West Papua 31st of July – 27th of August 2007

Published by Daniel Bengtsson (danielkbengtsson AT telia.com)

Participants: Daniel Bengtsson, Anita Eriksson, Lars Imby, Gert Johansson, Sören Jägmarker, Henrik Lind, Donald Rehn, Sören Strandberg


(Report compiled by Daniel. Species list created by Henrik, with help from Daniel and Sören S.)
This trip was organized by Papua Bird Club, founded by Kris Tindige and his wife Shita (Maria). However, Kris was not able to run the tour due to serious cancer disease and he died on the 20th of August, leaving indescribable loss and emptiness behind. Instead Shita was leading the journey with assistance of Untu, a childhood friend to Kris. Shita’s skills of organization and practical matters sorted everything out perfectly. In such a difficult country as Indonesia it is extremely important to have someone that knows exactly how to handle local tribes as well as military officers and other people signing permits etc. Otherwise you might end up loosing a lot of money and invaluable time. Shita’s former occupation as a lawyer and extraordinary life experiences in West Papua solved most of the problems even before we had them noticed. Her only disadvantage at this point was that she’s not really a bird guide. She knows for sure where to find most important species, but has not had time to learn all the calls. The same goes for Untu, who is an experienced bird guide at Sulawesi/Halmahera but need some time to adapt to this new field.
The best bird guide in West Papua is Zeth Wonggor, living in the village of Syioubrig in Arfak Mountains. He is a good friend of Shita’s and showed most Arfak specialities perfectly well. We can certainly recommend Papua Bird Club as organizer for any tour in West Papua, not only for their professionalism and very reasonable prices, but also for their intentions. Kris, Shita and Untu’s determination to do whatever possible to save the remaining forests and birds in West Papua is reason enough, but add to this their strong involvement helping the local people with food, education and knowledge about nature. They mostly stand quite alone in these matters, sometimes working against powerful military, society and economical forces. The only way to help might be showing that nature, forest and birds have another economical value than exploiting them, and your best shot is funding conservation and supporting this kind of ecotourism. More about West Papua and how to save some of the most beautiful birds on earth (e.g. the Birds-of-paradise) and the most extensive rainforest after the Amazon can be found at http://www.papuabirdclub.com.
The best season to visit Irian Jaya is probably the northern summer (June-August), when most Birds-of-paradise, as well as other birds, display and breed. However, in recent years there has been quite a lot of rain even during this usually relatively dry season. Before going you should be prepared for a tough journey. Many nights have to be spent in tents, mosquito nets or rustic accommodation. Trails can be very muddy after rain and to reach for example Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise you’ll probably need to hike up some steep and slippery hill-sides. Camp at Lake Habbema is usually set above 3000 m, which means cold night temperature (sometimes 0°C) and lower concentration of oxygen. In all you need to be in good health condition to do this trip. Also bear in mind that health care is sometimes far away and that the risk of malaria is fairly high. Having said this, I would like to end this general introduction by telling that through the trip we were served excellent food and that stomach illness seems rare in New Guinea.
Anita Eriksson, Borlänge, Sweden
Daniel Bengtsson, Södertälje, Sweden (danielbengtsson0377@hotmail.com)
Lars Imby, Stockholm, Sweden
Gert Johansson, Malmö, Sweden
Sören Jägmarker, Billingen, Sweden
Henrik Lind, Lund, Sweden
Donald Rehn, Stockholm, Sweden
Sören Strandberg, Stockholm, Sweden
July 29th-31st: Stockholm – Frankfurt – Singapore – Jakarta – Ujung Pandang – Sorong.
August 1st: Sorong – Batanta.
August 2nd: Batanta.
August 3rd: Batanta.
August 4th: Batanta – Salawati – Batanta.
August 5th: Batanta – Salawati – Senapang – Sorong.
August 6th: Sorong – Manokwari.
August 7th: Manokwari – Arfak Mts.
August 8th: Arfak Mts.
August 9th: Arfak Mts.
August 10th: Arfak Mts.
August 11th: Arfak Mts. – Manokwari.
August 12th: Manokwari – Jayapura (Santani).
August 13th: Jayapura (Santani) – Nimbokrang.
August 14th: Nimbokrang.
August 15th: Nimbokrang.
August 16th: Nimbokrang – Jayapura (Santani).
August 17th: Jayapura (Santani) – Wamena.
August 18th: Wamena – Lake Habbema.
August 19th: Lake Habbema.
August 20th: Lake Habbema.
August 21st: Lake Habbema – Wamena.
August 22nd: Wamena – Jayapura (Santani) – Papua New Guinea border.
August 23rd: Jayapura (Santani) – Biak.
August 24th: Biak.
August 25th: Biak.
August 26th: Biak.
August 27th-28th: Biak – Ujung Pandang – Jakarta – Singapore – Frankfurt – Stockholm.
July 29th-31st: Leaving Stockholm in the afternoon on the 29th, we travelled via Frankfurt to Singapore and Jakarta, changing flight to Ujung Pandang and finally, after totally 33 hours journey, to Sorong in the morning of the 31st. Shita welcomed us, and while sorting out the luggage a Buff-banded Rail and a juvenile Whiskered Tern were seen beside the airfield. We had breakfast and some rest in the hotel before doing some introductory birding at Makbon, SE Sorong, in the afternoon. Blyth’s Hornbill, Palm Cockatoo, Papuan Spine-tailed Swift and Boyer’s Cuckoo-shrike were some nice species.
August 1st: Morning 2½ hours speed boat drive to Batanta. Osprey and Lesser Frigatebird got noted along the way. We got permission to camp at a rest house close to the village, where local people welcomed us. We put up our tents and some of the women started to prepare supper. In the afternoon we stayed quite close to the camp, with Red Bird-of-paradise being the target. Long-tailed Buzzard, (Variable) Grey Goshawk, Pacific Baza, Palm Cockatoo, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Moustached Treeswift and Hooded Butcherbird hang around the clearing. Colourful and screamy Eclectus Parrots were always present. Eventually time was right for the BOPs to enter the display scene high up in a tree. Splendidly red feathers were flushed, “Micky Mouse-ears” risen, long curled tail streamers swung and bodies bent over and under the trunks, accompanied by noisy calls and curiously watching females. This was the start of the trip we’d hoped for!
August 2nd: At 4 o’clock we headed for the steep hillsides. Even the beginning of the track was quite slippery, but this was nothing compared to when it started raining for real! It began shortly after our arrival in the hide and didn’t stop for the next nine hours. Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise was calling nearby, but never showed up at the play ground, probably due to the rain. Since we didn’t feel like walking up the hill twice the same day, we waited for a new chance of seeing Wilson, but in the afternoon we realized there wasn’t going to be any show today. 1½ hours of “mudsliding” took us down to the camp. Golden Monarch (female), Frilled Monarch (male) and Northern Fantail were about the only birds seen during the whole day.
August 3rd: Heavy rain during the night, so at one stage we all thought our tents were going to float away. However, most equipment, and ourselves, were still at the same spot when waking up and the rain even stopped before dawn. Some serious dry-up had to be done, so everything was put on lines in the morning sun. After breakfast we took a slow morning walk up to the top hide again. Some hours later we decided to check another territory further down. A female Rufous-bellied Kookaburra watched us from above, but none of us saw any glimpse of Wilson. In the meantime our local guides had located a new display ground, which seemed more frequently used, so in late afternoon we entered a quickly constructed hide for another try. The active male called constantly out of sight, the loud call starting to become strongly connected with frustration. But suddenly, after two days patience and misery, an incredibly intensive red back flashed in the dark forest understory and a strange turquoise bare head lit up the image even more. A surely fantastic moment for some, but the celebration and real happiness was delayed, as not everyone got the chance to see the bird.
August 4th: Next morning we were all back in the hide, after having a close-up experience of a Dwarf Kingfisher woken up by the flashlight. Wilson’s BOP called frequently all the time, but only came in to the display patch very briefly. Fortunately enough, we all got good looks, and the intense yellow neck, green breast shield and the ring-curled tailfeathers were fully exposed. Suddenly life had reached another level and our despair from previous days was forgotten. Golden Monarch (male), Spot-winged Monarch and Yellow-bellied Longbill were also recorded from inside the hide. Red-billed Brush-Turkey revealed its strange call, but as expected we never had it within reach of seeing.
In the afternoon we paid a visit to the nearby island of Salawati. The display tree of King Bird-of-paradise was very quiet in the rain, but a calling Hooded Pitta jumped almost all the way around us and eventually exposed itself brilliantly. A fast walk on the partly muddy trail, soon turning into a creek, eventually felt quite useless, so we decided to go back to the camp on Batanta. A Frogmouth in a big dead tree above the rest house showed some characteristics of Marbled, but Papuan could certainly not be ruled out.
August 5th: The last morning in the Raja Ampat archipelago was spent on Salawati. Being the only one visiting Papua for the first time, I was very keen to see the King Bird-of-paradise. (Out of curiosity it can be mentioned that this species was the favourite BOP of Sten Bergman, who successfully brought a small colony to Rönninge, Sweden, and subsequently delivered off-spring to various kings and sheiks.) I was dropped off at the first landing site for a walk to the tree we checked for activity yesterday. Already from a distance the noisy call was heard and shortly after arrival the splendid male showed up in fairly low tangles. The red plumage glistened, as well as the greenish “minidiscs” at the end of the spiralled tail. The clean white belly, yellowish bill and “funky” forehead were other quality features. Back with the group some difficult, but typical, birding was carried out, leaving most birds unidentified. Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Frilled Monarch and Yellow-bellied Gerygone were safely recorded and we left without having encountered any signs whatsoever of the dreaded “Salawati chiggers”.
After lunch tents and gear were packed together, and we said goodbye to our hosts at Batanta. On the way back towards Sorong, we made another stop further east on Salawati. A pond held Spotted Whistling-Ducks and Rufous Night-Heron, while the nearby scrub forest edge produced Red-throated Myzomela together with Spotted and Long-billed Honeyeater. In late afternoon we stopped at the island of Senapang, which turned out to be a reliable stake-out for the desired Beach Kingfisher. Great-billed Parrots and Spice Imperial-Pigeons offered fine fly-by-observations. In the meantime a White-breasted Woodswallow circled above us and a flock of Black-naped Terns were feeding off the coast.
August 6th: A morning visit to Makbon was pretty quiet, but we had a nice walk in clear and calm weather. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Grey-headed Cuckoo-shrike and Green-backed Honeyeater were studied closely, while Barn Swallows reminded of that the autumn migration had started even for passerines. A 35 minutes flight took us to Manokwari, where we enjoyed a relaxed afternoon at the hotel.
August 7th: After breakfast we took a 2½ hours 4WD ride from Manokwari to the village of Syioubrig (1400 m above sea level) in the Arfak Mountains (Vogelkop). We were heartily welcomed by the local guide Zeth Wonggor and a significant number of villagers. A new house was being prepared for visitors, but the old rest house was certainly good enough for us. Mosquito nets and sleeping bags were put out and we were ready for serious birding.
A small group of Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoos, Western Smoky Honeyeater, Mountain Peltops, Black-breasted Boatbill and Blue-faced Parrotfinch gathered in fruiting trees just outside the camp, while three species of Fantails (Black, Dimorphic and Friendly) passed by in a bird-party. Commonly seen species throughout the stay were Vogelkop Melidectes, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Brown-breasted Gerygone, Island Leaf-Warbler and Western Mountain White-eye. Zeth took us for a walk along the road in a try for Buff-tailed Sicklebill. We didn’t find that species but felt satisfied anyway, having the first experiences of Zeth’s impressive knowledge of Arfak bird calls, of which we tried to learn at least a few. The local people (i.e. Zeth’s family) certainly provided perfect cooking services as well, and the fresh passion fruits, coming straight off nearby trees, were probably the best ever eaten.
August 8th: We started walking uphill when it was still dark (at 5.30 a.m.). The track was quite steep and it took us a bit more than an hour to reach the hides. Once covered from outside we tried to stay invisible and totally quiet, waiting for the Western Parotia show, being just about the opposite. Several males and females were present, but full display only happened at one site. A male Vogelkop Bowerbird sneaked around, making very strange calls and looking for treasures making his bower even more attractive. (While we were watching the amazing construction decorated with colourful berries, fruits, flowers, leaves, mushrooms, beatle wings, moss, glass, plastics, rope etc., he tried to steal a blue badge from a bag left outside the hide.)
At 9 o’clock activities ceased around the hides, so it was time to walk further up. Not far away, Zeth knew where Mountain and Feline Owlet-Nightjar had their day roosts, which invited to fantastic observations. Other new species were Rufous-sided Honeyeater, Black Monarch (plumage mimicry of Black Fantail), Sclater’s and Regent Whistler as well as Red-collared and Mountain Red-headed Myzomela. Zeth also delivered a splendid Orange-crowned Fairy-Wren and a male White-breasted Fruit-Dove on its nest. The many nests seen during the day made us understand how his species knowledge was gained; he just used his skill to find a nest, patience to see the bird coming in and then simply looked it up in the book.
Lunch was carried up from the base camp by porters and enjoyed with a Long-tailed Buzzard soaring up nicely below the “Garden House” at 1700 m. In the afternoon we walked down to the village and followed the same road as yesterday. Ornate Melidectes and Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrike were good encounters, together with an exposed pair of White-shouldered Fairy-Wrens.
August 9th: The second morning was chosen for Magnificent Bird-of-paradise. This was mostly downhill, but in slow tempo we used almost an hour to get there. Four people entered the hide for 30 minutes, while the rest waited at safe distance below the last steep slope. The male, being truly magnificent with its impressively curled blue tail contrasting to golden and deeply reddish brown back, soon came in to a tree beside the hide. He called many times but eventually seemed to be scared off by a Spotted Catbird. The second group waited in vain for almost an hour before the BOP finally made a relieving show-up. In the meantime a Green-backed Robin nest was watched, but calls were the only signs of the bird itself. The same goes for the poisonous Hooded Pitohui. We all returned to the camp with smiling faces.
Morning tea/coffee gave new strength and with gear for staying over night at the Garden House we were off for more birding on a new trail up along the river. It started very well with a pair of Black Pitohui. Bird activity was low at mid-day, but eventually we reached a good area where dense vegetation and fruiting trees attracted many birds, making us stop there for quite some time. Lesser Melampitta called nearby, and was briefly seen jumping across the trail and under a big log. A female Brehm’s Tiger-Parrot and a Blue-faced Parrotfinch sat typically very still eating fruit, while a group of Tit Berrypeckers moved fast through the canopy. A male Mottled Whistler was seen briefly, but the cute Garnet Robin and Canary Flycatcher were much more obliging. Further along the track our first Yellow-billed Lorikeets were seen singing high up in a tree.
In late afternoon we made another visit to the Parotia hide. At least one male came in calling but no female were there to inspire him dancing. Supper arrived from base camp in darkness and could be enjoyed with calling Papuan Boobook and Sooty Owl. Under amazingly bright sky full of stars we did a short night walk. Luminescent bushes flanked the trail, but no animals were seen. Perhaps the cuscus thought we had eaten too many passion fruits…
August 10th: Today we made a hike up to 2100 m, passing the camp Sir David Attenborough used while making the classic film about Birds-of-paradise. The morning was clear and the birds seemed to enjoy the fresh air as much as we did. Papuan Treecreeper was one of the target species and eventually one of the many calling males came close enough for a good look. Not much later an absurdly strong and strange call revealed the presence of Black Sicklebill. This is, despite its big size, a difficult bird to spot, so we were all happy obtaining close views of a young male and later on a female. Some even got the adult male. Lorikeets were abundant up here, represented by the lovely Papuan and Josephine’s Lorikeet as well as Plum-faced and Yellow-billed. It was also an excellent day for Robins and Whistlers with at least four species of each, the best being Black-throated and Smoky Robin together with Regent, Lorentz’s and Vogelkop Whistler. Many Lesser Ground-Robins were heard but very hard to see. Just when a flock of Varied Sittellas had been enjoyed at the top, Zeth picked up the call of Arfak Astrapia. As quite a few BOPs this one can be surprisingly elusive, but after a short search a young male could be watched feeding typically under mossy branches. After such a successful morning the descending walk back to base camp was easily done, even though very few birds were seen. Zeth told some fascinating stories about how the Japanese invasion of Papua (in the Second World War) was stopped by local mountain tribes.
August 11th: Focusing on the important target Long-tailed Paradigalla we made another try up the river trail. Two Presquet’s Parrots flew over the valley in distinctive flight. While waiting for the rain to stop several White-eared Bronze-Cuckoos were watched eating caterpillars in an open tree. Suddenly Zeth got all excited as he found what we’d been looking for, and soon the Paradigalla was in a scope. -Perfect! Now we even had some spare time for optional birding before departure. Zeth took some of us further up the trail. Superb Bird-of-paradise called very close, but stayed out of sight. However, we had much better luck with Spotted Jewel-Babbler, which offered superb observations sneaking around a big log. Bronze Ground-Dove was seen on the ground and Mottled Whistler in the canopy.
Sadly enough, it was then time to leave the village of Syioubrig. We’d been so spoilt by the hospitality and good food, and Zeth’s team had really made our visit a fantastic birding experience. At our departure a substantial part of Syioubrig’s inhabitants had gathered in front of the church. We thanked them with all our hearts and hoped to come back one day. (For Donald and Henrik it happened already three weeks later…)
A couple of stops along the road, where it was safe without getting into trouble with local chiefs, produced splendid views of Ornate Melidectes and Dwarf Whistler. Further down, below 1000 m, we took an afternoon break listening for Lesser Bird-of-paradise calling in the deep valleys on either side of the road. Small groups of Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrots passed by, Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-shrike sat in an open tree together with Brown Oriole, a Little Eagle soared above us and eventually one male Lesser BOP was seen flying. Upon leaving a New Guinea Harpy-Eagle glided just above the tree tops on the far slope in one of the valleys, just to disappear in the foliage. We arrived back in Manokwari after dark.
August 12th: Our flight to Jayapura wasn’t to be until the afternoon, so we did morning birdwatching at a place called SP1, WNW from Manokwari. This is some sort of a reserve, with at least quite some secondary forest, but hunting and collecting of birds is commonly observed in the area. Due to this fact, males of Lesser BOP are extremely rare, but we did manage to see one female. Variable Pitohui and Little Shrike-Thrush were abundant and their (sometimes similar) calls characterized the morning chorus. In a clearing we had good views of Golden Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot, Lowland Peltops and Yellow-faced Myna. Later on Claret-breasted and Ornate Fruit-Doves were enjoyed and one Gurney’s Eagle passed low over the canopy. On the way back to Manokwari we stopped at a site for mangrove species. No Robin was to be seen at this time of day, but the sparkling Mangrove Gerygone made us all return with happy faces…
A flight of 70 minutes took us to the airport east of Jayapura. We checked in at Hotel Sentani, where binoculars were needed to watch the other side of the lobby. As it was too late for afternoon birding we decided to stay put, taking advantage of luxury stuff such as swimming pool and bar.
August 13th: Maria fixed the necessary permits early in the morning, while we had a relaxed breakfast before packing up in the vehicles. Three hours later we arrived in Nimbokrang, where a turpentine roof had been put up over a logging road (“Korea Street”), which was going to be our home for three nights. Mosquito nets and sleeping bags were rolled out (the latter probably not needed as the temperature was pretty hot, but we hoped it would go down to maybe 20°C at night). Bird guides are very scarce here, so we had to use the local hunter Jamil, whose wife also cooked for us. Although simple, these logistics worked out just fine, and we even had the chance of washing in the nearby creek, which had cut off the road for vehicles other than motor-bikes. The afternoon walk along the road was a good introduction to some lowland rainforest species such as Brown Lory, Large-billed Gerygone, Black-browed Triller, Meyer’s Friarbird, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Black Butcherbird and Brown-headed Crow. Brown-collared Brush-Turkey, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Magnificent Riflebird were heard only.
August 14th: At dawn we made our way into the dense jungle to a display tree for Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise. The adult male was already in place, showing his weird chicken yellow lower body part ending with the “wires”, strange head with bright red eyes and the green bordered breast shield. Several immature males and a couple of females gave the dominant male a hectic morning of display and chase, appreciated by us as spectators. The show got even better when a young male Pale-billed Sicklebill suddenly landed in the nearest tree top, evidently attracted by Jamil’s imitation. The rest of the morning was spent on small trails inside the rain forest, where birds were, not surprisingly, very difficult to see. Cassowary foot prints led to a fruiting tree, but to see this species a huge portion of luck would be needed. Best observations were obtained of Black-sided Robin, Ochre-collared Monarch, White-bellied Thicket-Fantail and Jobi Manucode. A fiercely-looking and extremely well camouflaged snake on the track was nearly stepped upon, leading Jamil to tell the story about a man in the village who had been bitten, but didn’t realize the seriousness until three hours later when he was partly paralyzed. However, his friends cured him by using the power of a motor cycle battery… (-Please, don’t try this at home!)
After lunch some preferred siesta while others went for a short walk along the road. Stephan’s Dove, Black Cuckoo-shrike, Shining Flycatcher and Golden Myna were a good reward. Most of the afternoon was spent looking for Shovel-billed Kingfisher. We ended up almost lost in the jungle, climbing up and down muddy creek sides and forcing ourselves through dense vegetation, but just before dusk we were luckily back on track. Grey-headed Goshawk, King Bird-of-paradise (heard) and Papuan Nightjar should be mentioned.
August 15th: Today we focused on Blue-backed Kingfisher in the morning and Shovel-billed Kingfisher in the afternoon (as we got the impression that it actually had been seen in this area very recently). Several Blue-backed Kingfishers were heard and at least one bird came in on recording, but good views were only for a few. Rufous Babbler and White-eared Catbird also showed up briefly. During the lunch break Coroneted Fruit-Dove and exhibitive Emperor Fairy-Wrens were enjoyed and in late afternoon many Psittacidae species (Parrots) passed overhead.
August 16th: At 4 o’clock we left the camp for a walk, lasting an hour and a quarter, to a display site for Lesser Bird-of-paradise. Several Brown-collared Brush-Turkeys, two Hook-billed and two Shovel-billed Kingfishers called before dawn, but still none of them could be seen. At first light the clear sky had grown all cloudy, but even in a bit of rain several males of the target BOP made a spectacular display. The red, green and yellow bodies were a colourful contrast to the white and yellow plumes waving in the light wind, and their genus-distinctive call completed the experience. One male seemed particularly popular and was followed by a swarm of six females. As we returned towards the camp for departure, Blue Jewel-Babbler called, a female Blyth’s Hornbill was seen inside her barricaded nest and a male Rufous-bellied Kookaburra sat in the open. Before leaving Nimbokrang we stopped for two roosting Papuan Frogmouths and over/by Lake Sentani Peregrine Falcon, Channel-billed Cuckoo and Tree Martin were seen.
August 17th: Morning flight (35 minutes) to Wamena, where the air was markedly fresher as we now landed at 1600 m, and men dressed in traditional outfits welcomed us outside the airport. We checked in at our hotel and had a relaxed mid-day, before going up to Baliem Valley Resort (2000 m) in the afternoon. Birdwatching was first carried out in the agricultural valley, where Papuan Harrier, Pied Chat and Black-breasted Munia added to the list. From the resort bar balcony an impressive view of the valley far below was offered. Red-collared Myzomelas were plentiful at the edge of the small forest and a pair of Superb Bird-of-paradise made a brief visit.
August 18th: Maria had some problems getting the permits for visiting Lake Habbema, as there was a new military officer in Wamena, and for some (however not unique) reason birdwatchers were considered potential spies (probably because of the valuable minerals in Snow Mountains). In the end no bribes were paid and we could start the four hours drive at 6.45 a.m. It was a rough ride and 4WD definitely necessary. A birding stop at about mid-way produced Hooded Cuckoo-shrike and Buff-faced Scrubwren, and further up we had Orange-billed Lorikeet, Crested Berrypecker and a cute mammal, probably Rotschild’s Woolly-Rat. After passing the tree line Alpine Pipit and Island Thrush entered the scene and a pair of the endemic Snow Mountain Quail could be watched at close range. Camp was set beside the road at 3300 m. We could look down at Lake Habbema 300 m below, where Eurasian Coots seemed to thrive, although far away from “home”. When cloud cover permitted, the snow covered Mt. Trikora, Papua’s second highest top at 4750 m, was a spectacular sight on the other side of the lake. We felt like we were camping on top of the world, or at least in the highest parts of New Guinea!
Shortly after leaving for a walk along the road, sun shifted into heavy rain threatening to flood our tents. We were saved by our local crew, which fast and heroically dug a canal leading the water away. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the hillside below the road a few hundred metres from the camp. The scrub and bushes attracted quite a number of species being new to us. The star bird was obviously Splendid Astrapia, as three individuals of this shining species were watched for long periods, often first discovered by distinctive call. Another favourite was still the Crested Berrypecker, one of the most common species at this altitude. Best represented family was certainly Meliphagidae; Common Smoky, Orange-cheeked, Black-throated and Grey-streaked Honeyeater, Short-bearded and Belford’s Melidectes all being easily found. New Guinea Thornbill was perhaps not a competitor for “bird-of-the-day”, but still nice to see as it is the only Acanthiza on Papua.
August 19th: Even long before dawn our crew was up to set fire and prepare breakfast. Although considered “Vikings” by some, we had to admit the morning was quite cold (9°C), but we were soon warmed up walking down the partly steep hillside towards the valley floor. Our destination was the forest patch south of Lake Habbema. We stopped for Salvadori’s Teal (a dabbling duck with diving habits), but otherwise we tried to reach the target soon enough to get as much morning activity there as possible. It didn’t take long before the first individual of the particularly wanted MacGregor’s Bird-of-paradise was located in a dead tree with hanging lichens and moss. Now the walk was successful already! Further on we stayed for a while on a small hill and eventually superb views in the morning sun was obtained by this enigmatic species, nowadays probably best referred to as a Honeyeater. A Black-mantled Goshawk made a brief but popular appearance. Satisfied we followed the forest edge a bit, but since there was no easy way around or through, we decided to start climbing back up to the camp. Before that we did a short sortie inside the fairly dense forest patch. This resulted in nice encounters with the charismatic White-winged Robin, cute Mountain Robins travelling through the canopy in small groups, and both sexes of Fan-tailed Berrypecker. In the afternoon we were transported further up the road to 3500 m. Walking down from there we had splendid observations of tame and beautiful Plum-faced Lorikeets, as well as slow-motioned Painted Tiger-Parrots, before we jumped in the vehicle again to drive back to the camp.
August 20th: This day was mostly cloudy but also had its share of mist, rain and sun. We birded down the road in slow mode, all feeling worried and sad as Shita had got the word that Kris’ time was running out, so she had to leave for Manokwari. We did our best to keep heads up and had excellent views of Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Painted Tiger-Parrot, Plum-faced Lorikeet, Alpine Pipit, Sooty Melidectes, Grey-streaked Honeyeater, Crested Berrypecker and, not the least, MacGregor’s Bird-of-paradise. The last was easily heard at long distance due to heavy wing beats, and seemed too heavy to gain height when flying. Its perhaps not so graceful flight, reminiscent of a grouse, was compensated by the large golden flashlights in the exposed primaries. New species for the trip were Pacific Black Duck, Great Woodswallow and Tawny Grassbird. At dusk we unsuccessfully tried for Rufous Woodcock.
August 21st: Early packing and break-up from the camping site to do birding along the descent to Wamena. We were again impressed by what the crew achieved in cooking services, and even under cold/wet circumstances they all made astonishing efforts making everything as comfortable as possible for us. It was a clear crisp morning, giving some last breath-taking views of this spectacular mountainous region. Soon after departure a pair of Snow Mountain Quail stood on the road. The first organized stop, in a forest patch with impressive trees, was well rewarded by a group of Black Sittellas eventually offering excellent views. Mountain Firetail and Sooty Melidectes also seemed quite easy to get here. Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoo, Hooded Cuckoo-shrike, Mountain Robin, White-winged Robin, Grey-streaked Honeyeater, New Guinea Thornbill, Fan-tailed Berrypecker and Splendid Astrapia were also seen. At lower altitude we had Papuan Lorikeet (two red and two black individuals together), Black-throated Robin, Dimorphic Fantail, Canary Flycatcher and a party of Scrubwrens (three species). Wamena was reached at 2 p.m.
August 22nd: Flight from Wamena to Jayapura (37 minutes), checking in again at Hotel Sentani. Afternoon visit to the other side of the Papua New Guinea border, where we bought genuine Papua t-shirts etc. (Variable) Grey Goshawk and Rainbow Bee-eater were seen in the neighbouring country, with female Lesser BOP, Yellow-faced and Golden Myna close to the border. Some rice fields along the road produced Pacific Golden Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Pacific Baza (in display flight, looking like a Wood Pigeon). Large-tailed Nightjar called outside the hotel in the evening.
August 23rd: After excellent, but sometimes pretty rough birding at Batanta/Salawati, Arfak Mountains, Nimbokrang and Lake Habbema, it was comfortable to end up with an easy place such as Biak. We stayed in Biak Beach Hotel and went birding mornings and afternoons for four consecutive days. We concentrated on two areas, one approximately 50 km ENE of Biak City and one about the same distance in a northerly direction. Both locations were known by Shita, who was now back with our group, having produced good birding in the past. There is still some fairly intact secondary forest here, however constantly decreasing.
Our main target birds were the specialities Biak Scrubfowl, Biak Red Lory, Geelvink Pygmy-Parrot, Biak Coucal, Biak Scops-Owl, Biak Paradise-Kingfisher, Biak Black Flycatcher, Biak Gerygone, Biak White-eye and Long-tailed Starling. Also hoped for were Yellow-bibbed Fruit-Dove and Red-fronted Lorikeet, while Biak Monarch was considered out of reach.
The first afternoon we satisfied our eagerness to see the beautiful Paradise-Kingfisher, which seemed fairly common and quite easily attracted by tape. Further along the road stunning Claret-breasted Fruit-Doves and lovely Moustached Treeswifts attracted our attention. Also notable were five Pacific Golden Plovers (four adults and one juvenile) on a stony field. Long-tailed Starling was an abundant species and just before a rain storm our first Red Lories passed by. As goes for many parrots in New Guinea, we never saw them sitting, but during the next three days we had splendid views of approximately 50-70 flying birds in total.
August 24th: On the next morning we drove further along the same track. Paradise-Kingfishers were present, showing nicely without playback on several occasions. Another two endemics, the Scrubfowl and the Coucal, were heard together with Hooded Pitta, but we never managed to see either of them. Pacific Baza and Superb Fruit-Dove were easier to locate visually, but when a Biak Gerygone showed up all attention was given to this little brown job. At first glance it appeared to have a lot of yellow underneath. However, it soon became evident that the sunlight had exaggerated this feature, and close investigation showed typical yellowish flanks and lower belly contrasting with whitish breast and throat. The tail had a dark subterminal band and pale tip. Appearance, as well as head markings, looked identical to Large-billed Gerygone.
Afternoon birding revealed several topics of taxonomic interest. The Spice Imperial-Pigeons in Geelvink Bay are known to miss the bill knob otherwise accredited to this species, but when two sitting individuals showed yellow iris and white feathering at base of the bill our thoughts were drawn towards Elegant Imperial-Pigeon. In the end Elegant was ruled out by whitish underwing coverts together with contrast between grey head/breast to warmer belly.
Next bird to be analysed was a Northern Fantail. The race occurring here has a much more black-and-white plumage compared to the mainland forms, which appear more grey and buff. Our bird on Biak had a broad and distinct blackish breast band, white chin and belly as well as a demarcated white supercilium. Still occupied by the Fantail our first good view of a male ‘Biak Golden Monarch’ was obtained. We also looked closely at the ‘Biak Black-browed Triller’, of which some individuals (especially males) show white wing markings almost as extensive as in White-winged Triller.
After having troubled our minds with taxonomic issues we awaited the sunset at a clearing, watching local hunters looking for prey. Just behind the back of them a Rufous-tailed Bush-hen sneaked out of the vegetation and was soon followed into cover by a juvenile. Satisfied with the situation we headed for a place holding Biak Scops-Owl. As soon as darkness arrived the barking call was heard, first in the distance but eventually we stood right under the same tree. At that time the owl called with an agitated “po-po-po-po-po…” (similar to other Otus species in South America).
August 25th: Last morning at the first forest patch we tried walking on a dirt track crossing through. A singing male Biak Black Flycatcher showed briefly and we had a Gurney’s Eagle sitting/flying just above our heads. A nesting pair of Long-tailed Buzzards was watched from a distance. Feeling we wouldn’t get much more out of this place, we changed to another locality north of Biak City in the afternoon. This turned out to be a winning strategy. The forest here was more open (by logging), which made birds easier to see, and the habitat seemed to hold somewhat different birds than the denser forest visited earlier. Almost immediately a Biak Black Flycatcher nest, with male and female feeding three chicks, was found and several groups of Biak White-eyes showed up. (The eye ring is just as inconspicuous as in the book, but unlike the painting in the field guide the yellow underneath is restricted to the undertail coverts, which makes the pale colour sometimes even hard to see at all.) As White-eyes in general this species was often picked up by call, perhaps a bit softer and more melodious than many other Zosterops. Two encounters of unidentified Gerygones should also be mentioned. A pair with following young looked similar to the Yellow-bellied Gerygones we’d seen at Batanta/Salawati and Nimbokrang, while another bird gave the impression of a female Fairy Gerygone (perhaps with a browner back). This suggests, but doesn’t confirm, the suspicions that there’s an unknown taxon of Gerygone on Biak. Finally a splendid male Yellow-bibbed Fruit-Dove could be scoped.
August 26th: Returning to the clearing at the end of the road the next morning 25 Dollarbirds, presumably after having roosted together, made us feel like being on a migration spot. Groups of White-eyes also passed by and a Gould’s Bronze-Cuckoo had its breakfast just a few metres away. Several Cuckoo-shrikes seen throughout the whole morning really caused a lot of confusion. Even though watched very carefully, we’re still not able to securely identify them to species. The males looked like the Black Cuckoo-shrikes seen in Nimbokrang (which differed from the plate in showing grey back with black-tipped tertials). Their call was also reminiscent of that species, although the more numerous down-slurred clear whistling notes were a bit stronger and presented at decreasing speed. The only female seen certainly looked like a Black Cuckoo-shrike too. Highly respected authorities have pointed out that the Cicadabird on Biak is blackish underneath, but as both male and female Cicadabird were observed the day before we don’t think we could have mistaken that species. Male Cicadabird would have shown a grey tail with black terminal band, its call should have been different and the female not as chestnut (and unbarred). Therefore, we still think there were Black Cuckoo-shrikes on Biak, but this would need further confirmation as this species is not supposed to be there.
Our last birding effort in the afternoon produced fantastic observations of a Geelvink Pygmy-Parrot pair making us all very happy and satisfied with our stay. We had recorded 64 species on Biak, among others 11 of our 13 target birds (missing only Red-fronted Lorikeet and Biak Monarch), and totally 295 on the trip. We celebrated with soft ice cream in a supermarket and dinner outside in front of the hotel. It felt kind of sad that tomorrow was going to break up our “family”, but we’ll keep the memory of this trip in our hearts forever!
August 27th-28th: Gert was staying a few days more before continuing to Java, so after breakfast he waved us all goodbye. Donald and Henrik’s flight for Numfor was delayed, so the five of us going home found them still waiting when our flight left for Ujung Pandang and then to Jakarta. From there we flew via Singapore and Frankfurt to Stockholm, arriving at 10 o’clock (33 hours after leaving Biak Beach Hotel).
Species list
1. Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel   Observed close to Salawati.
2. Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos   1 ex Salawati.
3. Great Egret Egretta alba   Totally 7 birds seen on 3 locations.
4. Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia   The common white Egret in West Papua.
5. Eastern Reef-Heron Egretta sacra   1 dark morph Senapang Island, 1 white morph close to Manokwari.
6. Rufous Night-Heron Nycticorax caledonicus   1 by the pond on Salawati.
7. Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata   Totally 7 birds seen on 4 locations.
8. Osprey Pandion haliaetus   Seen on Batanta and Biak. This subspecies (cristatus) rnight be a species of its own right according to DNA. It’s also smaller and whiter on breast and head.
9. Long-tailed Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda   Totally 7 birds seen on 4 locations.
10. Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus   Common.
11. White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster   Noted on Batanta and Salawati.
12. Eastern Marsh (Papuan) Harrier   Circus spilonotus (C spilothorax)   Only in Wamena and Lake Habbema area. Must be a split…
13. Black-mantled Goshawk Accipiter melanochlamys   1 adult Arfak, 1 adult Lake Habbema.
14. Grey-headed Goshawk Accipiter poliocephalus   1 seen Nimbokrang.
15. Variable Goshawk Accipiter hiogaster (A novaehollandiae) Common. Moluccan and New Guinea birds are now considered to be two separate species. Previously split from Grey Goshawk in Australia.
16. Gurney’s Eagle Aquila gurneyi   A young bird seen at SP1 and some more individuals on Biak. Almost an endemic.
17. New Guinea Harpy-Eagle Harpyopsis novaeguineae   1 bird between Syioubrig and Manokwari (km 14). (Daniel)
18. Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides   1 bird well studied between Syioubrig and Manokwari (km 14).
19. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus   1 adult seen at Lake Sentani; race ernesti as in the Philippines.
20. Spotted Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna guttata   7 birds in the pond on Salawati.
21. Wandering Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna arcuata   1 bird seen in a pond in Nimbokrang. (Gert)
22. White-headed Shelduck Tadorna radjah   2 birds seen by the beach of Salawati. (Sören J.)
23. Salvadori’s Teal Salvadorina waigiuensis   Fair numbers of this river specialist in the calm waters of Lake Habbema.
24. Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa   A few in marshlands close to Lake Habbema.
25. Biak Scrubfowl Megapodius geelvinkianus   Heard Biak.
26. Red-billed Brush-Turkey Talegalla cuvieri   Heard on Batanta.
27. Brown-collared Brush-Turkey Talegalla jobiensis   Heard and an active mound seen in Nimbokrang.
28. Snow Mountain Quail Anurophasis monorthonyx   Totally 4 birds seen on 3 days in Snow Mountains. Not really a Quail, but a species of a monotypic genus.
29. King Quail Coturnix chinensis   1 bird flushed from the road on the way up to Lake Habbema.
30. Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis   1 bird in a small marsh at Sorong Airport. (Almost the first bird we saw on New Guinea.) This is the common rail in NG.
31. Eurasian Coot Fulica atra   Only seen at Lake Habbema, where common. Coots in New Guinea (race novaeguinea) are high altitude birds, like coots in South America. This is not in accordance with the ecology/habitat of the species in the rest of Eurasia. -Did anyone study the New Guinea race? Perhaps a split?
32. Rufous-tailed Bush-hen Amaurornis moluccana   Heard in Arfak and Nimbokrang. Seen well on Biak, where two birds crossed the road just in front of us. The first one looked normal with rufous under-tail. The second was probably a juvenile which was all dark (including bill and legs).
33. Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva   4 adults and 1 juvenile in a stony field on Biak on the 23rd of August. Also 4 adults in flooded rice fields close to Jayapura.
34. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola   Small numbers in flooded rice fields close to Jayapura.
35. Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata   Small numbers in flooded rice fields close to Jayapura.
36. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos   A few on Batanta, Salawati and close to Jayapura.
37. Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana   A flock of 15 close to Senapang Island.
38. Bridled Tern Sterna anaethetus   15 birds seen from Biak Beach Hotel.
39. Common Tern Sterna hirundo   A small flock close to Senapang Island, singles at Sorong and Biak.
40. Greater Crested Tern Sterna bergii   A few birds at Senapang Island, Sorong and Biak.
41. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida   A juvenile bird over the small marsh (with the rail) at Sorong Airport.
42. Rock Pigeon Columba livia   A few, but not many, observations in cities.
43. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis   Seen close to Jayapura and on Biak, close to human housing. Probably introduced.
44. Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia nigrirostris   Sympatric with Brown Cuckoo-dove in Arfak.
45. Brown Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia amboinensis   The most common of the New Guinea Cuckoo-doves.
46. Great Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtsi   Singles Nimbokrang and Biak.
47. Stephan’s Ground-Dove Chalcophaps stephani   Singles Nimbokrang.
48. Emerald Ground-Dove Chalcophaps indica minima   Singles Biak.
49. Bronze Ground-Dove Gallicolumba beccarii   Seen in Arfak and en route to Lake Habbema.
50. Wompoo Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus magnificus   At least 10 birds seen on Batanta and in Nimbokrang respectively.
51. Ornate Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus ornatus   10 birds at SP1, close to Manokwari. The local race.
52. Superb Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus superbus   2 males and 1 female on Biak.
53. Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus   One bird in Nimbokrang.
54. Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus perlatus   One bird on Batanta (at the Red BOP display site).
55. Coronated Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus coronulatus   2 birds in Nimbokrang.
56. White-breasted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus rivoli   The mountain race seen in Arfak; 1 male seen incubating.
57. Yellow-bibbed Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus solomonensis   Locally common on Biak.
58. Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus viridis   10 birds en route to Syioubrig (at km 14), 1 male SP1, locally common on Biak.
59. Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus iozonus   The common lowland Fruit-dove, very common in Nimbokrang.
60. Spice Imperial Pigeon Ducula myristicivora   Obviously many ornithologists before us have been confused by the birds on Biak. They have white feathering at base of bill, pale underwing coverts, yellow iris and no knobb on top of the bill. This is the Geelvink Bay subspecies geelvinkiana. The ones we saw in Senapang Island had bill knobb and (possibly) darker underwing coverts.
61. Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon Ducula rufigaster   Singles in Nimbokrang.
62. Rufescent Imperial Pigeon Ducula chalconota   Only one BVD (“better-view-desired”) and some heard, in Arfak.
63. Pinon Imperial Pigeon Ducula pinon   The common Ducula species of low altitudes.
64. Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon Ducula zoeae   Observed at Makbon and in Nimbokrang.
65. Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii   One flock of at least 30 individuals chased by Black-mantled Goshawk at Syioubrig.   Otherwise only singles and small flocks (less than 15 birds) seen in Arfak.
66. Brown Lory Chalcopsitta duivenbodei   A few small afternoon flocks flew over in Nimbokrang.
67. Dusky Lory Pseudeos fuscata   A few afternoon flocks flew over in Nimbokrang.
68. Biak Red Lory Eos cyanogenia   Seen in small flocks darting overhead. Locally not uncommon.
69. Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus   The common lowland Lorikeet, e.g. in Nimbokrang and on Biak.
70. Western Black-capped Lory Lorius lory   Observed in several locations in lowlands and hills.
71. Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou   Flocks seen in Arfak, over 1700 m above sea level. En route from Lake Haberna to Wamena some of us enjoyed 2 black morph individuals in a small flock.
72. Josephine’s Lorikeet Charmosyna josefinae   Singles in Arfak.
73. Plum-faced Lorikeet Oreopsittacus arfaki   Seen in Arfak Mountains, but most memorable (and prolonged) observations were obtained around Lake Habbema, where the species is apparently common.
74. Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii   Common around Lake Habbema, good views also in Arfak.
75. Orange-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus pullicauda   This is the real high altitude species, absent in Arfak and only seen around Lake Habbema.
76. Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus   This impressive species was seen on Batanta, at Makbon and in Nimbokrang.
77. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita   Common. Seen up to 1500 m above sea level.
78. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot   Cyclopsitta diophthalma Fairly common in lowland forests.
[Salvadori’s Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris salvadorii   Possibly seen and heard in Nimbokrang.]
79. Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta keiensis   Totally about 10 birds at SP1. Brilliant scope views of a pair thanks to Anita.
80. Geelvink Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta geelvinkiana   Some very good views of this Geelvink endemic on Biak.
81. Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta bruijnii   Seen in Arfak Mountains.
82. Brehm’s Tiger-Parrot Psittacella brehmii   1 female admired in Arfak.
83. Painted Tiger-Parrot Psittacella picta   Totally almost 10 (single) birds around Lake Habbema. Several fantastic views.
84. Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi   Common. Seen well on Batanta, at Makbon and in Nimbokrang.
85. Great-billed Parrot Tanygnathus megalorynchos   10 birds on Senapang Island. This diminishing species is a small island specialist in New Guinea. It’s more common on Halmahera, but even there local.
86. Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus   Common in lowlands, where several stunning views of this beauty were obtained. In PNG number of females in many areas is 1 to 5 due to a cage bird demand for fernales. But not so in West Papua!
87. Vulturine Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus   A pair flying over high above in Arfak Mountains at >1600 m above sea level. This species has also suffered a lot from cage bird industry.
88. Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus   Very common lowland Cuckoo.
89. Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis   This high altitude species was common around Lake Habbema. It has conspicuous white tailcorners and white wingband on the underside of the wing. 1 individual also seen in Arfak.
90. Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis castaneiventris   Typically below 1500 meter. Observed in Arfak.
91. Gould’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx russatus misoriensis   Taxonomy uncertain. 1 bird seen on Biak, where presumably rare.
92. White-eared Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx meyeri   Fairly common around Syioubrig. The red-fronted forehead of the female seen under good circumstances.
93. Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx ruficollis   3 birds together at Syioubrig, also seen well at Lake Habbema.
94. Common Koel Eudynamys scolopacea   Heard Syioubrig and SP1.
95. Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva   Heard Nimbokrang.
96. Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae   1 bird flying by at Lake Sentani.
97. Great Black Coucal Centropus menbeki   2 heard by the pond on Salawati. Common in Nimbokrang, where also seen a couple of times.
98. Biak Coucal Centropus chalybeus   Unfortunately only heard.
99. Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa   he “incoming bomb” call heard at Garden House above Syioubrig.
100. Biak Scops-Owl Otus beccarii   This resent split from Mollucan Scops-Owl was heard only.
101. Papuan Boobook Ninox theomacha   One seen briefly in Arfak. Also heard at night.
102. Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis   A pair seen well in Nimbokrang Village. Heard Batanta, where a seen Papuan/Marbled Frogmouth was left unidentified.
103. Feline Owlet-Nightjar Aegotheles insignis   Seen on day roost close to Garden House and elected “Bird-of-the-trip!” -Way ahead! This species can fold out two eye-brows as extensions above the eyes, shaped a bit like the roof of a Pagoda. The function of these - from the evolutionary perspective - where discussed. Maybe reflexes from the eyes can not be seen by Goshawks from above? Of six roosting Owlet-Nightjars (including the extension) all sat under leaf cover, with close branches behind. Zeth thinks this is precaution behaviour against Goshawk predation. And they sure are hard to find… -Anyway, what a bird!
104. Mountain Owlet-Nightjar Aegotheles albertisi   2 seen roosting close to Garden House.
105. Papuan Nightjar Eurostopodus papuensis   Seen briefly at dusk in Nimbokrang.
106. Mountain Nightjar Eurostopodus archboldi   A few brief observations at dusk at Lake Habbema.
107. Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus   Seen and heard close to Hotel Sentani Indah, Jayapura.
108. Uniform Swiftlet Aerodramus vanikorensis   The common lowland Swiftlet.
109. Mountain Swiftlet Aerodramus hirundinaceus   We found these above 1500 m. Perhaps a bit larger and with paler secondaries?
110. Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta   Common, from sea level to high altitudes, but usually in low numbers.
111. Papuan Spine-tailed Swift Mearnsia novaeguineae   1 at Makbon, 3 on Senapang Island and 1 on Biak.
112. Moustached Treeswift Hemiprocne mystacea   Present on Batanta and Biak.
113. Common Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera galatea   One brief fly-by observation, otherwise only heard on Batanta/Salawati and in Nimbokrang.
114. Biak Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera riedelii   Seemed to be locally common on Biak.
115. Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina   Only heard in Nimbokrang.
116. Shovel-billed Kingfisher Clytoceyx rex   A pre-dawn duet was heard in Nimbokrang.
117. Blue-black Kingfisher Halcyon nigrocyanea   One seen, several heard, in Nimbokrang.
118. Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta   Common in lowlands.
119. Beach Kingfisher Halcyon saurophaga   3 birds (of nominate race) on Senapang Island.
120. Yellow-billed Kingfisher Syma torotoro   Heard on Salawati, at SP1 and in Nimbokrang.
121. Variable Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus   Spotlighted in darkness at close range on Batanta, pair seen by nest hole in sandbank on Salawati and family group with begging juveniles in Nimbokrang.
122. Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea   1 bird seen briefly in Nimbokrang.
123. Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud   Good views of a female on Batanta and a male in Nimbokrang. Many heard in lowland forests.
124. Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus   Common in lowlands.
125. Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis   Common in lowlands and lower hills.
126. Blyth’s Hornbill Aceros plicatus   Frequent in forested habitats up to 1500 m. Also seen on Biak (escapes?).
127. Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida   Heard on Batanta and Biak. A pair seen well on Salawati.
128. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica   A few singles seen.
129. Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica   The common swallow.
130. Tree Martin Hirundo nigricans   2+2 seen at Sentani Lake.
131. Alpine Pipit Anthus gutturalis   Only from about 3000 rn at Lake Habbema. Seemed to favour the gravel roadside.
132. Hooded Cuckoo-shrike Coracina longicauda   One single and a family group below Lake Habbema. A high altitude species.
133. Boyer’s Cuckoo-shrike Coracina boyeri   Seen in lowlands and lower hills at Makbon, SP1 and on Batanta.
134. Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris   Male and female of the Biak race meyerii seen. Male resembles New Guinea Cuckoo-shrike, but still dark grey.
135. New Guinea Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melas (C melaena)   Common in Nimbokrang.
136. White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina papuensis   2 Batanta, 1 Salawati, 1 PNG border.
137. Grey-headed Cuckoo-shrike Coracina schisticeps   Male and female at Makbon.
138. Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina montana   2 en route from Lake Habbema to Wamena. The common Cuckoo-shrike in Arfak Mountains.
139. Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-shrike Coracina lineata   1 male between Syioubrig and Manokwari (km 14).
140. Golden Cuckoo-shrike Campochaera sloetii   2 individuals of this smart species were seen at SP1, close to Manokwari. 2 birds heard in Nimbokrang.
141. Black-browed Triller Lalage atrovirens   Common in Nimbokrang, but also seen at Makbon. The race on Biak is common and resembles White-winged Triller.
142. Pied Chat Saxicola caprata   Common in the Baliem Valley, Wamena.
143. Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus   Another high altitude bird, common around Lake Habbema.
144. Spotted Jewel-Babbler Ptilorrhoa leucosticta   Seen, and much enjoyed, by most people in Arfak.
145. Blue Jewel-Babbler Ptilorrhoa caerulescens   Heard only in Nimbokrang.
146. Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris   Heard, seen by some, in Arfak.
147. Rufous Babbler Pomatostomus isidorei   3 seen by most people in Nimbokrang.
148. Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster   This introduced species was not uncommon in Biak.
149. Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis   Heard, seen by Daniel, at Lake Habbema.
150. Island Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephalus   Common as soon as we gained altitude.
151. White-shouldered Fairy-Wren Malurus alboscapulatus   Fairly common in Arfak and Baliem Valley.
152. Orange-crowned Fairy-Wren Clytomyias insignis   2 birds of this difficult species showed well in Arfak.
153. Emperor Fairy-Wren Malurus cyanocephalus   Seen at Makbon, in Nimbokrang and on Biak. A real beauty!
154. Rusty Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis murina   Heard only in lowlands and lower hills.
155. Mountain Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis robusta   Many heard, one seen, in Arfak.
156. Perplexing Scrubwren Sericornis virgatus   Not more then a handful in Arfak, at 1500 m above sea level.
157. Large Scrubwren Sericornis nouhuysi   A few seen above 1700 m in Arfak and below Lake Habbema.
158. Buff-faced Scrubwren Sericornis perspicillatus   Seen at Baliem Valley Resort and en route between Wamena and Lake Habbema, at about 2000 m.
159. Vogelkop Scrubwren Sericornis rufescens   The common Scrubwren of Arfak Mountains.
160. Papuan Scrubwren Sericornis papuensis   Seen on the way down “Scrubwren Road” from Lake Habbema.
161. New Guinea Thornbill Acanthiza murina   This charismatic bird was common above 2500 m around Lake Habbema.
162. Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster   Seen on Batanta, Salawati and in Nimbokrang.
163. Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronata   A well discussed canopy species, difficult to see. Song supposed to be typical, recalling Black Berrypecker.
164. Large-billed Gerygone Gerygone magnirostris   Seen in Nimbokrang, where also noted building nest.
165. Biak Gerygone Gerygone hypoxantha   Split from Large-billed with yellowish sides. Seen very well on a few occasions.
166. Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa   1 male of northern race in Nimbokrang. (Henrik)
167. Mangrove Gerygone Gerygone levigaster   Observed (heard and seen briefly) in mangroves close to Manokwari.
168. Brown-breasted Gerygone Gerygone ruficollis   The common high altitude Gerygone around Lake Habbema and in Arfak Mountains.
169. White-breasted Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax   Good views obtained in Nimbokrang.
170. Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha   Seen a few times in Arfak and below Lake Habbema.
171. Black Fantail Rhipidura atra   A common bird in its altitude. Seen in Arfak and at Baliem Valley Resort.
172. Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata   Common in Arfak and around/below Lake Haberna.
173. Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris   Fairly common in lowlands. Biak race kordensis (more distinctly black and white, showing obvious supercilium) is quite different from others seen in West Papua.
174. Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys   Common around human settlements in lowlands.
175. Black Monarch Monarcha axillaris   2 birds noted in Arfak. A plumage mimic of Black Fantail, with which it is often seen.
176. Spot-winged Monarch Monarcha guttula   Views on Batanta and in Nimbokrang left none disappointed.
177. Golden Monarch Monarcha chrysomela   Several observations in lowlands. Biak race somewhat different and might be a candidate for future split.
178. Frilled Monarch Arses telescophthalmus   Common on Batanta.
179. Ochre-collared Monarch Arses insularis   A few heard, at least one seen in Nimbokrang.
180. Biak Black Flycatcher Myiagra atra   A nest with 3 chicks on a horizontal branch approximately 4 m above ground was visited by feeding male and female. The habitat was rather open roadside with low trees. Additional 4 single birds seen on Biak.
181. Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus   Common in Arfak. Seen en route from Lake Habbema to Wamena.
182. Yellow-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus flaviventer   1 bird on Batanta.
183. Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto   A few birds seen and heard, in Nimbokrang and on Biak.
184. Canary Flycatcher Microeca papuana   Seen in Arfak and below Lake Habbema.
185. Garnet Robin Eugerygone rubra   This smart little bird was seen a few times in Arfak.
186. Mountain Robin Petroica bivittata   This high altitude species was seen twice around Lake Habbema, both times in small groups of 4-5 birds.
187. Ashy Robin Poecilodryas albispecularis   Someone raised the absurd question: “-Can we tick an egg?” The bird stadium only heard…
188. Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca   2 seen well, several heard, in Nimbokrang.
189. Black-throated Robin Poecilodryas albonotata   Seen well in Arfak and Lake Habbema area.
190. Lesser Ground Robin Amalocichla incerta   Many heard, seen by some in Arfak. Also heard en route from Wamena to Lake Habbema.
191. White-winged Robin Peneothello sigillatus   Several seen in high altitude forest in Lake Habbema area. Smashing bird!
192. Blue Grey Robin Peneothello cyanus   Common in Arfak, but sometimes difficult to see. 1 heard en route from Wamena to Lake Habbema.
193. Green-backed Robin Pachycephalopsis hattamensis   1 seen, several heard, in Arfak.
194. Smoky Robin Peneothello cryptoleucus   2 individuals at 2100 m in Arfak, where endemic. Better bird then expected!
195. Dwarf Whistler Pachycare flavogrisea   Heard and seen briefly at Syioubrig. Superb views of a pair on the way down from Arfak.
196. Mottled Whistler Rhagologus leucostigma   This rare species was seen by most people in Arfak.
197. Common Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis   Two specimens of the isolated Baliem Valley population were seen.
198. Lorentz’s Whistler Pachycephala lorentzi   Seen around Lake Habbema and one bird in Arfak.
199. Sclater’s Whistler Pachycephala soror   Splendid males in Arfak and Snow Mountains.
200. Vogelkop Whistler Pachycephala meyeri   Only a few birds seen with certainty in Arfak.
201. Regent Whistler Pachycephala schlegelii   Several birds in Arfak and one male en route from Lake Habbema to Wamena.
202. Rufous-naped Whistler Pachycephala rufinucha   Apparently fairly common in Arfak and Snow Mountains.
203. Little Shrike-Thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha   1 bird at Syioubrig, otherwise mostly seen in Nimbokrang, where common.
204. Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dicrous   1 heard in Arfak. This bird is poisonous!
205. Variable Pitohui Pitohui kirhocephalus   About 25 birds seen and heard at SP1, close to Manokwari.
206. Rusty Pitohui Pitohui ferrugineus   1 seen, another heard, in Nimbokrang.
207. Black Pitohui Pitohui nigrescens   A pair seen just above Syioubrig.
208. Varied (Papuan) Sittella Daphoenositta chrysoptera (D. papuensis)   A flock seen well at the Nadim Ridge above Syioubrig at 2100­ m.
209. Black Sittella Daphoenositta miranda   A couple of obliging flocks in Lake Habbema area.
210. Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens   Apparently fairly common in Arfak, where several heard. One male seen well close to “Attenborough Camp”. 1 heard en route from Wamena to Lake Habbema.
211. Black Berrypecker Melanocharis nigra   1 female in Syioubrig. (Daniel)
212. Mid-mountain Berrypecker Melanocharis longicauda   1 male en route to Lake Habbema. Rare?
213. Fan-tailed Berrypecker Melanocharis versteri   Fairly common around Lake Habbema.
214. Crested Berrypecker Paramythia montium   Common in Lake Habbema area (especially compared with circumstances in PNG).
215. Tit Berrypecker Oreocharis arfaki   A few observations in Arfak.
216. Papuan Flowerpecker Dicaeum pectorale   Common, mostly in lowlands. We don’t split this species since there is most often considered just one Flowerpecker in the region. Many birds even in Arfak have red markings somewhere…
217. Black Sunbird Nectarinia aspasia   Common in lowlands.
218. Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis   Common in lowlands.
219. Biak White-eye Zosterops mysorensis   Seen at several occasions, including some excellent and prolonged views.
220. Western Mountain White-eye Zosterops fuscicapilla   Common in Arfak, as well as at Baliem Valley Resort and en route to Lake Habbema.
221. New Guinea White-eye Zosterops novaeguineae   A few seen at 1500 m in Arfak.
222. Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus   Seen on Salawati, in Arfak and Nimbokrang.
223. Yellow-bellied Longbill Toxorhamphus novaeguineae   Seen on Batanta, Salawati and in Syioubrig.
224. Dwarf Honeyeater Toxorhamphus iliolophus   A few seen around Syioubrig.
225. Pygmy Honeyeater Oedistoma pygmaeum   1 in Syioubrig.
226. Mountain Red-headed Myzomela Myzomela adolphinae   A few birds in Arfak.
227. Red-collared Myzomela Myzomela rosenbergii   A couple of birds in Arfak, common at Baliem Valley Resort and Lake Habbema.
228. Red-throated Myzomela Myzomela eques   1 at the pond on Salawati.
229. Mountain Meliphaga Meliphaga orientalis   Arfak.
230. Scrub White-eared Meliphaga Meliphaga albonotata   1 bird at SP1, close to Manokwari.
231. Puff-backed Meliphaga Meliphaga aruensis   (Leader only)   Shita saw 1 on Salawati, as we were occupied looking for King BOP.
232. Mimic Meliphaga Meliphaga analoga   The common Meliphaga of West Papuan lowlands.
233. Varied Honeyeater Lichenostomus versicolor   2 on Senapang Island.
234. Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfrenatus   Fairly common around Lake Habbema.
235. Orange-cheeked Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysogenys   This species is restricted to Snow Mountains, where it was common.
236. Plain Honeyeater Pycnopygius ixoides   2 birds at Makbon.
237. Green-backed Honeyeater Glycichaera fallax   2 birds at Makbon.
238. Spotted Honeyeater Xanthotis polygramma   2 in low trees by the pond on Salawati.
239. Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer   Fairly common; seen on Salawati, at SP1 and in Nimbokrang.
240. Marbled Honeyeater Pycnopygius cinereus   1 bird in Arfak.
241. Meyer’s Friarbird Philemon meyeri   Fairly common Nimbokrang.
242. Helmeted (New Guinea) Friarbird Philemon buceroides (Ph novaeguineae)   The common Friarbird in lowlands and hills.
243. Rufous-sided Honeyeater Ptiloprora erythropleura   Approximately 10 birds of this West NG endemic were seen well in Arfak.
244. Dark-backed Honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata   Approximately 10 birds were seen daily around Lake Habbema.
245. Sooty Melidectes Melidectes fuscus   3+5 around Lake Habbema. Another high altitude bird of Snow Mountains.
246. Short-bearded Melidectes Melidectes nouhuysi   Common in Lake Habbema area.
247. Vogelkop Melidectes Melidectes leucostephes   Common in Arfak. Seen close the head pattern is special!
248. Cinnamon-browed Melidectes Melidectes ochromelas   (Leader only) Untu saw 1 bird at Nadim Ridge in Arfak.
249. Belford’s Melidectes Melidectes belfordi   Common Lake Habbema. Birding Papua is difficult but you can’t miss this one…
250. Ornate Melidectes Melidectes torquatus   A pair seen in Arfak. Nice bird!
251. Western Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes gymnops   Common in Arfak.
252. Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus   Common in Snow Mountains.
253. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa   Approximately 10 birds were seen in Arfak, 1 en route to Lake Habbema.
254. Streak-headed Mannikin Lonchura tristissima   Seen several times in Syioubrig, 8 birds in Nimbokrang.
255. Western Alpine Mannikin Lonchura montana   A few around Lake Habbema.
256. Black-breasted Mannikin Lonchura teerinki   Seen in Baliem Valley, even a big flock.
257. Mountain Firetail Oreostruthus fuliginosus   Totally 8 birds were seen around Lake Habbema.
258. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus   Common around human habitation.
259. Long-tailed Starling Aplonis magna   Common on Biak.
260. Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica   Common.
261. Singing Starling Aplonis cantoroides   5 birds at Jayapura Airport.
262. Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii   Common in lowlands.
263. Golden Myna Mino anais   1 bird in Nimbokrang, 2 birds close to the PNG border. Both times seen together with previous species.
264. Brown Oriole Oriolus szalayi   This Friarbird mimic/look-alike is common in lowlands.
265. Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus   Common.
266. White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus   1 on Senapang Island, 3 at flooded rice fields close to Jayapura.
267. Great Woodswallow Artamus maximus   Just a few on the road from Lake Habbema.
268. Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus   Seen on Batanta, very common onBiak.
269. Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi   Many heard, just one or two seen, in Nimbokrang.
270. Lowland Peltops Peltops blainvillii   Seen at SP1, close to Manokwari.
271. Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus   A few around Syobrig.
272. White-eared Catbird Ailuroedus buccoides   All heard the characteristic call, but only Anita and Gert were men enough to get on to this bird (the brown-capped race) in Nimbokrang.
273. Spotted Catbird Ailuroedus melanotis   Several birds heard, but only seen by half of the group at the Magnificent BOP blind, in Arfak.
274. Vogelkop Bowerbird Amblyornis inornatus   Several bowers, but just a couple of birds seen, in Arfak. A mimic songster doing it all, a construction engineer, a bold thief and a fruit organiser. What a charismatic bird! Also a West Papuan endemic.
275. Long-tailed Paradigalla Paradigalla carunculata   One seen above Syioubrig, as Zeth found it in the open.
276. Glossy-mantled Manucode Manucodia atra   2 on Batanta, a few in Nimbokrang.
277. Jobi Manucode Manucodia jobiensis   3-4 birds in Nimbokrang; one eating fruit and calling typically.
278. Magnificent Riflebird Ptiloris magnificus   Heard only in Nimbokrang.
279. Magnificent Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus magnificus   We all saw a male from Zeth’s blind at Syioubrig, showing sorne display moves for sorne. Ended up on third place in “Bird-of-the-trip” ranking. Another 2-3 males were heard around Syioubrig and at km 14.
280. Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus respublica   Several males heard on Batanta, and finally we all saw a nice looking one. -But what a struggle! Lars even broke a rib in the process. Fourth place in “Bird-of-the-trip” ranking. The Latin species name respublica refers to the author’s (a bit eccentric) opinion: “Since there is no real paradise republic in the world, there should be a real republic Bird-of-paradise.”
281. Superb Bird-of-paradise Lophorina superba   A pair seen briefly, male heard calling, above Syioubrig. Another pair seen briefly at Baliem Valley Resort.
282. King Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus regius   Several heard on Salawati and in Nimbokrang. Daniel saw a male display, and all got at least some views.
283. Western Parotia Parotia sefilata   3-4 males and at least 5 females seen in Arfak. Zeth’s blinds made all the difference. A sudden change to skirt takes place and then the performer is shaking it, like a “Drag Queen”. -What a display! Second place in “Bird-of-the-trip” ranking.
284. Arfak Astrapia Astrapia nigra   A younger male found by Zeth on Nadim Ridge in Arfak.
285. Splendid Astrapia Astrapia splendidissima   Seen rather frequently around Lake Habbema, including good looking males.
286. Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise Seleucidis melanoleuca   At least five birds in Nimbokrang. One displaying male showed nicely with several females.
287. Red Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea rubra   4 males displaying for a few females on Batanta.
288. Lesser Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea minor   Heard (Gert saw a male flying) at km 14 en route to Syioubrig, 1 female at SP1, 2 females seen close to the PNG border, several heard and 2 males displaying for at least 5 females in Nimbokrang.
289. Buff-tailed Sicklebill Epimachus albertisi   “BVD”, “UTV” (“untickable view”) or no view at all for most of us. However, it was seen well on the extension trip to Arfak. Calls a bit like a Whimbrel.
290. Pale-billed Sicklebill Epimachus bruijnii   Mega views of a subadult male, heard often, in Nimbokrang.
291. Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus   1 adult male, 2 subadult males and 1 female seen at Nadim Ridge, Arfak.
292. MacGregor’s Bird-of-paradise Macgregoria pulchra   Seen at 4 locations on 8 km stretch of the road and around Lake Habbema. May soon be renamed “Paradise Honeyeater since it is an aberrant honeyeater according to DNA. Some resemblance to the Smoky Honeyeater-complex can certainly be admitted. Furthermore, the Snow Mountain race is 50% heavier than the Owen Stanley Mountain counterpart. It would be interesting to hear if the flight feathers make the same noise on less heavy eastern birds too! Maybe “Mountains Paradise Honeyeater” is a good split? Anyway, MacGregor’s BOP is hunted for its good taste, but it was the superb views that earned the fifth place in the “Bird-of-the-trip” ranking.
293. Torresian Crow Corvus orru   Seen on Batanta, Salawati and Senapang Islands.
294. Brown-headed Crow Corvus fuscicapillus   Seen only in Nimbokrang. Flying with open bill as the endemic crow in Halmahera.
295. Grey Crow Corvus tristis    Seen well on Batanta, in Arfak and Nimbokrang.
Timor Deer
Cervus timorensis   Two seen in Nimbokrang. Introduced.
Spinner Dolphin Stenella longirostris   Two groups in the waters between Salawati and Batanta.

Species seen during an hour in PNG
Variable Goshawk Accipiter hiogaster  
Uniform Swiftlet Aerodramus vanikorensis
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Helmeted Friarbird Philemon buceroides
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Grey Crow Corvus tristis
Torresian Crow Corvus orru

Species seen only in extension to Numfor and Arfak
Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus
Cinnamon Ground-Dove Gallicolumba rufigula
Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
Numfor Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera carolinae
Logrunner Orthonyx temminckii
Grey Gerygone Gerygone cinerea
Flame Bowerbird (northern race) Sericulus aureus ssp aureus