Saturday, September 21, 2019

Birding in Arfak mountains with 5 British Tourists

Last week, I guided 5 British tourists on a 6-day/ 5-night hiking and birding tour in Arfak mountains. They were Trev, Ken, Chris, Zod and Mark. The tour was organized by Samuel and Taty from Tangkoko of North Sulawesi. Because they were not familiar with birds of Arfak mountains, they asked me to guide their clients. I said, yes. So I guided them.
During the trip, we watched such birds as Western Parotia, Black Sicklebill, Superb Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Crinkle-collared Manucode, and Masked Bowerbird. They were important targets for birding tourists who went there.
The Fantastic Masked Bowerbird
On the third day of our birding trip, we had to split the group into 3 smaller ones because the blinds for Superb BOP, Magnificent BOP, and Masked Bowerbird were small. I and Ken got the blind for the Masked Bowerbird. We had a rare experience. We were already in the blind at 05.30. The male Masked Bowerbird landed at 08.25. After checking his bower for around 3 minutes, he left again. Thirty minutes later, he came again. This time he was with the female Masked Bowerbird. She inspected the bower and then sat in the middle of the bower that looked like a gate. Seeing his female counterpart occupying his bower, the male Masked Bowerbird began to perform his courtship dance which lasted for around 1 hour. He flapped his wings, bowed down in front of his female bird while presenting a blue article that was a cap from a big bottle of mineral water, and a dried brown leaf that looked like a small carpet. He flew to horizontal branches of a shrub plant in front of his bower and jumped up and down the horizontal branches of the plant. After that he danced at the back of the female bird checking her tail. Soon after that he mounted on her back and then mated with her. The mating was less than 4 seconds.
He continued dancing again and the female bird kept on sitting between the bower. The courtship dance performance lasted for another 1 hour. They were mating again at the end of the dance show.
In total, I and Ken enjoyed a 2-hour non-stop courtship dance performance, and 2 mating sessions of the Masked Bowerbird. It was fantastic!
Birding in Arfak range of West Papua
A Fruit Dove in Arfak mountains
We also saw Western Smoky Honeyeater, Papuan Flycatcher, Friendly Fantail, Black Fantail, Mid-Mountain Berrypecker, Fantailed Berrypecker, Mottled Berryhunter, Grey-Green Scrubwren, Large Scrubwren, Josephine's Lorikeet, Yellow-billed Lorikeet, New Guinea Vulturine Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Black Fronted White-Eye, Capped White-eye, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Smoky Robin, Green-backed Robin, Blue-Grey Robin, Vogelkop Whistler, Sclater's Whistler, Black-breasted Boatbill, Vogelkop Melidectes, Ornate Melidectes, Papua Mountain Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo Dove, Mountain Fruit Dove, Superb Fruit Dove, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Long-tailed Buzzard, Feline Owlet Nightjar, Yellow-bellied Gerrygone, Yellow-bellied Longbill, Spectacled Longbill, Grey Thornbill, Goldenface, and etc.
When I walked alone along the road that connects Mokwam region and the main road of Arfak range I saw a Garnet Robin. It was a very small bird that was hopping among the branches of shrubs at the roadside.
Other interesting animals that we saw were cuscus possum, snake and some birdwing butterflies.
The British tourists were avid birders. They spent most of their time walking in the forest, along the roadside and among the flower garden of the guesthouse in search of birds.
Birds in higher elevation and cloud forest of Arfak mountains are not the same as birds in lowland and lower montane forest of mainland West Papua and Raja Ampat. Birds of Arfak mountains are more specific. Not all tourist guides are familiar with them. That's why a lot of birding guides from outside Arfak range face difficulties in identifying the birds when they guide tourists in this region. Because I have visited Arfak mountains for nearly ten years, I am quite familiar with a lot of the birds.
Tomorrow, I will fly to Sorong and then to Raja Ampat. I hope that I could see interesting birds in Kofiau islands.
If you are interested in taking a birding tour with me to Raja Ampat, Sorong forest, Tambrauw mountains, Susnguakti forest in Manokwari, or Arfak mountains of West Papua and want me to organize and guide you, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180. Your tour can be combined with snorkeling, sightseeing by boat to various places in Raja Ampat.