Waiting for Terns in the Rice Fields of Legon Cikmas Village

Rice fields provide subsistence not only for farmers, but also for birds. My desire to see terns in flight above rice fields inspired me to birdwatch in the village of Legon Cikmas, Karimunjawa. On the way there I saw several kinds of terns on the beach, including Black-naped Terns on Burung Island and the larger Krakal Island, and Bridled Terns flying all around over the sea. There were also Great Crested Terns perched on wooden posts.

That afternoon (June 9, 2010) I and a partner, supplied with a monocular, binoculars, and a camera, traced the edge of the rice fields. Scaly-breasted Munias (Lonchura punctulata), a type of seed eating bird, were always around. Walking dozens of meters caused White-browed Crakes to fly into the undergrowth. Ah, those tiny birds are very shy.

One group of almost twenty Grey Teals were surprised by our arrival and immediately took flight, revealing white feathers on their wings. It seems Grey Teal perch in the branches of coconut trees, and without hesitation we immediately found a spot to set up the monocular in order to document the birds by digiscoping –  attaching a digital camera to the monocular lens. For almost ten minutes we observed these birds, while pointing the lens towards a section of the rice fields where terns were flying and diving, capturing their prey in the middle of the rice fields. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, we sat patiently on an embankment. Birds were always moving around us, while we observed them with our binoculars. I felt, when these birds became tired and alit, that it would be easier to document them.

Finally, the group of terns that I wanted settled on an embankment, while in another area four Grey Teals paddled around in an unplanted patch of field. For a moment I forgot the Grey Teals and focused on the terns.  I took as many photos as I could with the digiscope. I hoped one or two of the photos would be good and help us with identification.

There was one tern with gray coloring, red feet, a reddish beak, black head, and when flying its tail was a little forked. Yes, that was a Whiskered Tern. During observations in 1996, 2003, 2004,  and 2005 in Karimunjawa National Park this type of tern had never been identified. After this several terns (Sternidae) were recorded in Karimunjawa National Park:

No Nama Jenis Famili







Camar angguk hitam Anous minutus

Camar angguk coklat Anous stolidus

Dara laut kecil Sterna albifrons

Dara laut batu  Sterna anaethetus

Dara laut jambul Sterna bergii

Dara laut tengkuk hitam Sterna sumatrana

Dara laut biasa Sterna hirundo

Sumber: de Korte 1984; Salm dan Halim 1984; de Korte dan Silvius 1990;

TNKJ, 1996; 2003; 2004; 2005.








Our NONGKRONG (hanging out) in the rice fields was a success, specifically a record of several species of birds. Below is the record:

No Nama
1 Kuntul karang Egretta sacra
2 Itik benjut Anas gibberifrons
3 Kokokan laut Butorides striatus
4 Kareo padi Amaurornis phoenicurus
5 Tikusan alis putih Porzana cinerea
6 Cangak merah Ardea cinerea
7 Kekep babi Artamus leucorhynchus
8 Bondol peking Lonchura puntulata
9 Pergam laut Ducula bicolor
10 Cekakak suci Todirhamphus sancta
11 Cekakak sungai Todirhamphus chloris
12 Terucukan Pycnonotus goiavier
13 Kacamata laut Zosterops chloris
14 Kuntul kecil Egretta garzetta

If you have some time, don’t disregard rice fields as a birdwatching site!

Author and picture : Hary Susanto

Translator: Deanna Ramsay

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