Bali and Lembongan

We visited the Indonesian Islands of Bali and Lembongan in August 2023. This certainly has been one of my favourite destinations that i have visited thus far. The islands are beautiful, the culture amazing but its the people that really make this special.

Nusa Dua

 

The trip consisted of three parts. The first, we were staying in a typical beach resort, and although we ventured out to some other sights this is really the type of holiday where you swim, drink cocktails and lounge around. Nice for a day or two, but not my type of holiday. Thank fully there was a small wetland park within walking distance and some good birding there.

 

 

 

Ubud

 

The second part was into the interior of the island to Ubud, which is much more nature driven and more commercially driven with many larger markets.  We stayed in a stunning villa on the edge of a green ravine, with stunning views. Initially we visited a number of the “must see spots” but soon realized that these has become very commercialized, sadly.  Tegallalang Rice terraces is a good example where the actual attraction of the rice terraces and how they are irrigated is now second to the “Instagram activities” such as swings, bike cable rides, bottomless floors and swimming pools. Its an amusement park and not an attraction. But in my walks around Ubud I traversed other rice paddies, and had fantastic conversations with the local farmers and other people living there around their culture and life style. Ubud also provided me with one of my huge wish list birds, the Green Junglefowl. Easy to hear, difficult to see in the lush forest, but we did get some good views for a few minutes.

 

Lembongan

The last part of our stay was Lembongan, reached by ferry. This small island and its neighbour, Ceningan, is best explored by renting a scooter, and by far the best part of our trip. The freedom to be able to travel on your own on the island from one stunning beach to the next, passing by coffee shops, little bars and restaurants and having a host of massages was just the highlight of the time spent in Bali.  Our host, Yoni, at Dini D’nusa was unbelievable in helping us organise everything we wanted, from scooters, various snorkel dives, and restaurants, not effort was too much.   Another fantastic islander that we met was Rai from https://www.raiartspace.org/. Not only was his art inspirational, but he as a person gave me much food for thought on how we live our lives.

 

Naturally I spent some time out looking for birds 79 species of which 35 were new to my world list and some nice sighting of other creatures, including crabs, butterflies and dragonflies.

 

Green Junglefowl
Little Pied Cormorant
Lesser Frigatebird
Lesser Coucal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sooty-headed Bulbul
Golden-bellied Gerygone
Lemon-bellied White-eye
Javan Munia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long-tailed Macaque
Banded Sea Krait
Common Sailor
Pacific Trumpetfish

 

 

Singapore

We visited Singapore in August 2023 for four days and divided the time there between general sight seeing and shopping in Orchard Road. Here are links to the main sight-sightseeing areas we covered.  The Botanical garden and Orchid gardens was by far the highlight of the visit.

Singapore City and Surrounds
Garden by the Bay
Singapore Botanical Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The visit allowed for some birding as well and 50 species were seen of which 35 were new world lifers. Below are a few of my highlight species:

Oriental Pied Hornbill
White-bellied Sea-eagle
Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot
Crimson Sunbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Junglefowl
White-breasted Waterhen
Pink-necked Green-pigeon
Plantain Squirrel

Grootvallei Game Ranch

Grootvallei Game Ranch is a game farm on the Boshoff Kimberley gravel road, in an area that transitions from Freestate grasslands into Kalahari grassland. Where we spent a few days in December 2022

 

Grootvallei Game Ranch
New species page added for Chat Flycatcher
New species page added for Chat Flycatcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Species Updated:

Roan Antelope
Sable Antelope
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
Shaft-tailed Whydah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upington and Augrabies Falls National Park

Recent trip to the Northern Cape visiting Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas and Augrabies Falls.

Lifers

Bushveld Sengi
Rosy-faced Lovebird
Stark’s Lark
Broadley’s Flat Lizard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marbled Rubber Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location Galleries added:

Upington, Keimoes and surrounding Kalahari
Augrabies Falls National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Species Galleries Updated:

Pale Winged Starling
Western Rock Skink
Fawn-coloured lark
Sociable Weaver

Hermanus and Karoo Trip

Updates from the December holidays trip to Hermanus and stay overs in the greater Karoo, including Prince Albert

New location Gallery has been added for Transkaroo Adventures

Transkaroo Adventures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Lifers added:

Long-beaked Common Dolphin
Northern Giant Petrel
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
Sooty Shearwater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karoo Eremomela
Black-eared Sparrow-lark
Bronze Whaler Shark
Drab Thick-tailed Scorpion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Species Photos updated:

Lanner Falcon
Rock Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel
Southern Tchagra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Giant Petrel
Cape Rock-jumper
Springbuck
African Buffalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lark-like Bunting
Yellow-bellied Eremomela
White-necked Raven
Bank Cormorant

New galleries

New Location gallery added:

Greater Karoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Species galleries added:

Birds:

Agulhas Long-billed Lark
Denham’s Bustard
Namaqua Warbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tractrac Chat
Karoo Long-billed Lark
Karoo Korhaan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mammals:

Namaqua Rock Mouse
Elephant Shrews (Sengi’s)
Southern Right Whale

December Holiday Trip

Our December holiday had us once again visiting the Eastern Cape, and this time an area that i had longed to visit for a long time, the Wild Coast.  I wish we had more time to explore more of the Wild Coast, but as road conditions require many hours of travel we were limited to Dwesa Game Reserve and surrounds.

From Dwesa we moved down to Tsitsikamma National Park and the Storms River Camp, but with a huge family and friends Christmas gathering, there was little time to explore.

The trip ended at the usual haunt of Bornmansdrift farm in the South Eastern Freestate.

The trip added two new lifers to my tally, Mangrove Kingfisher and Cape Siskin, ending 2016 with 7 new bird lifers

 

Mapungubwe Birding Weekend – Nov 2016

At the end of November 2016 we made a trip up to Mapungubwe National Park to do the annual Birding Big Day in the park. Our accommodation was in the Honorary Rangers special camp in the middle of the bush with no fences.

 

2016 had seen one of the worst drought years in memory in South Africa, and Mapungubwe was no less hard hit. Grass for grazing was nonexistent, and we could see that the animals were suffering. But then during our stay the heavens opened up and the drought was broken. Overnight we had more than 70mm of rain, and it was amazing to see the Limpopo river turn from a dry bed of sand into a flooded river.

 

Birding was still excellent, and a managed two lifers in the park – Three Banded Courser, and a very special bird that i had been looking for some time, Pels Fishing Owl.

 

Trip to Southern Kruger – Jul 2016

We set off on our annual holiday to Kruger National Park again this July.This year we decided to brave the busy south again, and once again, I realise that I like the area but not the crowds.

Staying our first few days in Berg-en-Dal the current drought just hit home again. The veld is bare of grass, but it almost seems asif the trees were staying green longer this year. Almost as if they new that they needed to provide food. Around the camp and up to Afsaal game was quite scarce in abundance, although we did see a good variety.

Up at Skukuza Golf Course there was a lifer waiting for me, and upon entry to the clubhouse I spotted the Lesser Jacana down on the lily pads on the dam. Almost too easy.

The next days at Pretoruiskop were quite good, with and excellent sighting of a Sable Antelope Bull. Camp birding was great as well with the biggest surprises being a Bat Hawk hunting every morning and night, and finding a family of Green Twinspot at the pool. Both these have never been recorded in the area on the Bird Atlas (SABAP2)

 

Stutterheim & Hogsback

Our December holiday this year took us to two towns that we had long wanted to explore. First stop over was at Stutterheim, staying at the delightful Shire Eco Lodge with its bent wood houses. The lodge borders on the Kologha Forest with ready access to the trails and some distance a nice dam for cooling off.  I had the misfortune to be bitten by a Rhombic Night Adder in the forest, but apart from a painful leg of a day or two, and a helluva headache came of quite lightly.

Form here we headed for a few days at Hogsback, enjoining some walks there, the large labyrinth, and  just chillling. I managed to add to lifers here, Red-necked Spurfowl and Barratt’s Warbler.