We left the hotel at 4.30am and drove just over two hours to the local airport and checked in for our flight to Sumba. Whilst waiting in the small departure lounge, David picked up a cracking Zebra Finch just outside the window. And then we were off on the hour long flight to Waingapu on Sumba island where we had a quick look outside the tiny terminal building at a small puddle where Pale-headed Munias and several Zebra Finches were coming down to drink and bathe.
Another lengthy baggage reclaim followed but it was a short drive to Yumba grasslands where we walked across the rocky fields in a line and flushed a few endemic Sumba Buttonquail, along with some Australasian Bushlarks, and flocks of Zebra Finches.
A nice lunch then followed back in the town before we drove to a nice open forest near Lewa. No sooner had we jumped out of the cars than a Blood-breasted or Sumba Flowerpecker flew in and perched on top of a bush – and through the scope it certainly looked a stunner. We then spent the rest of the day and into the evening here, enjoying the sunshine and dry weather, notching up several new birds. The path crossed an open ridge with views of the forest in front of us from where we scoped a couple Brown Goshawks, Brahminy Kite and a distant Spotted Harrier. As we walked through the grass a flock of Rainbow Bee-eaters showed nicely, along with a Black-faced Cuckooshrike, followed by a little flurry of activity around a fruiting tree.
A Sumba Brown Flycatcher was a good way to start, and we also had Common Dollarbird, Cinereous Tit, a white-morph Asian Paradise-flycatcher with a superb long tail, a couple of Black-naped Orioles, Yellow-spectacled White-eyes, a flyover Helmeted Friarbird, more flowerpeckers, and finally a superb Apricot-breasted Sunbird. Overhead were some Edible-nest Swiftlets and some Linchi Swiftlets. Continuing further down into the forest, I played the call of Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher and amazingly one flew in, giving us the most superb views of this beautiful endemic.
Further along we heard the first of many Elegant Pittas, a Chestnut-backed Thrush sang in the distance and at a clearing a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo called from the treetops, and we had a nice look at it through the scope. A Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo was also found here and was a nice bonus. Once the light began to fade we walked up to the edge of the forest and waited for dark, when a Mees’s Nightjar called a few times, but never materialised from out of the woodland. A Sumba Boobook also called some distance away but didn’t respond, but a pair of Little Sumba Boobooks a little later were spotlighted high up in a tall tree.