Birdwatching at Komodo National Park

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Komodo National Park Bird Watching

In the last seven years since 2015, I have been fortunate to have done birdwatching at Komodo National Park in Flores three times, but all three were solo birding adventures with the help of the park rangers there.

Komodo Island is known for the majestic dragons that roam freely at the three main islands that make up the national park outside Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara. And this place is also home to some interesting birds from this region.

Birdwatching at Komodo National Park

In 2015, my first visit to the national park was purely for observation purposes as I was doing a tourism article about visiting Komodo Island and asking the park rangers about birds; they told me that there were many foreigners, namely from Europe, that had been visiting Komodo Island for birdwatching.

Birdwatching at Komodo Island
One of the open trails for birdwatching at Komodo Island.

This news got me all excited, and I asked my park ranger to also look out for any birds along our trek around the island. Sure enough, they showed me some of the start birds of the island, which include the Orange-footed Scrubfowl and Wallaces Drongo along our trek.

Three main islands make up the national park: Komodo Island, Rinca Island, and Padar Island, which sits in between the other two islands. All three islands have Komodo Dragons living freely, but the Komodo and Rinca Islands are the most popular.

Padar Island is more for the trek up to the peak and seeing the magnificent view of the whole national park from the peak. This location has been viral since 2015 as hoards of people made their way up to get that epic photo for social media.

Birdwatching Trails at Komodo Island
This is one of the birdwatching trails in Komodo, which is relatively shaded. But one has to keep an eye out for the Komodo Dragons.

There is no accommodation at the national park; therefore, everyone stays in Labuan Bajo, the main town where you will arrive via flights. From Labuan Bajo, you need to book a boat trip to either one or all of the islands to experience seeing the Komodo Dragons.

If you plan to stay longer here, I suggest you explore the island more for birding, and you can check out this article I did in 2017 about birdwatching in Flores, which covers most of the places I visited.

Komodo Island Wallacean Drongo
A Wallacean Drongo is spotted along one of the trails on the island.

Types of Birding at Komodo National Park

There are two types of birding you can do here, and it all depends on your budget. For those who travel a long distance to get here, you may want to consider the second option, while some who live in the region can opt for the simple birding experience like me.

Easy Birdwatching at Komodo National Park – This is the cowboy option, which is budget-friendly. First, you need to book a boat to Komodo Island from Labuan Bajo town. When you arrive at the park office on the island, you can arrange for one of the park rangers to be your bird guide. Ask for someone who knows about birds because not all rangers know much about birds.

One of the rangers will follow and guide you throughout your birding at the park. There is no option for birding alone as a ranger always needs to be with guests for safety purposes. You don’t want to be attacked by a Komodo Dragon while looking at birds. So, the only way is to have the ranger by your side, as he will be on the lookout.

Birdwatching Tour at Komodo National Park – This is where you book a specialised birdwatching tour to Komodo Island and use a proper bird guide who knows where and what birds to see and photograph. This option needs to be pre-booked before you go there, so you must look for a reputable bird guide for Komodo National Park.

This option is also on the higher priced tier where they pick you up, book the boat, pay the park fees and everything else. So, you don’t need to worry about the logistics as everything is pre-arranged. Just go with the flow, and let them know if you have a bird life. If you go looking for one in Labuan Bajo, I don’t think there will be any, but rest assured, if you ask, everyone will say they can do it just to get your business.

Komodo Island Black-naped Oriole
A Black-naped Oriole at Komodo National Park.

Birds of Komodo National Park

Overall, I had some luck during my three birding trips at Komodo National Park, as I saw most of the endemic birds there. However, all three times were the easy birdwatching option due to my work commitment there. My main focus was on the Komodo Dragons, and I sure had some interesting encounters with this prehistoric cousin of the dinosaurs.

Below is my simple bird list for Komodo National Park. It is not my full list, but those I can remember of my head.

  • Large-billed Crow
  • Barred Dove
  • Orange-footed Scrubfowl
  • Green Imperial-Pigeon
  • Brahminy Kite
  • White-bellied Fish Eagle
  • Black-naped Oriole
  • Wallacean Drongo
  • Flores Crow
  • Singing Bushlark
  • Spotted Dove
  • Collared Kingfisher
  • Chinese-crested Tern
  • Golden-headed Cisticola
  • Great-billed Heron
  • Great Crested Tern
  • Pacific Reef Egret

Birds of Komodo National Park

Below are random photographs taken around the three main islands that comprise the Komodo National Park. I visited all three on different days and took several photos, but with my old technology camera, most photos did not turn out nicely. So, below are some of the best bird photos on Komodo Island.

Komodo Flores Brahminy Kite
A Brahminy Kite perched.
Komodo Island Chinese Crested Terns
A pair of Chinese-crested Terns fly past.
Komodo Flores Collared Kingfisher
A pair of Collared Kingfishers at Komodo Island.
Komodo Flores Crow
The endemic Flores Crow.
Komodo Golden-headed Cisticola
A Golden-headed Cisticola at Komodo Island.
Komodo Great-billed Heron
A Great-billed Heron is seen on one of the rocks around the islands.
Flores Great Crested Terns
Great Crested Terns rest on a floating log.
Komodo Green Imperial Pigeon
A Green Imperial Pigeon on a tree.
Flores Green Imperial Pigeon
A pair of Green Imperial Pigeons.
Flores Large-billed Crow
A Large-billed Crow at the entrance of the national park.
Komodo Orange-footed Scrubfowl
I saw a pair of Orange-footed Scrubfowls running in the distance.
Komodo Spotted Dove
A lone Spotted Dove perches on a tree.
Komodo Varied Goshawk
A Varied Goshawk flies past as I am walking.
Komodo White-bellied Fish Eagle
White-bellied Fish Eagles are commonly seen around the islands here.

I took all the bird photos above using my Nikon D5100 and a basic 18-300mm VR lens; therefore, the bird photography quality is not up to today’s standards. I am currently using a Canon R7 with a 100-500mm lens, and I will soon move to an RF 200-800mm lens.

Additional Information about Komodo Island

Before I conclude, you may want to read this article on Komodo Island for first-time visitors as it provides some good information about this unique island and the majestic Komodo Dragon. And I also wrote about how to get to Komodo Island for anyone who wants to know more.

And finally, if you plan to spend a little more time around this part of Indonesia, I wrote an article about things to do in Flores, which is entirely commercial and targeted to general travellers who like to explore new places.

Protected Bird Species in Indonesia
A poster of the Protected Bird Species in Indonesia.
Indonesian Protected Birds
Another poster shows the protected birds of Indonesia.

Conclusion

Being here since 2015 has opened my eyes to East Nusa Tenggara and further, as I even managed to explore scuba diving at Alor Island and Raja Ampat during my active diving days. For the curious, you can read about my diving in Alor Island, a trip report similar to a bird trip report.

I hope this article has given you the much-needed information for anyone planning to do birdwatching at Komodo National Park. Also, my last trip here was back in 2018; therefore, I believe it is time to make a proper birding trip to Komodo Island soon.

About Bird Watching Asia

Bird Watching Asia is a self-funded project to promote bird watching in Malaysia and around Asia.

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