Sunday, July 21, 2013

Birding in Arfak Mountains

The mountain range of Arfak is a nature reserve in the south of Manokwari that has been famous as a favorite destination for birdwatchers. I guided Professor Richard Ebright from 18 to 20 July 2013 on a birding tour in a cloud forest of the range. The professor was not doing research works. He came here as a tourist who wanted to watch birds of paradise in Arfak mountains.
When we were walking and watching birds, we saw several birds that have got outstanding characteristics such as:

  • Vogelkop Bowerbird that decorates his "palace" or bower with beautiful flowers, snail shells, fruits and other colorful articles. He made his bower from twigs.
  • Male Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata) that dances like a ballerina to seduce his female bird. Male Western Parotia does not have feather as elaborate as Lesser Birds of Paradise but his "ballet dance" is really fantastic. 
  • Magnificent Birds of Paradise that displays his beautiful feather, expand his chest and plays his sickle like tail antennas to attract his female birds.
In order to see these unique and beautiful birds of New Guinea, we had to wait for each of them in dark hides/ blinds that were cold, and full of mosquitoes. Each of the above species has its separate dancing or courtship ground. On the average we needed to spend 3 to 5 hours to see each bird came to the respected dancing ground. Our long waiting and boring bore excellent results. We were able to make videos and photographs of the birds. We also saw other interesting birds that came to or landed on the ground where Western Parotia would dance. They were Cinnamon Ground Dove and Spotted Catbird. There were to other small birds that I could not identify.
The Cinnamon Ground Dove ate grains that fell onto the surface of the ground. When we were waiting for the male Western Parotia to dance, it was the Cinnamon bird that came first. Naturally male Western Parotia has got dancing skills that he uses to perform beautiful dances that look so beautiful. I hope that there will be a choreographer that can develop or create a human dance after the Western Parotia's dance so more people can enjoy it.
After exploring the dense, wet and cold forest of Arfak range for 3 days, finally I and Prof. Richard Ebright had to return to Manokwari. He could continue his trip to Cendrawasih Bay going on board of MV. Dewi Nusantara. He would scuba dive in the bay to see pristine coral reef of West Papua as well as swim with whaleshark.
Before getting on the car, I, Prof. Ebright and some Papuans from Kwau village posed for some pictures. Some of the villagers are university students who study in Papua University. They work as local guides, cooks and porters in this eco-tourism program. The money that they earn is very valuable for them in supporting their study. So, I am very happy to see that my eco-tours in Manokwari and West Papua can bring positive impacts to the education of Papuan youths.
The birding site is in the slopes of Mount Soyti (one of the mountains of Arfak range) in the territory of Kwau village. This area is located between 1,300 to 1,500 meters above sea level. Visitors need to hire a 4WD pick-up truck such as Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger to reach the tropical cloud forest that covers Mount Soyti. It takes around 2 hours from the city of Manokwari to reach the forest. For further info, please contact me Charles Roring/ E-mail:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

One Night in Arfak mountains

After trekking for 10 hours in the lowland forest along Pami river, the next morning I and the 3 French tourists continued their trip to upper montane forest of Arfak mountains. They were Paul, Sophie and Stephanie. We left Manokwari early in the morning hoping to reach the forest of Kwau village at around 6 a.m. so that we would be able to watch vogelkop bowerbird seducing his female birds. The 4WD pick-up truck that was carrying us was driven by Goris. He drove the Toyota Hilux too fast. Unfortunately, the driver made a mistake. By accident he drove the truck into a ditch that was covered by thick grass. We had to put granite stones into the ditch to help the driver pulled the car out of it. The car could not arrive on time.
Fortunately, when these French guests went to watch the vogelkop bowerbird (Amblyornis innornatus), they were able to see it. In the afternoon, they were able to watch Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata) whose male bird dances like a ballerina. They were lucky because not all of the guests who visited Arfak range saw the bird. Well, because the one that dances is a male bird, the right term might be dancer or danseur. What is a male ballet dancer called? balletmen or ballerino :-)
At night, the temperature dropped. I saw the French women put on thick clothing. It is funny to see European wear several layers of clothing. Perhaps, they are not use to cold temperature anymore because they have been living in Bali for more than five years. They are scuba divers who are attracted to the beauty of coral reef of Indonesia. All of us went to bed at around 8 a.m. in order to wake up early in the morning to watch the Magnificent birds of paradise.
They did a very long walking tour in the jungle. They fell to the ground, experienced bruises on their feet and become exhausted at the end of the trip. But they said that they really liked the rainforest tour. I am really grateful for their support in my eco-tourism program that is aimed at preserving rainforest and empowering the indigenous people of Papua. by Charles Roring/ E-mail: