Monday, 11 July 2005

INDONESIA 2005: Way Kambas (8-11 July)

Blog two of three about a trip to Sumatra and West Java with much missed Jon Hornbuckle, Janos Olah, Attila Simay and Barry Wright. We’d had a successful time at Gunung Kerinci, although some of the harder species eluded us, and spent two days travelling across Sumatra by road to Way Kambas where we arrived at the entrance after dark. Not being let in, we weren't expected, we slept nearby.

08 July. We were let into the park at 06.30 and slowly drove the 13 km to Way Kanan, birding along the way. On the track I saw two male and a female Crested Fireback (and missed another two) and three Emerald Doves and heard a Great Argus which some glimpsed. Way Kanan is a ranger station situated in a large clearing beside a river. We were given basic but perfectly adequate twin-bedded rooms in the resthouse where we were the only visitors. That was our accommodation sorted but meals were ‘do it yourself’ or employ one of the rangers. We opted for the latter and ‘Teddy’ went on his motorbike to Tridatu, the village nearest the reserve entrance, to buy food for us. With bags dumped we birded the Loop Trail and immediately encountered many leaches, the first in any numbers on the trip. Birds seen included 2 Red-billed Malkohas, Banded Pitta (me only in flight) and 2 Ferruginous Babblers. We took a break in the heat of the day, pottering around or taking a siesta, then birded the main track seeing a superb pair of Red-naped Trogons and a Red-crowned Barbet. We returned to the clearing for dusk when we saw a Brown Hawk Owl and 4 Malaysian Eared Nightjars. Other highlights were Silver-rumped Needletail, pairs of Rufous-winged Philentomas and Fiery Minivets, 4 Yellow-bellied Bulbuls, 2 Black-capped and a Short-tailed Babbler, 2 Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers and male Crimson Sunbird. Way Kambas is well known for its night birds and after eating we birded the main track from 19:00-22:30 seeing Gould’s § and Sunda § Frogmouths very well and hearing Large Frogmouth and Reddish Scops Owl.
the main track to Way Kanan
Way Kanan resthouse
Ebony Leaf Monkey (photo: Jon Hornbuckle), I probably didn't see it
Gould's Frogmouth at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Sunda Frogmouth at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
09 July. Our guide Dedi canoed us up river at 06:00 to Rawa Gajah to look for White-winged Wood Duck. We disembarked and walked across an area swamp forest and damp grass to a patch of open water. No ducks were visible but I saw my first Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeons §, ending up with 15 for the day. We continued to another pool by which time I wasn’t the only one with very wet feet. Nothing there either and we were beginning to flag but Dedi knew another area of open water that required a bit of wading to get to. Despite it starting to rain we followed, except for Jon who didn’t rate our chances high enough to make it worthwhile. I wasn’t confident but I had an umbrella and my feet were unlikely to get any wetter so what was there to lose? For us it was third time lucky as we had good views of at least five (2 adults and 3 large juveniles) and possibly seven White-winged Wood Ducks §. Jon wasn’t best pleased, the Lesser Adjutant he’d seen providing no consolation. Dedi took some persuading to take Jon back to look for the duck but reluctantly did. They saw a male that quickly disappeared into the swamp forest before Jon could photograph it. That we’d seen and Barry and Janos had photographed a Small Blue Kingfisher while he was away didn’t go down that well either. We returned to Way Kanan to find Rob Hutchinson and Bram Demeulemeester had arrived and exchanged information and stories as birders do when meeting in far flung destinations. During the middle of the day I wandered along the loop/leech trail seeing little. We then birded along the main track, returning at dusk. Birds seen during the day included a female Crested Fireback with 4 large young, 3 Lesser Adjutants, 2 Black-thighed Falconets, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, 15 Blue-rumped Parrots, Black-bellied Malkoha, 3 Stork-billed and a Blue-eared Kingfisher, 2 Black Hornbills, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, 2 Black & Yellow Broadbills, 2 White-chested and 3 Black-throated Babblers and 2 Hill Mynas. As we were walking back at dusk we heard the strange call of a Bonaparte’s Nightjar § seeing it first in flight and then perched across a branch in an almost vertical stance, a very strange bird. After supper we heard Gould’s and had stunning views of Large Frogmouth §. My fourth new frogmouth of the trip - I’d only seen three before, ever.
Small Blue Kingfisher at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Small Blue Kingfisher at Way Kambas (photo: Barry Wright)
White-winged Wood Ducks at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeons at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Bearded Pig at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle), seen while we were watching White-winged Wood Ducks
Didi, Attila, Janos, me and Barry having seen White-winged Wood Duck (photo: Jon Hornbuckle, who a this stage hadn't)
Stork-billed Kingfisher at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Black & Yellow Broadbill at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Bonaparte's Nightjar at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Bonaparte's Nightjar at Way Kambas (photo: Barry Wright)
Large Frogmouth at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Large Frogmouth at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle), is it for real?
10 July. I spent the morning on the loop/leech trail, middle of the day around the Way Kanan clearing and in the afternoon with Barry, Janos and Attila along the entrance track. Jon had earlier gone back up the river with Rob, Bram and Dedi and although they saw (the) five White-winged Wood Duck quite close they soon flew off and only subsequently had two flight views. In the afternoon, he looked over the river from the dilapidated jetty hoping for more duck views but only saw White-bellied Woodpecker. During the day I saw male Red Junglefowl, a male Crested Fireback with the female and four young, 4 Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrots, a Black-bellied and 3 Raffle’s Malkohas, female Scarlet-rumped Trogon, 2 Blue-eared Kingfishers, 2 Red-crowned Barbets, a superb Rufous Piculet, Rufous Woodpecker, 3 Dusky Broadbills, a distant male Banded Pitta, Rufous-tailed and 2 Ashy Tailorbirds, a Ferruginous and 2 Short-tailed Babblers, 2 Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babblers and a female Malaysian Blue Flycatcher. Walking back along the entrance track beyond the bridge about 2.5km from Way Kanan Barry, Janos, Attila and I had excellent views of a male Great Argus roosting in a tree. I’d walked right past it and it didn't flush as I was called back. Soon after we heard a Reddish Scops Owl § calling right by the track. Janos managed to find it by crawling under the low tree it was calling from and fortunately it stayed as we took turns doing likewise to get superb views. After supper Barry, Jon and I went back along the track to look for Bay Owl, the remaining nightbird on the cards for Way Kambas and perhaps the most stunning of all, although the competition had been absolutely excellent. At the bridge Jon spot-lit a possible Leopard Cat on its wall (I dipped, but it was only a moggy). It was very quiet with only a distant Large Frogmouth calling briefly but after another km or so we finally heard a response to the Bay Owl tape. We went into the forest, being careful not to become completely lost in the dark, and after some searching Barry found the Bay Owl § perched on a horizontal branch in an open area, giving an awesome view, bobbing up and down occasionally. Jon hadn’t taken his camera (not expecting to see it) and Barry’s flash was playing up. We left the owl still on the same perch and quickly walked back the 3.5 km to get Janos and Attila. Jon grabbed his camera and returned to the site with them. Barry and I were pretty wrecked by this time and couldn’t face a return for something we’d seen so well. They bumped into Rob and Bram at the bridge and all continued to where the owl had been. It hadn’t moved far and was perched photogenically on a vertical liana in the ‘classic’ pose. I should really have gone back but couldn’t really complain, excellent views of six new nightbirds in three days was astounding.
Brown Barbet at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Reddish Scops Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Reddish Scops Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Bay Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Bay Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Janos Olah)
Bay Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Bay Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Bay Owl at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
11 July. We spent 06:00-08:00 on the river, paddling up and drifting back down for breakfast and to finish packing. We had booked a vehicle for 09:00 to take us to the ferry but it arrived 45 minutes late, just when we were starting to give up on it. We stopped briefly a couple of times along the entrance track. Birds seen on our last morning at Way Kambas were a Stork-billed and 2 Blue-eared Kingfishers, 2 Red-bearded Bee-eaters, 2 Black Hornbills, 2 Common Flamebacks, 2 Black & Red Broadbills, 2 Velvet-fronted Nuthatches and 2 Malaysian Blue Flycatchers. We drove to the ferry terminal at Bakauheni on the southern tip of Sumatra. It was only about 125km but a slow journey on poor roads and we were dropped off at 14:30. We intended taking the fast (45 minute) Speedcraft to Java but found ourselves on a packed car ferry. The crossing to Merat was much cheaper but took twice as long. This did  give us the opportunity to sea-watch but it was disappointing with a Great-billed Heron, 2 Great Frigatebirds, Crested, Black-naped and 11 Bridled Terns and a distant dark petrel thought most likely a Matsadura’s (which would be new for me). We hired a bemo to take us west 60km along the coast to Carita. It took over 2 hours and we arrived after dark. We couldn't find the hotel Jon had been recommended and the alternative we choose was the worst accommodation of the trip - noisy, full of mozzies and had no water.
on the river (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Way Kanan resthouse (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
leaving Way Kanan resthouse (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Way Kanan (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Rustic at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Yellow Glassy Tiger (or something similar if it doesn't occur) at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Red-bearded Bee-eater at Way Kambas (photo: Jon Hornbuckle)
Janos and Barry on the ferry  to Java
me on the ferry

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.