Sunday, March 29, 2020

Some Birds that Eat Flowers' Nectar

I often see birds sitting near flowers when I guide tourists in the forest. Most of them are small birds. Coconut lorikeet, large fig parrot, black-capped lory, black sunbird, olive-backed sunbird are the ones that feed of the nectar of flowers. I have got some pictures of them.
Black-capped Lory in a flowering tree of rainforest

Olive-backed Sunbird in the flowers of Papaya tree
Olive-backed Sunbird is quite unique. It can hover like a helicopter. At first, I did not pay attention until I met some Australian tourists who told me about it. After that when I went birdwatching again, in the coastal area, I saw that behavior.
Female Olive-backed Sunbird

In higher elevation forest, more smaller birds can be seen. Some of them include Papuan Flycatcher, Spectacled Longbill, and etc. 
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Friday, March 20, 2020

Birding Cameras

Taking pictures of birds in distant trees can now be done using cameras that have got telephoto lenses. The affordable ones are the bridge cameras. I used to have Nikon Coolpix P500, Nikon Coolpix P600, and.Fujifilm HS50EXR. New products have been released by camera manufacturers. 
Sony RX10 IV bridge camera
Birding Camera Sony RX10 IV
  • Bridge Cameas: Nikon Coolpix P1000, Nikon Coolpix P900, Sony DSC H400, Canon SX70HS, Canon SX540 HS are relatively new products. Most of them use 1/2.3 inch sensor. Older cameras such as Sony Cybershot HX-350, Sony DSC-H400 are also good for birders who only want to use the camera for taking pictures of birds and share them in social media or for identification purposes. I personally used several versions of Nikon and Sony. They were good for shooting birds that were sitting still on twigs in good light condition. For lowlight ones or for birds in flight, these bridge cameras would face difficulties trying to focus on their subjects. I usually lower the exposure a little to take pictures of birds in low light condition. The result can be seen at the sample picture of Magnificent Bird of Paradise below. I did not use tripod. If I edit the photograph in Adobe Photoshop to brighten it, I will get good picture. I like carrying bridge camera with me while I guide tourists in the forest of Raja Ampat, Sorong regency, Tambrauw Mountains and Arfak mountains because it is small, light, and can easily fit into my small backpack. 
  • Brige Cameras with bigger sensors: Fujifilm HS50EXR, Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 and Sony Cybershot RX10 IV. I used to use Fujifilm HS50EXR for several years. Its zoom lenses were 42 times, equivalent to 1,000 mm lenses in 35 mm format. Fujifilm does not continue the development of the camera. It was a good product but not the best one. Perhaps, the Sony Cybershot RX10 IV is a good choice for those who have money. It has got 1 inch sensor and zoom lenses that are equivalent with 600 mm telephoto lenses in 35 mm format. 
  • I used to try digiscoping system. It was not easy. Best results could be obtained if the scope and the camera or cell phone can be perfectly aligned using an adapter. If the scope can generate clear and sharp image, the result will be good photos. Shooting birds in flight is almost impossible.
  • D-SLR cameras with telephoto lens. Professional photographers invest a lot of money on buying expensive camera such as Nikon D5, Nikon D500, Canon EOS 7D, Canon 1DX Mark II. For telephoto lens, Sigma 150-600mm sport or Tamron 150-600mm G2 is a good choice. As a birding guide, I only use photographs for promoting birding tours and guiding service, I use Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600mm G2 as my photographic device. 
Sample of Photographs:
Magnificent Bird of Paradise  Photo: Charles Roring
Magnificent Bird of Paradise shot using Nikon Coolpix P500
Picture of Coconut Lorikeet in a tree in Raja Ampat which I shot using Fujifilm HS50EXR
Papuan Hornbill birds photo by Charles Roring
Picture of Blyth's Hornbill in a distant palm tree which I shot using Fujifilm HS50EXR
Birdwatching tour with Charles Roring
Picture of Palm Cockatoo locally called Kakaktua Raja,
that I shot using Canon 200D with Tamron 150-600 mm G2
Wompoo Fruit Dove

For me, a birdwatching guide who also maintain some blogs related to my job, having a camera is a must. However, I use the pictures that I take only for my blog posts and facebooks. I do not think I need a professional D-SLR camera. An entry level D-SLR camera with telephoto lens or a bridge camera with super telephoto lens is my favorite tool. Professional wildlife photographer usually invest in high quality photographic devices such as Canon EOS 1D X Mark II, Nikon D500. 
For lenses: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus and Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS Telephoto Zoom Lens are good choice. Sigma 150-600mm sport and Tamron 150-600mm G2 are also recommended. They are more affordable but have got higher reach. 
Birds are not the only subjects that I shoot when I accompany tourists in the forest. I also take pictures of flowers, insects, mammals, scenery and people. That's why in the blog readers can see other photographs as well such as Red Hibiscus and White Passion Flowers, orchids, Blue Trumpet Vine,  or landscape of Anggi lakes, or even marine life (for this purpose, I use underwater camera such as Nikon Coolpix AW130.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Birding in Sorong

For the last 2 days I guided 3 birdwatchers from the United Kingdom. Alan, Jill, and Alison from Naturetrek. We went to forests in rural areas from coastal to hill ones. We chartered a car to do the trip. We brought binoculars and spotting scopes. In the first day of the birding tour, I picked them up at Usaha Mina harbor. The streets were not crowded. We could move faster to the outskirts of the city and then continued our trip to the forest. It was morning time, Two Olive-backed Sunbird came out of their hiding places and landed on a twig of a shrub. We could easily see them because their yellow underparts were glowing when exposed to bright sunlight. I heard the calls of Palm Cockatoo and told my guests where the direction of the sounds came from. Seconds later, a dark big bird was seen flying over the canopy of the forest close to the tree-tops and then perched on the top branch of a tree. I installed Alison's spotting scope and asked them to watch the beautiful bird. He sat at the branch for around 3 minutes. Alison walked closer and took more pictures. Some black birds also landed on twigs of a tree near us. They were Singing Starlings.
Birding in Sorong
More birds made their calls that morning. The noisiest one was Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. He was flying in circles. Later some Eclectus Parrots joined him. They flew around and then landed on a tree. We could not see them. We walked slowly trying to find birds on every branch of trees that stood on both sides of the road. A loud call of Yellow-billed Kingfisher could be heard from a tree on the top of a hill on the right of us. We tried to find him but we could not see him. We continued walking. Suddenly my friend Kostan Magablo who accompanied us made a sign. We walked towards him. When we reached his place, he pointed his finger at a small twig of a tree. There the Yellow-billed Kingfisher was sitting. We watched the bird using binoculars and then by spotting scope. Suddenly the weather changed. The rain started to fall. I asked my guests to get into the car. I and the driver opened the back door of the car and prepared snacks for them. We brought mugs, hot water in flasks, and tea, sugar, and biscuits, as well as spoons and tissue. They enjoyed the morning snack time from inside the car while rain was falling. It was a short one. In less then thirty minutes, it stopped. We continued birdwatching again. We saw Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Pacific Baza, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Grey Crow, Moustached Treeswift, Coconut Lorikeet, Black-capped Lory, Blyth's Hornbill, Boyers Cuckooshrike, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, and Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Glossy Swiftlet.
At around 11.00, the weather was quite hot. We heard the calls of Hooded Pitta, Red-bellied Pitta, Magnificent Riflebird. Unfortunately, we could not see them. The activity of birds was low. So we decided to return to Sorong city again to have lunch. Alison flew to Manado that afternoon. 
In the afternoon at 15.00, we went birding in coastal areas where a lot of mangrove trees grew. We saw White-breasted Woodswallow, Olive-backed Sunbird, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Spotted Dove, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Australian White Ibis, Striated Heron, Moustached Treeswift, Common Sandpiper, Willie Wagtail, Brahminy Kite and Glossy Swiftlets.

Mystery Fairywren
On the second day, we went hiking to hills behind Sorong city. There we saw Olive-backed Sunbird, Mimic Meliphaga, Pinon Imperial Pigeon and Black Sunbird. I saw Emperor Fairywren. We heard the calls of Rufous-belkied Kookaburra. On a slope below one of the hills, we heard the call of a small bird. Its size was the size of fairywren with greenish-grey feather, whitish-grey belly, and a cocked-up long tail. The bird had narrow white stripe behind his eyes. He made calls hopping to clear twigs on top and sides of the shrub plants. It was the first time I saw the bird and I could not identify it. I opened my field-guide book: Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler. I checked the page where the fairywrens were but none matched the bird's physical characteristics. I opened the fantail pages but they were totally different from this bird. After long discussion with Alan, and Jill, we decided to leave the bird. It was still a Mystery Fairywren for us. I took a picture of the bird but it was quite far. As the result, the picture was very blurry when I zoomed it up. So, I deleted it. I would bring a zoom camera the next time I visit this hill again. We saw Black-capped Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Helmetted Friarbird, Yellow-faced Myna, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo near forest edge. We continued our morning walk to a small river and then returned to the city. 

About Sorong
Sorong is a city in West Papua province of Indonesia. Domestic airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air, Lion Air, and Nam Air and Wings Air connect Sorong with other cities in Indonesia. Regular Flights are available everyday.
 It is the main gate for visitors who want to go to Raja Ampat. There are some forest areas in Sorong that are good for birdwatchers. I usually combine Sorong and Raja Ampat into my birding, sightseeing and snorkeling tours.

If you are interested in taking a birding tour in Sorong, Raja Ampat, and Manokwari, and want me to organize your trip, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by whatsapp to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Grey-streaked Flycatcher

Last month I guided an American tourist in Klasow valley. It was part of one-week trip birding and snorkeling tour in Sorong and Raja Ampat. In Sorong, we stayed in a house that belonged to a villager. In the first day it rained a lot so we did not go out. While watching birds from the verandah of the the homestay, we saw a very small bird on the top branch of a tree. I tried to identify it but I could not. So, I installed my spotting scope and aimed it at the bird. He flew several times in the air, perhaps to catch some insects, and then returned to the tree again. Sometimes he returned to the same branch and on the other times, he landed on different branch but still on the same tree top. Using my telephoto camera, I made some photographs of the bird.
Grey-streaked Flycather (Muscicapa griseisticta) Photo by Charles Roring
Grey-streaked Flycatcher in Klasow valley
Later, when I had returned to home, I did some identification works. After comparing it with my other photographs that I made in the same valley, I concluded that it was Grey-streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta). From the field guide book of Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler, it said that the bird was a migrant from Asia (China, North Korea) or Siberia (Sakhalin and Kamchatka). Well, it was a nice little bird. He performed long flight from such a very far place in the north down to lowland forest of Sorong regency in West Papua which was close to the equator.
There are tens of villages in Klasow valley which tourists can choose to visit for watching birds. Some of them include Klatomok, Klasow, Klayeli, Klaluk, Malaumkarta, Asbaken, Malagubtuk, and etc.
If you are interested in taking a birdwatching tour in Sorong forest before or after your trip in Raja Ampat islands, and want me to be your guide, please, contact me by e-mail to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Raja Ampat Birds

I have just completed a birding and snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat islands where I guided a visitor from the United States. It was a successful trip because we were able to watch our main targets which were the Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) and the Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica). We watched them in southern region of Waigeo island that was at the entrance way to Kabui bay. During this birdwatching and snorkeling tours we used a motorized boat to explore islets both for its rainforest and marine lifes. Those who want to read about my snorkeling reports can visit my other blog:
Wilson's Bird of Paradise in Waigeo island
Wilson's Bird of Paradise
We visited a small island in the bay early in the morning to watch Spice Imperial Pigeon, Moustached Treeswift, Eastern Osprey, Eclectus Parrot, Black-capped Lory, Beach Kingfisher, Singing Starling, Lesser Frigate Bird and White-bellied Sea Eagle. From my previous trip to the island, I saw Stephan's Ground Dove and Brahminy Kite too. 
Wilson's Bird of Paradise lived in deeper area of southern Waigeo's rainforest. To watch it, we needed to wake up at 03.40 for making preparations and started our trip at 04.00, first by boat, and later on foot. In the same forest, a lot of species of birds could be seen including Hook-billed Kingfisher, Papuan Blyth's Hornbill, Common Paradise Kingfisher.
Red bird of paradise photo by Charles Roring
Male Red Bird of Paradise was trying to attract his female partner for mating in a
courtship dance
In the same region, I watched Red Bird of Paradise. Perhaps, I heard the call of Glossy Manucode but I was not so sure about it. At its beach, I used to see Striated Heron, Pacific Swallow. In addition to islands and beaches of Waigeo and Gam at the entrance site of Kabui, I also organized birding trip in the karst groups inside the bay. There I saw Eastern Reef Egret, Rainbow Bee-Eater, Great-billed Parrot, Black Sunbird, Little Pied Cormorant, Black Sunbird.
A visit to a small islet in the south of Mansuar island, allowed me to see Arafura Fantail, Lemon-bellied White Eye, and Violet-necked Lory.
For the Great-billed Parrot, I used to see it in the hill forest on the west or Waisai's airport. That forest was the natural habitat of such birds as Yellow-faced Myna, Dollarbird, White-breasted Woodswallow. The coastal area near the airport was the place where I saw Wimbrel, Radjah Shelduck, Eastern Reef Egret, Sacred Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and Yellow-faced Myna. Its birds were similar to the ones that I saw at Warduwer beach.
Birding tour in Raja Ampat with Charles Roring
Pied Imperial Pigeon
However, because the beach had more open spaces, I was able to see more birds there including Pied Imperial Pigeon, Helmetted Friarbird, Spangled Drongo, Hooded Butcherbird, Dusky Scrubfowl, Red-cheeked Parrot, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Eclectus Parrot, Coconut Lorikeet, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, Torresian Crow, Willie Wagtail, Plover, Bridled Tern, Shining Flycather, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Spangled Drongo.
Hooded Butcherbird in Raja Ampat islands if Indonesia
Hooded Butcherbird
Trans Waigeo road from Waisai to Mayalibit area was a good site to see Azure Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Palm Cockatoo, Hooded Butcherbird, and Brown-headed Crow.
Last year, I visited the north east region of Waigeo island. It was a nice trip. I went hiking to Mount Sarembon where I saw some interesting birds including Papuan Black Myzomela, Amboina Cuckoo Dove, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Radjah Shelduck, Beach Thick Knee, Eastern Yellow Wagtail and Sacred Kingfisher. I visited two small islands in east Waigeo including Waim and Mamiaef. There, I saw Wandering Tattler, Black Sunbird, Lesser-crested Tern.
As a matter of fact, this part of the island is an excellent destination for birdwatchers who want to explore the forest and beaches of Waigeo which are not regularly visited by tourists. Its coast is very good for watching coastal birds. Its rainforest birds can be explored by walking along the banks of rivers.
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra

I used to visit Kofiau islands. The most favorite targets were Kofiau Monarch and Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher. During my trip to the archipelago, I saw Sacred Kingfisher, Moluccan Starling, Black Sunbird, Little Pied Cormmorant, Dollarbird, Eastern Reef Egret, Spotted Whistling Duck,
Well, I don't mention all the birds that I saw in every place that I visit. I only mention the ones that I consider attractive for me.

Birding Gear
When I guide tourists on a birding tour in Raja Ampat, I usually bring some equipment. Some of them include:
  • 10×42 mm Visionking binoculars
  • 20-60×60 mm Spotting scope that is mounted on an aluminum tripod
  • Laser pointer
  • Field guide book Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler.
  • Tablet that contains records of bird sounds
  • Bluetooth loudspeaker
  • I also brought flashlight for night birding. 
Birdwatching Tour in Raja Ampat
I run birding tour in Raja Ampat for visitors who are interested in watching tropical birds, enjoying snorkeling, interacting with local people, and sightseeing. If you are interested in taking a birdwatching tour in Raja Ampat that is combined with sightseeing, and snorkeling and want me to be your guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by E-mail to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Google Map of Raja Ampat

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Afternoon Birding at Warduwer Beach

Today I continued my birdwatching activity with Michael, an American visitor to Warduwer beach that is located in southern coast of Waigeo island. We used a small speed boat to reach it. I brought with me my binoculars and camera with telephoto lens. But I forgot to bring my spotting scope. We landed there at around 15.20 and started walking around the open area of the beach. Warduwer was only a small beach with a steep hill around it.
Pinon Imperial Pigeon (Ducula pinon) in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat
Pinon Imperial Pigeon

Claret-breasted Fruit Dove in Waigeo island
Female Claret-breasted Fruit Dove
Tens of Lesser Frigatebird were flying in the sky. They were the first birds that we saw this afternoon. As we walked deeper to higher ground we saw a couple of Pied Imperial Pigeon sitting on a top branch of a tree next to the road. At a distant tree on the hill, we saw another small bird sitting. Through my binoculars, I could identify it as a White-breasted Woodswallow. Some Pinon Imperial Pigeon were sitting on the branch of a tree on the hill too.
Later, we turned ourselves to face the sea. From the woods on the right of us a kingfisher flew fast. He landed on a tree around 40 meters away from us. Because we were standing on a hill, we could easily saw where the bird landed. It was a Rufous-bellied Kookaburra. I heard a small call from the bush of the roadside. I recognized the call. I thought it was a Beach Kingfisher. What I saw was a different bird. It was Mimic Meliphaga. Perhaps his name Mimic was given by scientist because he likes mimicking other birds sounds. Well, perhaps, I guess.
Mimic Meliphaga
Mimic Meliphaga
There are also Eclectus Parrot, Willie Wagtail and Brahminy Kite in the area.
We did not spend much time watching birds at Warduwer beach. Thick clouds were gathering in the sky above the hills. So, we decided to return to the guesthouse. At the wooden posts of an unfinished jetty, there were some tern birds sitting. Sometimes some of them fly into the air and then swiftly swooping down on fish on the sea surface.
Brahminy Kite at Waigeo island
Brahminy Kite
Back to the homestay, I still saw a large group of Coconut Lorikeet flying over the hills of southern Waigeo island into Kabui bay area. They might fly to Gam island.
Please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Watching Red Bird of Paradise

I woke up early at 4.30 this morning. I immediately walked to Michael's room and called him from outside. He woke up and began to make preparation. We went to dining room where I made hot chocolate drinks. We left around five minutes later walking slowly up the steep slopes that led us to the lek of Red Bird of Paradise. It was still dark, we used flashlights. We saw millipede, and little frogs along the narrow trails. 
One hour later, we arrived at the birding ground. We sat at a hut for a while to to take a rest. We could feel the cool morning breeze on the ridge of the hill. It was useful to refresh our body. Sunlight began to brighten the sky above us. I informed Michael that we could sit at the birding platform which was around ten meters away from us. 
Courtship Dance of Red Bird of Paradise in Waigeo island of Raja Ampat
A Couple of Red Bird of Paradise
Fifteen minutes sitting at the platform, we started to see a female Red Bird of Paradise on the tall tree in front of us. She flew to the tree, landed on one of the branches and began hopping to other branches as if she was checking the readiness of a dancing stage. Shortly after that more birds came. The male ones called their female mating partners. When three or four female Red Bird of Paradise arrived, the male ones perform their courtship dance performance. They hopped up and down a nearly vertical branch in upside down position and approached the female bird. Sometimes two female Red Bird of Paradise closely watched the performance of a male bird of paradise.
Meanwhile, I was busy at the platform with my camera trying to find the best setting that would produce sharp pictures in lowlight condition. I was struggling with the knobs or buttons of the camera. When I adjusted my camera to AV settings, I got good results. 
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra)
Male Red Bird of Paradise
I could now take as many pictures as possible. But my old pictures were still stored in the memory card. I only had some space left. As a result, I had to stop taking pictures of the birds and began deleting old photos that I were not good enough. 
The dance performance of Red Bird of Paradise was excellent. We watched them for around two and a half hours. When they flew away, we decided to return to our lodge again. It was a successful trip. In addition to Red Bird of Paradise, we also saw Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Blyth's Hornbill, Olive-backed Sunbird, and heard the calls of Hooded Butcherbird, Shining Flycatcher, Puff-backed Meliphaga, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Willie Wagtail. 
If you are interested in taking birdwatching and snorkeling tour to Raja Ampat, please, contact me by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

Birwatching and Snorkeling in South Waigeo of Raja Ampat

When I run a birdwatching tour in Raja Ampat, I always provide time for me and my clients to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at the house reef of the guesthouse where we stay. This morning, I and Michael - my client from the US, went to a small island at the south of Waigeo island. It was only around fifteen minutes by speedboat to reach it.
Spice Imperial Pigeon
Approaching the island, we saw some Spice Imperial Pigeons sitting on the branches of a small tree that stood on a big rock. There were some Singing Starlings too. They were on the lower left branch of a tree of the same rock. After landing on the beach, I installed my spotting scope and aimed it at the birds that were sitting on tree tops. Using the scope, we watched Hooded Butcherbird, Eastern Osprey, Eclectus Parrot, and Lesser Frigate Bird. I also heard the sounds of Olive-backed Sunbird but I could not find it.  Torresian Crow sat on a tree that grew on a vertical cliff. We spent around 1.5 hours birding in the island. After that, we slowly moved along the coastal area of another island trying to find birds in tree again. We were quite lucky that morning because we could see White-bellied Sea Eagle, Moustached Treeswift, Brahminy Kite, Pacific Swallow, and more Spice Imperial Pigeon. The marine scenery of Raja Ampat waters was very beautiful. A Beach Kingfisher was flying fast above us. In his bill, he was holding a crab.
Beach Kingfisher in Waigeo island photo by Charles Rorong
Beach Kingfisher
Puff-backed Meliphaga in Waigeo forest
Puff-backed Meliphaga
When we had returned to our guesthouse, I did some snorkeling at its house reef. Again I saw Anemonefish, Striped Surgeonfish, Butterflyfish, Moorish Idol and a Banded Sea Krait. I tried to take pictures of the snake while he was moving fast in the water. Well, I was able to get some pictures of the venomous snake.
Photo of Banded Sea Krait by Charles Roring
Banded Sea Krait

Moorish Idol, bringer of happiness
Moorish Idol
Well, I was able to get some good photos but not so sharp. In the afternoon, I saw a Puff-backed Meliphaga that is preparing her nest around twenty centimeters above the ground.
If you are interested in taking a combined birdwatching and snorkeling tour in Raja Ampat with me as your guide, please, contact me by email to: or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180