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Papua and Waigeo Oct 22 (1 Viewer)

dandsblair

David and Sarah
I normally wouldn't do a trip report for an organised tour but it was suggested it might be useful even for people intending to do it with just local guides.


It was 10 years since we did Papua New Guinea as a full on birding trip with just local guides and lots of local hassle. We really wanted to do West Papua with a local guide but all the people we knew said that any decent local guides were being used by the Tour Groups as they catch up on Covid cancelled tours. So rather than wait for a guide until next year we decided to join an Easy Papua tour, I can say they aren’t very easy but there is limited camping / homestays and the mountain treks were just about manageable for all our group. I did look at three tours but in the end went for Zoothera who we had travelled with once before, but this was largely on the basis that tour was just over 2 weeks (other were up to 30 days) and it was visiting areas where I could get a number of new Birds of Paradise including Wilson’s and my main target Mottled Berryhunter a single species Genus I missed in PNG but also not spending a large amount of time in areas with huge overlap on birds we saw in PNG.

I worked out that we had a realistic possibility of between 75 and 100 new birds, a lot less than the people who had not been to New Guinea before. There was originally going to be 8 participants and 2 leaders (Nick Bray and Royke Mantanta) but the day before departure a couple caught Covid and had to withdraw so six only on the tour.

We flew from Manchester to Jakarta via Dubai (meeting Nick and Keith in Dubai airport) and then we had 6 hours in the airport hotel (in Terminal 2 E for Domestic which we had used before – booking a few weeks earlier than than the others on Booking.com got us a good rate). We met Heather and Geoff who flew from Dublin with Etihad in the hotel reception after a short sleep and a shower before we all headed to the Terminal. Nick had all the internal flight tickets and had got us extra leg room seats.

When we arrived in Jayapura we met up with Nigel (an Australian) and the last member of the group and Royke our local guide (he is Indonesian from Sulawesi and has his own company and is available for private tours next year). We had three cars / vans throughout and it worked much better than if we had, had 10 people squeezed in with equipment etc.

The plan did change based on Nick and Royke trip last month and on how things went on ours. Outline itinerary was on arrival in Jayapura, some local birding in Sentani plains then head up to birding camp near Nimbokrang for 5 nights (in the end we stayed 4 nights at the Camp then had a night at the Grand Hotel Sentani), then fly to Manokwari and drive in pick-ups into the Arfak Mountain where we stayed in a pretty basic homestay for 3 nights, I would have preferred a camp. We then flew to Sorong (staying a night in the same hotel before and after or trip to Waigeo) and then got the ferry to Waigeo from here, three nights on Waigeo but with one afternoon on a small island.

Having got into Indonesia – Visa on arrival worked fine and you can travel internally without the on-line app if you have a booster (they wanted paper copies of certs which we all had). You then do need to do a customs form on-line, there is wifi at Jakarta airport and then on arrival in Papua we had our paperwork checked and our details recorded but no need for additional documents like a Surat Jalan which some guide books still mention. We were off into the countryside and birding within an hour having decided not to have a hotel breakfast in the town as originally planned.

Day 1

The birds on the Sentani Grassland and near the lake weren’t exactly coming thick and fast but we did get Moustached Treeswift, Uniform Swiftlet, Pheasant Coucal, White-shouldered Fairy and our first lifer Black-billed Coucal, then while having breakfast at the lake we added White-bellied Sea Eagle, Little Black Cormorant, Great White Egret and then on the road a Sacred Kingfisher. Back in the Grassland we added Golden-headed Cisticola, Crimson Finch, Hooded Mannikin, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Pacific Swallow and Tree Martin before a last bird of the morning a Variable Goshawk. Unfortunately our car wouldn’t restart so we travelled to the Bird Camp at Isyo Hills with the others a little cramped with our luggage coming later (I think people call it Alex’s camp). Camp was pretty OK accommodation with a Papauan Frogmouth sitting on the tree in the middle of a pool (missed that last time somehow).

Over lunch we saw Electus Parrot, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo and Olive-backed Sunbird but despite hearing it we just couldn’t find Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot. Nick wasn’t impressed with the guides here and they didn’t know of a single fruiting tree in the area. I have to say the local guides were probably worse than anywhere else we have been in in Indonesia or New Guinea. In the afternoon we had a serviceable car and we headed off to a viewpoint to hopefully see some common birds. We saw Black-capped Lory, Cococnut Lorikeet, Pinon and Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon, and then a few lifers for us Lowland Peltops, Long-billed Honeyeater, Black-billed Triller and Meyer’s Friarbird and then Mimic Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckooshrike and Golden Monarch to add to the numbers. Last birds of the day as we stopped just before dawn were Yellow-faced Myna and then a couple of really close Papuan Nightjars that responded really well to calls.

Nimbokrang River

We headed out very early for a target bird for everyone. A local had told Alex the lodge owner that he had seen a Shovel Billed Kingfisher go into roost at the river. We headed out very early to get to the spot before first light. Unfortunately the bird was not exactly where he should be and we played hide and seek with him for 2 hours before all of us had good flight views in daylight and partial views in the thick vegetation in half-light but none of us managed a photo, still this was another huge target for us. We also heard Hook-billed Kingfisher and saw Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, only other bird of note was Ochre-collared Monarch. We decided to head up to the canopy tower where we had breakfast and then just watched a few birds go by or perch, we had Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Black-browed Triller, Yellow-bellied Longbill, Electus Parrot, Great Cuckoo Dove, Metallic Starling and Boyer’s Cuckooshrike before I spotted a final new bird for the morning a Northern Variable Pitohui.

After lunch we all headed for a Fawn-breasted Bowerbird bower, (except Nigel who was feeling a bit rough) we didn’t see the bird at the bower despite an hour wait but did see a few in the trees nearby. Other birds included Grey-headed Cuckooshrike, Shining Flycatcher, Variable Goshawk, Sacred Kingfisher and Black Sunbird before we headed back to the river to try for the Kingfisher again, and again only flight views but we did manage to draw in a Marbled Frogmouth to finish the day on a high.


Early morning walk to local hides.

The walk to the first 12 Wire BoP viewing point was only about 15 minutes up hill from the camp. We decided to give it a try as it avoided a drive and walk in wellies via a flooded area to the second known display site. The male 12 Wire BoP showed just before first light but didn’t display for very long and we saw no female so only shots I got were very high ISO record shots. We headed further up to a Lesser BoP lek but on the way (William the lead local guide did his only useful act of the 5 days) he spotted a Pale-billed Sicklebill out in the open but quite distant, this was the only one of this bird we saw although they were calling most of the mornings here. We then went to a large blind where we were able to view up to 9 Lesser Birds of Paradise we missed this in PNG as the viewing area was unsafe during the election period. We then went to see the King Bird of Paradise, display tree, we all saw male and female birds but views were quite distant and I was more excited by the Jobi Manucode another BoP to add to the list.

So a pretty good start to the morning and we headed to the canopy tower for breakfast. Only new bird to add from yesterday was Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot which was well spotted by Geoff and then scoped by us all.

I should have mentioned on the first day Sarah took to large bits out of her foot on the edge of the shower, I managed to dress it and keep it clean but she was struggling on a few walks and did decide to give a couple of sessions a miss to aid recovery. This afternoon was one of these as the main target bird was Emperor Fairywren which we had seen before. We went to an area called the “Irrigation Trail” and after some work we all saw a small group of Emperor Fairywren. There wasn’t a lot more to see we just added Moustached Treeswift, Papuan Spine-tailed Swift, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove and Red-cheeked Parrot before it started to get dark. We decided to go to a likely area for Papuan Hawk Owl and tried calling it, the call coming back was unusual but as none of us were experts we didn’t know what it was.

A few minutes later William asked us if we wanted to see a roosting Great-billed Heron, Nick, Heather and Nigel decided to carry on calling the Hawk Owl while the other three of us walked the few hundred yards in the dark. As soon as the spotlight was shone on the bird, all three of us said in unison Forest Bittern, Alex had mentioned earlier one had been seen in the morning near here, and I even got three record shots but with my camera settings all wrong. Nick and the others came quickly but as they arrived the bird flew and they didn’t get it. To say they were angry at William’s misidentification was an understatement particularly as he was still insisting it was a Heron until we showed him the photos. We never did get the Hawk Owl and Sarah wasn’t too despondent as she might have missed the bird by waiting back with the others in any event.

Magnificent Riflebird site

We were told this was quite a tricky 1 hour trail up to a display point and Nick’s last group had decided not to try for it. We were not ultra-keen as we had seen the bird before but as the forest was good for other target species we decided to go for it with the others. As expected the trail was muddy and slippy with quite a few climbs but Sarah managed well despite her sore foot and it was Nigel who struggled to keep up but we all made it to the viewpoints before daybreak (2 blinds with views of a fallen tree). The male bird displaying was immature and he didn’t have a full dance and pose but it was nice to see him calling and showing off but no females were around. However on the way down there was plenty to see, first Wompoo Fruit Dove, then Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon, Oriental Dollarbird, Blythe’s Hornbill, Yellow-billed Kingfisher which I finally photographed, Papuan King Parrot, before we heard and then I briefly saw a Papuan Pitta for some reason William felt he needed to make a blind and promptly chopped up and placed Palm branches from which we could look through at the place the Pitta had been, I was watching to the side of the blind as it got further away, no wonder they called him daft Rambo with his headband and propensity to use the machete at a moments notice. Despite trying to call the Pitta in only a couple of us got brief views that day. However we were quickly distracted when Nick heard a Jewel Babbler; a family that we had heard only (3 species on our last visit). Most of us got fleeting glimpses of the bird on the ground across a little stream but Nick saw a hill that he thought would get us decent views looking down on an area where two birds were coming and going but it was a jump and then a steep climb so only Geoff, Keith and I went for it and only Geoff and I got completely unblocked views of Blue Jewel Babbler, still we all saw the bird and also a White-bellied Thicket Fantail but Heather dropped her camera into the stream when trying to get it only for Geoff to move like lightning to get it out before it was completely drenched, after switching it off and leaving it for a few hours to dry it was OK. The birds kept coming we had Rusty Pitohui, Ochre-collared Monarch and Olive Flyrobin, Common Paradise Kingfisher fleetingly and before leaving we added a Grey Whistler.



After lunch we were going back to the view point but we learned that Nick and Geoff had seen a Spotted Cuscus from the canopy tower at lunchtime, so Heather, Sarah and I headed up to the tower with directions of where to look while the others went to the view point, we would join them later. Fortunately we found the Spotted Cuscus and saw a couple of birds Great Cuckoo Dove, Black-browed Triller, Metallic Starling and Spotted Dove. When we got to the viewpoint we were glad to learn we hadn’t missed anything and we had quite a quiet afternoon adding just Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Brush Cuckoo, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot and New Guinea Friarbird before seeing the Frogmouth active back at the lodge.

Other 12 wire viewing point

We drove early to the start of this trail and sure enough required wellingtons to get to the viewing area. We did see the male 12 Wire BoP but he wasn’t really using the display tree so views were less good than the first site. There were a few birds around the area but Yellow-faced Myna, Red-capped Flowerpecker, Lesser Bird of Paradise, White-bellied Cuckooshrike and Common Cicadabird were OK sightings. We had breakfast at a nearby bridge (KM12) and added Bar-tailed Cuckoo Dove, Oriental Cuckoo, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Golden Monarch, Olive-backed Sunbird, Streak-headed Mannikin, and Blue-tailed Bee-eater. We then went to a place called Jalan Korea for one target and quickly found Torrent Flyrobin and a Grey Wagtail.

We had decided to leave after lunch to give ourselves a good time at Sentani, we had a relax at the tower until 2 but Geoff and Heather still needed Grey Crow so they went to what had been an active nest a few weeks ago but unfortunately missed it. The grassland were much better in late afternoon, we soon saw Black-billed and Pheasant Cuckoo, then a couple of Brown Quail, which Nigel, Sarah and I got, the others took the wrong path but determined to flush them they went into the grass and flushed not only Brown Quail but King Quail. There were a selection of munias and we had Crimson Finch, Grand (great-billed) Mannikin, Hooded Mannikin and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, I then called eagle and we all got on Pygmy Eagle (now split from Little).

We then headed to a place near the town of Sentani to see some Pigeons and Doves come in to roost, Heather and Nigel stayed in the car as they didn’t fancy the walk through the long grass, we didn’t get anything but close to the road we heard and then saw out in the open a Hook-billed Kingfisher, I gave up my chance a good photo to run and get Nigel and Heather as it was a lifer for them and I managed to get them to the bird before it flew further into the woods in now almost pitch darkness, my good deed for the day. We then stayed at the Grand Hotel Sentani and enjoyed warm showers, wifi and excellent food before our morning flight to Manokwari.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Manokwari and pick-up trucks up to Arfak mountains.

We arrived in Manokwari in late morning and had a packed lunch as we drove into the mountains. Regular stops got us Mountain Swiftlet, Bar-tailed Cuckoo Dove, and in fruiting trees Western Ornate Fruit Dove, Superb Fruit Dove, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Black-shouldered (Papuan) Cicadabird, Rufous-backed Fantail and Olive-crowned Flowerpecker.

After dinner we went owling and got Papuan Boobok.

Accomodation was pretty basic with a toilet and some cold water for a wash in a shed a little bit of a walk away from our block with two rooms (we had one room, Geoff and Heather the other), there was no storage or furniture in the block) and the lights did not switch off as they should at 10pm, fortunately someone had cut the wire in our room but the lights outside and in Heather’s room stayed on until 4am when they should have been coming on, they went out. There was no hot water for a wash and the toilet was just a hole in the ground and a scoop to clean up. The water bucket we found could be filled from a nearby tap but the hose wasn’t easy to connect. We decided over dinner not to have breakfast here or to come back for lunch but to stay out all day. In fact if the Lorikeet Lodge 30 minutes down the road but closer to most bird areas had been open we would probably have moved out.

Arrangement for tomorrow was for us to go to the Vogelkop Superb Bop, hide first and then swop with Heather and Geoff, who would go to Magnificent hide, you can only get 2 or 3 in each of these hides. Geoff and Nigel would go to the Western Parotia hide with Nick ( this one can take 5).

Small hides in small groups.

Off at 4.20 to drive down the mountain and then walk 20 minutes (fairly steep in places) to get to the hide before dawn. We were very lucky in our getting this hide first as at first light in the ground under the display tree was a Greater Melampitta, and then we had a Glossy Manucode and then an Arfak Catbird showed and fed on Red Pandamus Fruit for the next hour or so interrupted only by the Manucode coming back occasionally. The main target the Vogelkop Superb (crescent lophorina) was showing in the gloomy understory but only did two little display dances in the open, so photos weren’t great but we also saw Magnificent BoP before we left at 7am so we were very lucky. We then walked to the Magnificent BoP hide passing Geoff and Heather on the way exchanging info on what was about.

When we got to the Magnificent BoP hide about 35 minute walk away only 1 male was showing but after about 30 minutes we had 9 birds including 3 adult males displaying to 4 females and 2 young males. Although we had seen Magnificent BoP before a fleeting glimpse in PNG was nothing like this. We didn’t seen any other birds at this hide before we had to walk back to the roadside to meet up with the others for breakfast at the roadside. We were easily the most successful, Geoff and Heather hadn’t seen anything but the Superb and Nigel and Keith didn’t see the Parotia it turns out the villagers who we were staying with and who organise the blinds had not put any fruit out for a week since the last group, so birds were probably hit or miss. (Note: the others tried repeatedly for the Catbird and Manucode at this hide without success on the next few mornings). The rest of the morning was walking along the roadside trying to get some off the speciality birds of the area and we used the canopy hides at Lorikeet Lodge to look across the road into a fruiting tree. Here we saw Papuan Lorikeet, Arfak Honeyeater, Red-collared Myzomela, Vogelkop Scrubwren and my number one target Mottled Berryhunter, which I saw 6 times over the next 3 days but never managed a photograph of, the birds were really high quality with most being lifers apart from Brown-breasted Gerygone and Black-fronted White-eye, this was more than made up for with Amboya Cuckoo Dove, Ornate and Vogelkop Melidectes, Mid-mountain Berrypecker, and Vogelkop Whistler. Just before lunch one of the local guys told us he had found an Owlet Nightjar but it was up a very steep difficult trail, the locals were offering a hand up but it didn’t surprise me when Sarah decided to give up on Mountain Owlet-Nightjar – it turned out her walking pole had given way and by the time she fixed it she wasn’t sure on the trail, easily done as I also went wrong once but spotted the others above me.

In the afternoon we split into two groups of three we went with Nigel and Royke to the lower Bowerbird hide, while Nick took the others to the higher hide. One of the things we needed to get used to was seeing and missing different birds. We saw the male Vogelkop Bowerbird really well at his bower, but I had been advised to wait until it started doing work on the bower before photographing it as it might fly off sod’s law it did despite no photos and never came back into view in front of the bower and I didn’t get a photo. On the walk back and on the roadside we added Fantailed Berrypecker, Mountain Mouse warbler and a bird I really wanted to see Long-tailed Paradigalla. The others missed these three and we missed Black Monarch and Spectacled Longbill.
 

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lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Amazing birds, mouthwatering location, and feeling secondhand frustration for you guys in the first 5 days with those local guides. Missing a Forest Bittern for such confidence filled bad ID and not having clue of what fruiting trees were in the area...anywhere else in the world and that would fail you as a guide for not knowing the big targets and where to literally see the birds!
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Greater Melampitta - wow. Is it known from there? Any record shots?
It seems there are a few populations around in the Arfak mountains at mid elevations 1000-1600M as I found when I looked it up later as I wasn't sure it occurred at the time it certainly wasn't something we expected. I assume that nearby waterfall area is limestone.
Unfortunately I just had a dark out of focus bird in my shots.
 
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jurek

Well-known member
Great report! It brings memories of our own trip to Papua, where I suppose we visited the same places.

I am also surprised of the Greater melampitta and jelaous about the Forest Bittern. Vogelkop Bowerbird became one of my favorite birds, after we made fun and messed with trinkets in its bower, which he immediately sorted again. When I moved just few pieces, he sorted them. But when I moved a whole heap, he accepted it. His goal seemed to be large surfaces of one contrasting color. It could be the same male which you seen.

 
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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Hide swap

This morning we headed to the Western Parotia hide with not a lot of hope with Heather and Geoff as nothing was seen hear yesterday, but fruit had been out a bit longer and we thought we should give it a shot. On the walk up to the hide Nick spotted a Lesser Spotted Ground Robin just sitting still, a very good start, then as soon as we got in and seated we were stunned to see two Black Sicklebills on the fruit, this was unexpected as we thought we were going to have to climb at least 500M higher to see these and it didn’t take long before 2 adult male Western Parotia, a young male Parotia and 4 females came into view. Only other bird we saw before heading down to the road was a Magnificent BoP. Nigel and Keith didn’t see anything apart from Lophorina at the first hide.

After breakfast we birded along the road and had some good birds including Drongo Fantail, Slaty Robin, Island Leaf Warbler, Capped White-eye, Ornate Melidectes, a fly over Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Rufous-naped Bellbird and Papuan Treecreeper. Nick then decided that it was worth going up to the Black Sicklebill hide as it was through some very good forest albeit it was up an almost vertical trail with a fall down one side. We did it for 30 minutes but Sarah was struggling to get up the trail and was missing some of the birds we were seeing as she dropped behind so we turned back and fortunately picked up most of the birds she missed, these included Arfak Honeyeater, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Goldenface, Large Scrubwren, Mottled Berryhunter, Regent Whistler, Green-backed Robin and Crinkle-collared Manucode. Back on the road as we walked to the meeting point we again saw the Fan-tailed Berrybecker. A pretty good morning and about to get better as a local had found another Owlet Nightjar, there was no way Sarah was missing this one and we all got to see a stunning Feline Owlet Nightjar.

While resting before lunch we saw plenty of Papuan Lorikeet fly into a fruiting tree with some smaller parrots, in looking thorough our photos we had both Fairy and Josephine’s Lorikeet in the flock.



 

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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Missing a Forest Bittern for such confidence filled bad ID and not having clue of what fruiting trees were in the area...anywhere else in the world and that would fail you as a guide for not knowing the big targets and where to literally see the birds!

Local guides in less travelled areas are range from just trail guides / chaperones to fixers to actual birders. I would say Latin America is a bit different than most of Africa and Asia as you can self drive and if you have a guide it will be a birding guide and local guides are mostly birding guides. In Asia you are likely to have a driver who knows the sites and local guides who are local community members know the trails and roughly know the “good birds” that birders are looking for. Having people out finding you roosting birds is terrific, even if the IDs are not always 100%.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Also I just want to chime in that this is a fun read, thanks for posting. The site could do with more talk about PNG / West Papúa / Solomons / SW Pacific :)

Reading this has helped pass the time as I am currently stuck on Enggano waiting for better weather to allow the ferry to operate. :)
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Local guides in less travelled areas are range from just trail guides / chaperones to fixers to actual birders. I would say Latin America is a bit different than most of Africa and Asia as you can self drive and if you have a guide it will be a birding guide and local guides are mostly birding guides. In Asia you are likely to have a driver who knows the sites and local guides who are local community members know the trails and roughly know the “good birds” that birders are looking for. Having people out finding you roosting birds is terrific, even if the IDs are not always 100%.
Makes sense, I've probably been too accustomed (spoiled) to having good local guides where I travel, the worst that's happened to me is literally asking a boatman to turn off the boat to let the river push us along and instead he ramped it up.

Needless to say, nobody in that boat, not even the local guide, was happy to have missed the chance of seeing Crestless Curassows out in the open...
 

jurek

Well-known member
In Asia you are likely to have a driver who knows the sites and local guides who are local community members know the trails and roughly know the “good birds” that birders are looking for. Having people out finding you roosting birds is terrific, even if the IDs are not always 100%.

The local guide / guesthouse owner at Arfaks was very good. We did an independent tour.

What impressed me, was that he apparently learned everything himself during casual visits of foreign birdwatchers. He had no bird book, no experience of Western culture, there was no internet and no TV in his village to learn from. English names of birds, educated himself in calls and ID of obscure species, learned what birders want and expect, then built (basic but functional) lodge with amenities with apparently no access to credit. This guy must have been a quiet genius.

Surely, the hotel was still basic, he wanted to ridiculously overcharge us etc. But he seems a remarkable man given his background.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Arfak continued

While resting before lunch we saw plenty of Papuan Lorikeet fly into a fruiting tree with some smaller parrots, in looking thorough our photos we had both Fairy and Josephine’s Lorikeet in the flock.

Our last walk around this very productive area with Royke while Geoff and Keith tried the hide gave us Bi-coloured Mouse Warbler, Black-breasted Boatbill, Friendly Fantail, Black-fronted White-eye, Hooded Monarch and another fly over view of the Long-tailed Paradigalla.

We then drove down the mountain to a viewpoint, the hoped for birds weren’t showing and all we had to add were Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Glossy Manucode, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Dollarbird and calling Pesquet’s Parrot.

We did see a weird spider which was feeding on hundreds of smaller spiders – made a few of us cringe. Our last stop was behind a local church for owls but all we saw was Boobook in flight.

After dinner we went owling and got good views of the Papuan Boobook.

Last morning in Arfak Mountains


Geoff and Heather went early 4.20 to try for the Catbird etc., (no success) we thought we had an extra hour to get ready and pack but Nick knocked on the door almost as soon as they left. He had a calling owl. We threw on our Jackets and boots and headed up the hill. It was the call of Greater Sooty Owl and we thought we were getting it to come in but as the dawn started to break and people stirred the owl decided to head away and it was another heard only bird. We took 20 minutes to pack and get ready to leave, leaving behind insect repellent and sun lotion (annoying). We headed to the same viewpoint as yesterday and this time almost immediately we had a female Masked Bowerbird fly into a tree and we think its nest. The bird showed a couple of times over the next hour but we couldn’t see the male, only Royke who was watching down the hill saw the male a couple of times and when we joined him we all still missed out. We did though see a Black Fantail, Rusty Mouse Warbler, Papuan Sitella, an all-white Grey-headed Goshawk and Papuan Lorikeet before heading down the mountain, we were disappointed to miss the male bowerbird but at least we got the female. We stopped at the fruiting trees we had seen on the way up and added Western Ornate Fruit Dove, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Red-collared Myzomela, Brown-breasted Gerygone and Black-bellied Cuckoo shrike. We had one further stop at bridge just outside Manokwari, where we saw another Torrent Flyrobin, Grey Wagtail and Sooty-headed Bulbul.

I should have mentioned Heather was very into Moths and Butterflies and there were plenty here.
 

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amears

Well-known member
It seems there are a few populations around in the Arfak mountains at mid elevations 1000-1600M as I found when I looked it up later as I wasn't sure it occurred at the time it certainly wasn't something we expected. I assume that nearby waterfall area is limestone.
Unfortunately I just had a dark out of focus bird in my shots.
If your shots show even a semblance of a bird, we’d be interested to see!! Anyone else with you perhaps, with a camera...?
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Transport and the area we stayed, loved the map showing the various BoPs even though you had to go with a local, once there you could stay in the hide by yourself.
If your shots show even a semblance of a bird, we’d be interested to see!! Anyone else with you perhaps, with a camera...?
If your shots show even a semblance of a bird, we’d be interested to see!! Anyone else with you perhaps, with a camera..
Sorry just Sarah and I there and I have checked all the Raw files, I think I got rid of all the duffers when chip was nearly full on Waigeo, I didn't realise the interest, to be honest we were more excited by the Arfak Catbird at the time.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Transport and maps. Loved that BoPs were on the map.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Flight to Sorong

We took a late afternoon flight to Sorong where we enjoyed some luxury and arranged to leave a case so we could travel slightly lighter on the ferry to Waigeo tomorrow.

We had a morning birding before we got the ferry to Waigeo. First we headed to the mangroves on the outskirts of Sorong. The main target was a difficult kingfisher. We tried one site with no success, only birds were Common Greenshank, Striated Heron, Little Egret and Brahminy Kite. So we tried another place which was actually a tourist site with mangrove rides and a tower but it was closed. Still we did quickly find a Little Kingfisher and then the main target the Blue-Black Kingfisher, which we all saw well but it just wouldn’t play ball for a photograph and the only bird I managed to snap was a female Emperor Fairywren. Next we headed to a place known as KM24, we had hoped for another Kingfisher but there was no sign of Red-breasted Paradise, all we got was a Rufous-bellied Kookaburra. There were some really good birds around we had Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Large Fig Parrot, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Large-billed Gerygone, Golden Cuckooshrike, Brown Oriole, Yellow-faced Myna, Scaly-breasted Munia, Orange-fronted fruit dove and a Coroneted Fruit Dove it was then time to head back to the hotel. I obtained some Insect Repellent before we left for the docks and we hadn’t been bitten too badly during our visit to the mangroves.

On the ferry across to Waigeo there was a busy area at the rear of the boat where you could do a bit of sea-watching , Geoff and Keith stayed out the whole journey but I retreated to the air conditioning when it got really hot and busy outside. I did add Little Tern, Australian Gull-billed Tern, Lesser Frigatebird, White-winged Tern, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brown Noddy, Greater Crested Tern, Bridled Tern, Whiskered Tern but missed a flock or Shearwaters and a Roseate Tern.

On docking at Waigeo we took a small boat to the Raja Ampat dive resort, we added Moluccan Starling and then on docking a Beach Kingfisher, so a pretty good day for Kingfishers. We also found 3 Papuan Frogmouths above one of the rooms. We also heard Red BoP’s in the trees above the resort.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Wilson’s Bird of Paradise

This was probably our number one target for the trip and was the bird Sarah was most looking forward to seeing display. In fact if you ask most birdwatchers for their top Bird of Paradise Wilson’s is almost certain to feature in the top three. So although most people in Waigeo are here for the diving and snorkelling there is a regular tranche of bid tours through here.

Our first stop was to the Wilson’s hide and fortunately all of us could get in together (I think you could get 10 in at a push). We had to climb the many stairs in the dark and drive around 20 minutes but then the walk to the hide was pretty short and not too difficult so we were all seated well before dawn. Despite all the advice to not try for photos until it gets a little light, everyone I think took a few record shots as soon as the first male Wilson’s BoP appeared, we eventually had 4 males, 3 females and a youngster in view at the same time but there may have been more birds coming and going. The male bird is truly stunning with its luminous red back drawing the eye but seeing the Yellow, Green and Blue as it does its display in any other bird would be a highlight. After about an hour as things started to quiet down we left and headed to the trail for breakfast.

After breakfast we tried for and got some very range restricted birds, Waigeo Shrikethrush, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Pygmy Longbill and Fairy Gerygone. In addition we had Glossy-mantled Manucode, Olive Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied White-eye, (Papuan) Spangled Drongo, Northern Fantail and Common Paradise Kingfisher. But no sign of Western Crowned Pigeon.

After a swim and some lunch this afternoon we headed back to the forest for Pittas and Pigeons. Nigel decided to rest.

We eventually saw both the Papuan and Hooded Pittas but neither bird showed particularly well and only Nick managed a photo. No sign of the Crowned Pigeon, only birds we saw were Electus Parrot, Common Sandpiper, Beach Kingfisher, Willie Wagtail and Pacific Swallow but we did get some distant views of the Red BoP.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Red BoP viewing area

The viewing area for the Red Birds of Paradise was a few logs/benches set at the top of a trail with views up to a couple of display trees. We as usual made our way to the viewing area before first light, got ourselves comfortable and then waited for the show, hoping that the threatening rain did not put the birds off. We need not have worried as we had a few adult males, some young males and up to six females all showing and calling loudly. No wonder you can hear the birds in the morning and late afternoon at the dive centre. After breakfast we decide to walk the trails and then to avoid some rain do some birding by the airstrip and beach. On the trail we had Stephan’s Emerald Dove, Pinon’s Imperial and then Spice Imperial Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Coconut Lorikeet, Mimic Honeyeater, Varied Honeyeater, Green-backed Gerygone, Northern Fantail, Glossy-mantled Manucode and Pacific Swallow.

We then sheltered from the rain before birding the airstrip and neighbouring beach, luckily we had a Brown-headed Crow show for us all while we waited. There were loads of Pacific Golden Plovers on the airstrip and Nick found an American Golden (first for Waigeo), there was also Osprey, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Greater Sand-plover, Wood Sandpiper, Swinhoe’s Snipe, Striated Heron and Common Sandpiper around to boost the trip list. We then headed back to the resort. Plan this afternoon was to take a boat trip to a nearby island for some new birds.

We travelled about 75 minutes to a small unoccupied island, there obviously had once been a resort here but the island about a mile long was now completely empty.

It didn’t take long until we saw some birds first up was a number of Fruit Dove (at least 6) that we eventually identified as Moluccan Fruit Doves, then we had Torresian Crow and Violet-necked Lory before we walked into the small forested area, it didn’t take us long to find Arafura Fantail, Sarah and Heather then headed back to the beach and missed a main target an Island Whistler. That was pretty much it just have a coffee and get better photos before heading back to Waigeo via a small islet that had more Spice Imperial and Pied Imperial Pigeons coming into roost.
 

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