report covers a few weeks spent in Indonesia. As usual for my
this was in no way a full-on birding vacation and was more a
"Lonely Planet" type bucket list trip with incidental birding wherever
we happened to be. We kicked off on Bali where we stayed at
a few locations before moving on to Raja Ampat where we stayed at two
different diving lodge resorts. The birding priority for me
was the Birds of Paradise, just about everything else was incidental.
In short Bali was way too busy, overdelveloped and crowded; Raja Ampat
was paradise. One of the highlights of Bali, apart from the birds, was
the food - especially at the coast where the seafood was incredible.
This page covers the time spent on Bali. Birding Raja Ampat is covered on this page.
The extent of my
preparations for the trip - the field guide came out on the flight....
Things had already gone wrong at this stage - although this did not
become apparent until much later in the trip!
We used the Lonely Planet guides extensively for planning and during
Also as usual I played a very small role indeed in planning this trip;
the trip together as a combination of birding, a Lonely Planet bucket
list and hiking. My contribution was minimal.
As someone who doesn't like too much heat Indonesia was a bit of a
killer with high temperatures and high humidity. During our time there
even the locals said that it was unusually hot and that the rains
should have started.
I took the Lynx Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and
Wallacea with me - the fact that it did not in
fact cover the whole of Indonesia and was clearly lacking in the
coverage of Raja Ampat was something that did not become apparrent
until too late - altough this is clearly stated in the book itself. I
really need to improve my preparations! This field guide worked very
well on Bali and Nusa Lembongan and pretty well on Raja Ampat despite
missing a number of species at the latter location.
With hindsight I would have done Bali differently. As for Raja Ampat,
which is paradise, I would definitely
like to get back to do some more serious
We saw a total of at least XX species during our
Itinery in Indonesia:
06-09 November 2019: Jimbaran, Bali
09-10 November 2019: Bingin, Bali
10-13 November 2019: Nusa Lembongan
13-17 November 2019: Ubud
18-22 November 2019: Urai Island, Raja
22-27 November 2019: Gam Island, Raja
28 November 2019: Jakarta
Jimbaran 06-09 November
We used Jimbaran to settle in, doing little else than walking on the
beach and stuffing ourselves with the most amazing seafood - this
latter activity also on the beach. Incredible sunsets here
too - a subject that came up later in the holiday -
The fish market at the airport end of the beach was amazing - the sheer
variety of fish and other seafood was as fascinating as the colours.
Another very pleasant surprise about the beach here was that it was not
crowded at all and there was little in the way of pushy guides or
people trying to sell souvenirs.
Birding here was limited to the hotel garden and the beach. Ornate
Sunbird, Spotted Dove and Sunda Yellow-vented bulbul were the commonest
species around. Other species in the garden were Pied Fantail and
Collared Kingfisher. Overhead Linchi Swiflets were everyhwere along
with smaller numbers of Pacific Swallows and White-breasted
fish) spp - found dead on the beach at Jimbaran
Close up of the
head showing the "sucker" it uses to attach to its host
Along the beach a few species of terns were regular with the commonest
being Greater Crested Tern, followed by the longipennis race of
(Eastern Common Tern) and one Little Tern. A freshly dead White-tailed
Tropicbird lay on the
tideline one morning. Another feature of the beach were the numbers of
dead fish on the tideline - probably unwanted by-catch discarded by
We also took a trip to Uluwatu via Padang padang beach. The cliffs and
the monastary at Uluwatu were spectacular but almost birdless - I later
read that this can be a good place to seawatch but I saw no seabirds of
any kind here. The only bird sighting of note at Uluwatu was the first
of only a few Pacific Swifts seen during the trip.
The beach at Padang padang was also virtually birdless although the
Sea Eagle of the trip flew in off the sea with a fish.
Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
Tern, Jimbaran Beach, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
Sunda Pied Fantail in the hotel garden.
As is so often the case I end up using ISO values I never knew existed
when photographing in the tropics. The light levels seem to make a dull
Norwegian winter day seem positively bright!
Ornate Sunbird was one of the common "garden" birds wherever we went on
Bali - this one photographed on Nusa Lembongan
A nice start to the trip, although nothing to write home about
bird-wise with less than 20 species seen.
An amazing room on the cliffs above the beach was the highlight here -
although we were glad we took the advice about not leaving things
outside as monkeys raided the terrace repeatedly.
Being in a rather less developed area it was obvious that there were
more birds about here and the cliffs seemed popular for birds to soar
along. The ever present swiftlets fed constantly and were joined by
hirundines, at least one Pacific Swift and the first Lesser Frigatebird
of the trip.
The view from the
macaque, Temple Lodge, Bingin, Indonesia
White and dark phase Pacific Reef Herons fed on the shore here, Javan
Myna put in an appearance and a small party of Javan Tailorbirds fed in
the foliage around the terrace. A confusing sighting which is either a
misidentification or an indication of the immense scale of the
Indonesian wild bird trade was a Triller that showed itsellf as we
moved into the room.
Yellow-vented Bulbul and Collared Kingfisher were common again here.
Pods of Dolphins and schools of tuna attacking smaller fish were seen
from the terrace early in the mornings - before the crowds of surfers
Frigatebird, Bingin, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
White-shouldered Triller, Bingin, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
HBW states that the supercillium is sometimes poorly marked. Thanks to the good people at BirdForum for helping out on this one!
Above and below:
Linchi Swiftlet, Bingin, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
These swiflets were as widespread as they were difficult to photograph!
Linchi Swiftlet, Bingin, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
Lembongan / Ceningan 11-13
We took the ferry over to Lembongan and installed ourselves in a beach
resort - for the first time ever. The use of bicycles was included here
so we cycled around a fair bit, taking in the neighbouring island of
Ceningan which involved crossing the famous "Yellow Bridge". We also
cycled around most of Lembongan looking at the mangroves and other
sights. Each morning I took a short walk before breakfast.
Phalarope escaping a wave, Devil's Tear, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
Cerulean Kingfisher, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
Bird highlights here for me were a Red-necked Phalarope at the very
touristy Devil's Tear where massive waves pounded the cliffs and best
of all - Cerulean Kingfisher - a cracking little bird seen very well as
it perched on small boats to fish in the channels on the exposed
mudflats near the Yellow Bridge.
These two islands added a lot more species to the trip list including
Long-tailed Shrike, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Zebra
Dove, White-breasted Waterhen, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Black-naped
Oriole, Purple Heron, Grey-tailed Tattler, Black-faced Munia, Pied
Cormorant and more.
An Olive-headed Lorikeet was a presumed escape. This may also have been
the identity of a small but noisy flock of parrots/lorikeets that I saw
briefly around the village a few times but never managed to clinch.
Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
Photo taken with a compact superzoom
This was far and away the commonest wader in the area
In many ways a depressing stay considering the total development of the
area, the amount of rubbish and destruction of mangrove areas. Even my
favourite area - the mudflats separating the islands of Nusa Lembongan
and Nusa Ceningag are hugely disturbed, with people collecting shells,
cultivatig seaweed and so on. However, the same kind of thing
goes on everywhere and is by no means just an Indonesian issue.
Bulbul, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
Dove, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
One of the commonest, widespread and tamest species we encountered
Kingfisher, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
"Point and pray" superzoom
Black-faced Munia, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019 "Point and pray" superzoom
Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019 "Point and pray" superzoom
White-breasted Waterhen, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
DSLR with 400mm telephoto lens
White-breasted Woodswallow, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019
One of the commoner species encountered around Bali and Nusa Lembongang "Point and pray" superzoom
Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia, November 2019 DSLR
with 400mm telephoto lens
Evening view from the room
Seaweed Farm, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
Ubud, Bali, 13-17
November Ubud revealled itself to
be a crowded and noisy place and not quite what we had expected / hoped
the hotel we stayed in was probably one of the better ones and the
garden and surrounding rice paddies produced some birds and gave good
photo opportunities. Plaintive Cuckoo, Golden headed Cisticola, Javan
Munia, Scaly breasted Munia, Wood Sandpipers and more were present here.
We spent our time in Ubud doing some walks in the immediate vicinity
and doing some of the touristy bucket list things like the Ubud Monkey
Forest, the Tegalalang rice paddies (thankflully doing this early in
the morning before the area actually opened), visiting temples and so
The undoubted highlight of Ubud was taking the Bali Bird Walk
where Su, the guide, led a few of us on a walk through the
paddies. We saw XX species during the walk which was good for the birds
and at least as good for all the "incidental" information about the
operation of the rice paddies, the plants and more. Su is an excellent
and enthusiatic guide and makes sure everyone gets onto the birds,
animals, insects, butterflies and plants she spots. See link further
down on this page for contact details. The bird walk alone produced a
number of new species for the trip including Intermediate Egret,
Greater Coucal, Common Iora, Brown-throated Sunbird, Square-tailed
Drongo-cuckoo, Brown-backed Needletail, Sunda Cuckoo and Chineese
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
Here swalllowing a grasshopper and protecting its eyes as it did so,
this photograph was taken from a restaurant where we were eating
Click on the image above for more Cattle Egret pictures.
Javan Pond Heron, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
This is one of the signature species in Ubud and the surrounding area,
here photographed in the hotel grounds
Plaintive Cuckoo, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019
spring at the Tirta Empul Temple
Balinese dancing, Ubud
28 November This was just a
transfer day on the last day of the trip but I tried to make the best
out of things and took a walk
to the National Monument park as recommended by Nick Upton (see link
further down this page). Although it was rather late morning by the
time I arrived Coppersmith Barbets were easy to find and common around
the edge of the park. Sooty-headed Bulbul were also numerous here.
Coppersmith Barbet, Jakarta, Indonesia, November 2019
National Monument, Jakarta
Crabs on the rocks on
Jimbaran beach Another type of crab,
also on Jimbaran beach Monkeys (Long-tailed
Macaque otherwise known as Crab eating Macaque) were everywhere
and very tame in the tourist traps. This picture was taken at Uluwatu. Just one of some
extrordinary crabs living on the mudflats of the mangroves on Nusa
Lembongan - this is a type of fiddler crab
Gliding Lizard, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, November 2019