Friday, November 1, 2019

Birding in Sonder of Minahasa

Sonder is a highland district in Minahasa. It has got tens of sites that are suitable for birdwatching. In the rice field, river banks, and ponds, we can see such birds as Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Sulawesi Crow, Chestnut Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, Black-faced Munia, and Collared Kingfisher. 
Olive-backed Sunbird in Tounelet village of Kecamatan Sonder, Minahasa
Sahul Sunbird in Tounelet Slope of Kecamatan Sonder of Minahasa Highland
If we walk through the alleyways of the small town that have got trees on both of their sides, we could see Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster), Sahul Sunbird (Cynniris frenatus), Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon (Ducula radiata), Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon (Treron Griseicauda), White-eyed Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus leucops), Sulawesi Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus montanus), and Crimson Sunbird and Grey-sided Flowerpecker, Black-crowned White-eye (Zosterops atrifrons).

Birdwatching, sightseeing, cultural tour in Minahasa regency of North Sulawesi
Birdwatching in Kecamatan Sonder of Minahasa regency the Province of North Sulawesi

Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis) in the outskirt of Sonder town of Minahasa regency
Sulawesi Scops Owl in Sonder of Minahasa highland
I also explore the farmland and secondary forest of Sonder. There, I see Yellow-billed Malkoha (Rhamphococcyx calyorhynchus), Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis), Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) and Pale Blue Monarch.
More birds can be seen in Kecamatan Sonder of Minahasa regency if we spend several more days there. There is a good birding site inside Sonder. Its name is Tounelet village. Various species of birds could be seen there. 


Internet Connection
Sonder town is covered by 4G internet connection provided by telkomsel. You only need to buy Simpati Simcard and internet quota at the airport or at the nearby supermarket to get access to the internet.
Food
There are eating houses or food stalls in Sonder town. So, it is easy to find food there. Because most of the Minahasan traditional foods are spicy, please inform the food vendors in advance if you do not want chilli souce in the foods that you order.

How to get there?
There are daily flights from major cities in Indonesia to Manado city. Transportation to Sonder town from Manado city can be served by Gocar, Grab or chartered car. It is very easy to reach Sonder. From the bus terminal of Tomohon town, find a public transportation to Kecamatan Sonder. Tell the driver to stop in front of the house of Alex Roring's family in Tounelet village. The village is located in a slope between Kolongan Atas and Kolongan Bawah. There is a small forest in the slope where a lot of birds live.
Birding in Sonder
Flight route to Manado city in The Province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Birding and sightseeing tour in District Sonder of Minahasa regency of North Sulawesi
Sonder town in Minahasa highland of North Sulawesi
Field Guide Book
Birding is a fascinating activity. It brings us closer to nature. Our birding experience can significantly be enhanced if we bring a field guide book. For Indonesia, the recommended book now is Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago - Greater Sundas and Wallacea. The authors of the book were James A. Eaton, Bas van Balen, Nick W. Brickle, and Frank E. Rheindt.
Birding Devices
In addition, visitors need to bring a good pair of binoculars such as Nikon Monarch HG 8×42, Nikon Monarch5 10×42, Nikon Action Extreme 12×50.
Birding camera such as Nikon Coolpix P1000, P900 or Canon SX70 HS will allow birdwatchers to take pictures of birds in high trees for identification purposes.
Because I work as a tourist guide, I often bring a spotting scope. Mine is a Kinglux 20-60×60 mm, a pair of Visionking 10×42mm roof prism binoculars, laser pointer, and sound player and a portable loudspeaker for calling birds.
Clothing
Birding in Sonder is easy. We do not need expensive hiking shoes. I usually spend my time walking in the farmland areas especially in placescwhere there are tall trees. There are unpaved roads, and footpaths which I can follow. They are not steep. I only wear flip-flops or running shoes. Because I often bring complete birding gear, I always wear jeans or trousers that have several big pockets. I put laser pointer, sound player and loudspeaker as well as a pen and a small note book in them.
Further Explorations of Minahasa Highlands
From Sonder, visitors could explore more villages, and towns in Minahasa highland. Pierre Roring who lives near the homestay could arrange a rental car for visitors who need it.
Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon in Tounelet village of Kecamatan Sonder, Minahasa highland, North Sulawesi
Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon in Tounelet village of Sonder, Minahasa Highland

Other Attractions
Minahasan society are mostly farmers. Visitors who stay in Sonder can go to Rambunan village for birding and also for seeing how local farmers make palm sugar using the sweet sap of aren tree. A visit to Polutan village will give visitors a chance to see how local people make flower vases, big plates using clay as the main raw material. There are also other villages in Minahasa highland which are interesting to be explored. The nearby Leilem village is a famous for its home industry in wooden furniture.
There are waterfalls in Tincep village. Visitors can go there while doing birding along the terraces of rice fields.
If you are interested in taking a birding tour in North Sulawesi and want me to be your guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.
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