Another early start (and I won’t tell you what time..!) saw us on the 6.20am flight to Ruteng on the lovely island of Flores. On approach over the mountains we could see the short runway and we certainly hit the runway with a loud bang when we touched down! However, we were met upon arrival by our trusty ground crew and a convoy of four cars and were soon heading up to the pass at Golo Lusang in search of our first island endemics. The scenery was very nice with forest cloaked mountains all around but some low cloud and rain dampened the bird activity and our enthusiasm at the same time. In fact it was very slow going with brief views of several birds and everything seemed to be extremely shy, a direct reflection on the hunting culture that was apparent here with guys driving past us on mopeds with guns over their backs. We walked down the road a few kilometres and eventually things improved as the weather cleared and we saw Yellow-browed Dark-eye and Brown-capped Fantail – the commonest endemics here.
A loud, jumbly call off to our left proved to be a Rusty-capped Tesia which showed amazingly well on numerous occasions and we all got great views of it. A little further down amongst the moss-cloaked roadside trees we had a Flores Leaf-warbler flitting above us in the canopy of a large tree. Then a Scaly-crowned Honeyeater showed well and shortly after a male Flores Minivet appeared – my 5,000th species. Woohoo..!!! After handshakes all round we hopped into the cars and returned to Ruteng for a leisurely lunch.
Afterwards we set off to Danau Rana Mese and walked down to the lake where a flock of Pacific Black Ducks were loafing on the far side, and also on the lake was a Coot and a Tricoloured Grebe (an IOC split from Little Grebe). In the surrounding area we had another showy tesia, Golden Whistler, Sunda Woodpecker and Christian found yet another Pale-shouldered Cicadabird. A calling White-rumped Kingfisher failed to respond and would have to wait for another day, so we drove off to a new ‘hotel’ near Kisol for a two-night stay.