Friday 30 September 2022

West Papua, Waigeo Island

The final leg of this epic trip took us to Waigeo Island via a ferry between Sorong and Waigeo. The ferry is a great pelagic (will post separately on that). Waigeo is a great place to finish a trip to West Papua as the coral reefs, sandy beaches and bays provides a holiday like atmosphere following some very tough lowland rainforest and mountain environments. Ebird trip report with trip lists from Waigeo HERE.

Also the great thing about finishing a West Papua trip here too is that the best birds have been left to last. 

Red Bird-of-Paradise. This is the iconic kind of BOP with streamers and long plumes and plenty of dance moves that I dreamed of seeing one day after various David Attenborough programs from when I was young. The ultimate birds of the planet. 
Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise. Debate broke us in our group of whether top bird of the trip was Wilson's or Red BOP (or even Mountain Owlet-nightjar). I went for Red BOP- totally Glam, iconic BOP in every sense. However I was out voted and the group voted for this rather gaudy looking champion. 
Western Crowned Pigeon- what the actual f@@k! It's like a flying Dodo. It was massive. 
Palm Cockatoo- one mind blowing bird after another - this was a monster too
A highlight of a stay on Waigeo was a boat trip, two hours out to sea to a deserted tropical island (literally like something out of a Survival reality TV show) called Merpati. These Violet-necked Lorys greeted us on arrival. The island also hosted Island Whistler, Pied Imperial Pigeons, Puff-backed Honeyeaters and on the way back we drove past other islands (more forested and mountainous) and saw more Pied Imperial Pigeons, Spice Imperial Pigeons and Torresian Crow. 
Pied Imperial Pigeons
Spice Imperial Pigeon
Dusky Scrubfowl- apparently not an easy one to see or photograph. We also came across the amazing communal nests of this species, huge mounds of earth in which they lay eggs collectively in a self heating incubator like structure
Grey-tailed Tattler- finally got to see one of these iconic waders. Would still love to find a vagrant one. 
The tide was high when we arrived at Merpati Island so it was a wet walk round

On the way back from Merpati we stopped offshore Bat Island to watch the Black Flying Foxes leaving the day roost in their thousands 

Thursday 29 September 2022

West Papua, Malagafuk

The third leg of our trip took us on another domestic flight from Manokwari to Sorong. Flying over vast  unspoilt rain forest was fantastic. Our first destination from Sorong was Malagafuk village, an eco-village project. The village is reached on foot only via a three mile boardwalk through wet forest and from the village there are various forest trails to explore. Ebird lists from this area in the trip report HERE. We stayed two nights here before heading back to Sorong to get the ferry to Waigeo Island. 

Wallace's Owlet-nightjar- a local specialist 
Emperor Fairy Wren
The local lek of King Bird-of-Paradise gave us the best views of this species on the trip
Wompoo Fruit Dove
Pinion's Imperial Pigeon
Golden Myna
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
Striped Possum
Presumed Common Echymipera (a Long-nosed Spiny Bandicoot) 
Presumed Northern Common Cuscus . We also saw the endemic Waigeo Cuscus later on in the trip. Other mammals seen on the trip included various smaller bats (presumed Leaf-nosed Bats). flying foxes/fruit bats and offshore we had a few cetaceans. 
The three mile long famous (and slippery!) board walk of Malagufuk
Surprised to such plush accommodation when we finally arrived at the hidden paradise

Tuesday 20 September 2022

West Papua, Arfak Mountains

A magical few days in the Arfak Mountains. Updated Ebird trip report HERE. We stayed in the mountain village of Syoubri (around 1500m) and stayed one night at the German camp at around 2000m. 

It was my 50th birthday on the 18th, I slept outside 'under the stars' and woke up at 2000m in mountain rainforest at the German Camp and we spent the day watching high mountain birds, had some birthday cake that we lugged up there and opened a birthday card from Jacob. Birthday bird was a brief Arfak Astrapia. It was a two hour walk/climb up to the high camp and was certainly exhilarating. A great way to spend my 50th.  

The Arfak Mountains have to be one of the most stunning and unspoilt untouched mountain forests on the planet with some incredible birds. We are now on 15 species of Birds of Paradise and 186 species for the trip so far (232 including Java). A few photo highlights below:

Mountain Owlet-nightjar (above) and Feline Owlet-nightjar (below). Absolute stunners! 

Female Black Sicklebill
Male Western Parotia
Male Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise showing it's lime coloured mouth
Immature male Black-billed Sicklebill (it was more or less still dark when we saw this bird) 
Female Arfak Lophorina (formely Superb Bird-of-Paradise). We also saw a male semi-displaying at fruit. 
Female Western Parotia 
Arfak Catbird 
Slender -billed Cuckoo-dove
Green-backed Robin
Masked Bowerbird
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos
Blyth's Hornbill
Vogelkop Bowerbird bower- mind blowing! 
We ran a moth trap most nights while at Seth's homestay. Certainly the most sensational moth trapping ever (will post separately on that). 
The German Camp
Seth's Homestay
The 'cotton-candy/ candy-floss' lichen covered rainforest was simply magic

and Mountain Owlet-nightjar again just because

Wednesday 14 September 2022

West Papua, Nimbokrang

All going rather well out here. Just completed the first leg of the trip and now at the airport heading to the Arfaks. Ebird trip report HERE. 93 species so far. Six Birds of Paradise species in the bag. A few photo highlights below.  

Male Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise
Pale-billed Sicklebill
Male King Bird-of-Paradise
Magnificent Riflebird (immature male) 
Male Lesser Bird-of-Paradise 
Papuan Frogmouth
Marbled Frogmouth
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Long-tailed Honey Buzzard
Channel-billed Cuckoo- what a beast, completely prehistoric like 
Grand Munia
Female Black Cicadabird
Female Golden Monarch
Male Little Bronze Cuckoo
Blyth's Hornbill
Hawkmoth sp. Got a moth trap out here - will post separately on the leps. 
Over 97% of rainforest in West Papua is still in tact. 
Happy Punter- travelling with Wise Birding HERE