Monday, February 10, 2020

Watching Papuan Pitta, Cuscus Possum and Insects in Susnguakti Forest

Red-bellied Pitta (Erythropitta maklotii)
The Papuan Pitta (Erythropitta maklotii)
I went to Susnguakti forest in the suburb of Manokwari a few days ago. I guided 2 tourists (Andrew and Barbara) from Poland. We spent our time in the forest to enjoy hiking, birdwatching, insect watching, and general wildlife watching. We explored the rainforest of Susnguakti in the mornings, afternoons and in the evenings. 

Watching Paradise Birds

Because they were veterinarians, they were familiar with biological terms of animals and plants. Some of the birds that we saw and heard during our tour in this eastern region of Arfak range were Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Hooked-billed Kingfisher, Frilled Monarch, Golden Cuckooshrike, Hooded Butcherbird, Northern Variable Pitohui, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Amboina Cuckoo Dove, Black Sunbird, Fairy Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Black-capped Lory, Blyth's Hornbill and etc.
Birdwatching and Rainforest Tour in Manokwari
A Couple of Lesser Birds of Paradise in Susnguakti forest in the morning

Watching Insects

Night walk was our favorite activities. We did it every night. Because we regularly clear the walking paths in the jungle by cutting tall grass and sweeping the fallen leaves and twigs using palm brooms. This gives an easy access for visitors to explore most parts of Susnguakti forest. Stick insects, assasin bug, longhorn beetle, crickets, fire flies praying mantis, snout beetle, spiders on the leaves of plants, moths, butterflies, trunks of trees and on the ground. Our Polish guests said that Susnguakti was a very nice forest. 
Night walk tour in Susnguakti forest with 2 Polish tourists
Cicada in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari

Calling Cuscus Possum

A villager who accompanied us had a special skill to call cuscus possum. It was around 08.45 when we left our base-camp on the second night of our tour in Susnguakti. We stopped for a while at a slope leading to the birding ground for King Bird of Paradise. Moon provided twilight for us. Usually when there is moon in the sky, our chance to see cuscus possum is low. However, this time, it was different. Our Papuan friend began to immitate the sounds of female cuscus. In less than 5 minutes, we could hear the sounds two possums. The sounds of broken twigs in trees were heard when they were walking towards the "female cuscus." Suddenly we heard fightings above our heads. Seconds later a small cuscus possum fell to the ground with a thud. Our Papuan friend turned on his torch and jumped to the possum. He chased the possum. I warned him not to catch the cuscus because it had sharp claws. He grabbed its tail and brought the cuscus possum closer to us.
Night walk tour in rainforest
The cuscus possum that fell on the the ground
For us, the skill of immitating the sounds of cuscus to attract the marsupial animal at night was an extraordinary skill. But this time, he caught it using his bear hands. We were able to see and make good photographs of the cuscus.
We continued our night walk exploration to higher elevation area of the forest. We saw more insects including moths, longhorn beetle, and cicada. We also saw a Papuan Pitta too. He was sitting on the branch of a small tree. We carefully approached the bird and made some pictures of the bird. It did not fly away. We also saw wild flowers on the forest floor. Some emitted fragrant scents. Unfortunately, we do not have the capital to refine the flowers for making essential oils.
rainforest tour in Manokwari
Wild Flowers in Forest Floors
It was a nice adventure that night. When we returned to our basecamp again we felt very happy. We were able to see interesting animals.
Susnguakti is a lower montane forest of Arfak mountains. It has been visited by tourists from all continents of the world since 2011. The first tourists who went to Susnguakti forest were university students from Poland. I organized their trip.
Two tourists from Poland with Charles Roring and his team
Our team with 2 Polish tourists in Susnguakti forest

To reach Susnguakti forest, tour participants have to be physically fit. From the place where car stops, visitors need to go hiking up steep slopes for 1 hour to reach our basecamp. It is a very basic accommodation. We provide mattrass, dome tents, cooking and eating utensils. 
Visitors need to bring clothing that is suitable for hiking, trekking boots or sport shoes, and tropical rainforest, insect repellent lotion, torch/ flash light, and camera with extra batteries. This trip is only suitable for rainforest enthusiasts. 
If you are interested in traveling to Manokwari city to enjoy birdwatching, insect watching as well as wildlife watching in general in Susnguakti forest, you could contact me (Charles Roring) to organize your trip. This is my cell phone/ whatsapp number: +6281332245180.

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