Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sulawesi - Lore Lindu National Park.

After only a few hours sleep, we were up well before dawn, birding around Tabang Lake. We were on the dirt road listening for Cinnabar Boobook, eventually we heard it call & managed to see it quite well, but I didn't get any photos, as I was too busy looking at this endemic Owl! As dawn unfolded around us, birds began to appear & the vast majority were new species, as they were endemic to this bird rich island!

 Dawn at Lore Lindu National Park.
Birding from the road.
Red-eared Fruit Dove.
Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.
Cerulean Cuckooshrike.
Pygmy Cuckooshrike.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
Blue-fronted Flycatcher.
Island Verditer Flycatcher.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
Citrine Canary Flycatcher.
 Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater.

Sulawesi Hawk Eagle; Sunda Teal; White-breasted Waterhen; Brown (Slender-billed) Cuckoo Dove; a great & very lucky view of a Sulawesi Ground Dove, which flushed across the track, giving some of us excellent views; Red-eared Fruit Dove; large flocks of Yellow & green Lorikeets flying high over the treetops; Rusty-breasted Cuckoo; Grey-rumped Treeswift; both Sulawesi Pygmy & Ashy Woodpeckers; Pygmy & Cerulean Cuckooshrikes; groups of Malia; Blue-fronted Flycatcher; Rusty-bellied Fantail; Citrine Canary Flycatcher; Yellow-vented Whistler; Fiery-browed Myna; Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater; Crimson-crowned & Grey-sided Flowerpeckers & no less than four species of white-eye: Mountain; Lemon-bellied; Black-fronted & Streak-headed.

Red-backed Buttonquail.
Grey-sided Flowerpecker.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.

It was now getting very hot, so we headed back to the guesthouse for lunch & a little sleep. It was while I was dozing, that I heard some scratching outside my door. Thinking it must be chickens, I at first ignored the sound, but it grew more incessant & eventually I staggered out into the sunlight to be greeted by a female Red-backed Buttonquail with three fluffy chicks! A bit of a result that one!

The start of the Anaso Trail, on the roadside.

In the afternoon we explored the lower reaches of the famous Anaso Trail & also further forest along the roadside. Our main reason for birding this area was the endemic Great Shortwing & eventually we saw a fine adult male.

Good, montane forest is still found along the trail.

Early morning views, high on the Anaso Trail.

If your idea of fun, is being woken up at 2.30 am, then being driven over rough tracks to the start of the Anaso Trail & starting the climb in the pitch dark, then read on! It is quite steep in some places & a bit of a pull, but we had to get quite high for a couple of tough species.

The forest is thick, but in a few places
 the limestone rocks can be seen. 
This is where Diabolical Nightjar may be found
 at its daytime roost.

This is the spot!

 What a bird!
 Diabolical Nightjar

We continued to climb higher.
We were after Geomalia 
& I have just seen it!

Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
 The track continues for over 60 kms!
Fiery-browed Myna.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
 Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
The wonderful, Purple-bearded Bee-eater.
Purple-bearded Bee-eater
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.
Yellow-vented Whistler.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.

Birding is quite difficult in these conditions & although we recorded some notable species, it was difficult to get photographs. 
Sombre Pigeon; flocks totaling 75 Golden-mantled Racquet-tail; Chestnut-backed Bush Warbler; Sulawesi Leaf Warbler; Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater; Hylocitrea (Olive-flanked Whistler) & the very frustrating Mountain Serin, which kept flying overhead but without landing, to give us good views! 
We enjoyed the climb so much, that we went back the next day! Eventually seeing all the star birds.

 Population increase means there is always more
 agricultural areas needed.

Further down the valley we birded some more open, agricultural areas. Some species are benefiting from the more open areas & certainly birding is a lot easier in this habitat!

 Spotted Kestrel
 Red-backed Buttonquail - female.
Red-backed Buttonquail - male.

 A day roosting Savanna Nightjar.
 Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
 Pacific Swallow
Golden-headed Cisticola.

Sulawesi - arrival & Karaenta

Clare took me to the airport for my flight to Jakarta on 27th September.  The flight was delayed because of debris on the runway! Arrived in Jakarta on time, despite this & then the nightmare of paying for a visa & getting through immigration! Finally got to my hotel at 1.15 am! Off again at 5.30 am to fly to Makassar (Ujung Pandang) on the southern tip of Sulawesi.  Quite excited at this prospect, as Sulawesi has been on my radar for around twenty years, but for one reason or another I never got around to visiting before today.

 Views of Makassar from my hotel room.
A real Asian mixture of old & new.
Very tempting offer?

Managed around three hours sleep before off again on my flight to Makassar. The weather was lovely & first impressions of the place were favorable. Spent the afternoon catching up on sleep, before the meet up dinner in the evening. A very pleasant evening meeting the group & then the news we have to be up at 3.30 am!

 The forest was good, but impossible to access.

Birding along the main road - 
a hazardous undertaking in Sulawesi!

We drove in the dark to the limestone karst forest found at Karaenta.  Arrived at dawn, to hear birds calling all around. The place was actually a very busy main road & the only access to the forest was by walking along the road! We did see some great birds here, but birding & photography were very difficult & I got very few good shots of anything!
Sulawesi Serpent Eagle: Sulawesi Goshawk; White-bellied Imperial Pigeon; Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon; Blue-backed Parrot; Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill; Piping Crow; Sulawesi Babbler; Ivory-backed Woodswallow; White-necked Myna; Yellow-sided Flowerpecker & the real reason we were here, the endemic & highly localized Black-ringed White-eye, two of which gave us the runaround before giving good views.
Sulawesi Serpent Eagle.
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.

Blue-backed Parrot
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.

Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill
Photo courtesy of Andy Livermore.

A terrible shot of the Sulawesi Brown Flycatcher.
My defense is that it is new for science! 
So I thought I had better get any shot!
Photo couresy of Andy Livermore.

We also saw 2 of the so far undescribed species of flycatcher, which is known as Sulawesi Brown Flycatcher. It really is quite different from the normal Brown Flycatcher.

Moor Macaque (Macaca maura)

We also were lucky enough to bump into a troop of eight Moor Macaques, but they were very distant down the bottom of a heavily forested valley. It is an endemic primate though, so I was very pleased. 
It was then time to depart & head for our short flight to Palau in central Sulawesi. I think everyone was shattered from all the travelling & the lack of sleep over the last two nights.

One of the many short flights on this trip.
Even our intrepid leader Frank, was bushed!

We arrived at Palau & then had a rough journey to our accommodation for the next five nights, the Sendy Guesthouse. All of were tired, but I was excited as well, as we had arrived at one of the great Sulawesi bird spots - the legendary Lore Lindu National Park.