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Lesser Sundas

20 July–8 August 2024

This fabulous tour will take us to four of the islands making up this rarely-visited part of Indonesia. We will be in search of the islands’ many endemic species including the magnificent Sumba Hornbill, the beautiful Red-naped Fruit Dove, the tricky Wallace’s Hanging Parrot and Flores Scops Owl, and recently-discovered species including Timor Parrotfinch. We will also take a boat trip to Komodo to visit its famous dragons.

Day 1 We will catch an international flight from London to Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali, where we will be met by our guide and transfer to a local hotel for an overnight stay in Denpasar.

Day 2 After taking breakfast in the hotel we will return to the airport to catch a flight to Waingapu, the largest town on the island of Sumba. On arrival we will transfer to our hotel to freshen up and take lunch in a nearby restaurant. After lunch, we will spend the afternoon birding at Yumbu, looking for the elusive and endemic Sumba Buttonquail as well as other species such as Spotted Kestrel, Barred Dove, Brown Honeyeater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Horsfield's Bush Lark, Sunda Zebra Finch and Javan Munia. If time permits, we will move on to Mengit Timbi, a wetland area of Sumba, where we will encounter migrant birds such as Australian Pelican, Wandering Whistling Duck, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, White-browed Crake, Australian Pratincole, Pied Stilt, Long-toed Stint, Javan and Little Ringed Plovers and Black-fronted Dotterel and Australian Reed Warbler. One night in Waingapu.

Day 3 We will spend this morning birding around Mengit Timbi looking for migrants. After lunch back in Waingapu we will drive to Lewa, a small town lying in the middle of a valley characterised by huge rice paddies. Upon arrival we will check in to our guesthouse for a two-night stay. The afternoon will be spent birding around Langgaliru Forest searching for the magnificent and endemic Sumba Hornbill, the endangered citrinocristata subspecies of Yellow-crested Cockatoo (sometimes called Citron-crested or Orange-crested Cockatoo), Apricot-breasted Sunbird, the striking Red-naped Fruit Dove and the exquisite Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher. In the evening we will make a special outing to try to see Sumba Boobook, Mees’s Nightjar and the sumbaensis subspecies of Eastern Barn Owl. Two nights Lewa.

Day 4 After breakfast this morning we will take a short drive before walking across a small river and ascending to Lokohuma Forest, where we will focus our efforts on tracking down the endemic Sumba Green Pigeon together with other colourful species such as Marigold Lorikeet, Sumba Eclectus Parrot and Black-naped Fruit Dove. Returning to the main road, we will continue to Tanah Daru Forest where we will look for Sumba Myzomela and Sumba Brown Flycatcher. We will take lunch in a local restaurant in Lewa and then spend the afternoon birding around Km 51 until dark, searching for Sumba Flycatcher, Large-billed Crow, Pacific Koel, Spotted Harrier, Brahminy Kite and Least Boobook.

Day 5 We will spend the morning back at Langgaliru Forest, searching for any birds we may have missed previously and new species that might include Pacific Baza, Brown Goshawk, Great-billed Parrot, Elegant Pitta, Flores Jungle Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Thrush, Arafura Fantail, Rusty-breasted Whistler, Pale-shouldered Cicadabird, Ashy-bellied and Yellow-spectacled White-eyes and Wallacean Drongo plus more widespread species including Black and Brahminy Kites, Oriental Dollarbird, Brown-throated Sunbird, Short-tailed Starling and Black-faced Munia. After lunch we will drive back to Waingapu and check in to our hotel for a one-night stay. The afternoon will be spent at Londa Lima Beach, where species we hope to encounter include Malaysian Plover and Olive-backed Tailorbird. Overnight Waingapu.

Day 6 If time permits, we will spend some time after breakfast this morning birding around the rice paddies in Waingapu looking for Pale-headed, Scaly-breasted and Five-coloured Munias. We will then transfer to the airport to catch our flight to Kupang on the island of Timor. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel to freshen up and take lunch. After lunch we will take a short 30-minute drive to Noelbaki, where we will spend some time looking for such species as Red-backed Buttonquail, Brown Quail, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker and Timor Friarbird. We will then walk down towards Kupang beach, scanning for migrant species and waterbirds such as Beach Thick-knee, Pacific Golden Plover and Red-capped Plover. Three nights in Kupang.

Day 7 After breakfast today we will pick up packed lunches and set off for a full-day’s birding in Bipolo, a lowland forest about an hour’s drive away. Our target species here will include Orange-banded Thrush, Helmeted Friarbird, Timor Sparrow, Green Figbird, Timor Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-eared and Streak-breasted Honeyeaters, Timor Oriole, Black-breasted Myzomela and Red-chested Flowerpecker.

Day 8 This morning we will drive to Camplong Forest to search for some more of the special birds of the island, including the very shy and difficult-to-see Slaty Cuckoo-dove, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Timor Bush Chat, Timor Stubtail, Black-banded Flycatcher, Timor Leaf Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Plain Gerygone, Fawn-breasted Whistler, Buff-banded Bushbird, Timor White-eye and Island and Spectacled Monarchs. We will break for lunch at a local restaurant in Camplong before continuing our birding in the area in the afternoon. This evening we will look for the endemic Timor Boobook.

Day 9 After breakfast this morning we will drive to Bipolo and then take a two-kilometre walk in search of some more of the island’s stunning species, such as Tricoloured Parrotfinch, Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon, Olive-shouldered Parrot and Yellow-throated Whistler, whilst nearby shrimp ponds at Pan Muti can hold Royal Spoonbill and Sunda Teal and in the surrounds, Five-coloured and Pale-headed Munias. Our next destination will be Soe, where we will check in to our hotel for a two-night stay. Our afternoon birding today will be around Oenali Forest, where our main target species will be Timor Cuckoo-dove. Oenali Forest is also home to the Slaty Cuckoo-dove, which was rediscovered in 2007, Fawn-breasted Whistler and Black-backed Fruit Dove as well as the recently-split Pacific Emerald Dove. This evening we will look for the recently-discovered Timor Nightjar. Two nights in Soe.

Day 10 We will set off early this morning in four-wheel-drive vehicles for Fatumnasi at the foot of Mount Mutis, the highest peak in Indonesian Timor at 2417 metres. Here, we hope to track down some very difficult species such as Iris Lorikeet and Timor Imperial Pigeon together with the much more obliging Olive-headed Lorikeet, Metallic Pigeon, Island Thrush and Tricoloured Parrotfinch – a species that was discovered in 2012. Pygmy Cupwing of the timorensis race, which is a potential split, is also present. We will have a packed lunch before our drive back to the hotel.

Day 11 We will take breakfast in the hotel and then spend the whole morning birding in Oenali Forest, catching up with any species we may have missed previously. After lunch we will drive back to Kupang for an overnight stay.

Day 12 This morning we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Ruteng on Flores Island. Upon arrival we will drive to Kisol, around 60 kilometres to the east and our base for the next two nights. En route we will make a birding stop at Ranamese Lake to see some of the endemic birds of Flores such as Flores Minivet and Russet-capped Tesia. After checking in at our guesthouse, the afternoon will be spent birding around Ponco Denki Forest, searching for Flores Hawk-eagle, Variable Goshawk, Flores Green Pigeon, Edible-nest Swiftlet, White-rumped Kingfisher and Elegant Pitta. In the evening we will look for Wallace’s Scops Owl. Two nights Kisol.

Day 13 Today will be a full day at Ponco Denki, during which we will search for Elegant Pitta, Green Imperial Pigeon, Flores Crow, Dark-crowned White-eye, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Golden-rumped and Black-fronted Flowerpeckers. After lunch back at the guesthouse we will continue our birding in Ponco Denki.

Day 14 Our drive today will take us back to Ruteng, our base for the next three nights. We will again stop en route at Ranamese Lake to look for Barred Cuckoo-dove, Brown-capped Fantail, Pale-shouldered Cicadabird, Cinereous Tit, Flores Leaf Warbler, Flores Jungle-flycatcher, Bare-throated Whistler, Sunda Woodpecker and Ashy-bellied, White-browed and Flores White-eyes together with Pacific Black Duck on the lake itself. We will take lunch in Ruteng before driving up to Golo Lusang in the afternoon to look for Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Flores Shortwing and Sunda Honeyeater. In the evening we will try for the very-difficult Flores Scops Owl. Three nights in Ruteng.

Day 15 Ruteng is an ideal base to visit a variety of montane sites including the highland pass of Poco Ranaka and the stunning cloud forest at Danau Rana Mese, where we will search for high-altitude specialities in a fantastic setting of orchid-laden, moss-encrusted woodland. This morning we will take a 45-minute drive from to the Pagal area to search for the very-rare Wallace’s Hanging Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Leaf Lorikeet, Sunda Cuckoo, Little Minivet, Scaly-crowned Honeyeater, Yellow-breasted Warbler, Black-naped Monarch, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Olive-backed Sunbird and hopefully Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch. We will then drive back to Ruteng for lunch at a local restaurant before spending the afternoon birding around Ranamese until dusk when we will have another chance for Flores Scops Owl if we missed it last night.

Day 16 We will spend this morning birding around Golo Lusang, searching for birds we have missed previously or trying for better views of difficult species such as Sunda Thrush, Flores Hawk-eagle and Chestnut-backed Thrush. We will take lunch at a local restaurant before birding in either the Ranamese or the Golo Lusang area until dusk, when we will look for Sunda Nightjar and have another try for Flores Scops Owl, if still needed.

Day 17 We will make an early start this morning and head for Puarlolo to search for its speciality, Flores Monarch, together with Chestnut-capped Thrush, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Rufous-backed Dwarf Kingfisher and Short-toed Snake Eagle. From here, we will continue to Labuan Bajo for lunch at a local restaurant before checking in to our hotel for a two-night stay. The afternoon will be spent birding around Potawangka, where we hope to see such species as Ruddy Cuckoo-dove, Great-billed Parrot, Black-naped Oriole, Plain-throated (Brown-throated) Sunbird, Wallacean Cuckooshrike and Bonelli’s Eagle. Two nights Labuan Bajo.

Day 18 Today will be one of the non-avian highlights of the trip as we venture to Komodo Island via a four-hour journey in local fishermen’s boats to view the world-famous Komodo Dragons. The potential avian highlights are not bad either, with such gems as Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Sunda Collared Dove and Green Junglefowl waiting to be found and hopefully also a roosting Moluccan Scops Owl. After lunch we will cruise back to Labuan Bajo on Flores while seawatching for some rarer species such as Bulwer’s Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Wilson's Storm Petrel and Lesser Crested Tern in amongst the commoner Lesser Frigatebirds, Black-naped, Bridled and Great Crested Terns, Pacific Reef-herons and Great-billed Herons. We may also see Green Turtles and Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Day 19 We will take breakfast at the hotel and, if time permits, we will then bird around Pede Beach before transferring to Komodo Airport on Flores to catch a flight to Bali and our connecting flight home to London.

General Information The climate will be generally hot and humid with daily maxima of around 32 degrees Centigrade but cooler in the mountains. Although it is the dry season, occasional rain can be expected at any time. There will be a moderate amount of walking, mainly on good terrain, but on hot days this can be quite tiring. There are a number of health requirements and you must consult your GP in this respect. Accommodation is generally very good, mostly with private facilities, but in some areas it is more basic as we need to be close to birding sites. Visas are not required for UK citizens.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4. Maximum group size: 8 with 2 leaders.

Red-naped Fruit Dove

Red-naped Fruit Dove

Recommended books available from NHBS