Tag Archives: Kebun Raya Balikpapan

Birds of the Balikpapan Botanical Garden – Part II

This is a followup to my previous blogpost, showcasing some of the wonderful birdlife which may be encountered at the Kebun Raya Balikpapan (Balikpapan Botanical Garden).

Collared kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)

This lovely bird was remarkably unperturbed by my presence, and darted down from its branch several times to catch insects from the forest floor. After 5 minutes – and 65 photos – it flew off….

Asian red-eyed bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus)

The Asian red-eyed bulbul is often seen getting grubs in lowland forests on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, as well as here on the island of Borneo.

I like the creamy out-of-focus green blur in the photo below. Like a bird perched in the general idea of a forest.

Banded woodpeckers (Chrysophlegma miniaceum)

They make distinctive ‘klok-klok’ sounds as their beaks strike repeatedly against the tree trunks.

This attractive (and rather raffish-looking) pair of birds were searching for ants, termites and insects.

Greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)

These birds have a massive repertoire of songs, including perfect imitations of other forest birds. They sing sweet and loud, just beside the tracks on which I walk at the Kebun Raya – as if to attract my attention. Well, they succeed.

They are locally known as ‘Sri gunting’ (Scissor birds), because of the pair of long tail feathers.

Brown barbet (Caloramphus fuliginosus)

These birds are endemic to Borneo, where they are a ‘common resident’.

Black hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus)

This female was seen (and heard squawking raspily) at the Kebun Raya Balikpapan. Apparently they are particularly fond of eating fruit of the forest durian

Oriental dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)

It was quite distant, but nicely lit by a few minutes of bright sunshine. A 560mm lens helped too…

Green imperial pigeon (Ducula aenea)

They are locally known as ‘Burung Pergam’.

For a few weeks, they were regular visitors to some trees near the Information Centre at the Kebun Raya, as they feasted (alongside a band of Long-tailed macaques) on ripe fruit of Alseodaphne elmeri.

Sooty-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)

Asian glossy starlings (Aplonis panayensis)

These ones are juveniles. When they grow up they take on a very shiny green-black colour – but they retain those striking red eyes.

Birds of the Balikpapan Botanical Garden

The Kebun Raya Balikpapan (Balikpapan Botanical Garden) is focussed on collecting, conserving and showcasing the unique trees, orchids and other plants of Kalimantan. Across its 307 hectares, it achieves this admirably. Most of that area consists of protected lowland dipterocarpus forest, which once blanketed much of the island of Borneo. This protected forest extends into the adjacent Hutan Lindung Sungai Wain (the Wain River Protected Forest), together forming a 10,000+ hectare window into the remarkable biodiversity of East Kalimantan.

Protection of the forest of course also protects the habitat of a huge range of other life: insects, reptiles, mammals, and… birds. So here’s a selection of just some of the birdlife I have recently encountered at the Kebun Raya. (For another selection, follow this link to view Part 2 of this post).

Chestnut-breasted malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris microrhinus)


Apart from eye colour, the female (yellow iris) and male (blue) are almost indistinguishable.

Bornean Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita in Latin, or ‘Ayam hutan’ locally)

This male was strutting proudly and showing off his fine plumage.

This female Bornean Crested Fireback is less dramatic and showy than its male partner – but no less beautiful.

Buff-rumped woodpeckers (Meiglyptes grammithorax)

The male and female are almost identical, with the male distinguished by the red patch under his eye.


They were carving out quite deep holes in the trunk of a dead tree, in pursuit of termites. So engrossed were they in that task that they let me approach within about four metres.

Pied oriental hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)

A wildlife photographer from Bandung (Java) visited the Kebun Raya Balikpapan recently, saying that he was very keen to see a hornbill bird while he was in Kalimantan. Not wanting to get his hopes up, I told him that they are often heard but quite rarely seen.


5 minutes later… this (female) Pied oriental hornbill.

Lesser green leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon)

Like its close relative the Greater green leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati), it is found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar. The IUCN has determined that the survival of both species is threatened by habitat loss.

Javan myna (Acridotheres javanicus)

A member of the starling family, originally found only on Java and Bali, but has spread (or been introduced) to other islands and countries.

White-bellied sea eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

They are found from western India to as far east as the Solomons and New Zealand (and Australia of course), but this was the first time I’ve seen them at the KRB…

Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster)

They are also known as ‘snakebirds’, because only the very long neck and head is visible when the bird is immersed.


Like cormorants, they stand with their wings outstretched to dry them after swimming.

Greater coucal (Centropus sinensis bubutus)

I have seen ‘burung bubut’ before, in Central Kalimantan, but this was the first one I’d seen here in East Kalimantan.

I was even more delighted when I saw that it had just captured a little snake, which was hanging, still alive and wriggling, from its beak. (I was of course sorry for the hapless little snake, but… well, it’s a jungle out there).

The Greater coucal is a large species of (non-parasitic) cuckoo, found from western India and southern China down south as far as Java. They are reportedly becoming scarce in Kalimantan because local belief is that a medicine made from the bird’s wings is useful for healing broken bones.

Greater green leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati)

These very attractive birds are well known in Indonesia as ‘Cucak hijau’. They have a lovely rich complex song, and are good mimics too. This one is a male.

This may lead to their extinction in the wild, because they are being heavily trapped and sold in bird markets for upwards of Rp1 million (about AU$100) each. Their owners may enter them in the birdsong competitions that are popular here. Betting and prize monies are big, and a competition winner can sell for many times the original purchase price.

20 years ago the IUCN classed them as of ‘Least concern’. But now, due to rapidly declining numbers and habitat loss, they are classed as ‘Vulnerable’.

Pacific swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

It was perched atop a tall dead tree stump protruding from the middle of a pond. They are frequently seen across southern Asia and on the islands of the Pacific.

Baccaurea parviflora

There are over 100 different species in the genus Baccaurea, which are mostly found from Thailand and Indonesia across to the western Pacific. At the Kebun Raya Balikpapan (‘KRB’ – the Balikpapan Botanical Garden) there are 99 specimens from four identified species in the collection, as well as a number of others whose precise identity has yet to be determined.

This one is Baccaurea parviflora Müll.Arg., which is known in Banjar language (along with some other species of Baccaurea) as ‘rambai’. In the Indonesian (and Malaysian) language it’s called ‘setambun’. It’s locally common from Thailand through to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

It grows as a shrub or small tree, up to a height to 15 metres, though usually less. So it’s an understorey tree in the rainforest, way down below the height of the big canopy trees, and the even bigger emergent trees. This one at the KRB, which was planted out as an established seedling in 2008, is currently about four metres tall.

The fruit can be eaten, though it’s acidic. Apparently it’s best when cooked. The hard timber is used to make tools and boxes and the like.

There are 15 Baccaurea parviflora specimens in the collection of the KRB, all of which were collected back in June 2006 from the nearby Sungai Wain Protected Forest (Hutan Lindung Sungai Wain). The seedlings were found and brought to the KRB by the esteemed Pak Trisno.

There are a couple of slightly unusual things about this plant. It’s ‘dioecious’, meaning that there are distinct male and female plants, with both (unsurprisingly!) required for pollination and reproduction.

The flowers grow as ‘inflorescences’, directly out of the main trunk of the tree. The flowers of the female Baccaurea parviflora are located just above ground level.

The male flowers also grow on inflorescences, which can appear anywhere on the trunk of the tree.

When the dark red berry fruits form, they just lie on the ground at the base of the tree.

The large and attractively glossy leaves grow singly, and are sort-of elliptical in shape.

Kariangau

On Wednesday I travelled with workmates from the Kebun Raya Balikpapan (Balikpapan Botanical Gardens) to collect plant specimens from the nearby region of Kariangau. Despite the even-more-than-usually hot weather, it was a really enjoyable and very interesting little expedition.

It’s only about ten kilometres away from the lowland Dipterocarpus rainforest that characterises the Kebun Raya, but it’s a very different environment, known in Borneo as ‘kerangas’. The word comes from the Dayak Iban language of West Kalimantan, and it literally means “land that can’t be used to grow rice”. It’s heathland, with nutrient-poor, sandy soils, no large trees, but many unique plant species.

We were specifically looking for two species of pitcher plants (Nepenthes, locally called ‘kantong semar’). These wonderful plants overcome the lack of soil nutrients (especially nitrogen) by being carnivorous, attracting and consuming ants and other unfortunate little creatures in their sticky ‘pitchers’.

The pitchers are actually formed as extensions to the plant’s leaves. The Nepenthes flowers are located in clusters on separate stems of the plant.

We collected two varieties: Nepenthes mirabilis and Nepenthes reinwardtiana. Each specimen was carefully extracted from the sandy soil.

Then the roots and ball of soil were wrapped in plastic to keep moisture in, and to prevent damage.

The soil acidity and moisture content were measured, and a GPS reading of the location and elevation was taken.

All these details, along with a unique code for the collector and a unique identifier for the specimen, were carefully documented. The unique identifier (known as a ‘nomor akses’) is used to keep track of the specimen when it is incorporated in the nursery at the Kebun Raya, and throughout its life after it is planted out into the ‘formal’ collections of the gardens.

The plants were then placed in larger plastic bags which were sealed, again to limit water loss before returning to the Kebun Raya.

As well as Nepenthes, we collected specimens of a ground orchid (Bromheadia finlaysoniana), and a species of the shrub Tristianopsis.

Job done, all packed up and ready to return.

Back at the Kebun Raya, black polybags had already been prepared in the nursery. Each contained equal proportions of soil, rice husks and aged manure. They were thoroughly moistened prior to planting the new specimens.

The specimens were removed from their collection bags, and excess foliage was trimmed to reduce transpiration while the plants get established in their new homes.

Each was then carefully planted into a black polybag.

Details from the field notebooks were transcribed onto forms, ready for input into the collection database.

Yellow ID tags were prepared and attached to the plant specimens, which are now ‘formally’ part of the collection of the Kebun Raya Balikpapan.

36 Views of Kalimantan (Part 3)

More from the series 36 Views of Kalimantan – Random photos 2014-17. Hope you like some of them!

36 Views of Kalimantan is published here in three parts. Click on these links to view Part 1 or Part 2.

Kebun Raya Balikpapan 3-Jan-2017 (25/36)

 

Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan 27-Sep-2014 (26/36)

 

Tanjung Puting, Central Kalimantan 3-Sep-2017 (27/36)

 

Tumbang Gagu, Central Kalimantan 19-Mar-2015 (28/36)

 

Bangkal, Central Kalimantan 15-Mar-2016 (29/36)

 

Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan 28-Dec-2014 (30/36)

 

Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan 29-Dec-2014 (31/36)

 

Tumbang Tahai, Central Kalimantan 6-Oct-2014 (32/36)

 

Terang Baru, North Kalimantan 25-Apr-2017 (33/36)

 

Terang Baru, North Kalimantan 25-Apr-2017 (34/36)

 

Bangkal, Central Kalimantan 13-Mar-2016 (35/36)

 

Sei Gohong, Central Kalimantan 9-Mar-2016 (36/36)

 

36 Views of Kalimantan (Part 2)

More from the series 36 Views of Kalimantan – Random photos 2014-17. Hope you like some of them!

36 Views of Kalimantan is published here in three parts. Click on these links to view Part 1 or Part 3.

Kapuas Hulu 5-Apr-2015 (13/36)

 

Tumbang Manggu 10-Dec-2014 (14/36)

 

Bukit Bangkirai 2-Apr-2017 (15/36)

 

Idul Fitri 17-Jul-2015 (16/36)

 

Betang Sungai Utik (West Kalimantan) 29-Mar-2015 (17/36)

 

Kebun Raya Balikpapan 17-Jul-2017 (18/36)

 

Long Api (North Kalimantan) 27-Apr-2017 (19/36)

 

Palangkaraya (Central Kalimantan)16-Aug-2015 (20/36)

 

Tumbang Manggu (Central Kalimantan) 9-Dec-2014 (21/36)

 

Banjarmasin 13-Sep-2015 (22/36)

 

Balikpapan 31-Dec-2016 (23/36)

 

Buntoi, Central Kalimantan 17-Jul-2016 (24/36)

 

Flying dragon (Draco volans)

There are some pretty remarkable creatures here in Kalimantan. Take this little lizard. Only 20cm long – including tail – he (it’s a male) has at least three amazing attributes:

1. That spectacular flap of yellow skin on his neck (known as a ‘dewlap’). He extends and retracts it at will, looking rather like hoisting a sail on a yacht. Apparently the females find it irresistibly attractive (and who could blame them?)

2. Colour changing. This photo of THE SAME LIZARD was taken about ten seconds after the one above. See any differences?


3. He can FLY! If I’m not mistaken, he’s a ‘Common flying lizard’ (Draco volans), whose Latin name means ‘flying dragon). He can glide 10 metres or more between trees, using wing-like extensions between front and back legs, formed out of folds of skin supported by special ribs (called ‘patagia’).

Here’s a couple more photos of the remarkable ‘Flying dragon’:

Photographed yesterday at the Kebun Raya Balikpapan, in a tree right beside the main Information Centre.

Monyet biasa?

Monyet biasa (‘Ordinary monkeys’), a.k.a. Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), this morning at the Kebun Raya Balikpapan.

Common perhaps, but anything but ordinary.

Mungkin sering terlihat, tapi masih monyet luar biasa.