Bird watching in Bali

By John Reality, Cambodia, November 2011

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The art of bird watching has come close to perfection in the countryside around Ubud in the heart of Bali. Amateur and professional groups meet daily at various locations around the city and surrounding villages and venture out into the rice fields and river gorges where hundreds of native species flourish.
With a certain type of person, bird watching can develop into a kind of religion, requiring devotion and zeal is repaid in kind with considerable solace and satisfaction. One needn’t be a fundamentalist, however, to sample its delights. In Ubud, one can piggyback on the faith of the more experienced and obsessed birders. Tag along in search of Java Kingfishers, Bar-winged Prinias, Black-winged Starlings, Scarlet-headed Flowerpeckers, Java Sparrows, and countless other exotic species.
Another popular place to pursue the avian is the tiny village of Petulu just north of Ubud. Everyday around 5 p.m., thousands of herons return from their daily pursuits throughout the region and settle in the big trees along the road for the night.
Close to Kuta, Sanur and the Denpasar airport in southern Bali, it’s possible to join crowds of waders, Kingfishers (including the rare Small Blue variety), Blue-tailed Bee-eater, and Asian Palm-Swifts in the wetlands beyond the pier jutting out toward Benoa.     
On the western tip of the island, the Bali Barat National Park offers opportunities for solitude and sights of winged flight. Within the park, it is possible to arrange a visit to a unique center dedicated to the release into the wild of the beautiful Bali Starling, the island’s only endemic vertebrate species.

Photo courtesy of davidfntau via Flickr.

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