In this ZOOTHERA adventure we visit the tropical paradise that is collectively known as The Lesser Sundas, and in particular Timor, Sumba, Flores, Rote and Komodo. These beautiful islands are home to an amazing number of endemics, which currently stand at around 70, including some of Indonesia’s rarest and least known species and are the most varied of the vast Indonesian archipelago which stretches across some 5000 kilometres. These islands are relatively undeveloped, thinly populated and seldom visited by birders but they give us access to some of the rarest birds on the planet. Starting on the arid island of Sumba which is the most isolated and least often visited and we have an excellent chance to find some of the world’s most critically endangered species such as Sumba Hornbill, Sumba Myzomela and Apricot-breasted Sunbird. Then we visit the largest island, Timor with its dry grassland, acacia scrub and montane forest holds the greatest number of endemics and the avifauna more closely resembles those parts of northern Australia that lie not far away to the south. And we have now altered our original itinerary to visit Rote island, which despite its close proximity to Timor has four endemics and several endemic subspecies for us to find. We follow this with a visit to the elongated island of Flores and is certainly one of the most beautiful and idyllic in all of Indonesia. Many of the rugged mountains of Flores are still covered with humid rainforest dotted by rumbling volcanos, and bisected by deep wooded valley and are home to such delights as Flores Lorikeet, Bare-throated Whistler, Flores Jungle Flycatcher and Flores Monarch amongst a wonderful variety of localised and endemic species. Everyone has heard of the island of Komodo and here among parched hills and dry gullies lives the rare and incomparable Komodo Dragon. There can be few wildlife experiences to compare with the sight of these unique beasts! And the birds are pretty fantastic as well with Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Green Junglefowl and Yellow-crested Cockatoo present here. So if you fancy something a little different, birding far off the regular birding circuit and set amidst beautiful scenery then this is the tour for you.
Timor Black Pigeon
Little Sumba Boobook
Snnda Zebra Finch
Wednesday 5th September - Sunday 23rd September 2018
Day 1 UK - Bali- 5th Sept
Following our evening arrival into Denpasar International Airport, situated in the south-east corner of the beautiful island of Bali we will transfer the short distance to a nearby hotel for the night. Night in Bali.
Days 2 - 5 Sumba
This morning we will fly to Waingapu on Sumba Island where we will stay for the next four nights in the small village of Lewa at a comfortable homestay. From our convenient base we will be birding in Langgaliru National Park mainly along the road which bisects excellent patches of forest up to a mid-altitude level near the village. Sumba is one of the smaller islands of Nusa Tenggara, the little known south-east chain of Indonesian islands and is home to some extremely rare endemics as well as some more widespread Moluccan specialities. During our time here we hope to find Pacific Baza, Brown Goshawk, Citron-crested Cockatoo, Great-billed and Eclectus Parrots, Marigold Lorikeet, Sumba Hornbill, the beautiful Red-naped Fruit-dove, Sumba Green-Pigeon, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Elegant Pitta, Sumba Jungle Flycatcher, Sumba Brown Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Thrush, Arafura Fantail, Rusty-breasted Whistler (split from Common Golden Whistler), Pale-shouldered Cicadabird, Yellow-spectacled and Ashy-bellied White-eyes, Sumba Myzomela, Apricot-breasted Sunbird, Blood-breasted (Sumba) Flowerpecker and Lesser Wallacean Drongo. More widespread species include Black and Brahminy Kites, Barred Dove, Black-naped Fruit-Dove, Oriental Dollarbird, Brown-throated Sunbird, Short-tailed Starling and Black-faced Munia. Night birding can be rewarding with the endemic Sumba Boobook and the recently described Little Sumba Boobook, as well as Mees’s Nightjar. We will spend the last night in Waingapu.
Day 6 Sumba - Timor
Our first stop this morning will be the coastal grasslands at nearby Yumbu in search of Sumba’s only non-forest endemic, the Sumba Buttonquail. Also present here are Brown Quail, Horsfield's Bushlark, Spotted Kestrel, Indonesian Honeyeater and Zebra Finch. If we still have time we may visit a site along the coast for some waders including Javan Plover, Long-toed Stint and Australian Pratincole, and other possibilities include Wandering Whistling-duck, Pacific Black Duck, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, White-browed Crake, White-headed Stilt and Australian Reed Warbler. Then we take a flight to Kupang on the west coast of Timor and will head to Bipolo Forest for our first taste of birding on this excellent island. Night in Kupang.
Day 7 Timor - Rote
After breakfast we will take a fast ferry to Roti island, situated off the south-west coast of Timor. We will be looking for the four endemics - Rote Boobook, Rote Fantail, Rote Leaf Warbler and Rote Myzomela (these last two species are as yet undescribed). Other key species here include Olive-shouldered Parrot and Pink-headed Imperial-Pigeon, whilst it would be good to see the endemic subspecies of Black Cuckoo-Dove, Timor Oriole, Timor Stubtail and Ornage-banded Thrush. Of course, once the sun sets we will be searching for Roti Boobok before settling down to our evening meal. Night in Rote.
Day 8 Roti - Timor
After a morning's birding on Rote we will make the return ferry journey to Kupang in Timor, which is the largest island in the Lesser Sundas, and we will have two different bases from which to thoroughly explore this remarkable island where the avifauna has a noticeably Australasian influence. This afternoon we will make the best of our birding time at Bipolo Forest again. Once again, we will be birding along the road and searching for species such as Rose-crowned and Black-backed Fruit-Doves, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Timor Figbird and Timor Friarbird. Night in Kupang, Timor.
Days 9 - 11 Timor
We will first visit Camplong Nature Reserve which holds one the few remaining pockets of lowland forest in West Timor and fortunately many of the endemics can still be found here. Species to look for include Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Timor Blue Flycatcher, Ashy-bellied White-eye, Rufous Fantail, Island Monarch, White-bellied Chat, Sunda Bush-warbler, Buff-banded Thicket Warbler, Spot-breasted Dark-eye and Timor Friarbird, and with luck we can hope to see the elusive Black-banded Flycatcher in the bamboo thickets. In the evening we shall listen for Timor Boobook, a split from the Southern Boobook complex. The rather more open habitat and saltworks at Bipolo should give us a variety of species including Intermediate Egret, Red-backed Buttonquail, Brown Quail, Oriental Pratincole, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Black-faced Woodswallow, Five-coloured Munia and Timor Zebra Finch. Another session here will involve some easy roadside birding as we explore a different area of forest and despite the small size this forest patch still holds a remarkable number of birds where possibilities include Olive-shouldered Parrot, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Pacific Emerald Dove, Rainbow Bee-eater, Timor Oriole, Orange-banded Thrush, Plain Gerygone, Timor Figbird, Timor Friarbird, Red-chested Flowerpecker and Large-billed Crow. We will also search for several species of pigeon including Pink-headed Imperial-pigeon, and both Black-backed and Rose-crowned Fruit-doves. The nearby shrimp ponds can hold Royal Spoonbill, Sunda Teal and Red-capped Plover, while the fields leading up to the ponds can hold migrant Black-faced Cuckooshrike and Black-faced Woodswallow, both Five-coloured and Pale-headed Munia, and the rare Timor Sparrow.
Our next base at Soe will give us access to the upper reaches of Gunung Mutis (2427m) with its sub-montane habitat and species such as Olive-shouldered Parrot, Olive-headed and Iris Lorikeets, the difficult endemic Timor Imperial-pigeon, Metallic Pigeon, Island and Chestnut-backed Thrushes, Wallacean Cuckooshrike, Sunda Bush-Warbler, Timor Leaf-warbler, Yellow-eared Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird, Pygmy Wren Babbler of the timorensis race (a potential split), and possibly Tricoloured Parrotfinch. Other wonderful species we will work on finding over these few days include Marigold Lorikeet, Black-backed Fruit-dove, Pink-headed Imperial-pigeon, Timor Black Pigeon, Barred-necked Cuckoo-dove, Orange-banded Thrush, Timor Stubtail, Buff-banded Thicket Warbler, Fawn-breasted Whistler, White-bellied Chat, Red-chested Flowerpecker, Streak-breasted Honeyeater, Black-chested Myzomela, Greater Wallacean Drongo, Timor Oriole, Timor Figbird, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Timor Sparrow. Nights 9 and 10 will be spent at a hotel near Soe and Night 11 will be spent in a hotel at Kupang.
Day 12 - 16Timor - Flores We take a flight to Ende on Flores and drive to Ruteng, where we will stay the first 3 nights and this will be our base to explore the highlands of western Flores. This is an ideal base which gives us access to a variety of montane sites such as the highland pass ofPoco Ranakaand the splendid cloud forest atDanau Rana Mesewhere we have plenty of time to search for high-altitude specialities amidst a fantastic setting of orchid-laden, moss-encrusted woodland. Our first walk may well give us Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove, Sunda Cuckoo, Little Minivet, Black-fronted and Golden-rumped Flowerpeckers, Brown-capped Fantail, Yellow-browed and Crested Dark-eyes, Russet-capped Tesia and hopefully Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch. Other key species in the highland region include Black-backed Fruit-dove, Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon, Flores Lorikeet (split from Rainbow Lorikeet), Flores Scops-owl, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, White-rumped Kingfisher, Flores Minivet, Brown-capped Fantail, Sunda Thrush, Thick-billed and Crested Dark-eyes, Flores Leaf-warbler, Flores (White-browed) Shortwing, Bare-throated Whistler and Scaly-crowned Honeyeater. The forested lower slopes of Gunung Pocoranaka (2400m) are home to many of the same species but here we will have a good chance of finding the near-endemic Flores Jungle Flycatcher (split from Sumba Jungle Flycatcher). We will also visit the extensive forests around the high pass at Golo Lusang for Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon and further chances of some of the highland birds.
We will also spend some time birding near a coastal village that still has some easily accessible intact lowland forest searching for lowland endemics such as Flores Hawk-eagle, Flores Lorikeet, the rare Flores Green-pigeon, White-rumped (Glittering) Kingfisher, good chances of seeing the attractive Elegant Pitta, Thick-billed Dark-eye, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Black-fronted Flowerpecker and Flores Crow, although much luck will be needed to catch a glimpse of the ever decreasing Chestnut-capped Thrush. There's also Variable Goshawk, Green Junglefowl, Edible-nest Swiftlet, and both Spectacled and Black-naped Monarchs here as well. At dusk Sunda Nighjars begin to call and we will try to find Moluccan and Wallace’s Scops-owls in this area.
Day 17Flores We will spend the morning catching up with any species still missing from our lists before setting out on the drive to Labuan Bajo, stopping en-route for the enigmatic Flores Monarch, a species restricted to sub-montane forest only in Western Flores. Other possibilities include Moluccan Scops-owl, Sunda Nightjar, Rufous-chested Flycatcher and Crested Dark-eye. Our itinerary is very flexible today so we can target those species still missing from our lists and we will spend 2 nights at a very nice hotel at Labuanbajo, at the western end of Flores, overlooking the famous island of Komodo.
Day 18 Flores - Komodo Island This is a very special day as we take a speedboat in the early morning to Komodo Island in search of the biggest lizard on the planet – the famous Komodo Dragon. After seeing this impressive beast we can concentrate on the birds, which here include the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo, as well as Great-billed Heron, Beach Thick-knee, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Green Junglefowl, Barred Dove, Island Collared Dove, Yellow-bellied White-eye, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Black-fronted Flowerpecker. We can also hope for a day-roosting Moluccan Scops-Owl here as well! During the boat journey there is the possibility of seeing some seabirds such as Bulwer’s Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Lesser Frigatebird, Lesser Crested, Bridled or Black-naped Terns. There may even be some Green Turtles or Bottle-nosed Dolphins to entertain us as well. We will have a picnic lunch on-board our small ship and a chance to do some snorkelling if we desire. Arriving back at the hotel late afternoon the rest of the day can be spent at leisure exploring the beautiful beaches, coastal scrub and mangroves near the hotel.
Day 19 Flores - Bali - End of tour - 23rd Sept 2018 Morning birding at Potawangka if we still need Wallace's Hanging-Parrot before driving to the airport and flying to Denpasar in Bali and connect with our return international flights back to the UK/Europe/USA.
Group size:Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum 8 with 2 leaders.
Included in cost:Domestic airfare, accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals including picnic lunches where necessary, all entrance fees to National Parks, boat ride to Komodo, transport throughout in air-conditioned coach/vehicles, and services of leaders.
Not included:International airfare, insurance, departure tax, excess luggage charges, drinks, tips and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation:The hotels/lodges used during this tour range from basic to good, most with en-suite facilities. We also stay at a basic homestay for 3 nights on Sumba. We will stay in the best available lodges/guest houses as close to the birding sites as possible.
Tour Code:This is a relatively adventurous tour where early starts and some late finishes when owling, can be expected. Usually there is some time off during the middle of the day to relax. Most of our birding walks will be of a usual slow pace and along roads & well marked trails - and relatively easy. Expect a typically tropical climate with most days being hot and humid, with the montane areas being much cooler and some rain can be expected..