Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

April 15, 2012

Solo Steam Train

Filed under: General — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 2:49 am

Surakata, Central Java

I could not believe my luck. Today I had a ride on a steam train in Solo. I was just sitting by the side of the road near the night market when I heard this hooting going on and this steam train came sliding by. I followed it down the road a whiles to where it had stopped.

solo steam train
The steam train

I took a few photos of it and the statue of General Slamet Rhiyadi.

general slamet riyadi
General Slamet Rhiyadi

This carving was on the monument to the general.

generals planning merdeka
The generals planning freedom from the dutch

Later on, this guy asked me if I spoke English. I very warily said yes and he told me that he was from the tourist office and had organised this steam train ride and if I wanted to I could hop aboard and have a ride. Of course I said yes and when everyone had got on, off it went, complete with whistle and billowing smoke from the chimney. thing. whatever it is called.

Smoke stack

After a while I just starting having the most fun, leaning out from the steps taking photos and waving to all the people as we went by. It was infectious. It must have something to do with steam trains, they must bring out the big kid in people.

steam train
Riding on the steam train

Anyway, we arrived at the end station and the tourist office guy offered to give me a lift in his car back to the original stop and when it started raining he dropped me off at a warung to have some dinner. What an afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Totally unexpected. I love when things like that happen.

Waving to the folks on the train

April 13, 2012

Taman Nasional Baluran

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 12:11 pm

Bama Beach, East Java

Bama Beach is just fantastic. They have a cafeteria here that serves the best food. And the accommodation is great. You have the sea, the jungle and the savannah. Late in the afternoon I went for a walk along the beach but did not see any birds. Only heaps of monkeys playing around and fighting each other. I think they are Long-tailed Macacas. There was a walkway along the mangroves. The roots of the mangroves were unbelievably twisted. There is also a birdwatching track but I saw about one bird along it. I came back and just walked along the road towards Bekol. I spotted a couple of crows and about four Green Pea-fowl sitting high up in a Gebung tree.

Crimson-winged Woodpecker
Pelatuk Sayap-merah, Crimson-winged Woodpecker (Picus puniceus)

The next morning I was up nice and early and walked along the track towards Bekol. I heard this pecking noise and looked around and found this woodpecker.

Crimson-winged Woodpecker
Crimson-winged Woodpecker

I got heaps of shots of the Crimson-winged Woodpecker because I was making sure I had lots to choose from. Its Indonesian name is Pelatuk Sayap-merah.

Green Pea-fowl
Green Pea-fowls

The Green Pea-fowls were up in the same tree again. I quite like the look of them silhoutted against the sky like this.

Green Pea-fowl
Green Pea-fowl

I am not sure what this is. I think I heard something about what it might be but I forgot. doh! Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus).

ID needed
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

Again, not sure what this is. doh! It may be a Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia).

ID needed
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) ??

Crested Serpent Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle

This Crested Serpent Eagle was on the road just before the camp and flew off into a tree. I put this shot in to see what they look like roosting. On the road out I did manage to see a Zebra Dove but I had my camera all packed away and I was on the back of a bike. I had also seen numerous Pied Oriental Hornbills but could not get a photo of them.

Common Animals of Baluran National Park

Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis)
Banteng (Bos javanicus)
Green Pea-fowl (Pavo muticus)
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata )
Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
Deer (Cervus timorensis)
Dhole (Cuon alpinis)
Jungle Fowl
Black Monkey (Tracypitecus auratus)
Long-tailed Macaca (Macaca fascicularis)
Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
Javan Wart-hog (Sus verrucosus)

Baluran National Park

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 11:17 am

Bekol, East Java

It is not that hard to get to Baluran National Park as I was led to believe. You just catch the Surabaya bus from Banyuwangi to the gates of the National Park. Hire an ojek to get you to Bekol where you can stay in the guest houses there.

Crested Serpent Eagle
Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

As soon as I got there I got out the camera and went for a walk along the road. Not long after and this Crested Serpent Eagle came soaring over me. I almost fell over with surprise. It was glorious.

Rusa Deer (Cervus timorensis )

I am not sure of the proper name of this deer but at least I got the scientific name right. This were hanging around near a water-hole.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

Lots of Pacific Swallow were flying about then they would alight on a stick and just hang around for a while waiting for a photographer to come along and take their photo.

Scaly-breasted Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

And of course the ever-present Scaly-breasted Munia. I have seen them just about everywhere I have been so far in Indonesia.

Black Monkey
Black Monkey (Tracypitecus auratus)

Late in the afternoon I went for a walk along the road back to the highway. I disturbed this mob of monkeys who fled up into the highest trees. This one looks like someone you might know.

Small Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo coerulescens)

I cannot tell which kingfisher this one is but it was the brightest blue. Small Blue Kingfisher or Cerulean Kingfisher.

Jungle Fowl
Green Jungle Fowl (Gallus varius)

There were heaps of Jungle Fowl along the roads but it was difficult to get close to them.


Yellow-vented Bulbul
Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)

I cannot resist taking photos of Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) . They are everywhere but they seem to be doing the most interesting things.

Javan Wart-hog
Javan Wart-hog (Sus verrucosus)

A couple of Javan Wart-hogs were kept in a pen at the Bekol camp. The light was so low but I really like the dark photo. It seems to go with their look.

Green Pea-fowl
Green Pea-fowl ( Pavo muticus)

I saw about three pairs of Green Pea-fowl. They would not let you get close and would fly away as soon as you get a little bit too close.

Green Pea-fowl and Green Junglefowl
Green Pea-fowl and Jungle Fowl

These pair were on the road this morning. I tried creeping up on them but this is as close as I could get.

Green Jungle Fowl
Green Junglefowl

Flame-fronted Barbet
Flame-fronted Barbet (Megalaima armillaris)

I caught up with just one Flame-fronted Barbet this morning.

Java Sparrow
Javan Sparrow

I was told that there might be some Javan Sparrows about two kilometers down the road and sure enough, there it was. It is not a great shot, but at least it is a record. Well that was it for Bekol. I got a lift with one of the people at the camp to Bama Beach, which is just three kilometers further along. There is a guest house by the sea, and it is just like a tropical resort.


Photos by Pat Marklevitz.
Birds of Baluran.

April 8, 2012

Gilimanuk, Bali Birding

Filed under: Birds — steve_happ @ 6:00 am

Gilimanuk, Bali

Saturday, 12th April, 2012. I got to Cekik just before midday yesterday from Lovina. The West Bali National Park offices were closed for the weekend. So I jumped on an ojek to take me to a hotel. In the afternoon, I went for a wander along the beach and helped some fishermen pull in their nets. They had a few garfish – maybe a couple of kilos.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

There were lots of swallows flying around. I managed to catch this one in flight and I quite liked it. The Pacific Swallow is similar to the Barn Swallow, but has Has a black breast band, whiter underparts. It was low tide and there was a great mudflat with lots of bits of reef sticking out of the water, but not a single shore bird. I was mystified.

Olive-backed Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis

I think this little one is an Olive-backed Sunbird. Not sure, though. I have no internet and no book. I need to fix that situation. Java is just over the straits. This fishing boat was heading out with the background of all the fires over on Java. After that I went for a walk in the grounds of the NP offices, then walked back to the hotel along the main road.

Looking towards java
Fishing Boat

Sunday, 8th April, 2012. The next morning I got up about 7 and went for a walk along the edges of the mangroves between the main road and the National Park. There were heaps of Yellow-vented Bulbuls. They seem to be very common so far. This was a juvenile fluffing his feathers and having a clean.

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)

There were few butterflies around but not heaps. I managed to get a photo of this one.


I just managed to get a shot of this sunbird or flowepecker. They move around so quickly. This one is definitely an Olive-backed Sunbird.

Olive-backed sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird

This is the first time I had seen a swallow or a swift perching. I made sure I got some good shots before I moved on. They are very similar to the Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis) and were once considered con-specific.

crested treeswift
Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata)

I am pretty sure this is a Pacific Swallow.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow

And the White-breasted Woodswallow hawking for insects.

white-breasted woodswallow
White-breasted Woodswallow

There were quite a few bee-eaters which were perching and then going hawking for insects and then coming back to their perch.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters

They usually seem to be in pairs. They lack the elongated tail feathers which I was looking for to tell the male from the female.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti )

A flock of a dozen or so Scaly-breasted Munia were chomping down on the grass seeds.

scaly-breasted munia
Scaly-breasted Munia

Not sure what this is yet. It looks like a magpie and jumps with both legs instead of walking. As I suspected it was a triller, a White-shouldered Triller (Lalage sueurii).

White-shouldered Triller
White-shouldered Triller (Lalage sueurii)

Well that was it for this morning. I managed to photograph heaps of birds. It was stinking hot after the sun got up a bit and I was sweating like a pig. I have been adding Pharolit, which is an electrolyte mix, to prevent dehydration. You can get it at chemists (Apotek) over here for about 1000 Rupiah per satchel.

Bird List Gilimanuk

Pacific Swallow
White-breasted Woodswallow
Spotted Dove
Olive-backed Sunbird
Crested Treeswift
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Scaly-breasted Munia
White-shouldered Triller
Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)

April 6, 2012

Lovina Birds, Bali

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 11:49 pm

Birding in the Paddy Fields .

This afternoon just as I was going out birding, it poured down in buckets. I guess the dry season is not here yet. I set out when it had mostly stopped. It was just spitting a little bit, but it was fine. I wandered along the beach and then up this track along the rice paddies. I was hoping to get some photos of the Zitting Cisticolas that I had seen there early in the morning.

zitting cisticola
Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)

The Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) has a large range from Europe to Northern Australia. They are a small bird found mainly in grasslands. They have a rufous rump, no gold on the collar and the brown tail is tipped white. They have a distinctive call sometimes said to be like the repeated snips of scissors.

Sawah looking towards the ocean

This is a shot of the country around Anturan, which is part of what is called Lovina. Some of the rice fields have heads of rice and some do not. I guess they are at different stages. I also saw a few Scaly-breasted Munia munching away on some rice.

long-tailed shrike
Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)

The Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) is a member of the Laniidae family of shrikes. They are common from Central Asia to New Guinea. Their preferred habitat is open scrub and farmland. They are noisy and aggressive, sitting on a perch from where they hawk for insects and small vertebrates.

ID needed
Swallow or is it a Swift?

I am not quite sure what this is. It is difficult to tell because I have not seen these perching so I cannot get a close look at them. They are extremely difficult to shoot in flight. This is the best I can do. It is strange that there are no seagulls around. I have not seen a single one. They are usually everywhere near the ocean wherever I have been.

Bird List for Lovina

Zitting Cisticola
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Scaly-breasted Munia
Long-tailed Shrike

Bali Morning

Filed under: General — steve_happ @ 4:27 am

Lovina, Western Bali

Lovina is on the northern coast of Bali, just near Singaraja. I caught a shared taxi here yesterday from Bedugul. The losmen here are really expensive. They wanted 120,000 Rupiah for a room without Air Conditioning. I finally haggled them down to 100,000 per night. But that is still too expensive. Yesterday afternoon I walked along the beach and met some kids who invited me to go fishing. So I went fishing and the kid caught one little fish and that was it. And it poured down with rain.

pig on a spit
Cooking a pig

This morning I got up early and went looking for things to photograph. The fishermen were roasting a pig on a spit (Babi Guling) on the beach.

cooking a pig
Pig on a spit (Babi Guling

There are some nice looking fishing boats moored off the beach. This one had lots of colour.

Fishing boat
Fishing Boat

These guys had just come in and were dragging the boat up the beach. They used rollers made of cut up bits of trunks of coconut trees. They had a few fish but they looked pretty small.

Dragging up the boat
Dragging a boat up the beach

This guys was repairing the hull of this boat. He had cut out the rotten bits and was going to insert some new wood in the holes.

boat repairs
Repairing a boat

There are thousands and thousands of motor scooters on Bali. The roads are chock full of them. Lots of backpackers hire them also to get around the island. I am not to keen on riding one of them as the roads here are incredibly dangerous. They drive worse than Victorians. 🙂

Bike messenger
Motorbike delivery

Every morning people do offerings around their houses.

morning offering
Morning offering

Today is some sort of special day in Bali. There were lots of ceremonies going on.

temple ceremony
Temple Ceremony

April 4, 2012

Bali Botanic Gardens

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 6:18 am

Bedugul Birding Day 2

This morning I got up early and I was hoping for a fine day for my second day at the Bali Botanic Gardens at Bedugul. Yesterday had been pouring with rain and the light was horrendous. I took the track to the west and found myself in some rainforest type country. There were lots of birds in the trees but they were very high up and difficult to spot.

Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler
Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus montanus)

I was lucky to get a couple of shots of a couple of the birds and I managed to identify the Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler, but could find nothing to help me identify the next bird which was a bright orange colour. Update: Thanks to Max who has identified it as Fiery Minivet (Pericrocotus igneus). Whoops. sorry max. Owl on flickr has identified it as a Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus), which is very similar. I am going on location reports as there have been sightings at Bedugul of the Scarlet but not the Fiery Minivet. Thanks for all the help on this difficult identification. woopeee.

Need ID please
Scarlet Minivet, (Pericrocotus flammeus)

There was a Short-tailed Starling out in the open this morning so I included this shot because it has much better light and sharpness.

Short-tailed Starling
Short-tailed Starling (Aplonis minor)

There are heaps of Pacific Swallows flying around everywhere, hawking for food.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

I got the next photos in a field on the way back to the hotel. They sat up nicely in the sunlight for me.

long-tailed shrike
long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach)

And here is an immature Long-tailed Shrike. They seem to like hanging out in the banana patches.

long-tailed shrike - immature
Immature Long-tailed Shrike

And there were a few Eurasian Tree Sparrows on the roofs of the pergolas next to the hotel.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

I also saw a White-breasted Woodswallow but could not get a decent shot of it. But I was not worried because I already have heaps of great shots of those beauties. I also got a couple more photos of a Grey-chested Green-pigeon and he is on the feature photo for this page.

I am glad I went out early this morning because from just before lunch time it has been pelting down with rain here. I think the dry season is not quite here yet. I wanted to go down to the lake this afternoon, but I doubt that I will because I just heard a loud bunch of thunder.

April 3, 2012

Bedugul Birding – Bali

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 2:16 pm

Kebun Raya, Bedugul, Bali

I got up early from Kuta and caught a bemo to the Ubung bus terminal in Denpasar and then caught the bus to Bedugul. I got dropped off at Candikuning and only had to walk about half a kilometer to find a hotel and a further 200 meters to the Botanic Gardens (Kebun Raya). After lunch I strolled up to the bush to see if I could photograph some birds.

Spotted Dove
Spotted Dove (streptopelia chinensis)

This is your common old Spotted Turtle-dove, which is what we call them in Australia where they are very common indeedy. I thought this might have been a new bird but it wasn’t. It started raining when I photographed this one and it was very dark. I had to put the ISO way up to 1600 and the image quality is not too crash hot. If you have a peep at those pixels you will see a lot of noise. Canon 350D’s do not have very good Noise Reduction like all the new cameras.

Flame-fronted Barbet
Flame-fronted Barbet (Megalaima armillaris baliensis)

Flame-fronted Barbets are also known as Blue-crowned Barbets or Orange-fronted Barbets. They are endemic to Indonesia and live in subtropical and montane forests. The nominate form is found in Java while the sub-species baliensis is found on Bali. They usually feed on fruits, but they also eat insects as well. They make their nests in tree hollows.

Grey-cheeked Green-Pigeon
Grey-cheeked Green-Pigeon (Treron griseicauda)

The Grey-cheeked Green-pigeon is an Indonesian endemic. This one had lots of russet on the wing but some others did not. I do not know what that is about. Maybe its a male/female thing or the others are juveniles. I do not know much about these birds so I will learn more eventually and get back to you on that point.

Short-tailed Starling
Short-tailed Starling (Aplonis minor)

Short-tailed Starling (Aplonis minor) are found in Indonesia and the Philippines. Their habitat is subtropical, moist lowland and montane forests.

ID needed
gray-throated white-eye (Heleia javanica)

The rest of these birds I could not work out any identification on them. I still do not have a book. I searched all the book shops in Kuta yesterday but could find nothing. I am hoping for some kind of book in the information kiosk at the Kebun Raya.

ID needed
gray-throated white-eye (Heleia javanica)

ID needed
Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher (Cyornis olivaceus)

I also saw a Great Tit (Parus major) but the image quality on the photos were unusable. doh! So the resulting bird list for Kebun Raya is:

Bali bird list

Spotted Dove
Flame-fronted Barbet
Grey-cheeked Green-pigeon
Short-tailed Starling
Great Tit
gray-throated white-eye (Heleia javanica)
Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher (Cyornis olivaceus)

April 2, 2012

Surfing Bali

Filed under: Surfing — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:42 am

Surfing at Bingin Beach

Whoops, I forgot to bring the file I wrote for this blog to the Wartel. I will have to leave the text for another day and just upload the photos. doh! And here it is. Bingin is just down the line from the famous Uluwatu. It comes after Uluwatu, Padang-Padang and Impossibles. The swell has been small the last few days and today it has picked up to about 3 foot on the sets. I think it has been relatively crowded for such an average surf. There have been only a handful of good surfers and most people surfing have been not very proficient.

I flew from Sydney with Virgin Blue on a really cheap sale price – $280. Virgin Blue are pretty good with taking surfboards and do not seem to have a size limit. Some guys had four boards in their board bags. But make sure that you have a return or onward ticket out of Indonesia or Virgin will not let you board.

boogie boarder
Boogie Boarder having fun

I struggled with the heat and the humidity when I got there. I ate lots of bananas and drank lots of bottled water. I am starting to get used to it now, but it zaps your energy.

Bingin Beach Bali
Bingin Beach Bali

Grommet hits lip
Grommet hits lip

You can get a Visa On Arrival when you get to Bali and it costs $25 dollars. There is a long wait in the queue, so be prepared for it. You can change money just when you get out of customs. There is a row of money changers just waiting for your dollars.

Setting up a floater
Setting up a floater

Today the surf was a bit bigger. People are saying that there is a swell on the way. This guy was surfing really well, hitting the lip and coming off it really well. He set up this floater and went sailing across the top and then landed it down through the white water.

The Floater

Off the top
Off the top

I will put this post in order as soon as I can. I forgot to put it onto the usb stick. doh! Ma’afkan saya. Update, well it is sort of in order but still a little bit out of synch. You can spot the discrepancies. ha ha.

Bali Birds Bingin

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:22 am

Bingin Beach

There were not very many birds where I stayed for a couple of days to acclimatise myself to the weather of Bali. I stayed at Bingin Beach, which is on the Uluwatu Peninsular. The first morning I heard a lot of chirping early in the morning but subsequently worked out that it was a gecko!

Scaly-breasted Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

I think these are Java Sparrows. No, they are definitely not Java Sparrows. Still looking. It is the Scaly-breasted Munia or Spotted Munia (Lonchura punctulata). I do not have access to the internet or an Indonesian birds field guide. I am hoping to pick one up in Denpasar at a book store.

Pacific Reef-egret.
Pacific Reef-egret – dark morph

And I am guessing that this is a dark morph Reef Egret. But I will have to check the books. I think I saw the white morph as well hanging around the rocks at the beach. Yes, this one is the Pacific Reef-egret (Egretta sacra).

Collared KIngfisher ?
Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)

I am guessing again that this might be a Collared Kingfisher or it could even be a Sacred Kingfisher. I am leaning towards the Sacred Kingfisher at this stage. Or is it a Cerulean Kingfisher. The plot thickens. I am going with the Collared Kingfisher bu they are very similar to the Sacred Kingfisher. The next one turned out to be a Yellow-vented Bulbul. I could clearly see the yellow vent in most of the photos.

Yellow Vented Bulbul
Yellow-Vented Bulbul ( Pycnonotus goiavier)

This morning I got anothe shot of the dark morph Reef Egret. He was hanging out on top of a rock, waiting to pounce on some fish, maybe.

Pacific Reef Egret
Pacific Reef-egret Looking for a fish?

Three ticks. So the bird list for my first foray into Indonesian birding is:

Scaly-breasted Munia
Pacific Reef-egret
Collared Kingfisher
Yellow-vented Bulbul

« Newer Posts

Powered by WordPress