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Indonesia

Day 58: Last Full Day in Bali, Indonesia 😥

all seasons in one day 80 °F

Today was, as you can see, my last full day in the absolutely perfect island of Bali.

Before I expound on the day's events, I would just like to give a shout out to our fabulous staff at the villa who have cared for us in such a friendly, safe manner. The villa is so peaceful and beautiful being nestled up on a wooded hillside. I will miss hearing the gamelan and the native music in the mornings and evenings.

Today my dad and I took a rafting tour on the nearby beautiful Telaga Waga River. The whole family was supposed to come, but my mom stayed at home at the villa with my little sister Pearl because she woke up with a fever and an ear infection.

Upon arriving at the launch station, I found these two cute kittens. The sad truth is that free-ranging cats like these are the #1 reason for songbird fatalities in the USA and one of the most dire reasons worldwide. These kittens were simply just too cute for me to resist snapping a photo of them:
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The rafting was awesome. My dad and I were on the same boat with a couple from Hong Kong conveniently named Mary and Gary, as well as our Indonesian guide. The entire trip was down a lushly wooded river valley with occasional rock cliffs shooting up from the river as well as magnificent waterfalls, some of which we rafted under a few times. The rapids on the river, class 4 by the way, were very exhilarating and my dad and I were laughing harder than we had for quite a long time.
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After the rafting trip, we had lunch at the company's buffet-style restaurant and then were driven back to the villa.

The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to relaxing, swimming, and enjoying the villa for one last day before we start our last push of travel for this trip.

During the evening, my dad stayed home with the poor "sickpot" Pearl while my mom and I went out to dinner at a restaurant that was supposed to be good for birding. However, this is what happened:

"Since the weather outside was frightful,
And there were no birds around at all,
And the food inside was delightful
I stayed in and ate it all!"

And I did eat my entire, delicious meal of chicken satay, peanut sauce, white rice, and a nice strawberry drink:
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Soon it cleared up a bit outside so I took a photo of the view from our window during dinner:
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Sadly, even though the weather got better, the birds remained quiet for the night.

No new life birds were seen today, although it was a very fun day nevertheless.

Tomorrow my family and I will take a plane to Singapore, then we will stay in Singapore for two nights, and finally we will head home. I can't believe we're reaching the tail end of our trip!

Since I will most likely not see too many birds in Singapore, I will give the run-down of the trip birding-wise for each country so far.

NEW ZEALAND:
90 life birds
Best bird: Little Spotted Kiwi
Runners-up: Brown Kiwi; Wandering, Royal, Shy, and Buller's Albatross

AUSTRALIA:
91 life birds
Best birds: Superb Lyrebird and Glossy Black-cockatoo
Runner-up: Australian King-parrot

INDONESIA (Bali):
31 life birds
Best birds: Ruddy-breasted Crake, Pintail Snipe, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Greater Coucal, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Common Iora, and Brown-backed Sunbird.

I think overall I enjoyed birding in New Zealand the most. Bird-of-the-trip to the Little Spotted Kiwi (which was found in New Zealand). It was an amazing experience seeing such an extremely rare and unique creature so close and even photographing it! Runner-up to the Wandering Albatross, which were also found in New Zealand, because they have the largest wingspan of any living bird!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's overview on the travel day to Singapore!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 639 Species (no new life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 06:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Day 57: Crazy Birder

semi-overcast 88 °F

Today was my penultimate full day in Bali, Indonesia. The morning and early afternoon was spent mainly relaxing and swimming at our villa, and then at 3 in the afternoon, our driver Made (pronounced Mardey) picked us up and my family went on a shopping/sightseeing spree. A lot of it was just looking around shops, which didn't particularly interest me, so I won't expound on that dry topic.

Our first interesting stop was at a waterfall to which Made had wanted to take us the entire week. Here are some photos of the beautiful scenery, including the waterfall, at that stop:
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Within minutes, I spotted movement on the opposite wooded wall of the canyon that included the waterfall. I zoomed in at this monkey from two hundred yards away and manage to snap this documentation photo:
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After a bit more shopping, Made took us to a special place to see monkeys because he learned that I like them. When we arrived, our family and I had the option of getting out of the car, paying a fee to enter the forest, and then possibly being bitten by a monkey (they are aggressive here) and having to get a rabies shot in a third world country. We also had the option of observing the many monkeys around the parking lot from Made's car, for free. We of course chose the second, more reasonable option. Here is a photo of three monkeys in one shot:
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The destination of the driving tour was the trail my dad and I had taken on the birding tour a few days ago. This time, however, my whole family came because my dad remembered a cafe along the trail in the middle of the rice patties. He thought it would be perfect for dinner and good for birding since it was in the area I had gone on the birding tour just a few days ago.

And it was great! After ordering my food at the cafe, I excitedly jumped down into the rice fields and started birding. My target birds were little marsh birds in the rail family.

Upon finding two small rocks on the ground, I dashed back into the rice fields and started clicking the rocks together and turning my head at every movement in the fields surrounding me. People from the cafe and working in the rice fields looked at me like I was absolutely insane, which I ignored and accepted as an appropriate response to a random person sloshing through rice fields clicking rocks together. The only people who would slosh through rice fields clicking rocks together are either 1) insane or 2) birders. Luckily, I qualify for both.

Anyway, you must be wondering why I was clicking rocks together? Like I mentioned, rails were my target birds today, and since they have an affinity for rice fields, it was perfect habitat for them. Their calls sounds like small rocks clicking together, so the most desperate, crazy birders (like me!) take matters into their own hands and click rocks together themselves in order to get these small chicken-like creatures to poke their heads above the rice.

It payed off. Within minutes, I had at least a dozen different marsh birds excitedly calling around me. Waterhens, coots, snipe, bittern, you name it! It was miraculous.

The best rail photo I got was of this WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN which looks a bit like a penguin lost in the marsh:
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I also got documentation photos of two rarer marsh species seen: Cinnamon Bittern and Pintail Snipe. Note that these photos are for documentation purposes only and are not even remotely artistic photos:

Cinnamon Bittern in flight:
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The Pintail Snipe in this photo is the blurry figure flying just above the tree. Note that these are one of the fastest flying birds in the world, so that is a good excuse for this crappiest-photo-in-the-world:
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Also seen was a nice ZITTING CISTICOLA which is always a treat to photograph. Cisticolas are related to old world warblers but now their taxonomy is being debated over just how related they really are:
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Then, my "internal clock" chirped and I headed back to the cafe. Almost immediately after I sat down, my pizza came out, which was quite some good luck!

At one point during the meal this interesting lizard briefly joined us:
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My parents' main reason for going to this cafe, however, was watching the beautiful sunset over the rice patties:
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While my mom was watching the sunset, she proclaimed it to be the most pleasant meal of the year so far. I wholeheartedly agreed with her...until the walk back on the path to Made's car. I developed an acute stomachache on the walk back, and well, let's say, you can just assume how the rest of the evening was for me.

Thankfully, I am feeling much better now and I am sure that my stomach problem was not serious.

It was overall a nice day. Bird-of-the-day to the only life bird seen today, CINNAMON BITTERN. Runners-up to my two favorite marsh birds of the day, WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN and PINTAIL SNIPE.

Another reminder to subscribe to my photo stream "Birding Bali and Singapore," because it is a much easier and quicker way to access my last few birding photos of the trip before I go home. Contact me at the email address below if you would like to subscribe:
hwga380@comcast.net

I will maintain a photo stream for my entire Europe tour later this spring.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow will be my last full day in Bali, Indonesia.

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 639 Species (1 new life bird today: Cinnamon Bittern)

Posted by skwclar 05:43 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 56 on the Road

all seasons in one day 89 °F

Today was my 56th day away from home. My family and I had another lovely day in Bali, Indonesia.

Sadly, no interesting birds were seen today except for a few JAVAN KINGFISHERS which flew over the villa in which I'm staying.

The main event of the day was taking a driving tour guided by our personal driver Marday.

Our first stop was at a beautiful place of worship for Hindus called "Temple in the Rock." You can see why it is called that in some of the pictures of this place below:
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The next stop was for a delicious buffet lunch at a restaurant on the rim of a gigantic volcanic caldera. Here is the view from the restaurant:
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The third and last stop was at a coffee plantation. We learned that they made their coffee here buy growing coffee trees in an open environment and letting mongoose (see the photo below) eat the coffee beans. Then, they collect the feces of the mongoose, run water through the feces, purify the water, and the coffee is made!

One of their pet mongoose:
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Where they make the coffee:
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Coffee beans and mongoose feces:
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They also had a gigantic pet bat:
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It was a pleasant day. Tomorrow will be yet another day in this beautiful, majestic land.

Henry
World Life List: 638 Species (no new life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 06:52 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 55: 3rd Full Day in Bali

semi-overcast 86 °F

Today was my third full day on the paradise island of Bali, Indonesia.

We woke up bright and early for a personal, guided walking tour of the area near the villa in which we're staying. Our driver Marday led the tour.

The first bird on the walk was this SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA, which seems to be one of the most abundant birds on the island:
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The trail passed by some extremely beautiful sights, including the following:

Coffee tree:
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River surrounded by jungle:
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Our villa from afar:
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A simply ornate Hindu temple:
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Most of the day was quiet and spent at the villa relaxing, swimming, and schooling.

Then, in the evening, our driver Marday picked us up again for a driving tour of the area from 5:00PM-8:30PM.

Our first stop on the tour was a traditional Balinese-style restaurant right in the middle of the rice fields. Our family got to sit on the table, which was the proper Balinese style of dining. My sister got chicken while my mom, dad, and I all got what that restaurant was known for--fried (Balinese style) duck. I saw a few birds in the surrounding fields, including the following:

A male YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL displaying right next to an uninterested female:
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A gorgeous JAVAN MUNIA, a nice change from their more abundant scaly-breasted cousins:
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Juvenile SPOTTED DOVES:
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ZITTING CISTICOLA with a small grasshopper to eat:
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The main attraction of the evening, however, was going to a Balinese-style dance show.

The dance was about the story Sita Rama from the Hindu epic Ramayana. It was a beautiful, entrancing show that featured elaborate costumes, fascinating musical rhythms, and great Balinese dance. Here are some photos from the show:
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It was a great day.

Bird-of-the-day to the JAVAN MUNIA which allowed for a nice photo.

Stay tuned to my blog because I am spending another four nights (including tonight) in Bali, then two nights and Singapore, and finally back home.

On a final note, please remember that I would be happy to include you on my Bali and Singapore photo stream--simply email me if you wish to be included in this faster way to see my photos from the day.

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 638 Species (no new life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 07:06 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 54: Bali Birding Tour!

sunny 89 °F

Today my dad and I took a fantastic guided bird walk in the rice patty area near Ubud, the closest town to the villa in which we're staying.

We were dropped off by our driver shortly before nine o'clock in the morning at a restaurant in Ubud that had a bird viewing area in the back. We met our birding group there, including my dad, myself, our wonderful guide Su, a guy from Denmark named Bjørn, and Vicky, a gal from San Francisco, California.

After everyone arrived, we saw our first birds from the restaurant bird viewing area including this YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL, an avian species that would prove to be common throughout the morning:

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Then we embarked upon our three hour forty-five minute bird walk. Our fabulous guide Su very soon proved to be an amazing bird watcher and an equally great person. She picked out one of the first birds seen when we got out of the restaurant, this STRIATED SWALLOW which proved to be one of the rarer finds of the day:

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The first memorable stop was on the top of a small wooded hill where I saw a few interesting creatures such as Golden Orb Spiders, Sunskink Lizards, Plantain Squirrels, and a few fly-over CATTLE EGRETS.

Here is a photo highlighting a massive adult female Golden Orb Spider; it is even larger than your fist (thankfully not poisonous). If you look closely at the photo, you may notice tiny red dots on the same web the female spider is hanging on. These are the male Golden Orb Spiders; they are about one hundredth of the size of the adult female spider. Did you know that after breeding, the female will eat the males still hanging around?! Thankfully, some males are smart enough to skidaddle.

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Very soon, we were out of the wooded suburb of Ubud and into the beautiful rice terrace country. One of the first noteworthy birds seen was this GOLDEN-HEADED CISTICOLA, Su's favorite bird of the day.
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We also saw many ZITTING CISTICOLAS, including the one below, which proved to be much more numerous than the one golden headed individual I just pictured. These are called "Zitting" Cisticolas because their frequently uttered call sounds like "Zit! Zit! Zit!"
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Another great bird we saw was this shy WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN:
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The tour wasn't just about birding; Su proved to be very well versed in the overall natural and cultural knowledge of the land, also. There were quite a few times along the trail when she would suddenly stop and I would expect her to yell out a good bird, but instead she would pick up a leaf and tell us to eat it. We ate everything from ferns to exotic fruits! A couple of my favorite instances were: 1) When a random Balinese farmer came up to us, sliced open a coconut, and we all got to sip free coconut water and eat free coconut flesh right out of the coconut! 2) When the group stopped at a fruit stand along the trail and we ate exotic fruits 3) When Su picked up a few fern leaves that had white spores on the bottom and gave one leaf to all of us. Then, we pressed the leaf against our palms and an imprint of the fern leaf was left on our palms because of the spores. 4) When Su picked certain little red flowers for us and told them to bite into them and suck the nectar out. It tasted like honey! Apparently, this is the same nectar that flower-piercers and sunbirds crave! There were many other unique instances as well as countless times when Su pointed out an interesting plant, bug, or other living creature. I have a bird species and a non-bird species list from the walk at the bottom of the post.

About an hour into the walk, Su pointed out to us this PACIFIC SWALLOW which landed on a branch in the middle of a rice field:
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The next birds were beautiful BAR-WINGED PRINIAS, one of which posed nicely for this photograph:
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SCALY-BREASTED MUNIAS, a very common species throughout the day:
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At one point I ventured off into a rice patty by myself in search of snipes (I did find some, see pictures later in the post) and initially found this RUDDY-BREASTED CRAKE, which sadly didn't show up again so only I got to see it. Here is a photo of this shy bird disappearing into the rice field:
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I also saw this JAVAN POND-HERON while in the rice field (this was my dad's favorite bird of the day):
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As well as this nice WOOD SANDPIPER:
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Next, Su pointed out some interesting flora along the trail including a Banana Tree (sadly, the bananas were not ripe so we couldn't pick them):
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And these sweet potato plants:
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At this point we were half way through our walk and we had a snack break at the exotic fruit stand which I already mentioned. The fruit was delicious and it was a welcome break from all of the walking since the temperature was in the upper eighties.

The part of the trail immediately after the fruit stand went through a patch of dense forest which provided pleasant shade. We found a few COMMON IORAS in the forest, which surprised Su, because usually they are found in much larger, denser stands of jungle than the one we passed through. Here is a bad photo of one:
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After the brief patch of forest, it was back into the open rice terraces where I saw this LITTLE EGRET hunting in a picturesque landscape of rice patties:
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I also saw this JAVAN MUNIA:
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Then Su pointed a St. Andrew's Spider out to us. She informed us that the reason why it has that name is because the spider weaves a visible cross-like pattern into its web and stands on the cross just like St. Andrew was crucified on a similarly-shaped cross. You can see it for yourself in the picture I took below:
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The next bird, which was a real highlight for the walk was this beautiful, albeit far-off JAVA KINGFISHER:
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I also got lucky and managed to capture this bad photo of a PIN-TAILED SNIPE:
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The trail ended back at the road and it was a short van ride to the restaurant where we had lunch with the rest of the group as well as my mom and my sister. While having lunch, we spotted two fantastic birds including a stunning GREATER COUCAL and this gorgeous male OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD:

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Here are the "people photos" of the tour:

Su and I studying some photos I took on the tour:
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My dad and I in front of the rice patties:
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Bjørn and I discussing the coconut:
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It was a phenomenal tour, with 28 bird species positively identified, including 17 life birds, as well as many more plants and animals.

Here is the bird list for the tour:

  • *this indicates a life bird
  • *Javan Pond-heron

Cattle Egret
Little Egret

  • *Ruddy-breasted Crake

White-breasted Waterhen

  • *Wood Sandpiper
  • *Pintail Snipe

Spotted Dove

  • *Greater Coucal
  • *Edible Nest Swiftlet

White-bellied Swiftlet
Asian Palm-swift
Java Kingfisher

  • *Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow

  • *Striated Swallow
  • *Sooty-headed Bulbul

Yellow-vented Bulbul

  • *Common Iora
  • *Zitting Cisticola
  • *Golden-headed Cisticola
  • *Bar-winged Prinia
  • *Brown-throated Sunbird
  • *Olive-backed Sunbird
  • *Javan Munia
  • *Scaly-breasted Munia

Tree Sparrow

And here is a list of other flora and fauna Su pointed out to us:

FLORA:
Trees:
Jack Fruit Tree
Bread Fruit Tree
Banana Tree
Coconut Palm Tree
Rambutan Fruit Tree
Cinnamon Tree
Wildflowers:
Thumbujia Flower
Morning Glory
Gloria Lily
Figs:
Strangling Fig
Ferns:
King Fern
Other Plants:
Wild Ginger
Sweet Potato
FAUNA:
Butterflies:
Great Mormon Butterfly
Swift Peacock Butterfly
Glassy Blue Tiger Butterfly
Giant Crow Butterfly
Dragonflies:
Glider Dragonfly
Brown Skimmer
Damselflies:
Stream Glory Damselfly
Spiders:
Golden Orb Spider
St. Andrew's Spider
Lizards:
Sunskink
House Gecko

I saw so many great birds today that I can't decide which one of the following should be my bird-of-the-day:

Javan Pond-heron
Ruddy-breasted Crake
Pintail Snipe
Greater Coucal
Edible Nest Swiftlet
Asian Palm Swift
Java Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Striated Swallow
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Common Iora
Golden-headed Cisticola
Bar-winged Prinia
Brown-throated Sunbird

On a final note, email me if you would like to be included on a new photo stream I have made called "Birding Bali and Singapore," which would be another, faster way to see my photos from the trip.

Stay tuned because tomorrow is...well...just another day in paradise!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 638 Species (17 life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 05:46 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

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