Friday, 23 February 2018

23rd February 2018 Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra, Indonesia

We awoke to the news that Dwi's wife's Grandmother had sadly passed away overnight and that he would therefore not accompany us today. Instead, he had arranged for two of his team, Tsuri and Andy, to take us to his hide positioned above base camp. We walked to the forest edge in the dark and at dawn heard a Salvadori's Nightjar start to call. A little playback resulted in it flying over our heads literally at the entrance to the forest - a very promising start to the day. We quietly walked the trail to base camp seeing just a single pair of Grey-throated Babblers. As we arrived at Dwi's hide, Tsuri announced the presence of a juvenile Schneider's Pitta! We hastily obtained views and some images in the gloomy light, although we need not have panicked, as we were still watching it many hours later! It was hard to believe that we were obtaining such prolonged views of what is often regarded as one of the most-difficult-to-see species of Pitta! It rained more on than off for much of the day so we were relieved to be sat in a dry hide albeit it was slow going although the two endemic species of Whistling-Thrush made regular appearances and a Lesser Shortwing and a male Snowy-browed Flycatcher added a little variety to proceedings. 

By late afternoon the rain cleared and we decided it might prove more productive to slowly walk the trail out in the last of the daylight. A couple of female Siberian Thrushes were found in a fruiting tree but otherwise it was proving very quiet. I decided to check upon the female Sumatran Frogmouth, but neither I or Tsuri, could find it. As we returned to the main trail a Pitta hopped across the trail right in front of us. I saw its orange head but failed to see any blue on its mantle so turned to Tsuri, and said 'female', but he seemed a little uncertain. I noticed a narrow path leading into the forest in the direction the Pitta had disappeared so decided to walk-in just in case I could see the Pitta despite the thick undergrowth. After c.10m the path made a 90 degree angle to the left, and on looking along it, I saw the Pitta stood on the path not more than 20m from me! On raising my binoculars I saw a bright orange head and deep blue mantle - a stunning male stood frozen in perfect profile - amazing! I didn't know whether to raise the camera or simply watch it expecting it to hop off the path at any moment. I opted to just watch it and admired its rich colourful plumage, dark eye-stripe and hefty black bill - what a beauty! Having watched it for c.30 seconds I reached for the camera and predictably my movement presumably caused it to hop off the path and into the undergrowth and I failed to see it again. Tsuri started to imitate its call and it was soon calling back but it remained out of sight. A breathtaking encounter nonetheless. The remaining walk out proved uneventful, but despite seeing less than 10 species all day, our visit to Kerinci already felt a success!

SCHNEIDER'S PITTA 2 juv male and adult male
Long-tailed Shrike 1
Grey-throated Babbler 2
Siberian Thrush 2 females
Lesser Shortwing 1
Snowy-browed Flycatcher 1 male

Juvenile male Schneider's Pitta at Gunung Kerinci

Shiny Whistling-Thrush at Gunung Kerinci

Sumatran Brown-winged Whistling-Thrush at Gunung Kerinci

Male Snowy-browed Flycatcher at Gunung Kerinci

Male Schneider's Pitta at Gunung Kerinci (Dwi Wahyudi)