5 Nov 2022

5 Nov 22 - Indonesia - Banda Sea Cruise Day 10 - A Plethora Of Pigeons On The First Day On Wetar

The crew had motored overnight so that we were off the island of Wetar: our base for the next three days. Wetar has a good selection of species that overlaps with the neighbouring & larger island of Timor, to its South. This includes the Indonesian West of the island and East Timor at the Eastern end.

We woke early for another well before dawn breakfast on the Lady Denok. One of the great things is the Lady Denok team were good at providing a substantial breakfast regardless of the start time. It helped given how early it was. After eating, we were quickly in the boats & heading to the shore. An open backed lorry arrived just after us in the village. We jumped in the back & were soon on our way up into the hills. It proved to be a slow journey as the lorry ended up going down into first gear on every hill: as the engine was knackered. It was the first of three slow drives across the island, as every lunchtime we returned back to the boat.

The first highlights were a couple of Timor Nightjars a few miles out of town on the road. One was giving its tok-tok-tok call, which didn't too dissimilar to what I remember of Large-tailed Nightjar. Perhaps it's call is more subtly distinctive as the Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago field guide states that while it was previously considered as conspecific with Large-tailed Nightjar, it has been proposed as a new species with a range of Timor & Wetar based up its distinct vocalisations. Perhaps not suprising as Mees's Nightjar, which occurs on Flores, Alor, Pantar & Sumba, was split from Large-tailed Nightjar about a decade ago by Clements & IOC. I think this is a case of the paper being written to formally propose the reasons for Timor Nightjar to be split.
Birding From The Lorry: This shows the high hills on the island
Graham Tebb
Roadside Birding
After watching the Timor Nightjars on the road, we carried on slowly trundling up the hill. It quickly started to get lighter & the light was reasonable by the time we have reached our destination about halfway across the island. This was the first session of roadside Birding. Quite often roadside Birding isn't great as you end up having to keep moving to the edge of the road as traffic passes. But when that is only a couple of times an hour, it's wasn't that bad on this occasion. This morning was a good morning for seeing Pigeons & Doves.
Timor Zebra Dove: This is also known as Barred Dove
Little Cuckoo Dove: This is the orientalis subspecies which occurs on Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, Pantar, Timor & Wetar. This is the most South Eastern subspecies. Other subspecies occur in Burma, Thailand, Yunnan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Java & Bali
Dusky Cuckoo Dove: This is also known as Timor Cuckoo Dove, but I will stick with the name that was used in 1991. This is a monotypic species which occurs on Timor, Wetar Alor, Romang, Kisar, Leti, Moa & Sermata Islands
Black Cuckoo Dove: This species in restricted to Timor, Wetar & Rota. I was glad to see this species well, as my only sighting of this distinctive species back in 1991, was an individual that flew past us
Black-backed Fruit-dove: Another island & another subspecies. This is the nominate cinctus subspecies which occurs on Timor, Wetar & Romang Islands
Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon: This is a small island specialist which is found on islands in the Java Sea & Flores Sea, as well as, some of the smaller & larger islands in the Lesser Sundas
Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon
Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon
Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon
In one of the roadside stops, I picked up two distant Eagles that were over a couple of miles away flying over the distant cliffs. Fortunately, they took pity on our inabilities to identify them at that range & glided over towards the cliffs on our side of the valley. They didn't pass that close, but they were close enough to allow us to confirm they were Bonelli's Eagles.
Bonelli's Eagle: This is the renschi subspecies which is endemic to the Lesser Sundas. The other subspecies occurs from Southern Europe to India, Southern China & Indochina
I will cover the other species seen on Wetar on the first day in the next Blog Post.