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Flores and Timor August 2013

Bali, Flores, Timor 14th-27th of Aug 2013

By Peter Ericsson

During the dry season of July to October is a good time to visit the Wallacean region of Indonesia.

I have visited Borneo (Greater Sundas) several times and also been to Sulawesi and Halmahera twice so this time I felt it would be best to visit part of the Lesser Sundas. The question was: What strategy do I use? The rushed and sometimes frantic pace of a high end birding tour that so often leave the participants exhausted and frustrated over the one that got away! Or a more leisurely approach that would allow for sufficient rest and comforts? For me the answer was obvious. The slower pace definitely brings me more joy.

I found some like minded folks that also had their sights set on the region and a plan was conceived.



Day 1. Bangkok-Bali



I met up with Stijn de Win at Don Muang for an early flight to Bali with Airasia.

At Denpasar we were met by staff from our pre booked hotel.

The hotel was near the airport, had spacious modern air-conditioned rooms, a nice swimming pool and a buffet breakfast. At 55$US it was well worth the money. Free pick-ups and drop-offs to the airport included.

After some Mee Goreng (fried noodles) we took a taxi to Ulu Watu which is a well known tourist destination with a Hindu temple located next to some very impressive cliffs.

This is a known site to look for White-tailed Tropicbirds. Never having seen a tropic bird I had a strong desire to do so. Sure enough, about an hour after scanning the vast ocean in front of us a white bird appeared against the horizon. As it came closer it became obvious what it was! A White-tailed Tropicbird! What a great looking bird! The bird flew around for several minutes before we lost sight of it.

The vegetation next to the cliffs didnít have much of interest and we went back to the hotel where we met up with Rick Franks from Australia and his friend Colin Luft from NZ.



Day 2 Bali Ė Labuan Bajo, Flores.



The flight in the early morning went well. The airport at Labuan Bajo was very small but the landing strip long enough to handle commercial aircrafts.

Once we got our luggage someone approached us offering a vehicle. This guy turned out to be a real fix-it man. We hadnít booked any hotel so started driving around in search of one. It soon became clear that the cheaper ones were not what we wanted. In the end we found a 1 year old resort outside of town located right at Bajo beach.

Rooms were again excellent and breakfast was included. The grounds had flowering trees and bushes as well as neatly kept lawns.

Labuan Bajo seemed to be a little too big for itself. The basic structure of a fishing village being invaded by Komodo dragon seekers and diving enthusiasts has pushed the local tourism industry too rapidly and thus the infra structure is struggling to keep the pace.

Our fix-it man offered us a speed boat to Komodo Island some 50 km away at 6-800$US. This seemed over priced and we started to look around for other options. It soon became clear though that these prices were pretty much standard. The other option was to hire a slow boat (4 hours) and sleep over night on the boat.

After much deliberation we booked a speed boat for 550$US.



On the resort grounds some Zebra Finches were busy feeding on the lawn. It was very nice to see these common cage birds in a natural setting.

Our first endemic lifer was soon seen, a stunning male Flame-breasted Sunbird.

This was soon followed by the Black-breasted Flowerpecker, another common bird on Flores.

As it was, the Sunbird and the Flowerpecker were to become daily companions on Flores.

It was quite hot in Labuang Bajo but a rather dry heat. Down at the beach it was low tide so we went for a walk. I almost immediately spotted a majestic Great-billed Heron. Excitedly I started approaching it while firing away with my camera. Got some shots I was quite happy with.
Ulu Watu, Bali
Ulu Watu, Bali
sunset
sunset
Our resort
Our resort
Dried out vegetation
Dried out vegetation
The dragon and I!
The dragon and I!
Wild Boar
Wild Boar
Timor Deer
Timor Deer
Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon
Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo
Guess who?
Guess who?
Stijn  and Rick
Stijn and Rick
Rugged mountains
Rugged mountains
Terrace paddies
Terrace paddies
Peter, Rick, driver, Colin, Stijn
Peter, Rick, driver, Colin, Stijn
Mee Goreng
Mee Goreng
IMG_7425.jpg
IMG_7425.jpg
Hotel Pool
Hotel Pool