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The Kingfishers of Baluran NP

January 30, 2017

With the large number of kingfishers (8 of 14 kingfisher in Java) in one area (we called "One Stop Birding"), making Baluran more attractive and valuable to visit, especially for birding and bird-photography.


Kingfisher has wide distribution around the world, though concentrated in the Southern Hemisphere continents, the kingfishers are well-known as fish-eaters, but despite their name, most members of this family take a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate prey. Characteristics are cartoon include a relatively large head with a long dagger-shaped bill, short legs and weak feet, in which the second and third front toes are fused at the base. Beside the unique it forms, all kingfishers has colorful feathers made this creatures are one of photogenic birds in front of lenses bird-photographer. One example, Alan McFadyen a wildlife photographer from Scotland has spent patience for six years since 2009 (about 4200 hours and produced 720 thousand photos) to get the perfect photo of Common Kingfisher.

At the end of 2016, Heru Fitriadi photographed Ruddy Kingfisher in Baluran National Park for the first time. Heru is local residents who live in the Wonorejo village, directly adjacent to the National Park. Increasingly the number of birds in Baluran National Park added from the record of Ruddy Kingfisher, as well as the number of species of kingfisher. Heru meet this bird in Bama beach while searching for Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. Did not find it, suddenly he saw a red figure perched on a branch that is not too high from the ground. Then he approached the object, and with his camera he took some portraits and eventually knows that a red figure is Ruddy Kingfisher. The next day he revisited the area again but the bird did not appears until today. Besides Ruddy Kingfisher, Baluran National Park has seven others, there are:

1. Collared Kingfisher

Undoubtedly the commonest kingfisher in Indonesia, and probably the whole of south-east Asia, this species is a familiar sight on overhead wires and telegraph poles in cities, towns and other anthropogenic habitats. In Baluran, it is almost annoyingly abundant, occupying every available habitat, although it is rarely seen in the savanna. Its raucous call, usually given from an exposed tree perch, betrays its presence throughout the day. On the coast, at low tide, is often seen perched on isolated rocks or tree stumps on mudflats, habitats shared with the somewhat similar, migratory Sacred Kingfisher.

2. Sacred Kingfisher

A breeding resident of Australia, this species migrates north and west during the austral winter to New Guinea and much of Indonesia, including Java and Bali, but only occasionally reaching as far as Sumatra. In Java it is common along the coast from April to September, and in Baluran, is mainly associated with mangrove forests. It typically perches on low branches and aerial roots of mangrove trees, but also often alights on mudflats and sandy beaches, as well as moored boats and poles.

3. Cerulean Kingfisher

Also called Small Blue Kingfisher, this species is endemic to Indonesia, being found only from Sumatra to Sumbawa. In Baluran, it is common in coastal mangrove forests as well as fish ponds, and is often seen perched low on mangrove stilt roots or on the top of stumps or poles in the middle of ponds, from whence it dives into the water to catch aquatic invertebrates and small fish. In such open habitats, it can also be seen flying from one location to another, like a bullet travelling just above the water surface.

4. Blue-eared Kingfisher

This species has the largest geographical range of the local dwarf kingfishers, stretching from India to Sulawesi and Lombok. In Baluran, however, it is not an easy bird to find due to its small population and restricted distribution, apparently limited to the dense littoral forest at Bama and along Bajulmati River. Here it perches unobtrusively on horizontal branches or roots just above the water, periodically plunging into the water to spear small fish, which are then carried to another perch, bashed against the substrate until dead, then swallowed head first.

5. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Ranging from Peninsular Malaysia through the Greater Sundas to Sumba, this beautiful species is one of the latest additions to the Baluran checklist. It was first found in Baluran in 2011, when one individual was seen on Curah Uling, a rain-fed river in evergreen forest, and in Manting block coastal forest. This species normally lives in the vicinity of streams and pools within lowland forest, where it feeds on aquatic insects and small fish. As with other dwarf kingfishers, while watching for prey this bird often jerkily bobs its head, while keeping the rest of the body perfectly motionless. As the Rufous-backed Kingfisher hybridizes with the more widely-distributed 'Black-backed Kingfisher' in several parts of its range, both are now usually treated as subspecies of a single species, the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (C. erithaca).

6. Banded Kingfisher

The only member of its genus, this species is unusual among kingfishers in that the female has a completely different plumage to the male. A denizen of lowland and hill forest, it ranges from Thailand through the Greater Sundas, but is generally rare in Java and entirely absent from Bali. In Baluran, it is possibly the rarest of the kingfishers, having been recorded only from the crater of Mount Baluran. It prefers undisturbed forest with a dense canopy, where it perches at a range of heights, and feeds on various grounddwelling invertebrates and lizards.

7. Javan Kingfisher

This beautiful and most elusive kingfishers is found only on Java and Bali, yet is surprisingly common in wetlands and fields throughout these islands. Widely-distributed in Baluran, it is easiest to observe in open habitats such as paddy-fields, yet is also occurs in forest with dense canopy such as in the crater of Mount Baluran. Perching on a low branch or at the top of a pole or thatched roof of a pondok (cottage), it swoops down on its prey, which consists of eels, frogs, lizards and large insects (Mason and Jarvis 1989).

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