Lore Lindu, Sulawesi – Birding Indonesia

Satanic-nightjar1

With endemic species including Satanic Nightjar, Hylocitrea, Malia, Sulawesi Thrush, Cinnabar Boobook, Sulawesi Masked Owl, Great Shortwing, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Sulawesi Hawk Eagle and Purple-bearded Bee-eater it was hard to choose the best bird of our 5-night stay at Lore Lindu National Park, Sulawesi, on the Zootherabirding Sulawesi/Halmahera 2017 tour that I have recently returned home from leading this September.

Birding this area varied between walking along forest roads, hiking a mountain forest trail, forest/farmland edge, waiting and watching at various viewpoints and even a little rice field birding which gave us a nice variety of species even though at times the birding was quite slow and difficult, although the occasional flock of birds created the normal levels of excitement for our group that is usual when the quiet forest suddenly comes alive and birders are treated to a brief species overload.

Danau Tambing
Much of our birding was done along the road close to a small clearing next to Tambing Lake as well as around the lake itself. Our first morning here, in particular, proved very productive with a flock that included many of Sulawesi’s commoner forest species such as Pale-blue Monarch, Turquoise Flycatcher, Sulawesi Leaf Warbler, Grey-sided Flowerpecker, Mountain White-eye, Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker as well as Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher and a Blue-faced Parrotfinch.

Sulawesi-leaf-warblerSulawesi Leaf Warbler

Mountain-white-eyeMountain White-eye

Our constant companions here were small groups of the Flame-browed Starlings and Meyer’s Lorikeet which proved quite difficult to get a good view of but we finally all got good views of this smart little bird but it took almost a whole day of hearing and glimpsing them before we got satisfying views. We also saw out first Grosbeak Starlings here and got really nice encounters with the impressive Sulawesi (Yellow-billed) Malkoha although Black-billed Koel remained elusive, although noisy, for our whole stay here.

Flame-browed-starling1Flame-browed Starling

Excursions along small forest side trails required some organizing in a group of 10 but with patience this tactic gave us some great birds including two really close encounters with Great Shortwing, a forest skulker that eludes many birders. By creeping into the forest in this way we also got our most prolonged views of the noisy Malia and as we were waiting for the shortwing we also saw Sulawesi Thrush and Maroon-backed Whistler as well as calling in Scaly-breasted Kingfisher.

The area right next to the lake gave us a good view of the skies at the time of the morning which sees peak raptor flight activity and on our first morning we got three endemics in Sulawesi Honey-buzzard, Sulawesi Hawk Eagle and Sulawesi Serpent Eagle to the delight of the raptor enthusiasts in our group. We also had great views of Lesser Fish Eagle here and an Oriental Hobby which tried to catch a Grey-rumped Treeswift but which had to settle for a dragonfly.

Sulawesi-hawk-eagle2Sulawesi Hawk Eagle

Of course, as is the nature of forest birding there were plenty of quiet patches here but stuff like Sulawesi Spangled Drongo, White-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Citrine Canary-flycatcher, Lesser Myza and Red-eared Fruit Dove provided some interest and how the form of Black-naped Oriole in Sulawesi has not been split I cannot understand as it is significantly smaller, has a different bill structure and a completely different contact call to the birds I regularly see in mainland SE Asia.

Lesser-myzaLesser Myza

Anaso Track
A very early start in the dark saw us hiking up the Anaso track which heads up to over 2000m. It proved a tiring walk, although not as bad as I had been led to believe, although poor weather meant that bird activity was extremely slow all morning. Persistence eventually paid off with superb views of Satanic Nightjar which we found on the forest floor after flushing it.

Satanic-nightjar1Satanic (Diabolical) Nightjar

We spent more or less the whole day on this trail and as the weather improved so did the birding with the afternoon proving much more fruitful than the morning; Greater Myza, a pair of Hylocitreas feeding on small fruits, Sulawesi Myzomela, Sulawesi Thrush, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Rufous-bellied Eagle and a superb Purple-bearded Bee-eater to enjoy towards the end of a tiring hike.

Sulawesi-myzomelaSulawesi Myzomela

Forest Edge
As is often the case, the forest edge gave us good views of plenty of species that were not to be seen in the deep forest itself. Here we saw large numbers of Short-tailed and Grosbeak Starlings as well as out only Sulawesi Crested Mynas of the trip. Bare trees in this area provided us with views of a few perched raptors including Sulawesi Goshawk, Sulawesi Hawk Eagle & Spotted Kestrel as well as soaring Rufous-bellied Eagle and Black Eagle. Birding along the road in this area was productive with a magnificent sighting of Knobbed Hornbill perched in a tree and eventually a close-up of a pair of Sulawesi Blue Flycatchers as well as Sulawesi Cicadabird.

Sulawesi-blue-flycatcher1Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher

Sulawesi Swiftlets were always to be seen in this more open habitat and a late afternoon spent at a watchpoint provided our best moments for pigeons with perched White-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon and Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon as well as a Large Hanging Parrot. We also got nice ‘scope views of Ivory-backed Woodswallows in these areas and pre-dawn we called in the giant Sulawesi Masked Owl and Speckled Boobook close to our accommodation.

The farmland around the forest edge also provided us with some nice observations of a few commoner species which included many White-breasted Woodswallows, Scaly-breasted Munia, the local form of Olive-backed Sunbird and this obliging pair – Barred Rail and Golden-headed Cisticola.

Barred-Rail1Barred Rail

Golde-headed-cisticolaGolden-headed Cisticola

Rice Fields
Close to our accommodation were some rice fields around a village and at a brief stop here we saw a soaring flock of around 35 Glossy Ibis as well as large numbers of Eastern Cattle Egrets, a few Chestnut Munias, a Purple Heron and a Slender-billed Crow. Nice additions for a bit of variety to our forest birding!

So we left Lore Lindu with a really good tally of endemic species and although the birding was tough at times we enjoyed some good sessions and had the joy that goes with being able to tick large numbers of species when visiting a new location for the first time, always exciting! A big thanks to the staff at Sendy Homestay who looked after us so well for 5 nights, serving us some really tasty meals and making sure that the beer did not run out!

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