Bird watching in Bali 3. Bali Barat National Park and Nusa Dua pond

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This is the last of three posts on Bird Watching in Bali by Connie SY Khoo and Lim Phaik Imm. The first was on the White Herons of Pertulu and the second on Ubud and Bedugal Botanic Gardens. They were in Bali from 8-14th November 2007. The postings of their various destinations are not in sequence.

They were in Bali Barat National Park or Taman Nasional Bali Barat on 11th November 2007 . The park covers 777 km sq of the western tip of Bali. It comprises of montane to dry monsoon forests, coastal scrub and some mangroves. It is an ideal site to watch migrating raptors moving from the Java Straits (MacKinnon & Phillipps, 1993). As Connie and Phiak Imm continue…

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“We stayed at Taman Sari Chalet and woke up at 4.30 am to reach the jetty at Pelabuhan Layang for the 45 minutes boat ride to the park. The ride to Menjangan Island was rewarding, with terns, whimbrel, white-rumped swift, blue-tailed bee-eater and one miserable frigatebird, all in flight. However, the island itself was unbearable hot. There was also the constant danger of bush fire as the vegetation was dried. The few trees that were around were bare of leaves and thus offered little shade (above).

“The attraction of the park is the celebrated one true endemic, the Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi), found only in this park. According to Mason (1989), as at October 1988, less than 50 Bali Starling remain in the wild, although there are a total of 1,000 captive birds around the world. There is a rehabilitation scheme undertaken by the International Council for Bird Preservation and the Indonesian Nature Conservation Service. Unfortunately, we were not able to see any starlings.

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“On the return journey, we detoured to the Menjangan mangrove area to see its main attraction, the five kingfishers: Rufous-backed, Little, Rufous-Collared, Ruddy and Sacred Kingfisher. Luck was not with us and only Rufous-backed and Giant Squirrel were sighted. The mangrove area has no proper landing platform. We had to carry our shoes and equipments from the boat to the mangrove, 100 metres away (above). At another mangrove area we saw the Sacred Kingfisher, our star bird for the trip. It is quite similar to a dirty version of the Collared Kingfisher.

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“Our last lap of bird watching was at Menjangan Mangrove Gazebo where our “wow” experience came in (left). Only stayed-in guests and park rangers were allowed to enter the resort. To enter this high-end resort, one had to trespass the jungle dusty track. A lot of beautiful and colourful Green Junglefowl and wild deer (Kijang) were found on both sides of the track searching for food before dawn. They were all exposed as the plants were leafless, this being the dry season. According to the ranger, these beautiful junglefowls will not be easily seen when the plants start growing leaves in February. Interestingly, we saw two females fighting for one male. Both the fowl and deer were very sensitive to slight movements. The only setback was that we were unable to get a snap shot of them.

“On 13th November we headed south towards Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua Pond (Pemukiman Burung Lagoon) in south Bali. We were hoping to see the Small Blue Kingfisher and Cormorant. The journey took 1 hour 30 minutes from Ubud.

“Nusa Dua is another famous scuba diving area filled with 5-star hotels like Le Meridien. Nusa Dua is where marble and sandstone sculptures, artificial water fountain and Balinese landscaping slabs and standee can be found. Quality teak wood and other hard wood furniture are mainly found here.

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“Birds seen include Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) (above, top left), Javan Pond Heron (above: top right, non-breeding; below left, male; below right, female), Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger), Little Black Cormorant (P. sulcirostris), Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucus) (below left), Small Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo coerulescens) (below right).

“We left Ubud for the airport on 14th November to fly home to Malaysia. Both of us still missed this unique land very much. We are thinking of coming back to cover places that we did not visit, irregardless of bird watching or to explore further into their culture and the friendly people.

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Total costs for two, including guide fees, park entrance fees and ground transport = RM 3,732 plus flight from Malaysia, airport tax and food = RM 1,440. Or total expenses per person for the 7D6N trip = RM 2,586.

A tip from the travelers: Bring bottled drinking water. Insect repellent and instant noodles for long, lonely nights away from civilization. US currency of high denominations get better exchange rates.

Connie SY Khoo and Lim Phaik Imm
Malaysia
February 2008

References:
1. Mason, V. & Jarvis, F. (1989). Birds Of Bali, Periplus Edition (HK) Ltd.
2. MacKinnon, J. & Phillipps, K. (1993). A Field Guide To The Birds Of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali, Oxford University Press, New York

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