Birding on Damar


Small, remote, hard to get to… but there is an endemic flycatcher here to make it worthwhile!

Key bird species:

Damar Flycatcher; Rufous-sided Gerygone (endemic ssp); Golden Whistler (endemic ssp); Blue-streaked Lory; Olive-headed Lorikeet; Orange-sided Thrush; Cinnamon-collared Kingfisher; ‘Green-cheeked’ Little Bronze Cuckoo’ (Chrysococcyx [minutillus] rufomerus); Metallic Pigeon; White-bellied Whistler; Elegant Pitta

Birdwatching locations:

Damar is small, remote and hard to get to! The total size of the island is less than 200 km2 and its more than 100 km away from the next island of similar size. If you can make it there (see below), you’ll find yourself on a extremely underdeveloped island, with extensive forest, white sand beaches and fringing coral reefs.

The area inland from Damar’s principal village of Wulur is a good base for birding. Around 1 hrs (2-3km) walk south-west of the village takes you to the edge of primary forest and the start of interesting birding. Damar Flycatcher has been seen just inside the forest in this area, while the forest edge gives you a good chance at White-tufted Honeyeater, Rufous-sided Gerygone, Blue-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon, White-bellied Whistler, Spectacled Monarch, ‘Green-cheeked’ Little Bronze Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx [minutillus] rufomerus), Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Orange-sided Thrush, Cinnamon-collared Kingfisher, Olive-headed Lorikeet, Blue-streaked Lory, Metallic Pigeon and Elegant Pitta.

Other potential areas to explore include the Kumur area; either a 6-7 km walk from Wulur, or a short boat ride east around the coast. About 3km inland nice forest starts, and the same kind of range of species as listed above can be seen, including Damar Flycatcher. Another alternative location is the Batumerah area, reached by first travelling west from Wulur and then again heading inland to the forest.

To make the most of a birding trip inland, camping at the forest edge for a night or two is ideal. This should be easy enough to arrange by your hosts.

Access and Accommodation:

As far as we know there are no hotels of any kind on Damar. The population of around 5,000 people is clustered into seven villages, the largest of which is Wulur. This is where the ferries stop, and is probably the best place to base yourself. Report to the village head on your arrival and he should be able to fix you up with some basic accommodation and someone to guide you around. You may also need to report to the local police (if there are any!), but the village head can take care of this side of things. Don’t expect many people to speak English on Damar, so brush up on your Indonesian!

Getting to Damar by ‘public’ transport is not easy. The island is on the route of at least one of the major passenger ferries serving eastern Indonesia, but finding out the ever changing schedule from Perintis (the smaller of the Indonesian state ferry companies) is not easy, and then timing a short trip to the boat schedule is even harder. It is likely that ferries leave Ambon (or maybe Kupang?) but probably only call on Damar around 2-3 times a month. You can now fly to ‘nearby’ Kisar island on an apparently weekly Merpati flight from Ambon, and maybe also now from Kupang, but once in Kisar things are a little unclear again, and you may find yourself having to wait for one of the passing boats mentioned above! If you’ve got the time and cash to spare, by far the nicest way to get to Damar would be on a chartered live-aboard boat from Bali, but this will set you back!! Once on Damar, getting around involves either walking, or getting small long-boats to ferry you around the coast.

The best time to visit is between July and October, when the seas are at their calmest and rainfall is low.

More info:

Scroll down the page for related information, including photos, comments, trip reports, guides and services, articles and news. More information on Damar is also available in an article written by Colin Trainor (who also contributed to this account) published in OBC Bulletin No. 36.

Site map:

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