Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Birdwatching in West Papua

West Papua is an important birdwatching destination in the world. Wondiwoi Mountains in Wondama Bay regency; Nimbokrang in Jayapura,  Susnguakti forest and Arfak mountains in Manokwari; Mount Sakofsiah and Ases Valley in Tambrauw; Klatomok village and Malagufuk village in Sorong; Waigeo island in Raja Ampat are the natural habitat of hundreds of species of avifauna including birds of paradise.
The main targets are Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Lesser Bird of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Western Parotia, Black Sicklebill, Vogelkop Superb Bird of Paradise, Long-tailed Paradigala, and a lot more. 

Please, support this blog by buying various art products with drawings or illustrations of birds that are printed on t-shirts, mugs, smartphone cases, tote bags, spiral notebooks, stickers and etc. through this Birdwatcher's Art Shop.

A good pair of binoculars is needed by bird watchers especially when they want to watch birds in distant or tall trees. Famous brands such as Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, Nikon, Vortex have got binoculars that are offered in a price range from around 200 US dollars to more than 1,000 US dollars.
I use Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm G2 telefoto lenses as by birding camera. Well, it is not the best birding camera on the market. There are Nikon 500D, Fujifilm X-T30, and Canon EOS 7D Mark II that are much better than mine. In the past I used Nikon Coolpix P500, Nikon P600 and Fujifilm HS50EXR. Bridge camera are good devices for taking pictures of birds in distant trees and with brighter sunlight. However, these point and shoot cameras have got small sensors. So, in certain cases such as in lowlight condition or when there are some twigs or leaves in front of the birds, the cameras cannot easily focus on the birds. Sony RX10 IV is a bridge camera that is equipped with 1 inch sensor. With 600 mm lens, it can produce high quality photographs and other wild animals. 
Wondiwoi Nature Reserve is located in the south of Wondama Bay regency and is the natural habitat of such birds as Grey Crow, Olive-backed Sunbird, Red-cheeked Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Spangled Drongo, Coconut Lorikeet, Red Myzomela, Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Willie Wagtail, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Whimbrel, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and a lot more. 

Susnguakti Forest - This is a hidden birding and wildlife watching site in lower montane forest of Arfak range. Cuscus possum, forest dragon lizard, toad, snakes, bandicoot, and various kinds of insects can be seen here. For birds, the ones that I see in this forest include Lesser Birds of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, King Bird of Paradise, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Superb Fruit Dove, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Azure Kingfisher, Frilled Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Rainbow Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Black-capped Lory, Hooded Butcherbird. 
Arfak Mountains are located in the south of Manokwari city. Its higher montane forest is a very popular destination for visitors who want to watch various species of birds that are endemic to New Guinea (particularly to West Papua) such as Brehm's Tiger Parrot, Vogelkop Melidectes, Mottled Berryhunter, Papuan Flycatcher, Black-breasted Boatbill, Golden Face, Spectacled Longbill, Tit Berrypecker, Western Smoky Honeyeater, Feline Owlet Nightjar, and etc. 
Around the guesthouse where I usually stay, there is flower garden. Red Hibiscus, Rhododendrons, New Guinea Impatience, Orchids plants are planted to decorate the landscapes. They attract small birds to eat their nectar and flower or to just sit inside their tiny twigs.

West Papua is a popular birding destination especially among avid birdwatchers who want to watch paradise birds as well as other tropical birds. 
As a tourist guide, I have accompanied a lot of visitors on various birdwatching and wildlife watching tours from lowland to lower and higher montane forests. Here are the birding sites that I have visited with my clients:
Klasow valley in Sorong regency. There are tens of villages in this valley. 
Klatomok Village is located at the road side. Homestays in affordable cost are available in this village. It is the most recommended place for visitors who want to enjoy easy birding. Some of the birds which birdwatchers can see here include Oriental Dollar Bird, Yellow-faced Myna, Golden Myna, Magnificent Riflebird, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Blue Black Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Helmetted Friarbird, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, 
Western-crowned Pigeon,  Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Lowland Peltop, and etc.
Malagufuk have got homestays which visitors can choose to stay for a few days. Birds that can be watched are similar to the ones that I mention above with such extra birding target as Northern Cassowary, Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, and etc. 
In addition to birds, visitors can also see flowers such as hibiscus, zinnia elegans and other wild flowers in rainforest. Flower season usually occurs at the end of dry season, i.e. in November and early December. When there are a lot of flowers, butterflies will come to collect their nectar. 
Fef Valley - This is a valley that has now become the capital of Tambrauw regency. It is surrounded by lower montane forest. Because it is in the interior area of Vogelkop region of West Papua, visitors who go there will be able to watch Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Lesser Bird of Paradise, New Guinea Vulturine Parrot, New Guine Harpy Eagle, Long-tailed Buzzard, Sacred Kingfisher, Hooded Pitta, Red-bellied Pitta, 
Mount Sakofsiah and Ases Valley - Located deeper in the interior region of Tambrauw Mountains, they are very important birding sites in West Papua province.  Birds that can be watched in this forest are similar to the ones in Fef but in Mount Sakofsiah and Ases Valley, more wildlife can be seen. In addition a lot of birds, visitors who go to there can see mammals, reptiles, insects and a lot of tropical plants of New Guinea.
To explore the places that I mention above, we need to go by 4WD car. The most popular vehicle here is Toyota Hilux. Before going to those remote forests, we have to buy food and other logistical materials in Manokwari city.
This year, government of Indonesia have closed access for foreign tourists to enter West Papua due to Covid-19 pandemic. We hope that next year (2021), foreign tourists will be allowed to enter West Papua again. This is written by Charles Roring
Kabui Bay of Raja Ampat - I like traveling to this beautiful archipelago because I can enjoy birding and snorkeling. Red Bird of Paradise and Wilson's Bird of Paradise can be seen there. Other interesting species such as Spice Imperial Pigeon, White-breasted Woodswallow, Wimbrel, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Palm Cockatoo, Beach Kingfisher, Moluccan King Parrot, and etc. can be watched there. 
The beaches in Warduwer, Saporkren, Urai and a lot of other small islands in the bay are covered by coral reefs. They are also considered as the tropical rainforest of the sea. Butterfly fish, Boxfish, Anemonefish, Moorish Idol, and a lot of other species of marine animals can be seen in the sea water.
Bring snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins and underwater camera) if you want to enjoy snorkeling in Raja Ampat.
Actually, it is not only Raja Ampat where you can go to enjoy snorkeling. There are other places in West Papua that have got coral reef. Some of them include Manokwari, Tambrauw, Sorong, Kaimana, Fakfak, Wondama Bay, and South Manokwari. 
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Dear Readers,
I am raising fund to buy binoculars and spotting scopes for local guides who accompany visitors watching birds of paradise in the jungle. Please,