While Bali is usually seen as a sun and sand destination, it was the birds that drove us to visit this beautiful island. A short ferry ride across the Javan Strait also gave us an opportunity to explore the birdlife of the East Javan forests, thus enabling us to see many more birds of this Sundaic region.
Apart from birding, we also had a great time witnessing the Galungan & Kuningan festivities, the beautifully decorated neighborhoods, the Penjor lined roads and the unique Balinese Hindu culture. There were smiles everywhere, locals were beautifully dressed in traditional attire and the entire island had a very friendly and spiritual vibe. However, the popular hobby of bird-keeping among households was a downer and so was the high percentage of smokers. And while Anjana was bemused at the sound of the expansion chamber fitted bikes, Rishi enjoyed it thoroughly reliving his love for the 2-stroke bikes.
We also did pretty well with vegetarian dishes and enjoyed the local delicacies like tempeh, cap cay, gado gado and water spinach.
Visa: No Visa required for Indians, just show your passport and walk in. Perfect!!
Travel Dates: 27th July 2019 – 4th Aug 2019
Birding with Hery and Bayu:
Hery planned the entire trip for us and guided us in Bali and then Bayu took over for the East Java part of the trip. Both are extremely skilled birders and great company. Highly recommended!!
A big shout also goes out to Wagini, our driver for the trip who tirelessly drove us around the island safely and responsibly.
Hery Kusumanegara: hery(underscore)kn(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)id
Phone: +62 813 3807 8010
Itinerary: We followed a standard itinerary covering the forested slopes of the Batukaru temple, the central highlands of Bedugal and the varied habitats of Bali Barat National Park before moving onto East Java where we explored the montane forest of Ijen and the lowland forests of Alas Purwo and Baluran National Park.
Day 1: 27 July 2019 (Nusa Dua Lagoon)
We took an overnight Air Asia flight out of Delhi, reaching the Denpasar airport by afternoon where we met Hery and Wagini who took us to the hotel Sunset Kuta, a stone’s throw away from the iconic Kuta beach.
For the evening, we had the option to relax at the beach, but we ended up birding the Nusa Dua lagoon. Birding was mostly along the dividing banks of the large pond and the woodland that dotted the edge of the pond. Some of the birds we managed to see were the Brown-throated Sunbird, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Little Pied Cormorant, Cerulean Kingfisher, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Olive-backed Tailorbird (Javan), Sunda Teal, Plaintive Cuckoo, Javan Myna, Grey-cheeked Green-pigeon, White-crowned Forktail (Javan), and Sunda Collared-dove.
Overnight at Hotel Sunset Kuta: https://sunsetkuta.com/
Day 2: 28 July 2019 (Denpasar – Batukaru Temple – Bedugul)
After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we drove to the Batukaru Temple picking up a Javan Kingfisher and Javan Munia in the rice fields that dotted the drive.
We then spent some time birding the forested slopes of the temple where we found several interesting birds like the Chestnut-backed Scimitar-babbler (Javan), Gray-cheeked (Melodious) Bulbul, Oriental White-eye (Sunda), Short-tailed Starling and a Black-naped Fruit-dove.
The Galungan & Kuningan festival meant that the temple was brimming with people but that did not really impact birding and we even ended up seeing a Javan Owlet along the roadside. Other birds seen along the access road to the temple were Crescent-chested Babbler, Lesser Shortwing (Sunda), Yellow-eared Barbet (Little) and the Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon.
We then had lunch at the Ti Amo restaurant before moving on to the cooler environs of the Bali central highlands, spending the last few daylight hours birding and marveling at the intricate Ramayana statues that adorned the Bedugul botanical gardens. The definite highlight for the evening was a Black-backed Fruit-dove apart from other birds like Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker (Javan), Crested Serpent-eagle (Javan), Flame-fronted Barbet, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and Scarlet Minivet.
Overnight at CLV Hotel: http://www.clvhotels.com/
Day 3: 29 July 2019 (Handara Golf Course – Bedugul Botanical Garden – Bali Barat National Park)
Early morning hours were spent birding in the fog along the access road to the Handara Golf Course where the Yellow-throated Hanging Parrots really tested our patience as they kept vanishing in the canopy while flying from one tree to another. Anyway, we did pick up other birds like the Little Pied Flycatcher, Javan Warbler, Flame-fronted Barbet and Indonesian Honeyeater.
We then went back to the Botanical gardens where we finally managed to see the Javan Hawk-eagle soaring high above over the Pura Teratai Bang temple apart from other birds like Fulvous-chested Jungle-flycatcher, Brush Cuckoo (Rusty-breasted Cuckoo), Javan Whistling-thrush, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker (Javan), Rusty-breasted Whistler and Javan Grey-throated White-eye (Javan Heleia).
We then proceeded towards the Bali Barat National Park but not before relishing on some locally grown strawberries, enjoying the fresh juices at the De Danau lake view restaurant and making the customary stop at the roadside overlooking the scenic twin lakes, Tamblingan and Buyan.
We reached the Bali Barat National Park by late afternoon and took a quick round of the Banjuwedang Salt pan area that produced a Malay Plover, Javan Plover and several Barred Buttonquails.
On our way to the hotel, we stopped next to a fruiting fig tree as it was attracting a lot of birds and much to our excitement, within a few minutes, a flock of Bali Myna landed on the tree giving us great views apart from other birds like Coppersmith Barbet, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Eastern Spotted Dove and Freckle-breasted Woodpecker.
Overnight at Luvi Resort: https://www.luvi.co.id/
Day 4: 30 July 2019 (Bali Barat National Park – Banyuwangi, East Java)
We spent the morning visiting several birding spots around the National Park including the Menjangan resort, Banjuwedang, Labuhan Lalang, Gilimanuk and Shalom Homestay picking up birds like the Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Bar-winged Prinia, Olive-backed Sunbird, Green Junglefowl, Large Cuckooshrike (Javan), Orange-breasted Green-pigeon, Little Tern, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Greater Sandplover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Sunda Collared-dove, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Sacred Kingfisher, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Horsfield’s Babbler, Sunda Pied Fantail, Sunda-Scops-owl, White-shouldered Triller and many more Bali Mynas.
Javan Banded Pitta’s were surprisingly very common and we found several of them in the National Park.
Hery knew that we really wanted to see a Beach Thick-knee, so after finishing off lunch at the Luvi resort, he arranged a speed boat and we explored several small islands, eventually connecting with the bird on one of them. The excursion also produced several other birds like the Great-billed Heron, Black-naped Terns, Pacific Swallows, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and fighting Lesser Adjutant over a fish.
In the evening, we took a ferry crossing the Javan Strait, settling in at the Ketapang Indah Hotel, Banyuwangi for the night.
Day 5: 31 July 2019 (Alas Purwo National Park)
Today we headed for Alas Purwo National Park and the absolute highlight for the day was seeing the last of the wild Grey-backed Myna’s left on the planet while it was raining Pitta’s everywhere and we soon lost count of the number of individuals we had seen.
Other interesting birds we saw during the day were Asian Woollyneck, Black-banded Barbet, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Greater Green Leafbird, Banded Kingfisher, Black-capped Babbler, Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter (Javan), Green Peafowl, Grey-cheeked Tit-babbler, Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher, Slender-billed Crow and Velvet-fronted Nuthatch.
Overnight at Ketapang Indah Hotel, Banyuwangi
Day 6: 01 Aug 2019 (Ijen Nature Reserve)
We started off from our hotel at 0400 Hrs in order to stand a good chance of finding the Horsfield’s Frogmouth (Javan) at Ijen and after a bit of a struggle, we did manage to see the Frogmouth just before dawn. We then headed to a hide hoping to see the White-faced Partridges, but they never showed up. Anyway, we spent the rest of the day birding along the access road to the volcano and saw quite a few birds like the White-bibbed Babbler, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Javan Yellownape, Pink-headed Fruit-dove, White-flanked Sunbird, Blue Nuthatch, Pied Shrike-babbler, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-babbler (Trilling), Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Mountain Warbler, Javan Bulbul, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Sunda Grasshopper-warbler (Javan Bush-warbler/Sunda Bush-warbler), Ruddy Cuckoo-dove, Little Cuckoo-dove, Mountain Tailorbird, Javan Leafbird, Striated Grassbird and White-bellied Fantail.