~ by Luke Preece ~
Being a keen bird watcher living in the South-east Bali it is always nice to head up in the mountains to get some cool air as well as to hopefully spot a few different bird species, so I decided to book a weekend up in the mountains above Bedugul and stay at the famous Handara Golf and Resort. I am not a golfer, but I had heard about the resorts amazing views and the forests that surround the resort so it seemed like the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend.
Driving into the resort it was obvious that I was in prime bird habitat and on the 5 minute drive from the main road I spotted a small group of pair of Ashy drongos fly over the road, a flock of Orange breasted green pigeons settle in the tree tops as well as numerous Yellow-vented and Sooty headed bulbuls, Collared kingfishers and of course the ubiquitous Spotted doves.
After checking into our room overlooking the golf course, which is spectacularly flanked by mountain rain-forest, it was evident that I would spot many more species before our two day stay was over. In the forest behind the rooms I could hear the incessant tonk of barbets and a wide range of mountain bird sounds that I just couldn’t place – it was clear that this forest was full of life!
I spent a relaxing afternoon at the resort and spotted a pair of Long-tailed shrikes hawking for insects just in front of the hotel lobby as well as a regular sightings of Whitebreasted water hens making short, hurried flights between vegetation patches – these water hens are very common in Bali and dominate scrub and water ponds from the seafront right up into the high mountains. While sitting back on my balcony in the late afternoon I was lucky enough to spot the spectacular Javan kingfisher, an endemic to Bali and Java, streak across the golf course with its turquoise blue body and bright red beak making for easy identification. Collared Kingfishers are also common on the golf course.
Just before sunset I went for a quick walk around the resort car park and with my binoculars scanned the huge trees that seem to be regularly visited by large numbers of small flower-peckers and sunbirds – while tricky to spot I could recognize the sound the clicking call of the Scarlet Headed Flower Pecker, caught glimpses of a Blood- Breasted Flower Pecker. That was enough birding for the day and after a delicious meal at the resort restaurant I went to bed early intent on being up early to meet the dawn chorus.
First light takes a while at Handara Golf and Resort as the sun needs to rise over the mountains before the first rays of sun hit the resort, so my first hour of birding was mainly just a walk along the resort road where I focused on trying to find some good spots to await some ‘bird waves’. After about 40 minutes I got lucky and a mixed flock flew into a mistletoe tree by the side of the road – I was able to observe both oriental white eyes and Javan-grey throated white eyes from just a few meters away and this was a great start to the morning. Next up, just as the sun was starting to peak over the edge of the mountains I got great view of a pair of scarlet minivet – the male is a distinctive red and black while the female is yellow and black – very easy to identify. In the same patch of roadside forest I also spotted both male and female Black-winged flycatcher shrike – these birds are quite common in the mountains of Bali and the black and white male is easy to distinguish from the ashy brown and white female.
My morning walk continues and with rays of sunshine now starting to light up the morning the bird species started to really come to life with the trees full of mixed species of sunbirds, flower peckers and white eyes. Over the next hour I spotted fulvous breasted woodpecker, grey cheeked green pigeon, orange spotted bulbul, a Flame- fronted barbet and quite a big flock of Asian glossy starling but the highlight was spotting a personal ‘lifer’ – this was a Javan whistling thrush that I spotted in a small gully on the walk back towards the main resort. I was also lucky enough to see an Indonesian Honey Eater feeding on a mistletoe tree 100 meters or so in front of the entrance to the resort.
I was back at the resort by 10am and enjoyed a breakfast and another day of relaxing and casual bird watching (sorry, I don’t play golf!) and managed to spot a few more species and heard many more in the forest that I just couldn’t identify – the really serious birder could likely do a much better job than me and I am sure there are some rare Indonesia endemics hiding away in the forests surrounding the golf course.
The next morning it was time to head back to the coast and to say goodbye to the resort but I was more than happy with the birds I had added to my ‘Bali list’ however before my next visit I am going to have to do some research as there was just so many bird songs coming out of the forest that I couldn’t identify. On my next visit I will be hoping to greatly expand my species list from the gardens and forests surrounding the Handara Golf and Resort.
Weekend Bird List from Handara Golf and Resort
- Javan whistling thrush
- Blood-breasted flower pecker
- Scarlet- headed flower pecker
- Ashy drongo
- Long-tailed shrike
- Asian glossy starling
- Scarlet minivet
- Scaly breasted munia
- Javan munia
- Olive-backed sunbird
- Black-winged flycatcher shrike
- Grey Cheeked green pigeon
- Orange Breasted green pigeon
- Oriental white eye
- Javan grey throated white eye
- Indonesian honey eater
- White-Breasted waterhen
- Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker
- Orange Spotted bulbul
- Yellow Vented bulbul
- Sooty headed bulbul
- Flame-fronted barbet
- Javan kingfisher
- Common kingfisher
- Plaintive cuckoo