Monday, 29 July 2013

Flores Tick-Fest

Another day and another early start for my intrepid group, and another crack at owling. Leaving the hotel at 4am saw us reach the forest in plenty of time and we took a little while before hearing a Moluccan Scops-owl which then took the best part of an hour to track down. Well it was almost light and the dawn chorus of White-rumped Kingfishers had already started, when Tracy noticed some movement overhead and there it was! Or rather a pair of Moluccan Scops-owls which were apparently going to roost. We’d already given it up, so this was a great way to start the day. 

Moluccan Scops-owl

Unfortunately the kingfisher didn’t play ball and turned out to be particularly unresponsive all day, and simply kept on calling from some impenetrable part of the forest where we couldn’t reach it. So we followed the trail a short distance and found a trio of endemics - Golden-rumped and Black-fronted Flowerpeckers, and a pair of obliging Thick-billed Dark-eyes. Then the forest began to resound to the sound of calling Elegant Pittas and as they call differently to the birds on Timor and also have a few plumage differences we made an effort to see them – well one or two without much effort. 

Elegant Pitta
The drivers brought our breakfast out to us which was very nice and then we set out on another walk. With the day warming up we found a nice viewpoint from which to scan the forested slopes of Gunung Pacan Deki for the sought-after Flores Hawk-eagle. During our vigil we had great views of Flame-breasted Sunbird and Black-fronted Flowerpecker, and Flores Crow before Derek spotted the biggie and we had prolonged views of a hawk-eagle soaring high over the valley before disappearing behind the trees. What a relief! 

Black-fronted Flowerpecker

Just up the hill was a fruiting tree and we had several Black-naped Fruit-doves here. So we left and walked slowly back to the cars, getting another Thick-billed Dark-eye, Black-naped Monarch, Striated Swallow, Wallacean Cuckooshrike and a few other things on the way before driving back to the hotel for a quick wash and then driving just down the road to the restaurant. We had a siesta afterwards which was very welcome after an early start before returning to the forest. It was predictably slow in the afternoon, although a flock of Flores Green-pigeons flew over and perched up just long enough to get cracking looks at them in the scope. Once dusk settled a pair of Mees’s Nightjars flew over the track and we heard at least six Moluccan Scops-owls before getting flight views of a Wallace’s Scops-owl that had been calling nearby. 

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