The Christmas-period meant a few obligatory days off work, so we decided to use this for a short trip. Since this was perfect timing for an Eastern China-trip offering lots of new pheasants, cranes and parrotbills the choice was easily made. We contacted Steven An of China Dreams Tours initially for an itinerary with translator/fixer instead of birding guide (copying Mans Grundsten in 2018, but with added pheasants in Emei Feng). One month before departure Steven contacted us if we would mind if one more birder (Frank Antram) would join our tour and Steven would guide the trip himself instead of Alex. This all worked out very well and we had an excellent trip and can highly recommend Steven for organising this trip or any trip in China.
Sumatra was our second stop in our year of travelling, we wanted a destination in Indonesia in June and the weather in Sumatra seemed favourable. With two new pitta’s and lots of other endemics this was an easy choice. Since we only allotted 10 days we chose to do western Sumatra with the best site for most endemics (Kerinci) and since we were travelling via Padang we added one of the offshore islands (Mentawai). Since we are still traveling this is a short trip report with our main findings and a rough annotated species list (most counts are incomplete and subspecies indication is missing). We really enjoyed travelling and birding in Indonesia again. Our next leg of the trip will be West Papua but we will definitely return for more Indonesia exploration in the next few years!
We chose Taiwan as the first stop for our year of travelling. The beginning of June is a bit late for Taiwan since all migratory and wintering birds are already gone and it is the start of the wet season. We were lucky with the weather and managed to see all Taiwan endemics and most subspecies of interest (except Island Thrush) in 9 days. Overall, we really enjoyed Taiwan; the quality of birds is very high, travelling around the island is very easy and it has some beautiful and diverse scenery to offer.
A 2 week independent trip to the Philippines, visiting Luzon and Palawan. Originally we had planned to visit Mindanao (Kitanglad, PICOP) but it turned out that the guides were already fully booked by tour companies. Instead we decided to include a visit to northern Luzon and do a trekking to Sawa camp for the Whiskered Pitta.
With trips planned this year in March and December we decided in June the gap between those two trips was to big. So we fit in a one week birding trip to Malaysia. We decided on Malaysia because of ease of travel, season, and of course a chance for Rail-babbler. With Rail-babbler easily found on our first afternoon this made for a perfect bonus-trip. Our 8 days of birding we divided between the two popular birding spots Taman Negara and Fraser’s Hill.
A three week independent trip to Sulawesi and Halmahera, a popular combination of islands since it offers two very different sets of species with lots of endemics. In the first two weeks we visited Central and North Sulawesi (Lore Lindu, Tangkoko, Dumago Bone and Gunung Ambang). The last week we travelled to Halmahera to visit three sites: Binagara, Galela and Weda.
Since Martijn Hammers, Sjoerd Radstaak and Mark de Vries were in Sabah (Borneo) around this time (as a part of their longer trip) we decided to join them for a bit. Because they had more time we decided we would join them in Danum (and do Sepilok & Kinabatangan by ourselves while they were already there). After Danum we went to Mt. Kinabalu together, from where we travelled back, and they went on to Poring and Rafflesia.
Southern India: 2 weeks: October/November
This was our first trip to India and since we had heard good things about the South we planned a two week trip to South India. Due to work obligations we could not go any later than the last two weeks of October, which was a bit tricky since this was at the ending of the monsoon period. We managed to see all our main target which included all South India endemics. India is a beautiful country and besides all the special birds there are, we also really enjoyed the friendly people, delicious food and beautiful scenery.