Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Birdwatching in Manokwari

Birdwatching and wildlife tour in West Papua of Indonesia
Blyth's hornbill
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 (the capital of Indonesia served by such airlines as Sriwijaya, Lion/Wings, Batik Air and Garuda. Birders usually go to Arfak mountains to watch paradise birds or do night walk to see fireflies, glowing mushrooms and cuscus possum.

Susnguakti Forest

Birding tour in Arfak mountains of Manokwari
King Bird of Paradise in Arfak mountains
There is a forest in the eastern region of Arfak mountains where visitors can enjoy hiking to watch several species of tropical birds such as Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor), King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius), Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus), Common Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea), Great Cuckoo Dove, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Brown Oriole, and Coconut Lorikeet and a lot of other birds that are endemic to Arfak range.  Lesser Birds of Paradise usually dance in the mornings and in the afternoons in the rainforest near basecamp that we have built for tourists. Birders need to walk up steep slopes to reach it. 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. We have prepared mattrasses, pillows, cooking and eating utensils for tourists who want to spend several days exploring the bio-diversity of animals and plants in this forest. Besides watching birds of paradise, other interesting attraction is watching cuscus and exploring the jungle itself at night. 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.

Mesirrokow Forest

French tourists were enjoying riverwalk, camping and birdwatching tour in Manokwari
Birding and riverwalk in Mesirrokow forest in Manokwari
In addition to Mesirrokow 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 Vogelkop region is Mesirrokow forest. Located in lowland region, Mesirrokow is only one hour car trip from Manokwari. In addition to hiking and birdwatching, another activity that tourists can enjoy in Mesirrokow is swimming in the river.

Miyah forest

Another important birdwatching destination in West Papua is Miyah forest. Located in Tambrauw mountains, it is considered one of the most important birding sites in the world. This may sound subjective but Miyah forest 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 offer birding tours for nature lovers who want to watch birds in Miyah. From my previous trips, I saw Lesser Birds of Paradise, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Blyth's Hornbill, 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 and continue their trip on foot to the forest. It will take a half day to reach Miyah. 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 the forest, visitors need to bring some extra batteries for their cameras.
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

Male Lesser Birds of Paradise in Susnguakti Forest
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 and other tropical birds that are endemic to rainforest of New Guinea. There is a birding and wildlife watching site that I highly recommend for birdwatchers. Its name is Susnguakti forest (located in the eastern side of the mountains).
As a tourist guide, I have organized numerous tours to this forest for visitors who come from European countries such as Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.
There are also tourists who come from the United States, South Korea, China, and Australia. Some Indonesian tourists visited this forest too.
Most of them went to Susnguakti forest to watch paradise birds during the day and cuscus possum at night. The location of Susnguakti forest is approximately at around 400 to 700 meters above sea level. Visitors who go there need to walk up steep slopes of Arfak range to reach it.

Hiking, Birding and Camping

Jungle hut for tourists
Susnguakti forest is a great place for watching lower montane forest birds such as Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Hooded Butcherbird,  Common Paradise Kingfisher,  Beautiful Fruit Dove,  Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and Coconut Lorikeet and a lot more.
The birds of paradise can be watched early in the mornings and late afternoons. The birding sites are within the walking distance from our basecamp approximately 10 to 15 minutes. I and local villagers have built huts for tourists who want to stay for several days in the jungle watching birds, and other animals.

Birding Binoculars

Swarovski SLC 10×42 WB binoculars
Because birds of paradise like to dance or perch on high trees, visitors need to use a good pair of binoculars to watch them. There are a lot of birding binoculars that are available on the market. The ones that produce sharp images are Swarovski EL 8.5×42 and the multi purpose Swarovski SLC 10×42 WB. There is also Canon 15×50 IS UD binoculars that are powered by image stabilizer technology. Binoculars that are made of high quality materials such as Extra-low Dispersion Lenses and Bak4 prisms glasses will produce sharp and rich color images of birds, butterflies, wild flowers and anything in the jungle.

Booking

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 whatsapp 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 (Paradisaea minor) 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 the mountain to shoot cuscus, soa-soa (monitor lizards) and birds.
Susnguakti Forest
Male Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor)  in Arfak mountains
Paradise bird in Susnguakti forest
of Manokwari
After searching the birds since 2010, finally, I was able to find their dancing site located in the territory of Susnguakti forest. It is a 1-hour ride from Manokwari town. There are 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.
Birds and Wild Animals
King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius) in Arfak mountains of Manokwari
King Bird of Paradise
In addition to the Lesser Birds of Paradise, Susnguakti forest is also the natural habitat of King Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Hooded Butcherbird, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Coconut Lorikeet, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Papuan Frogmouth.
Animals such as snakes, soa-soa monitor lizard, large ground brown skink, Papua Dragon Tree Lizard, blue-tailed lizard, Cruiser Butterfly (Vindula arsinoe), the Silky Owl Buterfly (Taenaris catops), Swallow tail blue mountain butterfly (Papilio ulysses) butterflies, beetles and fireflies can also be found in this forest.
A lot of species of plants in the jungle of this Arfak mountains including bamboos, big trees, orchids, and glowing mushrooms.
Booking your birding tour
If you want me to organize your birdwatching and wildlife tour in Manokwari, Sorong, Tambrauw Mountains, and Raja Ampat, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com.
Also read: Wildlife Tour in Lowland Forest of Sorong

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The best birding site in New Guinea

French tourists were enjoying birding, wildlife watching and riverwalk tour in Manokwari of West Papua.
French birdwatchers in lowland forest
 of Manokwari
I have been guiding international birdwatchers on various birding trips in West Papua for years now. During those trips I saw various species of birds that are endemic to New Guinea island. There are several birding sites I highly recommend to visitors:

Lowland Forest of Manokwari

There is a river in northwest region of Manokwari. Its name is Mesirrokow. It is covered by tropical rainforest that has become the natural habitat of a lot of species of birds such as eclectus parrot, sulphut crested cockatoo, palm cockatoo, blyth's hornbill, coconut lorikeet, yellow capped pygmy parrot, pink spotted fruit dove and many others.

Susnguakti Forest of Arfak Range

Hiking, birding, camping and wildlife tour in Arfak range of Indonesia
Lesser Birds of Paradise in Susnguakti forest
Arfak range of Manokwari
There are paradise birds in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari. Some of them include: Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, and Magnificent Riflebird. Common Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Blyth's Hornbill, Hooded Butcherbird can also be seen in the forest. As a matter of fact, birds are not the only animals visitors can watch in the forest. There are also cuscus possum, Papuan dragon lizard, snakes, Large Ground Skink, bandicoot, and colorful butterflies, fireflies that could be watched in this lower montane forest of Arfak range. Tourists who want to go to this forest have to be physically fit.

Tambrauw Mountains

It is located between the regencies of Manokwari and Sorong. Most of the mountains are covered by pristine rainforest that is the natural habitat of a lot of species of tropical birds such as paradise birds, parrots, fruit doves, kingfishers, pigeons.  The regency of Tambrauw can be reached through Manokwari city and Sorong city.
Because the cost of traveling to Tambrauw mountains is expensive, I highly recommend that tourists come to this region in a group of at least 3, 4 or more people to share the cost.

Birding and Wildlife Watching Equipment

There are some equipment that visitors can bring in order to enhance their birding and wildlife watching experience. In general, birders bring binoculars. From my personal view, a pair of Swarovski EL 8.5×40 or Swarovski SLC 10×42 WB binoculars produces sharp and crisp images of birds, wild animals and unique wild flowers that we see through them. There are also Nikon Monarch 5 10×42, and the very affordable Visionking 10×42 mm binoculars. Sometimes I see birders bring spotting scopes. I used to try a Swarovski ATX 30-70×95. It was a very powerful birding gear. However, it is also expensive.

How to get to birding sites in Manokwari and Tambrauw Mountains?

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, Garuda, NAM Air, Lion Air or Batik Air to Manokwari city.
  • Contact me by e-mail to peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to +6281332245180 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 and all the necessary logistics that will bring you to Tambrauw.
If you still need detailed information about rainforest tours and birdwatching trips in Tambrauw, you can still contact me at e-mail address. I am sure that you will have a great adventure in West Papua's rainforest.
written by Charles Roring

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blyth's hornbills are called Burung Taun-taun

Hornbill can be watched in most part of New Guinea and its surrounding islands.
Blyth's Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus)
I frequently see Blyth's hornbills while trekking in the jungle around Manokwari. The best spot to watch this bird is in the lowland forest. In West Papua, we call it taun-taun. It is big that 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 organize birding tours to rainforest in West Papua for birders who want to see hornbill and a lot of other tropical birds that are endemic to this region. Hornbills like to sleep in  high trees after sunset time. 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 birdwatchers from Europe, North Americas, Asia and Australia to watch Blyth's hornbill in Manokwari, Tambrauw Mountains, Sorong and Raja Ampat islands. The best times to watch birds are in the mornings and in the afternoon before sunset. I and some of my friends built basecamps deep in the jungle for birdwatchers to stay for several nights in the tropical rainforest of West Papua to watch birds and other wild animals such as cuscus possum, wallaby, deer, soa-soa lizard, butterfly, beetles, and etc.

Birding Tour in Manokwari and Tambrauw Mountains

If you are physically fit, then you can take a birding tour with me to Tambrauw mountains. I have seen various species of tropical birds there. Some of them that I can identify are the Lesser Birds of Paradise (paradisaea minor), King Bird of Paradise, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrots, Variable Goshawk, Western Crown Pigeon, Oriental Dollarbird, Yellow-faced Myna, Golden Myna, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, and etc.
In addition to animals, visitors who take a birding and wildlife watching tour with me can also see a lot of unique plants in the villages and forest that we visit including banana, papaya, mango, jackfruit, matoa, durian, and rambutan trees. Wild flowers such as Faradaya splendida, terrestrial orchid spathoglottis plicata, or various colors of hibiscus can be seen in the region.

Flights to Sorong and Manokwari city

  • If you live in the United States or in Europe and want to watch birds in Manokwari and its surrounding forest, first, you need to fly to Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia. 
  • Second, you take a domestic flight served by Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air or Garuda to Manokwari city. I will meet you at the airport and organize your bird and wildlife tour to Tambrauw mountains or to the nearby lowland forest. 

Booking

Here is my e-mail: peace4wp@gmail.com and whatsapp number: +6281332245180.
Written by Charles Roring