Saturday, 26 August 2017

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 20

Indonesia Trip Day 20 Thursday 10th August 2017

Halmahera with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The third part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi again.

On the morning of Thursday 10th August 2017, we had our breakfast st 3 30 am for 4.00 am start to travel from the Elizabeth Hotel in north Halmahera to Keo Airport. We arrived at 5.45 am for our 8.00 am flight to Manado, Sulawesi. However our flight was delayed and in the end we didn't fly out of Keo until 12.00 pm. There was nothing to do here but find  a bit of shade outside.

Once we were in Manado, we had a quick lunch and headed north to Tankoko NP.

We arrived at Tankoko Mangroves at 3.30 pm, to get two local fishing boats into the mangroves where we birded until dark.

We also saw a huge python with something big in its belly.

After boat trip we did some birding just walking around the area.

We then went on to Tankoko Lodge where we were staying for a couple of night. We got there in time to have a late dinner and get to bed ready for an early start.
The best birds of the day were Great-billed Kingfisher, which was a catch up for Mum and Dad that they had missed a few days ago, Great-billed Heron, Pacific Reef Heron, Pied Cuckoo-shrike, Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon and Banded Rail.


Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 19

Indonesia Trip Day 19 - Wednesday 9th August 2017

Halmahera with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The second part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Halmahera.

On the morning of Wednesday 9th August 2017, we had to have our bags packed to leave at 5.30 am after breakfast.

The other group had left at 5.00 am as they were going for the Wallace's Standard-wing.

First we birded Weda forest from 6.00 am until 9.30 am.

We managed to get great views of Ivory-breasted  Pitta for everyone, which was a relief.

We then left Weda Lodge to drive up through the mountains where we would stop for some roadside birding. We were heading for a small town in the very north of Halmahera.

We drove over the mountains north and tried for birds of prey that we still hadn't seen, but didn't see anything at all.

The drive north was a really long one. We were heading to a site for Moluccan Scrubfowl. The birds live in the mountains and fly down to a beach at night, where they bury their eggs. 

We arrived at our hotel at 5.00 pm, had a quick dinner in a basic restaurant next door before heading to the local community who look after the Scrub Fowl for 6.00 pm.

We had to get a boat from a tiny community through mangroves to a volcanic beach in the dark which we boarded at 6.00 pm. A local guide walked around until he found a bird, which they don't always manage, spotlight it and then wait for us to run to where they are standing. One of the problems is that the birds dig massive holes and so you have to try not to fall into a hole whilst running in the dark.

We had extended views of one bird which was stunning looking and got back to the little village at 9.45 pm.

This was up there with one of my top birding experiences ever. I highly recommend people visit Halmahera, just to get to this bird. I have the contact details for the community if you would like to visit.

After this we headed to a nearby town to our hotel, The Elizabeth Hotel, for the night.

The best birds of the day were Moluccan Scrubfowl, Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove, Rainbow Bee-eater, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Golden-breasted Gerygone, Moluccan Whistler, Wallacean Cicadabird, Wallace's Standardwing and Moluccan Starling.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 18

Indonesia Trip Day 18 - Tuesday 8th August 2017

Halmahera with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The second part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Halmahera. Today we were in South East  Hamahera in the mountains near the city of Weda.

We had crossed Weber's Line and so were into the Australasia avifauna region.

On the morning of Tuesday 8th August 2017, we went out at 4.00 am. We drove up to Bucket Limba in the mountains for some higher elevation  species. Unfortunately there was heavy rain and we were only able to do 15 minutes of birding. That was really frustrating and I might have been on for sitting it out up there. 

In the end, we gave up and headed back to the lodge for lunch. It was still raining after lunch but we managed to get out birding between 3pm and 6.30 pm. The day was a complete wash out, which was frustrating.

In the evening, we met another tour group of European birders who had come to the lodge. The group was led by Untu, who guided my Dad in West Papua a few years ago. They were really pleased to be able to catch up. Untu and quite a few of the local guides were from Tankoko in northern Sulawesi.


The best birds of the day were Moustached Treeswift, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, Chattering Lori, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial  Pigeon, Pygmy Hanging Parrot, Purple Needletail and Great-earred Nightjar.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 17

Indonesia Trip Day 17 - Monday 7th August 2017

Halmahera with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The second part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Halmahera. Today we were in South East  Hamahera in the mountains near the city of Weda.

We had crossed Weber's Line and so were into the Australasia avifauna region.

On the morning of Monday 7th August 2017, we went out at 6.40 am to start birding at 7.00 am.

We were 10 mins late as Dad had forgotten to change the time by an hour. We spent the morning birding Weda Forest, until 2 pm when we went back to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch we had to delay going out because of heavy rain as it was monsoon. Eventually we got out birding at 3.30 pm, going back to the same forest and getting back to the lodge at 7.30 pm. Another amazing day birding.

One big target for the day was Ivory-breasted Pitta. Dad and I saw it ok several times and Mum got some short views. Just before it got dark the three of us had a 6 second clear flight view over our heads when we could see the ivory breast. Amazing. Unfortunately a couple of others saw it really badly. We had a discussion about whether were going tick the bird or not and they said they would rather not.

It's always difficult when someone in the group misses a big bird. I think you have to go back and try and get everyone. It's madness for some people not to bother, as you might miss something else. So we decided to keep trying

The best birds of the day were Australian Brush Cuckoo, Pale-vented Bush-hen, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Red-cheeked Parrot, Pygmy Hanging Parrot, Sultan's Sahul Pitta, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Wallacean Monarch and Dusky Myzomela
Many of these were island or Moluccan endemics.


Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 16


Indonesia Trip Day 16 - Sunday 6th August 2017

Halmahera with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The second part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Halmahera. Today we were in South East  Hamahera in the mountains near the city of Weda.

We had crossed Weber's Line and so were into the Australasia avifauna region.

On the morning of Sunday 6th August 2017 we had breakfast st 4.30 am before leaving for one of the highlights of our trip. By 6.00 am we were in place deep in the forest hoping to see male Wallace's Standard-wing. These are birds of paradise with the funniest mating dance.  The males perform together in a lek.

We were lucky enough to see two males lekking for a prolonged period as well as seeing another bird from the road. The males danced and jumped on branches hoping to attract a female with their fancy grooves. This was bound to be bird of the trip.

We then spent the rest of the morning birding from the road until 11.30 am. Lunch was back at the lodge (with some sea watching). It rained in the afternoon so we didn't got out until the later time of 4 pm. This was followed by more roadside birding until 9.00 pm as we did some night birding.

When we got back, I had a quick dinner and then went back to our rooms to go to bed. As I opened the door, a huge plate-sized spider came scuttling out of the room, running over my flip-flop cladden foot.   Needless to say I screamed very loudly. A guard who was patrolling the beach ran up to me very quickly but I was too embarrassed to say what had happened. In the knowledge that the spider was outside, I jumped into bed which my mum had helpfully tucked in with a mosquito net, so nothing could get in or out.

The best birds of the day were Wallace's Standard-Wing, Sultan's & Great Cuckoo Doves, Blue-capped Fruit Dove, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Umbrella Cockatoo, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Lesser Frigatebird, Molluccan Owlet-Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar and Halmahera Boobook. Many of these were island or Moluccan endemics.


Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 14

Indonesia Trip Day 14 - Friday 4th August 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. Today we were in northern Sulawesi.

On the morning of Friday  4th August 2017 we left the Patra Jasa Hotel in Kotamobagu at the ridiculously early time of 2.45 am, driving an hour and a half to bird at Gunung Ambang National Park to the north of Kotamobagu so that we could do some pre-dawn owling. By the time we arrived at the mountain forest site, had breakfast (Nutella sandwiches for me again) and started walking the steep trail, it was still only 4.50 am. This is a submontane forest with some good tracks but which have been decimated by deforestation. It had been raining a lot and the main track was dangerously slippy. The track was a  narrow coombe, where the sides of the Hollie come up above our heads. In the dark using only dimmed light it was treacherous.

The first birds to try for and the main reason we had arrived pre-dawn, firstly another subspecies of Cinnabar Boobook which you only get in northern Sulawesi,  Speckled Boobook and the very rare Matinan Warbling-flycatcher. 

We first heard the Cinebar Boobook, which came in to investigate pretty readily.

A highlight was seeing a Spectral Tarsier, moving through the forest.

To get to the forest we walked through agricultural fields where we picked up chiggers. I had a really bad attack all around my ankles, legs and middle.

We left Gunung Ambang at 10 am driving to Manado where we arrived 6 hours later at 4pm, had lunch on the sea front in a fancy restaurant and then stayed at the Peninsula Hotel which was very luxurious. There was a pool but we didn't have time for that which is a shame. It was good to have a long warm shower, a comfortable bed and AC.

At dinner, most of us ordered pizza which took ages to come but was a lovely change. The food has actually been brilliant on the trip, even for us veggies.

The hotel was the first place with decent broadband and so I downloaded 10 episodes of "Peepshow" from Netflix to watch later. Then it was off to bed, for an early night.

The best birds of the day were Sulawesi and Moluccan Brush-Cuckoos, Sulawesi Honey-buzzard, Sulawesi Babbler, Cinebar Boobook, Specked Boobook, Sulawesi Fantail, Sulawesi Leaf Warbler and Turquoise & Matinan Warbling-flycatchers.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Indonesie Trip 2017 Day 13

Indonesia Trip Day 13 - Thursday 3rd August 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. Today we were in northern Sulawesi. 

On the morning of Thursday 3rd August 2017 we left the Patra Jasa Hotel in Kotamobagu at 4.00 am again driving an hour and three-quarters to bird at Max's Trail at Tapakulingtang from 5.45 am to 11.00 am. As well as also birding on the roadside nearby.

It was a quiet morning of birding. The day always goes much more slowly when it's quiet. 

It was great to see the rare and endemic Short-crested Miner close to the road. 

At 11 am it had become really hot so we then drove half an hour for lunch and a rest in a local basic hotel, where we had rooms we could use. Today rather than sleep, I tried to catch up on writing blog posts.

We left the hotel at 3 pm for a half hour drive to go birding.

We birded back at Tarout again from 3.30 pm to 7 pm to try and see birds we had missed.

We also birded in an agricultural area outside the forest where we all picked up bad chiggers. They are the larvae of some spider species that leave really itchy bites.

We looked for birds we had missed the day before. We were back on the raft to get across the river and back which was fun. 

The afternoon had been really good birding, Moluccan Drongo-Cuckoo, Sulawesi Roller, Ornate Lorrikeet and Barred Buttonquail in fields behind.

When we got back to our cars, it was getting pretty dark. Our driver pointed into a tree showing me a bird. He made a movement with his head and arms indicating that the bird was asleep. It took me seconds to get onto the bird in the dimming light. I knew immediately that it was a large Cuckoo species.

I immediately called my Dad, Chris Craig, over and said "I've got a Cuckoo here". Dad couldn't see the bird so thought I was joking and didn't really look for it. 

We had been trying for Sulawesi Cuckoo (a large very shy Cuckoo) here at this site as Carlos, one of the Bird Tour Asia guides had stumbled across one here 2 weeks ago. Would I joke about a thing like this? Mum then appeared and immediately got onto the Cuckoo, saying "It's really big!" which made Dad realise that I was being serious. Suddenly, Dad got into my Cuckoo. "OMG, Sulawesi Cuckoo!". He shouted to get everyone onto the bird, but Tony was missing. 

We were all thinking the same, if Tony missed the bird, he would not be happy. In fact he would be gutted. So gutted that it might ruin his trip. Our happiness would also have to be dampened down in front of him.

At that moment Tony reappeared, Mike grabbed him and Dad got him onto the bird. We could now relax and enjoy watching the bird by torch light for a couple more minutes before it must have sensed the eyes on him and flew into the forest. Unfortunately nobody got more than a blurry record shot of this near-mythical bird.

What an amazing finish to the day.

Once into the car, our guide Mike Nelson, was texting his colleagues at Bird Tour Asia, telling them that he had gripped them off. What an amazing and rare bird. It turns out that the driver had been watching the bird for 20 minutes before we had returned. We didn't manage to see another one. 

We also looked for other birds we had missed the day before. We were back on the raft to get across the river and back which was fun. 

The best bird of the day was obviously the obviously Sulawesi Cuckoo. 



Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 12

Indonesia Trip Day 12 - Wednesday 2nd August 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. Today we were in northern Sulawesi.

On the morning of Wednesday 2nd August 2017 we left the Patra Jasa Hotel in Kotamobagu at 4.00 am driving an hour and a half to bird at Tarout from 5.30 am to 10.30 am. Here we had to get a raft over the the river to the birding site. The raft was on the other side of a river, so our local guides stripped down to their underpants to go and retrieve it. I had to look the other way! The forest habitat at the site has been reduced, so much that if it continues within a year or two nothing will be left. There was a large research station here that has fallen into disrepair which was a shame. 

Our best birds from the morning were Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher, Pied Cuckoo-Shrike, Minhasa Racket-tail, Blue-backed Parrot, White-faced Cuckoo Dove, Grey-cheeked and Pinked. Necked Green Pigeons and I saw a Great-billed Kingfisher that Mum and Dad missed.

We then drove half an hour for lunch and a rest in a local basic hotel again, where we had rooms we could use. I got a good hour of sleep. On trips like this, I survive from one nap to another.

In the afternoon we left our lunch spot at 3 on before driving the hour to bird Tower Marsh 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm.  It is a small area of water and paddy field. The habitat here has been destroyed so again there also won't be any decent birding here within a short time. The target here was White-browed Crake.

Mum was feeling sick after lunch and ended up being sick from the car on the way to the birding site but still insisted on carrying on birding so she didn't miss any birds. It must have been too much sun as she perked up pretty quickly.

We managed to get really great views of White-Browed Crake and Dusky Scrubfowl, Dusky Moorhen and White-breasted Waterhen.



Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 11

Indonesia Trip Day 11 - Tuesday 1st August 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

On the morning of Tuesday 1st August 2017 we left the Patra Jasa Hotel in Kotamobagu at 4.30 am driving an hour and a half to Tambon to visit the Maleo Conservation  Centre. We arrived at 6.00 am, to gave a good chance of seeing Maleo.

Maleo is the national bird of Sulawesi and is a Megapode (a turkey). The centre was set up by a local conservationist called Max about 20 years ago. There is a natural hot spring at the site which the Maleo use to incubate their eggs.

The male and female dig a hole and bury their egg in the sand. The biggest predators are Monitor  Lizards and humans. So the centre dig up the eggs, incubate them in a safe place, look after the chicks before releasing them. As well as seeing a male in a tree, I held a egg that was being incubated, watched Max find a new egg and then got to release a chick back into the wild. It was a fantastic experience, and another example of eco-tourism saving birds.

We birded until 11 am and then drove half an hour for lunch and a rest in a local basic hotel, where we had rooms we could use.

In the afternoon we left our lunch spot at 2.30 pm and then birded a trail that Max had found in Tapakolingtang from 3.00 pm until 5.30 pm. It was an hour and a half drive back to our hotel, where we arrived at 7 pm. It's a long day as dinner isn't until 7.30 pm, then we do the bird list and get sorted for getting up early the next day again.

The best birds of the day were Maleo, White-faced Cuckoo Dove, Oberholser's Fruit Dove, Black-billed Koel, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Ruddy Kingfisher, Pygmy Hanging Parrot, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill, Ruddy Kingfisher and ivory-backed Wood-Swallow.

An amazing day that I will never forget.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 9 & 10

Indonesia Trip Day 9 & 10 - Sunday 30th July 2017 and Monday 31st July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

On the morning of Sunday 30th July we left Sendy Guesthouse at 5.00 am to bird Lore Lindu National Park again. We birded until 10.30 am and then went back to the guest house for our bags and then head off for our flight after and early lunch at 12 pm.

We travelled to Palu, stopping by a bridge where we saw lots of Savannah Nightjar roosting as well as Red-Backed Buttonquail which we had seen before in Queensland Australia. It was ridiculously hot and so it wasn't a long stop.

It was Dad's birthday today as he's 2 days younger than Mum.

The best birds of the morning at Lore Lindu NP were Ashy Woodpecker, Rufous-winged Buzzard, Makassar Miner and Black-faced Munia.

We stayed at a very upmarket hotel in Palu, with a fancy glass surrounded shower. Mike arranged for a birthday cake for Mum and Dad, which was lovely of him.

The next day, Monday 31st July was a travel day. We met at 3.45 am with our bags, to catch a flight from Palu back down to Makassar, then another flight to Manado in the north of the Island.  We spent our time at Makassar Airport sitting in Starbucks, using their wifi with a big box of Dunkin' Donuts for me!

As we flew into Manado airport, it was shocking to see how much of the land was destroyed and now Covered in palm oil.


Once in Manado, we had a 5 hour drive to Kotamobagu, where we're were staying for four nights at the Patra Jasa Hotel. Its main benefits were western toilet, warm shower, air conditioning and most importantly working (sort of) wifi.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 8

Indonesia Trip Day 8 - Saturday 29th July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

On the morning of Saturday 29th July we left Sendy Guesthouse at 5.00 am to bird Lore Lindu National Park again. We birded until 11.30 am and the went back to the guest house for lunch and a rest during the heat of the day. We were meant to go out again at 3.30 pm but couldn't go out because of a torrential downpour until 4.30 pm.

We stayed out to see Great-eared Nightjar and go back for 6.00 pm.


The best birds of the day were Sulawesi and Spot-tailed Goshawk, Maroon-Backed Whistler, Scaly-Kingfisher and Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 7

Indonesia Trip Day 7 - Friday 28th July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

In the morning of Friday 28th July we left Sendy Guesthouse to bird the world famous Lora Lindu National Park in the mountains. 

It was Mum's birthday. We were up at 3.15 am to meet at 4 am. We were at the Anasso Trail. We hiked up the mountainside to try and be in place for the endemic G, but things were stacked up against us. Firstly, a couple of guys went past on a motorbike (probably up to no good), then there was a lot of water around, meaning it would not need  to come to the path to grub for worms. We had an amazing days birding with loads of new birds including a whopping 7 Satanic Nightjar, what a fantastic name. 

We birded from the road and saw the stunning Purple-bearded Bee-eater, my 4500th bird in the world. 

We then did more owling seeing Sulawesi Masked Owl, Speckled and Cinnebar Boobok.

Next day and a half we carried on birding Lori Lindu NP, seeing 

On 30th July, it was Dad's birthday with a few new birds for Dad.  We birder the mountain in the morning and stopped enroute on the way back to  Palu including Makassar Miner and Savannah Nightjar. Palu is the biggest city in Central Sulawesi and is right on the sea with a population of 200,000.


Tomorrow we fly via Makassar to Milando, with no birding planned.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 6

Indonesia Trip Day 6 - Thursday 27th July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

In the morning of Thursday 27th July we left Sendy Guesthouse to bird the world famous Lora Lindu National Park in the mountains. 

It was our first morning at Lore Lindu and we had a late 5am start. It was a 40 minute drive, for some extra sleep. We had breakfast (of Nutella chocolate sandwiches for me) in the car park of the national park centre before walking in the area of a lake. Here there were a couple of Indonesian young birders camping with their wives, who Idris, our local guide, gave some gen to. That was encouraging to see.

We spent the day birding the roads and trails before night birding at the lodge. seeing a Sulawesi Scops Owl which had kept us awake the previous night.

Some of the birds of the day were Red-eared Fruit Dove, Small Sparrowhawk, Black Eagle, Meyer's Lorikeets and Hoevell's Warbling-Flycatcher.

After dinner and the bird list, we were in bed by 9.30 pm, as we had a long day the next day.


There had been an earthquake in that part of Indonesia just 2 weeks before. The school and village centre was destroyed and the lodge restaurant went from being on stilts to being a ground floor building. 

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 5

Indonesia Trip Day 5 - Wednesday 26th July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

In the morning of Wednesday 26th July we left the hotel in Makassar at 5 am and birded at Makassar fish ponds. It's was interesting to see the modern factories with traditional stilt houses next door. Here we saw Javan Plover, Wandering Whistling-duck, Sunda Teal, Buff-banded Rail and Far Eastern Curlew.

We were then back to the hotel to grab our bags and get to the airport. There we went straight to a restaurant where again lunch was waiting whilst Mike and team went to check in our bags.

Our 1.30 pm flight to Palu in Central Sulawesi was delayed by an hour, so Mum and I got another power nap in whilst we waited.


After arriving in Palu mid afternoon we had a 4 hour drive to the tiny village of Waesa, where we had 4 nights at Sendy Guesthouse to bird the world famous Lora Lindu National Park in the mountains. 

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 4

Indonesia Trip Day 4 - Tuesday 25th July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. 

The morning of Tuesday 25th July we started out at 4.30 am from the town of Malino and headed for the Lompobattang mountains. Here we saw Lompobattang Flycatcher,  Lompobattang Leaf Warbler, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Hylocitrea, Sulawesi  Thrush, Sulawesi Heleia, Sulawesi Fanrail and Lesser Myza.

In the afternoon we headed back to Makassar and stayed in the same plush hotel, Makassar Dalton, enjoying the western  loo and shower. Luxury!


We had dinner in the hotel, before bird list and another early night.

Indonesia Trip 2017 Day 3

Indonesia Trip Day 3 - Monday 24th July 2017

Sulawesi with Mike Nelson from Bird Tour Asia.

The first part of our 6 week Indonesian trip was birding the island of Sulawesi. We started our trip from the southern city of Makassar.

Our first day of birding on Monday 24th July was a 4 am start. We spent the morning birding along the roadside, into limestone karst forest at Karaenta. The key target we saw here was the very localised endemic Black-Ringed White-eye as well at Sulawesi Hornbill, Piping Crow, White-necked Myna.

We then birded around some shops along the road but dipped the recently described endemic Sulawesi Brown Flycatcher, the only opportunity on our trip to see this. We did see an endemic macaque.

We stopped for lunch in Makassar at a roadside restaurant where our delicious Indonesian meal was ready and waiting for us.

It was then a 3 hour drive to the town of Malino, in the mountains east of Makassar where we arrived at 4pm. We had the afternoon chatting and then went for dinner st a local restaurant. After the birdlist, we got an early night. The bathroom had a stand up loo and buckets in a tiny area, so I decided to pass on the bathing.

The next morning on Tuesday 25th July we started out at 4.30 am and headed for the Lompobattang mountains. Here we saw Lompobattang Flycatcher,  Lompobattang Leaf Warbler, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Hylocitrea, Sulawesi  Thrush, Sulawesi Heleia, Sulawesi Fanrail and Lesser Myza.

In the afternoon we headed back to Makassar and stayed in the same plush hotel, Makassar Dalton, enjoying the western  loo and shower. Luxury!

We had dinner in the hotel, before bird list and another early night.

In the morning, Wednesday 26th July we left the hotel at 5 am and birded at Makassar fish ponds. It's was interesting to see the modern factories with traditional stilt houses next door. Here we saw Javan Plover, Wandering Whistling-duck, Sunda Teal, Buff-banded Rail and Far Eastern Curlew.

We were then back to the hotel to grab our bags and get to the airport. There we went straight to a restaurant where again lunch was waiting whilst Mike and team went to check in our bags.

Our 1.30 pm flight to Palu in Central Sulawesi was delayed by an hour, so Mum and I got another power nap in whilst we waited.

After arriving in Palu mid afternoon we had a 4 hour drive to the tiny village of Waesa, where we had 4 nights at Sendy Guesthouse to bird the world famous Lora Lindu National Park in the mountains. 

The first morning at Lore Lindu on Thursday 27th July we had a late 5am start. It was a 40 minute drive, for some extra sleep. We had breakfast (of Nutella chocolate sandwiches for me) in the car park of the national park centre before walking in the area of a lake. Here there were a couple of Indonesian young birders camping with their wives, who Idris, our local guide, gave some gen to. That was encouraging to see.

We spent the day birding the roads and trails before night birding at the lodge.

Some of the birds of the day were 

After dinner and the bird list, we were in bed by 9.30 pm, as we had a long day the next day.

There had been an earthquake in that part of Indonesia just 2 weeks before. The school and village centre was distorted and the lodge restaurant went from being on stilts to being a ground floor building. 

On Friday 28th July it was Mum's birthday. We were up at 3.15 am to meet at 4 am. We were at the Anasso Trail. We hiked up the mountainside to try and be in place for the endemic G, but things were stacked up against us. Firstly, a couple of guys went past on a motorbike (probably up to no good), then there was a lot of water around, meaning it would not need  to come to the path to grub for worms. We had an amazing days birding with loads of new birds including a whopping 7 Satanic Nightjar, what a fantastic name. 

We birded from the road and saw the stunning Purple-bearded Bee-eater, my 4500th bird in the world. 

We then did more owling seeing Sulawesi Masked Owl and Cinnebar Bubbok.

Next day and a half we carried on birding Lori Lindu NP, seeing 

On 30th July, it was Dad's birthday with a few new birds for Dad.  We birder the mountain in the morning and stopped enroute on the way back to  Palu including Makassar Miner and Savannah Nightjar. Palu is the biggest city in Central Sulawesi and is right on the sea with a population of 200,000.


Tomorrow we fly via Makassar to Milando, with no birding planned.

Indonesia Trip 2017 days 1 & 2

Indonesia Trip Day 1 & 2

Saturday 22 July 2017 to Sunday 23 July 2017

I finished school early at 12.15 pm on Friday 31st July 2017 and went to Chew Valley Lake picnic site to have fish and chips (or just chips for me) at Salt and Malt with my mates. We then walked to a friends' house in Bishop Sutton before Mum picked us up and took us to do the car parking for Miles Leonard's Fifty Fest. Miles is the Chief Exec of Parlaphone Records and Warner Bros Records and owns our local pub, The Ring O' Bells. I did it with a group of friends as a favour as I still hadn't packed. It was 11pm before I got home, when I chucked my laptop, IPad, Kindle and phone into a bag with chargers and one novel, The Handmaiden's Tale which I'd borrowed from school and 2 revision guides, one for Biology and one for Latin. Lets just hope Mum has packed enough clothes for me! I've decided to go make-up and product free for our entire 6 week trip.

Ayesha arrived at Midnight, just as I was heading to bed. We were up again at 3 am, so that Ayesha could drive us to Bristol for our 4.30 am coach to London.

After checking in, breakfast and boarding our flight, we were almost in the Indonesia zone. After watching two films, I was flat out lying over two seats thanks to my Mum. Our plane sat on the runway for an hour and a half at Heathrow, making it unlikely that we would make our connecting flight at Kuala Lumpa (KL).

When we arrived in KL, we had an hour until our next flight, so there wasn't much chance of getting onto that, and no chance of out bags getting on, we thought. But we were in luck, as we got off flight, our next flight was literally boarding at the gate next door and a lovely man told us that our bags were already on board.

It was a 3-4 hour flight from KL to Denpasar, Bali in Indonesia. Then we had a day of waiting for our next flight. The seats in the airport were uncomfortable, so Mum and I slept on the floor, with no shame, whilst we waited.

Mum went to buy water, but would only let me buy one bottle between all of us which she thought had cost £5.00. I told her that surely she had the decimal place in the wrong place because i doubted that Pringles could cost £16.00. But no, Mum is always right. Back talking to Dad, it turned out that the bottle had cost 50p not £5.00, but there was no time now to get any more drinks.

Our next flight was to Makassar, Sulawesi on the southern tip of the Island.

We were met by a local guide and driver at 7.00 pm and taken to our rather plush hotel which was next to the airport. After dumping our bags, we headed for dinner. Mike Nelson our Bird Tour Asia Guide came to greet us and catch up. 

Bird Tour Asia are the top bird tour company in Asia and have the most amazing owner guides, Rob Hutchinson and James Eaton. In 2014 we had birded Sabah in Borneo and a bit of Malaysia. Rob had been touring Borneo a week ahead of us and had been really generous with his up to date birding gen.

Myself and Mum had met Mike in Frasers' Hill briefly during that trip. Dad had been in West Papua and so Mum  and I had gone to Frasers' Hill on the Malaysian Peninsular. We bumped into Mike with Richard Schofield and his partner Di. We had met Richard in Colombia (a well known Tour Leader with Birdquest before retiring). It was funny because Di had immediately recognised me from the BBC4 programme "Twitchers: A Very British Obsession". We had been having a nightmare with a hopeless local guide and so Mike gave us some birding gen and tips.

Mike said that when he had agreed to guide us for the whole summer back in Jan 2015, he had remembered meeting me and Mum the previous summer.

There were 3 people joining us for the first part of our trip, which was Sulawesi and Halmahera. They were Nick and Claire and Tony. We had met them on the Isles of Scilly and also Dad had met them at the Amur Falcon twitch in Cornwall last week. Their flight was arriving at 11pm and so they were going to be exhausted when we meet at 4 am tomorrow morning, Monday 24 July 2017, for the start of our birding tour.