Brief Info-Papua Birding
West Papua (formally Irian Jaya) is the little-visited western half of the huge island of New Guinea. It is host to an astonishing degree of biological and ecological richness with habitats ranging from steamy lowland swamp forests to the alpine grassland of the mighty Snow Mountains, the highest peaks between the Himalaya and the Andes. In addition, it is still covered by some of the largest areas of original, intact, forest on earth and yet very few birders have so far had the opportunity to appreciate its diversity.
We begin our adventure in Sorong at the western tip of the Vogelkop Peninsula from where we head out to the island of Waigeo in search of Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise, surely one of the most stunning of the family. Red Bird-of-paradise is also found only here and a few neighboring islands and we should also see Raja Ampat Pitohui, and have a chance to spot the shy Western Crowned Pigeon. Our next destination is the montane forests of the little-known Arfak Mountains foothill where wonders such as displaying Western Parotia, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Vogelkop Bowerbird, Black- billed Sicklebill, Arfak Astrapia and Long-tailed Paradigalla are just a few of a mouth-watering list of targets.
Heading into the heart of the island, amid the stunning scenery of the Snow Mountains we will search a variety of habitats from moss-laden montane forest to alpine grasslands in search of some amazing birds; the spectacular MacGregor’s Honeyeater, Snow Mountain Quail, Snow Mountain Mannikin, Mountain Firetail, Short-bearded Melidectes, Lorentz’s Whistler, Lesser Melampitta, Salvadori’s Teal, New Guinea Woodcock, Archbold’s Nightjar, Greater Ground Robin and Splendid Astrapia. Next stop is the hot and steamy lowland rainforest in the shadow of the Cyclops Mountains where delights such as Salvadori’s Fig Parrot and Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot await, and our Bird-of- paradise tally is boosted by Pale-billed Sicklebill, Twelve-wired, Lesser and King Birds-of-paradise.
We finish our adventure in Geelvink Bay; On Biak all of the endemic species can still be found in the secondary and selectively logged forest, including Geelvink Pygmy Parrot, Biak Red Lory, Biak Scops Owl and the stunning Biak Paradise-kingfisher. We also take a boat across to Numfor island for the seldom-seem Numfor Paradise-kingfisher.
West Papua is tougher than most of our tours but conditions are much more comfortable than previously and it does offer some of the most exciting birding, fascinating travel and incredible experiences for the adventurous birder.
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