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Peter Ericsson | profile | all galleries >> Tripreports! >> West Papua Aug/Sep 2018 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

West Papua Aug/Sep 2018

WEST PAPUA 18Aug-4th Sep, 2018

Tourleader: Peter Ericsson

Participants: Torbjorn and Kajsa Vik, Morgan Swensson, Stefan Hage, Anders Kronestedt, Stephan Sundstrom, Eric Hansson

Agent/Guide: Sujan Chatterjee

Local guides: Benny at Biak, Jamil at Nimbokrang, Zeth at Arfak

JAKARTA

A much anticipated trip for this group of Swedes, fulfilling a lifelong dream for most.
We all met up at the airport of Jakarta for our flight to Biak Island as the starting point of our adventure.

BIAK

This island has been an entry point for some time for people visiting West Papua. The island does not hold any Birds of Paradise but does have several endemics and serves as a good appetizer for what things to come.

We landed in the early morning after a 5-6 hour flight with stopover in Makassar on Southern Sulawesi. A 200m walk took us to a rather nice resort where everyone settled in AC rooms and comfortable beds. We spend 2 nights here and made several trips to established birding areas well known by our local guide, Benny, who also had arranged for comfortable transportation.

We got on to almost all the endemics which is to be expected, the Biak Coucal being the hardest to actually lay eyes on. Biak Paradise Kingfisher, Biak Scops Owl, Biak Black Flycatcher, Biak Triller, Biak Cicadabird, Beelvink Fruit Dove and Biak Monarch being some of them. Lovely views of Golden Monarchs got us all excited and the local form of Hooded Pitta (Biak) was another great bird!

Channel-billed Cuckoo in flight is simply awesome…a bird that is widespread in the Australasian region…

We ate at a local restaurant with extremely sumptuous food. Fresh fish, crab and shrimps all cooked in authentic Indonesian style. Cold beers available for those that wanted.

Easy walks and a gentle introduction to the birds of the area.

NIMBOKRANG

From Biak we flew to Jayapura on mainland West Papua. Here we were met by Jamil, our host and local guide. A couple of hours drive to the village and area of Nimbokrang included a couple of stops and a few species of open areas and grasslands. Being new to the field makes every little bird counts and feels exciting.

We spent 5 nights at Jamil’s guesthouse in NImbokrang. No AC but fans, showers, fridge and home cooked food. The house is a good place to rest midday as the area is very hot and few birds active between 10am to 15pm. We had made sure there were a supply of beers available as well which was a blessing. A local shop had soft drinks and snacks for sale.

Jamil had purchased 7 Northern Crowned Pigeons from hunters. These birds were being fed on his grounds and according to Jamil to be released. As it was they were free ranging but had had their wings clipped as I understand it.

We undertook several walks to get to the different stake outs. These often vary from year to year.
The forest in West Papua all has private ownership and payment has to be done to enter into any private land. Which is one reason one wouldn’t think of birding here without a local arranging things.

We got on to the main targets: 12-wired BOP, King BOP, Lesser BOP and Magnificent Riflebird real well. All being photographed. Some saw a Northern Cassowary and all surprisingly got on to a Pygmy Fruit Dove. Birding inside the forest is very difficult outside of the BOPs and mostly only offers short glimpses of anything. However, parking oneself on a hillside in the late afternoon is a good idea and this way we saw some nice things which included 3 Vulterine Parrots, various doves, pigeons and parrots. Pale-billed Sicklebill was heard but not seen this time.

We hardly saw any mosquitoes but had daily showers. After all it is a rainforest so to be expected.

ARFAK MOUNTAINS

Next on our journey was a flight from Jayapura to Manokwari where we boarded 3 heavy duty 4WD vehicles for our journey to Arfak. First we stopped to get supplies, had lunch and some bootlegged beers on a backstreet shop. One has to be resourceful.

The distance is not that far but the road is one heck of a beat up one so it takes a couple of hours to arrive at the village and the homestay. The best guide is Zeth Wonggor who is a hardworking man and knows every bird in the land. These people are used to walking uphill and scale the trails at ease. Just amazing to see how easy it seems for the locals where we larger sized westerners huff and puff with exhaustion.

Zeth has built a guesthouse with several spacious rooms that all have their own beds and toilets. Electricity is running well through their own generator but fans are not needed as the temperatures fell to 12C at night and with a lot of rain kept at comfortable levels. The electricity is not all that powerful and charging of batteries take time. Bringing powerbanks is recommended.

We had more simple food here as all food has to be brought along from Manokwari and thus primarily consist of canned stuff.

We stayed here 5 days and could have stayed longer. The walks for Magnificent BOP is easy but Superb and Western Parotia means more uphill walking and for Black Sicklebill and Arka Astrapia one has to do a very arduous hike to German Camp which includes overnighting in simple tents and sleeping on bamboo contraptions. Most of the participants on this trip were in their 50s and of good health but even at that looked rather knackered after this hike. Best to be prepared and not wait too long before undertaking this hike.

Loads of birds were added on Arfak, too many to mention here. If anyone wants a trip list you can let me know and I will send you one.

On our last morning we birded along the road and did a last walk down in to a valley to a fruiting tree where lots of parrots, bowerbirds and pigeons were feeding.

It did rain daily so wellies and umbrellas came in handy.

Arfak is a very interesting place. The villagers were all very happy to greet you with big smiles making for a friendly environment.

WAIGEO

Our last destination was reached via a flight from Manokwari to Sorong. But first we spent a night in a nice AC hotel in Manokwari with proper showers and some laundry could be done. A souvenir shop at the hotel held the traditional things one would like to bring home such as stuffed BOPs and penis holsters!

At Sorong we boarded a modern ferry for our crossing to Waigeo.

This island is now being developed for the diving industry and modern living is clearly starting its inroad. We stayed at a nice quaint diving resort with AC rooms next to the ocean.

The setting was so different from the mountains and the lowlands of Nimbokrang. Hornbills, Cockatoos, Parrots, Friarbirds flying over our heads right at the resort with the sea breeze and the sound of gentle waves rolling in.

Daily snorkeling was done by most as midday birding was not an option in the heat.

Food was nicely prepared by the resort and loads of cold beers available in the fridge.

Our main targets, Wilson’s BOP and Red BOP both performed spectaculary. Yellow-billed Kingfisher came very close and we got our only views of Western Crowned Pigeon as our local guides knew where to sneak up on one. Brilliant stuff!

We spend 4-5 nights on the island which also included a boat ride to a small nearby island where we saw Spice Imperial Pigeons, loads of fruit bats and fish eating raptors.

The crossing back to Sorong produced a lot of good seabirds. Sooty, Bridled Tern, Brown Noddy, Brown Booby, Bulwer’s Petrel and Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel.

From Sorong we flew back to Jakarta where everyone checked in on a hotel near the airport for upcoming international flights the day after.

It had been a very rewarding trip though demanding physically at times.
Thank you every one for the adventure and for being so focused all throughout!

280 species were recorded by the group!

More bird pix here https://pbase.com/peterericsson/birds_of_west_papua

PS. Unfortunately my phone broke on the last day so not many pictures to show outside of birds.





The team!
The team!
Unified birding at Waigeo
Unified birding at Waigeo
Waigeo, diving and bird paradise
Waigeo, diving and bird paradise
Arfak montane forest
Arfak montane forest
road at Arfak
road at Arfak
Nimbokrang
Nimbokrang
BOPs is it!
BOPs is it!
Sentani Lake
Sentani Lake
Biak crab
Biak crab
Biak fish
Biak fish
12-wired Birds of Paradise
12-wired Birds of Paradise
Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise
Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise
Wilson's Birds of Paradise
Wilson's Birds of Paradise
Western Parotia
Western Parotia
Red Bird of Paradise
Red Bird of Paradise
Red Bird of Paradise
Red Bird of Paradise
Magnificent Riflebird
Magnificent Riflebird
Papuan Hornbill
Papuan Hornbill
Eclectus Parrot, female
Eclectus Parrot, female
Eclectus Parrot, male
Eclectus Parrot, male
Geelvink Fruit Dove
Geelvink Fruit Dove
Northern Crowned Ground Pigeon
Northern Crowned Ground Pigeon
Yellow-billed Kingfisher
Yellow-billed Kingfisher
Biak Common Paradise Kingfisher
Biak Common Paradise Kingfisher
Green-backed Robin
Green-backed Robin
Red Myzomela
Red Myzomela
Golden Monarch, male
Golden Monarch, male
Black-winged Monarch
Black-winged Monarch
Hooded Mannikin
Hooded Mannikin