5 Nov 2022

5 Nov 22 - Indonesia - Banda Sea Cruise Day 10 - The Best Of The Rest On The First Day On Wetar

In the previous Blog Post, I covered the Pigeons & Doves that we saw on the first morning on Wetar. This Blog Post will cover the remaining species seen during the morning.

Based upon the Clements taxonomy that my Birding database still follows, there were only six Ticks for me on Wetar. Wetar shared a lot of species with Timor & while there are a good selection of species on Wetar, this low number is indicative that I had seen a large number of those species when I visited Timor, Flores & Sumba, during the 3.5 months I spent in Indonesia back in 1991. However, there are a number of splits that have been recognised by IOC or proposed by the Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago field guide that are likely to be split in the future.
Yellow-throated Golden Whistler: The Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago field guide suggests that there may be a case to split the Wetar subspecies of Yellow-throated Golden Whistler as Wetar Golden Whistler, on the basis of extremely divergent mtDNA, but similar appearance to other subspecies of Yellow-throated Golden Whistler. The field guide states further investigation is needed
Northern Fantail: According to Clements & IOC, this is the pallidiceps subspecies of Northern Fantail which occurs in the Indonesian Lesser Sundas & Moluccas islands, as well as, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago & Northern Australia. The Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago field guide have proposed to split the Indonesian subspecies as several new species, based upon pronounced vocal and plumage differences. This including Timor Fantail, which includes this subspecies, which occurs in Timor, Semau & Wetar Islands
Olive-brown Oriole: This is another of the Indonesian brown Orioles that is a mimic to the local Friarbird. It's another potential armchair Tick for me. Clements considers that the Wetar finschi subspecies & the nominate subspecies on Timor are the same species which they call Olive-brown Oriole. Whereas, IOC & the Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago split them as Wetar Oriole & Timor Oriole, respectively
Birding Along The Road
Wetar Forests: One of the good things about Wetar, is the island's economy is significantly based upon mining. While the mine is clearly destroying part of the hills around the village where we landed, it does mean that currently the extensive forests aren't being commercially logged
There doesn't seem to be any disagreement on the taxonomy of the following species.
Black-necklaced Honeyeater: A Black-necklaced Honeyeater showing how it got its name
Black-necklaced Honeyeater: This is a Wetar endemic
Wetar Figbird: Male. This is another monotypic Wetar endemic
Timor Blue Flycatcher: Male. This is the kuehni subspecies which is endemic to Wetar. The other subspecies occurs on Timor, Semau & Rote
Timor Blue Flycatcher: Female. This is also known as Timor Warbling-flycatcher
Pied Bushchat: This is the pyrrhonotus subspecies which is found on Timor, Wetar, Kisar, Sawu, Semau & Rote. There are other subspecies that occur from the Caspian part of the Western Palearctic to Afghanistan, the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, the Philippines, Java, Bali & Wallacea in Indonesia, New Guinea & the Bismarck Archipelago
There was a good selection of Insects along the road.
Indonesian Butterfly sp.
Indonesian Butterfly sp.
Indonesian Yellow Butterfly sp.: I have seen similar looking Butterflies in the Southern Philippines & the Moluccas
Bee Nest: we decided to quickly move on when we saw this Bee nest, just in case the swarm decided to fly
Bee Nest: A close up from the last photo
Indonesian Dragonfly sp.: This is a gorgeous Dragonfly
Indonesian Dragonfly sp.
This is a superb looking Damselfly
It was time to head back to the Lady Denok for lunch. There was time for a roadside stop just outside of the village for a White-bellied Sea-eagle.
White-bellied Sea-eagle: This cracking Sea-eagle is found along the coasts & islands of Southern Asia to the Philippines, Indonesia & Australia
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Tony Palliser waiting for the boats
One of the local canoes
Getting into the boats wasn't always elegant
It was fair to say we were frustrated on the Lady Denok to hear the news that we were to be returning to Wetar soon after lunch. This wasn't to return immediately for Birding, but because we had to travel about 25 miles across the island to the town on the South coast which was the regional capital. Apparently, a new police chief had just arrived on the island & we had to take the passports & check in with him. It was an hour & a half journey on the back of the slow lorry with the knackered engine to get there, albeit about thirty minutes beyond where we stopped for Birding on the way back.

Once there, it was one of those pointless exercises where we all were ushered into the office to meet the police chief, some dreary talk about German football teams for ten minutes, before having to go out to the front steps for team photos with the police chief & his team. Basically, he just didn't seem to have a lot to do & it was the chance to have some photos taken with some of the few tourists who land on Wetar. Nobody asked to see the passports. All in all about an hour & a half wasted, when we could have been relaxing on the Lady Denok or spending more time Birding. Finally, we were told we could continue Birding for the rest of the three days on Wetar, but we would need a police escort.
Our Police Escort: A nice enough guy, who didn't stop us Birding. Every morning he rode his motorbike back along road on his motorbike to find us
After about a half hour of driving on the way back, we stopped at a flatter part of the road with more open area forest. The plan was to scan for Parrots, especially Olive-shouldered Parrot (also known as Jonquil Parrot), which we hadn't seen so far. This species also occurs on Timor & I had seen it on there in 1991. However, it is a different subspecies on Wetar & was a Tick for most of the group. We did see a distant Parrot perch up in the tree which some of the group thought was an Olive-shouldered Parrot, but not all of us were convinced & the views were inconclusive. A couple of Marigold Parakeets did put on a better show for us. The highlight for the site was our first Wetar Myzomela.
Wetar Myzomela: This is a Wetar endemic
Wetar Myzomela
Finally, it was time to move as we had another half hour drive to where we were going to look for the recently split Wetar Scops Owl, which previously had been considered a distinctive subspecies of Moluccan Scops Owl.
Wetar Scops Owl: This is a Wetar endemic
Wetar Scops Owl
Wetar Scops Owl
It had been a long, but successful first day on Wetar, apart from the pointless journey to see the police chief.