David was notable in his high level of enthusiasm, how careful he is with identifications and how quick he is at spotting things. Our group was quite mixed in age and skills, and David was patient with members whose eyesight was not so good, and quick to get a spotting scope onto even difficult forest birds. I’d happily travel elsewhere with him and is every bit of what I could hope for in a guide. The overall group felt well run and there was always a plan B if one was needed. David’s knowledge and sense of humor also made him fun to travel with.
Indonesia Birding Tours
Our Indonesia birding tours take us to this remarkable chain of 17,508 islands, boasting over 1,600 bird species and nearly 400 Indonesian endemics (more than any other nation in the world) – an area that cannot be ignored by the international birder! Rockjumper is, therefore, proud to be offering the opportunity to explore this mind-bogglingly biodiverse region, with a suite of birding and wildlife tours to some of the most endemic-rich Indonesian islands.
Nestled in the tropical waters of Wallacea, the remarkable islands of Sulawesi and Halmahera are seldom-visited parts of the Indonesian archipelago. These two strangely shaped islands lie just to the east of Borneo, yet their Australasian-influenced fauna could not contrast more sharply with Borneo’s. Our carefully-crafted Indonesia birding tour will provide the intrepid birder with a mouth-watering array of exceptional endemics. The most extraordinary of these must surely be the outrageous Standardwing, an otherworldly bird-of-paradise observed at a noisy display lek. The luxuriant rainforests are also home to a wonderful assortment of parrots, fruit doves and endemic kingfishers, while other targets include Hylocitrea (previously known as Olive-flanked Whistler but now placed in its own family), the stellar Ivory-breasted Pitta, strange Maleo, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Knobbed Hornbill and Purple-winged Roller. Unique mammals also abound, including the bizarrely tusked Babirusa, cute Spectral Tarsier and aberrant Crested Black Macaque. This tour offers some of the finest endemic island birding in the world!
The Lesser Sundas, a diverse and rugged chain of islands stretching across the Java Sea between Bali and New Guinea, support over 80 endemics. Our Indonesia birding tours to the Lesser Sundas visits four of these islands (Sumba, Timor, Flores and Komodo) and targets over 60 of these localised and highly sought-after birds. Starting and ending in Bali, we explore montane rainforests, lowland monsoon forests and dry scrub. Key targets include Sumba Hornbill, the beautiful Red-naped Fruit Dove, Black-banded Flycatcher, Orange-sided Thrush, Timor Sparrow, the difficult Flores Scops Owl, Elegant Pitta, unusual Bare-throated Whistler, stunning Glittering Kingfisher, Yellow-crested Cockatoo and the truly impressive 10ft Komodo Dragon!
Internationally renowned as a holiday mecca, a lesser known fact is that Bali also offers exceptional birding. Our vast array of Indonesia birding tours also includes a Bali Birding Extension, which visits the drier north-west at Bali Barat National Park, home to the last few wild Bali Starlings as well as a range of specials shared only with Java, such as Javan Banded Pitta and Green Junglefowl. We will stay at a fantastic lodge set inside the national park, offering great mammal and bird viewing as well as world-class snorkelling opportunities. Our Bali birding tour will also explore the montane forests of Bedugul and the coastal and wetland areas around Nusa Dua.
Our Highlights of Western Indonesia – Greater Sundas and Dragons tour starts on the island of Flores in the Lesser Sundas. Here we search for an array of ornate species such as Glittering Kingfisher, sensational Elegant Pitta, Wallace’s Hanging Parrot, Leaf Lorikeet and the bizarre Bare-throated Whistler before embarking on one of the undoubted highlights of the trip to Komodo Island. Here, 10ft long Komodo Dragons roam this almost prehistoric paradise alongside Green Junglefowl and the beautiful, critically endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo. A short flight takes us to the island of Bali, most famous as a beach tourism Mecca. Situated at the eastern end of the Greater Sundas, we shall base ourselves at a luxurious lodge within the famous Bali Barat National Park. Top of our priority list are the few remaining truly wild Bali Starlings, with a supporting cast of Black-winged Starling, Cerulean Kingfisher and Javan Banded Pitta! Departing Bali, we head to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, to explore the Javan hot spots of Cibodas and Gunung Gede National Park. These fabulous montane birding spots host all the possible Javan endemics, and we shall bird diligently for such highlights as Javan Trogon, Javan Kingfisher, Flame-fronted Barbet, Pygmy Tit, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Tesia and Yellow-throated Hanging Parrots. We depart Java on a short flight to southern Sumatra and head to Way Kambas National Park. Producing arguably the best nocturnal birding in the whole of South-East Asia, Way Kambas gives us excellent opportunities for such tantalizing species as the bizarre Oriental Bay Owl, Sunda and Reddish Scops Owls and Buffy Fish Owl as well as Gould’s, Sunda, Blyth’s and the rare Large Frogmouth. Not that we will bird at night only, for the forests here hold many delights including the marvelous Hooded and Malayan Banded Pittas, the strange mesite-like Rail-babbler, placed in its own monotypic family, Crested Fireback, Banded and Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers, White-crowned Forktail and Rufous-tailed Shama!
As a result of the remarkable biogeography of the region, our Highlights of the Eastern Indonesian archipelago provides very little overlap in bird species to our Highlights of Western Indonesia, with a phenomenal number of special and endemic birds. We begin by exploring the prime highland site of Lore Lindu National Park on the island of Sulawesi. Boasting over 70 endemic species, the exceptional range of highly desirable birds we will seek include the endemic Hylocitrea, now placed in its own monotypic family, the indescribable Purple-bearded Bee-eater, bizarre Geomalia, Fiery-browed Starling, Green-backed Kingfisher (one of many endemic kingfishers), Purple-winged Roller, Satanic Nightjar and the impressive Knobbed Hornbill. We then wing our way to the nearby island of Halmahera, where we visit a lekking site for the highly sought-after Standardwing, surely one of the most bizarre birds-of-paradise! Here we also seek a mindboggling number of Mollucan endemics including the spectacular Ivory-breasted Pitta and Moluccan Owlet-nightjar. Moving further eastwards we again enter a completely new biological zone as we arrive in Sorong, on the extreme western tip of New Guinea. Here we bird the famous Vogelkop, a veritable feast of incredible highlights may include up to seven birds-of-paradise including Magnificent, King, Lesser and Twelve-wired as well as numerous pigeons (Wompoo, Superb and Pink-spotted Fruit Doves to name a few), parrots (including the localized Black Lory and Moluccan King Parrot) and kingfishers (Red-breasted Paradise being one of the prime targets.) We conclude our tour on the Raja Ampat Island of Waigeo, famed for the best snorkeling in the world! Here our targets in this tropical island paradise include Red Bird-of-paradise, the incredible Western Crowned Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Lowland Peltops and much besides. And as a way of celebrating the finale of this remarkable tour we will visit the display ground of quite possibly the most beautiful bird on Earth – Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise!
Over the next few years on Indonesia birding tours, we plan to offer a succession of cruises coupled with short land-based ventures to some of the most exciting and least-known islands on our planet. Our Indonesian birding cruises will follow in the footsteps of Alfred Russell Wallace and some of the world’s most famous naturalists, we will encounter a plethora of Indonesia’s remarkable avian endemics. Our new and exciting Remote West Papuan Island birding cruise to the Raja Ampat Islands (Four Kings: Waigeu, Batanta, Salawati and Misool), plus the very rarely explored island of Kofiau, will seek out some of our planet’s rarest and least-known species. These include such extraordinary gems as Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise (regarded by many as the most spectacular bird on earth!), Red Bird-of-paradise, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and Kofiau Monarch. Thereafter we cross Weber’s Line and head into the south Moluccas. Here we explore little-birded waters in addition to visiting several endemic-rich islands including Obi, Seram and Boano, ending in Ambon for many incredibly exciting endemics such as Carunculated Fruit Dove, Obi Woodcock, Lazuli Kingfisher, Seram Cockatoo, Boano Monarch and Long-crested Myna, to mention but a handful.
Our Buru Extension explores a beautifully forested island hosting around 20 avian endemics including Buru Green Pigeon, Spectacled Imperial Pigeon, superb Buru Racket-tail, Moluccan King Parrot, Buru Boobook, Black-tipped Monarch and Tawny-backed Fantail among many others, and if we are very lucky we may even find Moluccan Masked Owl or the reputedly nocturnal Black-lored Parrot!
Eastern Indonesia is so littered with little-known, virtually unexplored islands that we will have a surfeit of opportunities to check out places where no birder has been before and undoubtedly make some exciting discoveries along the way. Rockjumper’s unique take on the Banda Sea cruise kicks off in the Kai islands from where we explore some of the least-birded waters and islands on Earth. Taking in Great and Little Kai, endemic-rich Tanimbar Islands, Pulau Bandar, Damar (one of THE most exciting islands of the trip), arid Pulau Leti, fascinating but little-known Wetar, and finally ending in West Timor. Numerous island endemics and sought-after pelagic species can be expected as well as rare cetaceans. A selection of our many targets include Heinroth’s Shearwater, Tanimbar Scrubfowl, Elegant and Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon, the exquisite Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Wetar Ground Dove, elusive Fawn-breasted Thrush, Great and Little Kai White-eye, Damar Flycatcher and the enigmatic Kisar Friarbird.
Our West Papua and Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise extension visits the Indonesian half of New Guinea (Irian Jaya), one of the world’s largest tropical islands, surpassed in size only by Greenland, and is blessed with an incredible avifauna, including some of the planet’s most outlandish birds. A destination few birders have visited, with large expanses of pristine habitat, from towering snow-capped peaks to huge tracts of humid lowland forest. Of particular importance to birders are several distinct mountain ranges, some of them quite isolated. This isolation has led to the evolution of a diverse and unusually interesting avifauna with numerous endemics, a significant number of which being restricted to West Papua and its offshore islands; our pioneering tour is designed to see as many of these restricted-range and endemic species as possible.
The attraction of West Papua for many is the fact that it remains relatively under-developed and primitive, and affords the intrepid birder a glance into cultures from a bygone era, having barely emerged beyond the stone-age! This does mean however that this tour is not for the faint-hearted and we will be using fairly rustic, camping accommodation during much of the tour. This is a small price to pay for the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular and mythical birds on the planet, including Collared Brushturkey (Brown-collared Talegalla), Snow Mountain Quail, Forest Bittern, Papuan Eagle, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Victoria and Western Crowned Pigeon, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Pesquet’s Parrot, Salvadori’s Fig Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Modest Tiger Parrot, Black Lory, New Guinea Woodcock, Archbold’s Nightjar, Large, Barred and Mountain Owlet-Nightjar, Crested and Tit Berrypecker, Greater Ground Robin, Smoky and Green-backed Robin, Papuan Logrunner, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Spotted and Blue Jewel-babbler, Arfak Honeyeater, Belford’s, Short-bearded and Vogelkop Melidectes, Lorentz’s Whistler, Pale-billed, Black-billed, Black and Brown Sicklebill, King of Saxony, Red, Wilson’s, Magnificent and Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, Loria’s and Crested Satinbird, Splendid and Arfak Astrapia, Western Parotia, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Vogelkop and MacGregor’s Bowerbird and Western Alpine Mannikin (Snow Mountain Mannikin) to name but a few! To see this suite of incredible birds you will journey with us to the spectacular Arfak Mountains; the northern lowlands bordering the Cyclops Mountains, the mysterious Snow Mountains including the upper Ibele Valley and finally the island of Biak, brimming with endemics.
Sumatra and Java harbour numerous tantalising endemics, yet the vast and wild Sumatra is surprisingly poorly explored. We will range from the bird, and mammal, rich lowland rainforests of Way Kambas National Park to the volcanic slopes of Mt. Kerinci, Sumatra’s highest mountain and the famous Tapan Road during this Indonesia birding tour. Key targets include the endangered White-winged Duck, Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Large Frogmouth, Bonaparte’s Nightjar, Black-crowned and the incomparable Schneider’s Pitta, Sumatran Trogon, gorgeous Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Chestnut-winged and Shiny Whistling Thrush, and Sumatran Cochoa. Mammal opportunities include Sumatran Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Sun Bear, Asian Elephant and Siamang. Java is a land of great beauty, dominated by towering volcanos whose forests support important watersheds for the fertile rice fields that dominate the lowlands. Wandering along the enchanting trails of Mt. Gede – Pangrang and Baluran National Parks, we will search for a long list of endemics and specialties including the tiny Pygmy Tit, Spotted Crocias, exquisite White-flanked Sunbird, Orange-spotted Bulbul, miniscule Javan Tesia, Sunda Thrush, Green Junglefowl, Green Peafowl and gorgeous Javan Banded Pitta.