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Day 1
(Thursday, 30th March)

     Evening Snake hunting

The prime reason for selecting Bali over other more juicy birding destinations was the lure of “hunting” for a selection of the snakes on offer on this small island. Unlike Borneo, which also has a good selection, Bali is a vastly smaller island and so offers a greater concentration making sightings more likely. Add to that the existence of Bali Reptile Rescue, who not only conserve snakes (King Cobra in particular) but also offer tours to look for wild snakes. We were originally going to use their services for a couple of days at the end of the trip, but this clashed with a local festival, so we plumped for the first two instead. Shinta, the organiser for the group, met us at the airport arrivals, and had also booked us into the Bintang Balian for 2 nights as a base for the snake hunts. The interest in watching wild snakes overtook the need to look for birds today – they would have their spot in the limelight later in the week – although of course we did take any resultant opportunity to find a few species. Most of the journey from the airport to Balian was in traffic-heavy roads mainly lining built up streets, leaving little opportunity for birding from the car. A late lunch stop at a small open ended cafe was conveniently next to an open field, and from here we saw Zitting Cisticola and a handful of Scaly-breasted Manakins. Swiftlets overhead were mainly Cave.

The hotel was in Balian, and while waiting the hour or so for the “snake team” to arrive we tried to mop up a few of the commoner garden species. In amongst Yellow-vented Bulbul and now common Cave Swiftlets, a few White-breasted Woodswallows were overhead, with Plain Flowerpeckers in the garden. The Cave Swiftlets were found to host at least one Edible Nest congener, with small groups of Pacific Swifts in the distance.

Bat Cave Lesser Dawn Bat Olive-backed Sunbird

Pura Luhur Srijong bat cave

Lesser Dawn Bat Olive-backed Sunbird
Pacific Swallow White-headed Munia Lizard

Pacific Swallow

White-headed Munia Draco Lizard

By 6.30pm, Shinta and the driver were joined by two more staff from the company, one impressively wielding a hooked snake handling tool – the excitement began. We drove for just over 20 minutes from the hotel and parked amongst some tree lined fields. The trees were the target. It was now dark, and 6 shifty looking figures made their slow way along one of the metalled tracks, combing through the lower vegetation as we progressed. These guys had a good mix of experience and sharp eyesight, since they made finding the quarry look easy. Painted Bronzeback Tree Snakes were common, being found regularly along the walk. Shinta had inadvisably boasted that more or less any day they would pick out at least 3 different species in an hour, and that is exactly what they did, following up with Rat Snake and Dog-faced Cat Snake. Elated with our findings, we drove a few hundred metres further along the track, and crossed a small stream on foot in the forest. The guides proved to be unerringly sharp in their quest, since one found two separate Lesser Sunda White-lipped Pit Vipers in branches over the stream. Despite how I might have felt about the potential of looking for King Cobra the next day, I have to admit that the Pit Vipers were top of my wanted list, and they didn’t let me down. Just as we were trying to finally drag ourselves away, the rain started in earnest, and we happily decided to call it a night, with satisfying views of the band of reptiles we had encountered.

Herping Pit Viper Bronzeback

Herping at night

Lesser Sunda White-lipped Pit Viper

Painted Bronzeback

Cat Snake Rat Snake Spider

Dog-toothed Cat Snake

Oriental Ratsnake

 

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 Day 8

Species list

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