Birding Bali Barat (West Bali) National Park

Birding Bali Barat (West Bali) National Park

Warning: Long and picture heavy post!

When:   August 2019            Weather:  Cool  22C

NikonP900, Sony RX10.4

Our long awaited birding trip to Sumba island in the Lesser Sundas started off with a stopover in Bali to visit the Bali Barat National Park in the extreme western tip of this tropic isle.  Most visitors to Bali hang out in crowded Nusa Dua, Kuta and Ubud and don’t make the 4-5 hour road trip to Bali Barat….their loss! The drive whilst long is scenic ranging from village to padi fields and surf .  There is also a lovely little restaurant in Tabanan where we had a nice lunch overlooking the padi fields …and the birding started here even though we were not at the park yet…


the Javan Kingfisher, endemic to Java and Bali…shot from our dining table in the restaurant


Cattle egret in the field….distinguished from the Little Egret by the yellow beak


Javan Pond Heron



The white breasted wood swallows were very active

And so we moved on towards the western tip of Bali near Gilimanuk…and as we approached the park my expectations grew that we might see two of the most beautiful birds in the world…the highly endangered Bali Starling and the Javan banded Pitta….


Just outside the park, we stopped by a fruiting tree…and whilst all of us were looking at the tree, Isaw something out of the corner of my eye…..could it be? The bird we had come all this way to seek?  Indeed it was….the Bali Starling!

It was such a thrill to see one of the most endangered and beautiful birds on our planet!  There were several of them but they were active in the extreme and made photography difficult….


Almost completely white with the exception of some black around the wingtips and tail, the Bali Starling also has startlingly blue eyes…we were assured by our guide Hery that we would be able to see and photograph them again the next day….we hope….


this little Coppersmith Barbet then appeared on the same tree…



The Javanese Coppersmith Barbet differs from the ones seen in Singapore by having a face that is all red without the yellow highlights…


a brown backed giant squirrel made an appearance


A freckled breasted woodpecker appeared on the same tree as the Bali Starlings


Entering the Bali barat National Park itself we saw the Island Collared Dove or Sunda Collared Dove



The park itself was bathed in glorious evening colours


Another lifer appeared…the gorgeous scarlet headed flowerpecker…male


followed by the much less striking female scarlet headed flowerpecker


Lineated barbet which is a pretty bird but it’s hard to compete with the other pretty birds here


2 types of deer were seen….


this one with huge antlers


the gorgeously coloured green jungle fowl…very different from the jungle fowl in singapore

As the evening light faded, we tried very hard to track the even more endangered Black winged Starling now renamed the grey rumped starling….we heard it call and saw them fly and it we were resigned to having only seen fleeting shadows when our guide called us over to his scope …he found it sitting quietly among some leaves and we all had just enough time to have a good look at this beauty before he flew without us getting a picture…still a thrill to see one of the rarest birds in the world!  We rested well that night at the Luvi Hotel just outside the park…I would highly recommend it as somewhere inexpensive but where everything worked well…aircon, hot water, many sockets, wifi, well lit.

The target for day two was for the thickKnee, JCerulean Kingfisher, Javan banded pitta and better shots of the Bali Starling…we started off at the salt pans and prawn pools at 630am….


salt pans and the adjacent beach for water birds


The Javan plover made an early appearance


Little terns were nesting there


Red necked stint which for once does justice to its name


?White faced plover


Ruddy turnstones


Greater sand plover


one of our target birds, the Caerulean Kingfisher posed for us!


A most colourful little Caerulean KF


A ‘normal’ Collared KF perched


the migrant sacred KF would be here for another month


Sacred KF taking flight


as we headed to the beach, Mt Ijen from neighbouring Java is seen in the background


golden bellied gerygones played with us


and another Javan Plover eyed us suspiciously


as we turned a corner, we spooked a bunch of ducks….the Sunda teals flashed by


We did manage to see them land though…the Sunda Teal


A Pied Stilt or white headed stilt


Pied stilts in flight with a chasing redshank


the magnificent Pied stilt in flight


redshank in flight


the scenery was stunning and the flying Sunda Teals made it even more so


you need to watch out for wild cats even on birding trips….


Departing the salt pans by 9am, we headed to a site where the Bali starlings were feeding on an Assam tree fruit


It didn’t take us long to locate several Bali Starlings in the tree…


the impossibly beautiful blue eyed Bali Starling


Bali Starling


Bali Starling taking off


A Lesueurs Triller was also present


Having shot the Bali Starling, we went seeking the Javan Banded Pitta and were welcomed by the disappearing tail of an Ebony leaf monkey


A beautiful Horsefield’s Babbler appeared first


as did a beautiful laced woodpecker taking issue with a yellow vented bulbul


And even though we were waiting for the Javan Banded Pitta to show, the Laced woodpecker was just spectacular as the sun caught it in its rays…one of my favourite pictures on this trip…


and then from the gloom of the forest, a little shuffle and the female Javan Banded Pitta made her appearance!


its colours were picked out by the sun…


the female Javan Banded Pitta


The male Javan Banded Pitta then decided that he wanted some attention too…


The colours of the male are much more saturated …


The spectacular male Javan Banded Pitta!


Here the male below and the female on the trunk above…


and just before we left Bali Barat, our guide suggested we look for the grey faced green pigeon….and he found it for us


The male has the colourful wings….


And just before leaving the area, the Javan Kingfisher bade us farewell…

The west Bali National Park is one of the most unique birding locations around.  Whilst a bit of a trek to get to from the airport, I would say that it is totally worth the effort to do so.  For anyone with a remote interest in bird life, do yourself a favour the next time you’re in Bali and arrange a 2 day trip to Bali Barat National Park.   You will be glad you do….     Highly recommended

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