a field guide to the planet - by Damon Ramsey
Timor is now becoming an important place for birding as in the last few decades many endemics have been recognized.
I have visited East Timor several times a year for the last half a dozen years.
The island of Timor is split almost exactly down the middle, between the independent country of East Timor, and the western half which is a province of Indonesia.
East Timor became the first new country of this century. They achieved independence from Indonesia after many years of revolution during which almost a third of their population died.
The biggest city and capital is Dili. They use US dollars.
Most of the country is dominated by open tropical woodland with pockets of monsoon forest, and sections of mangroves on the coast. The vegetation is similar in structure - and some species - to northern Australia. However, it comprises an assemblage of plants and animals that are unique and typical to the drier parts of the 'Lesser Sundas', the islands in the southern part of Indonesia that also include Komodo, Rinca, Satonda and Flores.
The islands are part of the interesting larger region known as Wallacea. There are many endemic birds to Wallacea. In the last few decades, it has been discovered that many of the birds that were previously thought to be forms of wide ranging species are in fact endemics to Timor. This may have taken a while to realize due to the remoteness of the island and the civil war. Many of these species were made public in the recent book "Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago".
My favourite part of East Timor for nature is Jaco Island, within Nino Konis Santana National Park. There is some nice birding and some good snorkelling here.
Thinking of travelling again after everything settles down? The first expedition I am booked to work on after the virus is Micronesia, New Guinea & Indonesia in 2021 with Silversea. Meanwhile I am giving a lecture on the Sunshine Coast (Australia) on the "Sounds of suburban south-east Queensland".