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Knobbed Hornbill

Tapak Kolintang - Dumoga Bone NP


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Our tour featured no less than 13

Kingfisher species. Of these the

Scaly Kingfisher is the

hardest to find.


While sightings of Sulawesi Crested

Macaque are regular at Tangkoko, this

subspecies 'maura' or sometimes

called Moor Macaque from Lore Lindu

is seldom encountered.


Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher -Lore Lindu



Join us on a tour and you’ll get

Top-quality holidays

Friendly & experienced leaders

Excellent itineraries & trip logistics

Comfortable high quality accommodations

All inclusive competitive tour prices

Small groups - size limit=6

Finest birding in Asia


Sulawesi Scops Owl

Gunung Ambang


This Specled Boobook has had its day

roost in an old building at Taraut for years.



We power your vacation


Isabelline Bush-hen, a nice endemic

seen en-route to Dumoga Bone NP


We found this Sulawesi Kingfisher

 in the forest at Toraut.


Dragonfly photographed at Tambun.


Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Toraut


Sunda Teal in rice paddies near Toraut.


White-browed Crake

en-route to Dumoga-Bone NP


All bird photographs taken

 ‘on tour’

are opportunity shots by

Stijn De Win


Copyright © Birding2asia 2008-2011. All rights reserved.


B2A Sulawesi & Halmahera 2010 tour report.

03 – 21 August


Participants ; Bob East and Michael Welch

Tour leader ; Stijn De Win


Part 1; Lore Lindu and Dumoga-Bone National Parks

Text and photos Stijn.


   This was the first Birding2asia scheduled tour to Wallacea and the extraordinary birdlife of this region was well enjoyed. That this serves as an indication for more to come is clear as our great success simply needs no less than a follow up. (2011)

   Highlights in Lore Lindu National Park were numerous, Piping Crow, Sulawesi Thrush, Diabolical Nightjar, Savannah Nightjar, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Blue-faced Parrotfinch, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater, the hard to find Maroon-backed Whistler gave away great views in the end and we found an obliging Great Shortwing for excellent photo opportunities even though the species wasn’t active singing during our stay.

Great Shortwing                                           Lore Lindu National Park                                   Savannah Nightjar


   Scaly Kingfisher is one of the most difficult to find endemics on Sulawesi but persistence paid off for us at Gunung Ambang besides the rare Matinan Flycatcher found in a mixed flock and the recently described Cinnabar Boobook appeared for us in the spotlight twice.

  Both our morning and afternoon visit to Tambun produced Maleo sightings and Mike enjoyed releasing a newborn chick from the conservation project. Sulawesi Crested Myna, Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill, a Speckled Boobook on the day roost, scarce Maroon-chinned Fruit Dove and Sulawesi Black Pigeon were some of the other highlights seen within the Dumoga-Bone National Park.

Halmahera produced the extremely rare and seldom seen Great Cuckoo Dove for us, the Standardwing Bird of Paradise experience was completed successfully and we did manage walk away views of Ivory-breasted Pitta. Plenty other highlights included Moluccan Owlet Nightjar, White Cockatoo, the rapidly declining Chattering Lory, the hard to find Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove, Beach Kingfisher and plenty Blyths Hornbills.

   Tangkoko simply is great without exception and so we added quite a few extra goodies to our list at the end of the trip. Great-billed Kingfisher, Green-backed Kingfisher, Sulawesi Hawk Eagle, Sulawesi Nightjar, Red-bellied Pitta, Tabon Scrubfowl, Red-backed Thrush, Ochre-bellied Boobook, Blue-backed Parrot…

   Tangkoko isn’t complete without the mammals and we were successful finding Bear Cuscus, Sulawesi Crested Macaque, Spectral Tarsiers and also enjoyed unexpected Bottlenose Dolphins on the boat trip.

Red-eared Fruit Dove                                    Fiery-browed Starling                      Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater


   Birding on this trip started for us en-route to Lore Lindu National Park with Savanna Nightjar successfully located on the day roost. Good finds in the same area included Pale-bellied Myna and both Black-faced and Pale-headed Munias.

   We spent the first afternoon in the National Park birding the lower altitudes but wet conditions made birding rather slow. That this was well catched up for later on is clear with Lore Lindu voted ‘birdiest’ part of the trip. Good mixed species flocks certainly help get the list going but it was some fine quality that we started the next morning with. Malia, a species still enjoying uncertain taxonomic classification…, wasn’t less impressive therefore and the first speciality off. Blue-fronted Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Malkoha and Streak-headed White-eye soon followed while a first female Maroon-backed Whistler, being very ‘drab’ in appearance posed some ID challenges but we proved ourselves right and lucky (they ‘are’ tough to get good views of) with 2 males and a female showing well on our last morning in the park.  Once on the trail to the lake, and besides the common Yellow-vented Whistlers, we were also successful in locating Yellow-flanked Whistler twice. Those never seem to sing and can be hard to come by with indeed. Other highlights of the day included the somewhat weird Sulawesi Thrush, perched Sulawesi Goshawk, Superb Fruit dove, Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater, Pygmy Cuckoo-shrike, a first Purple-bearded Bee-eater for this trip and the handsome Piping Crow which owns a good set of strange calls, -that is for a Corvid at least-. Special mention has to be made for our Great Shortwing, which was lured in successfully at a stake-out spot, and allowed for some close-up portraits to be taken. None were actually heard on the trip and therefore the species often proves very difficult to connect with.

Blue-fronted Flycatcher                            Imm. Rufous-bellied Eagle                           Purple-bearded Bee-eater


   The mossy forest along the higher reaches of the Anaso track produced some stunning scenery in which we found Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Mountain Serin, Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon, Golden-mantled Racquet-tail and a surprise find was the rarely seen Blue-faced Parrotfinch and good for scope views at that. Geomalia seems increasingly difficult these days and one need a great deal of luck or persistence to find one. Habitat for it on the Anaso track is reached after a strenuous 2 hour up-hill hike and it is here we met Adam, a birder from Canada who had set the species as a hot target. We later met him again on Halmahera to find out it did cost him 6 attempts! Well done but not exactly feasible on any normal trip. On the walk down, forest stands taller again and it is here that we found 4 more Purple-bearded Bee-eaters and a surprise came with Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch, a write-in on our list indeed. The evening came with overhead Purple Needletails and both Diabolical Nightjar and Great-eared Nightjars were located in the spotlight. On the last morning in Lore Lindu, various altitudes were explored again with excellent mixed flocks and quite a bit bird activity encountered all the way up to the lake at 1600 meter asl. Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker, Sulawesi Swiftlet, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher and the aforementioned Maroon-backed Whistler filled some of the last gaps in our lists for this area. Also close-by perched imm. Rufous-bellied Eagle and our second Sulawesi Goshawk, perched for scope views again, were certainly enjoyed before we made our way back to Palu. The contrast provided here by the hotel rooms almost seemed too much. It had gone from pretty basic (although comfortable and with some nice hot water added for the shower), all the way up to real luxury… not that I heard anyone complain! Ha!

Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker                             Lore Lindu                                   Yellow-sided Flowerpecker


   Two internal flights brought us from Palu to Manado in north Sulawesi from where we made our way into the Dumoga-Bone National Park. That this area always holds some of the greatest highlights on a tour is clear and especially the hard to find Scaly Kingfisher and rare Maleo, both of which we located with great success, would rarely drop out of anyone’s top 5 for this tour!

   For a start, our journey to the park proved memorable, although we did stop only 3 times en-route for some birding, this seemed to be in exactly the right place always. Great views of Spotted Harrier, Black-faced Munia, White-browed Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Barred Rail, Isabelline Bush-hen, introduced but nonetheless nice Java Sparrows, Bay Coucal, perched Sulawesi Serpent Eagle and a first Ashy Woodpecker for the tour appeared in sequence. Arrived at Gunung Ambang and after a good lunch, rain posed a problem at first but when it eventually cleared we could go ahead with the most important activity planned, Owling, and Ambang is great for it. Sulawesi Masked Owl was first off, with some fine flight views obviously revealing it as a ‘Tyto’ species followed by a brief perched look. Cinnabar Boobook is the most important target which at first kept calling quite some distance away and from inaccessible forest off the track but later on we located the birds closer to the trail and we did succeed in 2 sightings in the end. This Sulawesi Scops Owl just didn’t wanted to take off (photos!) and it proved totally oblivious of whistling or even tape playing of it’s sound. Good to know try lure it in this way just won’t help!

   Birding the next morning up the muddy trail on Gunung Ambang was slow at first but once we reached good level forest near the marsh some excellent flocks were encountered. Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater, Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker, Pale-blue Monarch, Cerulean Cuckoo-shrike, Streak-headed White-eye, Rusty-bellied Fantail, Citrine Flycatcher and Sulawesi Babbler appeared before we found a third good bird wave to contain the rare Matinan Flycatcher as it responded to tape. Scope views for everyone! We then started to make our way back down, which included sighting of Malia, familiar from Lore Lindu for us. We also had started something else, -make plans to visit a back-up site near Manado for Scaly Kingfisher-, but then again, it won’t be me to keep trying to the last minute and sure enough, in what was the last decent location for it before our exit from the forest, I got this glimpse of a movement from the corner of my eye. What happened next is on show in the picture below. Oh, almost forgot to mention another Purple-bearded Bee-eater and a daytime Sulawesi Scops Owl before lunch.

Little Pied Flycatcher                                     Lore Lindu National Park                          Lemon-bellied White-eye


   What a morning it was and with all these good target species ‘in’, honestly, we were glad not to have to go on the rather difficult trail again. Our reward was an easy afternoon walk along a road lined with decent forest and fine views of the canopy.

   Tambun did not disappoint either (does it ever?) and with the help of local guide Max and the reserve warden Ramoy, another absolute highlight of the trip was enjoyed with a couple good Maleo sightings. The WCS conservation project goes well and we actually had the honour of releasing a newborn Maleo chick from the hatchery into the wild. The great success of this project lies with the fact that human intervention is minimal. The birds remain completely wild and lay their eggs in the volcanic soil as they have done ever before. After that, Ramoy comes in to collect the eggs and bring them to the hatchery, preventing predation mainly by Monitor Lizard (and egg collectors…). Birds get released 4 days after having hatched and this way given a head start for a life in the forest.

Reserve warden Ramoy ready to release a Maleo chick from the hatchery. We found these 2 adults in the forest.


   Tambun has more on offer still and other sightings included up to 7 Sulawesi Crested Myna, Knobbed Hornbill, Black-billed Koel, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Ashy Woodpecker, Ivory-breasted Woodswallow, Sulawesi Triller, White-necked Myna and at dusk we enjoyed a great performance of the Great-eared Nightjars while a glimpsed Sulawesi Nightjar had to wait until the Tangkoko day roost for better views to be had.

   It started good at Toraut the next morning with the scarce Pied Cuckoo-shrike scoped from the parking lot. Once inside the forest Red-bellied Pitta was seen although not by everyone (later in Tangkoko again here), then Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail performed and after that the hunt for Maroon-chinned Fruit Dove was on. It took a while but once Bob found 1 good for scope views, we got on a roll with a Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher and a pair Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill soon after. Then, I can remember this guy who contacted me once and got desperate for Oriental Hobby even before coming out to bird in Thailand… see, it’s also available on Sulawesi, with fine scope views as it perched in a dead tree at the forest edge. Now that I’m with the raptors, a surprise Lesser Fish Eagle, that got harassed by two Brahminy Kites, would even rank higher in quality than the Hobby I guess, but that might just include some personal preference so excuses for that.

Back at the parking lot, Toraut usually has yet another ‘shot’ on offer and it was no else this time. The famed Speckled Boobook got located on its day roost to mark the end of a most rewarding morning.

   Birding at Tapak Kolintang in the afternoon proved slow, although we enjoyed at least 3 Black Eagles, Ivory-backed Woodswallows lined up on an horizontal branch and we got entertained by more Knobbed Hornbills and other regulars. We had seen the maura subspecies of Sulawesi Crested Macaque (Moor Macaque) at Lore Lindu and now found ‘nigrescens’ here at Tapak Kolintang. Later on ‘nigra’ waited for us at Tangkoko. A nice set indeed!

   On the following morning, and the last one before our Halmahera leg, we had to wait for a drizzle to clear before bird activity picked up. Once it did, a first Sulawesi Black Pigeon for the trip was a good find and again we recorded some of the very best species of the region with more Sulawesi Crested Myna and Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill seen before we made our way back to Manado, seeing White-rumped Cuckoo-shrike and Pink-necked Green Pigeon along the way.

 The Yellow-flanked Whistler is a Lore Lindu speciality.      Grey-sided Flowerpecker a more widespread endemic.


Part 2 of this report which covers Halmahera and Tangkoko on the next page.


A couple more specials from Lore Lindu, the Malia and the Piping Crow.       Purple-winged Roller, Dumoga-Bone.