Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Getting Blue on the Tapan Road

Another couple of days on the Tapan Road, one of which was predominantly a rainy affair but we still had nice views of a lot of previously seen species, plus Red-headed Trogon, Gold-whiskered and Blue-eared Barbets, Long-tailed Broadbill, Scaly-breasted and Grey-bellied Bulbuls, Brown Fulvetta, Large Niltava, Spectacled Spiderhunter and Purple-naped Sunbird. Failed to get any photos today as couldn’t be bothered carrying the camera around in the rain!

Black Laughingthrush

Our last morning resulted in another view of Bronze-tailed Peacock-pheasant but it was just too shy to allow for any photos. We spent the rest of our time here on the upper sections failing to get a decent look at Blue-masked Leafbird, our one failure at this site. But there were outstanding views of Blue Nuthatch and Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, a Waterfall Swift at last flew over the ridge above us, and we saw both Orange-spotted and Sumatran Bulbuls – and all this in sunshine as well.

Blue Nuthatch

Blyth's Shrike-babbler

We left after lunch and drove back to the homestay, arriving mid-afternoon and it was kind of nice to relax and stare up at the volcano one last time. The weather here has a mind all of its own, and even when the sun is shining everywhere else, every cloud for miles around seems to get sucked up to cloak the volcano. But as we sat and watched the cloud began to break up and a vague outline of the volcano could be seen, so with that in mind we decided to attempt a little night-birding. This resulted in a Salvadori’s Nightjar coming in to inspect us just after sunset, but Sumatran Frogmouth kept its distance and just called back from afar. Oh well, will be back for that one later…..

Gunung Kerinci

 And that was it and the following day we left at 3am and drove to Padang and our flight to Jakarta. Had to overnight in a hotel before the tedious flight back to the UK via Dubai….

Monday, 23 September 2013

Magic on the Tapan Road

Back on the Tapan Road very, very early this morning with Dewie and the driver cooking us some breakfast on a small gas stove beside the road just as the sun was rising over the surrounding hills.  Our target was the endemic Graceful Pitta but there were no calls at all for the first hour or so, so we contented ourselves with a little birding along the road where Grey-throated, Spot-necked and Golden Babblers were working their way through the undergrowth right next to us. Then an unfamiliar call sounded close by and a small, non-descript babbler came into view when I played back the call. It didn’t match either of the Short-tailed Babbler or Horsfield’s Babbler calls I have but the grey sides to face and thin black moustachial line, weakish bill and (dare I say it), short tail all pointed to Short-tailed Babbler – a bird I wasn’t expecting here.

Graceful Pitta

All of a sudden the distinctive monotous, one-note call of a Graceful Pitta was heard and we dived into a nearby gulley and sat down on our little camping stools (!) and shortly after a bright crimson shape could be seen in the darkest corner. A short wait then followed before it hopped out in the open for a few seconds before being chased away by a freakin squirrel. We waited a little longer and the pitta returned and over the next 10 minutes it was on view, mostly in the dense tangle of undergrowth but twice it hopped out into a clearing for breath-taking views. Wow!

Totally amazed with this we decided to push our luck and drove lower down for a bird that has bugged me for many years, Marbled Wren-babbler. Having only heard the sucker on a few occasions in Malaysia, this time I wasn’t denied and managed great views over the course of a 5 minute period. It really is a beast and one of the toughest nuts to crack in Asia but after circling us a few times we manoeuvred into a great position where we could look down on it as it crept along a muddy pathway. Oh yes!! The same spot held a very busy flock with Black-and-crimson Oriole, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush, a cracking Banded Woodpecker, yet more Blue Nuthatches and lots of commoner species.

Banded Woodpecker

Black-and-crimson Oriole

Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush

The hat-trick came a little later when a Bronze-tailed Peacock-pheasant spent ages calling back to the ipod before walking across the slope below me. Sounds easy right? Well it wasn’t and I got lucky – BIG TIME! Amazingly we’d see another one on our last day as well. So what a day so far and one we didn’t want to end, so kept on walking to see what else we could find.

Cinereous Bulbul - a split from Ashy Bulbul

Well we got Rhinoceos Hornbill, Sunda Forktail, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Ochraceous and Cinereous Bulbuls, Fulvous-chested Jungle-flycatcher and several Whiskered Treeswifts at various locations.

Whiskered Treeswift - who you looking at!

At a fruiting tree several Bushy-crested Hornbills were present, along with Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-winged and Sumatran Leafbirds and Sumatran Bulbul also present. A little later I called in this Banded Broadbill for nice views and this was pretty much the last new bird of the day.

Banded Broadbill

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Tapan Road

A later start today and it was kind of nice actually!  We drove about 2 hours to the Tapan Road and I kid you not, this is one of the best birding roads in Asia as it traverses an altitudinal range from around 1200m to 400m. And there’s a lot of birds to find here! Despite arriving at 10am and it being rather hot and sunny we knocked off 2 endemic bulbuls very quickly with Cream-striped and Spot-necked Bulbuls – and they are quite good looking actually.

Cream-striped Bulbul

Spot-necked Bulbul

The endemic Sumatran Treepie was also relatively abundant, and Sumatran Trogon was seen numerous times.

Sumatran Treepie

Down by a small stream on the slope below us thee were a few Black Laughingthrushes bathing and a Maroon Woodpecker flew in to join them.

Green-billed Malkoha

So the pattern of birding here is to simply keep on walking downhill and we decided to just see whatever was on offer and get a feel for the place. We’d leave the skulkers until tomorrow. And we racked up a nice little list of birds here. Barred and Little Cuckoo-doves were common, as was Green-billed Malkoha, and we also saw Greater Yellownape, a flock of Silver-breasted Broadbills, Ashy (Sunda) Drongo, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Hill Prinia, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Temminck’s Sunbird, and both Orange-bellied and Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers

Hill Prinia

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Gunung Kerinci (still)

Well it didn’t go so well in the wee small hours as both Salvadori’s Nightjar and Sumatran Frogmouth just called back to the ipod and decided not to show themselves – rather frustrating really as it was a perfectly dry calm morning. But a Dusky Woodcock flew over a few times doing its roding display flight which was quite nice. Nevertheless, once it got light things picked up with a female Schneider’s Pitta present briefly on the trail which was a surprise as I wasn’t really looking for it! 

Blue Nuthatch

A huge flock was mobbing another Sumatran Owlet, including Sunda and Grey-chinned Minivets, Sumatran Drongo, Blue Nuthatch, Sunda Warbler, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler and Mountain White-eyes.

Sumatran Trogon

 Also saw a Black Eagle and had a brief view of what looked like a Booted Eagle soaring over the canopy. Other goodies included Sumatran Trogon, Wreathed Hornbill, the mega common Fire-tufted Barbet, Pygmy Cupwing, Lesser Shortwing, Sunda Blue Robin, Shiny and Sumatran Whistling-thrushes and nice views of Black-capped White-eye.

Then took the afternoon off to rest and have a hot bucket wash back at the homestay.