Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tangkoko - 20th September

We headed over to the mangroves this morning which made for a pleasant change from forest birding and passed a Sulawesi Goshawk and Osprey along the way. 

On route to the mangroves

Upon entering a narrow channel into the mangroves, several Pink-necked Green-pigeons were seen, along with Dollarbird and for some people a Small Sulawesi Hanging-parrot

Inside the mangroves - note bad fashion choices!

It took a couple of trips along the channel before we nailed Great-billed Kingfisher, a hulking Sulawesi endemic. After a very fast flypast we had two views of a perched bird, giving great looks and much appreciated by everyone.

Great-billed Kingfisher

Leaving here we sailed back to the forest, passing a Blue Rock Thrush along the way and then spent the next couple of hours searching for Red-bellied Pitta, but there just weren’t any about. A fine Red-backed Thrush was outshone by a pair of Purple-winged Rollers but apart from that the forest was very quiet. A brief stab at Sulawesi Nightjar on the way back to the lodge resulted in a quick flight view but by late morning the temperature was soaring and we were in need of some cold drinks!

We spent the afternoon at the viewpoint scanning the treetops across the valley which were literally brimming with birds. Exceptionally confiding Golden-mantled and Yellow-breasted Racquet-tails were feeding in some close trees, whilst flocks of Ornate Lorikeets wheeled around below us. A Moluccan Red Lory was something of a surprise and was undoubtedly an escape, but a Blue-backed Parrot was more at home here. There were lots of fruiting trees attracting numerous Green, Grey-headed, White-bellied and Silver-tipped Imperial-pigeons, and a fine adult Rufous-bellied Eagle was seen. But it wasn’t until late afternoon that we eventually found a group of 6 Sulawesi Black Pigeons feeding quietly in a fruiting tree. As the light fell a Sulawesi Nightjar began calling and gave another brief flyby.

In the evening we had a celebratory beer, some birthday cake for myself and David and even a little dancing. The less said the better!

Tangkoko - 19th September

First light saw us carefully scanning the narrow creek in search of Ruddy Kingfisher which failed to materialise so we headed out on a long walk through the dry forest, getting a brief flyover from a pair of White-rumped Cuckooshrikes

Ochre-bellied Boobooks

Amazingly we came across a pair of roosting Ochre-bellied Boobooks which were totally unfazed by us. Another roosting Sulawesi Scops-owl was also found, just to make a mockery of our lengthy night-time attempts earlier in the trip.  One of the highlights of the morning was watching a male Knobbed Hornbill bringing fruit into its walled up female in a tall tree, and we could just about see her moving around in the narrow slit of dried mud… 

Knobbed Hornbill

Knobbed Hornbill

A pair of Purple-winged Rollers gave tantalising brief views flying over the canopy above, a White-necked Myna showed well, as did a confiding Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail and a Stephan’s Dove flew by. A troop of Sulawesi Crested Macaques provided some non-avian interest - and it was good to see Great Uncle Albert again! As we walked back down to the creek one of the park rangers found a pair of Ruddy Kingfishers which gave nice views, although to far to get a photo. It's a species i've always wanted to get a good photo of and must admit I was a bit disappointed to walk away empty handed on that score, but also relieved we'd finally got it on the list!  On the way back to the lodge we took a diversion and followed a new trail in search of Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher which we failed to locate, although a pair of Ivory-backed Woodswallows were rather nice. 

Ruddy Kingfisher

During lunch a Ruddy Kingfisher was found by one of the lodge’s staff along the narrow stream behind our bungalows and this one was very confiding and was absolutely beautiful, showing its lilac mantle to good effect in the shadows. I sneaked down during lunch as everybody else was rooted to their dining chair enjoying a fish and rice lunch - but not me! And amazingly it stayed on its perch whilst I hid behind some tall plants, and as the wind disturbed the leaves I could get a clear shot. Great!

After lunch we were back in the forest, this time nailing Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher, as well as having seconds of Red-backed Thrush. As usual there were numerous Green-backed and Lilac-cheeked Kingfishers to keep us occupied throughout the day. 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Tangkoko - 18th September

After a leisurely and rather late breakfast we drove to Tangkoko and stopped at the viewpoint where we spent most of the morning. The view from here is quite splendid and enabled us to scan the canopy along the valley and we quickly picked up a couple of Ornate Lorikeets, followed by both Large and Small Sulawesi Hanging-parrots. A Black-naped Fruit-dove was picked up and we also found a White-necked Myna. All the time we were surrounded by the pale-rumped Sulawesi and more common Glossy Swiftlets. A steady passage of Chinese Goshawks was taking place and we had eye-level views of them flying through the valley, along with a Sulawesi Goshawk and Sulawesi Honey-buzzard, and eventually a Sulawesi Hawk-eagle was found. Leaving here we drove just down the road to our lodge where we spent a leisurely lunchtime before heading into the forest.

Red-backed Thrush

 What an afternoon session it turned out to be with at least 8 Green-backed Kingfishers seen, and as we walked up the track into the dry forest we found a wonderful Red-backed Thrush feeding in the leaf litter. 

Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher

Lower down a couple of Lilac-cheeked Kingfishers showed very well and we spent some time observing them. But after all of our hard work with owls over the previous nights it was a stunningly huge relief to finally see a pair of Sulawesi Scops-owls at their day roost, and an Ochre-bellied Boobook was also seen at its roost. 

Sulawesi Scops-owls

We ended the day hearing Sulawesi Nightjar before returning to our lodge.

Dumoga Bone

We went back into the wonderful forest of Dumoga Bone this morning with the intention of catching up with Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill which has been a rather tricky species to find this year. After last night’s brief silhouetted flight views it was a real pleasure to get a pair perched up in the scope this morning. We also eventually found a Maroon-chinned Fruit-dove in a large fruiting tree, in company with numerous Grey-cheeked Green-pigeons and Green Imperial-pigeons. There was also Sulawesi Serpent-eagle, the endemic Bay Coucal, Yellow-billed Malkoha, and some superfast Purple Needletails zooming down to the river to drink. On return to the lodge a Spotted Harrier was seen flying overhead.

Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill

After lunch we drove towards Minado and took a side road where we parked up in a small village and waited til dusk when a Minahassa Masked Owl flew over calling.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tambun - Dumoga Bone 16th September

After yesterday's excitement with Scaly Kingfisher and Matinan Flycatcher being seen at Gunang Ambang we had an exciting day in front of us as we headed to the famous Maleo site at Tambun, arriving as the sun’s rays began to light the hillside above us and enjoyed several Great Eared Nightjars hawking for insects above us. After last year’s protracted 2 day search I wasn’t sure what to expect, but having walked maybe 30 yards into the reserve and seeing a pair of Maleos in the tree above us certainly wasn’t high on the list of possibilities! 



Totally unbelievable and then to be able to watch one for the next 20 minutes really took the biscuit. That left us a couple of hours of nice, general birding when we could enjoy our first White-necked Myna and Green-backed Kingfisher to the full. Other birds here were all common things such as Grosbeak Myna, Hair-crested Drongo, Slender-billed Cuckoo-dove, although the local race of Imperial Green-pigeon was rather nice and a flyby Stephan’s Dove was also new.......

Green-backed Kingfisher

We left here and drove to Dumoga Bone passing rice fields full of egrets and stopping to look at Barred Rail, Black EagleLittle Pied Cormorant, Oriental Hobby, Large Sulawesi Hanging-parrot, Purple Needletail, Slender-billed Crow etc

Little Pied Cormorant

Upon arrival at Dumoga Bone National Park we crossed the river on a bamboo raft and followed the trails for a couple of hours, and despite the heat managed to pull out Pied Cuckooshrike and Sulawesi Triller from a flock of Grosbeak Mynas, Black-naped Oriole and other common birds. A Bay Coucal proved too fleeting a glimpse to make it onto our lists though and we also saw a Crimson Sunbird in the same bush as a family of Yellow-sided Flowerpeckers.

Pied Cuckooshrike

Speckled Boobook

 After an excellent lunch and siesta we paid our respects to the roosting Speckled Bobook in the nearby abandoned house, scoped a cracking pair of Knobbed Hornbills from the car park and returned across the river. Unfortunately the heavens opened and we got soaked again, but did see a pair of Sunda Teal on the river, Silver-tipped Imperial-pigeon, Blue-backed Parrot and a brief Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill. The rain eased at dusk and as we made our way back to the river a Sulawesi Masked Owl began calling and we had a couple of flybys from this little beauty and heard several Sulawesi Scops-owls which didn’t cooperate with us at all. In fact this latter species was becoming something of an ongoing saga and we were thinking that we would dip on it this year.........