Wednesday 14 August. Megan dropped me at Shoreham-by-Sea station and I caught a train to Gatwick Airport where I met Nick. We checked in to our Qatar flight to Bali via Doha and left on time at 21:40. Six hours or so to Doha, where we saw 7 Laughing Doves, a two hour wait then nine-and-a-half to Denpasar arriving a few minutes late at 23:20. There were long queues at Immigration but they moved fairly quickly and entered the arrivals hall to find loads of people holding welcoming boards. I'd booked a taxi to take us to a nearby hotel and was about giving up when I saw one with booking.com Richard John on it. I approached the driver to see if it was me, mentioned where we were going and he took us to his taxi but after 10-15 minutes it was lclear we were not going to the right place. Despite using booking.com and in Latin countries particularly one's first two names are the important ones it was not for us. He took us back to the airport and found our hotel nearby, the very basic and cheap Chillin Homestay.
Thursday 15 August. At 06:00, as arranged, Made Surya (email@example.com, https://g.page/Birdingtoursinbali) arrived and drove us to his house in Blimbing San at the western end of the island. He was to be our rather expensive guide for two days. I'd hoped employing him would give me the best chance of finding Java Sparrow but he'd not seen one since a chance encounter over two months ago and they were now seriously rare. En route we saw Javan Kingfisher by the road and a few other common birds. We arrived at 09:30 and started birding in an area of dry forest. We were there to 12:50 seeing Javan Banded Pitta, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Crescent-chested Babbler, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker and a Javan Cuckooshrike in flight. We returned to Made's house (Shalom Homestay) where his mother gave us a decent lunch, even though it was Nasi Goreng. At 15:00 we wandered behind his house to see a roosting Collared (Sunda) Scops Owl and another Javan Banded Pitta before returning to the area of dry forest. Here we saw the very distinctive red-faced race of Coppersmith Barbet before trying a slightly more open dry area where more barbets included a Yellow-eared. We also saw Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove and Javan Tailorbird. We went to be early after a decent meal, pleased with our first day's birding.
|presumed juvenile Javan Kingfisher from the main cross-island highway|
|another Javan Kingfisher in West Bali|
|Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike in West Bali|
|Javan Banded Pitta in West Bali|
|Ruby-throated Bulbul in West Bali|
|Sunda Scops Owl in West Bali|
|Coppersmith Barbet in West Bali|
|a quite distinctive red-throated/faced race|
Friday 16 August. We had breakfast at 05:30 and left the Shalom homestay at 06:00 to drive for 45 minutes to West Bali National Park. Entering the park we quickly saw a male Green Junglefowl (we ended up seeing 7 males and a female) and 4 Racket-tailed Treepies. We climbed an observation tower and did not have to wait long for our first view of Bali Starling - 3 flying over but out of sight. Another two followed but none were sitting up. We drove around the dry forest stopping to listen but hearing nothing headed to the Bali Starling Sanctuary. Two unringed birds gave reasonable views in trees outside the sanctuary where at least five pairs were in cages, most also appearing unringed. We drove back to Gilmanuk and along towards the Java ferry checking some roadside trees where another pair of Bali Starlings were feeding, but not the hoped for grey-rumped race of Black-winged Starling. We headed back towards Shalom Homestay having lunch in a roadside restaurant although Mrs Made's cooking was nicer. Back at the homestay we packed our bags and had a last look at the Sunda Scops Owl and a Javan Banded Pitta before leaving. On the way back to the main road we stopped by a reservoir outflow which proved to be a good Javan Kingfisher site, we saw three. It was then a 4.5 hour drive back to the Chillin Homestay in Kuta. Despite no Java Sparrow our brief visit had been a success thanks in no small part to Made who knew his area very well and was an excellent birding companion. I'd had five new birds and finally laid to rest not trying for Bali Starling on a stop-over on the way back from Australia in 1986, preferring then to visit Gunung Gede in West Java, a site I've been to twice since. My other four new birds were less inspiring (mostly recent splits of things I'd seen elsewhere) - Javan Cuckooshrike, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove and Yellow-eared Barbet.
|Green Junglefowl in West Bali National Park|
|Zebra Doves in West Bali National Park|
|view of Gunung Ijen in far East Java|
|Bali Starling in West Bali National Park|
|not showing much of a crest so perhaps a female?|
|nice to see in the wild after close encounters at Paignton Zoo|
|Made Surya was much faster with his camera than I was when one flew directly overhead. Stunning photo, showing the species at its best. Photo: Made Surya (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Chestnut-headed Bee-eater in West Bali National Park|
|Island Collared Dove|
|Rufous-backed Kingfisher in West Bali National Park|
|presumed male Bali Starling near the Java ferry|
|view from Denpasar Airport|
|Cattle Egret from the plane window|