Night Birding

As a tourist guide, I often accompany birdwatchers who come from various countries in Europe, America, or Asia. We spend at least 3 days/2 nights up to 2 weeks in the forest to see birds that live in rainforest and coastal areas of West Papua. We walk in the mornings, in the afternoons, and at nights along the trails or roads or beaches. 
Night walk with Rhett Butler of Mongabay.com in Manokwari's forest.
Rhett Butler founder of mongabay.com
We also do night birding to find birds that are active in the dark or that sleep on lower branches of trees.  Usually owls, nightjars, frogmouth, boobook, and Hook-billed Kingfishers are the ones that go out to find their prey. We detect their calls and imitate them to attract the birds.
In Mesirrokow river forest, we just walk along the banks of the river to find Large-tailed Nightjar. In Tambrauw Mountains, we walk along empty roads to find Marbled Frogmouth, Hooded Pitta and Azure Kingfisher. In Ases valley of Tambrauw, we saw fruit bats.
Large-tailed Nightjar in lowland forest of Manokwari of Indonesia
Large-tailed Nightjar
From my trips with tourists in the jungle, birds that I see sleeping on lower branches include King Bird of Paradise, Red-bellied Pitta, and Spot-winged Monarch. 
When we do the night birding, we often see other animals such as cuscus possum, bandicoot, snakes and a lot of insects. 
Because taking pictures of animals and plants at night are difficult, we have to use flash of our cameras or light from our torches.
Bird of Paradise in Susnguakti forest
King Bird of Paradise
There are venomous snakes in the forest so, birdwatchers must wear boots and socks.  
At the moment, the spread of coronavirus has forced government to curb all tourism activities. These birding trips can be continued again in the future if government has lifted the travel ban of foreign tourists. - This is written by Charles Roring

Some Birds that Eat Flowers' Nectar

I often see birds sitting near flowers when I guide tourists in the forest. Most of them are small birds. Coconut lorikeet, large fig parrot, black-capped lory, black sunbird, olive-backed sunbird are the ones that feed of the nectar of flowers. I have got some pictures of them.
Black-capped Lory in a flowering tree of rainforest

Olive-backed Sunbird in the flowers of Papaya tree
Olive-backed Sunbird is quite unique. It can hover like a helicopter. At first, I did not pay attention until I met some Australian tourists who told me about it. After that when I went birdwatching again, in the coastal area, I saw that behavior.
Female Olive-backed Sunbird

In higher elevation forest, more smaller birds can be seen. Some of them include Papuan Flycatcher, Spectacled Longbill, and etc. 


Birding Cameras

Taking pictures of birds in distant trees can now be done using super telephoto bridge cameras that are available on the market. Here are some of them:
Sony RX10 IV bridge camera
Birding Camera Sony RX10 IV
  • Bridge Cameas: Nikon Coolpix P1000, Nikon Coolpix P900, Sony DSC H400, Canon SX70HS, Canon SX540 HS are relatively new products. Most of them use 1/2.3 inch sensor. Older cameras such as Sony Cybershot HX-350, Sony DSC-H400 are also good for birders who only want to use the camera for taking pictures of birds and share them in social media or for identification purposes. I personally used several versions of Nikon and Sony. They were good for shooting birds that were sitting still on twigs in good light condition. For lowlight ones or for birds in flight, these bridge cameras would face difficulties trying to focus on their subjects. I usually lower the exposure a little to take pictures of birds in low light condition. The result can be seen at the sample picture of Magnificent Bird of Paradise below. I did not use tripod. If I edit the photograph in Adobe Photoshop to brighten it, I will get good picture. I like carrying bridge camera with me while I guide tourists in the forest of Raja Ampat, Sorong regency, Tambrauw Mountains and Arfak mountains because it is small, light, and can easily fit into my small backpack. 
  • Brige Cameras with bigger sensors: Fujifilm HS50EXR, Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 and Sony Cybershot RX10 IV. I used to use Fujifilm HS50EXR for several years. Fujifilm does not continue the development of the camera. It was a good product but not the best one. Perhaps, the Sony Cybershot RX10 IV is a good choice for those who have money.
  • I used to try digiscoping system. It is not easy. Best results could be obtained if the scope and the camera or cell phone can be perfectly aligned using an adapter. If the scope can generate clear and sharp image, the result will be good photos.
  • D-SLR cameras with telephoto lens. Professional photographers invest a lot of money on buying expensive camera such as Nikon D5, Nikon D500, Canon EOS 7D, Canon 1DX Mark II. For telephoto lens, Sigma 150-600mm sport or Tamron 150-600mm G2 is a good choice. As a birding guide, I only use photographs for promoting birding tours and guiding service, I use Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm G2 as my photographic device. 
Sample of Photographs:
Magnificent Bird of Paradise  Photo: Charles Roring
Magnificent Bird of Paradise shot using Nikon Coolpix P500
Picture of Coconut Lorikeet in a tree in Raja Ampat which I shot using Fujifilm HS50EXR
Papuan Hornbill birds photo by Charles Roring
Picture of Blyth's Hornbill in a distant palm tree which I shot using Fujifilm HS50EXR
Birdwatching tour with Charles Roring
Picture of Palm Cockatoo locally called Kakaktua Raja,
that I shot using Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600 mm G2
Wompoo Fruit Dove

For me, a birdwatching guide who also maintain some blogs related to my job, having a camera is a must. However, I only use the pictures that I made only for my blog posts and facebooks. I do not think I need a professional D-SLR camera. An entry level D-SLR camera with telephoto lens or a bridge camera with super telephoto lens is my favorite tool.
Birds are not the only subjects that I shoot when I accompany tourists in the forest. I also take pictures of flowers, insects, mammals, scenery and people. That's why in the blog readers can see other photographs as well such as Red Hibiscus and White Passion Flowers, orchids, Blue Trumpet Vine,  or landscape of Anggi lakes, or even marine life (for this purpose, I use underwater camera such as Nikon Coolpix AW130.
Also read:

Birding in Sorong

For the last 2 days I guided 3 birdwatchers from the United Kingdom. Alan, Jill, and Alison from Naturetrek. We went to forests in rural areas from coastal to hill ones. We chartered a car to do the trip. We brought binoculars and spotting scopes. In the first day of the birding tour, I picked them up at Usaha Mina harbor. The streets were not crowded. We could move faster to the outskirts of the city and then continued our trip to the forest. It was morning time, Two Olive-backed Sunbird came out of their hiding places and landed on a twig of a shrub. We could easily see them because their yellow underparts were glowing when exposed to bright sunlight. I heard the calls of Palm Cockatoo and told my guests where the direction of the sounds came from. Seconds later, a dark big bird was seen flying over the canopy of the forest close to the tree-tops and then perched on the top branch of a tree. I installed Alison's spotting scope and asked them to watch the beautiful bird. He sat at the branch for around 3 minutes. Alison walked closer and took more pictures. Some black birds also landed on twigs of a tree near us. They were Singing Starlings.
Birding in Sorong
More birds made their calls that morning. The noisiest one was Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. He was flying in circles. Later some Eclectus Parrots joined him. They flew around and then landed on a tree. We could not see them. We walked slowly trying to find birds on every branch of trees that stood on both sides of the road. A loud call of Yellow-billed Kingfisher could be heard from a tree on the top of a hill on the right of us. We tried to find him but we could not see him. We continued walking. Suddenly my friend Kostan Magablo who accompanied us made a sign. We walked towards him. When we reached his place, he pointed his finger at a small twig of a tree. There the Yellow-billed Kingfisher was sitting. We watched the bird using binoculars and then by spotting scope. Suddenly the weather changed. The rain started to fall. I asked my guests to get into the car. I and the driver opened the back door of the car and prepared snacks for them. We brought mugs, hot water in flasks, and tea, sugar, and biscuits, as well as spoons and tissue. They enjoyed the morning snack time from inside the car while rain was falling. It was a short one. In less then thirty minutes, it stopped. We continued birdwatching again. We saw Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Pacific Baza, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Grey Crow, Moustached Treeswift, Coconut Lorikeet, Black-capped Lory, Blyth's Hornbill, Boyers Cuckooshrike, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, and Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Glossy Swiftlet.
At around 11.00, the weather was quite hot. We heard the calls of Hooded Pitta, Red-bellied Pitta, Magnificent Riflebird. Unfortunately, we could not see them. The activity of birds was low. So we decided to return to Sorong city again to have lunch. Alison flew to Manado that afternoon. 
In the afternoon at 15.00, we went birding in coastal areas where a lot of mangrove trees grew. We saw White-breasted Woodswallow, Olive-backed Sunbird, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Spotted Dove, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Australian White Ibis, Striated Heron, Moustached Treeswift, Common Sandpiper, Willie Wagtail, Brahminy Kite and Glossy Swiftlets.

Mystery Fairywren
On the second day, we went hiking to hills behind Sorong city. There we saw Olive-backed Sunbird, Mimic Meliphaga, Pinon Imperial Pigeon and Black Sunbird. I saw Emperor Fairywren. We heard the calls of Rufous-belkied Kookaburra. On a slope below one of the hills, we heard the call of a small bird. Its size was the size of fairywren with greenish-grey feather, whitish-grey belly, and a cocked-up long tail. The bird had narrow white stripe behind his eyes. He made calls hopping to clear twigs on top and sides of the shrub plants. It was the first time I saw the bird and I could not identify it. I opened my field-guide book: Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler. I checked the page where the fairywrens were but none matched the bird's physical characteristics. I opened the fantail pages but they were totally different from this bird. After long discussion with Alan, and Jill, we decided to leave the bird. It was still a Mystery Fairywren for us. I took a picture of the bird but it was quite far. As the result, the picture was very blurry when I zoomed it up. So, I deleted it. I would bring a zoom camera the next time I visit this hill again. We saw Black-capped Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Helmetted Friarbird, Yellow-faced Myna, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo near forest edge. We continued our morning walk to a small river and then returned to the city. 

About Sorong
Sorong is a city in West Papua province of Indonesia. Domestic airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air, Lion Air, and Nam Air and Wings Air connect Sorong with other cities in Indonesia. Regular Flights are available everyday.
 It is the main gate for visitors who want to go to Raja Ampat. There are some forest areas in Sorong that are good for birdwatchers. I usually combine Sorong and Raja Ampat into my birding, sightseeing and snorkeling tours.

Booking
If you are interested in taking a birding tour in Sorong, Raja Ampat, and Manokwari, and want me to organize your trip, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Grey-streaked Flycatcher

Last month I guided an American tourist in Klasow valley. It was part of one-week trip birding and snorkeling tour in Sorong and Raja Ampat. In Sorong, we stayed in a house that belonged to a villager. In the first day it rained a lot so we did not go out. While watching birds from the verandah of the the homestay, we saw a very small bird on the top branch of a tree. I tried to identify it but I could not. So, I installed my spotting scope and aimed it at the bird. He flew several times in the air, perhaps to catch some insects, and then returned to the tree again. Sometimes he returned to the same branch and on the other times, he landed on different branch but still on the same tree top. Using my telephoto camera, I made some photographs of the bird.
Grey-streaked Flycather (Muscicapa griseisticta) Photo by Charles Roring
Grey-streaked Flycatcher in Klasow valley
Later, when I had returned to home, I did some identification works. After comparing it with my other photographs that I made in the same valley, I conclude that it is Grey-streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta). From the field guide book of Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler, it says that the bird is a migrant from Asia (China, North Korea) or Siberia (Sakhalin and Kamchatka). Well, it was a nice little bird. He performed long flight from such a very far place in the north down to lowland forest of Sorong regency in West Papua which is close to the equator.
There are tens of villages in Klasow valley which tourists can choose to visit for watching birds. Some of them include Klatomok, Klasow, Klayeli, Klaluk, Malaumkarta, Asbaken, Malagubtuk, and etc.
If you are interested in taking a birdwatching tour in Sorong forest before or after your trip in Raja Ampat islands, and want me to be your guide, please, contact me by e-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Raja Ampat Birds

I have just completed a birding and snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat islands where I guided a visitor from the United States. It was a successful trip because we were able to watch our main targets which were the Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) and the Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica). We watched them in southern region of Waigeo island that was at the entrance way to Kabui bay. During this birdwatching and snorkeling tours we used a motorized boat to explore islets both for its rainforest and marine lifes. Those who want to read about my snorkeling reports can visit my other blog: rajaampat.club.
Wilson's Bird of Paradise in Waigeo island
Wilson's Bird of Paradise
We visited a small island in the bay early in the morning to watch Spice Imperial Pigeon, Moustached Treeswift, Eastern Osprey, Eclectus Parrot, Black-capped Lory, Beach Kingfisher, Singing Starling, Lesser Frigate Bird and White-bellied Sea Eagle. From my previous trip to the island, I saw Stephan's Ground Dove and Brahminy Kite too. 
Wilson's Bird of Paradise lived in deeper area of southern Waigeo's rainforest. To watch it, we needed to wake up at 03.40 for making preparations and started our trip at 04.00, first by boat, and later on foot. In the same forest, a lot of species of birds could be seen including Hook-billed Kingfisher, Papuan Blyth's Hornbill, Common Paradise Kingfisher.
Red bird of paradise photo by Charles Roring
Male Red Bird of Paradise was trying to attract his female partner for mating in a
courtship dance
In the same region, I watched Red Bird of Paradise. Perhaps, I heard the call of Glossy Manucode but I was not so sure about it. At its beach, I used to see Striated Heron, Pacific Swallow. In addition to islands and beaches of Waigeo and Gam at the entrance site of Kabui, I also organized birding trip in the karst groups inside the bay. There I saw Eastern Reef Egret, Rainbow Bee-Eater, Great-billed Parrot, Black Sunbird, Little Pied Cormorant, Black Sunbird.
A visit to a small islet in the south of Mansuar island, allowed me to see Arafura Fantail, Lemon-bellied White Eye, and Violet-necked Lory.
For the Great-billed Parrot, I used to see it in the hill forest on the west or Waisai's airport. That forest was the natural habitat of such birds as Yellow-faced Myna, Dollarbird, White-breasted Woodswallow. The coastal area near the airport was the place where I saw Wimbrel, Radjah Shelduck, Eastern Reef Egret, Sacred Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and Yellow-faced Myna. Its birds were similar to the ones that I saw at Warduwer beach.
Birding tour in Raja Ampat with Charles Roring
Pied Imperial Pigeon
However, because the beach had more open spaces, I was able to see more birds there including Pied Imperial Pigeon, Helmetted Friarbird, Spangled Drongo, Hooded Butcherbird, Dusky Scrubfowl, Red-cheeked Parrot, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Eclectus Parrot, Coconut Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, Torresian Crow, Willie Wagtail, Plover, Bridled Tern, Shining Flycather, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Spangled Drongo.
Hooded Butcherbird in Raja Ampat islands if Indonesia
Hooded Butcherbird
Trans Waigeo road from Waisai to Mayalibit area was a good site to see Azure Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Palm Cockatoo, Hooded Butcherbird, and Brown-headed Crow.
Last year, I visited the north east region of Waigeo island. It was a nice trip. I went hiking to Mount Sarembon where I saw some interesting birds including Papuan Black Myzomela, Amboina Cuckoo Dove, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Radjah Shelduck, Beach Thick Knee, Eastern Yellow Wagtail and Sacred Kingfisher. I visited two small islands in east Waigeo including Waim and Mamiaef. There, I saw Wandering Tattler, Black Sunbird, Lesser-crested Tern.
As a matter of fact, this part of the island is an excellent destination for birdwatchers who want to explore the forest and beaches of Waigeo which are not regularly visited by tourists. Its coast is very good for watching coastal birds. Its rainforest birds can be explored by walking along the banks of rivers.
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra

I used to visit Kofiau islands. The most favorite targets were Kofiau Monarch and Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher. During my trip to the archipelago, I saw Sacred Kingfisher, Moluccan Starling, Black Sunbird, Little Pied Cormmorant, Dollarbird, Eastern Reef Egret, Spotted Whistling Duck,
Well, I don't mention all the birds that I saw in every place that I visit. I only mention the ones that I consider attractive for me.

Birding Gear
When I guide tourists on a birding tour in Raja Ampat, I usually bring some equipment. Some of them include:
  • 10×42 mm Visionking binoculars
  • 20-60×60 mm Spotting scope that is mounted on an aluminum tripod
  • Laser pointer
  • Field guide book Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler.
  • Tablet that contains records of bird sounds
  • Bluetooth loudspeaker
  • I also brought flashlight for night birding. 
Birdwatching Tour in Raja Ampat
I run birding tour in Raja Ampat for visitors who are interested in watching tropical birds, enjoying snorkeling, interacting with local people, and sightseeing. If you are interested in taking a birdwatching tour in Raja Ampat that is combined with sightseeing, and snorkeling and want me to be your guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by E-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.


Google Map of Raja Ampat


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Afternoon Birding at Warduwer Beach

Today I continued my birdwatching activity with Michael, an American visitor to Warduwer beach that is located in southern coast of Waigeo island. We used a small speed boat to reach it. I brought with me my binoculars and camera with telephoto lens. But I forgot to bring my spotting scope. We landed there at around 15.20 and started walking around the open area of the beach. Warduwer was only a small beach with a steep hill around it.
Pinon Imperial Pigeon (Ducula pinon) in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat
Pinon Imperial Pigeon

Claret-breasted Fruit Dove in Waigeo island
Female Claret-breasted Fruit Dove
Tens of Lesser Frigatebird were flying in the sky. They were the first birds that we saw this afternoon. As we walked deeper to higher ground we saw a couple of Pied Imperial Pigeon sitting on a top branch of a tree next to the road. At a distant tree on the hill, we saw another small bird sitting. Through my binoculars, I could identify it as a White-breasted Woodswallow. Some Pinon Imperial Pigeon were sitting on the branch of a tree on the hill too.
Later, we turned ourselves to face the sea. From the woods on the right of us a kingfisher flew fast. He landed on a tree around 40 meters away from us. Because we were standing on a hill, we could easily saw where the bird landed. It was a Rufous-bellied Kookaburra. I heard a small call from the bush of the roadside. I recognized the call. I thought it was a Beach Kingfisher. What I saw was a different bird. It was Mimic Meliphaga. Perhaps his name Mimic was given by scientist because he likes mimicking other birds sounds. Well, perhaps, I guess.
Mimic Meliphaga
Mimic Meliphaga
There are also Eclectus Parrot, Willie Wagtail and Brahminy Kite in the area.
We did not spend much time watching birds at Warduwer beach. Thick clouds were gathering in the sky above the hills. So, we decided to return to the guesthouse. At the wooden posts of an unfinished jetty, there were some tern birds sitting. Sometimes some of them fly into the air and then swiftly swooping down on fish on the sea surface.
Brahminy Kite at Waigeo island
Brahminy Kite
Back to the homestay, I still saw a large group of Coconut Lorikeet flying over the hills of southern Waigeo island into Kabui bay area. They might fly to Gam island.
Please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Watching Red Bird of Paradise

I woke up early at 4.30 this morning. I immediately walked to Michael's room and called him from outside. He woke up and began to make preparation. We went to dining room where I made hot chocolate drinks. We left around five minutes later walking slowly up the steep slopes that led us to the lek of Red Bird of Paradise. It was still dark, we used flashlights. We saw millipede, and little frogs along the narrow trails. 
One hour later, we arrived at the birding ground. We sat at a hut for a while to to take a rest. We could feel the cool morning breeze on the ridge of the hill. It was useful to refresh our body. Sunlight began to brighten the sky above us. I informed Michael that we could sit at the birding platform which was around ten meters away from us. 
Courtship Dance of Red Bird of Paradise in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat
A Couple of Red Bird of Paradise
Fifteen minutes sitting at the platform, we started to see a female Red Bird of Paradise on the tall tree in front of us. She flew to the tree, landed on one of the branches and began hopping to other branches as if she was checking the readiness of a dancing stage. Shortly after that more birds came. The male ones called their female mating partners. When three or four female Red Bird of Paradise arrived, the male ones perform their courtship dance performance. They hopped up and down a nearly vertical branch in upside down position and approached the female bird. Sometimes two female Red Bird of Paradise closely watched the performance of a male bird of paradise.
Meanwhile, I was busy at the platform with my camera trying to find the best setting that would produce sharp pictures in lowlight condition. I was struggling with the knobs or buttons of the camera. When I adjusted my camera to AV settings, I got good results. 
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra)
Male Red Bird of Paradise
I could now take as many pictures as possible. But my old pictures were still stored in the memory card. I only had some space left. As a result, I had to stop taking pictures of the birds and began deleting old photos that I were not good enough. 
The dance performance of Red Bird of Paradise was excellent. We watched them for around two and a half hours. When they flew away, we decided to return to our lodge again. It was a successful trip. In addition to Red Bird of Paradise, we also saw Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Blyth's Hornbill, Olive-backed Sunbird, and heard the calls of Hooded Butcherbird, Shining Flycatcher, Puff-backed Meliphaga, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Willie Wagtail. 
If you are interested in taking birdwatching and snorkeling tour to Raja Ampat, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Birwatching and Snorkeling in South Waigeo of Raja Ampat

When I run a birdwatching tour in Raja Ampat, I always provide time for me and my clients to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at the house reef of the guesthouse where we stay. This morning, I and Michael - my client from the US, went to a small island at the south of Waigeo island. It was only around fifteen minutes by speedboat to reach it.
Spice Imperial Pigeon
Approaching the island, we saw some Spice Imperial Pigeons sitting on the branches of a small tree that stood on a big rock. There were some Singing Starlings too. They were on the lower left branch of a tree of the same rock. After landing on the beach, I installed my spotting scope and aimed it at the birds that were sitting on tree tops. Using the scope, we watched Hooded Butcherbird, Eastern Osprey, Eclectus Parrot, and Lesser Frigate Bird. I also heard the sounds of Olive-backed Sunbird but I could not find it.  Torresian Crow sat on a tree that grew on a vertical cliff. We spent around 1.5 hours birding in the island. After that, we slowly moved along the coastal area of another island trying to find birds in tree again. We were quite lucky that morning because we could see White-bellied Sea Eagle, Moustached Treeswift, Brahminy Kite, Pacific Swallow, and more Spice Imperial Pigeon. The marine scenery of Raja Ampat waters was very beautiful. A Beach Kingfisher was flying fast above us. In his bill, he was holding a crab.
Beach Kingfisher in Waigeo island photo by Charles Rorong
Beach Kingfisher
Puff-backed Meliphaga in Waigeo forest
Puff-backed Meliphaga
When we had returned to our guesthouse, I did some snorkeling at its house reef. Again I saw Anemonefish, Striped Surgeonfish, Butterflyfish, Moorish Idol and a Banded Sea Krait. I tried to take pictures of the snake while he was moving fast in the water. Well, I was able to get some pictures of the venomous snake.
Photo of Banded Sea Krait by Charles Roring
Banded Sea Krait

Moorish Idol, bringer of happiness
Moorish Idol
Well, I was able to get some good photos but not so sharp. In the afternoon, I saw a Puff-backed Meliphaga that is preparing her nest around twenty centimeters above the ground.
If you are interested in taking a combined birdwatching and snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat with me as your guide, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180

Wilson's Bird of Paradise

I am now in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat. I am still guiding Michael, a birdwatcher from the United States. 
This morning we woke up very early at 03.40 to make preparations. We did not have much time to make coffee or tea. So, we only drank water. At 04.00 we left the homestay where we stayed for a beach located in the south of Waigeo island. 
a male Wilson's Bird of Paradise was waiting for his mating partners.
Male Wilson's Bird of Paradise
It was still dark so I used my flash-light to help our boat driver. He carefully maneuvered his boat between hard corals that grow in the front waters of the homestay. When the boat reached the open water, he raised the speed. Our boat was just a long wooden boat with a 40 horse power Yamaha outboard engine. It took only around 15 minutes to reach the beach. After that we continued our trip walking along the slope path that led us to the dancing ground of Wilson's Bird of Paradise. We walked for around 1 hour until we reached our destination which was a small hut covered by dark brown plastic tarp. 
Inside the hut there were two benches roughly made of hard wooden planks. On the front side of the hut that was facing the display ground of the paradise bird, there were around six rectangular holes that were cut through the thin tarp to allow visitors to watch the Wilson's Bird of Pararise. 
The sun was slowly rising in the east giving light to the forest. Some birds began to sing. I could hear the sounds of Helmetted Friarbird, Hooded Butcherbird, Common Paradise Kingfisher and several other birds which I could not identify. 
Male Wilson's Bird of Paradise was calling his female mating partners.
Male Wilson's Bird of Paradise was calling his female partners
Minutes later we heard the calls of the male Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica). He landed on wooden sticks in front of us. We were amazed by the bright colors of the paradise bird. His wings were red, neck was yellow and head was light blue. The chest was dark green. His feet were dark blue. The side of the body and the underpart were dark. The tails or the antennas were also dark. This bird was fabulous. 
Birdwatching in Raja Ampat with Charles Roring
Female Wilson's Bird of Paradise
He tried to attract his female counterparts by performing is courtship dance. He played his antenna, jump to the stick trunk where a female bird was sitting. Actually, there were three female birds that came that morning. Well, it was a mating season for Wilson's in March, I guess. It is interesting to see that birds of paradise were mating during rainy season. 
I took a lot of pictures of the birds. When it was still dark, I was struggling with my camera trying to find the best setting that could produce sharp pictures. All that I got were blurry pictures. Finally, I found the best setting and then I could make reasonably good photographs in lowlight condition. I did not use tripod when taking pictures. I only held my camera by hand. 
It was a success trip and we returned to our homestay with big smile and a lot of positive comments about the bird.
We immediately took our breakfast and then returned to our bedrooms to  take a rest. One hour later, We enjoyed snorkeling and freediving at the front waters of the guesthouse where I saw Striped Surgeonfish, Anemonefish, Moorish Idol, Giant Clams, and etc. It was a lovely Sunday morning.

Please, book your trip
If you are interested in taking a combined birdwatching and snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by e-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Also read:
Birds of Paradise Watching Trip
Raja Ampat Birds
Evening Birds in Raja Ampat

Birding in Malagufuk in Rainy Season

Malagufuk is one of the many villages in Klasow valley. I introduced ecotourism for the first time to local people in late 2014. There were only two big tents where local people lived. It was very difficult to organize birding trip at that time. There were no guesthouse, toilet, or comfortable mattrasses with mosquito nets. The walking paths were muddy. The forest was infested with mosquitoes and leeaches. I had to raise fund, save my income so that I could help provide basic things that tourists would need during their tour in the valley. I bought cooking and eating utensils and with savings that I had collected from running previous birding tours, I bought corrugated metal roofs for the construction of simple guesthouse in Malagufuk. I also contacted Wally and Coby Vreede from SDSP Foundation from the Netherlands to help. They raised money to help with the construction of a small water weir and a water sistern with its piping installation from the nearby stream to the village. With two basic basic guesthouses, dining sets, and toilets, rainforest birding tours could now be started.
Black-capped lory in Klasow valley of Malagufuk village
Black-capped Lory
No birding guide or travel agency knew its existence. I have been guiding a lot of tourists to this village. After several years of running birding tours to the village with Nico Nauw, I began to see more visitors coming to Klasow valley.  And now more birding guides and travel agencies know about the village. Now it has become a famous destination for birdwatchers.
A few days ago from 26 to 28 February 2020, I went to Malagufuk again with an American tourist. We watched several interesting birds that lived in the rainforest of Sorong's lowland area. Some that we saw were Black-capped Lory, Black Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Large Fig Parrot, Moustached Treeswift, Metallic Starling, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Hooded Pitta, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Lesser Black Coucal, Torresian Crow, Lesser Bird of Paradise, Northern Cassowary, Yellow-faced Myna, Golden Myna, Hooded Butcherbird, Grey-headed Goshawk, Mimic Meliphaga, and Blyh's Hornbill.
Local government from Sorong regency built two more bungalows. Each of them was filled with comfortable furniture (spring beds, chair and table), small kitchen, and a nice toilet. A long wooden bridge that will connect main road and the village is being constructed too.
Common Paradise Kingfisher
Common Paradise Kingfisher
Every day and night we experienced heavy rain. The paths were muddy and slippery. It was quite difficult to carry heavy things such as camera, drinking water, binoculars, spotting scope and field guide book. So, we spent much of our time birding around the clearing area of the village especially along the edge of the forest. Because I brought my spotting scope, I was able to show beautiful birds to Michael, a professor from a medical school in the United States. He was my only client during the 3 days trip in the rainforest that was located in the suburb of Sorong city. Because the muddy paths were slippery, he fell several times in the forest. Well, it was part of the adventure and he still enjoyed the trip.
Pinon Imperial Pigeon Photo by Charles Roring
Pinon Imperial Pigeon
I also brought my camera the Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm lens. It was not the best photographic device but it was good enough for me to make some nice pictures that we saw in the rainforest. Local people were very friendly. They were happy to see me again.

Other places or villages that are also good for rainforest tour and birdwatching
There are several other villages in the suburb of Sorong that are located along the roadside and are good for tourists who like to explore the biodiversity of rainforest, or to enjoy birdwatching. Some of them include Klatomok, Klayeli.  If we go by 4wd cars or by ferry to Tambrauw regency, we will be able to explore pristine rainforest that is the natural habitat of hundreds of species of tropical birds.
Blyth's Hornbil Photo: Charles Roring
Blyth's Hornbill
Booking
If you are interested in taking a rainforest tour or birdwatching tour in Sorong regency, before or after your trip to Raja Ampat, please, contact me by whatsapp to: +6281332245180 or by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com

Tropical Birds in Sorong Forest

Sorong regency is the main gate to Raja Ampat. Visitors need to fly from their country to Jakarta, Denpasar or Manado and then continue their trip by taking domestic flight to Sorong city before continuing their trip by fast ferry boats or speed boats to tropical islands in Raja Ampat. Airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air, and Lion Air provide daily flights from the above major cities in Indonesia to Sorong. Sorong itself is located in western tip region of West Papua province and is a great destination for tourists who want to see rainforest.
Large Fig Parrot (Psittaculirostris desmarestii) in tropical rainforest of Sorong regency, Indonesia
Large Fig Parrot in the forest of Sorong regency

Tropical Birds of New Guinea

There are a lot of tropical birds which visitors can watch when exploring the lowland and ridge forest of Sorong regency. Some of them include Papuan Blyth's Hornbill, Helmetted Friarbird, Dollarbird, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Large Fig Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Black Lory, Black-capped Lory, Grey-headed Goshawk, Variable Goshawk, Black-sided Robin, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Western-crowned Pigeon, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Great Cuckoo Dove, Amboyna Cuckoo Dove, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Black-browed Triller, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Blue-black Kingfisher, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Golden Myna, Yellow-faced Myna, Moustached Tree Swift, Metallic Starling, Shining Flycatcher, Black Sunbird, King Bird of Paradise, Lesser Birds of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Glossy Manucode, and etc.
Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor)
A Male Lesser Birds of Paradise

Where and How to watch these birds?

Well, it is easy to watch the tropical birds of New Guinea in Sorong forest. There are several good places which we can go to see them. Some of them include Sorong ridge forest located north of Sorong city, mangrove forest and Klatomok forest.  Most birdwatchers know the equipment which they need to bring. Some of them include binoculars, spotting scope (mounted on a tripod), laser pointer, bluetooth loudspeaker and records of bird sounds stored in cell phones, field guide book Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler.
Olive-backed Sunbird in ridge forest of Sorong city, West Papua province of Indonesia
Sahul Sunbird (Cynniris jugularis) in Sorong ridge forest
We are now in rainy season. It comes quite late compared to previous years. Intensive rain starts in February. So, in the next three months, i.e. March, April, and May, we will see more rainy days. After that the intensity of the rain gradually decreases. People often say, rainy season is bad for birdwatching. I don't think so. Usually after the rain, birds and other forest animals come out of their hiding places to dry their feather, fur or skin. The next day, when the sun shines brightly, we can see more birds in trees. That's the natural phenomenon that I have seen since my childhood. 
Forest Bittern (Zonerodius heliosylus)
Forest Bittern in rainforest of Sorong
During rainy season, the forest floor in Sorong regency is muddy. There are also leeches. So, I suggest that tourists wear anti-leech socks and hiking or wellington boots.

Guided Birding Tour

I personally have guided a lot of tourists from 2010 on birding tours in West Papua especially from Manokwari to Sorong, Tambrauw mountains, and Raja Ampat. So, I am familiar with the tropical birds in the forest of Sorong. Usually, we will stay in a homestay that belongs to local villagers and then do birding walks in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Although the tour is called birding, we may also see other animals as well such as wallaby, soa-soa lizard, butterflies and beetles.

Cost of the Birding Tour

The cost of the birding tour depends on the number of days and the number of participants which visitors need to spend in Sorong forest. It the tour in Sorong is combined with the tour in Manokwari or Raja Ampat, the cost will also be different. 
So, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180 to get more info on customized tours and their costs.

Jungle Tour in Sorong

I often organize birding and wildlife watching tours in Sorong regency for tourists who want to take land trips in mainland of West Papua before and after their trip to Raja Ampat. 
The lowland rainforest in the jungle of Sorong is the natural habitat of a lot of species of birds including Western-crowned Pigeon, Golden Myna, Eclectus Parrot, Yellow-faced Myna, Lowland Peltop, Hooded Butcherbird, Dollarbird, Black Lory, Black-capped Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Large Fig Parrot, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Pink-spotted Fruit  Dove, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, and a lot more. There is a huge rainforest in eastern area of Sorong regency. It is a good place for visitors who like birdwatching and wildlife watching in general. For birding in an open area along the road or village border around the forest, the I use spotting scope. 
Golden Myna in Sorong forest of West Papua, Indonesia
Golden Myna
Visitors who are interested in taking this land tour in mainland West Papua should bring binoculars, camera, flashlight, trekking boots or hiking shoes, insect repellent lotion. Don't forget to also bring anti leech sock if you like to explore the deeper part of the rainforest. In my previous birding tours with some tourists from Australia and the United States, I bring a bluetooth speaker. I played the sounds of several birds such as Common Paradise Kingfisher, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookburra and Yellow-billed Kingfisher to attract them to where I and my clients were when we were walking in the forest. Some of the birds came out of their hiding places and we were able to see the birds well. 
Western-crowned Pigeon in Sorong forest
Western-crowned Pigeon
I usually bring field guide book Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler. Today there is a similar book written by Phil Gregory. These are the main references for birwatchers who plan to take rainforest birding trip in New Guinea. 
Rainbow Bee-eater
Rainbow Bee-eater
In addition to birdwatching, I also conduct night walk for visitors who want to see wallaby. The lowland forest of Sorong is an ideal site for watching this marsupial animal. Insect lovers can also take this tour to see cricket, spider, snout beetle, butterfly, stick insect, and moth. Sometimes we see soa-soa monitor lizard, and snakes.
Cruiser butterfly
Cruiser Butterfly
The duration of the birding tour is between 3 to 4 days depending on how many birds and other wild animals you want to see.  I can pick up tour participants at Domine Eduard Osok ((DEO) airport, a hotel in the city, at ferry harbor or Usaha Mina ferry harbor in Sorong city.
Hotel in Sorong
After taking the tour in the forest, participants may need to stay in a hotel in Sorong city before flying back to their country. There are a lot of hotels which they can choose such as Swissbel hotel, Belagri hotel, Mamberamo hotel, Family Guardian, M Express, Mariat, Fave hotel and etc. Tourists can book the hotel through internet.
To book your jungle tour in Sorong, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to +6281332245180. I can also be contacted by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com

Also read:
Tropical Birding tour in Sorong forest
Rainforest Birdwatching Tour in Sorong city
Birdwatching Tour in the Forest of Sorong regency

Watching King Bird of Paradise with 5 German Tourists

I guided 5 German tourists today in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari. We went there to watch King Bird of Paradise that usually dances in the mornings and in the afternoons before sunset time. Their tour organizer was Irawan Halir from the North Sulawesi. We left by a chartered vehicle at 04.30 for the forest. 
Arriving at the entrance site, we got off the vehicle and started hiking to our basecamp. We needed around 1 hour to reach it. It was around 06.30 when we arrived. Because the King Bird of Paradise showed up later, we decided to go to the blind of Magnificent Riflebird. Thirty minutes later, we continued our morning walk to watch Lesser Birds of Paradise. We watched the birds for around 30 minutes and then returned to our basecamp to have our morning tea or coffee. We enjoyed hot tea, coffee and milk with some biscuits and rambutans. 
Birdwatching tour in Susnguakti forest
King Bird of Paradise
Fifteen minutes later, we continued our tour in the rainforest by hiking to the watching site of King Bird of Paradise. When we reached, the bird had not shown up. But we could hear his calls. We sat on the ground with binoculars and camera in our hands. I also prepared my spotting scope which I aimed at the vines where the King Paradise Bird usually sits while waiting for his female counterpart. Minutes later, he flew to the vines and started jumping among them several times. He sat on a hanging liana under a left branch above our heads. The German tourists began taking pictures of the bird. We watched the bird for around 1 hour. We saw the female one too. She showed up later. Other birds that we saw were Frilled Monarch. The calls of Magnificent riflebird, Northern Variable Pitohui, Papuan Pitta, Hooded Butcherbird and Long-tailed Buzzard could also be heard inside the forest. 
We went back to our basecamp and had lunch. The ingredients consist of rice, kangkung (vegetables), fried tuna, sliced ham, and noodle soup.
German visitors with local guides in Manokwari of Indonesia after watching King Bird of Paradise
German tourists with local guides
We walked back to the main road at 13.30 and then headed to the village where we stayed to write the guestbook and saw how local villager made fire using traditional match made of bamboo, palm fiber and granite stone. Villagers gave us rambutan, and soursop.
Our car showed up later. We returned to Manokwari city at around 3 p.m. It was a nice adventure tour.
Here is my contact number: +6281332245180. You could send whatsapp message to book your trip to this forest of Manokwari.

Please, support this blog by buying some merchandise such as t-shirts, string bag, mugs, pillows, or stickers at the following links:
Red Bird of Paradise T-shirts

Lesser Bird of Paradise Framed Print

Lesser Bird of Paradise Throw Blanket

Written by Charles Roring