Java: an exotic destination or it probably was 100 years ago before the city of Jakarta expanded to swallow up most of the surrounding countryside. It’s now a huge city with bad traffic and any wild space seems to be choked with garbage…….
Despite this image, we did visit some great spots, met some wonderful folks and see some great birds. After landing in the haze, the hotel grounds offer a few birds. Apparently the lack of Magpie-Robins, Bulbuls and other songsters is due to the ever-increasing bird trapping, although with the lack of common birds, I can’t see this career lasting too much longer.
Our first stop was the zoo (why, I hear you ask?) Ragunan Zoo has large areas of trees, undergrowth and other semi-wild areas that yes, attract birds in this otherwise barren landscape. A fruiting fig tree attracted several fruit-doves and bulbuls including a very rare sighting of 2 Gray-bellied Bulbuls. This latter species is not usually found on Java and may have been escaped birds, but this is very hard to prove. A blue-eared Kingfisher was in the Hippo area and one of the lagoons had Yellow Bittern, as well as Asian Monitor. Yes, a great place to start birding. We spent the afternoon down on the shore of Jakarta Bay. Despite our excitement on seeing the endemic Javan Plover, it was depressing to see them walking around in a garbage-strewn site adjacent to multi-million Dollar houses being built.
The next morning found us heading out of the city at a very early hour, bound for Gede Pangrano National Park in the nearby hills. The trail up the mountain is rocky and seems to go straight up. It was not easy, but that did not seem to bother any of the local population, as the way up was crowded with school groups, walkers and even many marathon runners in the upcoming days. That’s why we tried to get there as early as possible. Over the next 3 days, which included camping ¾ up the mountain, we found Chestnut-bellied Partridge, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Waterfall Swift, the ever-so-cute Javan Tesia, Javan Cochoa, both Lesser and White-browed Shortwing and the delightful Blue Nuthatch. It was fairly birdy in the lower elevations, but flocks seemed to be in short supply once we had climbed higher into the forest.
Camping was interesting as there was little level ground, and what was level was rock covered; plus it rained all night. We did not get a lot of sleep. Our last birding stop on Java was Muara Angke Reserve in Jakarta. This wetland is one of the few strongholds left of the Sunda Coucal. We only heard this endangered species calling from the dense thickets, but never saw the bird. This small reserve was full of birds, but seems to have been neglected over the past few years. This is aggravating considering the amount of money being spent on high-end homes all over the city. What was good is the fact that the boardwalk is at last being fixed, allowing visitors to fully explore this refuge. We managed to get half way around seeing such birds as Small Blue Kingfisher, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo and White-capped Munia. A real surprise was a Pheasant-tailed Jacana; a “lifer” for our local guide and one of the few records for Jakarta.
We finished our time in Java with a boat trip out into Jakarta Bay. This is one of the best places in the world to see Christmas Island Frigatebird and we counted around 30-40 of these critically endangered birds. A small flock of Milky Storks was maybe nesting at the rookery, along with Gray and Purple Herons, Cattle Egrets and Oriental Darters. It was good to see a protected area for nesting birds, but the garbage problem was still everywhere and even our boat kept stalling due to plastic bags getting caught in the propeller! Despite the good birding in some areas, there is definitely a lot of work that needs to be done.
Photos from this Trip are on the Ventures Flickr Page Under Western Java, Indonesia 2015 Album
Birds and Other Wildlife Seen on our Pre-Trip to Western Java, Indonesia
December 9 - 12, 2015
Christmas Island Frigatebird
Little Black Cormorant
Lesser Crested tern
Rock (Feral) Pigeon
Sunda Coucal (Heard)
Javan Trogon (Heard)
Small Blue Kingfisher
Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Escape)
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo