Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Birdwatching in Manokwari

Manokwari is a nice destination for visitors who are interested in hiking and watching birds in the rainforest. There are regular flights between Manokwari and Jakarta served by such airlines as Sriwijaya, Lion/Wings, Express and Batavia. Birders usually go to Arfak mountains to see bowerbird, spotted catbird, and magnificent birds of paradise. If they want to watch lesser birds of paradise, and sulphur crested cocktoo or pygmy parrots, then they should go to the lowland forests in Warmarway, Dopi river or Asai river.
Warmarway village of Arfak mountains
The slopes leading to several trees where Lesser Birds of Paradise usually dance in the mornings and in the afternoons in the rainforest near Warmarway village are very steep. So, only birders who are physically fit that can go to the place. They must wear good sport shoes or trekking boots and bring binoculars. A camp has been constructed by local villagers for the visitors who want to stay for several nights in the jungle. Besides watching birds of paradise, other interesting attraction is watching cuscus and exploring the jungle itself at night. Please, contact Alice Auri (English speaking guide from Manokwari) by sending text message to her cell phone: 081248525116. She can arrange your trip and accompany you to go birding in Warmarway. In the village, you will meet Yunus Sayori (Cell Phone: 081343316087) will guide you to the place where the Lesser Birds of Paradise dance in the jungle. Yunus does not speak English. He can call owl at night to come to your camp. He can also call cuscus (a nocturnal animal) for you. The tropical rainforest is home to various species of plants, and animals, including mushrooms that glow at nights, orchids, bamboos and a lot of insects.

Aiwatar Hill
Another important birdwatching destination in West Papua is Aiwatar hill. Located in Tambrauw mountains, it is considered one of the most important birding sites in the world. This may sound subjective but Aiwatar is a must see place for birdwatchers who really want to see a lot of birds that are endemic to New Guinea.
As a tourist guide, I accompanied two nature lovers from Belgium to watch birds in Aiwatar. We saw ducks,  doves, hornbills, Western crowned pigeon and palm cockatoo and many other birds that I cannot mention their names one by one in this post.
Visitors can go by 4WD pick up truck to District Senopi and continue their trip on foot to Aiwatar hill. It will take one and a half day trip from Manokwari to Aiwatar. Tents and camping gear are needed if they want to stay in the jungle for a few nights. Since electricity is not always available in Aiwatar, visitors need to bring some extra batteries for their cameras.
In addition to Aiwatar as one of the best birding sites in the bird's head region of West Papua, the most recommended site for hiking and birdwatching in Manokwari is Asai. Located in the north coast, Asai is only one hour car trip from Manokwari. In addition to hiking and birdwatching, another activity that tourists can enjoy in Asai is swimming in the river. Please, contact me by email to peace4wp@gmail.com if you want to go hiking and birding in Manokwari. by Charles Roring

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Birdwatching in Arfak mountains

Magnificent Birds of Paradise
(male and female)
 a courtship encounter
in the jungle of Arfak mountains
The mountain range of Arfak is located in the south of Manokwari city. It is a popular destination for watching various species of paradise birds. There are 2 birding sites that I recommend for birdwatchers. The first one is Warmarway (located in the eastern side of the mountains) and the second one is Imubri.
  • Warmarway village - this is a great place for watching coastal and lower montane forest birds such as brahminy kite, fregate birds, kingfishers,  lesser birds of paradise, blyth's hornbills and various species of doves. A villager - Yunus Sayori - works as local guide. He can accompany visitors in the jungle. He has the skill to immitate the sounds of female cuscus to attract male cuscus at night. Unfortunately, he does not speak English.
  • Imubri - this is a village located between middle and upper montane forest of Arfak range. Imubri is the natural habitat of vogelkop bowerbird, western parotia, cinnamon fruit dove, hooded pitohui, spotted catbird, and magnificent birds of paradise. Tree kangaroo is a vocal point of the jungle trekking tour in Arfak range.
If you are interested in traveling to Arfak mountains of Manokwari to watch paradise birds in the jungle, please, contact me (Charles Roring) -  by email: peace4wp@gmail.com or send text message to my number +6281332245180.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lesser Birds of Paradise

This is perhaps the most sought after birds in the world. People have hunted the Lesser Birds of Paradise since hundreds of years ago. Because of the continuous hunting, it is now facing extinction in several parts of New Guinea or West Papua forest. In 1980s, they could still be seen in the jungle of Table Mountain near Manokwari town. Today, I cannot see or watch the birds in that jungle anymore. Although Table Mountain is protected by the Department of Forestry of the Indonesian government, it is facing constant destruction from the town dwellers. Hunters carrying air guns like to go into the jungle of Table Mountain to shoot cuscus, soa-soa (monitor lizards) and birds.
After searching the birds since 2010, finally, I was able to find their dancing site located in he territory of Warmarway village. It is a 1-hour ride from Manokwari town. There four or five trees that have been chosen by the birds of paradise as the place where they perform courtship dance in the mornings and in the afternoons just before sunset. The trees stand on a hill with steep slope. I've got a blurred photograph of the male that I shot using Nikon Coolpix P500. I hope that I can make better pictures in the future.
As a nature lover and eco-tourism enthusiast, I try to protect the area by offering birdwatching tours to tourists who want to watch birds of paradise. I hope that this environmentally friendly eco-tourism scheme will help local Papuan villagers generate alternative income that can replace their present livelihood.
I recommend Alice Auri (English speaking guide) who can arrange and guide birdwatchers in Warmarway. Her cell phone number is +6281248525116. So, if you are interested in coming to Manokwari town to watch the birds, don't forget to contact her. If she is busy, you could contact Yunus Sayori +6281343316087. He is the villager of Warmarway who can bring you to the birding site. He also can call owl and cuscus at nights. A lot of species of plants in the jungle of this Arfak mountains including bamboos, big trees, orchids, and glowing mushrooms.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The best birding site in New Guinea

I have been guiding international birdwatchers on various birding trips in West Papua for years. During those trips I saw various species of birds that are endemic to New Guinea island.
There are several birding sites I higly recommend to visitors:
Klasow valley of Sorong Regency
It is located around 1.5 hours by 4WD car from Sorong city and 2 hours walk into the jungle. Klasow valley is a good choice for visitors who have at least 3 days of exploring tropical jungle of West Papua.

Ases Valley
This is one of the remotest and the most difficult to reach birding sites that I have ever known. It is located in Tambrauw regency. To go there we need to charter a 4WD car from Sorong city to Fef town in Tambrauw mountains. After that, we need to continue walking to Ibu river where we will need to stay in a camp for one night. The next morning, we will have to hike up steep mountain and then down to Ases valley.
During the hiking trip, we can see an abundant of Avifauna of Tambrauw mountains. The most recommended trip duration for visiting Ases is at least 6 days. In addition to watching birds such as paradise birds, visitors are able to see other wild animals such as deers, cuscus, wallaby and giant soa-soa lizard. It is a highly recommended site for anybody who pristine rainforest ecosystem.

Aiwatar hill in District Senopi
I can say that birding in Aiwatar hill of Senopi village is a good choice for those who are physically fit. I went there with Wim and Vicky Boyden, two visitors from Belgium who went hiking and birding in Senopi for one week. This opinion might be subjective but it was the place where I saw a lot of species of birds. I saw the famous lesser birds of paradise (paradisaea minor), Blyth's hornbill, western crowned pigeon, pinon imperial pigeon, yellow faced myna, Goliath cockatoo and many others that I cannot mention one by one on this post.
Every morning thousands of birds from all corners of the jungle land on the ground of Aiwatar hill to drink warm water that comes out of the ground. They drink it until they get drunk. I don't know what minerals it contains that can make the birds drunk. Although there is a big river near the hill, all birds only fly to Aiwatar.
Wildlife in the jungle of Senopi
Birds are not the only animals that you will see in the jungle. When I was trekking between Senopi and Aiwatar hill, I saw kangaroo, cows, deers and snakes. There are wild pigs, various species of butterflies and beetles. While walking down from the hill, I saw a green frog sleeping on a leave.
Where is Aiwatar hill?
Aiwatar hill is a five hour walk from Senopi village. The village, or now is also called district, is located between Manokwari and Sorong.  You have to leave early in the morning at around 6 a.m. to reach the hill in the mid-day. Along the way, you will be able to see sulphur crested cockatoo, black capped lory, and ornate lorikeet in the branches and twigs of the trees.

How to get to one of the above birding sites?
To reach this hill, read the following instructions:
  • First, fly from your country to Jakarta - the capital of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Second, take a domestic flight served by Sriwijaya Air, Batavia Air, Lion Air or Express Air to Sorong city.
  • Contact me by e-mail to peace4wp@gmail.com before arriving in Sorong so that I can give you detailed info of tour price. I will meet you at the airport.
  • I will arrange a 4WD car that will bring you to Klasow valley, or Ases valley.
If you still need detailed information about rainforest tours and birdwatching trips in Sorong regency, you can still contact me at the above e-mail address. I am sure that you will have a great adventure in West Papua's rainforest. by Charles Roring

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blyth's hornbills are called Burung Taun-taun

I frequently see Blyth's hornbills while trekking in the jungle around Manokwari. The best spot to watch this bird is Dopi river (located in the north coast of Manokwari). In West Papua, we call it taun-taun. It is big and likes to eat fruits from nutmeg and ficus trees. Blyth's hornbills and other birds play a very important role in the ecosystem of rainforest. They disperse seeds of the fruits that they eat. They can fly in a group of two, four or even thirty birds. I know a nice place by Dopi river where tens of the taun-taun birds gather to sleep. There are three high trees that have been made as their sleeping trees. In order to avoid predators, perhaps snakes, Blyth's hornbills choose the tip parts of the twigs. The one below is a male.
I have guided several birdwatchers from Europe to see these sleeping trees of Blyth's hornbill since last year. It takes around three hours walking from Manokwari to Dopi river. The best times to watch birds are in the mornings and in the afternoon before sunset. I and some of my friends built a camp which can be used by birdwatchers to stay for several nights in the tropical rainforest of New Guinea to watch birds and see everything the jungle has.
If you are physically fit, then you can take a birding tour in Dopi river. I have seen various species of tropical birds here. Some of them that I can identify are the lesser birds of paradise (paradisaea minor), pygmy parrots, white or grey goshawk, sulphur crested cockatoo, western crown pigeon, dollar birds.
Birds are not the only animals that you can see in this jungle. Deers, monitor lizard (locally called soa-soa), kangaroo, cuscus live in the rainforest around Dopi river too.

If you live in the United States of in Europe and want to watch birds in Manokwari, first, you need to fly to Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia. Second, take a domestic flight served by Sriwijaya Air, Batavia Air, or Express Air to Manokwari city. I will meet you at the airport to bring you to Dopi river. Here is my e-mail: peace4wp@gmail.com