Bali, From a Bird Watcher’s Perspective
By Melissa Whitby
Earlier this year I travelled to Bali, Indonesia and onwards on my quest to see the mighty Komodo Dragons.
After having an incredible trip looking at the Dragons, I arrived back in Bali on another wildlife mission. This time I was on the hunt for the Bali Starling, the national bird of Bali.
Bali Starlings are critically endangered and I needed the help of a bird guide to see the species. Before leaving Australia, I contacted Hery Kusumanegara from Bali Birding Tour to organise a full day at the Bali Barat National Park looking for the Bali Starling.
My day started bright and early leaving Denpasar at 3am with a driver from Bali Birding Tour who drove me the three hours to Bali Barat National Park for arrival at 6am. Upon meeting Hery, we climbed a tower in the forest to watch the sunrise over the Bali Strait between Java and Bali. To my surprise, it did not take too long to see a flash of white over the treetops and I had seen my first Bali Starling!
Bali Starlings are easily recognised by their stunning white plumage and blue eye ring. A captive breeding program is in place for the Bali Starling and birds get soft released into an area of Bali Barat National Park where local rangers are present to monitor to the birds.
Currently, the birds are breeding very well and their population is increasing. The success of the birds’ increasing numbers is due to the dedication of the local rangers who also engage the community to provide information that the birds are protected and money generated from birdwatchers such as myself is given back to the local community to provide an income.
The reality of modern day conservation is that local people must be engaged to protect threatened wildlife species and the habitat that they live in.
A full day exploring around Bali Barat National Park yielded many bird species such as the Javan Banded Pitta, Laced Woodpecker, Sunda Scops Owl, Savannah Nightjar and Changeable Hawk-eagle.
I also saw several species of primates and a beautiful Brown-backed Squirrel.
Most people travel to Bali for the nightclubs and beaches. For me, it was all about seeing some of the natural wonders of Bali and I would totally recommend exploring Bali Barat National Park!