Sunda Thrush

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3 Days Bird Photography Tour in Yogyakarta

3 Days Bird Photography Tour in Yogyakarta

Imam Taufiqurrahman

07 Desember 2023

With 33 bird species—out of 42 seen in total—managed to photographed by our Dutch client Hans, his three days bird photography trip in Yogyakarta and surrounding was truly a big success. Kingfishers became the top tier, with three being photographed in four visited locations.

Jatimulyo village was the first to be visited, with nine birds able to photograph. The next day, 10 birds were photographed in Mt Merapi. While on the last day, we visited two places close to the shore, Pagak and Trisik.

Bird photography in Jogja
Hans and Kelik in Merapi

Jatimulyo village

Jatimulyo village was the first visited and the Oriental Dwarf (or Rufous-backed) Kingfisher opened our day. Thanks to the help and assistance of our local guide Kelik Suparno, this charming kingfisher showed up and posed in various styles. It’s not just its bright orange, yellow and purple color combination that delighted us, but also its cute behavior.

Hans was able to capture some of the beautiful moments, like when the kingfisher raised both wings high or swallowed the fish from its perch. For about an hour, this tiny jewel really blew us away.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher in Jatimulyo, Jogja
Attractive pose by Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher in Jatimulyo village, Jogja. Photographed by Hans

Finished with photographing the kingfisher, we walked around the agroforest area. During our way to visit another photography spot, Hans captured the endemic Javan Black-capped Babbler. The bird was only seen in a brief moment, when it came out from bushes to grab insects. 

The second photography spot prepared by Kelik was a coconut tree. There were three species that came in turn and sometimes fought over to swap nectars from the coconut flowers. A pair of Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and Brown-throated Sunbird were the most frequent to visit, with Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter came occasionally. It was worth the wait!

Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter
Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter coming to Coconut flower. Photographed by Hans

After enjoying the nectar party, we went to the third spot for the Critically Endangered Javan Blue-flycatcher. Kelik and his village community did impressive works to save the species. They initiated a nest adoption programme that benefited not only the bird, but also the village community by giving incentive when a nest was adopted. 

We waited for the blue-flycatcher to show up, but unfortunately the bird was too shy to appear in the clear. It only sang in the surroundings, sometimes seen in a glimpse, but hardly photographed. 

We leave behind the blue-flycatcher to catch a nice coffee and continued with lunch. After that break, we then continued our search and this time was for the Javan Sunbird and Little Spiderhunter. Situated in an agroforest ecosystem, Jatimulyo village provided a good environment for birds that can be found even in the garden. The two was succed to captured by Hans, also Common Tailorbird and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha.

Male Javan Sunbird
The endemic Javan Sunbird. Photographed by Hans

Mt. Merapi

During this second day, Mt Merapi was a litlle cloudy. But, still this highly active volcano had some birds to show.

Due to its volcanic activity, the main birding area in Merapi is temporarily close. No visitors allowed to entrance the forest. This situation already happen for almost three years. 

But, still there are some accessible spots in a much lower and safer area. The first spot we visited was the place to look for the Red-breasted Parakeet. It didn’t take for so long for us to finally find it, a single bird in front of its nest hole in a dead tree. There were also Javan Mynas and Asian Glossy Starlings perched in the same tree.

Lineated Barbet showed as a surprise, when Kelik saw its head poked out of its nest hole. It’s just close, about 5 meters from our spot! A couple of times, we saw this typically hard to see come to the nest with fruit on its beak. What luck! 

Liniated Barbet
Liniated Barbet in Merapi. Photographed by Kelik

After an hour, we then drove to another spot in Kaliurang. This time, thrushes were the highlight. For two hours, Hans managed to photograph the endemic Javan Whistling Thrush, the secretive Sunda Thrush and as the big mega was Orange-headed Thrush.

The latter is so rare in Java, with only a few birds left in the wild. It’s highly popular for the songbird contest. In the area, we had information that there were some Orange-headed Thrushes released. The bird we photographed might become one of them. But, interestingly, no ring seen on its feet and unlike the others, it was very shy and didn’t want to get any closer to our hide.

Beside thrushes, the beautiful Javan Kingfisher appeared in the distance. Then, two White-crowned Forktails and Horsfield’s babblers showed up. 

Orange-headed Thrush
Our mega in this trip, Orange-headed Thrush. Photographed by Hans

Pagak and Trisik

The two places we visited on our last day were very close to the shore. It made our trip quite challenging, as we only depend on our luck to find birds in these open areas. No hide was set and available. 

Our main target was the endemic Cerulean (or Small Blue) Kingfisher, but it proved to be the hardest kingfisher to get. It is actually common in the areas, but so difficult to approach. Hans finally managed to photograph this little jewel only at the last minute. 

In Pagak as the first area visited, some waterbirds showed up, like the Ruddy-breasted and White-browed Crakes. At this once mangrove dominated area, we also had a good chance to photograph the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Javan and Little Ringed Plovers, also Barn and House Swallows

Trisik was visited in the afternoon. We spotted an uncommon kingfisher to the area, the White-breasted (or White-throated) Kingfisher, while looking for another chance to photograph the Cerulean Kingfisher. However, we didn’t get any opportunity to photograph it, as it flew away and dissapeared. 

At the estuary, many other waterbirds and shorebirds were seen. Some of it, such as Javan Pond Heron, Pacific Golden Plover and Wood Sandpiper, join in a big flock of Greater Crested Tern. Not to mention other resident birds, with the endemic Javan (or Sunda) Coucal as the highlights. Two birds showed up during our drive back, giving a brief chance for Hans to secure some pictures. Still from the vehicle, Hans was able to photograph some other birds, where a pair of Barred Buttonquail closed this memorable trip.

Hans waiting birds in Jatimulyo
Hans waiting birds in Jatimulyo

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