Australian Ornithological Services Pty Ltd

Trip report


25 April 2000 - 13 May 2000

Participants: Dollyann Myers, Ron Hoff, Trevor Ford, Lee Nixon, Virginia Reynolds, Elaine Pruett

Leaders: Philip Maher & Phil Gregory

Tour organizer: Australian Ornithological Services P/L
P.O. Box 385 South Yarra 3141 Victoria Australia



We were met by our entourage at the airport after flying Silk Air to Manado City from Singapore. Manado is one of those cities where it would help, if not be essential, to be a local to drive through the streets. The roads are narrow and are filled with people, oxcarts, horse carts, dogs, chicks and vehicles and the horn must be sounded for each one of them —this is etiquette not road rage. The system seems to work well with not so much as a chicken schnizelled in the course of the trip. Vehicles pass each other with a cigarette paper's allowance.


We headed for Tangkoko National Park in the extreme north east tip of Sulawesi. It is not far from Manado but a rough road made progress slow. Lots of coconut palms en route followed by native forest in the last 20 kilometres or so - where we started to see birds. Several Barred Rails along the road were bathing in pools formed by recent rain. A splendid bird with fine barring and surprisingly large - much bigger than Buff-banded Rail. Some of us also had a nice look at a Barred Button-quail climbing up a roadside embankment. Another fine bird. Further along we had the first of many Knobbed Hornbills - what a bird!

Up early the next morning and along the coast trail with our excellent guide Freddy. Near park headquarters we had our first look, in poor light, at Purple-winged Roller. Then in the forest our first Sulawesi Babblers - plain bird - pleasant song. A bit further along some nice Hair-crested Drongos with brilliant white eyes. Note that the immatures have dark eyes. We spent the next few hours at the clearing along the coast trail which produced a bagful of endemics.

Green Imperial Pigeons everywhere and a few White-bellied Imperial Pigeons and Grey-cheeked Green Pigeons. Small and Large Sulawesi Hanging Parrots almost side by side and both playing around at nest holes. Spectacular Fiery-billed Malkolas were seen in the trees and Black-fronted White-eyes low down in the scrub. Ornate Lorikeets and Grosbeak Starlings were flying overhead plus several pairs of Blue-backed Parrots flew over. To cap off an exciting couple of hours Ron spotted Sulawesi Black Pigeon. After things settled down a bit we walked into the forest and had not gone far before we saw our Sulawesi Triller and then the first of many Sulawesi Cicadabirds. Both species look rather similar to related species in Australia indicating a relationship with that faunal region. Some big game fell under our gaze when the superior eyes of Freddy spotted a superb adult female Green-backed Kingfisher - the only one we were to see for the whole tour. Son of Freddy was pleased to spot a beautiful Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher at very close range on the track. Two endemic kingfishers in about thirty minutes - we were off to a great start.

On the walk back we had the impressive Ashy Woodpecker and a superb adult male Black-naped Fruit-Dove calling to the female from the nest. Back in the open a couple of Ivory-backed Woodswallow flew over. A Yellow-sided Flowerpecker caused turmoil with Trevor colliding with the rear door of one of the vehicles, putting a nasty gash in his arm. Our guides, Northy and Boy, quickly had him bandaged up. Trev did see the Flowerpecker which is the important point.

Heading back to Manado City the next day we saw the first of numerous Sulawesi Serpent Eagles (apparently the most common of the big forest hawks), this one being attacked by a Spotted Kestrel.

Quite a few White-rumped Cuckoo-shrikes were seen along the road and about ten kilometres back from Tangkoko we had nice looks at Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail perched up in the canopy. More Knobbed Hornbills, Grey-sided Flowerpecker and our first White-necked Myna.

Things were quieter out at the mangroves at Molas, on the outskirts of Manado the next morning. We managed to add a delightful Flyeater attending a nest, Black-naped Monarch, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Black Bittern plus half decent looks at a pair of masive Great-billed Kingfishers in flight.

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