Birding Tour Indonesia: Bali and East Java – Bali Myna and Other Rare Regional Specials
Indonesia: Bali and East Java – Bali Myna and Other Rare Regional Specials
Our small-group Bali birding tour, that also incorporates plenty of time birdwatching in East Java, is full of incredible endemic bird species and highly sought-after endemic subspecies, many with a high chance of elevation to full species status. This tour starts and ends in Denpasar, Bali (known as the “Islands of the Gods” and where Andy now calls home), visiting the island’s only national park – the famed Bali Barat National Park and then also visits several other important mountain and lowland birding sites, including mangroves, rice paddies, estuaries, lowland rainforest, and gorgeous montane forest. In Java we will bird some spectacular mountain forest, lowland forests, mangroves, and savanna as we bird at Mount Ijen, Baluran National Park, and Alas Purwo National Park.
Bali Myna, is a Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) endemic found on just the island of Bali in Indonesia where it persists in a few remote locations.
The list of top target birds on this tour is huge and includes many mega world birds. One of the main tour highlights is sure to be Bali Myna, this Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) bird is arguably one of the rarest and most-wanted starlings in the world, along with Black-winged Starling (“Grey-rumped” and “Grey-backed” subspecies – both heading the same way as the Bali Myna in terms of their conservation status). Other passerine highlights include Javan Banded Pitta, (Javan) Banded Broadbill, Yellow-eared Barbet, Black-banded Barbet, Flame-fronted Barbet, Sunda Cuckooshrike, Javan Cuckooshrike, Sunda Minivet, Scarlet (Javan) Minivet, Hair-crested (Javan Spangled) Drongo, Javan Bulbul, Brown-cheeked Bulbul, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Javan Black-capped Babbler, Javan Scimitar Babbler, Crescent-chested Babbler, Blue Nuthatch, Sunda Warbler, Javan Bush Warbler, Sunda Forktail, White-crowned (Javan) Forktail, Javan Blue Flycatcher, Javan Whistling Thrush, Scaly (Horsfield’s) Thrush, Sunda Thrush, Crested Jayshrike (formerly called Crested Jay and newly promoted to monotypic family status in 2022), Slender-billed (Sunda) Crow, Blood-breasted (Javan) Flowerpecker, Javan Leafbird, Javan Munia, and Java Sparrow.
The list of potential non-passerine highlights is just as vast and includes Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge, Green Junglefowl, (Javan) Green Peafowl, Sunda Teal, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Owlet, Beach Stone-curlew, Javan Plover, Great-billed Heron, Lesser Adjutant, White-tailed Tropicbird, Christmas Frigatebird, Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Black-naped Fruit Dove, Banded Fruit Dove, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Cave Swiftlet, Sunda Cuckoo, Sunda Coucal, Javan Kingfisher, Cerulean Kingfisher, Javan Flameback, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Checker-throated Woodpecker (Javan Yellownape), Grey-and-buff Woodpecker, Buff-rumped (Zebra) Woodpecker, Oriental (Sunda) Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, and Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot.
The stunning Javan Kingfisher is found only in Java and Bali.
We offer several Indonesian birdwatching tours and you could easily combine this Bali and Java tour with our short and relaxed-birding Indonesia: Lombok Extension – Rinjani Scops Owl Premium Tour, which runs immediately prior to this tour and looks for Rinjani Scops Owl, Wallacean (Lombok Spangled) Drongo, and Ornate Pitta amongst other targets. Or you could follow it up with our Indonesia: The Lesser Sunda Islands – Comprehensive Tour (which visits the islands of Sumba, Timor, Rote, Alor, Flores, and Komodo). This tour visits remote parts of the archipelago, which are a hotbed of endemic birdlife. Some of the highlights of this tour include Bare-throated Whistler, Elegant Pitta, Sumba Hornbill, Sumba Buttonquail, Rote Myzomela, Alor Myzomela, “Mt Mutis Parrotfinch” (a currently undescribed species), Black-banded Flycatcher, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Flores Crow, Flores Monarch, and Yellow-crested Cockatoo. It is also a great tour for endemic owls, with Little Sumba Hawk-Owl, Sumba Boobook, Rote Boobook, Alor Boobook, Flores Scops Owl, and Wallace’s Scops Owl all good possibilities, and we must not forget the giant Komodo Dragons!
Itinerary (17 days/16 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Denpasar, Bali
A non-birding day. You will be met at Ngurah Ria International Airport, Denpasar, Bali, after your international arrival and will be transferred to our nearby hotel, for the rest of the day at your leisure. Or arrive in Bali from our short and relaxed-pace Indonesia: Lombok Extension – Rinjani Scops Owl Premium Tour. We will meet for a group welcome dinner in the evening.
Day 2. Birding Denpasar and Ubud
We will get the tour going with some birding near Denpasar, at the southern-most part of Bali Island. We will visit several locations and habitats, with the order visited being dictated by tide times. Across the morning we will visit the huge sea cliffs at Uluwatu, where we may find White-tailed Tropicbird and Christmas Frigatebird, the Nusa Dua Water Treatment Plant Lagoons for great views of waterbirds like Nankeen Night Heron and beauties such as Cerulean and Blue-eared Kingfishers, and tidal sites, such as those at the Unda River Mouth and Serangan Island, where we will look for Javan Plover among many other exciting birds. We will gradually make our way to the town of Ubud, where we will spend the late afternoon birding the rice paddies, here we will hope to find Javan Kingfisher, along with Javan Munia, Javan Pond Heron, Cave Swiftlet, and, with luck, the increasingly rare Java Sparrow.
The tiny Cerulean Kingfisher is strikingly plumaged and sure to delight.
Day 3. Pura Luhur Batukaru to Kebun Raya Bedugul (Bali Botanic Garden)
We will depart Ubud in the early morning to get to the forest surrounding the 11th century temple at Batukaru for first light. Here, we will look for some great middle-elevation birds, which could include Flame-browed Barbet, Yellow-eared Barbet, Brown-cheeked Bulbul, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Brown-backed Needletail, White-crowned (Javan) Forktail, Black-naped Fruit Dove, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Mees’s (Javan Grey-throated) White-eye, Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Scarlet (Javan) Minivet, and Rusty-breasted Whistler.
After our morning birding session, we will drive a little higher into the mountains to the town of Bedugul, where after lunch we will spend the afternoon birding within the adjacent Bali Botanic Garden. This is a large, forested area with parkland woodland, and we will cover some of it this afternoon and again the following morning. One of the main targets for our time here is the skulking Javan Bush Warbler, but there are many more incredible birds possible too, as referenced in the Day 4 account, below.
Despite its distinctive plumage, featuring a white head and black nape patch with bright yellow-and-red vent and undertail coverts, the small Black-naped Fruit Dove can be tough to spot in the forest where it can sit motionless for ages while digesting fruit!
Day 4. Kebun Raya Bedugul (Bali Botanic Garden) to Bali Barat National Park
Prior to the gardens opening we will explore some nearby areas that may give us further chances for Javan Bush Warbler, but also other species such as Striated Grassbird, Long-tailed Shrike, and Barred Buttonquail.
We will spend the majority of the morning walking a circuit of the gardens where we will look for Javan Hawk-Eagle, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Sunda Cuckoo, Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Banded Fruit Dove, Brown (Indonesian) Honeyeater, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Javan Cuckooshrike, Black-naped Oriole, Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Sunda Warbler, Mountain Leaf Warbler, Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Scimitar Babbler, Javan Whistling-Thrush, Short-tailed Starling, Lesser Shortwing, White-crowned (Javan) Forktail, and Blood-breasted (Javan) Flowerpecker.
After lunch we will drop off the mountains and down to the lowlands along the northern shore of Bali Island. We may also have time to check the saltpans for Javan Plover, Malaysian Plover, Beach Stone-curlew, and Pied Stilt. We will arrive in the late afternoon and check into our very comfortable accommodation for a three-night stay situated within the national park.
Overnight: Bali Barat National Park
We can find Javan Plover on the volcanic black sand beaches of Bali, on estuaries, and on saltpans. This species is mainly found in Java and Bali but can be found on a few other islands in the archipelago and might be expanding its range through the Lesser Sunda Islands and into Sumatra and Sulawesi.
Days 5 – 6. Birding Bali Barat National Park
We will have two full days birding the Bali Barat National Park area. There are lots of birds to look for here and we will spend our time prioritizing the real special birds on offer. These will include Bali Myna and Black-winged Starling (the grey-rumped subspecies sometimes split and referred to as Grey-rumped Starling or Grey-rumped Myna), Javan Banded Pitta, Hair-crested (Javan Spangled) Drongo, Javan Cuckooshrike, Green Junglefowl, and Oriental (Rufous-backed) Dwarf Kingfisher.
Black-winged Starling is now increasingly rare. The tertius subspecies found in Bali is also known as Grey-rumped Starling or Grey-rumped Myna and is considered Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) due to the illegal pet trade.
Javan Banded Pitta is a simply stunning jewel that lights up the dark rainforest floor.
While looking for the above key species we are likely to run into a great many other exciting species and these could include Laced Woodpecker, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Black-thighed Falconet, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Sunda Collared Dove, Oriental Dollarbird, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Javan Myna, Coppersmith Barbet (the distinctive roseus subspecies), Lineated Barbet, Pied Triller, Mangrove Whistler, Small Minivet, and Scarlet-headed Flowerpecker. We will likely spend some time driving around the local area at night, where we might find Barred Eagle-Owl, Sunda Scops Owl, Eastern Barn Owl, Javan Owlet, Large-tailed Nightjar, and Savanna Nightjar.
Overnight: Bali Barat National Park
Day 7. Bali Barat National Park to Mount Ijen, Java
We will reluctantly bid a fond farewell to the Bali Barat area after what is certain to have been an enjoyable time in terms of our birding and our excellent accommodation. We will drive the short distance to Gilimanuk port, where we will board a ferry to take us across to Java. While in Gilimanuk we will be looking out for Great-billed Heron, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Crested Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, and anything else interesting that might be lurking.
Once finished with the short ferry crossing, we will make our way to the foothills of Gunung Ijen (Mount Ijen) where we will be based at a comfortable hotel for the next three nights with two full days to explore this fantastic bird rich area.
Overnight: Mount Ijen
Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge is an extremely hard bird to catch sight of – not many people have done so. Hearing them is a bit easier, but we will hope to see them on Mount Ijen.
Days 8 – 9. Birding Mount Ijen
There are multiple jaw-dropping targets for us over our two days birding Mount Ijen and some of these may include the very rarely seen Grey-breasted (White-faced) Partridge, the local form of Scaly (Horsfield’s) Thrush, the simply stunning Pink-headed Fruit Dove, and tons of other high-quality birds, like Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Kingfisher, Black-banded Barbet, Indigo Flycatcher, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Checker-throated Woodpecker (Javan Yellownape), Sunda Minivet, Sunda Cuckooshrike, White-bellied Fantail, Javan Bulbul, Sunda Bush Warbler, Sunda Warbler, Horsfield’s Babbler, Blue Nuthatch, Lesser Shortwing, Pied Shrike-babbler, (Javan) Banded Broadbill, White-flanked Sunbird, and Javan Leafbird. It is a real privilege to be able to bird this area, knowing that not many birders have had the opportunity to explore it — so much potential for additional exciting finds here.
The spectacular Pink-headed Fruit Dove is a top target while at Mount Ijen.
Further, more widespread, species to be found here include Red Junglefowl, Black Eagle, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Sunda Cuckoo, Orange-breasted Trogon, Pygmy Cupwing, Mountain Tailorbird, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, and Long-tailed Shrike, with several of these being distinct or localized subspecies and so it’s always worth seeing in case of potential future splits!
Overnight: Mount Ijen
Day 10. Mount Ijen to Alas Purwo
After a final morning of exploring the wonderful Mount Ijen we will travel to the southeast corner Java and the Alas Purwo National Park area. This is another rarely visited part of Indonesia, but it is full of seriously great birds and is one of the best places in the world (possibly the only place) to see Javan Blue Flycatcher. It also offers a good chance at finding the tough Javan Flameback and other top birds. We will have some time this afternoon and over the following two full days to explore the different habitats.
Overnight: Alas Purwo
Days 11 – 12. Birding Alas Purwo National Park
Alas Purwo National Park is a mix of lowland rainforest, mangroves, and savanna and we will make our way around this large area as we look for our numerous targets, not least the Javan Blue Flycatcher, Crested Jayshrike (now a monotypic family and formerly known as Crested Jay and/or Crested Shrikejay), and Javan Flameback. One of the biggest birds we will encounter (and possibly one of the most attractive too), is (Javan) Green Peafowl, a distinct subspecies and highly disjunct from where the species occurs in Vietnam and northern Thailand. Other birds we can see here may include Javan Black-capped Babbler, Green Junglefowl, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Black-banded Barbet, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Great Slaty Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Mangrove Whistler, Slender-billed (Sunda) Crow, Black-headed Bulbul, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Olive-winged Bulbul, Cream-vented Bulbul, Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, Long-billed Spiderhunter, Oriental (Rufous-backed) Dwarf Kingfisher, and Woolly-necked Stork.
Overnight: Alas Purwo
Green Junglefowl enjoys a relatively protected status inside several of the national parks we bird at in Java and Bali, and it can usually be seen well. It’s one attractive chicken!
Day 13. Alas Purwo to Baluran
After a final morning birding around Alas Purwo, we will head back north and drive to the Baluran National Park area on the north coast of East Java, where we will spend the next three nights as we explore yet another exciting birding area. We will get started with birding the area in the afternoon, targeting some of the species listed in Days 14 – 15, below.
Days 14 – 15. Birding Baluran National Park
Baluran is a national park that is more reminiscent of East Africa or India than much of the rest of Southeast Asia with vast tracts of savanna habitat, but this park also includes monsoon deciduous forest and evergreen forest. It offers a good chance to find the highly sought-after Javan Flameback, along with (Javan) Green Peafowl. It is also one of the best places to look for the local subspecies of Black-winged Starling (known and split by some as Grey-backed Starling or Grey-backed Myna).
The absolutely gorgeous (Javan) Green Peafowl can be found at Baluran and Alas Purwo National Parks in East Java.
This park is great for lowland species, in addition to those mentioned above, and includes Green Junglefowl, Woolly-necked Stork, Red-billed Malkoha, Oriental (Rufous-backed) Dwarf Kingfisher, Wreathed Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Javan Banded Pitta, Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter, Long-billed Spiderhunter, and Java Sparrow. As we check out the evergreen forest and mangrove areas, we will be looking for Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler, Great Slaty Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Laced Woodpecker, Orange-breasted Trogon, (Malayan) Banded Kingfisher, Cerulean Kingfisher, (Javan) Banded Broadbill, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot, Black-banded Barbet, Mangrove Whistler, and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher.
Wreathed Hornbill is yet another spectacular bird to be found in East Java.
Day 16. Baluran to Denpasar, Bali
We will spend the early morning birding one last time in the Baluran National Park vicinity before we commence our journey back to Denpasar. We will take the ferry between Java and Bali, again looking for anything of interest (maybe Brown Booby) over the water on this short crossing of the Bali Strait. As we drive back down to Denpasar, we will keep our eyes peeled in case we spot any frigatebirds or raptors (such as Black-winged Kite) along the coast or adjacent rice paddies. We will aim to arrive at our hotel in Denpasar in time for our final group dinner of the tour where we will have the difficult task of picking bird of the trip!
Day 17. Departure from Denpasar where the tour concludes
A non-birding day. You are free to fly out of Bali at any time on the day that suits your onward travel plans. You may of course prefer to extend your stay in Indonesia and join our Indonesia: The Lesser Sunda Islands – Comprehensive Tour as outlined in the introduction of this tour.
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.
‘Andy provided an amazing tour around Bali. He knows every bird and where to find the key treasures.’ Chad – USA