In the birding reviews of Flores, Ruteng is well described as the primary birding destination on the island. Ruteng Nature Reservation is the most potential birding site to do the bird watching in the area which has three main sites; Golo Lusang, Ranamese Lake, and Ranaka. The mentioned places have their own special targets. All the endemic birds of the island can be found in the reservation except Flores Monarch (Symposiachrus sacerdotum) that is recorded at Mbeliling Forest, West Manggarai only.
Since Ruteng is surrounded by ricefields, wetlands, and streams, this town then becomes a potential wetland birding site. Based on the recent reports, the sites in the area of Ruteng have not been explored well yet. But in contrary, in the previous reports, the wetlands around Ruteng still keep a big mistery about one of the most undescribed and rarely encountered Rails, Lewin’s Rail of Flores(Lewinia pectoralis exsul).
The first record of Lewins Rail exsul was in 1896 by Everett. Fifty years later, a Priest named Verheijen did some intensive research and collected specimens from four places around Ruteng between 1954 – 1959. The last record of Lewins Rail exsul was on 1974 by Schmutz in Sanonggoang, West Manggarai (Colin Tranor & Philippe Verbelen; Lewin’s Rail Lewinia pectoralis exsul on Flores, Indonesia: its history, status and where to look for it). The mystery of Lewin’s Rail exsul is an indication that the wetlands in and around Ruteng likely becomes one of the best birding spot in Flores.
Flores Bird Watching has identified more than 50 species on the rice fields, wetlands, and streams around Ruteng. They are Buff-banded Rail, Pacific Black duck, Sunda Teal, Red Leg Crake, Baillon’s Crake, White-browed Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Moorhen, Common sandpiper, Common Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Five-coloured Munia, Red Avadavat, Pale-headed Munia, and many other more.
Not only getting the experience of seeing the bird species richness of the area, the birding on the rice fields, wetlands, and streams around Ruteng also offers a great experience on making contact with the local people (sometimes they serve you a cup of traditional coffee), while enjoying the scenery of evergreen landscapes and adventurous trekking.
All the record of endemic bird’s distribution in Ruteng is a great opportunity for the birders who come to Flores and focus on discover all the endemics on the area. Spend more days in Ruteng and see what you can get here.