Sunday, July 21, 2013

Birding in Arfak Mountains

The mountain range of Arfak is a nature reserve in the south of Manokwari that has been famous as a favorite destination for birdwatchers. I guided Professor Richard Ebright from 18 to 20 July 2013 on a birding tour in a cloud forest of the range. The professor was not doing research works. He came here as a tourist who wanted to watch birds of paradise in Arfak mountains.
When we were walking and watching birds, we saw several birds that have got outstanding characteristics such as:

  • Vogelkop Bowerbird that decorates his "palace" or bower with beautiful flowers, snail shells, fruits and other colorful articles. He made his bower from twigs.
  • Male Western Parotia (Parotia sefilata) that dances like a ballerina to seduce his female bird. Male Western Parotia does not have feather as elaborate as Lesser Birds of Paradise but his "ballet dance" is really fantastic. 
  • Magnificent Birds of Paradise that displays his beautiful feather, expand his chest and plays his sickle like tail antennas to attract his female birds.
In order to see these unique and beautiful birds of New Guinea, we had to wait for each of them in dark hides/ blinds that were cold, and full of mosquitoes. Each of the above species has its separate dancing or courtship ground. On the average we needed to spend 3 to 5 hours to see each bird came to the respected dancing ground. Our long waiting and boring bore excellent results. We were able to make videos and photographs of the birds. We also saw other interesting birds that came to or landed on the ground where Western Parotia would dance. They were Cinnamon Ground Dove and Spotted Catbird. There were to other small birds that I could not identify.
The Cinnamon Ground Dove ate grains that fell onto the surface of the ground. When we were waiting for the male Western Parotia to dance, it was the Cinnamon bird that came first. Naturally male Western Parotia has got dancing skills that he uses to perform beautiful dances that look so beautiful. I hope that there will be a choreographer that can develop or create a human dance after the Western Parotia's dance so more people can enjoy it.
After exploring the dense, wet and cold forest of Arfak range for 3 days, finally I and Prof. Richard Ebright had to return to Manokwari. He could continue his trip to Cendrawasih Bay going on board of MV. Dewi Nusantara. He would scuba dive in the bay to see pristine coral reef of West Papua as well as swim with whaleshark.
Before getting on the car, I, Prof. Ebright and some Papuans from Kwau village posed for some pictures. Some of the villagers are university students who study in Papua University. They work as local guides, cooks and porters in this eco-tourism program. The money that they earn is very valuable for them in supporting their study. So, I am very happy to see that my eco-tours in Manokwari and West Papua can bring positive impacts to the education of Papuan youths.
The birding site is in the slopes of Mount Soyti (one of the mountains of Arfak range) in the territory of Kwau village. This area is located between 1,300 to 1,500 meters above sea level. Visitors need to hire a 4WD pick-up truck such as Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger to reach the tropical cloud forest that covers Mount Soyti. It takes around 2 hours from the city of Manokwari to reach the forest. For further info, please contact me Charles Roring/ E-mail:



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