Sulawesi and Halmahera, Indonesia, August - September 2004

Published by Paul Pearson (ppearson AT

Participants: Gavin Maclean, Andy Mears, Paul Pearson, Andy Rhodes, Jan Wilczur


Report Written by Andy Mears and Paul Pearson

The time seemed ripe for a birding trip to Sulawesi & Halmahera as recent trouble in the region has died down. Perhaps not surprisingly, a few other birding crews had the same idea so we left Heathrow knowing that at least 2 other British groups would be in the area. On our return, we discovered that even more birders had visited in summer 2004 so there should be a plethora of good, recent info for anyone planning a trip in the near future.

Top target birds were the charismatic Wallace’s Standardwing and the astonishing Ivory-breasted Pitta on Halmahera; together with a host of other endemics ranging from the fascinating Geomalia and Scaly Kingfisher of upland Sulawesi to the amazing Maleo and Rusty-backed Thrush in the lowlands.

Our 18-day itinerary follows, with PP and AR arriving on 29th and starting with a short boat trip in the mangroves near Manado; and PP and AM using the 10th to dive the reefs of Bunaken Island:

26th August. Arrive Manado and travel to Wartabone NP (formerly Dumoga Bone)
27th Wartabone
28th Tambun
29th Gunung Ambang or Talawaang River boat trip
30th Travel to Foli (plus afternoon birding)
31st Foli
1st September Foli
2nd Foli
3rd Travel to Manado
4th Travel to Lore Lindu (with Karaenta Forest visit en route)
5th Lore Lindu
6th Lore Lindu
7th Lore Lindu
8th Lore Lindu and travel to Palu
9th Travel to Tangkoko or Thalassa Dive Resort
10th Tangkoko or Diving
11th Tangkoko (including boat trip)
12th Tangkoko and depart Manado

Having so little time, we agonised over the itinerary but with hindsight, are very pleased with what we decided upon. An extra day at each of Wartabone, Ambang and Tangkoko would have been useful, and a trip to Labi-Labi for the famous Standardwing lek, of course.

We used information from many sources but in particular reports from Wim Heylen (Halmahera), Jon Hornbuckle and Roger Ahlman were useful — many thanks to them. Additionally, help was received from Rob Hutchinson, Hans Matheve, Sam Woods, Ian Merrill, Erik Emanuelsson, Dave Gandy, Pete Wood, Kris Tindige and Steve Smith, so many thanks to them all too.

Sites Visited

Most are well known from previous trip reports, Where to Watch Birds in Asia (Wheatley, 1996) and Birding Indonesia (Jepson, 1997). Some updates are given below however, and most particularly, details of Foli, a site on Halmahera that the well-known guide, Anu, has taken birders to in recent years. Our opinion of the overall birding potential of each site is given in square brackets on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best.

Wartabone NP (formerly Dumoga Bone):

We stayed at the Wallacea Guest House, which is ideal for birders, being basic accommodation right next to the forest. There’s a small team of rangers who’ll cook for you at minimal cost. We birded the area around the chalets and river at dawn [7] before driving 40 minutes to the ranger station to arrange permits and a guide. We then entered the forest-proper [6] back at ‘Wallacea’ by crossing the river on foot — it’s an easy crossing with clear water and a sandy riverbed. In the afternoon we looked for Great-billed Kingfisher unsuccessfully near the ranger station [6].

Unfortunately, our time at Wartabone was cut short due to one of the rangers aggressively threatening our driver late in the evening of 27th. This was because we had requested Soroji (‘Oji’) as our guide, having read in a trip report that he is very good. Oji did guide us but we had inadvertently caused offence. Without going into too much detail, we are led to believe that the upset ranger has a reputation for causing trouble. We therefore left at dawn the next morning and moved on to Tambun (complete with Oji, who is a very good guide).

This was the only ‘trouble’ we had in our entire stay.


Arriving at Tambun, we found Max, the local guide and headed into the scrubby woodland to search for Maleo [2 but good for Maleo]. There’s a conservation project in progress here, with Maleo eggs being collected and transferred into secure pens. After a good morning, we moved on to Kotamobagu where we took stock in a very modest hotel.

Gunung Ambang:

A long morning from dawn spent on the mountain guided by Oji [8]. It’s important to bird the northeast side of the mountain as this still has good forest.

Talawaang River:

A two-hour, late afternoon boat trip along the mangrove coastline and river estuary to make the most of a short afternoon in Manado [4]. An unsuccessful search for Great-billed Kingfisher, but a few lowland species were seen. The kingfisher has been seen near Manado recently by Pete Morris but we’re not sure where exactly.

Foli, Halmahera:

This is a small village 7km to the east of Lolobata, on the north side of Wasile Bay, Halmahera (see for the best map we have found). Also click here for Our Map. Labi-Labi, famous for its Standardwing lek, is some 50km around the coast to the northeast. Although we didn’t discover a lek at Foli, we did see Standardwing fairly easily and Wim Heylen stressed that many species were easier to find here than at Labi-Labi, due to the extensive forest edge. Our experience seemed to confirm this although we couldn’t make a direct comparison of course. Recent, successful trips have been made to both Kali Batu Putih (the most traditional birding site on Halmahara) and Labi-Labi so anyone visiting with limited time would be sensible to read as much as possible on these sites too before deciding on an itinerary.

As well as Wim Heylen’s report, we had also read a short account by Erik Emanuelsson of a visit he had made with Anu in 2003. He’d been lucky enough to see Drummer Rail on that occasion. With some additional information from Wim, we were ready to give Foli a try.

We flew to Halmahera from Manado, landing at Kao, a tiny airfield halfway along the southern edge of the northern peninsula. Our plane was a distinctly old 17-seater and these flights are notoriously unreliable — indeed our return flight was cancelled and we had to drive to Sidangoli, eventually flying out of Ternate. If the Kao flights work though, you are just a 19km-taxi ride from Daru, a small fishing village to the north from where you can take a boat across Kao Bay to Foli (a crossing of 1.5 hours). The baggage allowance for the Kao flight is just 15kg so we left our non-essential items with Tiara Tours in Manado.

Flying over Halmahera, we were struck by views of untouched forest as far as the eye could see — not a common sight in SE Asia today.

Foli itself is now a rather ugly logging village and a world away from its former guise of remote, Indonesian fishing community. The people were very friendly though and accommodation can be found at Mrs Meiske Pomboyan’s guesthouse. Mrs Pomboyan is related to Anu in some way.

On our arrival however (after an uncomfortable wade across a beach littered with volcanic rock), we were taken to meet the Malaysian logging company manager, Mr Lim. Not only did the irrepressible and generous Mr Lim offer us food, beer and accommodation at his house, but he also assured us that good birds, including Standardwing, could be seen close by. In fact, he told us that he could take us to a lek site. Thus a dawn trip was arranged for our first morning, Mr Lim providing the transport, of course.

And so we found ourselves being very well looked after by the very people who are systematically destroying the forest. On balance, we sincerely felt that it was better that than walking away. At least we could collect more information on this little known area and we were also raising the profile of the local wildlife within the community; in fact, we couldn’t help feeling that the arrival of 5 European birders was perhaps the most exciting thing to happen in Foli for quite some time…

We were taken the next morning to a 100Ha-forest reserve, 17km along the broad but bumpy logging road that penetrates inland from the village. This is known as the virgin forest reserve and it is certainly an impressive section of forest, complete with a tatty information board. An attempt at directions follows but reaching the site will be far easier with the help of the locals (we were guided by the excellent David). From the nursery at km19 (see below), come back along the road towards Foli 1.5km or so. On the left at the top of a rise, is an indistinct track, which quickly goes down a hill. It's just about opposite a large strangler fig that stands in a very open area on the right. Follow the track down the hill, across the stream to the left and on for another 100m — total length approximately 150m. You’ll then enter an obviously man-made clearing about 50m long and at the back of this is the information board.

The main logging road generally has heavily degraded areas along its edge before the start of what is presumably pristine forest. A logged strip has therefore been created, varying from 300m to 1km wide, depending on how the geography of the land has allowed access for heavy machinery. Birding from the road is good — as long as you get out of the way of the enormous trucks that occasionally career past laden with massive logs.

Our second night was spent at km19, where a small nursery has been set up to propagate saplings to replace the logged trees. We felt that while the principle was to be applauded, the small scale was laughable. There is very basic accommodation at the nursery, with great birding close-by and we thoroughly enjoyed it here. We had sleeping mats with us and these proved very useful.

Our 3rd and 4th nights were spent at Mrs Pomboyan’s guesthouse. We left Foli at dawn on our final morning.

As we didn’t really know what would greet us at Foli, Theo Henoch of Tiara Tour Travel accompanied us as translator and general fix-it man. This was a successful arrangement and more on Theo is given below.

We’ve included a systematic list of our records from Foli at the end of this report. We thoroughly recommend birding the area — indeed, Rob Hutchinson et al made a successful visit very soon after us. Overall, excellent birding [9].

Some costs:
Flight Manado to Kao (one way per person) USD 55
Taxi Kao to Daru (6 persons) USD 2
Boat Daru to Foli (6 persons) USD 35
‘Police’ payment on Foli (6 persons, via Mr Lim) USD 6 (plus passport copies)
Mrs Pomboyan’s guest-house (per night per person + food) USD 10

Karaenta Forest:

Included in the itinerary simply because we had an 8-hour gap between flights. An hour’s drive from Ujung Pandang, we picked up a guide from the ranger station in Bantimurung village before spending 2 hours or so in the roadside forest [4 but good for Black-ringed White-eye]. This was several kms further along the road from the enormous ape archway, in an area where the road crests a windy slope. Note that we successfully bartered with the rangers here over the fee to reduce their ridiculous initial demand. Although we saw few birds, the area obviously has potential and with better information and more time, we’d surely have seen more. There are also good wetlands nearby but we had no time to try these.

Lore Lindu:

We stayed in Wuasa and would thoroughly recommend the Ruma Makan Sendy guesthouse — it’s clean, comfortable and reasonably quiet, and has an excellent restaurant. A 30-minute drive took us to the foot of the Anaso Road every morning and we variously birded the forest near the foot, all along the Road and the area around Tambung Lake [9, 9 & 8 respectively]. A short excursion to the lowland forest east of Wuasa was disappointing and depressing, as it is currently being cut and burnt [3]. When we did eventually reach some secondary growth, it was actually good for flycatchers.

A note on the condition of the Anaso Road. It takes 30 minutes to drive to the top and a very rugged 4-wheel drive vehicle is required (‘road’ is something of a misnomer…). One stretch in particular is suffering from serious erosion and the track is just 4m wide at this point with steep drops on either side. In our opinion, it will not be very long before 4-wheeled vehicles are unable to negotiate the road.


We stayed at the well-known Mama-Roo’s Homestay, which was ideal. We birded the forest along and inland from the beach [8], the mountain [Just a short and unsuccessful attempt for Scaly Kingfisher] and a nearby area of very open forest [7]. A short afternoon boat trip proved to be excellent [8, with Sulawesi Hawk-eagle, Great-billed Heron, Great-billed Kingfisher and Rufous Night-heron seen amongst others].

Thalassa Dive Resort:

Forty-five minutes northeast of Manado and an excellent gateway to diving off Bunaken Island. Just a few birds seen around the resort and from the boat (including Pied Imperial Pigeon), but not Nicobar Pigeon nor Great-billed Kingfisher. We’d surmised that the latter 2 species were possible in the area but perhaps it is too disturbed by the resort’s busy operations. Note that James Eaton did see the kingfisher somewhere on Bunaken recently however.

Main Guides, Agents and Costs

Our London to Manado long-hauls were booked for us by the ever-efficient Wildwings:

Theo Henoch / Tiara Tour:

Theo arranged all our internal flights, our hotel in Manado, the Wartabone-Ambang trip (including Roy Paoki, our helpful and competent driver/guide), the Talawaang boat trip and our Karaenta Forest trip. The internal flight timetable seems to change frequently in Indonesia and we would have liked to fly direct from Manado to Palu for the Lore Lindu leg of the trip. There were direct flights available as far as we know but apparently the carrier is unreliable.

Theo also accompanied us to Halmahera as interpreter and all round fix-it man. We would probably have managed OK on Halmahera without Theo’s assistance although it’s hard to say how much extra time negotiating logistics would have taken without his language skills. He was also very willing to go on ahead with bags and carry out other such tasks — again, unquestionably saving us some time. Tiara Tour’s service was excellent and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for ground arrangements. Obviously we paid a premium by using an agent but it ensured that we made the best use of local knowledge and our limited time. Theo’s thoroughness and flexibility were admirable in the weeks leading up to our trip and this included exploratory trips to Tambun and the Talawaang River. His efforts to get us onto a last-minute flight out of Ternate were nothing short of miraculous.

Theo Henoch, Tiara Tours, Jln. Walanda Maramis No. 214 Manado — 95122, North Sulawesi — Indonesia
Phone +62 (431) 874 808, Fax +62 (431) 874 809

Theo’s services for the 5-day trip to Halmahera cost USD 500 — i.e. USD 20 per person per day and it included his flights. We paid his additional accommodation and food costs but these were minimal. Because of her links with Anu, Meiske Pomboyan is well aware of how world birders operate and she therefore runs a slightly more expensive homestay at USD 10 per person per day (excellent meals included — check out the fresh pineapple and goat satay).

Darwin Sumang:

Darwin made all ground arrangements for the Lore Lindu leg of our trip — Palu hotel (Hotel Rama, which was very good), 2 4x4 vehicles (with friendly drivers), homestay bookings and picnics. We could not fault any of it. His eagerness to please and flexibility were most appreciated. He also has a good knowledge of where the key birds occur as he’s accompanied the likes of Ben King in the past. All in all an excellent service and great value in our opinion. Hot coffee at dawn at the top of the Anaso Road and a constant supply of chocolate bourbons were the business.
Darwin Sumang
Jl. Jend Gatot Subroto no 27

Darwin’s all-inclusive fee (transfers, 4x4, Palu hotel, Wuasa homestays, picnics) was USD 350 per person for the 4-day trip. It also included a preparatory visit during which he checked that all planned accommodation was in place — not an insignificant undertaking in itself.

Untu Baware:

Untu accompanied us for all 3 days at Tangkoko, along with his colleague, the ranger Freddy, thus allowing us to split up at times. Both were excellent; hard working, flexible and friendly, with a sound knowledge of the birds. They also arranged transfers to and from the airport and any on-site transport we needed. With limited time (and energy!), motor cycle taxis were occasionally useful for getting to the best forest quickly.

Untu’s guiding fee (which included Freddy) was USD 22 per person per day.

All the rural lodges and homestays we used were very good value indeed. Our Manado hotel seemed slightly expensive and we might have found a better deal had we booked it ourselves and shopped around. The breakfasts were excellent however and the pool was nice too! Vehicle transfers and taxis were also very reasonable. We usually tipped modestly and this seemed appropriate.

Note that the usual western fayre is available in Manado city centre (KFC, Pizza Hut, etc).

Weather / Insects

Generally hot and dry. Cooler on Gunung Ambang and chilly at the top of both Gunung Tangkoko and the Anaso Road. A few downpours at Foli didn’t hinder our birding much. Although we picked up a fine array of bites, very few of these were attributable to mosquitoes and we often dispensed with nets at night. Just 1 leech was seen so no problems there either.

Birding Highlights


A couple of unsatisfactory brief views were obtained on our first afternoon at Foli — nice to have it under the belt though. Birds were subsequently heard calling throughout our 3 days but we had no further sightings until the morning of 1st when an individual in the virgin forest called emphatically from right in front of us before flying onto an exposed branch. It perched just 12m away and perhaps 3m from the ground and called for the next 40 minutes, giving exceptional views — front, back, both sides and often on just one leg! Needless to say, a frantic photography session ensued for those with cameras. Particularly noticeable were the head shape while calling and a distinct patch of black, bare skin behind each eye. While calling, the bird would raise its crown feathers high giving a head-on profile showing a relatively narrow crown and apparently puffed-out cheeks. With each call, the black tail was also depressed. A lizard appeared in the tree at one point and this seemed to be the main object of the pitta’s attention. Soon after that, the bird flew off with a flash of azure blue.


A male showed very well in the virgin forest patch just after dawn on our first morning at Foli. Although no lek could be found, this individual displayed around us for over 30 minutes, occasionally giving excellent, close views. Finally, it perched high in the canopy and preened for sometime in the sun allowing PP to snatch a few precious shots. The breast shields were often held erect, with the wings drooped away from the body and the creamy-white standards flicked up. The strong, orange-yellow legs were conspicuous as it clambered up vines and through the foliage.

A female gave reasonable views there the next day, whilst what was presumably the same male was heard again. We were pleased to see a group of 3 Paradise Crows in more open forest close to the virgin patch, thus completing the Bird-of-Paradise set for Halmahera.

This is where there is a lek, according to Mr Lim. We were only there for 2 mornings though, so perhaps there is one in the area that we missed.


Between us we tried 3 times at dawn on the Anaso Road, approximately 300m from the top (i.e. not far above the weather station). On the second attempt only were we successful when a bird gave excellent views. It moved along the track feeding and occasionally pausing, and just when we thought it had gone, reappeared behind us! Certainly a thrush-like bird but subtly odd with the long tail undulating as it hopped and a rather ball-like posture adopted when at rest and relaxed. The plumage was striking with a dusky, deep orange breast and grey-brown upperparts that showed a sheen when caught by the light.


Seen twice soon after dawn and once late afternoon in the forest around the base of the Anaso Road. The bird associated with groups of Malia and fed actively between the ground and the mid-storey giving some great views. It sang at dusk from higher in the canopy (a distinctive cross between Eurasian Blackbird and Song Thrush to our ears) and subsong was heard once between feeding boughts. Note that the bill and legs of the central subspecies (i.e. at Lore Lindu…) are orange!


Brilliant views were had of this strikingly handsome zoothera in the lowland forest at Tangkoko — Freddy and Untu know the spot. We saw a pair here 3 days running and AR clinched some great shots. We did fail to see them in the area on one afternoon but the presence of a noisy troop of Sulawesi Crested Macaques, lots of twittering Tarsia tourists and a settled Spot-tailed Goshawk (!) ensured their non-appearance. The area is just up the hill from the well-known Tarsia tree...


Four birds seen at Tambun and a surprise find at Tangkoko on our last morning. Two adults were watched well perched in trees at Tambun plus another in flight only, and finally a newly fledged chick in one of the egg-protection pens. Great excitement ensued as we approached the pen and before we knew it, a ranger was frenetically chasing the chick round in circles. It then made a dash for freedom and past JW’s groping fingers before flying strongly away. Needless to say, Jan won’t be bothering the selectors for next summer’s Ashes series : )

Freddy’s face was a picture when we heard the purring call of a Maleo in the main forest at Tangkoko on our last morning — they really are scarce here. Very brief views only were obtained, as it seemed to move away from us. A few minutes later it calmly stalked past an astonished Freddy whilst we were completely unaware, being engrossed with Rusty-backed Thrush a short distance away! Good views of Philippine Scrubfowl and a close encounter with a calling Red-bellied Pitta (which sadly refused to show itself) meant that a superb morning of terrestrial forest birding was had before we headed for the airport.


Sulawesi Dwarf — only seen at Wartabone (near the river) — a nice group of 3;
Red-knobbed — several seen at each of Wartabone, Lore Lindu and Tangkoko;
Blyth’s — beautiful birds and very common at Foli. A real privilege to see so many in an area where they are obviously thriving.


Ten species seen in total, the highlights below:
Sombre — a single, calling bird seen well in the virgin forest at Foli;
Lilac-cheeked — seen at Wartabone, Tambun and Tangkoko;
Green-backed — several seen at Tangkoko. Conspicuous at dawn when calling but also seen during the day;
Sulawesi Dwarf — great views of a bird in the main forest at Wartabone;
Blue-and-white — easy to see at Foli;
Paradise — 2 very brief views only - an adult and juvenile at Foli;
Great-billed — seen on the Tangkoko boat trip only. Good views and a very welcome last-ditch tick.


Little effort put in to locating this species as a bird just called above our heads one evening at the nursery camp, Foli - a quick shine of the torch and there it was. Another heard much nearer to the village.


Darwin was most upset when he accidentally flushed 2 birds from one of the traditional areas along the Anaso Road (large, dry clearings with gullies and small, scattered trees). He was desperate to find them roosting but at least we’d seen them. We then flushed another unexpectedly from a much smaller clearing and also saw hunting birds at dusk lower down (where the forest abruptly ends as you head to Wuasa). It’s well-known that great views can often be had of ground-roosting birds near the bases of the small trees but we failed to find any like this despite careful searching.


Seen 3 times in the same area as the Geomalia on the Anaso Track with 2 sightings actually in the forest and a brief glimpse on the trail. One singing male responded very closely to brief playback, giving fantastic, prolonged views as it moved around us.


Seen well at Gunung Ambang and very easy to see at Lore Lindu where a pair had their nest just below the weather station and performed superbly. Their superb glossy plumage was seen well as they caught an array of large insects, with their extended tails swinging pendulum-like as they perched.


Frequent, brief views of unidentified birds were had but we also managed good views of 4 species: Small Sparrowhawk twice at the Tambung Lake trail-head (Lore Lindu), an apparent stake-out; Variable Goshawk at Foli; and both Sulawesi and Spot-tailed Goshawks in the main forest at Tangkoko.


One bird seen near to the base of the Anaso Road on 2 consecutive days. Good views obtained of the bird perched and in flight.


Twenty species seen in total including Red-eared Fruitdove (Several, Gunung Ambang / Anaso weather station), Superb Fruitdove (Several, Gunung Ambang / Tambung Lake, Lore Lindu / Gunung Tangkoko) and Sulawesi Ground-dove (1, Tambun).


A single bird seen well from the ‘Dollarbird track’, approximately 500m from the road (see Purple Dollarbird below for details of this trail). The species is not on the Halmahera list as far as we know, hence this note. Good views were had and we are confident of the ID unless a race or another species is involved, which is not covered in the field guide (Coates and Bishop, 1997).


Sulawesi Hawk-eagle — 1 from the Tangkoko boat trip
Isabelline Bush-hen — Several sites
Sulawesi Black Pigeon — Wartabone / Tangkoko
White-bellied Imperial Pigeon — Lore Lindu
Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon — Lore Lindu
Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon — Foli
Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon — Wartabone / Tangkoko
Maroon-chinned Fruitdove — Wartabone (heard only)
Scarlet-breasted Fruitdove — Foli
Blue-capped Fruitdove — Foli
Grey-headed Fruitdove — Foli
White Cockatoo — Foli
Chattering Lory — Foli
Ornate Lorikeet — Tangkoko
Yellow and Green Lorikeet — Lore Lindu
Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail — Several sites
Golden-mantled Racquet-tail — Lore Lindu / Tangkoko
Large Sulawesi Hanging-parrot — Several sites
Small Sulawesi Hanging-parrot — Tangkoko
Moluccan Hanging-parrot — Foli
Black-billed Koel — Lore Lindu / Tangkoko
Goliath Coucal — Foli
Yellow-billed Malkoha — Several sites
Bay Coucal — Wartabone / Tangkoko
Sulawesi Owl — Wartabone
Minahassa Masked Owl — Tangkoko (heard only)
Moluccan Scops Owl — Foli (heard only)
Sulawesi Scops Owl — Several sites
Ochre-bellied Boobook — Lore Lindu (flushed near the base of the Anaso Road)
Moluccan Boobook — Foli (heard only)
Sulawesi Nightjar — Tangkoko (heard only)
Moluccan Swiftlet — Lore Lindu area
Purple-winged Roller — Tangkoko
Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker — Several sites
Ashy Woodpecker — Several sites
White-rumped Cuckoo-shrike Talawaang boat trip & Tangkoko
Halmahera Cuckoo-shrike — Foli
Moluccan Cuckoo-shrike — Foli
Caerulean Cuckoo-shrike — Lore Lindu
Pied Cuckoo-shrike — Wartabone / Tangkoko
Pygmy Cuckoo-shrike — Lore Lindu (Anaso Road base only)
Sulawesi Cicadabird — Wartabone / Tangkoko
Sulawesi Triller — Tangkoko
White-shouldered Triller — Talawaang & Tangkoko boat trips
Rufous-bellied Triller — Foli
Golden Bulbul — Foli
Sulawesi Drongo — Ambang
Malia — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Dusky-brown Oriole — Foli
Long-billed Crow — Foli
Piping Crow — Lore Lindu
Paradise Crow — Foli
Sulawesi Babbler — Several sites
Chestnut-backed Bush-warbler — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Sulawesi Leaf-warbler — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Streak-headed White-eye — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Black-ringed White-eye — Karaenta
Black-fronted White-eye — Several sites
Pale-blue Monarch — Wartabone / Wuasa
Blue-fronted Flycatcher — Lore Lindu
Matinan Flycatcher — Ambang
Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher — Wuasa
Slaty Flycatcher — Foli
Rusty-bellied Fantail — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Yellow-flanked Whistler — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Maroon-backed Whistler — Lore Lindu (Anaso Road base only)
Yellow-vented Whistler — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Drab Whistler — Foli
Ivory-backed Wood-swallow — Lore Lindu (Lake Tambung only)
White-necked Myna — Several sites
Fiery-browed Starling — Several sites
Grosbeak Starling — Several sites
Sulawesi Crested Myna — Tangkoko / Tambun
Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater — Ambang / Lore Lindu
Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater — Lore Lindu
White-streaked Friarbird — Foli
Yellow-sided Flowerpecker — Wartabone / Lore Lindu
Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker — Lore Lindu
Flame-breasted Flowerpecker — Foli
Grey-sided Flowerpecker — Several sites

Main Dips

Scaly Kingfisher — a pre-dawn treck to the summit of Gunung Tangkoko followed by a 2-hour search was fruitless;

Purple Dollarbird — we spent a morning walking a trail at Foli that we believed to be Anu’s location for the species. The track begins in to the right, 1.5km along the logging road from Foli (there are obvious earth banks near the start). It then passes through semi-open forest before an extensive open area with some cultivation is reached. No luck however, and we saw none from further along the logging road (where Rob Hutchinson saw several subsequently — roughly km14);

White-naped Monarch — no sign of any at Foli.

Beach Kingfisher, Drummer Rail & Moluccan Scrubfowl — we didn’t have time to try for these species. Apparently, Drummer Rail has been seen along the first stretch of the trail mentioned above (‘Dollarbird trail’). The gully on the right can be marshy and this is perhaps where it occurs.


Spectral Tarsiers — at Tangkoko 3 or 4 of these tiny, fascinating creatures showed very well at their roost tree, a well known stake-out;
Sulawesi Crested Macaque — quite a few seen at e.g. Karaenta and Tangkoko (were there 2 species?);
Tarantula sp — one seen at Tangkoko when we bumped into a ranger-led night walk;
Dolphin sp — a small group seen near Bunaken;
Bear Cuscus — one of these arboreal marsupials seen at Tangkoko in open scrub forest.

Halmahera Systematic List

A systematic list of our observations on Halmahera only follows. Most birds were seen in the virgin forest or from the logging road between km1 and 3, and between km15 and 20, usually in degraded areas and along the edge of the forest proper. The open, rolling nature of the forest close to the road allows for excellent views across the canopy. Parrots, pigeons and hornbills are therefore easily observed. The degraded area adjacent to the road near the virgin forest reserve (km 17) was particularly productive on our visit:

Brown Booby — several seen from both Foli boat journeys across Kao Bay
Lesser Frigatebird — many seen from all boat journeys
Dusky Scrubfowl — 1 near the virgin forest
Osprey — 2 or 3
Brahminy Kite — a few
Gurney’s Eagle — 1 at the nursery camp
Spotted Kestrel — 1 at the nursery camp
Variable Goshawk — 1 over the forest near Foli
Whimbrel — a couple on the beach near Foli
Greenshank — 1 on Kao Airfield
Red-necked Stint — 1 on Kao Airfield
Pacific Golden Plover — several on Kao Airfield
Red-necked Phalarope — a small flock seen from the Sidangoli crossing
Buff-banded Rail — 1 on Kao Airfield
Great-crested Tern — 2 from 1 boat journey
Common Tern — several from 1 boat journey
Bridled Tern — several seen from both boat journeys
Moluccan Owlet Nightjar — 1 seen at the nursery camp (km19) and 1 heard near Foli
Moluccan Scops Owl — heard only at the nursery camp and near Foli
Moluccan Boobook — heard only at the nursery camp and the virgin forest
Brown Cuckoo-dove — quite common
Emerald Dove — 1
Spectacled Imperial Pigeon — a few
Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon — a few
Pied Imperial Pigeons — quite common
Grey-headed Fruitdove — common
Blue-capped Fruitdove — a few
Scarlet-breasted Fruitdove — 1 seen in the virgin forest
White Cockatoo — a few
Moluccan Hanging-parrot — 1
Chattering Lory — 2
Violet-necked Lory — a group of 10
Red-flanked Lorikeet — a group of 10
Moluccan King Parrot — 1 in the virgin forest
Red-cheeked Parrot — common
Eclectus Parrot — a few
Goliath Coucal — a few (if you see a black bin bag snagged in a tree, it’s probably one of these!)
Paradise Kingfisher — just 2 seen briefly, both in dense forest close to the road
Sombre Kingfisher — 1 in the virgin forest
Blue and White Kingfisher — quite common in open areas
Sacred Kingfisher — several
Moustached Treeswift — a few
Blyth’s Hornbill — common
Common Dollarbird — several
Barn Swallow — a few
Rainbow Bee-eater — 2
Red-bellied Pitta — 1 in the virgin forest (heard only)
Ivory-breasted Pitta — heard daily all along the road. 3 seen in total.
Halmahera Cuckoo-shrike — 2
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike — 1
Moluccan Cuckoo-shrike — several
Common Cicadabird — 2
Pale Cicadabird — extralimital record — 1 from the Dollarbird trail
Rufous-bellied Triller — quite common
Spangled Drongo — a few
Golden Bulbul — quite common
Dusky-brown Oriole — 2
Long-billed Crow — common
Paradise Crow — a group of 3 birds beside the road near the virgin forest
Wallace’s Standardwing — a male and a female in the virgin forest
Golden Whistler — 1 in the virgin forest
Black-fronted White-eye — a white-eye seen well from the road close to the village was very similar to Black-fronted in appearance, a species not recorded on Halmahera. These birds definitely had ‘white-eyes’ so we are confident they were not Cream-throated. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise the implications of the sighting until later and the birds were not seen again.
Slaty Flycatcher — a few
Shining Flycatcher — 1
Spectacled Monarch — a few
Willie Wagtail — a few
Drab Whistler — a few
Metallic Starling — common
Moluccan Starling — common
White-streaked Friarbird — several
Dusky Honeyeater — 2
Flame-breasted Flowerpecker — 1
Black Sunbird — common
Olive-backed Sunbird — common
Black-faced Munia — 6

Well over 200 species were recorded during the entire trip, including approximately 110 endemics.

andy.mears AT ppearson AT