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A Report from



Report of bird observations made during a combined business/birding trip in West Java (Rob Goldbach)

This report appears with the permission of Bren McCartney of the Berkshire Birds Web Page

Itinerary: (Areas relevant to birdwatching are indicated in bold)

  1. Friday July 24 KLM flight Amsterdam - Jakarta (arrival: July 25, 16.45 h)
  2. Saturday July 25 Late afternoon (17.15 - 18.30 h) taxi drive to Bogor
  3. Sunday July 26 08.00 - 11.30: birding in the Bogor Botanical Garden (Kebun Raya Bogor), 13.00 - 18.45 h: drive to Lembang,
  4. Monday July 27 Visit to Research Institute for Vegetables (R.I.V.) at Lembang and to some areas near Ciwidey, N. of Bandung,
  5. Tuesday July 28 Visit to R.I.V., Lembang (08.00-12.30, and 14.00-17.00 h), 12.30 - 14.00 visit to the nearby volcano Gunung Tangkuban Parahu,
  6. W'sday July 29 Visit to Research Institute for Ornamental Crops at Segunung,
  7. Thursday July 30 Visit to fruit orchard P.T. Mekar Sari at Cileungsi, overnight at Bogor,
  8. Friday July 31 After business meetings in Jakarta, afternoon drive to Cibodas (arr. 17.30 h),
  9. Saturday August 1 05.30 - 10.00 h: Birding in the Cibodas botanical garden (Kebun Raya Cibodas), 10.30 - 11.30 h birding in the Cibodas golf course, and 11.30 - 18.30 h birding in the Gunung Gede/Pangrango National Park (trails to the waterfalls),
  10. Sunday August 2 05.30 - 15.30 h: Birding in the Gunung Gede/Pangrango N.P., along the trails up to 2 km beyond the waterfalls, 15.30 - 20.00 h: travel by minibus (to Bogor) and train (from Bogor) to Jakarta,
  11. Monday August 3 06.30 - 13.00 h: Birding at the Muara Angke Nature Reserve, afternoon: transfer to airport, and return flight to Amsterdam (arrival Tuesday August 4 at 05.45 h).



The wet monsoon normally ends well before the end of July, but not this year, and of course El Nino was blamed for that. Most days started with sunshine and blue skies, but after about 1.00 or 2.00 am. rains would start. Fortunately on both days at Gunung Gede Pangrango (August 1 and 2) rain started after 5 am. Take an umbrella, not a raincoat. Temperatures at Jakarta (Muara Angke) were 33 degrees Celsius, at Bogor about 30 degrees, and at Lembang and Gunung Gede/Pangrango about 24 to 26 degrees, at the latter sites going down to 15 degrees at night.

Dawn was at about 05.30, and dusk at 18.00 h.


My visit took place only a few months after the economic collapse of Indonesia, and price levels in Rupiah were not (yet) corrected for the huge inflations. As a result costs of tranportation and hotels were very, very low (see below). Exchange rate was 13,000 Rp. for 1 US dollar. Exchanging 200 USD turned out to be more than enough to cover the hotel, transportation, food, entry fees, tips and other expenses for the whole (9 days) period.


Malaria hardly exists on Java, and there is no risk at all at the higher elevation areas like Gunung Gede/Pangrango.

Transport and places to stay

In Jakarta silverbird and bluebird taxis are the most reliable, and they go on the meter. A ride from downtown Jakarta to e.g. Muara Ankge (30 minutes) is no more than 15,000 Rp. (approx. 1 USD). The taxi drive from Jakarta airport to Bogor was 160,000 Rp.

Public transport between cities and in the countryside is mostly run by minibuses, which pick up and drop passengers (max. load 9 persons) at any desired place along their route. A shared minibus between e.g. Cibodas (Gunung Gede/Pangrango) and Bogor will cost only 3,000 Rp (0.25 USD), but we chartered a minibus on basis of nonstop for 50,000 Rp (less than 4 USD) to save time.

On our way back to Jakarta on August 2 we took the train between Bogor and Jakarta (60 km) for a fare of Rp. 1,000 (0.08 USD). Our experience was that travelling through Java was very easy, safe, and many Indonesians very helpful with information.

Due to the huge devaluation of the rupiah the price levels of hotels was very attractive for foreigners but this may be corrected soon. I stayed in the following hotels:

Bogor: hotel Pangrango 2, Jalang Raya Pajajaran 32, Bogor 16151 (tel. 0251-321482, fax 0251-377750). This is the best hotel in Bogor, on a 15 minutes walking distance to the maingate of Bogor botanical gardens, Rp.150,000/night (11.50 USD);

Lembang: hotel Panorama, Rp.175,000 (USD 12.50)/night;

Cibodas, Gunung Gede/Pangrango: here I stayed in Freddy's home stay for Rp.25,000 (USD 2.00) per night. Freddy's home stay (see also is located 500 meter before the gate to Kebun Raya Cibodas (botanical gardens) and the Gunung Gede/Pangrango N.P. Freddy's home stay (phone 0263-515473) is the place to stay for birdwatchers as there is a bird logbook, and Freddy has a number (3) of real and foster sons (a.o. Adam, speaking English, and Eddy, speaking Indonesian only) who are good guides, in particular to bring you to the precise location for some wishlist birds (for me a.o. Lesser forktails in the botanical gardens) and who know most of the bird calls in the jungle. Tariffs are Rp.50,000/half day and Rp.100,000/full day. I retained the services of Eddy for the first day. Freddy's place is a very clean place, and Freddy (who speaks Dutch) is always willing to prepare your breakfast even at 05.00 am, and to make a nasi goreng lunch package to allow you to stay the full day in the rainforests. Also try the meals at Rizky's foodstall of Freddy's daughter, even closer to the gates of botanical garden and the national park.

Jakarta: hotel Marco Polo, Jalang Teuku Cik Ditiro 19 (tel. 021-325409). Although a rather luxury hotel in downtown Jakarta the price level was again remarkably low, i.e. Rp.149,000 (USD 11.50)/night. From this hotel Muara Angke nature reserve can be reached by taxi within 30 minutes.


It is clear that this report is only useful for those who, like me, only have limited time to spend for birding when visiting Java. In my opinion (short) visits to the Bogor botanical garden, to the Gunung Gede/Pangrango N.P. and to the Muara Angke wetland reserve, all well accessible within limited time from Jakarta, will produce the most optimal bird list. I had to be professionally in Lembang (near Bandung), Bogor and Jakarta, and the total nett time spend for birding was only 3 days (i.e. 3.5 hrs at Kebun Raya Bogor, 1 hr at Gunung Tangkudan Parahu, 2 full days at Gunung Gede/Pangrango N.P., and 6.5 hrs at Muara Angke). Nonetheless I saw 104 bird species, a.o. 16 out of the 28 Java endemics. The total list seems to be a relative low number for a tropical island, and indeed one has to take into account that on Java hardly any bird will be spotted outside the nature reserves or botanical gardens due to high pesticide use and capture or killing of all what flies by the locals. Only up to 5 or 6 bird species can be regularly seen in cultivated areas, basically tree sparrows, some swift(let) species and munias.

Kebun Raya Bogor

These 87 ha world famous gardens are situated in the centre of Bogor, 60 km South of Jakarta. On an altitude of 260 m this area contains a collection of over 400 palms, 5,000 trees and 3,000 orchid varieties. Only the maingate (contra some guide books), at the south end of the garden is open, daily between 8.00 am till 5.00 pm. Better avoid the Sundays (the only free day in Indonesia), which was impossible for me. Therefore I entered the park immediately at 08.00 h and went to the best spots, i.e. the main pond with the island, and the bamboo-rich area around the old Dutch cemetary. Later during the day increasing masses of visitors will enter the park for sightseeing or picknicking. I managed to see 22 species of birds, the best ones including Bar-winged Prinia, Black-winged Flycatcher, Scarlet-headed and Plain Flowerpeckers, Collared and Blue-eared Kingfishers (at the main pond), Black-naped Fruit Dove, Little Spiderhunter, and Black-nest Swiftlet (between the Edible-nest Swiftlets). On the island in the main pond there is a roost of Black-crowned Night Herons. Furthermore Long-tailed Macaques and Malayan Flying Foxes are present.

Gunung Tankuban Parahu

This volcano, north of Lembang, is approx. 2000 m high and is nicknamed the "drive-in volcano", as a road runs up to the crater which still shows some activity (mainly sulphur vapours, last eruption 1969). There are a number of stalls at the crater rim where locals try to sell souvenirs, and the best to do for finding birds in a more quiet environment is walking back the road down to the main parking. I was lucky to spot a mixed bird party along this road containing some nice montane species, a.o. Orange-spotted Bulbul, Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, White-flanked Sunbird, Blood-breasted Fowerpecker, Mountain Tailorbird, Mountain Leaf Warbler, and Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler. Although Volcano Swifts have been reported here, I could not find a single one in or around the crater (seasonal effects?).

Gunung Gede/Pangrango N.P.

This national park encompasses the two volcanoes Gunung Gede (2,958 m) and Gunung Pangrango (3,019 m) and contains all but 3 of the 28 endemic bird species of Java. The track to the summit of Gunung Gede (a walk of 5 to 6 hrs) starts as a paved drive running along the golf course near the entrance of Kebun Raya Cibodas (the botanical gardens).

The best introduction to West Javan montane/rainforest birds is by birding first the Kebun Raya Cibodas. Certainly during the weekend it is very essential to start as early as possible (dawn at 05.30) to avoid disturbance of birds by other visitors. Although the gate of Kebun Raya Cibodas opens only at 06.00 h, one can slip along the gate and pay the fee (Rp. 500) upon leaving the gardens. I birded there from 05.30 till 10.00, identifying about 40 bird species. Kebun Raya Cibodas is the most reliable place for Lesser Forktail (along the various streams) and Pygmy Tit, which turned out to be more difficult to find in the real national park. Other birds not seen in the national park were Pintailed Parrotfinch, Collared Kingfisher, Black Drongo, Grey-headed Flycatcher, and Javan Munia.

The Cibodas golf course was completely deserted (due to the economic crisis) and could be freely crossed. There was a nest of Spotted Kestrels on the cliffs at the very end, and Striated Grassbirds and Long-tailed Shrikes are other birds to be found here.

The track into the Gunung Gede/Pangrango N.P. starts from the golf course, and the head quarters, where entry tickets can be obtained, are 100 meter behind the gate. The main track to the Gunung Gede summit goes along the Cibeureum Waterfalls (3.5 km distance) and the Air Panas hot springs" (6 km distance), and is indicated with hectometer (HM) signs. There are a number of dead-end side-tracks, a.o. a trail 500 meter passed the HQ indicated "birdwatching trail". Recent sightings are indicated in the bird logbook at Freddy's homestay. On August 1 I birded along the main track and some side-tracks untill the waterfalls, on August 2 I went further up the main track untill close to the hot springs.

Muara Angke

This small (27 ha) wetland reserve is situated West of Jakarta and North of the airport toll road, and can be reached by asking any taxi driver to bring you to the new housing estate called "Pantai Indah Kapuk". Once you get through the main entrance gate of Pantai Indah Kapuk turn right at the round-about 20 meters past the gate. After 500 meter you will see a small shelter shed on the right side of the road. The entrance of the reserve is there. Go on the boardwalk and up to the observation tower. There is a warden's house where one should report (but I found nobody there). The boardwalk extends another 800 meter, but due to bad maintenance only the first 150 meter can be walked (after 50 meters I crashed through the rotten wood, thus creating another dangerous passing side...). Muara Angke is one of the only five spots on Java where the endemic Javan Coucal can be seen. Also there is a fair chance to see the threatened Milky Stork. Different species of egret and heron (incl. Black Bittern) are present, and the mangrove trees contain a.o. Golden-bellied Gerogyne. When returning to the main road, walk another 200 meter to the right (west), and look on the mudflats at the southside of the road for (numerous) Javan Plovers. I flushed a Barred Button-Quail there. In the river Muara there was a 1.5 meter long Water Monitor (Varanus salvator).



I am grateful for receiving very useful information from the following persons, mainly through the EuroBirdNet: Oscar van Rootselaar, Rob Olivier, Bert van Marrewijk, Kath Shurcliff, Dan Hoare and Tom Tarrant.


Birds indicated E are Java (and partly Java/Bali) endemics

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