B2A Sulawesi-Halmahera 2014
3rd – 20th of October 2014
Participants; Robert and Anne
Walton, Erkki Violainen, Ilpo Hanski,
Frank Lee Bills and Sharon Bostick. Tour leader; Peter Ericsson and local guides
Ambang, Tapak Kolintang,
Tambun, Toraut, Halmahera,
Lore Lindu National Park
October 2009, our
first Sulawesi trip, was such a great experience that
it made us wish for just those 2 things; Get back for more
and share the superb birds with other birders! I think we
managed both of those quite well and here we are indeed with
our successful 2014 tour marking B2A's 5 years of trips to
these extraordinary islands in Indonesia.
The high number of people who have contributed to make our trips such a success each and every time is remarkable. Thanks go out to all our previous guests, Indonesian guides, local guides, reserve wardens, ground agents, home-stay and lodge owners and those who prepared all the lovely Indonesian food, drivers, boat crew... all of you, thanks a lot!
Knobbed Hornbill, Dumoga Bone National Park Sulawesi
Having experienced wonderful tours with B2A to
both Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines, Bob and Anne
Walton knew it was not much of a gamble to sign up for B2A's
exotic tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera!
Bob has a lifetime of birding behind him and upon arrival to Manado already stood at an impressive 8384! I asked him what he was hoping for and he said ‘there are 137 potential lifers so I hope for them all!’. Ha! Well, it didn’t quite work out that way but how about leaving the tour 18 days later with 124 lifers and a global list of 8508!!! Congratulations Bob to have reached this milestone! His 8500th bird was a group of 4 Hylocitreas on top of the Anasu track! (incidentally Bob’s last family)
It would be unfair to give Bob all the credit without mentioning his wife Anne. Anne is a passionate lister, researcher and mover of things. As so often the case, behind every great man there is a great little woman! A very determined and focused effort from Anne has a lot to do with Bob’s success.
This is a great tour for Kingfishers;
Sombre KF on Halmahera and Lilac KF at Tankoko NP were among no less than 12 species all well enjoyed.
How is it possible to reach such high numbers
in such a short time as 18 days when you already have seen
over 8000 species? Well, they say we need to ‘save the best
till last’ and truly Sulawesi/Halmahera delivers some of the
best endemic birding there is on the planet. In fact, if you
are after endemics Sul/Hal has more endemics then all of
Bob and Anne were joined with Erkki and Ilpo from Finland as well as in part by Frank and Sharon from the US. Since there were several levels of birders in the group the birding style of B2A suited perfectly: ‘finding all the birds we can in as leisurely a mode as possible’!
Red-backed Thrush, Tangkoko NP
There are so many detailed reports online from
this area that I won’t bring up a long list of birds seen.
However we did see well over 200 species most of which were
endemics or near endemics. Here are some of the
- A short walk to the Standardwing lek on Halmahera. We had half a dozen birds in the lek with the males getting excited doing their parachute display and making a lot of noise. We stayed over an hour with the birds as it is such a spectacle.
- The Pitta treat: Sulawesi Pitta (split from Red-bellied) performing well with 3 birds seen.
- Ivory-breasted Pitta showing after a lot of work and Moluccan Pitta (split from Red-bellied) frozen to the ground inside of thick bamboo while calling. Gave views down to 4 meters!
- Hornbills! Papuan, Red-knobbed showing well and in abundance with Sulawesi Dwarf seen on a few occasions.
- The Kingfisher experience: Sulawesi Dwarf, Green-backed, Lilac, Ruddy, Great-billed, Scaly, Common (Sulawesi resident race), Blue-white, Common Paradise, Sombre, Collared and Beach all showing well.
- The Megapodes: Half a dozen Maleos showing at their breeding grounds with Dusky and Tabon Scrubfowls showing on the forest floor.
- Raptors: 19 species seen with Gurney’s Eagle, Moluccan and Sulawesi Goshawk leading the way as well as endemic Small Sparrowhawk and Spot-tailed Goshawk.
- The parrots and associates: Oh, my, so many, 17 species seen all in all!
- Doves and Pigeons: 5 superbly painted Fruit Doves and several Imperial Pigeons amongst others.
- Iconic LBJs: The undescribed ‘Sulawesi Flycatcher, a muscicapa sp we saw at Lore Lindu. Matinan Flycatcher, a cyornis, found only on a few mountains in Northern Sulawesi. The Hylocitrea, the only bird in its family. We had a party of 4 at Lore Lindu.
- Skulkers: Gray Grasshopper Warbler, a migrant locustella that we manged to get views of on Halmahera. Chestnut-backed Bush Warbler showed well along the Anasu track.
- Owls and Nightjars: 5 owls seen, 1 Owlet-nightjar and 5 Nightjars.
- The rest: there are several other very interesting families of birds such as Cuckoo Shrikes, Flowerpeckers, Sunbirds and Honeyeaters, Cuckoos, Starlings, Whistlers, Drongos, Thrushes, raptors and waterbirds etc. What else is there besides birds that make Sulawesi/Halmahera so attractive?
- The food: We enjoyed superb authentic Indonesian cuisine throughout. A variety of chicken, fish, pork and vegetable dishes were served at all meals. Both non spicy and spicy. Fruits served with most meals. Food was very good!
- Lodging: We stayed at high end hotel/resorts when available such as at Halmahera, the city of Manado and Kotamobagu. The other nights were at more basic accommodation but with great food and ambiance.
- Transportation: We experienced a lot of the country side as we were being driven through an undulated landscape dotted with lush hills, paddies and villages. All the while comfortable seated in our air-conditioned modern vehicle.
- Location: Just knowing where you are geographically is a thrill. Didn’t you dream of the Moluccas/Spice Islands when you were young? These were places only for the early explorers and traders but now accessible with such ease.
- Mammals: Many endemic animals though hard to see: We did see Black-crested, Gondolato and Tonkean Macaques. Also the very cute Spectral Tarsiers and unique Bear Cuscus.
- For those interested in Dragonflies and Butterflies we saw plenty.
- Good news:
We are running this tour again in 2016 and of course open to customized tours in 2015 as the regular tour already is full.
Mangrove boat trip for Great-billed Kingfisher, Tangkoko ;; Maleo, the not to be missed Megapode of Tambun.