Thursday, October 10, 2019

Birding in Malagufuk Village of Klasow Valley

by Charles Roring
Birding in Malagufuk village with 2 Australian tourists Peter Lansley and Daniel
Malagufuk village in the middle of Klasow valley
I have just completed a birding tour with 2 Australian tourists, Peter Lansley and Daniel, in Malagufuk village of Klasow valley. We spent four days exploring this lowland forest of Sorong regency to watch various species of tropical birds.
We went there by a chartered 4WD car from Sorong city. It took around one and a half hours to reach the valley. The axis path that led us into the village was very muddy but rich in avifauna. We had to wear gum-boots. While walking into the village, we saw Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and Wompoo Fruit Dove. It took around three hours of walking to reach the village. The average walking duration was actually 2 hours. Because we enjoyed birding, we spent longer time along the path.

Entering the Malagufuk village we were welcomed by villagers. They were very happy to see me. I had not visited them for more than one year. Some villagers embraced and kissed me.
Birding in Malagufuk village with 2 Australian birders
Birding in the forest of Klasow valley

For the next 4 days of our tour in Malagufuk's forest, we saw a lot of birds including Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Azure Kingfisher, Lesser Birds of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Northern Cassowary, Hooded Pitta, Red-bellied Pitta and Red-billed Brush Turkey. After watching the Lesser BOP, we did some exploration of the valley in the southeast of the village, there, we saw Palm Cockatoo, Black-sided Robin, Black-thicket Fantail, Northern-Fantail, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Little shrike Thrush, Helmetted Friarbird, Puff-back Meliphaga, and Rusty Pitohui.
Pinon Imperial Pigeon
Pinon Imperial Pigeon
In the clearing area of the village, we could easily see Metallic Starling, Large Fig Parrot, Yellow-faced Myna, Golden Myna, Purple-tailed Fruit Dove, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Oriental Dollarbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, and Blyth's Hornbill. We also explored the forest in the east of the village near a small river where we saw Little-shrike Thrush, Shining Flycatcher. Unfortunately, we did not see the Lowland Peltop which was one of our important targets.
Blyth's hornbill in Malagufuk village
Blyth's Hornbill in Malagufuk's forest

The density of birds in Klasow valley was very high. Birds that have lost their habitats in the suburb of Sorong city due to conversion of rainforest into palm oil plantation and human settlements moved to this forest.
At dusk Papuan nightjar came out of its hiding place and flew low over the village. During night walks Daniel and Peter saw Rufous Owl, Papuan Boobok, and Marbled Frogmouth. We also saw fruit bats, and some Dorcopsis wallabies.
In the last morning of our stay in Malagufuk, we did a bird-walk accompanied by some villagers along the axis path that connected the village and the main road, we saw Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Blue-jewel Babbler, Purple-tailed Fruit Dove, Red-cheeked Parrot, Sooty-thicket Fantail, and Western-crowned Pigeon.
A big birdwing butterfly was also seen flying over some branches of trees near a river. I think, it was a female Ornithoptera priamus.
Coming out of the forest, we found out that our clothes were dirty, and smelly. However, we were very happy to have seen a lot of birds during the trip.
I was the first birding guide to introduce birding and ecotourism in the village as well as promote it to the outer world through internet in late 2014. At the time Malagufuk was still a 2-week old village. There were only 2 tents with tens of villagers living inside them.
I did a birding walk from the tents to the Klasow river. There, I saw Lesser Bird of Paradise on the other side of the river. With the Nikon Coolpix P600 camera, I took a picture of it. The quality of the picture was not the best but it was ok for promoting ecotourism attactions in Malagufuk village.
When I returned to my hometown Manokwari, I started writing promotional articles about the village. I attached the photograph of the paradise bird as well as other pictures. 
Male Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor)
The very first picture of paradise bird that came out of Malagufuk's forest that I used to promote birding tourism for the village 

Around two weeks later, the first tourist visited Malagufuk. He was from Germany. As a I regularly traveled to the village to guide tourists, I saw that basic facilities for serving tourists were not ready. So, I contacted SDSP Foundation in the Netherlands to support this ecotourism project. I requested fund to build water cisterns and their piping installations to the village. Wally Vreede and his wife Coby collected money in the Netherlands and then flew to Sorong city. I met them there. Together, we bought all the construction materials such as 100 sacks of portland cements, water pipes, and faucets, iron rods, and wheel barrows as well as tools and brought them by two big trucks into the Klasow valley. We, together with the villagers, carried all of them on around 3 km walk to Malagufuk. After that we did the construction of clean water facilities for the villagers. I and Darwin from Vacation Indonesia Tour donated some money to buy corrugated metal roof, and nails to help villagers build the guesthouse for tourists.  After several years of promoting Malagufuk in the internet, more visitors became interested in taking birding tour to the village. Now we could see more houses.
Alternative Birding Sites
In addition to Malagufuk, another village in the same Klasow valley that is suitable for birdwatching tourism is Klatomok. Elderly people or anyone who cannot carry out long walks into the forest can choose Klatomok village as their destination. This is a roadside village. Birds that occur in the surrounding forest include Magnificent Riflebird, Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, King Bird of Paradise, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Western-crowned Pigeon, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, and a lot more. I highly suggest that birders bring sound records of the birds from xeno-canto and play them in the forest to check whether a specific bird that they want to see occur in the forest. 
Fef Town in Tambrauw Mountains
This is another birding site for anyone who is interested in watching birds in the interior region of West Papua Province. Birds that can be watched in Fef including Magnificent Bird of Paradise, Lesser Birds of Paradise, Red-bellied Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, New Guinea Harpy Eagle, Long-tailed Buzzard, Sacred Kingfisher, and etc.
If you plan to do birding in West Papua and want me to organize your trip and accompany you, please, contact me by whatsapp: +6281332245180 or email:

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