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Birding Gunung Kerinci, Sumatra, Indonesia
By Dave Sargeant
17-26 June 2005
My visit to Gunung Kerinci took advantage of a short business trip to Malaysia. Sumatra has long been high on my "must go" list due to its severely threatened forests with insufficient protection, harbouring a number of endangered, elusive and diminishing species. Coincidentally June is supposedly a good time to visit, being one of the drier, or maybe more correctly, one of the less wet, times of year.
Birders with more time often visit two other National Parks on Sumatra: Gunung Leuser and Way Kambas. However with only six days available Gunung Kerinci was chosen as a majority of the Sumatran endemics occur in the area, including the enigmatic Schneider's Pitta [photo] which was of particular interest to me. It must be said that birding on Gunung Kerinci from a bird-finding perspective is tough; the wanton forest destruction, the constant trapping of birds and hours or days of searching for some species can be wearing. However, the rewards are great and, for those successful, great memories will be retained of seeing some of the world's more difficult to find birds.
Accessibility, notwithstanding Air Asia, is relatively straightforward, as is local transport and accommodation. As a result this trip went smoothly, with even the weather better than expected. The trip was reasonably successful in that I saw most of the species hoped-for. Inevitably, given the habitat and terrain, some species were heard only.
A GPS was used occasionally. Where useful, waypoints are referred to; coordinates of these appear in a table at the end.
For further information contact Dave Sargeant: akalat [at] gmail.com
Getting there - Flights and Visa
Gunung Kerinci is most easily accessed via the international airport at Padang, 200 km to the north, which is connected with direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta. Currently air services from these cities are operated by Air Asia, Silk Air, Tiger Airlines and Garuda. Note though that none of these airlines operate daily and schedules are likely to change with little notice (as I discovered!).
By far the cheapest option is Air Asia, one of the newer budget airlines, that operates out of Kuala Lumpur. This is primarily an Internet operation, with extremely cheap fares. I paid only 160 RM return (about $60 including taxes). However, prices vary considerably depending on demand.
Visas for Indonesia are not required of most European, Southeast Asian, Australian or US passport holders. A 90-day tourist visa, costing US$25, is issued on arrival. Payment in US$ is expected, but others on the same arrival flight as I were able to pay with AUS$.
During my visit the exchange rate was approximately US$1 = 9,000 Indonesian Rupiah (written Rp.) I only exchanged money once - at the airport in Padang. Certainly once outside of Padang foreign exchange would be difficult. I saw both money changers and banks in Padang. The money changers are very particular about the condition and even the serial numbers of US$ bills.
Low denomination bank notes in Indonesia are frequently in appalling condition, most often resembling floor cloths. In contrast however are the higher denomination 100,000 Rp. notes, one of which I had with only a slight notch, and which was refused by the driver in Kersik Tua as he was afraid he would be unable to pass on the note.
A credit card was not used, but would have been accepted in the airline offices and potentially larger hotels.
Health, Safety and Hassles
Much has been published about the on-going religious strife in Indonesia, and certainly travel in parts of the country is subject to government advisories from time to time. During my week on Sumatra I encountered no hassles, problems or dangers whatsoever. Padang is mentioned in travel guides as a particularly conservative Moslem town, although I would not say I noticed this any more than in other parts of Indonesia in which I have travelled. Hygiene standards vary and travellers would be advised to take standard precautions. I suffered no ill effects from anything I ate, but would advise against drinking tap water.
One of the more annoying aspects of local culture is the proliferation of noisy motorcycles that now seems to plague rural areas. These will pass you while birding along peaceful roads, and will ensure you are challenged to sleep at night.
Insects were not bothersome during my stay. Leeches appear absent from the Gunung Kerinci trail, although some were encountered along the lower parts of the Tapan road, especially when venturing off-road for the Graceful Pitta. Mosquitoes were present though repellent never was considered necessary.
Depending on time or money constraints the choices open for travel from Padang to Kerinci are either bus or taxi. Expect the bus to take around 10-12 hours. The simplest and quickest option is to take a taxi directly from Padang airport, but be prepared to negotiate the price. I paid 500,000 Rp. which appears to be going rate, as I was charged a similar amount on the return for the driver arranged by Pak Subandi (see Accommodation section). The journey takes 5-6 hours depending on the road conditions. It's a good idea also to write down the full address of Homestay Pak Subandi for the taxi drivers to look at and ask directions en route. A taxi between Padang airport and town costs 30,000 – 40,000 Rp.
Once at Kersik Tua, for travelling between the village and the start of the Gunung Kerinci trail, it is easy to arrange a motorcycle (ojek). This will save a five kilometre walk each way. For the Tapan road a vehicle and driver can be arranged with Pak Subandi for around 300,000 Rp. per day.
During my visit petrol was in short supply, with drivers only able to purchase small amounts at one time. This didn't affect plans particularly, though we did run out of fuel on the way to the Tapan road, and I noticed drivers stopping frequently to fill the tank.
Other Miscellaneous Information
Public telephone facilities are available at the ubiquitous Wartel phone shops. Prices were very reasonable, and international connections worked most of the time. The village of Kersik Tua has only such facility, which closes around 20h00.
Internet facilities should, in theory, have been available at some Wartel phone shops. However, both those that I tried in Padang were "not working". The only working connection I could find was inside the Hotel Dipo (20 Rp/hr.) Even this was slow and unreliable. Don't expect too much from the Internet on Sumatra.
The electrical supply is 220V, 50 Hz. Plugs are the round, two pin type as commonly used in Europe.
During my visit, the sunrise and sunset times were approximately 06h30 and 18h30 respectively. Sumatra sits on the GMT+7 time zone, one hour behind Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Birders visiting Gunung Kerinci should stay at Pak Subandi's homestay in Kersik Tua (frequently written Kersik Tuo) village. Pak Subandi himself has a good knowledge of the birds of the Kerinci area and is now well-accustomed to catering to the wants and needs of visiting birders. Accommodation is basic, but clean with private wash rooms and a communal eating and lounging area. Pak Subandi is a veritable Mr. Fix-it and can arrange everything from permits to visit the park, guides, porters, drivers and transportation through to packed lunches and camping equipment for those who might like to spend a night on the volcano. He also speaks passable English, which eases the usual communication difficulties for those not speaking the language. For a small fee of around 100,000 Rp. day Subandi can also accompany you into the field. He will also arrange for a motorcycle to drop you at the forest edge, five kilometres from the village. As this homestay is directly on the road, earplugs are useful to block out the noisy motorcycles directly outside. Costs at Pak Subandi's Homestay are very reasonable. My total bill for the seven days came to 1,060,000 Rp. broken down approximately as follows: Accommodation and meals 500,000 Rp, Four days guiding in the field 500,000 Rp, and daily motorcycle rides to/from the forest 60,000 Rp. While I was here, the rooms were completely full on several nights, mainly with trekkers, so it might be prudent to phone or write in advance. Address: Homestay Pak Subandi, Jalan Raya Muara Labuh, Sungai Penuh, Desa Kersik Tua. Tel: (0748) 357009. (Waypoint PAKSUB)
Depending on flight connections it might be possible to avoid the necessity of spending a night in Padang. However for those having to, a variety of accommodation in all price ranges is available. The one night I stayed was spent at the Hotel Dipo International recommended by my driver. Room prices ranged from 100,000 – 300,000 Rp. I asked for, and immediately received a 20% discount. The location was reasonable; it had basic restaurant and Internet facilities and was reasonably clean and quiet. The main clientele appeared to be Australian surfers.
For travellers flying via Kuala Lumpur with a stopover, it is not strictly necessary to stay in downtown Kuala Lumpur, which is potentially a lengthy taxi ride from the airport. Two hotels are located at the airport; the expensive 5-star Pan-Pacific, and the moderately-priced Concorde Inn which is priced at 140 RM, has a free shuttle bus, and offers reasonable value.
At Kersik Tua all meals, including packed lunches in the field, were supplied by Pak Subandi's wife and family helpers. Naturally rice formed the staple of all meals, and was accompanied with chicken, beef (once), omelette, cabbage, potatoes and beans. It has to be said that chicken and rice three times a day becomes a little tedious, so take some snack bars, dried fruit or other morsels to add some variety. On several mornings banana pancakes were served for breakfast. Given the rich volcanic soils and the variety of vegetables I saw growing I was surprised at the lack of vegetables, and especially fruit, that I was served. Of course, the food tasted great after a day in the field! Remembering that this is a Moslem area, beer can be supplied on request.
English is not widely spoken in Indonesia, and in rural areas such around Gunung Kerinci English speakers are few and far between. Other than Pak Subandi and his wife the only other person I met who could speak English was the lady in the Wartel phone shop. Ease of travel is considerably assisted with some understanding of the local language.
Sumatra in general and Gunung Kerinci in particular are some of the wettest places on the Asian continent. Consequently I was pleasantly surprised not to have rain on every day of the trip. Over the six days only two half days of birding were lost to rain. The first three days were overcast, cool and wet, with the summit of Kerinci lost in cloud. However, clearing, cool and dry weather on the last two days meant that Kerinci was viewable the whole time. As can be seen from the Padang rainfall figures below, the June to September period is statistically the driest and indeed most bird tours visit at this time. Note well however that during August the trail to Kerinci summit is inundated with Indonesian trekkers, with often more than 200 people a day making the assent. This does not help birders seeking shy and elusive denizens of the forest!
Jepson, P. (1997). Birding Indonesia. A birdwatcher's guide to the world's largest archipelago. Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd. The standard work on finding birds in Indonesia. Don't leave home without it. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Tobias, J. (1994). Birdwatching areas: Kerinci-Seblat National Park, Sumatra. OBC Bulletin. Number 21. A short but good article covering the species, and the logistics of birding the Kerinci and Tapan areas.
Simpson, B. (1994). Sumatran Cochoa Cochoa beccarii on Gunung Kerinci Sumatra. OBC Bulletin. Number 21. An overview of the status of Sumatran Cochoa sightings up to 1994.
Collar, N.J (editor) (2000). Threatened Birds of the World. BirdLife International & Lynx Ediciones. UK
Verbelen, Filip. (1998). Birdwatching Trip Report Sumatra, Indonesia. This privately published report is available from the Oriental Bird Club and sold in aid of the conservation fund. The report covers all the major sites on Sumatra and is a compilation of four visits spanning the years 1992-1998. Full details are provided for all sites, and the systematic list is particularly useful. An essential reference.
Hansen, J. (2001). Birding Trip to Indonesia – Java and Sumatra 2001. Contains a few sketch maps.
Scharringa, J. (2001). Birds of Tropical Asia 2. Bird songs International B.V. CD-ROM containing a large number of recordings from Asia and some from Sumatra. Available from Birdsongs.com.
In addition to the authors of the trips reports I used and those who answered various requests for information posted on the Internet, I would especially like to thank Nick Brickle, Jon Hornbuckle and Filip Verbelen who provided information or sound recordings to assist with trip planning. Thanks also to Pak Subandi who accompanied me in the field on several occasions.
Three sites were visited, all using Kersik Tua as a base. The comments below are intended to add to information provided by the references above, either to update or add to that provided, and should be read in conjunction with them.
The trekking trail to the summit of Gunung Kerinci is the key locality to search for a string of endemic and rare species. Kerinci came firmly onto the birding map with the rediscovery of Schneider's Pitta there in the early 1980s. Several days are required along the trail to stand a good chance of getting to grips with a number of difficult, rare, shy and elusive species. Fortunately, most of these species occur on the lower slopes of the volcano, starting around 1,800 m. with most found below 2,500 m. Although I never saw bird-trappers in the forest, relentless trapping must continue, as many species such as laughingthrushes, treepies, pheasants and partridges are extremely difficult to find. Walking in the forest here often feels like having entered a bird-free zone. Illegal logging continues and chain saws were active day and night. The "scrub tunnel" referred to in several reports is now largely cleared, as a result of which it is now almost impossible to see Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant along the main trail. To understand why there is no hope for the world, visit an Indonesian national park!
A birders' logbook is available at Pak Subandi's homestay. It contains a sketch map of the key reference points along the main trial. The entrance arch below the forest still stands, but the building at the entrance by the tunnel has now largely disappeared and buried under forest. Any form of entry checkpoint, park guard or warden seems to have long-since disappeared. About one kilometre into the forest the lowest, Base Camp, shelter is encountered, from where the trail starts to steepen as far as Air Minum - a small clearing fairly close to the river valley where, in theory, water is available. After this point the trail climbs more steeply as far as Camp Cochoa and continues to the last, upper, shelter named First Shelter, which has now collapsed. Effective shelter from rain is available only at the Base Camp and Camp Cochoa shelters. The walk at birding pace from the entrance as far as the First Shelter takes about 4-5 hours going up and 2 hours coming down. Due to the altitude, temperatures are pleasant, so it is not necessary to carry copious amounts of water.
Other than the main trail, it is possible to enter the forest by walking up the river valley that runs parallel to the main trail, and starts in the plantation edge a couple of hundred metres to the left of the main trail. Walking up the river valley is possible for a kilometre or so, but occasionally it is necessary to climb steeply up the bank to pass small waterfalls etc. Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant is common along the start of this river valley, but the impenetrable vegetation makes seeing them pure luck. According to Pak Subandi it is possible to walk up the river valley and climb up to Air Minum, though I failed to find a suitable exit point when I tried, the banks being almost sheer.
Species to search for along the lower sections of the trail include Salvadori's Pheasant, Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant, Schneider's Pitta, Rufous-breasted Wren-Babbler and Long-billed Wren-Babbler. I also heard Sumatran Trogon in this area. The Sumatran Cochoa is most frequently encountered higher up around Camp Cochoa, but has been seen as low as Air Minum and as high as the First Shelter. If lucky, Rufous Woodcock can be disturbed along the river valley, and has been recorded higher, above the First Shelter. Red-billed Partridge now appears very difficult to find on Gunung Kerinci but is likely to be more common above 2,500 m.
One of the more delightful resident birds is Pale-headed Frogmouth, which appears to be quite reliably recorded around the entrance to the river valley. Pak Subandi has a couple of good stakeouts, so ask. Other night birds that are resident along the first stretch of the main trail are Mountain Scops-Owl, Barred Eagle-Owl and Rajah Scops-Owl. Salvadori's Nightjar is sometimes recorded in the forest edge at the start of the trail.
Bukit Tapan (the Tapan Road)
The road between Sungai Penuh, 45 km east of Kersik Tua, and Tapan, on the coast, runs through the Kerinci-Seblat National Park. The upper stretches of this road are a key locality to seek four of the Sumatran endemics not found at Gunung Kerinci; namely Graceful Pitta, Blue-masked Leafbird, Cream-striped Bulbul and Spot-necked Bulbul. Although birders concentrate on finding these endemics, those with time should aim to explore the forest all the way down to Muara Sako and beyond. From the town of Sungai Penuh, the road climbs up for 10-12 kilometres to the Bukit Tapan pass where a national park checkpoint is found and the forest effectively starts. For convenience, the "Tapan road", from a birder's perspective, runs from the pass (waypoint PASS, 1,500 m. altitude) down to a bridge (waypoint BRIDGE, 1,000 m. altitude) at around the 27 km marker, as this is generally as far as most will be able to explore in a day. As all the endemics occur throughout this stretch, the most effective strategy is to start at the top and bird slowly down as far as possible. Without doubt the most difficult bird to see here is the Graceful Pitta. Most visitors manage to hear this bird, but the steep terrain and impenetrable forest make viewing very difficult. The most consistent point where the pitta has been seen, and indeed one of the very few places one can walk off the road is the gully, at waypoint PITTA, lying between the 24 and 25 km markers. Access is possible into the gully on either side of the road, and birds have been recorded on both sides. We managed to penetrate the forest for about 100 metres up-stream. Generally this gully is dry, but after rain a small noisy stream will flow making hearing pittas difficult. Of the other endemics we recorded the Blue-masked Leafbird around km 18 and km 21, Spot-necked Bulbul was found between km 21 and km 25 as well as on the road up from Sungai Penuh, and Cream-striped Bulbul was recorded from km 22 downward, including areas above Muara Sako. The bridge at the bottom makes a reasonable vantage point to scan for pigeons and hornbills and was the only locality where I saw Sunda Pin-tailed Pigeon.
The easiest way to work the road is to hire a driver and vehicle, which can easily be arranged through Pak Subandi and will cost in the region of 300,000 Rp. per day. Traffic along the road is light but easily sufficient to be able to hitch if required. Several buses passed us the two days we spent here. The road itself is somewhat pot-holed, but a 4x4 vehicle would only be required after heavy rain. It is possible to do this area as a day trip from Kersik Tua by leaving at 04h00 for the 2½ hour drive. The best alternative, however, would be to use the village of Muara Sako as a base. Note that Pak Subandi confusingly refers to the Tapan road as "Muara Sako" (the next site) which is at a much lower altitude and has a completely different set of birds.
Muara Sako is the name of the small village (waypoint MSAKO) 45 km from Sungai Penuh along the road to Tapan. The village itself, at an altitude of 300 metres, lies within the Kerinci-Seblat National Park, and is surrounded by forest extending continuously up the Tapan road to Bukit Tapan. Being at a much lower altitude the species composition contrasts markedly with the higher sections of the Tapan road. Bulbuls are very prevalent in this area, and in our one day we recorded twelve species, including Grey-bellied and Scaly-breasted. The easiest strategy is to simply walk along the main road both uphill and downhill from the village. Accommodation is very limited, so it is necessary to make arrangements with one of the small restaurants. Great Argus calls commonly from the surrounding forests. Many interesting species have been recorded, including Jambu Fruit-Dove, Bushy-crested Hornbill, Gould's Frogmouth, and Sumatran Drongo. Several days in this area would not be too many. Active illegal logging was rampant, with several chain saws echoing along the road as we walked from Muara Sako back as far as the bridge at the bottom of the Tapan road – a distance of about 18 km that we managed in one full day. One non-birding highlight we accidentally stumbled on was a Raflesia plant by the roadside that was unfortunately not flowering.
Desa Letter W Waterfall (Telur Air Putih)
A fair amount of confusion seems to surround the location of the Desa Letter W waterfall west of Kersik Tua. What is not mentioned in any report is that there are two completely different waterfalls, and it appears that the two are being mixed up with the name Desa Letter W Waterfall being applied to both. Both are passed en route between Kersik Tua and Padang.
The first waterfall is encountered three to four kilometres west of Pelompek, and is mentioned in both Jepson (1997) and Tobias (1994). The waterfall is impressive, and the area is probably a popular weekend picnic site. A few rusting park shelters are positioned at good viewpoints. Although there is a ticket office at the entrance, entry can be made at any time, and the park staff were only just waking up when I arrived around 07h30. Waterfall Swiftlet supposedly occurs at dusk around the waterfall. Little forest remains in the general area.
The second Desa Letter W Waterfall, more correctly and formally known as Telur Air Putih, is about an hour's drive west of Kersik Tua. This site is included in Verbelen's report, and a small sign at the junction actually reads "Desa Letter W Waterfall", so I assume that this is the "correct" Desa Letter W Waterfall. The term "waterfall" is a bit of a misnomer, as the river is simply a fast flowing river there; more a series of rapids than a waterfall. I found the map in Verbelen's report to be either wrong or misleading, as the river is drawn flowing under the main road, whereas it actually flows parallel to the main road and under the side road into the village. The main ornithological attraction is the regular presence of Waterfall Swiftlet, that most visitors have seen, at any time of the day. Cutover forest can be found all around the area, and Blue-masked Leafbird and Chestnut-backed Forktail are present. Another excellent reason to visit Telur Air Putih is to search for Amorphophallus titanium the world's tallest flower, endemic to Sumatra, and one of the most impressive sights in the plant kingdom. Unfortunately with the local farmers continually clearing forest this plant is under increasing pressure for its continued survival. To find the flower a local guide is best employed. I paid 50,000 Rp. which was indicated as a reasonable fee by Pak Subandi. The whole area looks very interesting and well worth exploring.
Given the vagaries of the weather of this area, six days would be the bare minimum required to stand a good chance to locate most of the specialities of the Kerinci area. I would consider myself fortunate to have seen both endemic pittas as well as Salvadori's Pheasant and Sumatran Cochoa in the time available. Of the possible endemics I missed both Red-billed Partridge and Sumatran Drongo as well as a number of regional specialities such as Rajah Scops-Owl, Rufous Woodcock and Salvadori's Nightjar.
Fri 17 Jun Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Padang. Taxi to Kersik Tua.
Late afternoon in the lower forests of Gunung Kerinci. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Sat 18 Jun All day on Gunung Kerinci walking as far as the First Shelter. Heavy afternoon rain. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Sun 19 Jun All day on Gunung Kerinci walking as far as the First Shelter. Night visit to the forest for night birds. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Mon 20 Jun Early 04h00 start to drive to Bukit Tapan. All day on the Tapan road. Rain all morning. Returning by 20h00. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Tues 21 Jun All day on Gunung Kerinci walking as far as the First Shelter. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Wed 22 Jun Early 04h00 start to drive to Tapan road and Muara Sako. All day on the road above Muara Sako. Returning by 20h00. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Thurs 23 Jun All day on Gunung Kerinci walking as far as the First Shelter. Night visit to the forest for night birds. Overnight at Pak Subandi's Homestay.
Fri 24 Jun Early departure toward Padang, with a stop en route at Letter W waterfall. Arrival in Padang around 15h00. Overnight at Hotel Dipo International.
Sat 25 Jun Afternoon departure to Singapore with connection to Kuala Lumpur.
Fri 17th June
An early start to the airport to check-in by 06h00. Having spent the night at the airport Concorde Inn, this was not too onerous. Due to the previous day's cancellation of my Air Asia flight to Padang, I would not have been surprised to suffer the same today. However, all went smoothly with only a 30-minute delayed arrival in Padang at 08h20. Even though customs and immigration at Padang had only to deal with the one plane it took at least an hour; baggage handling appearing to be the main problem. It was handy to have the exact US$25 visa on arrival fee. As usual, once outside the terminal I was inundated with requests for taxi services and having changed currency started the haggling process. This proved amazingly easy and after only a couple of minutes a taxi was secured for 500,000 Rp. for the trip to Kersik Tua. [I was particularly pleased as some Europeans, living in Indonesia, I later encountered at Kersik Tua had paid 700,000 Rp. for the same journey and thought it a good deal.] The drive to Gunung Kerinci took around 5½ hours with nothing particularly memorable, other than the driver asking at least five times for directions. Roads there are no where near as congested as Java. The one police check-post we encountered was smoothly paid off with a small bribe by the driver. On my arrival, Pak Subandi was not at home, but fortunately arrived within half an hour. Despite the damp and overcast weather, both Pak Subandi and I were keen to make a short sortie into lower forest, so we both hopped onto the back of his moped while his young son drove us through the five kilometres of tea plantations to the Gunung Kerinci forest trail. His son then returned home with the moped. Apparently mopeds left unattended even in this rural area have a tendency to walk. Even at night Pak Subandi covered it with branches. I guess he had no insurance against theft. Over the next three hours, we slowly worked the lowest section of trail. In response to tape playback several Schneider's Pitta could be heard in the vicinity of the Base Camp Shelter. However, none approached. We had a similar response from Rufous-breasted Wren-Babbler. The biggest surprise came during our descent from the forest with a pair of Salvadori's Pheasant [photo] perched right next to trail, around 400 metres below the Base Camp Shelter, and evidently starting to roost. We were able to watch them at close range at length. Being delighted with this stroke of luck we continued, and almost immediately had a female Schneider's Pitta feeding on the trail in the last vestiges of light. A great start to the trip! The electricity was out at the homestay on our return.
Sat 18th June
An early start just after 06h00 to be at the forest for first light. Pak Subandi and I spent the whole day in a slow walk along the summit trail as far as the confusingly named First Shelter, which is actually the top or last shelter; presumably named so as the first shelter constructed? Most of the time was spent along the upper section trawling with a tape for Sumatran Cochoa without luck. Around 14h00 the heavens opened and we spent a couple of hours sheltering in the Camp Cochoa. By the end of the day, I had begun to appreciate the difficulty others have had to locate the notoriously elusive forest specialities of Kerinci; Shiny Whistling-Thrush and Rufous-breasted Wren-Babbler being the only endemics added to the trip list. Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant was again heard at forest edge beyond the plantations but the extremely dense vegetation made seeing them a remote possibility. While tramping around in grassy vegetation a pair of Slaty-breasted Rail was flushed. Night-birding did not happen due to the persistent rain.
Sun 19th June
Another return to the forest, repeating yesterday's slow walk as far as the First Shelter. Rather than reworking the lower section of the mail trail, our initial entry into the forest was via the river valley where Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant was again heard but not seen. The walk along the river valley produced a couple of the Sumatran, brown-winged form of Sunda Whistling-Thrush, but surprisingly little else. We had hoped for Long-billed Wren-Babbler, Rufous Woodcock or maybe a glimpse of a peacock-pheasant. It was a similar pattern to yesterday with the Cochoa, with again no response. Pak Subandi was beginning to think the Cochoa had moved out of the area, as admittedly fruiting trees were conspicuously absent along the trail, with other frugivores such as Fire-tufted Barbet only in small numbers. Weather was also a contributing factor, with few birds singing or active due to the damp and dull conditions. But at least it remained dry. After the evening meal, we returned to the forest to Pak Subandi's Pale-headed Frogmouth stake-out. Almost immediately we heard three birds calling from the river valley and clambering down in the dark were rewarded with stunning views of one of the oddest-looking birds I have ever seen. Certainly one of the trip highlights. On our return a pair of Mountain Scops-Owls was calling from the start of the forest trail and despite being able to approach them within seemingly a few metres, they remained frustratingly hidden in the canopy. Rajah Scops-Owl was also heard. Night birding was terminated by the onset of more rain. The arrival of a group of Frenchmen meant we all had to suffer cigarettes and talking until the early hours of the morning. Lucky for me I had earplugs!
Mon 20th June
The Frenchmen, having kept Pak Subandi up till the early hours, meant I had to get him out of bed for our really early 04h00 start to the Tapan road. The driver was also ten minutes late which, I guess, counted for on time by local standards. The drive toward Sungai Penuh proceeded without incident until we came to a halt having ran out of fuel about 10 km short of town at 05h00. Surprisingly the driver was able to knock up someone and produce fuel, and within a short while we were back on the road. Thankfully the station at Sungai Penuh had fuel, and by 06h45 we arrived on the ridge above town. The first stop, a couple of kilometres short of the pass, produced four Sumatran Treepie, after which we proceeded to walk the forest edge along a trail just after the pass. The long grass, overnight rain and damp conditions were not very conducive to bird activity, and other than Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant calling nothing of note was found. We spent the whole morning walking the road from the pass at Bukit Tapan down to about the 23 km marker (waypoint KM23). Unfortunately, all kilometre markers were either overgrown or missing, so it was only with Pak Subandi's prior knowledge that we able to estimate where we were on the road. The first speciality we encountered was a single Blue-masked Leafbird around km 18. We also had good looks at a Spot-necked Babbler that popped-out from roadside vegetation just above the "Bukit Tapan Resort". The light but persistent rain kept bird activity low all morning, and it was not until 12h00 that it ceased and activity increased. The improving weather lead to us finding the two endemic bulbuls. We next tried the "pitta gully" between the 24 and 25 km markers. By now we could appreciate why this is one of the few areas where one can actually step off the road; the surrounding terrain being steep and densely covered with impenetrable undergrowth. The first problem we encountered was that this normally dry gully was now a babbling brook making hearing, let along seeing, pittas a degree more difficult. However we persevered and after a few attempts a Graceful Pitta started to sing from close by. We were amazed when two birds suddenly left cover for a quick skirmish. With more perseverance and quiet observation we able to obtain good views of one bird singing and feeding along the edge of the stream. One of the best things about this observation was that for Pak Subandi it was the first time that he had actually seen this bird. During the remainder of the afternoon we worked our way down toward the bridge about the 27 km marker. From there it was a 2½ hour drive back to Kersik Tua, arriving around 20h30.
Tues 21st June
Today Pak Subandi was busy preparing for a group of 27 trekkers arriving the following day. I again spent the whole day on Gunung Kerinci walking as far as the First Shelter, concentrating on the elusive Sumatra Cochoa. Despite the good weather, the only additional speciality found was an immature Sumatran Trogon. An early walk up the river valley produced the usual heard-only Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant. I attempted to follow the river valley farther, toward the Air Minum area, but couldn't find a way out of the steep gully. At 18h00 I arranged to meet Pak Subandi, and we spent the next two hours trying to see the very territorial, but incredibly ventriloquial, Mountain Scops-Owl at the start of the trail. We only managed fleeting glimpses as the bird flew between clumps in the canopy.
Wed 22nd June
As a scan through the bird list for the lower elevations of the Tapan Road around Muara Sako revealed a number of species that would effectively plug a few holes in my list, a return trip was in order. This of course required another 04h00 start. Both Pak Subandi and the driver were ready this time, and we didn't even run out of fuel, which resulted in us being at the bridge where we had finished previously by 06h45. A quick stop was rewarded with a fly-over Sunda Pin-tailed Pigeon as well as Red-headed Trogon and Blue Whistling Thrush. The drive from here down to Muara Sako at 300 metres elevation took a further 30 minutes. The day was spent in a long, slow walk back up the road almost as far as the bridge. Bulbuls were very prevalent around Muara Sako, with a total of 12 species recorded. Argus Pheasant called regularly but great luck would be required to see this bird here given the terrain, as well as the presumed hunting pressures on it. Throughout the day some interesting species were recorded such as Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Grey-bellied Bulbul and Grey-headed Babbler. However, fewer holes were plugged in my list than I'd anticipated. We returned to Kersik Tua by 20h00. A long and tiring day.
Thurs 23rd June
The day started with a big mix up between Pak Subandi and me. My request for a vehicle and driver for the return to Padang for Friday had unfortunately been interpreted as today, with the driver already en route to Kersik Tua very early that morning. Eventually I persuaded him to ask the driver to spend the night as there was no way I wanted to leave for Padang today. This, the last day, was to be yet another attempt for the cochoa. Still several species eluded me, so the chances a successful "clean up" had long since evaporated. As previously, I started with a walk up the river valley (again Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant heard) and had only penetrated the forest a few hundred metres when I disturbed a superb Barred Eagle-Owl from its perch over the river. It flew up the valley, but a careful scan picked it out in the lower reaches of the largest trees. A very pleasing start and a life bird. A couple of hours in the valley did not produce any of the hoped-for species so I returned to the start of the Kerinci trail. Just below the Base Camp Shelter a pair of Long-billed Wren-Babbler was found skulking along the edge of the trail – a very welcome addition, and a species I had inexplicably been unable to find so far. The views they gave were good but brief as they disappeared as fast as they had appeared. The rest of the morning was spent in a slow walk up to the First Shelter. After the usual lunch stop here I decided to push on a little further in the hope of Red-billed Partridge. The trail above the First Shelter becomes more difficult and overgrown. After an hour with nothing to show for it I decided to return and, with time running out, continued the quest for the cochoa. This proved fruitful at last and a few hundred metres above Camp Cochoa I at last heard the distinctive whistle I'd been trawling for four days. The bird gave only a few whistles then stopped, but after a couple of minutes silence suddenly an adult Sumatran Cochoa came into the tree directly over my head giving excellent views. After so much searching it was a great feeling of relief to actually find this rare species. After such a successful day, the walk back down the mountain was light indeed. On meeting up again with Pak Subandi at the entrance, the Barred Eagle-Owl was heard calling near the entrance. However we concentrated our efforts in trying to get to grips with the calling peacock-pheasant which, although very close, still evaded us.
Fri 24th June
Evidently the previous day had not pleased the driver, who was distinctly in a sulking mood as we left Kersik Tua. I had requested stops at the Letter W waterfall as well as the opportunity to seek out the Amorphophallus flower if one could be located. Our first stop was at the waterfall just west of Pelompek. This impressive fall is well worth the stop, especially as it only 100 metres from the road. However, no Waterfall Swiftlets were seen. From here we continued to the village of Telur Air Putih, also known as Letter W Waterfall. A couple of Waterfall Swiftlet were overhead, but no forktails were present along the river. Asking in the village we were informed that it would be possible to hike for an hour to see the flower. Two local youths accompanied me and we set off. This turned out to be a major disappointment as the one hour turned into 20 minutes at most, and the only specimen they were able to show me was fruiting, and far from spectacular. Evidently at this point they felt they had completed their mission, and pleaded ignorance of any other flowers in the area. Communication was a real problem, so after 45 minutes I was back at the car. The driver likewise was not in a mood to continue hunting for further flowers, so we left for the 5 hour drive back to Padang arriving mid afternoon. Having checked in to the Hotel Dipo I discovered, having the opportunity to check my email for the first time in a week, that Air Asia had done it again and cancelled my flight out the following morning. The late afternoon was spent in a frantic rush around a few travel agents trying to ascertain, without success, if there were any flights to either Kuala Lumpur or maybe Singapore the following day. Apparently travel agents do not know local flight schedules, and I failed miserably to find a flight. Evening meal in the hotel restaurant and an early night – much needed after the series of early mornings at Kerinci.
Sat 25th June
Having found the Silk Air office in town, I was glad to discover that they had an afternoon flight to Singapore, with a connection to Kuala Lumpur that would enable me to make my connection to Muscat. So eventually it worked out, but certainly Air Asia had a lot to answer for when I visited their desk in Kuala Lumpur airport. I was not a happy camper!
Taxonomy, scientific and vernacular English names follow Clements (2000, with updates) unless otherwise noted.
Javan Pond-Heron Ardeola speciosa
Nominate form. One in rice paddies en route on 17-Jun was the only record.
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
Form sumatranus. Gunung Kerinci: A single bird was observed hunting over the tea plantations at Kersik Tua on 21-Jun and 23-Jun.
Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
Form malayensis. Muara Sako: Two singles on 22-Jun.
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: Singles over the forest on 17-Jun, 19-Jun and 23-Jun. Desa Letter W Waterfall: One bird on 24-Jun.
Rufous-bellied Eagle Hieraaetus kienerii
Form formosus. Tapan Road: One near the Bukit Tapan pass on 20-Jun.
Changeable Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus
Form limnaeetus. Gunung Kerinci: Two on 19-Jun. Tapan Road: One on 20-Jun.
Blyth's Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus alboniger
Monotypic. Tapan Road: One near the Bukit Tapan pass on 20-Jun.
Salvadori's Pheasant Lophura inornata
Species endemic to Sumatra. Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: A pair going to roost just before dusk on 17-Jun next to the trail about 400 metres below the Base Camp Shelter. Another pair, presumably the same birds, flushed from beneath the Base Camp Shelter the following day where they were sheltering from rain. Given that the birds appear to favour this area it might be worth scattering some biscuit crumbs each time when passing the Base Camp Shelter.
Bronze-tailed (Sumatran) Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron chalcurum
Species endemic to Sumatra. Form scutulatum. Gunung Kerinci: One to three birds heard daily from the dense scrub at the forest edge between the river valley and the plantations on 17-Jun, 18-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun. No birds were seen, despite some close approaches. Tapan Road: Several heard around the pass at Bukit Tapan on 20-Jun and 22-Jun. Muara Sako: One heard well above the village at around 800 m. on 22-Jun. Observing this species must surely be a question of luck and enough time in the right area. [JWW comment: Dennis Yong and I saw a pair at very close range traveling with a small flock of babblers on a commercial butterfly collector's path through second growth forest just south of the highway east of Brastagi in 1984. Upslope across the road, four pheasants were calling on adjacent territories. They sound somewhat like Banded Pittas, only much louder. In response to playback, one bird came into view for an instant but did not approach. This area was being clear-felled with water buffalo, and I have heard that it now is completely deforested.]
Great Argus Argusianus argus
Nominate form. Muara Sako: At least three heard from forest just above the village on 22-Jun.
Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus
Form gularis. Gunung Kerinci: Two in plantation scrub just before the start of the main trail on 18-Jun.
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia
Four en route on 17-Jun were surprisingly the only record.
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Form tigrina. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
Barred Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: Fairly common with max. 12 on 21-Jun. Tapan Road: 20 on 20-Jun.
Little Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia ruficeps
Form sumatrana. Muara Sako: At least 10 on 22-Jun.
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
Nominate form. Tapan Road: A single bird near the bridge at the bottom of the road early morning on 22-Jun.
Sunda Pin-tailed (Sumatran Green) Pigeon Treron oxyura
Tapan Road: A single bird in flight over the bridge at the bottom of the road early morning on 22-Jun.
Wedge-tailed Pigeon Treron sphenura
Gunung Kerinci: One bird perched near the First Shelter on 18-Jun where studied at length.
Pink-headed Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus porphyreus
Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: One bird flushed just below the First Shelter on 18-Jun.
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot Loriculus galgulus
Monotypic. Muara Sako: A group of six on 22-Jun.
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides
Form bocki. Gunung Kerinci: A few heard on 18-Jun and 21-Jun. Tapan Road: One heard on 20-Jun.
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
Form lepidus. Gunung Kerinci: Two seen and heard on 19-Jun and three heard on 21-Jun.
Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus
Monotypic. Muara Sako: One bird on 22-Jun, would seem to be an odd date.
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
Form elongatus. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
Form eurycerus. Muara Sako: One heard just above the village on 22-Jun.
Mountain Scops-Owl Otus spilocephalus
Form vanderwateri. Gunung Kerinci: A pair near the entrance to the forest was very vocal and territorial; heard on 19-Jun and 22-Jun. Despite considerable effort only glimpses were obtained of the birds flying between trees in the lower canopy. [JWW Comment: the only place I have seen this widespread and commonly heard owl is in a tree next to the Fraser's Hill tennis courts.]
Rajah Scops-Owl Otus brookii
Form solokensis. Gunung Kerinci: One heard calling just inside the forest on 19-Jun.
Barred Eagle-Owl Bubo sumatranus
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: A single bird perched over the river valley on 23-Jun. Initially the bird flew up river about 100 metres where it was relocated and seen well. The same evening the bird was calling from near the forest edge where the river valley enters the forest.
Pale-headed (Short-tailed) Frogmouth Batrachostomus poliolophus
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: One of the highlights of the trip. Two birds seen at close range in the river valley at night on 19-Jun. A further bird calling from higher up-stream within the forest.
Whiskered Treeswift Hemiprocne comata
Nominate form. Muara Sako: A three birds on 22-Jun.
Waterfall Swift (Giant Swiftlet) Hydrochous gigas
Monotypic. Desa Letter W Waterfall: Two singles feeding high overhead on 24-Jun.
Black-nest Swiftlet Collocalia maxima
Form lowi. Dark-rumped swiftlets observed over Padang town on 24 and 25-Jun were presumed to be this species.
Sumatran [Blue-tailed] Trogon Harpactes (reinwardtii) mackloti
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: One heard on 18-Jun near the forest entrance. A single immature bird disturbed, on 21-Jun, immediately adjacent to the trail c150 metres above Air Minum in the immediate vicinity of the large bees nest which is quite noticeable, and has been present for several years according to Pak Subandi.
Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus
Form flagrans. Tapan Road: A single bird near the bridge at the bottom of the Tapan Road early morning on 22-Jun.
Rhinoceros Hornbill Buceros rhinoceros
Form sumatranus. Muara Sako: Two pairs on 22-Jun.
Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: Up to 20 daily on 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun. Muara Sako: At least 20 on 22-Jun.
Fire-tufted Barbet Psilopogon pyrolophus
Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Fairly common, with up to eight daily on 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun. Tapan Road: At least 12 on 20-Jun.
Gold-whiskered Barbet Megalaima chrysopogon
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Ten on 22-Jun.
Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: Commonly heard on 17-Jun, 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun. Tapan Road: Commonly heard on 20-Jun.
Blue-eared Barbet Megalaima australis
Form duvaucelii. Muara Sako: Four on 22-Jun.
Rufous Piculet Sasia abnormis
Nominate form. Muara Sako: One on 22-Jun.
Grey-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
Form volzi. Gunung Kerinci: One in a mixed feeding flock on 21-Jun.
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
Form vanheysti. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha
Form mystacalis. Gunung Kerinci: One on 23-Jun.
Maroon Woodpecker Blythipicus rubiginosus
Monotypic. Tapan Road: Pair in the pitta gully on 20-Jun.
Buff-necked Woodpecker Meiglyptes tukki
Nominate form. Muara Sako: One on 22-Jun.
Schneider's Pitta Pitta schneideri
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: At least three birds heard in the vicinity of the Base Camp Shelter (within a 200 metre radius) on 17-Jun. Although they were probably calling in response to tape playback they did not approach. One female seen feeding just before dark on the trail about 400 metres below the Base Camp Shelter. No further observations in four days on the trail.
Graceful (Black-crowned) Pitta Pitta venusta
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Tapan Road: One bird calling and two birds seen surprisingly well at the gully between the 24 km and 25 km markers on 20-Jun.
Black-and-yellow Broadbill Eurylaimus ochromalus
Nominate form. Muara Sako: A pair on 22-Jun.
Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae
Form psittacinus. Tapan Road: Three on 20-Jun. Gunung Kerinci: Four on 21-Jun and 3 on 23-Jun.
White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis
Form atrata. A few recorded daily at all sites except Muara Sako.
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
Form batakensis. Tapan Road: Ten on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: Two on 22-Jun.
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Form malayensis. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
Nominate form. Tapan Road: Four on 20-Jun.
Crested Jay Platylophus galericulatus
Form coronatus. Tapan Road: One on 20-Jun.
Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
Form minor. Gunung Kerinci: Two on 18-Jun and 2 on 21-Jun.
Sumatran (Sunda) Treepie Dendrocitta occipitalis
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Tapan Road: A total of 16 in small groups and with mixed feeding flocks on 20-Jun.
Slender-billed Crow Corvus enca
Form compilator. Muara Sako: Two on 22-Jun. Desa Letter W Waterfall: One on 24-Jun.
Black-and-crimson Oriole Oriolus cruentus
Form consanguineus. Tapan Road: Three on 20-Jun.
Sunda Cuckoo-shrike Coracina larvata
Form melanocephala. Tapan Road: Six on 20-Jun.
Fiery Minivet Pericrocotus igneus
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Eight on 22-Jun.
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Form montanus. Gunung Kerinci: Six on 23-Jun.
Sunda Minivet Pericrocotus miniatus
Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Eight on 17-Jun and 16 on 19-Jun. Occurs both in single species groups and mixed with Scarlet Minivet.
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Form xanthogaster. Gunung Kerinci: Up to 10 daily on 18-Jun and 19-Jun. Tapan Road: Ten on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: A single male on 22-Jun.
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
Form intermedius. Gunung Kerinci: One on 19-Jun. Tapan Road: Three on 20-Jun.
Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella
Form criniger. Muara Sako: Six on 22-Jun.
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis
Form icterocephala. Muara Sako: Three on 20-Jun.
Blue-masked Leafbird Chloropsis venusta
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Tapan Road: Four on 20-Jun.
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Form bentet. Gunung Kerinci: Up to four daily in plantations at forest edge on 17-Jun, 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun.
Shiny Whistling-Thrush Myiophoneus melanurus
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Up to eight daily on 17-Jun, 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun. Commoner at higher elevations.
Brown-winged (Sunda) Whistling-Thrush Myiophoneus (glaucinus) castaneus
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Seems to prefer the forest along the river valley, with two on 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 22-Jun. Along the main trail, only one seen on 23-Jun.
Blue Whistling-Thrush Myiophoneus caeruleus
Form dichrorhynchus. Tapan Road: A single bird seen from the bridge at the bottom of the road early morning on 22-Jun. Muara Sako: Two on 22-Jun.
Lesser Shortwing Brachypteryx leucophrys
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: A few on 18-Jun and 19-Jun.
White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana
Form saturata. Gunung Kerinci: Fairly common by voice, with up to 4 daily on 17-Jun, 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun.
Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus
Monotypic. An introduced species on Sumatra. Gunung Kerinci: Seen early morning in the plantations with two on 18-Jun and 14 on 19-Jun.
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
Form uncertain. Muara Sako: A single bird on 22-Jun.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra
Form sumatrana. Gunung Kerinci: Up to eight daily on 17-Jun, 18-Jun, 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun. More common at higher elevations.
Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: One on 19-Jun.
Indigo Flycatcher Euymias indigo
Form ruficrissa. Gunung Kerinci: A total of five birds on 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun.
Rufous-vented Niltava Niltava sumatrana
Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Two on 18-Jun.
Grey-headed Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
Nominate form. Recorded at all sites, except Desa Letter W Waterfall, in small numbers.
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
Form musicus. A single bird en route on 17-Jun.
Sunda Robin Cinclidium diana
Form sumatranum. Gunung Kerinci: Two on 19-Jun, and one on 23-Jun.
Sunda (Lesser) Forktail Enicurus velatus
Nominate form. Tapan Road: A single on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: Four singles on 22-Jun.
Sumatran Cochoa Cochoa beccarii
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: After four days of searching, a single bird answered tape playback above Camp Cochoa on 23-Jun. The bird gave 4-5 whistles and then remained silent. Two minutes later it flew into a tree close by, where it was observed for at least five minutes. To relocate this location walk uphill from the Camp Cochoa Shelter for about 250 metres, where two small "puncak" signs (one orange, one black) are nailed to a tree on the left side of the track. From here continue a further 100-120 metres to find a strikingly large trunk (about 2 metre diameter) on the left side of the track. The bird was located about 20 metres beyond this point.
Blue Nuthatch Sitta azurea
Form expectata. Gunung Kerinci: A total of eight birds on 19-Jun, 21-Jun and 23-Jun.
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Form abbotti. Gunung Kerinci: Six on 18-Jun and 2 on 23-Jun. Tapan Road: Ten on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: Six on 22-Jun.
Cream-striped Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogrammicus
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Tapan Road: Four singles along lower sections of the road on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: Three on 22-Jun
Spot-necked Bulbul Pycnonotus tympanistrigus
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Tapan Road: A total of 16 birds in small groups on 20-Jun.
Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps
Form hyperemnus. Muara Sako: A total of 12 on 22-Jun.
Ruby-throated [Black-crested] Bulbul Pycnonotus (melanicterus) dispar
Monotypic. Muara Sako: Two on 22-Jun just above the village.
Scaly-breasted Bulbul Pycnonotus squamatus
Form weberi. Muara Sako: A total of eight birds in singles and pairs at lower elevations above the village on 22-Jun.
Grey-bellied Bulbul Pycnonotus cyaniventris
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Two pairs a few kilometres above the village on 22-Jun.
Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster
Nominate form. Tapan Road: Two around km 22 on 20-Jun.
Orange-spotted Bulbul Pycnonotus bimaculatus
Form snouckaerti. Gunung Kerinci: A pair around the First Shelter on each visit.
Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier
Form personatus. Gunung Kerinci: One on 18-Jun and two on 19-Jun in plantation edges. Muara Sako: Two on 22-Jun.
Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Common, with up to 30 birds along the road above the village on 22-Jun.
Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Common, with up to 20 birds along the road above the village on 22-Jun.
Ochraceous Bulbul Alophoixus ochraceus
Form sumatranus. Tapan Road: Six on 20-Jun and 2 on 22-Jun.
Grey-cheeked Bulbul Alophoixus bres
Form tephrogenys. Muara Sako: Four above the village on 22-Jun.
Hairy-backed Bulbul Tricholestes criniger
Form sericeus. Muara Sako: Common, with up to 15 birds along the road above the village on 22-Jun.
Sunda Bulbul Iole virescens
Form sumatranus. Tapan Road: Six on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: Two on 22-Jun.
Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala
Form cinereus. Muara Sako: Eight on 22-Jun.
Black-capped White-eye Zosterops atricapillus
Form viridicata. Gunung Kerinci: Two on 18-Jun and 4 on 19-Jun. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
Mountain White-eye Zosterops montanus
Form difficilis? Recorded at all sites, except Desa Letter W Waterfall, in small numbers.
Hill Prinia Prinia atrogularis
Form dysancrita. Gunung Kerinci: A few heard in plantation edge scrub on 19-Jun and 23-Jun. Tapan Road: Six on 20-Jun.
Sunda Bush-Warbler Cettia vulcania
Form sepiaria. Gunung Kerinci: Fairly common by voice at higher elevations on all visits.
Mountain Tailorbird Orthotomus cuculatus
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: A few daily on 18-Jun, 19-Jun and 23-Jun. Tapan Road: Six on 20-Jun.
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird Orthotomus sericeus
Form hesperius. Muara Sako: Ten on 22-Jun.
Mountain Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus trivirgatus
Nominate form. Gunung Kerinci: A few on 18-Jun, 19-Jun and 23-Jun.
Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps
Form muelleri. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
Sunda (White-rumped) Warbler Seicercus grammiceps
Form sumatrensis. Gunung Kerinci: Several on all visits.
Yellow-bellied Warbler Abroscopus superciliaris
Form papilio. Tapan Road: Four on 20-Jun.
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
Form bicolor. Tapan Road: One group heard on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: One group heard on 22-Jun.
Black Laughingthrush Garrulax lugubris
Nominate form. Tapan Road: One group of four on 20-Jun.
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush Garrulax mitratus
Nominate form. Tapan Road: Several groups totalling 20 birds on 20-Jun. Gunung Kerinci: Three along the river valley on 23-Jun.
Long-billed Wren-Babbler Rimator malacoptilus
Form albostriatus. Gunung Kerinci: One pair observed quietly feeding along the edge of the trail about 100 metres below Base Camp Shelter on 23-Jun. They were giving their characteristic, soft "churr, churr" calls. On response to tape playback the birds gave an explosive, harsh "cheer-churr" and immediately moved away. Maybe trawling with a tape is not a good way to locate this species? [JWW Comment: A bird responded agressively to playback along a logging road east of the Hotel Bukit Kubu, Brastagi, in 1984, an area that reportedly is now largely deforested. In response to repeated playback, it gave an extended, complex and explosive song similar to a song provoked from a Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler Xiphirhynchus superciliaris after repeated playback. A second tape recordest would be essential to record the complex babbler song, as in both instances it was given while the tape was playing.]
Rusty-breasted Wren-Babbler Napothera rufipectus
Species endemic to Sumatra. Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Several heard and a few seen on all visits. Responds to pishing, and relatively easy to see.
Eye-browed Wren-Babbler Napothera epilepidota
Form lucilleae. Gunung Kerinci: One on 19-Jun and 2 on 21-Jun.
Pygmy Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla
Form lepida. Gunung Kerinci: A few heard and occasionally seen on all visits. Tapan Road: A few heard on 20-Jun.
Golden Babbler Stachyris chrysaea
Form frigida. Gunung Kerinci: Fairly common with up to 12 seen on all visits. Tapan Road: At least ten on 20-Jun.
Grey-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
Form larvata. Common at all sites.
Grey-headed Babbler Stachyris poliocephala
Form pulla. Muara Sako: Three on 22-Jun.
Spot-necked Babbler Stachyris striolata
Nominate form. Tapan Road: One bird popped-out from roadside scrub about 500 metres above the Bukit Tapan Resort on 20-Jun. It was loosely associating with Grey-throated Babblers. Gunung Kerinci: A pair mixed with a Grey-throated Babbler flock just below First Shelter on 23-Jun.
Striped Tit-Babbler Macronous gularis
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Four on 22-Jun.
White-browed Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius flaviscapis
Form cameranoi. Gunung Kerinci: A female on 17-Jun, a pair on 18-Jun and 19-Jun, and a pair on 21-Jun.
Long-tailed Sibia Heterophasia picaoides
Form sumillima. Gunung Kerinci: Small numbers at higher elevations on each visit. Tapan Road: One group of 5 birds on 20-Jun.
Great Tit Parus major
Form ambiguus. Gunung Kerinci: Small numbers on each visit.
Eurasian Tree-Sparrow Passer montanus
Form malaccensis. A few en route on 17-Jun and 19-Jun.
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
Form subsquamicollis. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun.
White-headed Munia Lonchura maja
Monotypic. Tapan Road: Five on 20-Jun. Gunung Kerinci: A single on 23-Jun.
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker Prionochilus percussus
Form ignicapilla. Muara Sako: A single on 22-Jun.
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma
Form melanostigma. Gunung Kerinci: A pair on 19-Jun. Tapan Road: Two on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: Four on 22-Jun.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
Form sumatranum. Muara Sako: Six on 22-Jun.
Plain Sunbird Anthreptes simplex
Monotypic. Muara Sako: At least 20 on 22-Jun.
Plain-throated (Brown-throated) Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis
Nominate form. Muara Sako: Six on 22-Jun.
Temminck's (Scarlet) Sunbird Aethopyga temminckii
Monotypic. Gunung Kerinci: Three on 19-Jun. Tapan Road: One on 20-Jun.
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
Form cinireicollis. Tapan Road: One on 20-Jun. Muara Sako: One on 22-Jun.
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter Arachnothera affinis
Form concolor. Muara Sako: Four on 22-Jun.
All the following waypoints are available from the author as either a Garmin mps file for upload into a compatible GPS, simple ASCII or MS-Excel file formats.