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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Sumatra, Indonesia 19th July - 4th August 2007 ,
The Guning Kerinci area which harbours the majority of Sumatran endemics has been a destination I intended to visit for quite some time and after reading the excellent report of Dave Sargeant (Sumatra 2005) I knew that it was time to go. And so I spent 2 weeks ( July 21 –August 4 2007) together with Wiel Poelmans on Gunung Kerinci while we also visited the nearby Tapan Road for 3 days.
This was my second visit to Sumatra as in 1993 I visited Way Kambas during a 7 week trip to Indonesia.
I knew beforehand that the birding would be difficult and that it would take time to get to grips with the specialties of the area. Some species like Schneider’s Pitta and Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant are much harder to find nowadays then in the past. Last year Red-billed Partridges were apparently rather easily whistled into view in the Base Camp area but these birds are most likely trapped as we heard the species only once briefly in that area and we encountered poachers regularly on the lower part of the trail. We did hear Red-billed Partridge for a longer period higher up on the mountain, above First Shelter but these birds remained at a distance.
Illustrative that the birds in this area are under severe threat of trapping, is the fact that we neither heard or saw a single laughingthrush during our stay on the mountain.
But in the end our perseverance paid of as we found most of our target species.
We observed Salvadori’s Pheasant, Sumatran Green Pigeon, Sumatran Frogmouth, Rajah’s Scops Owl, Mountain Scops Owl, “Sumatran” Collared Owlet, Salvadori’s Nightjar, Rufous Woodcock, Schneider’s Pitta, Sumatran Wren-Babbler, Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, Shiny Whistling Thrush, Sumatran Whistling-Thrush and Sumatran Cochoa on Gunung Kerinci.
Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant, Red-billed Partridge and Barred Eagle-Owl were only heard.
On Tapan Road we found the endemic Cream-striped Bulbul, Spot-necked Bulbul, Sumatran Bulbul, Sumatran Drongo, Blue-masked Leafbird, Sumatran Leafbird, Graceful Pitta, together with a host of other species such as the rare Marbled Wren-Babbler.
So even though the birding is tough, the forest is disappearing at an alarming rate, the birds are being trapped and as a result very shy, the results can still be great and it will give you great satisfaction if you actually observe some of world’s most difficult to find birds.
GETTING THERE – FLIGHT
We flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with KLM. For a return flight I paid € 950.
We used Air Asia for our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Padang.This cost us only €65 for a return flight. They fly brand new Airbuses and can be recommended.
All these flights can be booked through the internet but for a little extra I arranged it all through my local travel agency. Coming from Europe the fastest and cheapest option to travel to Padang is via Kuala Lumpur. An extra advantage is that you can combine your trip to Sumatra with a visit to mainland Malaysia (as we did)
On arrival in Padang you are issued a 90-day tourist visa for which you pay US$25
They expect that you pay this in cash so bring some dollars with you.
During our visit the exchange rate was roughly:
€1 = 12.900 Indonesian Rp. 100.000 Indonesian Rp = € 7.75
US$ = 9.500 Indonesian Rp. 100.000 Indonesian RP = US$ 10.50
I brought with me a couple of hunderd US dollars and Euros in cash, some American Express traveller cheques and a credit card.
At Padang airport you can change cash and traveller cheques but I am not sure if there was an ATM machine at the airport. In the city of Padang there are ATM machines to obtain cash.
I changed US$ 500,- at the airport of Padang and this was more than sufficient to cover all the expenses for the next 2 weeks. You have to pay US $ 25,- for the Indonesian visa, issued on arrival at Padang airport. This is a tourist visa which enables you to stay in the country for 90 days.
HEALTH & SAFETY
During our stay we did not have any health problems. As we only ate the excellent food made by Rosmina , the wife of Pak Subandi , and drank mineral water and/or boiled water (and beer of course) we did not have any food/drink related problems.
All the people we met in the Kerinci area were very friendly, though it can be tiring if you hear for the …… time: “Hello Mister”. We never felt unsafe, also not at night when we went spotlighting on the trail up the mountain. We met poachers in the park but they usually avoided us by walking away from us.
We did not use any insect repellent because we hardly encountered any mosquitos and leeches were totally absent.
GETTING AROUND – ACCOMODATION – FOOD & DRINKS
As I had contacted Pak Subandi months in advance he had arranged everything for us.
So when we arrived at Padang airport on a flight from Kuala Lumpur his son and daughter were waiting for us with a van to drive us to Kersik Tua. Pak Subandi owns his own car nowadays so he is able to take care of all the necessary transport in the area.
So he arranged the transportation from and to Padang, the transportation/use of a car for 3 days of birding along Tapan Road and the transportation every day (sometimes more than once a day) to and from the start of the trail up the Gunung Kerinci (an uninteresting stretch of 5 km. through fields and tea plantations). We sometimes used a motorcycle but mostly we had a car at our disposal.
For the pick-up/drop-of from and to the airport of Padang he charges 700.000 Rp.
Hiring a car for the whole day for birding Tapan Road cost us 500.000 Rp.
In the end we stayed at the homestay of Pak Subandi for the whole period. Originally we had planned to travel to Sungai Penuh and to bird from there the Tapan Road but we liked it so much at his homestay that we decided to visit Tapan road from his place. From Kersik Tua it takes a little more than 2 hours to reach Tapan Road and from Sungai Penuh it takes 1 hour.
Another advantage was that we could switch from the difficult birding on Gunung Kerinci to the easier, birdier roadside birding along Tapan Road.
The accommodation provided by Pak Subandi is rather basic, but it is clean and it has a nice homely atmosphere. He also has a few rooms with private bathrooms and he also provides warm water on request.
His wife prepares 2 very good meals a day with plenty of vegetables but you have to like chicken. She gets up very early in the morning to prepare the lunch you take with you while birding on the mountain or along Tapan Road. Breakfast is simple, a pancake with or without chocolate dressing. Tea and coffee can be had at any time of the day. Nearby is a shop where you can buy beer.! All in all we were very satisfied with the services provided by the family of Pak Subandi.
In the end we had to pay 2.800.000 Rp. per person for transportation, food & drinks and laundry services.
So we spent less than US$ 300,- in 2 weeks. Additional costs were beer, a good hotel in Padang (US$ 25 for a double room) and dinner on our last night in Padang.
Not many people on Sumatra speak English so it is handy when you have some knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia when travelling to rural areas. We do not speak Bahasa but fortunately Pak Subandi speaks reasonably good English so you will have hardly any problems in this respect.
The weather we had during our stay was actually rather fine. Regularly some rain in the late afternoon but we only lost 2 afternoons due to HEAVY rain. If you are high up the mountain it can be dangerous going down when it rains heavily as we experienced. The sometimes steep trail transforms in a slippery, muddy stream and it can be challenging going down.
The temperatures we had were fine. A bit chilly in the early morning but quite nice during the day and only twice it became really warm/hot during the day.
As Tapan Road is at a lower altitude the temperatures during the day were higher but never really uncomfortable.
I knew that the birding would be difficult and so Wiel and I decided to spend at least 2 full weeks in the Kerinci area. And we definitely needed these days to track down our target species. We only heard the Peacock-Pheasant, Red-billed Partridge and Barred Eagle-Owl but we observed all the other specialties. (See annotated check list). Other birders present during our stay did see the Peacock-Pheasant and Barred Eagle-Owl but the Red-billed Partridge eluded all of them.
NOTE: During our stay on the mountain we met only a few birders. 6 birders with James Eaton as their tour leader (Birdingtour Asia), Sander Lagerveld from The Netherlands with his Finnish girlfriend Eeva Eliisa and Charles Davies from England.
Only once a large group of noisy trekkers from Malaysia ascended the mountain but you better stay away from Gunung Kerinci in the week of Indonesian Independence (17th of August), as usually hundreds of people climb the mountain during that period. They camp on the mountain, singing and celebrating so there is little chance of undisturbed birding.
1. GUNUNG KERINCI
You mainly bird along the trail up to the summit of Gunung Kerinci. For reasons of convenience I split the trail into certain sections.
a.Forest Edge to Base Camp Shelter.
This section climbs gradually from around 1800 m. at the forest edge to the Base Camp Shelter, which can be reached within 40-50 minutes. Along this part of the trail you stand the best chance to encounter a Schneider’s Pitta quietly foraging along the trail early morning or late afternoon.
It took us 8 days though to connect with this species. Along this section we regularly heard Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant and Barred Eagle Owl and during spotlight sessions we observed Sumatran Frogmouth, Mountain Scops Owl, Salvadori’s Nightjar (forest edge) and Dusky Woodcock. Rusty-breasted Wren-Babbler was easily found (very vocal) and we also encountered Salvadori's Pheasant, Shiny Whistling-Thrush (common) and Sumatran Whistling Thrush (rare). A fruiting tree held daily Sumatran Green Pigeons.
b. Base Camp Shelter to Air Minum on to Camp Cochoa Shelter. ( about 1 hour 30 minutes at birding pace)
This section has already some steep slopes to conquer, especially just before and after Air Minum. Air Minum is a small open area with a huge fallen log and an obvious sign board. A small trail goes left towards the stream/river and another small/short trail goes right to some fruiting trees.
Species observed by us were: “Sumatran”Collared Owlet, Rajah’s Scops Owl, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Pink-headed Fruit-Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Sumatran Trogon, Rusty-breasted Wren-Babbler, Sumatran Wren-Babbler, Shiny Whistling-Thrush and Spot-necked Babbler.
c. Camp Cochoa Shelter to Burnt-Out Tree on to First Shelter ( about 1 hour 30 minutes at birding pace)
Again some very steep and sometimes muddy slopes. Along this section you stand the best chance to hear/observe Sumatran Cochoa.
Sunda Bush Warbler is common and we also saw Sumatran Trogon and Pink-headed Fruit-Dove.
Around the First Shelter you will normally find some Orange-spotted Bulbuls. Other species we found near First Shelter were Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Pink-headed Fruit-Dove, Rufous-vented Niltava and Horsfield’s Thrush. On our last morning we tried for one hour to tape in some responsive Red-billed Partridges but the birds kept their distance.
From time to time you will encounter flocks along the trail with species like Blue Nuthatch, 2 species of White-eyes, White-throated Fantail, Mountain Leaf Warbler, Sunda Warbler, Black-naped Monarch, Minivets etc.
d. “Dry” Riverbed
Before you enter the forest you turn left through some fields and then walk steeply down to the river valley. You can follow this riverbed for a couple of hundred metres and/or the indistinct trails next to it. We regularly heard Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant and Barred Eagle Owl in this area but never saw them. It is a good place for Sumatran Whistling-Thrush.
The forest edge and a small clearing a couple of hundred metres into the forest were good for Salvadori’s Nightjar and Dusky Woodcock.
2. THE TAPAN ROAD
This is the road between Sungai Penuh and Tapan on the coast and this road runs through the Kerinci-Seblat national park. Unbelievable but there are still large tracts of undisturbed, beautiful forest along this road. Maybe this is caused by the fact that the forest is rather inaccessible because of the steep slopes next to the road. Only when you approach the village of Mauro Sako you find evidence of some degradation of the forest.
It is quite a relief to bird along this road because in contrast to Gunung Kerinci there is bird activity all day long and it is generally easy roadside birding. The road is in a pretty bad state and probably as a result of that there is not too much traffic on it.
It takes roughly a little more than 2 hours to reach Tapan Road from Kersik Tua. We could have taken a hotel in Sungai Penuh ( it takes 1 hour from this village) but we liked it so much at Pak Subandi’s homestay that we opted to stay. The disadvantage was that we had to leave at 4.00 am in the early morning but the advantage was that we could switch from birding on the mountain to roadside birding along Tapan Road.
From the town of Sungai Penuh, the road climbs up to the Bukit Tapan Pass (10-12 km.) where a national park checkpoint is found and where you apparently have to sign in. We only did this on our first visit though.
Dave Sargeant uses km. markers in his report to point birders in the right direction but as these are mostly absent or impossible to read now it is in my view easier to use obvious points along this road like bridges and combine this with km. markers.
Dave also uses GPS coordinates for pointing out certain stake-outs but we never used them.
From Bukit Tapan it is about 15 km. to the first bridge. The stretch of 5 km. BEFORE the bridge is very good birding and roughly 2½ km. before the bridge is an obvious gulley which is reliable for Graceful Pitta. Best at the left side of the road, coming from Sungai Penuh. If Pak Subandi’s son is driving he will drive you straight to the spot.
We had excellent views of the Pitta at this site.
A few km. after the first bridge you reach a second bridge. The area around the bridges and the gullies between the bridges are good for Marbled Wren-Babbler.
During our stay this species was recorded at 3 different sites/gullies in this section.
The whole stretch from the second bridge to a third bridge ( about another 10 km.) is very good.
All the specialties/endemics can be seen in the stretch 5 km. before the first bridge down to the third bridge.
During our last visit we birded from the third bridge further down towards Mauro Sako to an obvious sign stating that you are crossing over to another district. You also notice that the road surface is changing to nice and smooth instead of the potholed road before that point. Just a little beyond that point we observed the apparently rare red-throated race/form of the Black-crested Bulbul which might be elevated to a full species (Ruby-throated Bulbul) in the future.
A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia: Graig Robson (2002 edition)
A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java & Bali: J.Mackinnon & K.Philips
Threatened Birds of the World Birdlife International & Lynx Ed.
Distribution & Taxonomy of Birds of the World Sibley & Monroe
Birdwatching areas: Kerinci-Seblat N.P.,Sumatra J.Tobias OBC Bulletin nr. 21
Sumatran Cochoa on Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra B.Simpson OBC Bulletin nr. 21
Birding Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra, Indonesia (June 2005) Dave Sargeant
I have included 2 maps. One map of the trail going up Gunung Kerinci and another one of Tapan Road.
We brought a scope with us which we used sporadically on Gunung Kerinci but frequently along Tapan Road.
I used a small cassette player in combination with a Sennheiser microphone for recording and taping in species.
Further I collected a wide selection of vocalisations on an I-Pod. For this I used the CD-Rom of Birds of Tropical Asia which can be ordered at Bird Songs International B.V. at www.birdsongs.nl or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I like to thank the birders we met on this trip, for sharing information and company in the field. Charles Davies, Sander Lagerveld, Eeva Eliisa, James Eaton and the BirdtourAsia group and of course my birding companion Wiel Poelmans.
Also Pak Subandi and his family which made this trip a hassle free one and who took very good care of us during the whole period.
Address: Homestay Pak Subandi, Jalan Raya Muara Labuh, Sungai Penuh, Desa Kersik Tua.
Tel: (0748) 357009, Henk Hendriks He.email@example.com
Day 1: Thursday July 19 Geldrop – Amsterdam – Kuala Lumpur
At 16.00 pm. I took the train from Eindhoven to Schiphol Airport.
I was supposed to meet Wiel at the KLM counter at 18.00 pm. After 30 minutes I decided to check in at the electronic counters of KLM. After that I phoned Wiel and was told that he was somewhat delayed. He finally arrived at 19.00 pm and then we heard that the plane was heavily overbooked and that Wiel was waitlisted. We never found out if he was picked out at random or that it was because of his late arrival at the airport.
We also met some other birders at the airport Peter Los, Hemme Batjes, Ron Demey and Rita Swinnen who were on the same flight. They travelled to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Jakarta to meet James Eaton of Birdtour Asia to start their trip to Sumatra and Java.
We would meet them again as they would also visit the Kerinci area later on.
Peter Los was also waitlisted so we were all rather nervous about the whole situation.
KLM offered people 600 € if they were willing to postpone their flight with one day.
Finally a family of 4 persons decided to take the money (2400 €!!) and luckily both Wiel and Peter were allowed on the flight. But there were still at least 20 people who had to stay behind.
At 22.15 we left Schiphol Airport ( 1 hour delay) and at 15.00 pm the next day we arrived at Kuala Lumpur.
Day 2: Friday July 20 Kuala Lumpur.
Arrival at Kuala Lumpur at 14.40 pm.
After collecting our luggage, we took the free shuttle bus to the Concorde Airport Hotel, which I had booked through the internet ( 40 € for a double room)
After an early dinner we booked a taxi for the early morning ride the next morning to the terminal from where our Air Asia flight to Padang would leave. This is another terminal than the terminal where the flights from Europe arrive.!
Day 3: Saturday July 21 Kuala Lumpur – Padang – Kersik Tua – Gunung Kerinci
Early morning taxi to airport where we had some problems, because Air Asia only allows luggage, weighing up to15 kilos. We just took out some stuff and where allowed to proceed with a lot of hand luggage!!
We left on time at 7.50 am and arrived in Padang at 8.00 am.(1 hour time difference). The plane was a brand new Airbus which was half empty.
On arrival they issued us the Indonesian visa for US$25 and after collecting our luggage we met the son and daughter of Pak Subandi, waiting for us outside. I changed US$500,- cash for Indonesian Rupiah’s and soon we were on our way to Kersik Tua where we arrived at 15.00 pm. After dumping our gear and some tea we immediately left for the mountain for some birding along the first section of the trail. (16.30 – 19.00 pm.)
In a fruiting tree at the beginning of the trail we flushed several Sumatran Green Pigeons.
Besides the common Grey-throated Babblers we also identified at least 2 Spot-necked Babblers.
After one hour it started to rain, first light and then we experienced serious rainfall. We returned to our home stay and after a nice dinner crashed out.
Day 4; Sunday July 22 Gunung Kerinci Trail to Air Minum
We were up at 5.30 and started to bird just after dawn along the main trail.
We birded the whole day along the main trail up to Air Minum and scored little.
We heard the Peacock-Pheasant briefly, and observed a few Shiny Whistling-Thrushes.
Near Camp Cochoa we observed Wedge-tailed Pigeon, a juvenile Sunda Cuckoo which was fed by a Mountain Leaf-Warbler, a pair of Maroon Woodpeckers, a lone Green Magpie and Lesser Shortwing.
Other species encountered that day were a.o. Large Niltava, Indigo Flycatcher and Sunda Warbler. Between 15.00 and 17.00 pm. we had heavy rain.
At dusk we tried for Sumatran Frogmouth together with Pak Subandi but we only heard the species. We returned at 19.30 pm.
Day 5: Monday July 23 Gunung Kerinci to the Burnt-out Tree.
From 6.30 – 8.00 am we explored the dry riverbed but nothing special. We scoped a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo at the edge of the forest.
We then continued birding up to Camp Cochoa and further to the Burnt-Out Tree.
We had excellent views in the scope of a male Pink-headed Fruit-Dove and Sunda Bush Warbler was common above Camp Cochoa. In this area we also observed Sunda Blue Robin, a male White-browed Shortwing and several Long-tailed Sibias.
This day we encountered some nice flocks but not a sniff of the tougher ones like the Pitta.
Besides some more Shiny Whistling-Thrushes we observed our first Sumatran Trogons and several Rusty-breasted Wren-Babblers and 2 Pygmy Wren-Babblers. We realised again that it would not be easy to find the specialties.
At 18.00 we returned to our homestay.
In the evening we met Charles Davies, who would stay 7 days in the area.
He had photographed a male Salvadori’s Pheasant just above Base camp in the afternoon!!
Day 6: Tuesday July 24 Gunung Kerinci Trail to Air Minum – River Bed
From 6.00 – 17.00 on the Main trail up to Air Minum.
When walking through the fields to the start of the trail we flushed 2 Slaty-breasted Rails..
Late morning we had excellent views of a male Salvadori’s Pheasant walking through Base Camp. We also came close to a calling Schneider’s Pitta but that was it.
More Sumatran Trogons were seen and at least 4 Blue Nuthatches in a single flock.
We also taped out a pair of Spot-necked Babblers near Base Camp.
Late afternoon we explored the dry riverbed and some indistinct trails next to it. Here we found the endemic Sumatran Whistling Thrush.
No spotlighting this evening.
Day 7: Wednesday July 25 Gunung Kerinci Trail to Base Camp Area
From 5.30 – 16.00 we birded along the Main Trail up to Base Camp area.
When we entered the forest along the main trail we met Charles who had just heard and seen a Sumatran Frogmouth. It was already after sunrise so we thought that our chances were very slim to rediscover the bird again but to our surprise the bird immediately responded to the tape from roughly 20 metres inside the forest. It did not fly in so we decided to sneak up on the bird and finally Wiel discovered the Frogmouth setting in a small bush just 1 metre above the ground. It could be observed and photographed in broad daylight and it did not move not even when you came within 2 metres of it. Excellent start of the day.
We slowly birded along the trail all day trying for the Pitta and the Peacock-Pheasant which we did not find but good views again of the Salvadori’s Pheasant.
Late afternoon we met Sander Lagerveld and his girlfriend Eeva Eliisa at the edge of the forest. They had been to Liwa and scored the Sumatran Ground Cuckoo. They also told good stories about Tapan Road where they observed all the endemics and had excellent views of both Graceful Pitta and Marbled Wren-Babbler.
We showed them the Sumatran Frogmouth, which was still present at the same spot where we left it in the morning.
Spotlighting in the evening gave us Mountain Scops Owl which was whistled in by Pak and gave good views. This species is regularly heard but notorious difficult to get good views of.
Day 8: Thursday July 26
From 5.30 – 16.00 we birded along the main trail up to the Burnt-Out Tree area. We had to come down the mountain in heavy rain which made birding virtually impossible from 12.00 onwards.
Together with Charles we birded the area between Camp Cochoa and the Burnt-Out Tree when in response to some random playback of Sumatran Cochoa I saw a large thrush fly in which perched right on top of us. Because of the overcast weather conditions it was very difficult to see any colour on this bird. During the time I got Wiel and Charles on the bird, it flitted nervously through the sub-canopy. In the panic of the moment I forgot to turn of my I-Pod and that might be the reason that the bird never settled down for a longer period and unfortunately flew away after a few minutes.
I had actually rather good views of the bird but it was as I said difficult to see any wing-patches and/or colours on the bird. At one time, when it looked down (to its call from beneath??) I had a good view of its head but I did not notice a distinctive blue cap. Wiel did at one time see lighter wing patches when the bird flitted through the sub-canopy but not very obvious. We were a bit puzzled as this was a plumage not described in literature as far as we knew.
We continued to the Burnt-out Tree and just before it started to rain I had brief views of a Sumatran Wren-Babbler which responded to the tape.
In heavy rain we descended the mountain and this was no fun as the muddy steep trail became very slippery and dangerous at places. Late afternoon the rain ceased and we birded the lower section of the trail when we met James Eaton of BirdtourAsia on the trail with a group of 6 birders including our Dutch colleague’s Peter Los and Hemme Batjes.
After dinner, one of the Swedish birders of the Birdtour Asia team came up to me in the “living room”of Pak Subandi’s homestay. It was Bjorn Andersen whom I met in July 1988 at Explorer’s Inn, Peru and with whom I saw Zig Zag Heron there. I had never seen him since then but as we all know he has not been sitting still. I also talked to James about our observation of the Cochoa and he told me that the immature male he had seen 2 weeks earlier on the mountain did have a blue cap and he had never seen one without.
Day 9: Friday July 27
We started again at 5.30 am on the main trail. At the edge of the forest we observed twice a Salvadori’s Nightjar in flight and one of them passed us at close range.
Met Birdtour Asia on the trail when they just spotlighted a Sumatran Frogmouth. We also heard a roding Dusky Woodcock. We passed them and we later heard that 5 minutes later and just 50 metres further on the trail they flushed a male Schneider’s Pitta which performed on a branch in full view for 30 seconds!!
Birded all day the lower part of the trail up to Base Camp. Best bird was another Sumatran Whistling-Thrush.
During dinner we decided to join Charles the next day on a visit to Tapan Road as we were ready for a chance of habitat. During a spotlight session in the early evening we briefly heard a Rajah’s Scops-Owl.
Day 10: Saturday July 28
We left Kersik Tua at 5.00 am which was a bit too late. At Bukit Tapan we had to sign a visitor book at the ranger station. After that we drove straight to the gully where Sander and Charles had seen Graceful Pitta a few days earlier. Charles continued with the car to another gully to try for Marbled Wren-Babbler. At 7.40 Wiel and I positioned ourselves at one side of the small stream just inside the forest. After playing the tape we had an amazing respons and we had fabulous and close looks of a Graceful Pitta hopping along the rocks in the gully. Wiel surely regrets the fact that he left his photographic gear at the beginning of the gully.
After this success we started to bird along the road downwards. We birded all day along this road and we had a very productive day. We found the endemic bulbuls (Cream-striped Bulbul, Sumatran Bulbul and Spot-necked Bulbul), the endemic Blue-masked Leafbird and Sumatran Leafbird, Sumatran Treepie and a host of other more common species. We failed to find the endemic Sumatran Drongo. At noon we drove down to catch up with Charles. It turned out that he had excellent views of Marbled Wren Babbler in a gully. We had lunch along the road and continued birding together the reminder of the day.
Other notable birds seen today were Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Whiskered Treeswift, scope views of a female Banded Kingfisher, small flocks of Wreathed and Rhinoceros Hornbills, Lesser Yellownape, Banded Woodpecker, Sunda Cuckoo-Shrike, Grey-bellied Bulbul, Spectacled Bulbul, Hairy-backed Bulbul, Black & Crimson Oriole, Horsfield’s Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Lesser Forktail, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Fulvous-chested Jungle-Flycatcher and Verditer Flycatcher.
We arrived back at Kersik Tua at 20.00 pm where we enjoyed a fine dinner.
Day 11: Sunday July 29
At 5.30 am we were on the main trail again. We birded until noon and had a break between 12.30 and 15.00 pm. Birded again along the main trail up to Base camp from 15.30 – 20.00 pm. And finally just before 18.00 pm. when we birded for the … time the lower part of the trail between the forest edge and Base Camp we connected with the Pitta. When I rounded a corner I saw a female Schneider’s Pitta in front of me on the trail. Before Wiel, who walked just 1 metre behind me, could focus on the bird it hopped around the corner out of view. We quickly and silently followed the bird and after rounding 2 more corners Wiel also got brief views of the bird before it disappeared from the trail, never to be seen again. What a relief.
We spotlighted along the first section of the Main Trail to 20.00 pm. We heard Rajah’s Scops Owl, Sumatran Frogmouth and Salvadori’s Nightjar.
Day 12: Monday July 30
Today we left at 4.00 am and arrived at 6.10 am. at Tapan Road. We first birded the area before the first bridge and unfortunately when I had a ”pit stop” Wiel observed a Sumatran Drongo in a flock with laughing-thrushes and Long-tailed Broadbills.
Our next goal was the Marbled Wren-Babbler. We first went to the gully where Charles had seen the species previously. After 10 minutes of playback finally the bird responded and came down the slope. First Wiel had short but excellent views of the bird when it appeared in a opening in the dense foliage. Fortunately a few minutes later the bird reappeared twice briefly in the same area but further remained elusive. I also saw a Rufous-browed Flycatcher in the same gully. We birded all day along the road from the first bridge to the third bridge which is roughly 6 km. from Mauro Sako. Best bird was another Sumatran Drongo and again in a small flock.
Other notable birds not seen during our first visit were Red-billed Malkoha, a male Red-headed Trogon, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Blue-eared Barbet, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, gorgeous Scaly-bellied Bulbul, the local brown form of Crested Jay, Rufous-fronted Babbler, Black Laughing-Thrush, Brown Fulvetta, Black-naped Monarch and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker.
At 17.00 pm. we returned to Kersik Tua.
Day 13: Tuesday July 31
From 5.45am – 13.00 pm we birded along the main trail up to the Burnt-Out Tree.
Around 8.00 am, when we were birding just below Camp Cochoa, we saw and heard Hemme Batjes running up the trail. When he passed us he just whispered Cochoa and continued his run. Soon I was in full pursuit and had difficulties to keep up with him. This guy was in really good shape. It turned out that Bjorn Anderson, who had ascended the trail on his own, had sent a sms message to James Eaton and the rest of the group that he found a Sumatran Cochoa above camp Cochoa. Unfortunately Hemme had just heard the words Camp Cochoa and immediately started his run up the mountain. It turned out later that the actual site was a couple of hundred metres above Camp Cochoa. When we finally arrived at Bjorn Anderson we were 10 minutes too late. It was striking that he observed the Cochoa in exactly the same tree as “our”bird 5 days earlier but this time under excellent light conditions and for an extended period. Interestingly he had also noted that this bird had not a blue cap and its wing patches were not as striking as depicted for an adult bird.
We tried to lure the bird into view again with the aid of our i-pod but we got no response.
NOTE: A couple of days after we left Sumatra, Sander and Eeva Eliisa saw a same/the same individual near First Shelter.
I found out later that other birders who visited the Kerinci area in July/august 2007 also observed an adult male and a female type bird, which meant that at least 4 different birds were seen during that period.
When we walked down we had, thanks to James, excellent and close views of a juvenile Sumatran (Collared) Owlet, just next to the trail. At the edge of the forest we observed a Black Eagle. We had a break from birding from 14.00 – 17.00 pm.
Spotlighting in the evening from 17.00 to 21.00 pm. We heard again Rajah’s Scops Owl but were unable to make a good recording.
Day 14: Wednesday August 1
From 5.45 am – 13.00 pm. we birded again along the main trail up to the Burnt-Out Tree.
Near Base Camp I got great views of a pair of Sumatran Wren-Babblers. They came to within a couple of metres, foraging like miniature kiwis between the dead leaves on the forest floor.
Nearby I also found some very obliging Eye-browed Wren-Babblers and the observation of a couple of Rusty-breasted Wren-Babblers and a lone Pygmy Wren-Babbler made the quartet of Wren-Babblers complete.
We also spent some time at the dry river bed looking for Barred Eagle-Owl and Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant.
In the afternoon we had planned to visit the Letter W- waterfall to try for Giant Swiftlet and some rice fields near a hanging bridge which is reliable for White-headed Munia but unfortunately it started to rain heavily from 15.00 onwards. Despite the rain we found a flock of White-headed Munias but we aborted the trip to the Waterfall.
Day 15: Thursday August 2
We left again at 4.00 am for the Tapan Road and this time we birded the lower part of the Tapan Road from 6.30 am to 15.00 pm. From the third bridge down towards Mauro Sako.
Best species seen was probably the local red-throated form of the Black-crested Bulbul, which we saw close to the first settlement we reached when walking down.
This might be a future split, Ruby-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus dispar.
Other “new” birds include Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot, Raffles’s Malkoha, a large flock of Wreathed and Rhinoceros Hornbills (22 + 28 exx.), a flock of Long-tailed Broadbills, Black-headed Bulbul, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Cream-vented and Red-eyed Bulbul, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird and a nice male Temminck’s Sunbird.
Together with Pak Subandi, Sander Lagerveld and Eeva Liisa we spotlighted along the main trail up to Air Minum from 18.00 – 21.00 pm.
At dusk at a small clearing we had good views of Salvadori’s Nightjar and in flight and also brief flight views of Dusky Woodcock. We then continued towards Base Camp & Air Minum.
Sander had made a nice recording of the call of Rajah’s Scops-Owl the night before and with this recording we were able to tape in a bird, which gave astonishing views.
Day 16: Friday August 3
This was our last morning on the mountain and we decided to walk straight up to First Shelter. At dawn we briefly observed again a Dusky Woodcock in flight.
Before 8.00 am.we arrived at First Shelter. We observed Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon and Rufous-vented Niltava in the general area but not the Orange-spotted Bulbuls.
We decided to follow the trail higher up, which was steep and narrow at places. Excellent views of a pair of Pink-headed Fruit-Doves and 2 very approachable Horsfield’s Thrushes on the trail.
We tried for 1 hour to tape in some very vocal Red-billed Partridges but to no avail.
When we returned to First Shelter we had good views of a couple of Orange-spotted Bulbuls.
Then it was time to go. We descended and after our last excellent lunch we said goodbye to Pak Subandi and his family, who had taken very good care of us for 2 weeks.
At 14.00 pm. we left for the drive to Padang. We stopped for 45 minutes at the Waterfall but failed to observe the Giant Swiftlet. Then we continued to Padang.
Our driver was not a particularly slow driver and we were extremely lucky that at the moment when he had to slow down for another vehicle, we lost a wheel!! I do not want to think about what could have happened when this had occurred at full speed at a sharp turn…
It took hours to fix this and at one time we were getting worried because it was already dark and we had to catch a plane early next morning.
We finally arrived at Padang. The hotel recommended by Pak Subandi was full so we had to switch to another one. After a late dinner we went to bed.
Day 17: Saturday August 4
At 5.00 am we drove with a prearranged taxi to Padang Airport. At the airport we again met Peter Los and Hemme Batjes who would fly to Jakarta for their Java extension of the trip.
Right on time we left for Kuala Lumpur where we arrived at 11.00 am.
This was the end of the Sumatran part of the trip and the start of the Malaysian.
Took a taxi from the airport straight to Taman Negara N.P. (5 hours)
Wiel stayed at the airport because has wife would arrive on a flight from Amsterdam at 15.00 pm.
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