Birding on Kai

Birding on Kai


Ninox boobook, Southern Boobook, Pungguk Kokodok


Relatively easy to get to, nice beaches, two endemic white-eyes, a monarch and a coucal. Can’t say better than that, can you?

Key bird species:

Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot; Kai Coucal; Southern Boobook (endemic ssp); Wallacean Cuckoo-shrike; Kai Cuckoo-shrike; White-tailed Monarch; Island Leaf-Warbler (endemic ssp); Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher; Island Whistler; Great Kai White-eye; Little Kai White-eye; Australian Figbird

Birdwatching locations:

Kai Kecil

Unless you arrive by slow boat from an even more obscure destination, your are likely to arrive first in Kai Kecil. This is one of the two main islands that make up the Kai group. Kai Kecil is around 50km long and less than 20km wide. It is formed from uplifted coral, meaning it is generally flat and very dry. The natural vegetation is relatively dry forest and this remains in many places, albeit it in fairly degraded condition. In other places scrub and grassland now dominate.

Of the birds that are endemic to Kai, all but one (Great Kai White-eye) can be found pretty easily on Kai Kecil. Birding here is mostly just a case of finding patches of forest and exploring. Even the most scrappy looking patches of roadside forest can support all the birds you are looking for.

A popular birding option is the coastal strip north and east of the village of Ohoililir (also known as Pasir Panjang), especially easy if combined with staying at the delightful ‘Coaster Cottages’. To get here take the beach track north of the village until the end (at Coaster Cottages) and then on foot take the indistinct path which heads north through forest for around 1-2km. Numerous side trails head inland from the coast track, usually meeting a steep coral ridge about 100m inland. It is possible to climb this and then continue on even more indistinct paths on the ridge. Alternatively, a more distinct path heads inland just before Coaster Cottages, climbs the ridge, and then heads east through dry forest. The forest in this general area supports Kai Coucal, the cuckoo-shrikes, White-tailed Monarch, Island Whistler (it seems far easier to see this small island specialist on Kai than anywhere else), Little Kai White-eye and Yellow-bellied White-eye (another small island specialist). Australian Figbird (surely that should be ‘Kai Figbird’??), Orange-footed Scrubfowl and Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher have also been seen in this area, as has Tanimbar Corella (of unknown provenance).

Outside of this well visited area the tactics are much more freestyle! One nice option is simply to hire a motorbike from someone and explore the many small tracks and roads that cross the island (or do the same with Ojek or Bemo).

Just South-east of Ohoililir an interesting track follows the coast east, starting at a large mud-flat (which can support many waders in season) and then passing through many small forest patches. Birds that can be seen anywhere along this track include Kai Coucal (especially early morning), Kai Cuckoo-shike, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Australian Figbird, Little Kai White-eye and White-tailed Monarch. After about 2 km on the coast track take a left (inland) and then park about 1km further-on; where a fairly well define footpath drops down to the left. Following this brings you to an interesting freshwater lake and some good birding in the surrounding forest. The lake can support Little (‘Tricoloured’) Grebe, Spotted Whistling Duck, Green Pygmy Goose and Common Coot. The forest around the lake has all of the endemics of Kai Kecil. This could also be a good place to try looking for the elusive (and potential split) Southern Boobook. Many drivers (Ojek & Bemo) will know where this lake is, so you can also ask people to take you here.

Other options for finding forest include the road north of Tual (on a smaller island known as Kai Dullah). Here you can try heading for a spot called ‘Taman Angrek’ just east of the village of Dullah, or take to the tracks and paths behind this into whatever patches of forest you can find. Birds that have been seen in this area include all of the above. Take a read of a few of the trip reports listed below for more info about this area.

Another area that looks interesting (on Google Earth, at least) is the peninsular north of Kai Kecil’s highest point – Bukit Masbait. It appears that a number of tracks pass through good condition looking forest in this area.

Kai Besar

Kai Besar is a complete contrast to Kai Kecil: It is long , thin and entirely covered in steep hills reaching to around 700m asl. As a consequence it supports much more extensive forest.

Currently only one endemic is recognised for Kai Besar -Great Kai White-eye – but this could change if the local race of Island Leaf Warbler (seemingly only found on Kai Besar) is elevated to species. The local race of Slender-billed Cuckoo Dove is also another split candidate which is much more numerous on Kai Besar. The more extensive dense forest also makes Kai Besar a better place to look for the difficult-to-find Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher. Kai Coucal, the figbird and the monarch are also present on Kai Besar, so it is only really Little Kai White-eye that you can’t see here!

If you are just looking for the white-eye on a flying trip from Kai Kecil then a couple of easy options include getting an ojek to take you onto either of the surfaced cross-island roads; to Yamtel (closest to Elat) and to Fako (a little further north). As soon as you get into degraded forest (mixed with farmland and fruit trees) get off and walk and it should not be long before you find the white-eye, which seems to be present across pretty much the entire altitudinal range.

If you are planning to stay a night or two on Kai Besar then a great place to spend some time birding is the high land north of the Fako road. Here there is a place known as ‘Bukit Indah’ that ojek drivers will know. To get here follow the Fako road up to around the highest point and then just before it starts to drop down to the east coast get off where you see a concrete arch on the left and a sign marking the track to ‘Bukit Indah’. Following this track takes you through degraded forest to a clearing with a grotto-kind-of-thing and big concrete statue of Jesus. Just behind Jesus a well marked trail heads up hill into nice condition forest. Several side trails branch off this trail, and you could happily spend many hours in here. Birds that have been seen around Bukit Indah include all the ones mentioned above, including the warbler and flycatcher. The area is also very good for parrots. The mature hill forest also holds Stephan’s Dove, which is kind of interesting as Kai Besar also supports Emerald ‘Green-winged’ Dove (more common in degraded forest at lower altitude) meaning you can see both species in a short space of time and compare them!

Further afield, northern Kai Besar supports the most extensive forest areas on the island but the access would always likely include a long walk up from the coast. To try this area simply pick a coastal village near wherever looks interesting and then head in.

Access and Accommodation:

Getting to Kai Kecil is very easy by Maluku standards. At time of writing there are at least three scheduled flights a day from Ambon (Wings Air and Trigana). These land at the small airport at Langgur/Tual. There are several accommodation options in town (check out Lonely Planet) but the nicest option is probably to take the 30 min ride to either Ohoililir (for Coaster Cottages) or Ohoidertawun (for Savanah Cottages). The birding is better here, and cold beers watching sunsets on the beach is also pretty nice! Check out a guide like Lonely Planet for more up-to-date info. Getting around the island is as easy as chartering a car/bemo, using ojeks (motorbike taxis) or hiring a motorbike from someone (ask at your accommodation).

Getting to Kai Besar is slightly less straightforward. There are three boat options, all leaving from Tual/Langgur and heading to Elat on Kai Besar. These include: 1) Speedboats (fibreglass tube, over-filled with people, and 3-4 large outboard motors). These generally leave when full but the first will normally go around 8-9am. There may, or may not, be a later boats depending on demand! 2) Kapal Cepat (larger fibreglass boat with airplane-style seating, and karaoke). This seems to leave Kai Besar first, so would leave Kai Kecil to return sometime in the afternoon? 2) Kapal Kayu (bigger wooden boats). Mostly for those people planning to move large amounts of cargo around, slowly!

Getting back from Kai Besar means getting the ‘Kapal Cepat’ in the morning, or hoping for a later speedboat. Be warned, however, that if demand is light there may not be a later speedboat. Alternatively, if demand is high, the speedboat may have left well before the time that was suggested to you! Failing all these, you can try and charter a boat. What this costs you will depend on what you charter, but expect to have to pay $100+.

If you decide to stay on Kai Besar, or simply find yourself stranded by the above boat arrangements, then there is a nice basic hotel (penginapan) on the right as you head into town from the port. Away from Elat there are no formal accommodation options. There are a few restaurants in Elat, although they all close very early in the evening. Ojek is the best (and maybe only) option for getting around on Kai Besar.

More info:

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Site map:

To download the Google Earth (.kmz) file, click on the download link below the map

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– Aru, Kei, Tanimbar Nature Reserves

Aru, Kei, Tanimbar Nature Reserves

Aru Islands

Aru Islands Map, Aru Islands, aru, dobo,nature reserves, tribes,

Barukai Island-4.300
South Maluku; Barakai Island, Longgar, Apara, Bemun, and Mesiang; southeast Aru Islands; Gomo-Gomo Island northeast of Barakai. Alternate names: Workai. Dialects: Barakai, Mesiang. Similar to Karey [kyd]. Lexical similarity: 70% with Batuley [bay].
Wokam Island Batuley 3.840
South Maluku, off the east coast of Wokam Island. 7 villages in Aru on small islands. Alternate names: Gwataley, Watulai. Dialects: Related to Kompane [kvp] to the north and Lola [lcd] to the south, slightly more distant from Dobel [kvo]. Lexical similarity: 70% with Barakai [baj] and Karey [kyd], 81% with Mariri [mqi].
Aru Islands Dobel 8.000 Christian
increasing. 6,500 plus 1,000 outside the area; 2,700 in Northern Dobel, 1,800 in Straits Dobel, 1,400 in Southeast Dobel. Southeast Maluku, Aru Islands, entire east coast of Kobror Island, 1 village in southeast Wokam Island, 4 villages eastern half of Barakai Strait (Kobror and Koba Islands), 2 villages in central Kobror Island. 18 villages. Also Dobo and Ambon. Alternate names: Doibel, Kobro’or, Kobroor, Sersifar Tannin. Dialects: Northern Dobel, Straits Dobel, Southeast Dobel. At least 3 dialects. Related to Lola [lcd], Lorang [lrn]. Lexical similarity: 78%–86% with Koba [kpd].
Karey 950
south Aru Islands, Karey Valley, east coast of Tarangan Island. Alternate names: Kerei, Krei. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 70% with East Tarangan [tre] and Batuley [bay].
Koba 600
Aru Islands, Baun and Fukarel islands bordering Dobel, 3 villages; southeast of Kobror Island, mouth of Barakai Strait. Dialects: Southeast Koba. Low comprehension of Dobel [kvo]. Lexical similarity: 78%–86% with Dobel
Kola 7.700 Islam
north Aru Islands, widespread on Kola Island coast, adjacent islands. 22 villages. Alternate names: Kulaha, Marlasi, Warilau. Dialects: Intelligibility test showed Marlasi dialect intelligible to Kompane [kvp]. Lexical similarity: 77% with Kompane, 70% with Ujir [udj].
Kompane 330
east coast of Kongan Island, northeast Aru, Kompane village, south of Kola and north of Wokam islands. Alternate names: Komfana, Kongampani. Dialects: Similar to Kola [kvv], linguistically between Kola and Batuley [bay]. Good intelligibility of Kola.
Lola 830 Islam
3 islands east of Kobroor and Baun islands, Aru Islands, Lola, Warabal, and Jambuair villages. Dialects: Lola, Warabal. Linguistically between Batuley [bay] and Dobel [kvo]; similar to Koba [kpd].
Lorang 320
Koba Island, Aru center, Lorang village. Dialects: Similar to Koba [kpd] and, to a lesser extent, Dobel [kvl]. Some similarities with Manombai [woo], but intelligibility is lower than might be expected.
Manombai 7.480
Aru Islands, Manombai Strait (Sungttai) area as far as Wakua, west coast of Wokam Island, from Wokam village south, 21 villages; Kobror Island, Benjina; west end of Barakai Strait, Maikor Island, Gardakau; east coast of Wokam Island, Kobamar village. May no longer be spoken on Wamar Island. Alternate names: Manobai, Wamar, Wokam. Dialects: Not inherently intelligible with Dobel [kvo]. Lexical similarity: 76% with Lorang [lrn]
Mariri 390
Mariri Island, east Aru east of Kobroor Island. 1 village. Alternate names: Mairiri. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 81% with Batuley [bay].
Tarangan East 3.780 Christian
south Aru Islands, Tarangan Island east coast, and villages in Maikor Strait (Sungai Maikor). 13 villages. Alternate names: East Trangan, Tarangan Timur. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 71% with West Tarangan [txn].
Tarangan West 6.480 Christian
south Aru Islands, Tarangan Island west coast. Alternate names: Tarangan Barat, West Trangan. Dialects: Southwestern Tarangan, North Central Tarangan. 2 sharply distinct dialect groups, with minor variation within them. Lexical similarity: 70% with East Tarangan [tre] and Manombai [woo].
Ujir 980 Islam
northwest Aru Islands, Ujir on Ujir Island, Samang on Wokam Island west peninsula tip. Alternate names: Udjir. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 75% with Kola [kvv] in north Aru, and slightly less with Kola on the west coast of Kola Island.

Tanimbar Islands, Tanimbar, nature reserves, tribes, yamdena, fordata, seluwasan, selaru,

Tanimbar Islands

Seluwasan 2.840 Yamdena
739 in Makatian, 2,100 in Seluwasan. South Maluku, Yamdena Island, southwest coast, Wermatang, Batu Putih, and Marantutul. Alternate names: Selvasa, Selwasa. Dialects: Seluwasan, Makatian. Makatian dialect quite different from others.
Selaru 8.000 Christian
Tanimbar, Selaru Island, 6 of 7 villages, Yamdena Island, half Latdalam village, Nus-Wotar Island off Yamdena west coast, Lingada village; Saumlake and Ambon. Alternate names: Salaru. Dialects: Kandar. Slight dialect differences. Not closely related to other nearby languages. Lexical similarity: 56% with Seluwasan [sws].
Tanimbar Fordata Christian
25,000 in the language area and 25,000 elsewhere (Marshall 2000). Southeast Maluku, north Tanimbar Islands of the Fordata, Larat, the Molu-Maru group, a few villages on the northwest part of Yamdena, and on Seira off the west coast of Yamdena. 30 villages. Also Saumlaki, Ambon, Tual, Sorong, Hayapura, Jakarta. Alternate names: Larat, Vai Fordata, Vai Tnebar, Vaidida. Dialects: Fordata-Larat I, Fordata-Larat II, Molo (Molo-Maru), Sera (Seira). Sera is most divergent dialect. Lexical similarity: 68% with Kei [kei].

Yamdena 25.000 Yamdena

Ethnic population: 35,000 to 40,000 (1991 SIL). Southeast Maluku, east coast of Yamdena, north tip of Selaru, Adaut village; southwest Yamdena, Latdalam village. 35 villages. Alternate names: Jamden, Jamdena. Dialects: North Yamdena (Batjas, Watmuri), South Yamdena (Saumlaki, Amdassa). Dialect chain from north to south with 90% lexical similarity between extremes, but with considerable morphological and phonological differences. The southern dialect is more prestigious. Lexical similarity: 90% between the north and south dialects, 47% with Fordata [frd].

kei islands, kei, tual, nature reserves, tribes, watubela, kur, teor,

Kei Islands

Kei 4.500 Animism
Southeast Maluku, Kei Kecil, Kei Besar, surrounding islands, except Banda Eli and Banda Elat villages on Kei Besar; Kur Islands, where Kei is a lingua franca. About 207 villages on about 10 islands. Alternate names: Kai, Saumlaki, Veveu Evav. Dialects: Kei Kecil, Kei Besar, Tayando, Tanimbar Kei (Atnebar), Ta’am. Kei Kecil is the prestigious urban dialect. Kei Besar speakers usually also know Kei Kecil, but not vice versa. Kei Besar is more similar to Fordata [frd] than other Kei dialects. Tanimbar Kei is spoken in only one village. Lexical similarity: 60% with Fordata.
Fishing is the main livelihood of the Kei villagers. The people go out, usually at night, in plank boats or in dugout canoes. They use spears, harpoons, hooks, and traps to catch the fish.

The Kei also engage in some farming, using the “slash and burn” technique. In this type of agriculture, the land is first cleared by burning the existing vegetation. Then, in the resulting fertile top soil, the crop is planted. After a year or two on the land, the farmer moves to a new area and begins the process all over again. Using this method, the Kei cultivate taro (a potato-like vegetable), yams, maize, and rice. They also collect sago (a powdery starch obtained from the trunks of sago palms) from the swamps. For export and cash, the people make boats and canoes, cut timber, and produce copra (dried coconut meat yielding coconut oil).

Formerly, settlements were built on the tops of high, steep rocks or hills for protection. They were usually grouped in dense clusters of 20 to 50 houses, surrounded by a stone wall. Today, the houses lack any one type of distinctive style, apart from being built on stilts.

The most important group in the Kei village is the fam (group with a common male ancestry). Some fams are small, with their members living in a few villages close together. Other fams are very large, with their members living in many villages spread over a broad area. A village may also contain members of several fams. However, one fam is usually regarded as being the “senior fam.” Its members are the direct descendants of those who first settled the village.

The ideal marriage to the Kei is a cross-cousin marriage. The man will usually pay a bride-price, and this will be reciprocated by a gift from the girl’s relatives. To avoid a large bride-price, the man may practice bride-service instead. In this case, he will live and work for his wife’s parents for a number of years.

Traditional Kei culture recognizes three social classes: the village heads, the ordinary people, and the slave class. The members of the ruling lineage of village heads are called the mel mel, and many of these claim foreign descent. The village head is called the rat or orang kaja.

The Kei are primarily ethnic religionists, practicing their ancient traditions and religions. An important element in their religion is the belief in spirits of the dead. The spirits of those who died a violent t or of women who died in childbirth are especially feared. Mythology also speaks of Duan Lerwuan, the god of the sun, and of Duan Luteh, the god of the moon. Other Kei deities include Hejan Suwat, the god of the sea, and Lir Majoran, the god of agriculture.

Watubela 4.000 Islam
Watubela Islands, north of Kur Island. Alternate names: Esiriun, Kasiui, Kasui, Kesui, Matabello, Snabi Watubela, Wesi. Dialects: Tamher Timur, Sulmelang. Lexical similarity: 77% between dialects, 51%–61% with Geser-Gorom [ges], 41% with Teor [tev] and Kur [kuv], 37% with Bobot [bty], 34% with Masiwang [bnf].
Kur 3.180 Islam
west Kei Kecil District, Kur Island and nearby islands. Dialects: Different from Kei [kei]. Boundaries of intelligibility with dialects to the north and the central dialect, and with Teor [tev] need further investigation. Lexical similarity: 47%–50% with Kei, 71%–83% with Teor, 41% with Watubela [wah], 38% with Geser [ges].
Teor 1.100
Teor and Ut islands. Alternate names: Tio’or. Dialects: Gaur Kristen, Ut. Self-report to understand Kur [kuv]. Lexical similarity: 79% between Gaur Kristen and Ut, 71%–83% with Kur, 41% with Watubela [wah], 38% with Geser [ges].

Aru Pulau Larat Nature Reserve

Aru Pulau Larat Nature Reserve

Aru, Pulau Larat, Aru Pulau Larat Nature Reserve, Cagar Alam,
(Surat Keputusan) Menhut No. 169/Kpts-II/1995, 24 Maret 1995. Luas areal 4.505 hektar.

Aru Tenggara Marine Nature Reserve

Aru Tenggara Marine Nature Reserve

Aru Tenggara Marine Nature Reserve comprises an area of 114,000 ha. of the south-eastern most part of Maluku. The reserve encompasses all coastal and marine ecosystems in an area SE of Trangan, the southern most major island of the Aru Archipelago.
Land ecosystems on the included turtle islands Enu, Jeh, Mar and Karang consist of mangrove forest, Nipa woods, savanna grassland and peat swamp forest. Coral reefs, used to be rich in fish and turtle species and Dugong, make up the marine ecosystems of the site. Overexploitation by non-local traders has led to a sharp decline in marine and coastal wildlife and called for the protection measures which led to the establishement of the reserve. The whole area lies on the Sahul continental shelf.
Kepulauan Aru forms one of the most remote regions in Indonesia. There is no public transport between the islands. To travel through the archipelago you are dependent on local fisherman.
The archipelago itself can be reached by plane or boat from Ambon. The plane serves the Aru archipelago once a week, the boat twice a month aboard the Bukit Siguntang via Kei (24hr). There’s also a weekly ferry from Kei Kecil (14hrs), and once a month direct from Kei on the Tatamailau (7hr) — latter two are both sizeable passenger ships.
WWF, Jl. Kramat Pela 3, Jakarta.
* Dobo
o Pastoran
o Penginapan Fany
WWF, Jl. Mutiara 68, Ambon

* Bruguiera spp.
* Rhizophora spp.
* Sonneratia spp.

* Dugong – Dugong dugon

* Southern Cassowary – Casuarius casuarius
* White-bellied Fish-Eagle – Haliaeetus leucogaster

* Green Turtle – Chelonia mydas
* Hawksbill Turtle – Eretmochelys imbricata
* Estuarine Crocodile – Crocodylus porosus

* Loggerhead – Caretta caretta
* Olive Ridley – Lepidochelys olivacea
* Flatback Turtle – Chelonia depressa
* New Guinea Freshwater Crocodile – Crocodylus novaeguineae