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A Report from

Western Java, Indonesia (Gunung Gede, Pulau Dua, Carita, Muara Angke, Pulau Rambut) 12 – 18 February 2009,

Bruce Wedderburn


This report is based on a seven day birding trip to Western Java which was organised together with Indra Ferdinand (Freddy’s Homestay). The original trip for nine days included for a two day visit to Gunung Halimun but as the trip had to be shortened by two days, this part of the itinerary was missed out on. The focus of the trip was on the Javan endemics and a total of 157 species were seen during the seven days of birding.

Birding highlights were breeding Milky Storks, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Spotted Kestrel, Javan Plover, Javan Kingfisher, Javan Scops-owl, Salvadori’s Nightjar, Javan Frogmouth, Javan Trogon, Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush, Javan Kingfisher, Fire-tufted Barbet, Banded Pitta, Mountain Serin (9 birds), Horsfield’s Thrush, Javan Whistling Thrush, Spotted Crocias, Javan Cochoa, Sunda Fortail, Sunda Blue Robin, White-breasted Babbler, Javan Tesia, Javan Bush-Warbler, White-bellied Fantail, White-flanked Sunbirds and the Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch.

The trip took place during the wet season, between business meetings in Jakarta, so whilst not the best time of year for birding, the trip did produce some interesting birds which may not have been seen during the dry season.

The rainfall during the trip was much less than expected and heavy rain only affected a day and a half of birding, with the rain often falling during the night or early morning. Mosquitoes were not a concern and it was surprising how few were encountered.  Leeches were also not encountered except for the one evening birding close to Cibodas, next to the reed beds, where they were particularly prevalent. 

Even though the weather was pleasant and cool, the high humidity especially in the early morning took some getting used to.

At this time of year Indonesia is lush and green, with lots of water in the wetlands. In particular Jakarta is quite clean and does not have the hazy skies which are encountered in the dry season. In addition the parks are not busy even on the weekends.


The curtailed itinerary was as follows:

  1. 12 February - Departed Jakarta at 6am and travelled to Cibodas, with a short stop at Telaga Warna to look for the Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Munia and Sunda Bush-Warbler. Birding at the Cibodas Botanical Garden from 9am until nightfall, to look for the Javan Scops Owls and the Salvadori’s Nightjar in the evening. Stayed at Freddy’s Home Stay.
  2. 13 February - Full day birding in the Gunung Gede National Park walking up the track to about 1km before the Air Panas hot springs , before heavy rain intervened after midday. Stayed at Freddy’s Home Stay.
  3. 14 February - Full day birding in the Gunung Gede National Park walking up the track to about 0.5km before the Air Panas hot springs . Continued in evening to look for Javan Frogmouth. Stayed at Freddy’s Home Stay.
  4. 15 February - Half day birding at the Cibodas Botanical Garden until heavy rain intervened. Stayed at Freddy’s Home Stay.
  5. 16 February – Left Cibodas at 4am in order to miss the traffic in Jakarta and travelled westwards to Pulau Dua. Stopped at wetlands close to Pulau Dua for the Javan Plover and other waders. Walked across the fish farm embankments to get to Pulau Dua. In afternoon travelled further onto Carita. Evening birding to look for Javan Owlet. Stayed at Sunset Beach Hotel.
  6. 17 February – Early morning visit to area behind the Carita village for the Banded Pitta. Most of the day spent birding at Carita on the trail up to the Gurug Gendang waterfall. In afternoon travelled further down the coast to a harbour for late lunch and for the seabirds. Evening birding at Carita to look for the Javan Owlet. Stayed at Sunset Beach Hotel.
  7. 18 February - Early morning departure for Muara Angke and Pulau Rambut. Arrived just before midday and took a small speedboat out to Pulau Rambut. As winds were picking up, left after a 1½ hour visit and took a rough and wet ride back to Muara Angke. Spent the rest of the afternoon at the Muara Angke Wetland Reserve. Returned to hotel in Jakarta in evening.

Information on sites visited

Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park

This national park encompasses the two volcanoes Gunung Gede (2,958 m) and Gunung Pangrango (3,019 m) and covers an area of 15,000 ha. The track to the summit of Gunung Gede starts as a paved drive running along the golf course near the entrance of the Cibodas Botanical Gardens. The main track to the Gunung Gede summit goes past the Cibeureum Waterfalls (3.5 km distance) and the Air Panas hot springs (6 km distance).  The track to the hot springs is then continued on to reach the summit.

The Cibodas Botanical Gardens is a good starting point for birding and one of the first birds seen was close up views of the Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch.  At least 12 Pygmy Tits plus two Javan Hawk-Eagles and a Black Eagle were seen in the gardens. In the evening two Javan Scops-Owl and a Salvadori’s Nightjar were seen clearly.

The Cibodas golf course was completely deserted and can be freely crossed. A Spotted Kestrel was seen chasing away a Javan Hawk-Eagle, close to the cliffs at the top end of the golf course and two Javan Kingfishers at the ponds in the early morning.

The trail up to the Air Panas hot springs on the first morning produced two Sunda Thrush plus nine Mountain Serin in a pine tree, in the area between the golf course and the entrance gate to the national park.  Several White-bellied Fantails were seen in the lower parts of the forest, as was a Sunda Cuckoo-Shrike, eight Pygmy Tit, four Horsfield’s Babbler, five flying Yellow-throated Hanging Parrots and two Spotted Crocias.  Further up the track to the hot springs, two Crimson-winged Woodpecker and two Fire-tufted Barbets were seen up close. Several Javan Tesia were seen, one bird being particularly tame, plus an Eye-browed Thrush which appears to an unusual sighting for the area.

The second morning on the trail to the hot springs produced a close-up Javan Trogon, three Fire-tufted Barbets, four Rufous-fronted Laughing Thrush and a Javan Cochoa, all within a few meters of each other, close to the hot springs.

A Javan Frogmouth was seen in the evening in the wetlands between the golf course and the town of Cibodas.

Pulau Dua

Although Pulau means “island”, this is actually not an island, but a patch of mangrove forest and coastal scrub jutting out into the sea. This would be a difficult site to find without a guide and in our case we had organised a guide from Carita who said that he knew the area.

Basically one drives through the back roads and stops at a village due south of the mangroves. From the village we walked along the muddy banks through the area of fish-ponds. We met a security guard along the banks of the fish-ponds and he knew the local birds very well, so he joined the party which by now consisted of myself and three guides.

Before we visited Pulau Dua, we overshot the stopping point and went past a number of wetlands and exposed mud areas. At one place we stopped and saw at least six Javan Plover plus other waders such as Red-necked Stint, Marsh Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper. There were also numerous Mossy-nest Swiftlet, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis, Javan Pond Heron and Javan Munia in the area. Several White-headed Munia were also seen from the roadside.

The fish ponds were good for Sunda Teal, Small Blue Kingfishers, Streaked Weaver, Island Collared Dove, Clamorous Reed-Warbles, Zitting Cisticola,  various munia and waders such as Pacific Golden Plover. 

The mangroves and beaches at Pulau Dua were good for Rainbow Bee-eater, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Pied Fantail and Christmas Island Frigatebird, plus we could hear Javan White-eye but couldn’t locate them in the mangroves. Saw a Black Kite close up on the shore line and this species is not recorded in the field guide for Java. 


Carita is a beach resort town for people from Jakarta, however at the time of the visit most of the holiday accommodation was closed up. The main birding is along a 3.5 km long trail that leads to a Gurug Gendang waterfall. Within a couple of hundred meters from the trail-head the Sunset Beach Resort is located on the main road through the town. The volcano of Krakatau is clearly visible from Carita and from the trail up to the waterfalls. 

The forest is mixed farming and unspoilt lowland tropical forest. There was no evidence of logging in the area at the time of the visit. As the forest is more open than some of the forest at Gunung Gede birding is a bit easier.  

The main target bird being the Banded Pitta was located in the forest overlooking the village and was seen in the early morning close to some bamboo clusters, in the open grassed area. The other target which is the White-breasted Babbler was seen further up the waterfall trail in the dense forest.

Other interesting birds seen were the Scaly-crowned Babbler, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Crescent Serpent-Eagle, Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, Small Minivet and Scarlet Minivet. In the evening the Javan Owlet was located and seen briefly in flight. This bird is often seen around the village in the evening hawking for insects.

Unusual birds seen were the Red-eyed Bulbul which according to the field guide has not been reported in mainland Java and only on the Mata Siri Islands and the Moustached Hawk-Cuckoo which is an uncommon bird for West Java and there are no recent reports.

Muara Angke

Muara Angke Wildlife Reserve is a small wetland reserve in the north-western suburbs of Jakarta and is still a good place to connect with the rare Sunda Coucal. The wetland is nowadays surrounded by buildings and a huge shopping centre, however when viewed from the sea there are quite extensive mangrove forests. Refer to for further information.

Entry to the reserve needs to be arranged beforehand, however in our case as we were going to Pulau Rambut, we managed to get access easily, probably helped because one of the guides knew the local reserve staff.

The boardwalk has been refurbished and it’s an excellent birding spot for waterbirds, in particular we saw Black Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Sunda Woodpecker, Small Blue Kingfisher and White-breasted Waterhen. Indra also saw the Sunda Coucal close to the entrance gate.

Pulau Rambut

Pulau Rambut is a small island that holds the last significant large waterbird colony in Jakarta Bay. We travelled to the island by means of a very uncomfortable speed boat which crashed through the swell.

On the way across to the island, we saw White-bellied Sea-Eagles and Christmas Island Frigatebirds.

Once ashore, we headed for the observation tower, where we had a great view across the island. The trees were full of Little Black Cormorant, Black-crowned Night-Heron (+200), Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Striated Heron, four species of Egret plus 14 Milky Storks which were nesting. Lower down we also saw Pied Imperial Pigeon, Javan Myna (only ones for the trip), Black-naped Oriole and Oriental Magpie-Robin.

South Jakarta

I stayed at the Gran Mahakam hotel in South Jakarta and it is in a fairly quiet part of Jakarta. At the back of the hotel the roads are closed to traffic and there are quite a few large trees making it a good area for birding, considering it’s in Jakarta.

Interesting birds seen were Red-breasted Parakeet (Independence Memorial Park), Coppersmith Barbet, Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Sooty-headed Bulbul and Brown-throated Sunbird.

Full Bird List: (Pdf)

Literature Used

1.       A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali, by John MacKinnon and Karen Phillipps,
Oxford University press, recent reprint. Purchased from Nature’s Niche, a bookstore in Singapore

2.       A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Indonesia, by Morton Strange, Helm 2003

3.       Where to watch birds in Asia, Nigel Wheatley, 1996.

4.       Birding Indonesia, Paul Jepson, Periplus press, 1997.

Of the literature used, only the Field Guide by John MacKinnon and Karen Phillipps is of any real use for birding in the field. The Photographic Guide is missing too many birds to be of real use for birding in Java.

As has been noted by Susan Myers there are problems with a couple of illustrations:

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker

The Javan race of this species does NOT have red undertail coverts; they are a washed out pale pink

White-bibbed Babbler

The distinctive blue eye wattle (somewhat similar to that of Chestnut-rumped Babbler) is not illustrated and the jizz of the bird is totally wrong.

Spotted Crocias

The underparts of this species are a distinctive pale lemon yellow NOT white as shown in the illustration and stated in the text

Indigo Flycatcher

The Javan race of this species does NOT have a yellowish vent

White-Browed Shrike-Babbler The Javan race of this species does not resemble the illustration in the field guide (my comments).
Blue Nuthatch The Javan race of this species has far more white around the eye than illustrated in the field guide (my comments).


Bird Guiding Services, Indra Ferdinand (Freddy’s Homestay)
Mobile: +(62) 857 2037 3169


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