channelled in liquid form from the heat of the volcano to a safer are where it sets and can me mined


this man is carrying the heavy sulphur rocks


Blue Nuthatch, my bird of the trip




what an odd looking woodpecker this was, small and with a crest of velvet

Looking towards Komodo from Flores



Rinca Island seen from the Komodo boat. There are dragons on this island too



Komodo Dragons are always hungry



boats in the bay at Flores


White-rumped Kingfisher

a view from high on Flores


Flores Monarch is a unique and strange flycatcher-like bird

Javan Kingfisher





Javan Banded Pitta                                                                                                                                       Komodo Dragon                                  


The following photographs were taken by Cliff & Jacky Buckton during our 2015 tour

on our way to Bali we had to divert around this ash cloud at Mount Raung.



On Flores, our guide Sam worked for Birdlife Indonesia, currently helping to establish an IBA (Important Bird Area).

He works with local people that mostly grow coffee and rice.

one area had rice paddies that resembled a spider's web


the White-rumped Kingfisher lives in scrub and woodland around the fields


As we sailed to Komodo, several White-bellied Sea-eagles came to check us out. They are extremely common here.


No problem finding dragons in this area, Komodo this one was at on the path as we began birding.

There are 2917 on the island.


Barred Doves are common and feed close to the dragons


Having blocked our path for a few minutes, this one lumbered off into the forest


Orange-footed Scrubfowl are extremely difficult to see well - except on Komodo, where they are protected.



Flores (or Wallace's) Hanging Parrot, a difficult endemic to find.


Young Flores Minivets, were being fed by the roadside.


Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker is small, like a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker


Great-billed Heron on the other hand is massive, and very common feeding on the coral reefs here.


Australian Pelicans were migrants fresh-in from their long flight north.


Sunset on Flores - a view from our hotel


Inland, Java, Flores and Bali have many rice paddies where it is easier to see herons, storks and crakes.


White-browed Crake was shockingly easy to see this year.


We found a Cinnamon Bittern among a dozen Yellow Bitterns on Bali.


Mudskippers and Fiddler Crabs were abundant in Bali's saltpans.


Bali Starling was down to 6 wild birds in 2001. There are now 35 birds in Bali Barat National Park where we saw this one.

It was unringed and so is a wild-hatched bird. All birds from the captive release scheme are ringed. One more population has been established at Nusa Penida, where 120+

were present and doing well. However last winter bird-trappers took 80% of them. Our guide at Bali Barat National Park is extremely worried that 'his' birds will be under threat too.


Islands in the area are composed of both volcanic rock and coral reefs. This makes interesting formations where the Sea-eagles and Peregrines can nest.


Sunda Scops Owls were sleeping as we visited Bali Barat National Park.


Timor Deer are recovering from decades of poaching. There are now many in Bali Barat N.P and on Komodo.


Malayan Giant Squirrel was found on Bali.


Black-thighed Falconet is about as big as a Bullfinch!


Black-winged Myna is probably rarer than Bali Starling (Bali Myna). This one on Java was following the Wild Banteng Cattle.


The remote regions of Eastern Java is a great place to see Green Peafowl. Similar to the familiar Indian Peafowl, this bird is absolutely stunning when seen close up.


This Chestnut-headed Bee-eater was digging a nest-hole in the forest on Java.



A very soggy Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Java.


Javan Frogmouth is tiny - the size of a nightjar


Indigo Flycatcher was found hawking insects in the forest, on Java.


Ulysses Butterfly

Common Tiger


as well as birds, some of the sights in the region are quite comical!


Sunda Bush-warbler is hardly the most colourful bird, but almost every passerine we saw on this trip was endemic to Indonesia, many restricted to one or two islands!




Daily Diary 2015 Tour


On our first day, people safely avoided the Mount Raung ash-cloud that had closed airports a week before and arrived from the UK or Papua New Guinea. They were met by Hery at Denpasar before being taken to our hotel at Bedagul. The following morning, we were up bright and early in the hope of seeing a Javan Owlet.

We walked along the road birding, but El Niño had given us a year with little fruit and a drought. While this meant reduced numbers of some frugivorous birds, we made up for quantity with quality. Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot was a key species here and we managed a good view of them.


On to the Botanical Gardens, where the macaques emptied the dustbins. We were kept busy by numerous calling barbets, a Sunda Warbler and some tricky ditch-hugging shortwings.

Next stop was Lake Buyan, with its Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, as well as a superb White-browed Crake, before finally moving to Pemuteran at Menjangen for the night.


Early on 5th, we took a boat to a remote beach in Bali Barat National Park. Our target was the critically endangered Bali Starling. As we landed on the beach, we flushed Savanna Nightjars, got nice and close to a pair of Barred Buttonquail, and then continued to the park office.

The Bali Starlings performed extremely well, but the Java Sparrows took a little more work as they drank under the dark mangroves. Ebony Leaf-Monkeys and Timor Deer were seen on the way back and we spent the afternoon in Menjangen Park. A pair of Sunda Scops Owls were a highlight here.


On 6th, we visited a different part of Bali Barat N.P. and waited for a Banded Pitta. We took the opportunity to look for things like the Malayan Giant Squirrel and Crested Serpent Eagle as well as Banded Bay and Plaintive Cuckoos.

On to the saltpans at Banyweang, where we soon notched up Javan Plover among the commoner Red-necked Stints, as well as Long-toed Stint, an extremely rare bird here. Cerulean Kingfisher was the real prize though as this dashing gem led us along Fiddler Crab alley.

Prior to leaving Bali, we visited a memorial park to see Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker before crossing the sea to Ketapang in Java.


In Java on 7th, we stopped to see Javan Kingfisher on the way to Alas Purwo National Park, where we enjoyed time in a canopy tower watching the antics of hornbills, and a wave of fruit-eating birds. Below us was a meadow filled with Banteng, the wild Javan cattle, each one with a starling or Myna in tow; two of them being the critically endangered White-winged Starling!


The hillside beyond, was patrolled by a Javan Hawk-eagle, one of the rarest raptors in the world and a walk and drive along the road, gave us stunning views of Green Peafowl and Green Junglefowl, as well as bee-eaters building a nest. Just as we were leaving, an Oriental Dwarf-kingfisher stopped us on his bridge. There was no way we were moving before he had flashed his fiery-orange rump at us, so we soaked up the views of him as he continued head-bobbing in annoyance at our choice of parking spot.


The 8th saw us leaving pre-dawn to reach Mount Ijen, where we waited for a Javan Frogmouth. Although chilly, it was more than worth it as this tiny bird sat just feet away from us. Then after coffee and breakfast, we birded our way up to a viewpoint overlooking Mount Raung. Spewing ash into the air almost constantly, it was a major distraction from the many warblers, bulbuls and scimitar-babblers that came thick and fast here. Before leaving, we stopped for a Pink-headed Fruit Dove and a trio of Indigo Flycatchers on the road down the slope.

In the afternoon, we returned to Bali and drove to Denpasar, passing the many temple and shrine-filled gardens that lined the road.


On 9th, we had an unscheduled dash to Serangan Island, to check the mudflats for Sunda Teal and Oriental Plover. There were hundreds of other waders and herons, but our flight to Flores was calling. Once through security, we continued birding as Oriental Pratincoles hawked over the runway, to increase the impressive list of waders.

The afternoon’s birding at Labuan Bajo, Flores, allowed us to see herons coming in to roost. These included Great-billed Heron and Javan Pond Herons. An Elegant Pitta walked around on dry leaves below some nearby bushes and a Mees’s Nightjar flew by.


The 10th took us inland for our first bash at Flores Crow in Porto Wangka. It was calling across the valley, but would not come out of the forest. Even so, we happily studied a White-rumped Kingfisher instead, then started to notch up many passerines in the canopy. This continued as we climbed to the radio mast at Sanongoa, and on into the Purlolo Nature Reserve.

More pittas called, but flocks of dark-eyed, white-eye species kept our eyes on the canopy. A pair of Sunda Woodpeckers tapped away nice and close to us, while Flores Monarch was the star endemic to get here. The radio mast failed to provide the hoped-for Flores Hawk-eagle, but, as we ventured down the valley to Birdlife Flores HQ, Sam found a pair. Views were incredible as they were so low, but while everyone excitedly clicked shutters, I was questioning the ID. The penny dropped as I realised they were in fact Bonelli’s Eagles, a common mistake made by many birders here apparently, and so we would have to try again later.

After lunch and locally grown, picked, dried and roasted Flores coffee, provided by Mrs Sam, we reached Sanonggoang Lake. A large gathering of preening duck produced Hardhead, a rare pochard from Australia, among Wandering Whistling Duck and Pacific Black Ducks, while Asian Paradise Flycatchers flitted through bankside bamboo.


A nice relaxing boat trip to the almost mythical Komodo Island occupied the 11th. Black-naped and Crested Terns accompanied us, with the odd Lesser Frigatebird over a setting from Pirates of the Caribbean. The small sail boats were very romantic, but soon made way for a more sinister Jurassic Park-like feel as we neared Komodo.

Each headland seemed to have a White-bellied Sea-eagle and the island is great for birds shy or hard to see on the mainland, as they are protected here. The critically endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo seems to enjoy showing off for tourists, and the Orange-footed Scrubfowl are like confiding chickens here. In fact they feed with the Green Junglefowl.

A Sunda Goshawk looked down on us as a Komodo Dragon walked up the path at too-close range!

Cameras clicked faster than he could flick his forked white tongue, and everyone was happy.


We were soon back on the beach where more dragons waited patiently by Timor Deer and, as we left, a Pacific Swallow counted us down the jetty and onto the boat as it sat on a post.


The dropping tide provided a very high count of Great-billed Herons among both colour-morphs of Pacific Reef-egrets. Then, a pair of Beach Thick-knees were spotted and rooting wild pigs, not far from our hotel. As the sun set, three Australian Pelicans rested on the beach. Their numbers would grow there each evening until the end of our trip.


On 12th, a pair of Timor Zebra Finches were found by the hotel pool before we set off up to the radio mast again. As the teasing pittas called, a big, white, Flores Hawk-eagle circled above us – phew! This was a real star; incredibly rare, it showed very well before dropping its talons and gliding down into the canopy.

Onward and upward, we drove to stop for lunch by some eucalyptus. Flores Lorikeets circled, then descended to feed like a nervous flock of siskins, filling the canopy but hidden by leaves. A pair of Flores Minivets lit up the valley floor and, by evening, we had reached Ruteng.

Low cloud conspired to prevent us seeing the Bare-throated Whistler and three Flores Scops Owls that teased us by the road. So we settled in at the Mission.

The 13th was a busy day. Views of canopy birds, missed or glimpsed previously, improved and a tiny Wallace’s Hanging Parrot was located, sitting right in the open. With more minivets and white-eyes than you could shake a stick at, and eventually good views of the whistler, we were unlucky with Flores Scops-owls calling from perches too deep in the forest.


The morning of 14th allowed us to visit Lake Ranamese for Tri-coloured Grebe, a number of White-browed Crakes and a Rufous-bellied Eagle, before returning to the coast via a spider’s web of rice-paddies - the impression everyone has of Indonesia.


Strange swifts called above us as we passed the radio mast once more – at least a new subspecies and possibly a new species for science? The call was unknown to Hery and some investigation will have to be done here on his next visit.

Packing at night at the hotel, wee took photographs of the sunset before dinner. Rum and raisin ice cream was an almost unanimous finalé before tucking our wooden Komodo Dragons into suitcases before bedtime.


The next morning we took a last look at the pelicans, herons and Sacred Kingfishers that lined the beach, before taking a flight back to Bali. At Denpasar, some relaxed and repacked, one even having a pedicure (a first for Bird Holidays!), while others returned to Serangan Island for a last look at waders, terns and herons. Pied Cormorants watched from submerged logs and juvenile Little Terns squeaked overhead, and there was even time to add a couple of White-winged Black Terns to the trip list.

Some went shopping at the airport, but eventually all set off for Singapore and home, with a very diverse set of images to peruse while sleeping on the plane.



Thanks for your company on this adventure - Phil Palmer





a birding tour





The pictures here were taken during Phil's recce to Indonesia. In particular he concentrated on Bali and Komodo


This area has a whole swathe of endemic birds mixing species from both Australia and Asia as Phil crossed the Wallace line.

Many are rare and seriously endangered. Perhaps the most notable is the Bali Starling. Down to a handful of wild individuals, Phil was so excited to join wardens devoted to keeping them on wild and free on Bali.

Phil island-hopped his way through Flores, Rinca and on to Komodo; a truly inspiring place where dragons ambush the Timor deer in the shadow of dormant volcanoes.

Our tour in 2015 will also take you to Java so that a wide range of habitats and magical creatures can be enjoyed. This is a simple easy-to-do tour with a massive diversity in wildlife and culture.

Please watch for details on this website or in our brochure, but like our recently announced Sri-Lanka tour, we expect it to fill fast. So please register an interest with our office.


A few shots by Chris Br

Komodo Dragon









































Please note: The above photographs were taken on previous trips. Itineraries change from time to time and therefore you cannot rely on these photographs as being an exact representation of what can be expected on a future tour. For details of the each tour, you should refer to the brochure write-up.


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