Birding on Rote

Summary:

This (relatively) small island, extending from the south west tip of West Timor is getting a name as a great place to see a number of declining Timor endemics, as well as having its own endemic forms, including some that are likely to become species in due course. The most likely include; Roti (Southern) Boobook, Roti (Timor) Leaf Warbler, Roti (Sumba) Myzomela, and Roti (Northern) Fantail.

Key bird species:

Rote (Southern) Boobook; Rote (Timor) Leaf Warbler, Rote (Sumba) Myzomela, and Rote (Northern) Fantail; Timor (White-bellied) Bushchat; Jonquil (Olive-shouldered) Parrot; Timor Stubtail, Orange-banded Thrush, Elegant Pitta, Black Cuckoo-dove (Timor Black Pigeon); Rose-crowned Fruit Dove; Timor Green Pigeon (very rare); Timor Figbird; Timor (Olive-brown) Oriole; Timor Warbling (Blue) Flycatcher; Timor (Plain) Gerygone; Indonesian Honeyeater, Red-chested Flowerpecker

Birdwatching locations:

Bolatena – Sotimori

The northern part of Roti, between and around the villages of Bolatena and Sotimori is where the Rote Boobook was first pinned down by Philippe Verbelen. This area is now where most visiting birders head to see the owls and other island and regional endemics. The landscape around Bolatena is that of cultivation with odd scattered areas of semi-natural habitat, and bordering more natural forest at the extremities. Despite being a farmed landscape the majority of interesting and target species can be seen here, not least the Boobook, but also Rote Myzomela, Rote Fantail and Rote Leaf Warbler and many others.

Adjacent to Sotimori is an area of more intact forest running alongside the non-metalled road between the two villages. The best area of forest along the road is on steep Limestone crags and is by a small lake ‘Danau Oendui’. The forest here also holds the majority of target species with Rote Myzomela, Fantail and Leaf Warbler all present. A second area to try for Rote Boobook is in this general area, west of the lake and by a road bridge. A small track heading south from Sotimori, the hamlet east of the lake, should take you into more forest. And this area, and more open countryside east of the hamlet is where Timor Green Pigeon has been recorded a couple of times. In the general area as a whole keep a look out for Timor endemics such as Jonquil Parrot and Black Cuckoo Dove, two species that are not always easy to see in West Timor!

Other Sites

Roti is still not that well explored. Some literature and trip reports do exist, and a starting point is; Colin R. Trainor (2005) “Birds of Tapuafu peninsula, Roti Island, Lesser Sundas, Indonesia.” Forktail 21: 211-131 and; Philippe Verbelen & Stjin Cooleman (2015) “Recent observations of the Endangered Timor Green Pigeon Treron psittaceus on Roti Island, Lesser Sundas” Kukila (18) 2: 83-87. Waypoints are provided in these two articles.

Access and Accommodation:

Roti can be reached by fast ferry service from Kupang.to Baa. It takes a few hours and is twice daily, morning and afternoon. There is also a small airstrip near Baa, so maybe flights will become more regular. From Baa, getting north is done by chartering a taxi/car with driver, or a motorbike/scooter. Public shared taxis may also be possible to villages on the northern coast road. Most visitors with their own vehicle will want to visit both Sotimori and Bolatena, so take the inland road rather than the shorter route that requires taking the small foot ferry at Pantaibaru. The latter option is probably a better bet if you don’t have private transport organized. The road conditions north of Baa are good until you head inland, then it becomes poor but still passable by a two wheel drive. A number of visiting birders have used the service of a local driver Adi (081 331582051). And Adi knows where you wish to be to see the Boobooks and other species in north Roti.

Accommodation is possible in Baa, and a couple of coastal resorts are also present north of Baa along the coast before the road turns inland. Visitors to Bolatena have also been put up in the home of local resident Rens Maku. It is not really a homestay, but Rens will provide a room or two, and basic meals, as well as a basic guiding service (mostly involving taking you to a spot where the resident pair of Boobook usually hang out). Just get to Bolatena and ask around for him.

Site information contributed by: Gareth Knass / Jan-2017

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