Sumba – Flores Birding Report; Sumba Part
Our last birding trip was an 11-Day birding tour on Sumba and Flores Islands, Lesser Sunda. The tour started on 7th February 2020 and finished on 17th February 2020. The tour was arranged with some excitement, because of the recent erratic weather. We planned to do 5 days tour in Sumba and 6 days in Flores. As we knew from the correspondence, our focus is on the endemic birds (Island and region). Our clients of the tour are a great couple from Switzerland, Eveline Scherer and Toni Kraft. They have been to Sumba and Flores 25 years ago but this is their first birding trip to Lesser Sunda, with the main purpose is to see endemics! We finished birding at 12 spots. Below is the itinerary report for the 5 day trip in Sumba.
Day 1: Airport – Yumbu Grassland – Villa Morinda
A sunny day in Waingapu, East Sumba on 7th February. Temperatures were quite high, between 29°c – 33°c with humidity reaching 90%. The flight from Denpasar to Waingapu was 30 minutes late. We met Eveline and Toni at the entrance gate of Mehang Kunda Airport of Waingapu. We went straight to Padang Yumbu, to do a short birding stop before going to the villa where we stayed.
Birding in a hot day is usually not profitable. However, for less than 30 minutes, we observed the Paddy field pipit, Indonesian Honey-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Timor Zebra finch, Pied Buschat, and heard Rusty-breasted Whistler. With the temperature was getting hotter, we returned to the town and headed to the restaurant for lunch. After lunch, we headed to Villa Morinda, 6km outside the town, where Eveline and Toni stay. The villa had a great yard for doing stationary birding. Species at this location were the Sumba Flowerpecker, Pale-shouldered Thriller, Pied Bush Chat, Five-coloured Munia, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Barn Swallow and more.
Unfortunately, something happened near midnight as Toni had a great fever. Eveline was very panicked. We took Toni to a clinic and were then taken to the Waingapu government hospital to have a blood check. Thankfully, Toni did not have a serious infection. Doctors gave him antibiotics and we returned to the Villa at 3:20 a.m.
Day 2: Waingapu – Tabundung, Matalawa National Park
Today we made a little change in our schedule. Officially we planned to leave the hotel at 05:00 am, but after what happened last night to Toni, we decided to make the schedule flexible depend on Toni’s condition. Finally, we started from the Villa at 09:15 am. We made some stops between Waingapu and Tabundung. We encountered Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Short-toed Snake-eagle, Pied Bush Chat, Large-billed Crow, and Oriental Honey-buzzard.
It took 4 hours to reach Billa, Tabundung. When we arrived, it started raining. We could only do birding from shelters at the National Park. However, we still encountered a pair Red-napped Fruit-doves, a group of Great-billed Parrots, and a Sumba Hornbill flew-over. The rain stopped after 5 pm. We continued to search for the Sumba Boobook and Least Boobook/ Little Sumba Hawk-owl. Deny, our ranger from National Park very familiar with these species. He did a great job to spot the Sumba Boobook around 15 meters above us, displayed with a great view. However, we missed the Little Sumba hawk-owl. We have to go back to the National Park building where we stay. Toni’s condition was still our concern.
Day 3: Tabundung – Waingapu
We left the ranger station in good weather conditions. We didn’t expect it to rain so early at the birding site in Billa, however entering Shelter 1, the rain has fallen. We cannot do anything. The plan to observe the Little Sumba Boobook finally failed. We can only sit in the shelter waiting for the rain to fall. At 6:20, it was raining and we immediately left Shelter 1 for Shelter 2. We were out of luck. Just walking for less than 500m, the rain is falling again. We have no other choice but to continue the journey. Luckily, the rain did not last long. In such weather conditions, it seems there are few opportunities to meet the birds. Along the way, we met Orange-footed Scrubfowl and a pair of Orange-crested Cockatoo. At Shelter 2 we saw a pair Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher. On the way back we saw Elegant Pitta who was perched on an open branch. At 11:00 we leave Billa forest. After lunch, we returned to Waingapu.
Day 4: Waingapu – Tanadaru – Waikabubak
We left Villa Morinda at 5 a.m. We want to maximize the morning time for birding, given the unfriendly weather in the afternoon and evening. Travel for 1 hour and 30 minutes to Lewa. We stopped at the Matalawa National Park office in Lewa and found a group of Short-Tailed Starling in the office yard. Before entering Langgaliru, we heard Chestnus-backed Thrush. We stopped and saw it perch on a low branch. At Langgaliru we stopped at a small restaurant for breakfast. Our trip continues to the National Park post at Telkom Tanadaru. The observations here are short because the rain began to fall. We saw the Apricot-breasted Sunbird, Sumba Brown-flycatcher, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, Wallaces Heleia, Chestnut-backed Thrush. The rain fell at midday which made us decide to immediately go to Waikabubak. Our journey took 1 hour. In the afternoon we returned to Tanadaru. The weather is still bad and foggy. We only briefly met Ruddy Cuckoo-dove and Sumba Myzomela. We returned to Waikabubak when it was getting dark.
Day 5: Tanadaru – Tambolaka – Ende – Moni
The last day on Sumba. We have several important targets. At 04:30 am we returned to Tanadaru. Luckily, the morning was very sunny. We easily found Sumba Myzomela and Apricot-breasted Sunbird. At the same location, we found Black-naped Fruit-dove and Rusty-breasted Whistler. Still in Tanadaru, moving as far as 1.5 km, we managed to view Sumba Hornbill perched on a branch very close to the highway where we stood. At the same location, we managed to get a clear view of Red-naped Fruit-dove. Before we returned to the hotel in Waikabubak, we visited the traditional village of Prai Ijing.
We drive 45 minutes to Tambolaka, where we got a flight to Ende, Flores. The trip to Ende took 45 minutes. The weather was cloudy when we arrived in Ende. The plane experienced a slight shock before landing. Arriving at Moni it rained heavily, and it was dark.