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: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

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