Friday, March 22, 2013

Paradise Birds in Arfak Mountains

Located in the eastern part of the bird's head region of New Guinea, Arfak mountains can be considered as one of the best birding and trekking destinations in Indonesia. Several tour operators offer birding trip to the range which is only a 2-hour car trip from Manokwari city. Warmarway village that is located on the eastern coast of Arfak is a recommended place for watching Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor). The tree s where the birds like to gather stand on steep slopes approximately 400 meters above sea level. Birdwatchers have to cross a small river, walk up steep trails to reach the trees. A pair of binoculars, or a camera with telephoto lens is needed to caprture or make videos see the birds when they perform courtship dances.
Other lowland birds that can be seen flying over the canopy of the rainforest are Blyth's hornbill, Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus); Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua Galerita), frigate, and various species of kingfishers. 
The male Magnificent Birds of Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus) that expands his feather and swings his blue antennas to impress female birds can be seen in the mornings in upper montane forest of Arfak range. Birdwatchers need to be physically fit to reach the birding ground of the bird. The indigenous people in Arfak mountains call it: knang bird.
Before the morning or afternoon shows, male Magnificent BOP has to clear the ground from fallen leaves or twigs.
Local guides can build birding hut (blind) for visitors who want to watch the Magnificent BOP. To increase the chance of sighting the birds, villagers put a red fruit (Pandanus conoideus) on a branch of a tree above the dancing ground of the birds. Birds of paradise like the fruit very much. It is not only the birds that eat the fruit but also humans.
Some researchers from Cendrawasih University even claim that red oil that is extracted from the red fruit is effective for curing patiens who suffer from cancer, HIV. Villagers in Papua have consumed red fruit oils for years. They add the oil to the vegetables that they cook and eat them with pork, or chicken and sweet potatoes. In recent years, the demand for the fruits is rising due to its medicinal merit.
As a tour guide, I have accompanied a lot of tourists on many birding trips to Arfak mountains and the North Coast of Manokwari. One day, I guided 2 Finish tourists. When they were sitting in a blind waiting for the male Magnificent BOP to come, suddenly they saw a female Lesser Birds of Paradise. It is a surprise for all of us to see her perching near the red fruit. It was the usual dancing ground of the Magnificent BOP but then a Lesser birds of paradise showed up. The red fruit that the villager had put could attract the bird. The photographer, Marko Laakonen, used a D-SLR camera that is powered with a telephoto lens to shoot the bird.
Besides watching birds, visitors can also see insects, buterfly and other animal such as Cuscus. Local guide - Yunus Sayori can attract male cuscus by imitating the voice of the female one.
Another important species of birds of paradise that can be seen in Arfak mountains is the Western Parotia. To attract females, a male Western Parotia has to perform a courtship dance. It looks like a classical ballet. He will shape his feather like a petticoat before dancing and shaking his head that is decorated with 6 antennas. His throat has got a glowing shield that reflects black, yellow and turquoise. His nose to forehead area is white. It looks contrast to his black feather. Its eyes are clear black with strong ring of blue around them. In Latin, it is called Parotia sefilata.

Other birds from Arfak Mountains
In addition to birds of paradise, birdwatchers can also see other species of birds such as Black Fantail, Hooded Pitohui, Feline Owlet-nightjar when they go trekking in the jungle.

Feline Owlet-nightjar in the forest of Arfak range

Black Fantail in Kwau forest of Arfak range
There are still more species of birds that we can see in Arfak mountains. To see them, we need to explore the jungle. Wear a good pair of sport or trekking shoes while walking in Arfak. Apply mosquito repellent lotion.

How to get to Arfak mountains?
You need to fly from your country to Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia. Then you can fly to Manokwari. There are several airlines that fly between Jakarta and Manokwari. They are the Lion Air, Express Air and Sriwijaya Air. When you arrive in Manokwari, you can meet me.  I can help you arrange your trip to Arfak especially to Warmarway village. For itineraries and prices, please contact me: Charles Roring/ E-mail:



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