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.
Our Bali birding tour takes us to the magical island of Bali, part of the chain of tropical islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Although most famous as a beach tourism Mecca, Bali also has a lot to offer the birder and naturalist. Situated at the eastern end of the Greater Sundas, our tour provides superb Indonesia birding. The island’s most iconic bird, the beautiful and very rare Bali Starling, will be top of the hit list. We will stay at a lodge situated near the world-renowned Bali Barat National Park. Here we will search for some of the last wild Bali Starlings in existence and we will also be treated to numerous other avian treasures, many of which are only shared with neighboring Java. These include the endangered Black-winged Starling, Beach Stone-curlew, the dazzling Cerulean Kingfisher, Green Junglefowl, Javan Plover, Javan Sparrow and the spectacular Javan Banded Pitta!
Our trip also ventures into the highlands where specialties include Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Whistling and Sunda Thrushes, Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot, the delightful Sunda Warbler, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker and Grey-throated Ibon. The Bali countryside is eye-catching and we will additionally find ourselves enjoying such wonderful and range-restricted species as White-capped and Javan Munias, the stunning Javan Kingfisher and Cinnamon Bittern while gazing across emerald-green rice paddies, uniquely punctuated with Hindu temples.
Bali makes for a splendid week-long birding safari adventure, offering exceptional island birding, sensational scenery, world class coral reef snorkeling and fascinating art and culture.
Bali Myna, Green Junglefowl, Javan Banded Pitta, Black-winged Starling, Javan Plover, Javan Pond Heron, Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Beach Stone-curlew, Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot, Javan & Cerulean Kingfishers, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-banded Barbet, Crescent-chested Babbler, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler, Javan Whistling & Sunda Thrushes, Javan Cuckooshrike, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Blood-breasted & Scarlet-headed Flowerpeckers, Grey-throated Ibon, Indonesian Honeyeater, Mangrove Whistler, Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Olive-backed Tailorbird, Sunda Bush Warbler, Java Sparrow, White-capped, White-headed & Javan Munias
Barking Deer (Common Muntjac) & Long-tailed Macaque
forest & forest edge, coastal mudflats, mangroves, rice paddies, grassland
Day 1: Arrival in Denpasar, Bali
Upon arriving in Denpasar, Bali’s bustling capital, we will transfer to our comfortable eco-lodge situated on a 10-hectare reserve. If time allows, we will enjoy a birding outing on our lodge property where over 50 bird and 80 butterfly species can be seen. Tonight we will enjoy a welcome dinner and can also use the opportunity to discuss our forthcoming adventures in the days ahead.
Day 2: Denpasar to Bali Barat National Park
This morning on our Bali birding tour, we will have time to visit nearby coastal mudflats, ponds and mangroves before heading off to Bali Barat National Park. Here we will scan the area for species that may include Purple, Pacific Reef and Striated Herons, Intermediate and Little Egrets, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, Grey Teal, the sought-after Javan Plover, Gull-billed Tern and, if we are very fortunate, perhaps an Eastern Curlew. Sacred, Collared and the radiant Cerulean (also known as Small Blue) Kingfisher are also usually present and the mangroves may yield Golden-bellied Gerygone, Island Collared Dove, Sunda Pygmy and Laced Woodpeckers, Pied Fantail, Bar-winged Prinia (an Indonesian endemic restricted to Sumatra, Java and Bali), the often difficult Mangrove Whistler, and the splendid Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker (another Indonesian endemic).
We also have a good chance of finding Savanna Nightjar on its day roost before making our way through Denpasar traffic and driving to the western edge of the island, where the world-renowned Bali Barat National Park is situated. On our scenic routes over the highlands of central Bali, we will soak in the unique Balinese Hindu culture with its abundant temples and acres of green rice paddies. We will also keep a lookout for birds along the way, including the stunning and near-endemic Javan Kingfisher, Long-tailed Shrike, Paddyfield Pipit, Pied Bush Chat and Black-crowned Night Heron. Expanses of tall, seeding grass in and adjacent to the rice paddies could yield four very special birds in the form of White-capped, Javan and White-headed Munias and the beautifully-patterned Java Sparrow, as well as the more common and widespread Scaly-breasted Munia. Greater and Lesser Coucals, Striated Grassbird, Cinnamon Bittern and Javan Pond Heron also occupy this habitat. We can expect to arrive at our luxurious lodge situated in Bali Barat National Park in the mid-afternoon and our exploration of this epic reserve will then begin. This wonderful reserve remains the last refuge for one of the world’s rarest birds, the critically endangered and striking Bali Myna. We will explore dry monsoon forests as well as lusher lowland rainforest, mangrove, saltpans and savanna areas during our time here at the western end of Bali and close (separated by the 2 mile Bali Strait) to the great island of Java, which can be seen from our lodge.
Days 3 & 4: Bali Barat National Park and surrounds
Our main target over the next two days of our Bali birding tour will be the mostly white (but sporting a blue eye-ring) Bali Myna. Not only is it one of the most eye-catching of all the world’s starlings, it also happens to be a bird on the brink of extinction. This is tragically due to the relentless trapping of the species for the international cage-bird trade and there are currently believed to be fewer than 20 birds left in the wild! We do, however, have an excellent chance of seeing this, Bali’s only endemic and much-desired species, during our time in the park.
Our lodge is situated on 382 hectares of natural monsoon forest and savanna right inside Bali Barat National Park. One of the main buildings is a five-story tower situated on a ridge in the park and offering superb birding opportunities. We will scan the surrounding forest and this is a particularly fine site for raptor spotting. On our most recent trip, we recorded Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle and the tiny Black-thighed Falconet right from this tower!
The protected area around our lodge also harbours many other mouth-watering birds and we will be on the lookout for the rare and near-endemic Black-winged Starling, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, lovely Zebra Dove, stunning Black-naped Monarch, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Plaintive Cuckoo, Common Flameback (a stunning woodpecker), Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, White-shouldered Triller (an Indonesian endemic), flocks of Small Minivet, Lineated and Coppersmith Barbet, Oriental Dollarbird, Common Iora, Mangrove Whistler, Ashy and Hair-crested Drongo, Racket-tailed Treepie, Cinereous Tit, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, regionally endemic Olive-backed Tailorbird, and Olive-backed Sunbird. Green Junglefowl is another localised target species that occurs in good numbers right on our lodge property, but is most easily encountered in the early morning or late afternoon.
Blue-tailed and the stunning Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters can both be found hawking insects from exposed perches, and White-breasted Woodswallows, Grey-rumped Treeswifts and both Cave and Edible-nest Swiftlets forage overhead. We may also flush Large-tailed Nightjars during our forays or tape it into view in the early evening when they start calling around our lodge. Another lodge speciality is the splendid Javan Banded Pitta (a recent split of the Banded Pitta) and we stand excellent chances of tracking down this beauty. They can even be heard below our deck as we enjoy breakfast!
During one of the days, we will head out by boat to a nearby islet that is also within that national park. Here we will have the opportunity to marvel at the wonder-world of colourful fish and other marine life that abound in truly fantastic numbers on the corals that proliferate here. A short walk on the island may reveal the small island specialist, Lemon-bellied White-eye and Freckle-breasted Woodpecker.
An early morning excursion into the lusher forests elsewhere in Bali Barat National Park should produce the scarce Fulvous-chested Jungle-flycatcher, the rare and elusive Black-banded Barbet, Black-naped Fruit Dove and if we are lucky, the cheerful Crescent-chested Babbler. A short, high-pitched call may alert us to the presence of another rainforest gem, the minuscule Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher that favours stream-side snags in the forest interior. We will also seek out the much larger Javan Flameback (a split from Greater Flameback) and floppy Oriental Pied Hornbills. Other birds we will look out for include Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Javan Cuckooshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Sooty-headed and the uncommon Ruby-throated Bulbuls, and Pale-bellied (or Javan) Myna.
The nearby coastline may yield a few great birds, including the uncommon and often-elusive Beach Stone-curlew, Lesser Adjutant and Great-billed Heron, as well as Black-naped, Greater and Lesser Crested, Little and elegant Roseate Terns. A visit to nearby salt works will produce a plethora of wetland species, including more Javan Pond Herons, our best chances of Sunda Teal, close encounters with Javan Plover, White-headed Stilt and the first of the overwintering migrant waders that should have arrived by now.
We will also try our luck with some of the area’s rare owl species and, with a bit of effort and good fortune, we may find the sought-after Javan Owlet, Sunda Scops Owl, Brown Hawk-Owl or, if we are exceptionally lucky, Buffy Fish Owl!
Bali is not well known for its mammals and we are sadly too late to see the extinct Bali Tiger (the smallest of the Tiger subspecies, the last one was shot in 1937 but they were reported until 1972) or Leopard, which is now also extinct in Bali. Banteng too are extinct, but these wild cattle are still present in their domesticated form and we will commonly encounter these attractive animals.
Most people are surprised at the number of indigenous mammals that are encountered here, including the abundant Long-tailed Macaques, many of which live around the temples where they are held sacred and therefore fed. They can also be seen far out to sea on the reefs at low tide where they have earned themselves their alternative name of Crab-eating Macaque. Much rarer – and we will seek them out in the lusher forests – are Javanese or Ebony Leaf-Monkeys. This species is endemic to Java and Bali and troops of these black primates can be found in Bali Barat National Park and, if we are fortunate, we will also observe their bright chestnut youngsters. Javan Rusa Deer are common right in our lodge grounds and we should also see numerous Asian Palm Squirrels. Much tougher, however, is the huge Black Giant Squirrel, which prefers deeper forests. We should also observe Indian Muntjac or Barking Deer and Wild Boar, but we would need to be very fortunate to find Leopard Cat or Sunda Pangolin!
Day 5: Bali Barat National Park to Bedugul (Central Highlands)
This morning on our Bali birding tour, after breakfast and some final birding in the Bali Barat area, we will embark on our journey eastwards and wind our way up into the Central Highlands. Our accommodation here is nestled inside the crater of an extinct volcano at an altitude of 1,140m (3,740ft) above sea level. The surrounding lush, green, montane forests and nearby crater lakes offer excellent birding and we will spend the afternoon and the following day searching this cool and lovely area for exciting new species that could include the near-endemic Flame-fronted Barbet, Sunda Cuckoo, Black-naped Oriole, Little Pied Flycatcher and Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker, the absolutely darling Sunda Warbler and, along forested steams, the boldly-patterned White-crowned Forktail. We’ll also keep a lookout for the uncommon Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle, Besra and Crested Goshawk, which can sometimes be seen patrolling the forests.
Day 6: Bedugul area to Denpasar
This morning we will head out into the productive hill forest in the Bedugul area, where we will spend the morning ambling along forested roads and trails, marvelling at the stunning Bali Botanical Gardens. The dense forest undergrowth here supports Sunda Bush Warbler and the extremely shy and skulking Lesser Shortwing, which is far more readily heard than seen. We will also search the area for Horsfield’s and near-endemic Crescent-chested Babblers as well as the attractive Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler. Mixed species flocks could very well produce stunners such as Mountain Tailorbird, Yellow-bellied and Mountain Leaf Warblers, Oriental and Mountain White-eyes, and Grey-throated Ibon (an aberrant white-eye species). With some luck we may also manage to obtain views of the uncommon and secretive Javan Whistling Thrush, with even more luck being required for the retiring Sunda Thrush in the early morning, while the forest edge often produces delightful birds, including Short-tailed Starling, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Green and Dark-backed Imperial Pigeons, Australian Golden Whistler, the rather scarce and near-endemic Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot, Grey-cheeked Bulbul, the localised Indonesian Honeyeater, and further chances for Javan Owlet! In the late afternoon, we will then begin the journey back to Denpasar for our final night’s stay on this magical island.
Day 7: Denpasar and departure
This morning we will transfer to the Ngurah Rai International Airport after breakfast to connect with our respective flights. Those carrying on and doing the Lesser Sunda Endemics tour will fly to Umbu Mehan Kunda Airport in Waingapu, East Sumba for the start of the fabulous Lesser Sundas birding adventure.
What our clients say about tours to Indonesia
- MH, Lesser Sundas
My thanks to Keith and Glen Valentine for taking so much time in getting me on the birds. They are so patient and really nice.MM, Remote Indonesian Islands Cruise 2017
I have been on birding trips for many years, but this is the first time with Rockjumper. The trip was easily the best birding trip I have ever been on. In particular, both David and Glen made life so easy and their birding knowledge was remarkable. Other members of the group were very easy to get on with. The birding was quite remarkable and it is difficult to pick out a highlight from the Birds of Paradise, the Chinese Crested Tern or the Madanga. There is no doubt that I will travel with Rockjumper again.NH, Indonesia – West Papua Cruise 2016
Glen and Keith Valentine worked seamlessly together to make this one of the best Rockjumper trips! The logistics went well, local guides were great, and the boat was quite comfortable and offered good food and variety. Best of all, the birds were plentiful and everyone got lifers galore. The bros Valentine did everything possible to be sure that everyone got onto the birds and they worked tirelessly doing so. I would travel with either or both of them anywhere, thanks guys!RB, Remote West Papuan Islands 2017
David Ertrius is above all patient, with the birds, with the participants and the local guides. He very modestly shares his incredible knowledge of the birds.LG, Sulawessi & Halmehera
David Erterius is an excellent birder and a great tour leader. Unfailing enthusiasm while birding, and a great manner during non-birding time. The combination of the birders and the guides made this probably the most enjoyable trip I have been on.BB, Sulawessi & Halmahera
As expected, I had a fabulous time on the Sulawesi and Halmahera trip. It was everything I wanted – amazing birds, fantastic guide, great tour participants, highly organised logistics and wonderful forests. I particularly appreciated that for one morning the group was split into two so some participants had the chance to head part-way back up the Anaso track while the others birded less strenuous areas.SL, Sulawesi & Halmahera 2017
The ultimate birding trip: stunning destinations, endemics galore, cruising through the Raja Ampats and Maluku on a lovely wooden boat with wonderful crew and great food, gorgeous sunsets, awesome snorkelling and two of the best Rockjumper guides – Keith and Glen Valentine. And to top it off, Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise!!!!!!!!!SL, Remote Indonesian Islands Cruise 2017
David Erterius was a really fantastic guide, like all the Rockjumper guides have been. He certainly maintained the high bar set by all my Rockjumper guides. He was organised and friendly and was onto birds in near-mythical speed. I didn’t have any problems on the tour, but if I did, I would be confident that he would be able to assist.SL, Sulawesi & Halmahera 2017