The King of Birds: the official mascot of Jakarta, Elang Bondol or the red-backed sea eagle, (Haliastur indus) seen on Rambut Island on Sunday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Birdwatching on Rambut Island
BY : YUDHA BASKORO
AUGUST 09, 2019
Day trippers from Jakarta visit Tidung Island, Pramuka Island, Air Island, Pari Island or Onrust Island in the Thousand Islands mini-archipelago for a brief respite from the hurly-burly of the capital: a bit of sightseeing, an hour or two of snorkeling, several gigabytes of selfies on perfectly rustic Instragrammable spots.
The anoraks among them visit Rambut Island for something that requires more dedication, effort and an eagle eye: birdwatching.
Rambut Island is a bird conservation where mostly water birds live freely in 90 hectares of uninhabited area. The island has been used as a wildlife reserve by the Forestry and Environment Ministry since 1999.
It only takes around 30 minutes from Marina Ancol and 90 minutes from Muara Angke to reach Rambut Island when the weather is good.
Birdwatching is the main tourist attraction on the island, also known as The Kingdom of the Birds. "People usually come to Rambut to photograph the birds, sometimes for research, most of the times, that's their hobby," said Budi Kusuma Wardana, a forestry expert from the Jakarta Natural Resources Conservation Center.
There are 22 species of water birds and 39 species of terrestrial birds on the island. The more common ones are the bangau bluwok (milky stork, Mycteria cineria), cangak merah (purple heron, Ardea purpurea), cangak abu (grey heron, Ardea cinerea) and kepodang (black-naped oriole, Oriolus chinensis).
The rarest species is a cousin of the red-backed bald eagle, the official mascot of Jakarta, elang laut (sea eagle, Haliaeetus). The sea eagles are rare since only a small number of them can live in one ecosystem. Being a predator, an adult sea eagle will fight for territory with his own father and hunt him down.
Even though it is open for public, visitors need to get a permit from the conservation center to explore the whole island and do birdwatching on a 20-meter tower in the middle of the island.
If you want to take photos of the birds on Rambut Island, bring a telephoto lens and a monopod. Wear long-sleeved shirts and boots to avoid insect bites.
The best time to visit Rambut Island is between March and September as that's when the birds migrate back to their kingdom.