I've just returned from a brilliant month-long trip to Indonesia, a short trip by my standards, and definitely not enough to do justice to such a diverse and fascinating country. I had originally planned a fairly hardcore world-listing trip, 2 weeks each on Borneo and Sumatra at the key birding sites trying to mop up endemics, but an incredible opportunity for some more general guiding in the region next year came up (more on that story later) requiring me to spend some time getting to know a broader range of sites, so I hastily re-arranged my plans. Starting on the island of Flores I worked my way westwards to Sumatra at the other end of the country, via Bali and East Java (and missing out some enormous sections in-between).
Mostly being in rainforest, birding was difficult enough but itself and so I only came away with a few photos, almost all of which are of dubious quality, but i'll share a few on here over the next week or so. I went to fairly well known birding spots, all of which are covered by excellent reports of much more in-depth birding trips so i'll spare the gory details here...
On Flores I visited a couple of forested mountains; Puaralolo, near Labuan Bajo, where Flores Monarch, the main target was eventually seen down a narrow track behind a small building that appeared to be some sort of abandoned ranger station. Flores White-eye, Wallacean Drongo and Brown-capped Fantail were other good endemics. The town of Ruteng, c4hours to the East is a good base for other montane forest sites, the only one I got to was the pass at Golo Lusang. Highlight here was the dawn chorus from Bare-throated Whistler, like a Nightingale on steroids! Flores Minivet and Scaly-crowned Honeyeater were common here too.
The main reason for visiting Flores though was for a trip into the legendary Komodo National Park. I took a boat out to Rinca Island, where the Komodo Dragons were loafing around, full of attitude. A couple of snorkelling stops on the ride back were mind-blowing, with pristine coral teeming with a bewildering variety of fish just a few metres off the beaches, birding took a backseat here.
A short flight over Wallac'es Line took me to Bali, with its contrasting worlds of superclubs and cloud forest...