Friday, August 27, 2010

Watching Birds of Paradise

I, Wim Boyden (a tourist from Belgium) and Maker (a villager who guided us) left Senopi village at 12 p.m.. Our goal that day (16 August 2010) was to see birds of paradise. According to Maker's story, it would only take one hour of walking to a place on the other side of Kamundan river where male birds of paradise usually gather to perform their courtship dance for mating with their female birds in a tall tree.
We walked fast to reach that place before 3 p.m. because the birds would start dancing by that hour. What seemed to be a short walk in reality turned out to be a long walk. Generally it was hard for anybody who had not experienced trekking in the jungle of New Guinea. But for me and Wim, the journey was moderate. Besides small and big rivers, we had to overcome steep slopes, thorns from various wild vines hanging on trees and other green vegetation along our journey from the village to the hill where birds of paradise would be expected to come.
After stopping and drinking some water at a creek below the hill, we climbed slowly to a very steep slope near the place where the display tree of the birds of paradise stood. Maker arranged some palm leaves on branches and twigs of a small tree above our heads to cover us from being seen by the birds. The two-hour walk was exhausting.
Covered by insects
Our bodies were fully covered with sweat. It was "delicious nectar" for bees. In less than fifteen minutes all of our bodies had been covered by bees, ants, and mosquitoes. There were two different species of them. The smaller bees were black whereas the bigger ones were brown yellow. Flies, ants and various other species of insects came too. We were really annoyed by them but we could not wave our clothes to expel them. If we did that then the birds of paradise above us would fly away. I could only ask Maker to blow some smoke which he inhaled from his cigarette to these insects. They were really tough. They did not want to leave us at all. So, we had no choice but to receive them that afternoon as our friends while watching the birds of paradise dancing above our heads. The birds of paradise came several times and we could see them dancing. Unfortunately, we sat on a wrong place. We were too close to the tree.
Bring telephoto D-SLR camera to shoot birds
Actually, we needed to find a place where we could see them from a 45 degree viewing angle. Wim took out his long lens digital camera to shoot them. It was not easy at all because they were among the branches and twigs of the tree some thirty meters above us. I was happy because at least I could listen to their magnificent voices while they were calling one another.
We were waiting and watching the lesser birds of paradise for around two and a half hour before deciding to walk back to District Senopi where the guesthouse was. The journey back to the village was not tiring anymore when we had successfully watched and taken pictures of these wonderful creatures from avian kingdom.
Places in Manokwari to watch birds of paradise
There are other places in Manokwari which you could visit to watch birds of paradise.
  • Susnguakti Forest - this is the closest place from Manokwari town. It takes around 1 hour by car to reach the entrance point of the forest, and another 1 hour walk into the jungle to reach the dancing ground of birds of paradise. There is a base camp in the jungle which tourists can stay for several days to explore the lower montane rainforest of Arfak mountains.
  • Kwau village in Arfak mountains. This is a popular destination for visitors. It takes around 2 hours by car to reach the guest house. There are several species of birds of paradise that visitors can watch, i.e. the magnificent birds of paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus), Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata). Another interesting bird is the bowerbird (Amblyornis inornatus).
  • Inggramui village - Tourists need to walk for 3 hours through the jungle to watch birds of paradise. There are also 2 basecamps in the jungle which visitors can stay in for exploring the tropical rainforest that is rich of biodiversity.
How to get to Manokwari?
Manokwari is the capital of West Papua province in the Republic of Indonesia. Tourists fly to Manokwari to watch birds of paradise. To get to this town, fly from your country to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia). After that take a domestic flight that is served by Sriwijaya Air, or Express Air or Lion Air to Manokwari.
When you have arrived in Manokwari, don't forget to call me by phone 081332245180. I will be happy to arrange your trip to the mountains to watch the most beautiful birds in the world. by Charles Roring - contact email:

Also read:
Morning Birding Tour in Southern Region of Waigeo Island
Birding in Susnguakti forest with 2 French Tourists
Tradition of Cooking with Bamboo
Watching how a deer was caught by dogs in Senopi

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