Arriving in the early evening in Jakarta airport on Dec 13, part of our group sat waiting for our flight to Manado, Sulawesi. After an uneventful flight we were met by Monal, our excellent local guide, and settled in for the night at the Novotel Hotel just 10 minutes from the airport. A late text indicated that the rest of the group would be late arriving the next day.
The next morning, several of us explored the hotel grounds and independently got several good species including the beautiful Buff-banded Rail. After breakfast we departed for Tongkoko National Park - our destination for the next three nights. Approaching the NP we got our first views of both endemic hornbills; Red-knobbed and Sulawesi Dwarf, Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon, Gray-cheeked Green-Pigeon, distant glimpses of Golden-mantled Racquet-tails, endemic White-necked and Finch-billed Mynas, several Barred Rails and the beautiful Purple-winged Roller among others. In the late afternoon we walked farther into the park and picked up additional species including Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle, Sulawesi Hanging-Parrot, Slender-billed Crow, great views of Yellow-billed Malkoha, Sulawesi Black Pigeon (White-faced Cuckoo-Dove), Isabelline Bush-hen and Sulawesi Babbler. Late that evening the rest of the group joined us!
The 15th was spent exploring Tongkoko. Hiking deep into the park we got crippling views of three of the five endemic kingfishers: the Sulawesi Dwarf, Lilac and Green-backed Kingfishers. Wow! Just before leaving the road/trail we also got a Black-naped Fruit-Dove, Ornate Lorikeet and a pair of the immense Ashy Woodpecker. We also got a pair of Tabon Scrub-fowl, Ruddy Kingfisher, and 2 beautiful endemic Rusty-backed Thrush. In the afternoon a wonderful slow boat-ride into the mangroves rewarded us with Great-billed Heron (on the beach), Gray-tailed Tattler, Pacific Reef-Egret, White-rumped Cuckooshrike, and crippling views of the endemic Great-billed Kingfisher.
The next day saw us return to the NP and we were rewarded with great scoped views of Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Sulawesi (Red-bellied) Pitta, Pale-blue Monarch, and two endemic owls; Sulawesi Scops-Owl and the amazing Ochre-bellied Boobook. After 3 pm we again returned to the NP and got Bay Coucal, two Isabelline Bush-hens that most of the group managed to see, 100s of Gray-rumped Treeswifts flying along the beach, and both Great Eared Nightjar and Sulawesi Nightjar. The latter was heard only.
Dec 17 we departed the Tongkoko area, but not before a stop above the reserve to get some birds for the late arrivals (Ron, Terry and Kay). We got the three Imperial-Pigeon species, and both hornbills and much, much more. We also got our last possible Myna in the area - Sulawesi Crested Myna. A Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher (just new to science) was sitting atop a close tree and Black-fronted White-eye, Sulawesi Woodpecker, distant views of two Ivory-backed Woodswallows and a Sulawesi Triller added to make a great morning. From there it was onto Lake Tomohon. At the lake and roadside rice paddies we got Wandering Whistling-duck, Chestnut Munia, Javan Pond-Heron, Yellow Bittern, Dusky Moorhen and the lovely White-browed Crake.
The next morning, Dec 18, found us up and early in the higher elevation forests on Mahawu Mountain where we got Sulawesi Myzomela, Yellow-sided and Sulawesi (Crimson-crowned) Flowerpeckers (all endemic), Superb Fruit-Dove, Speckled Boobook, Black-faced Munias, Collared Kingfisher and several Gray Wagtails. From here we drove on into Sulawesi toward the town of Kotamobagu.
The next day, Dec 19, after an extremely early rise at 4 am found us at the Maleo site – Dumoga Nani Wartabone. After patiently waiting for the Maleo that did not turn up, we headed down the river and found a recently excavated nest site which we obtained a freshly-laid egg. We then headed to the incubator where a freshly-hatched Maleo had just dug its way to the surface. Leaving there we disturbed an adult Maleo walking along the riverbank. Further along the river we flushed five Sunda Teal, a Blue-breasted Quail, a distant Sulawesi Serpent-Eagle, Striated Heron and 2 Spotted Harrier.
On our last full day, Dec 20, we visited Gunung Ambang Reserve and our long walk in and out yielded some great birds. We got a Fly-eater (Yellow-bellied Gerygone), three endemic Fiery-browed Mynas, a Gray-streaked Flycatcher, Rusty-bellied Fantail, a pair of the beautiful Purple-bellied Bee-eater, Sulawesi Drongo, a Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater, two strange Malias, Martinan Flycatcher, Streak-headed Dark-eye, a Sulawesi Leaf-Warbler, a beautiful Cerulean Cuckoo-shrike and a Rusty-bellied Cuckoo. Sadly, although protected, the reserve is being selectively cut and how long this great site remains for birders is anybody’s guess.
Thanks to Monal and his guides during our stay on Sulawesi - we will be back.
Birds (Seen and heard) and other wildlife seen on our tour to Sulawesi, Indonesia
December 14 - 21, 2015
White-faced (Sulawesi Black) Dove
Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher
Sulawesi (Dwarf) Hornbill
(Red) Knobbed Hornbill
Greater Streaked Honeyeater
White-(Ivory) backed Woodswallow
Gray-spotted (-streaked) Flycatcher
Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher
Eurasian Tree Sparrow