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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
West Papua, July 29 – August 16, 2013,
Six of us went with Papua Expeditions on a 19-day trip to Biak Island, Nimbokrang lowlands, the Arfak Mountains, Sorong, and Waigeo Island. These locations are in West Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea that is part of Indonesia. We had been in contact with Mrs Like Wijaya, owner of Papua Expeditions, which is based in West Papua, for several years but could never find an itinerary and timing that fit us. In mid-2012 she advised us of a new 19-day itinerary that hit the highlights of West Papua and which, according to the itinerary, offered the possibility of seeing many of the West Papua specialties.
We and two others had previously been on a birding trip to the country of Papua New Guinea (PNG), which occupies the eastern half of the island. The other two had not. Because most of the birds seen on this trip were those that could be seen in PNG, the four of us did not see too many new birds whereas the other two saw quite a few lifers.
Based on the itinerary provided by Papua Expeditions, we should have been able to see up to 124 new species, many restricted to West Papua. (The current proper name for where we went is in fact simply “Papua”, but to avoid confusion with the country of Papua New Guinea (PNG), I will use “West Papua”. It has also been called Irian Jaya). However, it was clear from the writeup that some were long shots, which reduced the potential somewhat. In addition, the two of us did not go on a hike to the highest part of the Arfaks which further limited our targets. Even so, after those adjustments, our target list was down to a still-respectable 101 new species. We ended up seeing a disappointing 36, but we did see three new birds-of-paradise (BoP): Wilson’s, Red and Lesser. Although the staff of Papua Expeditions did an excellent job on logistics, providing dry camp sites and good food, and handling unexpected issues such as an illness, a visit by a crazed man waving a machete, and a flooded river, this was first and foremost a birding trip and on that count it did not measure up.
Mrs Like Wijaya accompanied us throughout the trip and seemed to be involved in every non-birding aspect of the trip. She provided a lot of pre-trip info and also took care of our visa extension. Her husband, Iwein, was the primary birding guide. He had excellent knowledge of the birds but I expect we would have done better if he had been to the sites recently to scout. His right-hand man was Maurits, a local with excellent eyes and ears; he did not always know the birds, and his English was not great, but he worked hard to help us see the birds and also physically over tough trails. Another local helper, Yakob, rounded out the main staff, although there was a large number of other helpers, porters, cooks, etc., during the course of the trip.
West Papua is often described as a difficult trip. It was certainly difficult to see birds once we were away from Biak. The birds were very thin on the ground, skittish, and more difficult to observe than in other forest environments we have birded. This was despite that fact there were only six of us plus our main guide and usually one other guide, and all of us did a good job of being still and quiet as necessary. It was not uncommon to go an hour or more and not see or hear a single bird. Possibly because of unexpected rain, the birds were not responsive to tapes. Also because of the rain and recent flooding, the trails at Nimbokrang were very difficult to walk and everyone had a tumble. The rain made the trails in the Arfaks very slippery and in Waigeo we had to crawl up muddy trails to the improvised Wilson’s BoP hide. If we had the dry weather we expected, only the Arfak trails would have still been difficult.
The camp setups by Papua Expeditions at Nimbokrang and Waigeo were dry and well-organized, and the food at both places was simple but better than we had expected for these remote locations. We all appreciated the daily servings of freshly-made cakes, lots of drinks, and one memorable day a guide showed up in the middle of the forest with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts! The hotels were average throughout, with the exception of Jayapura where it took several tries before we all had marginally acceptable rooms. We had comfortable transportation, using 4WD vehicles when necessary. We were also lucky that our flights went mostly as expected, with only one delay. Most impressively, the staff smoothly dealt with several issues that could have really affected our trip, such as arranging for an overnight stay in a village when we could not make it to our camp in Waigeo. We really felt that Mrs Wijaya had control over all aspects of the situation – too bad she could not also control the weather!
Most of the birds we saw are those usually and easily seen on a standard trip to Papua New Guinea. We had hoped to see many of the West Papua endemics as well as specialty New Guinea endemics that are not readily seen in PNG. Our expectation had been that, by going with a company based in West Papua who does multiple tours, we would do better than with a tour company that only drops in for one tour a year, but this was not the case. I believe there were several reasons we did not see the expected birds. A key factor was that we experienced rain not only in the expected wet lowlands, but also for several days in the Arfaks and on Waigeo. This limited our time on trails and probably also affected bird behavior. Another issue was that this was the first visit of the year for our guides to their camps at Nimbokrang and Waigeo. Consequently, several of the promised visits to stakeouts and known nesting areas did not come about as they had changed from previous years. We also lost time because the expected site for Wilson’s BoP was not active and another site had to be found. Lastly, this was a new itinerary offered by Papua Expeditions and maybe, in an effort to reduce costs, not enough time was allocated at some places. That said, after our time at the Nimbokrang lowlands and Waigeo, we were simply not seeing any new birds at all, and I wonder if an extra day at either place would have made a big difference. An extra day in the Arfaks would have helped us overcome all the time lost to rain – but, if it had not rained, that extra day would have been overkill. Also, other itineraries have a day or two camping higher in the Arfaks, which greatly increases chances of seeing those higher-altitude specialties. But, if we had done this, the result would have been camping in the heavy rain and cool temperatures, which would have been unpleasant at best. So it is always a judgment call and hindsight is 20/20.As a result of these factors, we saw very few birds in the Nimbokrang lowlands, the Arfaks and on Waigeo. The only place where we made a reasonable dent into the bird list was on Biak, where we saw 11 of our targets in the first two days. After that, we managed only 25 more new birds over the remaining 16 birding days.
Note that we did not go to Lake Habbena (Wamena), a site for several montane endemics. This is because our guides have experienced some dangerous situations with unfriendly local villagers there on previous visits and felt it was not safe for us to visit. An experience we had on Day 6 of our trip was more than enough to make this reality clear to us.
When reviewing our bird list, it is also important to realize that not everyone in the group saw the same birds. This was partly due to the fact that only four persons could fit into the various hides at one time. For example, while one twosome saw Cinnamon Ground-dove and the other two saw Wattled Brush-turkey while in the hides, we saw neither but we saw Bronze Ground-dove which they did not. Also, because we had to spend over 12 hours in a hide waiting for a brief visit by a Wilson’s BoP, we missed birds seen by the others when they went on trails.
Prior to the trip, Papua Expeditions provided a lot of practical information, most of it exactly right. In particular, high rubber boots (“wellies”) are critical as this is what we wore 90% of the trip. They recommended many more clothes than we brought or found necessary. They also suggested not bringing a scope, and the guide did not have one either, and this is a serious omission. Fortunately one of the group did bring a scope, and we used it often to locate and identify birds. Because porters were usually with us, it was not a problem to have them carry it. I would strongly recommend taking a scope if the guide continues not to bring one. Waterproof binoculars are a must, and precautions are necessary with other optical and electronic equipment as we were often either wet or about to be. One person damaged his camera despite making efforts to keep it dry – well nigh impossible under these conditions. Mosquito nets are mandatory, and we recommend taking malaria prophylaxis, because malaria is endemic through all low elevations and our guide Iwein was in fact recovering from a potentially fatal case of cerebral malaria he contracted in Waigeo.
An area where we had a unique problem was with our Indonesian visa. Normally, the 30-day visa on arrival available in Jakarta will suffice for travel on this trip. Because we were staying longer than 30 days due to another tour, we applied for a 60-day tourist visa in the US (we are American). We did not mention Papua in our travel plans when we applied for the visa. Nonetheless, when our visa arrived, it was marked “not for travel in Papua”. A follow-up call to the Indonesian embassy confirmed that every tourist visa they issue specifically excludes Papua, which they consider a politically sensitive area. This situation was completely unknown to the staff at Papua Expeditions, who suggested we simply enter the country with a 30-day visa-on-arrival in Jakarta and then they arranged for an extension through their office in Sorong, Papua. Fortunately, this worked out fine. When we asked for the visa-on-arrival at Immigration in Jakarta, they pointed out we already had a visa, but happily took our money for the visa-on-arrival and of course we never mentioned “Papua”. So the entire visa issue (at least for Americans) is murky. We advise Americans not to apply for a tourist visa prior to a trip to Papua, but simply to do a visa-on-arrival and, if more than 30 days are necessary, arrange for the extension while there.
Biak. We covered quite a bit of this island, birding mostly from the road but also along a few trails. There was a lot of logging activity and several potential sites were no longer viable. Overall this was easy birding but we did not have any luck with the endemic scops-owl.
Lake Sentani is about two hours outside Jayapura, and roadside birding along the grassland area leading to it was productive.
Nimbokrang lowland camp. This camp was set up by Papua Expeditions on land leased from local villagers. It is their second camp at this spot, the first being flooded earlier this year. As a result of that flood, sticky clay, silt, and standing water covered many of the trails here. The camp was made up of several raised wooden, tarp-covered platforms on which we set up our tents. Our tour was the first the company had made here, and the camp area was a work in progress. The camp was reached by walking 8 km along what is first a nice, former logging road, which then deteriorated into a muddy trail. There are several trails around the camp, along with display sites for various BoPs. However, those for the 12-wired and King were not active, and neither of these were seen. Birds here were very skittish, perhaps due to hunting pressures. Most birds were seen in infrequent flocks, or a few in response to tape. The staff did a great job of preparing food for us, all of which was brought in.
Arfak Mountains. We drove 3 hours from Manokwari across two major rivers and up quite a bit of elevation to a recently-built lodge. It appears that all trails and hides here are built and maintained by local villagers and are used by all birding groups. The hide for Vogelkop Bowerbird is a short walk from the lodge along a trail which also makes a longer loop. We walked this loop several times but never saw much. The hide for the Western Parotia is up a steep hill across the road from the lodge. The trail climbs a few hundred meters. There are at least two hides for the Magnificent BoP which are reached by walking through a logging area which requires climbing over all kinds of debris. All of these hides are “permanent” and comfortable, with good views of the display areas. The Magnificent BoP trail is at a lower elevation than the lodge and potentially had several birds not seen elsewhere, but rain limited our time there. Farther up the hill is the mountain trail. This starts out steeply, levels out, then continues up to a ridge where specialties such as Arfak Astrapia can be seen. Our group did not see the astrapia or too many other of the specialties. A better chance may be to see these is to camp at this elevation overnight. We found the best bird sightings to be from the main road, where we probably should have spent more time. The lodge had several rooms, each with its own washroom, but no electricity or running water. But it was watertight and solid, which was important since we spent a lot of time inside in heavy rain here.
Sorong lowlands. This is a roadside area about 1.5 hours outside of Sorong, in some lowland forest. There are several lookouts where endemic parrots can be seen, but it was mostly quiet during our visit. Because of a late flight, we did not have as much time here as planned. We had hoped to pick up a few of the birds we missed at Nimbokrang here, as the general area is similar, but did not do so.
Waigeo. This is a camp on the large island of Waigeo, set up by Papua Expeditions. It is reached first by boat from Sorong, then by wading upstream a few hundred meters, then walking to the campsite. During our visit, high water meant we additionally enjoyed an intermediate and harrowing dugout canoe trip, after being delayed a day. The camp area is also a work in progress, and this was their first visit of the season. The place for tents was two raised areas on the ground, covered by large tarps, bordered by logs and filled with small river stones, on which plastics were laid and then we put our tents on top of that. Each area was large enough for three tents. While we were there, the staff built a table, benches, and a large cooking area. This became a bit claustrophobic as we spent a lot of time under the tarp and/or in tents during the rain here. A nearby river was great for a refreshing dip but once we had a semi-flash flood that dramatically raised the river level (nowhere near the camp site level, however). There are two main trails, a short loop trail that leads from the camp back towards the main river, and a long loop trail that goes mainly through forest. The Red and Wilson’s BoP areas were off the long loop trail. We walked these several times but they were always very quiet, to the extent we could go two hours without even hearing a bird other than the ubiquitous butcherbirds and friarbirds.
Wai island. We stopped here on our way back to Sorong from Waigeo to pick up some small island specialties. Birding here was along a dirt track and the birds were easily seen. The island had been a scuba resort, and someone is trying to re-start that operation. Snorkeling just off the beach was very good.
The web site for Papua expeditions, which lists their tours and has much practical information about West Papua, is:
One other person on our trip has also written a report:
In addition, there are others written about tours with Papua Expeditions at different times of the year; note these have different itineraries than our trip:
This includes only a few of the key birds seen during the trip. Please refer to the bird list for a full account. Life birds for us are in bold.
Day 1: We arrived via an overnight flight from Jakarta via Ujung Pandang at Biak at 5 AM, in a drizzle. We dropped off our bags at the hotel and did some quick birding before an early lunch and a short break. In the afternoon we birded from about 2 PM and stayed out until dark in an effort to find Biak Scops-Owl. We heard at least two close by, but did not see it. We arrived at the hotel about 9 PM and went directly to bed without supper. New birds seen today included Long-tailed Starling, Biak White-eye, Black-capped Lory, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Claret-breasted Fruit-dove, Yellow-bibbed Fruit-dove, and Black-browed Triller.
Day 2. We started out at a potential site for Biak Megapode but the area had been disturbed by logging. We heard chainsaws quite a bit this day. Just before lunch we found a site for Biak Monarch which a few of us saw. We intended to return in the afternoon but by then some loggers had arrived. In the afternoon we visited some mangroves for water birds and in the evening again tried unsuccessfully for the owl. We again arrived back to the hotel by 9PM and had some food delivered to our rooms from the next-door restaurant. Around 10 PM we gave our bags to the staff so they could check them in for our very early flight the next morning. Birds seen today included Beach Kingfisher, Black-winged Lory, Red-fronted Lorikeet, Biak Paradise-flycatcher, Biak Monarch, and non-tickable views of Biak Coucal. Of the potential 16 new birds on Biak, we saw 11.
Day 3. Up at 4:30 and to the airport at 5, fortunately the staff checked our bags in ahead of us so we got a bit of extra sleep. The flight left at 6AM for Jayapura. On arrival, we dropped our bags at the hotel and birded the grasslands to Lake Sentani. Back to the hotel for lunch, after which we did some shopping. In the afternoon some made a return trip to the grasslands. New trip birds seen included Pheasant Coucal, Grand and Hooded Munia, Crimson Finch, Blue-breasted Quail, Whistling Kite, and Buff-banded Rail.
Day 4: Up at 4 AM to drive 2 hours to Nimbokrang. Here we transferred to a 4WD for another few km to a trail head. We walked along this for 8 km (5 miles) which took about 5 hours as we birded along the way and the last few km were difficult through sticky mud. We arrived at the camp at about 3 PM and set up our tents before dark. The staff had gone ahead and the camp site was ready, including our shower tent, which we all gratefully used. We saw a few new trip birds along the walk in, including Lowlands Peltops and Coroneted Fruit-dove.
Day 5: In the morning we walked along very muddy trails, often with standing water, through forest. Birding was slow and it was difficult for everyone. In the afternoon, after lunch and a break, we walked along a very difficult and wet trail to a site for Lesser BoP; after a long wait we did see them, but saw almost no other birds. Birds seen in the morning included a flight view of Pale-billed Sicklebill, Spot-winged and Hooded Monarch, and a flight view of Blue-black Kingfisher. Our efforts at dusk for owls and frogmouths were unsuccessful.
Day 6: Before dawn we went to a site for 12-wired BoP but only heard it. Because of overnight rain, we tried another area to look for some drier trails. We did not see too many birds but did find some snare traps that had been illegally set right on the trail. These were strong enough to catch hogs and certainly could have injured a person’s ankle. Our guide removed several, but noted that the person who set them would not be too happy. After lunch, before our birding, the person who had set the snares came into our camp and as expected he was not happy. We was yelling and seriously swinging a machete. He chopped some saplings in the camp and then cut one of the tent poles of one of our fellow birders, with her in it, before turning and running after our guides! We were a bit away from this action but put on our boots in case we needed to run into the forest. The man was eventually calmed down by one of the village elders who was called in, but it was a very frightening and serious situation. Apparently it is not uncommon in West Papua to attack and even murder others as retribution for any offense. We did do some afternoon birding. Evening birding came up empty. New trip birds seen today included Sooty Thicket-fantail, Rufous-collared Monarch and Puff-backed Honeyeater.
Day 7. We made another unsuccessful try for 12-wired BoP before breakfast. We left the camp at 8AM in an unsuccessful effort to see Victoria Crowned-pigeon along the path. We arrived back to the trail head about 3PM but one of the vehicles got stuck coming for us, which caused a delay in leaving, so we simply went back to the hotel. We saw Brown-headed Crow while walking along the trail. In the Nimbokrang Lowlands, we saw only 10 of the potential 35 lifers at this site. Overnight in Jayapura.
Day 8: We left the hotel at 6 AM for the 7 AM flight to Manokwari. Upon arrival we went to the hotel and rearranged our bags to only take our “cooler-weather” gear to the Arfaks, and left extra bags at the hotel. After lunch we drove to the Arfaks, crossing two rivers for which we definitely needed our 4WD vehicles. We arrived at the lodge at 3PM and four of us went to the Vogelkop Bowerbird hide while two others went to the Western Parotia hide. We had excellent views of the bowerbird. We then did some roadside birding until dark and supper. In addition to Vogelkop Bowerbird, we saw Vogelkop Scrubwren and Vogelkop Melidectes.
Day 9. This morning four of us we went to the Western Parotia hide. We stayed there from before dawn to 10AM but only had a brief view of the bird on the ground (the group the afternoon before had a good view including a bit of its dancing) and some strained-neck looks of the bird perched above us. After returning from the hide we walked along the loop trail near the lodge and did the same in the afternoon, followed by roadside birding until dark. We saw very few birds. The only new birds seen were the Western Parotia from the hide and Green-backed Robin along the loop trail. Heavy rain overnight.
Day 10. The rest of the group decided to go up the “mountain trail”, which we knew was steep and slippery. Because of the wet conditions, we opted to go back to the parotia hide instead. We again got only a glimpse. At 10 AM we returned to the lodge and it soon began to rain heavily. The rest of the group returned soon after, very wet and having seen little. The rest of the day was a washout due to constant heavy rain. The only new birds we saw this day were a Bronze Ground-dove while waiting in the hide and a Black Pitohui along the parotia trail. Heavy rain continued overnight.
Day 11. Rain continued until after breakfast, when we walked down to a hide for Magnificent BoP. We split up into two hides, but by 9 AM our foursome had not seen the BoP. The other twosome had, so we went to their hide and after a while had a fair view of a nice displaying male as well as two Chestnut-backed Jewel-babblers and a Rusty Mouse-warbler. As we walked out, some saw a brief glimpse of a pair of White-striped Forest-rails. At 11AM it began to rain and continued most of the afternoon. In the late afternoon we made a quick try for roadside birding but were soon rained out.
Day 12: In the morning we walked partway up the mountain trail before having to leave in the early afternoon. It rained mid-day but had mostly stopped by the time we had to leave. Our return was delayed when one of the two 4WD vehicles did not show up, but the staff managed to locate a local to ferry us down. The rivers were quite swollen and made for exciting crossings. We then returned to the hotel in Manokwari. During our time in the Arfaks, we only saw 8 of the potential 33 lifers; the “potential” list would have been 38 if we had done the full mountain trail on day 10 - those who did that saw 2 of these extra 5.
Day 13: Our flight to Sorong was delayed, so we did not arrive until after noon. After lunch we drove out to the Sorong lowland forest to a location good for passing parrots, but saw little other than some Palm Cockatoos. We heard Red-breasted Paradise-kingfisher but only one of the group managed a view. We stayed out until dark and returned to the hotel in Sorong. We did not see any of the potential 9 lifers here.
Day 14: In the morning we took a boat out to Waigeo island. The trip was calm and uneventful with only a few seabirds along the way, but plenty of flotsam that required the captain to stop several times to clean trash from the engine intakes. As we approached Waigeo, it began to get cloudy and rain started as we waited to get the necessary permits at a village. We stayed there a while until the rain slowed, and then made our way to the mouth of the river we had to enter to reach our camp. Here, the captain saw that the branch of the river we had to take had flooded, and we could not make it. So we pulled into a small village as the rain began to fall heavily. By about 2PM, it became clear we were not going to make it to our camp. Fortunately, this small village had recently built a concrete meeting area with a roof where we were able to pitch our tents. We did a bit of birding along a forest trail between raindrops, before settling in for the night. We did get nice views of Glossy-mantled Manucodes, and some Olive-crowned Flowerpeckers were flitting about even in the heavy rain.
Day 15: Rain continued all morning, but about 11 AM the staff decided we would make a try for the camp. We loaded up on our boat and went partway up the flooded river, where we had to transfer to very unstable dugout canoes until the water was shallow enough (2-3 feet) for us to wade upstream the rest of the way. This was real water aerobics! We eventually made it to our camp, which was high enough to be dry and had covered areas for our tents. We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up as the rain continued on and off. After lunch we did a bit of birding along the short and long loop trail. We had intended to go to a Wilson’s BoP hide, but the site turned out to be unused so the staff spent the afternoon locating another site and setting up a hide there. At about 5PM we made a long hike up a steep trail to a display tree where had nice views of the endemic Red BoP. Overnight rain.
Day 16: The rain stopped just before dawn, so four of the group went to the Wilson’s BoP hide while we walked the short and long loop trails with a guide. We saw nothing, literally. The group that went to the hide had nice views of displaying males soon after arriving at the hide. We went to the hide in the afternoon, stayed from 1 PM to 6 PM but no luck seeing the Wilson’s, though we did hear calling birds nearby.
Day 17. Overnight rain continued until 8 AM. Between 8 and 9, we walked the short loop trail in a drizzle where we flushed a large gray bird that “had to be” a Western Crowned-pigeon. Borderline “tickable” but not too satisfying as we previously had also missed the Victoria. At 9 AM, the guide thought we might be able to again try the Wilson’s BoP hide. We stayed there until noon, at which time the guide brought us lunch. It rained lightly in the early afternoon (luckily, with only 2 of us in the hide, we could avoid most of the drips). Finally, at 4PM we had a single Wilson’s BoP drop down for 20 seconds to do some cleaning of leaves from his display area. One or two other birds were calling in the area but none appeared so at 5PM we left the hide – 8 hours this day plus 5 the previous day sitting quietly in a 3 foot by 8 foot hide was enough! While we were in the hide, some others had gone on a walk where they saw Western Crowned-pigeons and a couple other endemics. In later afternoon, we all used the nearby river for a wash, only to watch the water rise alarmingly quickly due to rain upstream. The river rose about three feet in only a few minutes. Rain started again after supper and continued overnight.
Day 18. The rain stopped after breakfast. A walk along the short loop this morning turned out to be productive, with Wompoo and Beautiful Fruit-doves and White-eared Catbird, with a pair of Red-bellied Pittas showing nicely along the trail. After the flood on the way in, and the quick flood the previous day, it seemed prudent to leave early to make sure we could actually get out of the camp. The river had dropped as quickly as it had risen the previous day, and we were able to wade across it without any problem (it helped that this time we were walking downstream). However, the tides were not quite right and we ended up actually getting stuck on a sand bar on our way out. After a short wait, and some pushing by the staff, we made our way to close-by Wai Island. Some of us did some snorkeling (excellent) after making a quick birding sortie along a few paths on the island. Olive Honeyeater and Island Whistler were common and some Dusky Megapodes were seen near their mounds. We left Wai at about 4PM and promptly hit another storm, but it was OK by the time we pulled back into Sorong. In Waigeo we saw only 5 of the 13 potential lifers, and 2 of 3 on Wai Island.
Day 19. We left Sorong.
These are “seen-only” birds. We have also noted birds that were “sort of” seen but not with tickable views. Not listed are birds not seen by us but seen by others or by the guide.
Dusky Megapode (Megapodius freycinet) - We saw two on Wei island.
Blue-breasted Quail (Coturnix chinensis)- One flushed near Lake Sentani.
Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) – A pair seen along the river on Waigeo.
Blyth's Hornbill (Aceros plicatus) - A common but spectacular bird, after a while we never even looked up as they noisily flew over.
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) - Common.
Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea) - Seen on the river and along trails in Nimbokrang and Waigeo.
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra (Dacelo gaudichaud) - Common.
Blue-black Kingfisher (Todiramphus nigricyaneus) - Untickable fly-by views for us at Nimbokrang lowlands, although one person managed a perched view.
Beach Kingfisher (Todiramphus saurophaga) - Several seen in Biak mangroves.
Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) - Fairly common.
Hook-billed Kingfisher (Melidora macrorrhina) - We eventually got ok views high up a tree on Waigeo, also a fly-over.
Yellow-billed Kingfisher (Syma torotoro) - Another we eventually saw high up in Waigeo.
Common Paradise-kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea) - One seen during a night walk on Waigeo, also heard a few.
Biak Paradise-kingfisher (Tanysiptera riedelli) - A real beauty, several seen well on Biak.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops phillipinus)- Seen near Lake Sentani.
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) - Seen on Biak.
Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus) - Seen a few times, heard often in many places.
White-eared Bronze-cuckoo (Chrysococcyx meyeri) - Nice views from the road in Arfaks.
Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae) - At Lake Sentani.
Greater Black Coucal (Centropus menbeki) - Several seen in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Lesser Black Coucal (Centropus bernsteini) - Several seen at Lake Sentani.
Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianus) - One posed nicely at Lake Sentani.
Biak Coucal (Centropus chalybeus) - Partial views of two birds as they flew around our parked vehicles, well-hidden in scrub. This bird is often heard but apparently seldom seen.
Black-winged Lory (Eos cyanogenis) - Several seen on Biak.
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) - Seen throughout.
Black-capped Lory (Lorius lorry) - Seen throughout.
Red-flanked Lorikeet (Charmosyna placenta) - In flight near Sorong.
Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) - Several nice views, the best being near Sorong.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua gaylerita) - Seen throughout.
Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot (Micropsitta pusio) - We saw several working among tree branches during our walk to the Nimbokrang lowlands camp. Very cute.
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot (Cyclopsitta diopthalma) - Poor flight views, ID’d by call by our guide in the Nimbokrang lowlands.
Red-cheeked Parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi) - Common.
Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) - Common, noisy and conspicuous throughout.
Moluccan King-Parrot (Alisterus amboiensis) - Two pairs were seen by others in the Arfak Mountains, and another pair was seen on Weigeo.
Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta) - Common.
Uniform Swiftlet (Aerodramus vanikorensis) - Common.
Moustached Treeswift (Hemiprocne mystacea) - Seen several times in mixed flocks with swiftlets, easy to pick out.
Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus) - Both the grey and rufous morphs were seen on Waigeo.
Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) - Seen and heard several places.
Metallic Pigeon (Columba vitiensis) - Seen along the road in the Arfaks.
Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia amboinensis) - A few seen in the Arfaks.
Great Cuckoo-Dove (Reinwardtoena reinwardtii) - Common on Biak and in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) - A couple seen darting through the forest on Biak.
Bronze Ground-Dove (Gallicolumba beccarii) - One seen from the hide while waiting for the Western Parotia.
Wompoo Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus magnificus) - Seen on Waigeo
Coroneted Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus coronulatus) – We needed the scope to get good looks in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Beautiful Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus pulchellus) - One of the more common fruit doves.
Yellow-bibbed Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus solomonensis) - Seen, not well, on Biak.
Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus viridis) - Another canopy bird where the scope helped us to see the distinctive markings, on Biak and Waigeo.
Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus lozonus) - Widespread, hard to see well.
Spice Imperial Pigeon (Ducula myriad) - Very nice views on Biak.
Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon (Ducula rufigaster) - One seen in the Nombokrang lowlands, would have been unidentifiable without the scope view.
Banded Imperial Pigeon (Ducula zoeae) - One at Lake Sentani.
Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) - Conspicuous and common.
Papuan Mountain Pigeon (Gymnophaps albertisii) - Several in the Arfak Mountains
Pinon Imperial Pigeon (Ducula pinon) - Widespread.
Western Crowned Pigeon (Goura cristata). Our “untickable” view was of a bird we flushed that was on the ground several meters off the trail on Waigeo. All we saw was a grayish blob that “had to be” this bird. Probably so but not good enough for us. Often these birds will fly up when flushed, this one stayed low and disappeared into bush. Disappointing as we never got a sniff of the Victoria Crowned-pigeon in Nimbokrang. Others had very good views while on a hike on Waigeo.
White-striped Forest-Rail (Rallina leucospila) - A pair darted through the undergrowth near the Magnificent BoP hide in the Arfaks and two days later some went on a dedicated hike to successfully see another pair.
Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis) - One made a nice appearance along the road at Lake Sentani.
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) - On Waigeo.
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - On Waigeo.
Red-necked Stint (Calidris.ruficollis) - A few in mangroves on Biak.
Grey-tailed Tattler (Heterosceles brevipes) - A few on the river on Waigeo.
Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) - A few on the boat trip to Waigeo.
Great-crested Tern (Sterna bergii) - Also on the boat trip to Waigeo.
Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana) - A few close to shore on Waigeo.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - A few throughout.
Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata) - At least one identified on Biak.
Long-tailed Buzzard (Henicopernis longicauda) - A few on Biak.
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) - A pair on a nest atop a house at Lake Sentani.
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) - Common.
White-bellied Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) - On Biak.
Variable Goshawk (Accipiter (novaehollandiae) hiogaster) - Seen throughout.
Grey-headed Goshawk (Accipiter poliocephalus) - On Biak.
Gurney's Eagle (Aquila gurneyi) - High flight views on Waigeo.
Little Eagle (Hieraeetus morphnoides) - Seen several places.
Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) - One on the boat ride from Waigeo.
Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) - On Waigeo.
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - On Waigeo.
Pacific Reef-Egret (Egretta sacra) - On Waigeo.
Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) - One bird in the mangroves on Biak.
Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) - Many on Biak.
Cattle Egret (Bulbulcus ibis) - In fields.
Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) - On Biak and Waigeo.
Rufous-night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) - On Biak.
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) - Dozens on the boat trip to and from Waigeo.
Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) - A male and female seen on the short loop trail and a male seen on the lower loop, on Waigeo.
White-eared Catbird. (Alluroedus buccoides) - Eventually caught up with one on Waigeo.
Vogelkop Bowerbird (Amblyornis inornatus) - A hide near the lodge in the Arfaks assured great views of the bird at its bower, the largest bower of all the bowerbirds. Several other bowers and a few other birds were also seen during our walks in the Arfaks. The colorful bower more than made up for the drab bird itself. It is easy to understand why locals thought that spirits in the forest were responsible for these structures.
Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) - Two seen near Lake Sentani. .
White-shouldered Fairywren (Malurus alboscapulatus) - Nice views of this active bird at Lake Sentani.
Emperor Fairywren (Malurus cyanocephalus) - Several seen on Biak.
Dusky Myzomela (Myzomela.obscura) - On Biak.
Red-collared Myzomela (Myzomela rosenbergii) - A male conveniently visiting a flowering tree near the lodge in Arfaks.
Long-billed Honeyeater (Melilestes megarhynchus) - In Nimbokrang, one of the easier-to-identify honeyeaters.
Olive Honeyeater (Lichmera argentauris) - Several high in palms on Wai Island.
Puff-backed Honeyeater (Meliphaga aruensis) - One in Nimbokrang and also on Waigeo, difficult to identify by sight.
Varied Honeyeater (Lichenostomus versicolor) - Conspicuous on Wai island.
Meyer's Friarbird (Philemon meyeri) - At Nimbokrang lowlands.
New Guinea (Helmeted) Friarbird (Philemon (buceroides) novaeguineae) - Abundant and noisy.
Vogelkop Melidictes (Melidictes leucostephes) - Often seen crossing the road in Arfaks.
Western Smoky (Arfak) Honeyeater (Melipotes gymnops) - The yellow skin on the face helped ID this one, in Arfaks.
Rusty Mouse Warbler (Crateroscalia murina) - Best view was one perched a foot outside the Magnificent BoP hide in Arfaks, but heard often.
Perplexing Scrubwren (Sericornis virgatus) - An uncertain ID of one in Arfaks.
Vogelkop Scrubwren (Sericornis rufescens) - Common in Arfaks.
Pale-billed Scrubwren (Sericornis.spilodera) - We did not look too hard for this common PNG endemic, which called often near the camp on Waigeo.
Mountain Gerygone (Gerygone cinerea) - In Arfaks.
Yellow-bellied Gerygone (Gerygone chrysogaster) - Several flitting in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Lesser Ground-robin (Amalocichla incerta) - An untickable view of this mouse-like bird scurrying in the Arfaks.
Yellow-legged Flyrobin (Microaca griseoceps) - (Actually orange-legged), in Arfaks.
Green-backed Robin (Pachycephalopsis hattamensis) - Seen well in Arfaks, best while waiting for Magnificent BoP.
Island Leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus) – in Arfaks.
Rufous Babbler (Pomatostomus isidorei) - in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler (Ptilorrhoa castanonota) - Excellent views from the Magnificent BoP hide in Arfaks.
Black Berrypecker (Melanocharis nigra) - On Weigeo.
Mid-montane Berrypecker, or Lemon-breasted Berrypecker (Melanocharis longicauda) - Seen in Arfaks.
Green-crowned Longbill (Toxorhamphus novaeguineae) - A few seen in Arfaks.
Island Whistler (Pachycephala phalonotus) - Conspicuous on Wai Island.
Sclater's Whistler (Pachycephala soror) - Several in Arfaks.
Regent Whistler (Pachycephala schlegelii) - Also in Arfaks.
Little Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla.megaryncha) - Seen in Nimbokrang lowlands and on Waigeo.
Variable Pitohui (Pitohui kirhocephalus) - We saw many in Nimbokrang.
Rusty Pitohui (Pitohui ferrugineus) - Seen in Nimbokrang lowlkands.
Black Pitohui (Pitohui nigrescens) - Several seen in Arfaks.
Brown-headed Crow (Corvus fuscicapilla) - A pair at the end of our return trip from Nimbokrang.
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru) - Common.
Glossy-mantled Manucode (Manucodia atra) - A pair put on a show for us on Waigeo, displaying and showing the sheen of the otherwise black feathers.
Pale-billed Sicklebill (Epinachus bruuijnii) - We had one fly-over and later a poor perched view, in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata) - The locals had set up a hide and after several hours and two sessions we ended up with only a minute of seeing the bird on its display court. Unfortunately, it did not do its spinning dance-like display for us, but others did see this during another visit. Surprisingly large with a white forehead spot that glowed.
Magnificent Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus) - A bird for which locals had set up hides at two different sites in the Arfaks. We waited three hours without success but then found out the other group had some birds near their hide. So we transferred quietly over there and eventually had one male do a brief display.
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus respublica) - The known display site for this bird near the Waigeo camp was not active when we arrived, so the local staff had to find a back-up. They did, but it was on a steep hill and with an uncomfortable hide. The others saw the bird within a few minutes of their visit in the morning. We went in the afternoon, and saw nothing. We returned the next morning, saw nothing (in light drizzle), ate lunch in the hide, and eventually (13 hours in total in the hide) we had a brief visit by a single bird. Of course we were happy to have seen the bird, but views were only OK and while we were sitting in the hide the others had more chances for other birding. Bad luck but also bad planning by not having a site already arranged.
King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius) - Some flight views of distant females around the Nimbokrang lowlands, not doing justice to the brightly-colored male. Another case where not having a stakeout hurt the effort.
Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) - After a long hike to a mountain ridge, we waited and near dusk were eventually rewarded with great views of several displaying males doing weird side-to side hops, on Waigeo.
Lesser Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea minor) - A challenging hike through mud and standing water in the Nimbokrang lowlands eventually gave us neck-breaking views of two or three males hopping along a branch in a display tree. Calling it “Lesser” is an injustice.
Hooded Butcherbird (Cracticus cassicus) - Common, noisy.
Black Butcherbird (Cracticus quoyi) - Heard a few, only saw two in flight in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Lowland Peltops (Peltops blainvillii) – Seen a few times in Nimbokrang lowlands – a real beauty.
Brown Oriole (Oriolus azalayi) - We saw several, usually trying to turn them into another species, in Nimbokrang lowlands and Waigeo.
Stout-billed Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina caeruleogrisea) - A few seen in the Arfak Mountains.
Boyer's Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina boyeri) - A few in the Sorong lowlands.
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina papuensis) - At Lake Sentani.
Slender-billed Cicadabird (Coracina incerta) - Several on Biak.
Black-browed Triller (Lalage atrovirens) - Fairly common on Biak and also seen nicely in Sorong lowlands.
Willie-wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) - Common throughout.
Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris) - In Nimbokrang lowlands.
Sooty Thicket-fantail (Rhipidura threnothorax) - Seen near the camp at Nimbokrang lowlands, eventually produced nice views.
White-bellied Thicket-fantail (Rhipidura leucothorax) - Very responsive to tape in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Black Fantail (Rhipidura atra) - In the Arfak Mountains.
Arafura Fantail (Rhipidura dryas) - Easily seen on Wai Island.
Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) - Widespeard.
Black Monarch (Monarcha axillaris) - In the Arfaks.
Biak Monarch (Monarcha brehmii) - One was located by voice in a Biak forest but not everyone in the group got a good look at this elusive bird before it tired of us. We planned to make a return trip in the afternoon but, when we did, there was already noise of logging going on nearby so we abandoned the effort.
Spot-winged Monarch (Monarcha guttulus) - In a mixed flock in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Hooded Monarch (Monarcha manadensis) - In a mixed flock in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Golden Monarch (Monarcha chrysomela) - Different races of this species seen several places.
Rufous-collared Monarch (Arses insularis) - Another flock bird in Nimbokrang lowlands.
Biak (Black) Flycatcher (Myiagra atra) - Conspicuous on Biak.
Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) - Common several places.
Yellow-breasted Boatbill (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) - Seen from parotia trail in Arkaks, later on Waigeo.
Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) - Common in open areas.
Metallic Starling (Aplonis metallica) - Common on Biak.
Long-tailed Starling (Aplonis magna) - Common on Biak.
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) - Seen throughout.
Tree Martin (Petrochelidon nigricans) - At Lake Sentani.
Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) - Conspicuous at Lake Sentani.
Lemon-bellied White-eye (Zosterops chloris) - Common on Wai Island.
Biak White-eye (Zosterops mysorensis) - A skulker, but seen on Biak.
Capped White-eye (Zosterops fuscicapillus) - Seen in Arfaks.
Olive-crowned Flowerpecker (Dicaeum pectoralis) - Seen around the village, even in the rain, on Waigeo.
Red-crowned Flowerpecker (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) - On Biak.
Black Sunbird (Leptocoma sericea) - On Biak.
Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) - Widespread.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) - Common throughout.
Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) - This gem was seen nicely at Lake Sentani.
Grand Munia (Lonchura grandis)- at Lake Sentani.
Hooded Munia (Lonchura spectabalis) - at Lake Sentani.
Some of the heard-only birds:
Brown-collared Talegalla (Talegalla jobiensis) - Often heard at Nimbokrang. Hard to tell how close, as the call was loud and penetrating. This was one where nesting mounds were supposedly known, but none were found. It never did seem to respond to the tape.
Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida) – Often heard in Nimbokrang lowlands, sometimes close.
Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa) - Heard distantly while walking to Magnificent BoP hide in Arfaks.
Biak Scops Owl (Otus beccarii) - On two nights we heard it along the roads in Biak, several times very close, but never seen. It was always buried in heavy branches.
Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis) - Heard on Biak and at the Nimbokrang lowlands camp.
“Missed” birds. This is a partial list of birds mentioned in the Papua Expeditions itinerary which we did not see or hear, in order of location.
Biak: Biak Megapode (the areas where mounds had been know were disrupted); Geelvink Pygmy-parrot; Biak Gerygone;
Nimbokrang lowlands: Brown Lory; White-crowned and Dwarf Koel; Papuan Hawk-owl; Barred Owlet-nightjar; Cinnamon Ground-dove (seen by others in the Arfaks); Thick-billed Ground-pigeon; Victoria Crowned-pigeon; Variable Dwarf Kingfisher (seen by others in Waigeo); Salvadori’s Fig-parrot; New Guinea Bronzewing (seen by one other in Waigeo); Olive Flyrobin; New Guinea Cuckoo-shrike; Rufous-backed Fantail; Papuan Swiftlet; Shovel-billed Kookaburra.
Arfak Mountains: Red-billed Talegalla; White-crowned and Dwarf Koel; Large Fig-parrot; Orange-fronted Hanging-parrot; Marbled Honeyeater; Pygmy, Fairy, and Josephine’s Lorikeets; Long-tailed Paradigalla; Blue-faced and Papuan Parrotfinch; Ornate Fruit-dove; Arfak Astrapia; Black-billed Sicklebill; Large and Mountain Owlet-nightjar; Meyer’s Goshawk; Orange-fronted Fairywren; Olive Straightbill; Cinnamon-browed Melidectes; Garnet Robin; Mottled Whistler.
Sorong: Black Lory; Yellow-capped Pygmy-parrot; New Guinea Cuckoo-shrike.
Camp at Nimbokrang lowlands
Camp on Waigeo Island
Vogelkop Bowerbird and bower
Muddy trail at Nimbokrang