Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia, 2nd - 4th October 2003

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT surfbirds.com)


by Dave Gandy

Dave Gandy and Abdullah Iskandar spent 3 days birding on Halmahera, using Sidangoli as a base, and exploring the forests at Kali Batu Putih (2nd-3rd Oct), one of the most popular areas for birding in Halmahera, as well as the area of Mangroves around Sidangoli (4th Oct).


Flight from Manado (Sulawesi) to Ternate, then speedboat from Ternate to Sidangoli. We stayed in Sidangoli and used motorcycle taxis to get the Kali Butu Putih early in the morning, and late in the evening. The only problem with this was that the motorcycles let us down on our last morning, meaning that we lost a morning in the forest, and our last chance of lekking Standardwing. As we missed dawn in the forest on the last day we changed our plans and hired a fisherman and his boat to take us out into the mangroves to look for Beach Kingfisher Halcyon saurophaga (we saw at least 5 in two hours, from the boat).


North Maluku has suffered ethnic conflict and serious security problems over the last year or so. However, the Government's State of Emergency was lifted in May 2003, and despite having heard from other travellers that there had recently been a strong police and military presence on Ternate and Halmahera, we saw no evidence of this. The atmosphere on Ternate and in Sidangoli was relaxed, the only occasion that we actually saw any security forces was on the way to the airport, driving past a football pitch in Ternate city which was being used as a venue for a pop concert!

At the time of this visit to Halmahera, I was told by other people that Ambon was still tense, although the State of Emergency had recently been lifted.

Notable species recorded

A total of 20 species endemic to the North Maluka Endemic Bird Area where recorded, of which three are globally threatened and one is near-threatened, with two further near-threatened species being recorded.

Details of each are of these given below:

Gurney's Eagle (Aquila gurneyi)

Near-threatened. Two adults and an immature seen over primary forest on 3rd October.

Moluccan Goshawk (Accipiter henicogrammus)

Endemic. Two birds recorded (only one seen) in the late afternoon of 3rd October (calling to one another from exposed perches). Both birds were in an area of heavily logged forest which still had some very large trees.

Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk (Accipiter erythrauchen)

Endemic. One over logging trail.

Dusky Scrubfowl (Megapodius freycinet)

Endemic. Several birds heard calling in selectively logged forest on both 2nd and 3rd October.

Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis)

Near-threatened. At least 6 birds seen at Sidangoli river mouth on 4th October (flying over to an exposed sandbar on the falling tide), possibly as many as 30 birds.

Scarlet-breasted Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus bernsteinii)

Endemic. One seen in selectively logged forest on 3rd October.

Blue-capped Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus monacha)

Endemic. Near-threatened. One seen on heavily degraded forest edge on 2nd October.

Grey-headed Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus hyogastra)

Endemic. Three birds seen in primary forest on 2nd October

White-eyed Imperial-pigeon (Ducula perspicillata)

Endemic. Several birds seen on both 2nd and 3rd October in primary and heavily degraded forest.

Violet-necked Lory (Eos squamata)

Endemic. Seen on both 2nd and 3rd October, with a flock of at least 27 birds being seen on 3rd.

Chattering Lory (Lorius garrulus)

Endemic and listed as Endangered. Only one bird seen, flying high over forest. Many birds apparently held in captivity in family homes in Sidangoli and Ternate - one bird was kept by the family we stayed with in Sidangoli, and captive birds could be heard whilst walking around the streets of Ternate city.

White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba)

Endemic and listed as Vulnerable. Four birds seen on 2nd October in primary forest, 2 birds seen in heavily degraded forest on 3rd October.

Moluccan Hanging-parrot (Loriculus amabilis)

Endemic. A small flock seen on the edge of primary forest on 2nd October

Goliath Coucal (Centropus goliath)

Endemic. Seen two or three times on both 2nd and 3rd October in secondary growth.

Long-whiskered Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles crinifrons)

Endemic. Heard at dawn and dusk in several locations on 2nd and 3rd October.

Sombre Kingfisher (Todiramphus funebris)

Endemic and listed as Vulnerable. Heard in 2 locations in degraded forest between Km 11 and 12 on 3rd October.

Ivory-breasted Pitta (Pitta maxima)

Endemic. This extremely vocal species is common in the forest at Kali Batu Putih, with birds being heard almost continually whilst walking between Km 9 and Km 11. Several birds were seen, with crippling views of one bird that was whistled in, in degraded forest near Km 12.

Halmahera Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina parvula)

Endemic. Four birds seen in degraded forest on 2nd October.

Rufous-bellied Triller (Lalage aurea)

Endemic. Seen twice in degraded forest.

White-streaked Friarbird (Melitograis gilolensis)

Endemic. Seen twice in degraded forest.

Standardwing (Semioptera wallacii)

Endemic. One female seen in selectively logged forest (near lekking site). No birds were seen lekking.

Long-billed Crow (Corvus validus)

Endemic. A group of 7 seen flying over degraded forest at dusk on 2nd October.


Thanks are due to Abdullah Iskandar and his wife for organising logistics, and their hospitality in their home in Ternate.