Birding Without Borders

Day 331: The Tiniest Primate

Noah comes face to face with a tarsier monkey, the littlest primate on Earth.

November 27, 2015: Minahasa, Sulawesi — A local guide named Anes spent five hours this morning with Monal and me, tramping around in big circles inside the Tangkoko Batuangas Forest. It was dry enough that leaves crunched underfoot; part of the forest had burned last month in a large wildfire. Even so, the humidity was unrelenting. I dripped sweat standing still.

We were hoping to bump into a type of owl called the Ochre-bellied Boobook, which is often found inside this forest, and we had some brief excitement when an owl materialized at midday. Unfortunately we saw it too well, and the owl turned out to be a lookalike Speckled Boobook, which Monal and I had already seen a couple of days ago.

We did see several Green-backed Kingfishers, a Sulawesi Dwarf-Kingfisher, and a couple of Lilac-cheeked Kingfishers, none of them near water. The tramping continued until today’s heat kicked in, and we let the Ochre-bellied go before lunch.

This part of north Sulawesi has a classic tropical coastline and Indonesian fishing culture. It’s fun to explore an island that, before this year, I’d barely even heard of except in birding terms. Sulawesi, in general, isn’t a big tourist destination (several times this week, locals have come up to ask if they could take a photo with me), but it’s an interesting place. I saw two fun primates in the Tangkoko forest along with today’s birds: A tarsier (the world’s smallest primate) and the black macaque, which has no tail. Both very strange looking.

New birds today: 6

Year list: 5394

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