Indonesia - Java and Bali: 1-16 Nov 1996
Section 3 - Birding Sites (part 2)




Section 1 - Introduction, logistics, itinerary and general information.
Section 2 - Birding sites (Java - Bogor Botanical Garden).
Section 3 - Birding sites (Java - Gunung Gede and Cibodas).
Section 4 - Birding sites (Java - Carita, Indramayu, Pantai Song and Cangkring).
Section 5 - Birding sites (Java - Baluran, Pangandaran and Segara Anakan).
Section 6 - Birding sites (Bali - Gilimanuk and Bali Barat).
Section 7 - Birding sites (Bali - Bedugal, Ubud and Sanur).
Section 8 - Annotated checklist.

Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park and Cibodas Botanical Gardens

Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, must rate as both the most important, and most visited, birding site in Java. All of Java's montane endemics are regularly recorded here, as well a host of other Sundanese specialities. Although almost all visitors enter via the Cibodas entrance - the park headquarters - entrances are also found at Gunung Putri, Selabintana, Situgunung, Cisuara, and Bodogol. A 4 kilometre loop trail, specifically for birding, has been established at the later. However, by far the most popular area with birders is that at Cibodas (pronounced Chibodas), chiefly due to its ease of access, facilities, and the added attraction of the Cibodas Botanical gardens. Try, if at all possible, to avoid visiting during weekends or public holidays, when the whole area is transformed into a mixture of an open market and rock concert, and the main trail is heavily disturbed.

Gede overview map

To get to Cibodas from Jakarta, take a bus from the main bus station at Kampung Rambutan to Bogor. From Bogor take a bus or mini bus in the direction of Cianjur via the Puncak Pass (3,000 Rp), and ask to be dropped off at the Cibodas junction. From here is a 5 kilometre minibus or motorcycle ride (300-500 Rp) to the village of Cibodas and the park entrance. Probably the best, or nicest, place to stay at Cibodas is the guest house inside the Botanical Gardens. While undoubtedly not cheap by Indonesian standards, the location is terrific and does not suffer the dreaded mosque wake-up call at 04:15, a problem shared by the other accommodations in town, which are both immediately adjacent to the mosque.

The majority of the habitat within the park is sub-montane and montane rain forest, ranging from an altitude of 1,260 m. around Cibodas. Higher up, elfin forest predominates on the upper reaches of Gunung Gede (2,958 m.) and Pangrango (3,019 m.) summits. The more open habitat of the botanical gardens attracts forest edge, and some of the more common, species of junk habitat. Unfortunately and typically, both the botanical gardens and beauty spots within the park suffer from rubbish strewn everywhere by ignorant and uncaring visitors - predominantly locals. The area behind the Gede crater lookout is a particular disgrace.

Most birders stay at Freddy's Homestay in the centre (15,000 - 20,000 Rp including breakfast and tea throughout the day), though some have stayed at Losman No.145 immediately across the street. Freddy's is clean, simple, and well run by Freddy himself, who speaks fluent Dutch and reasonable English. The total cost of my four days at Freddy's was 124,000 Rp including dinners, beers and packed lunches. Freddy welcomes birders and has a log-book of sightings. His 13 year old son has an avid interest in birds and is a good source of information about birds and birding in the park, which he has taught himself without field guide or binoculars. As Freddy’s only has about 6-8 rooms, at busy times of the year, it might be advisable to book in advance. The stalls lining the road just below the entrance of the park sell a variety of fresh fruit, and a couple of small shops sell a reasonable range of basic commodities and foodstuffs. Most shut down at dusk, but a few stay open to provide a cheap place to eat, though most people will probably prefer to eat where they stay.

As Cibodas is one of the wettest areas of Java, there is, without doubt, considerable advantage to visiting during the dry season between June and September. Not only will this avoid lengthy periods of birding lost to rain, but leeches will be absent - small numbers of which were a problem inside the forest, off the main trail. I also encountered some gigantic black leeches (at least 15 cm long - no jokes) on the main trail, of a kind I have never seen before. A week is the likely required length of stay necessary to see the majority of the specialities. The three days which I spent here was completely inadequate, especially with so much birding time being lost to heavy rain. Rains are so heavy from January to April that the park is closed to visitors.

The main trail is marked in hector-metre (HM) markers and although many have disappeared, enough remain as handy reference markers for noting the altitudinal ranges of many species. The trail starts at the Golf Course Road (HM 0), passes the new PHPA offices at HM 1, and continues to the summit of Gede (about HM 100), Pangrango and beyond. Entry to the park and/or walking the trails requires a permit. Permits for Gede and Pangrango peaks (4,000 Rp) are issued at the small office at the barrier at the start of the golf course road. As this is only open from 08:00 - 17:00, if you intend to make an early start, make sure you get a permit the day before. Permits are checked as you pass the new PHPA office, where they will only issue you a permit to enter the park, and walk as far a Cibeureum Waterfall (2,500 Rp) if you do not have one. The majority of the trail is wide, constructed of stones, and easy to follow, but becomes more difficult and broken once above the Kandang Badak hut (2,400 m.), where the going also gets steep. The first three kilometres to the Cibeureum Waterfall (1,625 m.) are a fairly gently climb. This section holds many species and a quiet, slow walk first thing in the morning, before others hit the trail, can be well-rewarded. Sunda Ground-Thrush, Lesser Shortwing and Sunda Blue Robin are all possible. Crescent-chested Babbler, Pygmy Wren-Babbler, and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush are all fairly common, though the latter can be very elusive.

Two well-marked side trails branch off the main trail between HM4 and 7. The first, the "Dead End" trail runs for a few hundred metres down to the old PHPA office where you can squeeze through a gap in the fence into the botanical gardens. This is by far the best trail for the White-bellied Fantail, which for some inexplicable reason is rarely seen in other parts of the park. The second trail, the Bird Watching trail is a narrow forest trail leading to a stream after a hundred metres or so.

Returning to the main trail, the open area around HM20 is the result of storm damage some years ago, and is a known site for Javan Hawk-Eagle. Sunda Bush-Warbler is common in the rank grassland here, and from this point to the waterfall seems the best place for the two parrotfinch species. The Cibeureum Waterfall, 300 metres off the main trail at HM 23 is a good place at dusk. Salvadori's Nightjar regularly feeds around the trees above the central of the three waterfalls, though as it is high, it requires an extremely powerful torch to see anything other than silhouettes. Previously the falls were also a regular roosting site for Waterfall Swiftlet, but sightings are much less frequent now, and your best chance is to see them feeding overhead during the day. Sunda Forktail appears regularly at dusk at the base of the central waterfall.

The main trail now starts to climb more steeply. The section from HM 23 - HM 50+ appears to be the best place for the endemic Blue-tailed Trogon, and feeding flocks can hold Spotted Crocias and other goodies. Rufous Woodcock is sometimes flushed from the trail from this point onward.

At HM52 and an altitude of 2,150 m. the trail crosses the Panas Air hot springs - more a river than a spring. Here it is necessary, with the aid of a few well-spaced posts and steel ropes, to walk over slippery, algae-covered rocks for about 20 metres. With steam rising all around (the water temperature never varies from 70-75 °C), and a sheer drop one side, this crossing reminded me of something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Take care, as the potential for a twisted ankle, or worse, is great. Just past the springs it is possible to take a bath (if you can cope with the rubbish).

Although, if one is reasonably fit, it is possible to reach Gede summit and return to Cibodas within a long day - even allowing time for birding en route - most birders decide to spend at least one night camped-out in one of the huts. Sadly, the state of the huts, particularly in the rainy season, can only be described a putrid. Although previous visitors have stopped short of using them as toilets, the insides are muddy, wet (from leaks in the roof), badly littered, and smell of spilt paraffin from cooking stoves. I would strongly recommend taking a large ground sheet, or more preferably sleeping outside in the dry season. A tent would be good if you are prepared to carry it up. There are several cleared, level spots suitable for camping. Note that the huts have no power nor running water, though the later is available from many steams. Also it becomes relatively cold at night. The big advantage to spending the night on the mountain is the ability to arrive at Gede crater early in the day before the cloud descends, which can then severely hamper your efforts to view Volcano Swiftlet. Dusky Woodcock has also been seen roding in the area of the Kandang Badak hut. From what I saw, the best hut to sleep in is a small hut/shelter a few hundred metres past the Air Panas hot springs. Although small and open at the front, it has a raised wooden floor, keeping it clean and dry, as there was sufficient overhang to protect it from the rain. Gunung Pangrango summit is less visited by birders, probably as the climb is steeper and harder than Gede, and the summit forested.

Most species are fairly widespread within their habitat and altitudinal ranges, though a few species are more localised. The following provides an overview of the more sought-after species, and which might be considered the chief target birds at Gede. For more detailed information see the annotated species section toward the back of this report.

Javan Hawk-Eagle - Clearings over forest at lower altitudes.
Chestnut-bellied Partridge - Forest undergrowth. Most often between HM8 - HM30
Dusky Woodcock - Often flushed from trail at mid altitudes.
Pink-headed Fruit-Dove - Between Cibeureum falls and Air Panas.
Javan Scops-Owl - Around the PHPA hut and first 500 metres of main trail.
Salvadori's Nightjar - Uncommon. Above Cibeureum Waterfalls at dusk.
Waterfall Swiftlet - Uncommon. Small flocks feed high overhead anywhere.
Volcano Swiftlet - Small numbers feed inside Gede crater.
Blue-tailed Trogon - Usually between HM22 and HM45.
Brown-throated Barbet - Common at lower elevations.
White-bellied Fantail - Look along loop trail.
Sunda Ground-Thrush - Lower section of main trail.
Horsfield's Thrush - Moss forest above Kandang Badak.
Lesser Shortwing - Fairly common at lower elevations.
Sunda Robin - Fairly common at lower elevations.
Sunda Forktail - Trail to Cibeureum Falls.
Javan Cochoa - Usually at higher elevations, but scarce.
Sunda Bulbul - Common
Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush - Lower sections of main trail.
Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler - Fairly common.
Spotted Crocias - High in canopy. HM17 - HM26.
Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch - Trial to Cibeureum Falls.
Pin-tailed Parrotfinch - Trial to Cibeureum Falls.
Mountain Serin - Scarce. Possible anywhere in forest.

Gede map

The botanical gardens (1,700 Rp) are an easy way to bird forest edge, and additionally have many open habitat species not found in the forest. The forested hills either side and above the golf course are said to be a good place to watch for Javan Hawk-Eagle, and I saw Waterfall Swift high above the gardens. The zigzag trail (see map) is supposedly a good spot early morning for Sunda Ground-Thrush, though repeated visits I made encountered absolutely nothing. The moss covered cobbles of this path were also treacherous underfoot.
As well as the birds, the park holds good numbers of Javan Gibbon, Javan Lutung, Javan Langur and several other larger mammals. A basic, but interesting, overview of the natural history of the park is contained in a very useful small guide (various eds., 1996) which can be found at Freddy's and probably the PHPA office.

For the other park entrances: To get to the Gunung Purti entrance, about 15 kilometres from Cibodas, take a minibus from Cipanas to Gunung Purti (about seven kilometres). The PHPA office is located at the bus terminal in Gunung Putri, from which it is a three kilometre walk to the park entrance. Other than asking locals to put you up, or using the campground between the PHPA office and the park entrance, the nearest accommodation appears to be Cipanas, or Pasekon just outside Cipanas. Once at the park entrance it is 2.5 hours to the Suryakancana Meadow (2,759 m.) and another hour to Gede summit. This route makes it possible to complete a circuit to/from Cibodas via Gunung Putri and then by road back to Cibodas, which can even be done in a single day.

To reach the Selabintana entrance take a bus to Sukabumi and then take a mini-bus going to Selabintana town and ask to be dropped at the Pondok Halimun turn-off. From here it is another six kilometre walk (hitch or hire an ojek) to the entrance. As this area is more remote it receives far fewer visitors, and consequently has no shops or accommodation. There is however a camp site near the PHPA office. This southern side of the park is also at a lower elevation where you are likely to see a different set of species than at Cibodas - such as hornbills. From the entrance gate it is a two kilometre walk through forest to the waterfall, and a steep muddy trail up to Suryakancana Meadow and Gede summit.

The Situgunung entrance is primarily a family recreation area, but there is a large lake and two impressive waterfalls (2 km walk), and presumably forest. From Bogor take a bus toward Sukabumi and get off at Cissat. From there it is possible to take a direct bus the 10 km to Situgunung. Again no accommodation is available; the nearest being at Cissat.

Species recorded from Gede Pangrango National Park:

Oriental Honey-Buzzard (r)
Crested Serpent-Eagle (o)
Besra 1(o)
Black Eagle (c)
Javan Hawk-Eagle (o)
Black-thighed Falconet (r)
Spotted Kestrel (o)
Peregrine Falcon (o)
Blue-breasted Quail (r)
Chestnut-bellied Partridge 8+(c)
Red Junglefowl (o)
Green Junglefowl (r)
Barred Buttonquail (r)
Dusky Woodcock (o)
Feral Pigeon 2+(o)
Spotted Dove (o)
Barred Cuckoo-Dove (o)
Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove 2(o)
Little Cuckoo-Dove (c)
Emerald Dove (o)
Pink-necked Pigeon (r)
Sunda Pin-tailed Pigeon (r)
Wedge-tailed Pigeon 2(o)
Pink-headed Fruit-Dove _(c)
Dark-backed Imperial-Pigeon (r)
Yellow-throated Hanging-Parrot (r)
Large Hawk-Cuckoo (r)
Oriental Cuckoo (c)
Banded Bay Cuckoo (r)
Plaintive Cuckoo (r)
Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (c)
Javan Scops-Owl (o)
Collared Scops-Owl (o)
Barred Eagle-Owl (o)
Buffy Fish-Owl (r)
Brown Hawk-Owl (r)
Javan Frogmouth (r)
Jungle Nightjar (o)
Salvadori's Nightjar 2(o)
Waterfall Swift 20+(o)
Cave Swiftlet c(c)
Volcano Swiftlet 3(o)
Black-nest Swiftlet (r)
Edible-nest Swiftlet 10+(c)
Silver-backed Needletail (r)
House Swift (r)
Blue-tailed Trogon (o)
Javan Kingfisher (o)
Collared Kingfisher (c)
Lineated Barbet (r)
Brown-throated Barbet 2+(c)
Flame-fronted Barbet 10+(c)
Blue-eared Barbet (o)
Coppersmith Barbet (o)
Rufous Piculet (o)
Crimson-winged Woodpecker (o)
Checker-throated Woodpecker (r)
Orange-backed Woodpecker (r)
Banded Pitta (o)
Banded Broadbill (c)
Rufous-tailed Fantail 5+(c)
White-bellied Fantail (o)
Spotted Fantail (r)
Ashy Drongo (c)
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo 8(c)
Short-tailed Magpie (o)
Common Iora 2(o)
Black-naped Oriole (r)
Sunda Cuckoo-shrike (o)
Javan Cuckoo-shrike (r)
Lesser Cuckoo-shrike (r)
Pied Triller (r)
Sunda Minivet (c)
Scarlet Minivet (o)
Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike (c)

Long-tailed Shrike (o)
Large Woodshrike 6(o)
Sunda Whistling-Thrush c(c)
Orange-headed Thrush (r)
Siberian Thrush 3+(o)
Sunda Ground-Thrush (o)
Horsfield's Thrush 1+(c)
Island Thrush (c)
Lesser Shortwing 5+(o)
White-browed Shortwing (c)
Asian Glossy Starling (o)
Mugimaki Flycatcher (r)
Snowy-browed Flycatcher c(c)
Little Pied Flycatcher 10+(c)
Blue-and-white Flycatcher (r)
Indigo Flycatcher 12+(c)
Hill Blue Flycatcher (r)
Grey-headed Flycatcher 2+(c)
Siberian Blue Robin (r)
Oriental Magpie-Robin (o)
Sunda Robin 3(c)
Sunda Forktail 2(c)
White-crowned Forktail 5(c)
Javan Cochoa (o)
Blue Nuthatch 9(c)
Pygmy Tit 2(c)
Pacific Swallow 2(o)
Striated Swallow (o)
Asian Martin (r)
Orange-spotted Bulbul 3(c)
Yellow-vented Bulbul (o)
Grey-cheeked Bulbul (o)
Sunda Bulbul 4(c)
Oriental White-eye 3+(c)
Mountain White-eye (r)
Javan Grey-throated White-eye c(c)
Brown Prinia (r)
Bar-winged Prinia 7+(c)
Javan Tesia 12(c)
Sunda Bush-Warbler 4(c)
Mountain Tailorbird 5(c)
Olive-backed Tailorbird 2(o)
Arctic Warbler (r)
Mountain Leaf-Warbler 10+(c)
Sunda Warbler 9+(c)
Yellow-bellied Warbler (o)
Striated Grassbird (o)
Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush (o)
Horsfield's Babbler 3(c)
Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler 12+(c)
Eye-browed Wren-Babbler 15+(c)
Pygmy Wren-Babbler 20+(c)
White-bibbed Babbler (c)
Crescent-chested Babbler 8+(c)
White-browed Shrike-Babbler (c)
Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler 5(c)
Javan Fulvetta c(c)
Spotted Crocias 2(o)
Great Tit c(c)
Australasian Bushlark (r)
Eurasian Tree-Sparrow 10+(c)
Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch (o)
Pin-tailed Parrotfinch (o)
Javan Munia (o)
Scaly-breasted Munia (r)
Grey Wagtail (o)
Plain Flowerpecker 1(o)
Blood-breasted Flowerpecker (c)
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (o)
Olive-backed Sunbird 1(o)
White-flanked Sunbird 10+(c)
Little Spiderhunter 2(o)
Long-billed Spiderhunter (o)
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (o)
Mountain Serin (o)

Section 1 - Introduction, logistics, itinerary and general information.
Section 2 - Birding sites (Java - Bogor Botanical Garden).
Section 3 - Birding sites (Java - Gunung Gede and Cibodas).
Section 4 - Birding sites (Java - Carita, Indramayu, Pantai Song and Cangkring).
Section 5 - Birding sites (Java - Baluran, Pangandaran and Segara Anakan).
Section 6 - Birding sites (Bali - Gilimanuk and Bali Barat).
Section 7 - Birding sites (Bali - Bedugal, Ubud and Sanur).
Section 8 - Annotated checklist.