Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Birding the Kai Islands of Indonesia

Great Kai White-eye
 The next chapter in our just concluded trip to the southern Moluccas and the Tanimbar islands of Indonesia. After visiting Yandema Island in the Tanimbars and Buru Island, we flew to Tual on the island of Kai Kecil in the Kai group of islands in far eastern Indonesia. Our accommodation here was the pleasant Suita Indah Hotel. We saw Kai Coucal on the drive from the airport and in beachside scrub at nearby Ohoililir, we tracked down another Kai endemic, the White-tailed Monarch.

Black-eared Friarbird
The following day we boarded our chartered ferry early in the morning to visit Kai Besar Island, where our efforts were concentrated in the scrub around the Bukit Indah Mission.

Landing on Kai  Besar
 We found Kai Leaf-Warbler easily enough after a short hike up the trail along with plenty of Great Kai White-eyes, a species that is endemic to this islana. Also added to the list was Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot. In the afternoon we returned to Kai Kecil and found Island Whistler at Ohoililir.

Island Monarch
 Our third day was spent on the recently completed road to the airport, where there are numerous trails leading into nice stands of rainforest and small areas of cultivation. The birding here was excellent and this area appears certain to replace Ohoililir as the main birding destination for the Kai Islands. We found plenty of Little Kai White-eyes - a species endemic to Kai Kecil - along with Pied (Little) Bronze-Cuckoo (supposedly rare in the Kai islands but we ended up seeing quite a few) and Red-bellied Pitta.

Island Whistler
We were back at the airport on our final morning, seeing Kai Cicadabird and an unusually large flock of 18 migrating Channel-billed Cuckoos. Among other birds were distinctive Kai endemic subspecies of Australasian Figbird, Northern Fantail, Variable Goshawk and Arafura Fantail.

Kai Coucal

Australasian Figbird - Kai race

Little Kai White-eye

Northern Fantail - Kai race

Pied Bronze-Cuckoo

Variable Goshawk - juvenile, Kai race

Wallace's Fruit-Dove

 We found large numbers of Wallace's Fruit-Doves in the Kai islands and quite a few White-breasted Fruit-Doves.
White-breasted Fruit-Dove


  1. Sounds and looks as if it continues to be a great trip.

  2. I am hoping to visit Tual this year. Did you find this a good destination for observing forest birds? Was it difficult to spot the pygmy parrots? Will I need to be fluent in Bahasa Indonesia if I want to stay on the Islands for a couple of weeks?

    1. David, the pygmy-parrot was quite easy early in the morning in the roadside forest near the airport - go down various side tracks to the garden plots in the forest. No I don't think you would need to be fluent in Bahasa

  3. What is the most convenient means of transport on Kai Kecil?

    1. Regarding transport, our trip was pre-arranged. However, you will see from this post that the best forest site is very near the airport, so transport should not be a problem. The village of Ohoililir is also just quite a short drive so you should be able to arrange transport easily.