Information before you go
Bali bird watching is one of the best things you can do when you are in Bali. Whether you are a bird watcher or you have never peeked through a pair of binoculars before, everybody is going to have a lot of fun.
Bali has hundreds of different bird species so if you head out with several knowledgable field guides, you are surely to see unique birds such as the Java Kingfisher, Scarlet Headed Flower Pecker, Bar-Winged Prinia and the Black Winged Starling.
The best places and ways to do some bird watching are the following:
Bali Barat National Park (West Bali National Park): The montane and mixed monsoon forests in this nature reserve offers an ideal habitat for 160 different bird species including the endemic Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). In 2001 it was thought that only 6 lived in the park. After an successful breeding program and reintroduction program on Nusa Penida, this endangered bird is slowly recovering.
Bali Bird Walk Tour, these tours are led by the eccentric Victor Mason who will take you on walks around Ubud, south Bali, Tabanan, Batu Karu or the Central Highlands.
Petulu, north of Ubud, witness thousands of birds returning every day just before sunset
A question that Victor Mason, one of the organizers of the bird walk
tour, might ask you is: 'Are you a keen bird watcher?' If the answer is Yes then you will have a grand time, if it is
No then a whole new world called ' bird watching' will open to
Together with his fellow bird watchers, Wayan Sumadi (known as Su) and Pink, Victor Mason organizes bird watching tours around Ubud on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays morning.
However if you want it any other day or you want to do bird watching in other parts of the island then that can all be arranged as well. The people of the Bali Bird Walk know the island in and out and have been doing bird watching for more than 15 years.
So trust me, these are the guys you want to go along with if you want to see birds you wouldn't otherwise have seen or heard about.
Victor Mason in his bird watching uniform
I have hardly any experience with bird watching. I even had a hard time adjusting the binoculars I borrowed from Pink ;-) But within minutes I felt the same excitement as my fellow bird watchers when we spotted our first birds.
Victor Mason, Pink and their companion Umron the dog, took us along the main street of Ubud and into the rice fields. And almost after every couple of meters there was another bird that we could check-off on our list. All kinds of bird names were mentioned which I could not even remember afterwards.
Luckily at the beginning of the walk everybody was handed out a list of all the birds we might see and with everybody's help we could proudly say that we saw more than 30 types of Bali birds.
Everybody made sure they spotted every bird that flew over
Of course we saw all the different birds with much help from Pink and Victor. It was amazing how they were able to spot the tiniest bird or to hear them coming from far away.
Every now and then you will see Victor cupping his ear with one hand and listening for a sound. Then within seconds the bird he heard coming from a distance would be flying passed us. Pink on the other hand is amazingly good with spotting birds sitting in trees more than 10m away!
Besides their wonderful Bali bird watching skills, they are also great fun. Victor Mason has lived in Bali for many years but he has definitely not lost his English wit. He makes you chuckle throughout the tour.
Pink, a passionate and excellent bird watcher
As for Pink, he is originally from Ubud but his English is excellent. He knows everything you want to know about Bali, Ubud and of course the birds of Bali.
On top of that he is a painter and has created many beautiful paintings of birds, butterflies and insects. Unfortunately I was not able to meet Su, but from the stories I've heard she is just as great as the other two.
The bird watching tour starts at 9.00 o'clock in the morning and
about 3 hours. However when walking around searching for birds and also
checking out the many butterflies and various plants (Victor and Pink
seem to know all of them as well) we kind of lost notion of time.
So at the end we were having lunch (which is included in the price) at 15.00 instead of 12.00 as planned. O well, we are in Bali where everything is much more relaxed than at home.
Some culture along the way
I really had fun and I highly recommend this tour to anybody who wants to stroll around the rice fields while seeing the colorful birds of Bali. And if you are an enthusiastic bird watcher already, then this will be the best opportunity to share your passion with others.
As mentioned above the bird watching tour takes about 3 to 5 hours and costs US $37
including a big lunch. You should take a hat with you as it can get
really hot when walking in the rice fields. And some extra water which
always comes in handy.
evening around 17.00 hundreds of herons gather together at the village Petulu. This tiny village is set within the rice fields just north of Ubud
and with the herons returning each day, its streets are pretty much
covered with bird droppings.
OK that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but once the birds are in the trees you should not stand under them too long. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable sight to see the white herons flying in. They all settle in the big trees along the road and stay there throughout the night.
Herons in Petulu just outside Ubud
To be honest, we did expect them to come flying in together in one large group, but after 17.00 they gradually show up and only after 18.00 are the trees filled with them.
When you arrive at Petulu you will be stopped by a village member who will ask for a donation. You'll get a folder with information on the birds.
There are three types of herons at Petulu: the Egret which is totally white, the Cattle Egret which is slightly smaller and has a brown neck and finally the Javan Pond Heron. This is the smallest of the three and it has a black patch on his neck.
The villagers value the return of the
herons every day. The herons started to arrive in the village in 1965
right after the ending of a large ceremony which was held in the
village temple. Because of the timing of the birds arrival,
the villagers consider them a blessing from the Gods. Now ceremonies
are held to honor them.
When considering the location of the village, Petulu is also ideal located for the birds. The surrounding area is covered with rice fields and trees, creating an ideal place for the birds to find insects, little frogs, eels and to create suitable nests.
The villagers claim this is the best place for heron watching
On the south side of the village there is a look-out
point ideal for some bird watching. It is easy to find, as a sign next to road
mentions: "the best
place to see the herons". The little wooden house is in the middle of a
rice-field from which you can see the herons arriving. The little old lady running the place sells all kind of cold drinks so
you'll be comfortable during the whole spectacle.
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When in Ubud, grab some comfortable walking shoes, a bottle of water and head to the rice fields at Campuhan. Follow the clear path through the fields...Read more
There is always a time and place to learn something. Even on your holiday in Bali. Luckily there are dozens of courses you to choose from so you won't be bored...Read more
Now and then people send us inspiring emails and this generates even more enthusiasm to share all of the things we know about this lovely island in the hope that you can plan your tropical holiday properly and have as such a great time as we always have. Hope to see you there!
When I wrote the mail I never really expected a reply. I might have expected a computer generated but never a personally written one. The information you provided is invaluable, thank you so very much. I have been using your website as a bible through Bali. Through your recommendation, I will be heading to Ubud then follow the sightseeing route to the coast of Candidasa.
WOW...what an awesome website. I could only dream that there would be a website like this for all our travel destinations! You guys have done an fabulous job and now, I am sooo excited about our upcoming trip to Bali. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure Bali was the place for us considering some of the travel warnings (we are Americans). But I can tell from your experiences that the Bali people are so very kind and peaceful.
hi and congratulations on the blog it s brilliant and helpful....we are going to Bali in September with my family (including 2 little girls) so we need to have nice spaceous rooms garden and pool access rooms preferably in Semikyak but not too far from it all...I hope you can recommend a great place thats not full of Australian crowds as we like meeting people from other countries.
Hi, I have been travelling for years and I want to say that this website is the best I have EVER come across. It is easy to navigate, it is really descriptive, gives all the info that you could ever want and is accompanied by the best photos and advice. GREAT.