WEST PAPUA 1 TOUR REPORT 21st AUGUST - 3rd SEPTEMBER 2022 with a 3 day pre-tour extension in West Java.


flame-fronted barbet
Flame-fronted Barbet


With everyone arriving into Jakarta late last night, it was a really horrid 5am departure from our downtown hotel. Blurry-eyed and needing coffee we set off towards Cibodas Botanical Gardens, some two hours south of the bustling metropolis of Jakarta. Upon arrival the weather was overcast and dull as we ate our field breakfast overlooking one of the favoured feeding areas of Javan or Yellow-throated Hanging-Parrot. It took a little while to obtain decent views, and all we had for our efforts to begin with were a few flyovers or bullet-like shapes disappearing into the canopy of a large, leafy tree. However, once the sky brightened we were able to enjoy repeated scope views of this little cracker – and a Javan endemic to boot! In fact, we had a purple patch for about 90 minutes with new birds appearing all too quickly for some! A calling Rusty-breasted Cuckoo was tracked down by our exceedingly sharp-eyed guide, Boas, followed by Collared Kingfisher, several Linchi Swifltets appeared and became our constant companions all morning, Cinereous Tit, Mountain Leaf Warbler and a flyby Crested Serpent-Eagle. The large tree in front of us not only held numerous hanging-parrots, but also a pair of Orange-spotted Bulbuls, a Banded Broadbillshowed nicely and as we watched that little stunner, a Chestnut-breasted Malkoha appeared. Several Flame-fronted Barbetsthen diverted our attention as the views became increasingly better and we could fully appreciate the head pattern of yellow and blue with a rich, emerald body. Several smaller trees just below us then became the focus of our attention as a group of Sangkar White-eyes moved through, followed by Javan Munia, Little Pied Flycatcher, the endemic White-flanked Sunbird,Olive-backed Tailorbird, some superb Pygmy Bushtits, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike and an all-too-brief Javan Flowerpecker. Wow!

After another cup of coffee we saw our first Pacific Swallows and had better views of Orange-spotted Bulbul before driving to a different area within these huge gardens. A Sooty-headed Bulbul was scoped in the car park, as was another Javan Munia, before we walked up the slope a little ways and found a very confiding Mountain Tailorbird and an Ashy Drongo. We also improved our views of Flame-fronted Barbet and Pygmy Bushtit before driving lower down to look for Javan Kingfisher. We didn’t find the kingfisher but a Blue-and-white Flycatcher was a bit of a surprise, and we also scoped an adult Rusty-breasted Cuckoo and a group of White-breasted Woodswallows. A short drive to another kingfisher spot was quite productive with brief Horsfield’s Babbler and Javan Flowerpecker, as well as another group of white-eyes, a party of 3 Chestnut-breasted Malkohasand finally a Javan Kingfisher to round off a really good morning’s birding.

After lunch at a local restaurant we drove just down the hill to a really nice hotel, where we’d be spending the next two nights and enjoyed a couple of hours rest before heading back out into the field at 3.45pm. It was a bit overcast and activity was low but we had decent looks at a Horsfield’s Babbler, with Collared and a brief Javan Kingfisher and some other previously seen species adding to the mix. We waited for dusk and looked for Sunda Thrush without a sniff before spotlighting a Salvadori’s Nightjar perched up in the spotlight to round off a good day in Java.

Javan frogmouth
Javan frogmouth

Pre Tour Day 2   GUNUNG GEDE

This was our ‘big’ day as we left the hotel at 3.30am and drove to the parking area for the hike up into the forested slopes of Gunung Gede. Upon arrival we quickly nailed Sunda Scops Owl, an adult and a juvenile being found very easily thanks to Boas’ night-time thermal imaging camera – no need for tape-playing or wafting a spotlight around! And then the walk began in earnest as the trail took us steadily upward on an uneven path made from rocks. It was hard going on our feet and knees and we took it very slowly, getting surprisingly sweaty rather quickly despite the cool early morning air. After about half an hour the same thermal-imaging camera paid dividends when a Javan Frogmouth was found perched right out in the open on a hanging vine not far from the trail. Nice! We yomped a bit from here in order to get to the lowest altitude you can find Javan Scops Owl, but we unfortunately dipped despite a bird coming right in to the tape and calling loudly from extremely close distance but it still managed to elude us. And then we walked up to the first shelter opposite a small lake where we had our breakfast and some hot coffee. This site turned up very obliging Eye-browed Wren-Babbler and Pygmy Cupwing, as well as our first of many Javan Whistling-Thrushes in what was a very productive session. Not too far away we had a confiding Lesser Shortwing right beside the path that gave repeated views, and we also saw Mountain Tailorbird, a flock of Sunda Minivets, our first Javan Fulvetta, a flock of skulking Crescent-chested Babblers and a Sunda Warbler singing its heart out from 5 feet away at eye-level. The walk continued ever upwards, steep in some parts and easier in others, and we soon added Fire-tufted Barbet to our list, saw a nice Mountain Leaf Warbler and a pair of Javan Heleia as well.

At the trail intersection, we walked towards the waterfall with a Javan Hawk-Eagle soaring high overhead, as well as a fine Indigo Flycatcher, a pair of close Trilling Shrike-Babblers, and a pair of Sunda Forktails. After another cup of coffee and a rest below the falls the really hard walk began as we headed up to the second shelter where we were meeting our porter and our lunch! Boy is it steep from here but we still added a fine Javan Tesia to our list, as well as a close pair of Pied Shrike-Babblers just a few feet away from us and a stonking Rufous-tailed Fantail. Lunch was enlivened by Javan Shortwing and an inquisitive Javan Whistling-Thrush before making our decent and failing miserably to find Javan Trogon. A Sunda Cuckoo and Sunda Blue Robin right at the death ended proceedings. The cold beers at the restaurant never tasted so good this evening!

milky stork
Milky Stork

Pre Tour Day 3  JAKARTA BAY   

We had a boat trip out into Jakarta Bay this morning aimed at seeing Christmas Island Frigatebird but it turned out to be so much more than that. We began from our ‘downtown’ starting position by sailing out of the channel towards the bay and within ten minutes had our first of over 20 Milky Storks to be seen today. Classified as Endangered by BirdLife International due to a rapid decline in its stronghold of Sumatra caused by intense hunting pressure at its nesting colonies, as well as more general human disturbance and the old nutshell of reclamation of its favourite coastal habitat for feeding. It’s a very sad situation and difficult to see a positive outcome here. It was a real privilege to see so many right on the edge of the huge metropolis of Jakarta, although it wasn’t the most salubrious of settings! Another highlight was seeing so many Sunda Teal, initially just flybys, but then out in the bay on some old, abandoned ships we saw many and apparently they nest in these old ships! We also saw a few Cerulean Kingfishers but again, mainly flybys, as well as Pied Triller, Bar-winged Prinia and eventually the ultimate prize of a Javan Coucalperched up and showing nicely, albeit a little distantly.

There were many other birds seen including House Swift, Javan Pond Heron, Black-backed Swamphen, Oriental Darter, Gull-billed Tern, White-breasted Waterhen, Sacred Kingfisher, Javan Myna, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Pacific Swallow, Pink-necked Green-Pigeon, Red-breasted Parakeet, Racket-tailed Treepie, Little Black Cormorant, a couple of Pied Stilts and a close Javan Plover. Nice!

Then we headed out into Jakarta Bay seeing White-bellied Sea Eagle and Whiskered Tern, before reaching some poles where flocks of Great Crested and Black-naped Terns were roosting, with a couple of Common Terns. And then we came across several roosting groups of frigatebirds, most of which turned out to be Christmas Island Frigatebirds and we were treated to outstanding close views of 59 of them, plus 3 Lesser Frigatebirds and a single Greater Frigatebird. Awesome! Once we were satisfied with the views we headed back to the mainland seeing Pied Imperial-Pigeon and a Pacific Reef Egret to round off a great boat trip.

Boas took us for lunch and coffee before we headed to the mangroves in the heat of the early afternoon. This turned out to be a good move as we saw Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker next to the car park, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Malaysan Pied Fantail, another Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Indonesian (Brown) Honeyeater, Striated Swallow, a single Little Cormorant in a roost of Little Black Cormorants, and eventually a pair of Cerulean Kingfishers perched. It had been a great day but we were all tired by now and with a midnight flight to West Papua we decided to head to a nearby hotel for a rest and a refreshing shower before heading to the domestic terminal and the next stage of our adventure. Thanks Boas for being an excellent and very knowledgeable guide.

lesser bird-of-paradise
Lesser Bird-of-Paradise


Our flight left just after midnight and landed at 07:20 into Jayapura, in the ornithological wonderland of West Papua. After meeting up with our local guide, Royke Mananta and his crew, we drove to a nearby hotel for some much-needed breakfast. Afterwards we paid a visit to some nearby grasslands where our first introduction to the delights of this awesome island produced in just a few minutes: Papuan Harrier, Pygmy Eagle, Whistling & Brahminy Kite and a flock of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. We followed this up with Brown Quail, Brush Cuckoo, Willie Wagtail, Bright-headed Cisticola, Buff-banded Rail, Tree Martin, Grand Mannikin, Oriental Dollarbird, New Guinea Friarbird and eventually a few Hooded Mannikin.

Then we set out on the two hour drive to our lodge at Nimbokrang. Upon arrival we had lunch before walking up the hill behind the lodge. We hadn’t gone far when a Rufous-bellied Kookaburra was scoped and allowed some very decent photo opportunities. A few Moustached Treeswifts were perched on nearby telegraph wires and some Yellow-faced Mynas flew over. The muddy trail slowly wound its way uphill and along the next section we did battle with White-bellied Thicket Fantail, on a couple of occasions just getting the briefest of glimpses. At the first ridge we scoped a pair of Grey Crows before heading into the Lesser Bird-of-Paradise  ‘hide’. Several males were calling upon arrival but none were visible for ages and then only briefly which was very frustrating but most people managed some sort of view.

Leaving here rather reluctantly when any chance of BoP action had gone we walked down to the canopy tower and staked this area out seeing several Zoe’s Imperial-Pigeons, Eclectus Parrot perched below us, a weirdly-stunning Pesquet’s Parrot perched at eye-level not too far away, a flyby Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and some Metallic Starlings to round off our first day in West Papua.

Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise


We were off on a very short drive to the Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise site this morning and following a 100m walk inside the forest were in position before sunrise. The birds preferred display site was a vertical bare branch some 30m above the forest floor and around 15 minutes after sunrise the male flew in and began calling. What an extraordinary-looking bird! Over the next 90 minutes we had repeated views as he stayed for 5-10 minutes before flying off, only to return a few minutes later. A couple of times we were treated to the full-on courtship display as he circled his branch, up and down whilst keeping his body horizontal. Amazing! A Lowland Peltops took advantage every time he flew off to use his branch as a song post and was an amazing looking bird in its own right. Amazingly a Pale-billed Sicklebill flew in once and lingered for a minute before flying off. We also saw a party of Papuan Babblers passing close by and a White-bellied Thicket Fantail gave the usual brief looks. The clearing behind us then took centre stage with Golden Monarch, Black Butcherbird, Boyer’s Cuckooshrike, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove and Black-billed (Bar-tailed) Cuckoo-Dove being seen. 

Our next stop was a nearby bridge which offered a pretty decent vantage point over the forest and we saw Large-billed Gerygone, Rainbow Bee-eater, Black Sunbird, Red-capped Flowerpecker, Streak-headed Honeyeater, flyby Coconut Lorikeet,Papuan Spinetail, and a superb Long-tailed Honey-Buzzard. With the temperature soaring to ridiculous levels we took a trail down along the stream that didn’t go very far but offered us some shade and we nailed Amboyna Cuckoo-Dove and an Arafura (Little) Shrike-Thrush.

I must admit it was something of a relief to get in an air-conditioned car and drive back to the lodge for a 3 hour siesta. In the afternoon we drove back to the same area as this morning and walked along the road picking up Black-capped Lory, Streak-headed Mannikin, scoped a pair of Orange-bellied Fruit-Doves, saw more Coconut Lorikeets, and had another male Twelve-wired BoP. We ended the day at KM6 with Yellow-faced Myna and a Black-billed Coucal teed up nicely in the scope, but unfortunately only a couple people saw a Papuan Nightjar flyby.

marbled frogmouth
Marbled Frogmouth


The day started with me finding a Papuan Frogmouth, whilst my group were having an early morning cup of coffee at 4.30am and which obligingly stayed for everyone to see. Shortly after we were walking up the hill, trying for Papuan Boobook without getting any response, so continued to the Lesser Bird-of-Paradise display lek. We spent the next hour and a half from sunrise marvelling at these extraordinary birds displaying in the canopy overhead. I think someone said they were the cream egg bird, which rather accurately describes them but what an exotic-looking bird! Their loud call rang through the forest and when you eventually got your bins on one perched high up in the canopy, you could see it puffing its ‘cream egg coloured’ tail out and shaking it, while it splayed its body horizontally and holding its wings outstretched. Wow!  Once satisfied with the views we walked a further 15 minutes along a trail to the display site of King Bird-of-Paradise but nothing was happening here. So we walked around to another tree where, sure enough, the male was actively displaying in the canopy and after a little patience we were rewarded with great views of this brilliant red and white bird! In fact, there may have been more than one male as this supersonic vision of brilliant red and white zoomed around the canopy chasing after the females and sometimes it seemed it was everywhere at once. A picnic breakfast followed, during which a Rusty Mouse-Warbler began calling and the battle began! I don’t know how this bird could move around the forest without any of us seeing it, but it was like a ghost. When I first played the call it flew straight in at us, perching for a nanosecond about 3 feet right in front of us and that was it. Over the next maybe 45 minutes we tried various methods, moving position, placing the speaker way off in the forest but none of it did any good. So we eventually gave up and began walking slowly back towards the lodge, seeing barely anything save a Grey Crow. But boy it was hot here today and the forest was incredibly dry which might indicate why we didn’t have much activity. So it was a relief to get back to the lodge for lunch and a rest.

However, William and I decided to walk up the trail and spend a bit of time at the canopy tower – what a good move this was. No sooner had we started out than a Blyth’s Hornbill flew over and a pair of Long-billed Honeyeaters appeared not too far away from us. At the tower we enjoyed the view over the treetops and had a constant stream of birds appearing. We began with the first of several Black-browed Trillers, followed by Mimic Honeyeater, Streak-headed Honeyeater, a flock of Metallic Starlingsfeeding on some berried below us, another Blyth’s Hornbill flying past, Black Butcherbird, Eclectus Parrot, a cracking Sulphur-crested Cockatoo perched nearby, Pale-billed Sicklebill appeared briefly, 3 Salvadori’s Fig-Parrots flying overhead and a Red-cheeked Parrot. But by now it was nearly time to depart for the afternoon session so we walked back to the lodge and saw a group of Crimson Finches and Streak-headed Mannikin that Royke had found in the field behind the lodge.

The afternoon session was pretty productive as we birded an open area in search of Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, which was eventually scoped perched up in a distant tree next to our first Meyer’s Friarbird. We also saw its amazing bower with an ‘entrance path’ of cut grass stems about 15 feet long leading up to the bower! Incredible! In fact, this area was very busy as we also saw a superb Ivory-billed Coucal, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove, a pair of Shining Flycatchersand some other common species.

Leaving here we drove to another patch of forest and walked inside to the river where we searched for Shovel-billed Kingfisher, but only managed to hear one along with a Hook-billed Kingfisher. However, I did manage to call in a fantastic Marbled Frogmouth that sat rather insolently overhead, totally ignoring the spotlight and camera clicks! So not a bad day at all.

Emperor Fairywren


We set out at 4am for what I can only describe as a ‘wild goose chase’ or rather more relevantly a ‘wild crowned pigeon chase’ to a site just under quarter of an hour away from the lodge. Parking up we walked for a mere 20 minutes before I played the call of Papuan Hawk-Owl which promptly called back and Royke spotlighted. What a result! The horizon was just beginning to get light as we walked away from the bird and within another 20 mins had stopped to look at an Azure Kingfisher perched along a stream. Highlights from our route march (which I won’t repeat ever again) were headlined by a superb Black-sided Robin giving repeated views as it circled us before perching right over our head on multiple occasions. A pair of Blue-black Kingfishers flew around us repeatedly as well and it was a shame they never perched close enough for us to see. Other sightings included Northern Fantail, a group of stunning Emperor Fairy-Wrens, Northern Variable Pitohui and a group of Salvadori’s Fig-Parrotsfeeding high overhead. The walk out of the forest was tough, with barely a trail to follow as we climbed over fallen logs, vines and roots making the going underfoot extremely treacherous and we eventually made it back to the lodge at 12.30 utterly exhausted in the high temperature.

An hour after lunch we set out on another short drive to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking mile upon mile of pristine forest where we saw Pinon’s Imperial-Pigeon, a distant Jobi Manucode picked up by Pete, another Long-tailed Honey-Buzzard, several Lowland Peltops, at least 4 Rufous-bellied Kookaburras, Channel-billed Cuckoo and a confiding Hook-billed Kingfisher. A couple of Papuan Nightjars seen at dusk ended the day on a high note.

Hook-billed Kingfisher
Hook-billed Kingfisher


Headed up to the canopy tower early doors, after a quick look at the nearby Twelve-wired BoP display site behind the lodge. A Frilled Monarch called in the gloom and a pair of New Guinea Scrubfowl scuttled away from us, only being seen by the leaders. Up at the canopy tower we enjoyed a steady stream of birds either flying by or perching up to catch the first of the sun’s rays. A personal favourite was our first Pink-spotted Fruit-Doves that eventually gave decent views in a large tree nearby. Many Oriental Dollarbirds flew over the treetops, a Red-cheeked Parrot screeched as it flew by, a huge Great Cuckoo-Dove flew directly over the tower, a massive Blyth’s Hornbill flew by with the sounds of its wings almost deafening, but best of all was a cracking Palm Cockatoo flying slowly over the treetops in front of us. Wow! I have been totally impressed by this species and when you get a good look at its hulking bill, you would too! Other notable species included Papuan Spangled Drongo (still lumped in the Spangled Drongo complex by IOC), a few Double-eyed Fig-Parrots playing hard-to-see in a large leafy tree, more Orange-bellied Fruit-Doves, and a few other commoner species. Tearing ourselves away we hit the trails and did a fairly long walk that turned out to be rather slow, yet we nailed a superb Yellow-billed Kingfisher, saw more hornbills (there’s only one here), and had our closest views of Boyer’s Cuckooshrike.

After a rest and siesta over lunchtime we drove towards Jayapura (spending the night at a decent hotel) and spent a pleasant couple of hours birding near the huge lake, seeing Black-billed Coucal, a superb bunch of Orange-fronted Fruit-Doves feeding amongst the much commoner Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove in some large trees, several New Guinea Friarbirds and other common species. It was really nice to stay in a good hotel with air-con and copious amounts of cold beer tonight!

vogelkop melidectes
Vogelkop Melidectes


We flew from Jayapura to Manokwari on the west shore of Geelvink Bay and located on the romantically named Birds head Peninsula. We were met by three 4WD pick-up trucks and headed up into the Arfak Mountains. After just over an hour’s drive we stopped along the road and intended to do some birding but the heavens opened and we had the first rain of the tour so far. So not wishing to waste any time we drove up higher and fortunately by the time we arrived at our chosen birding spot the rain had stopped. Everyone was excited at the prospect of seeing plenty of new birds and we quickly found Vogelkop Melidectes , which proved to be rather common. We followed this with a cracking Arfak Honeyeater, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Friendly Fantail and a flyby Metallic Pigeon. By now it was approaching dusk, so we drove to our homestay where we’d be staying for the next 3 nights.

magnificent bird-of-paradise
Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise


We split up into groups of three this morning in order to visit the various BoP hides, some of us visiting a hide for Western Parotia, whilst Magnificent & Superb BoP’s were on the menu for others. I went to the Western Parotia hide, which involved a steep uphill climb for around 25 minutes. Everyone had top leave at 4.30am after a hot cup of coffee in our rooms, in order to be inside each hide before daybreak, which was around 5.50am. We didn’t have to wait long, as an absolutely awesome male came in and began tidying up some scattered leaves from his display site before doing a brief wing-shuffling display. He hung around for quite a while and we enjoyed superb views. Once he was finished we began walking down the trail and scored a fine Blue-grey (Slaty) Robin, both Perplexing and Vogelkop Scrubwrens, Sclater’s Whistler, Black Fantail (my 7,000th lifer!), Mountain Fruit-Dove (split from White-bibbed), a female Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot, a huge Green-backed Robin, Goldenface, Garnet Robin, Ashy Thornbill, Mid-Mountain Berrypecker and finished with a Black Pitohui. Little did we know that this was the birdiest trail of the entire stay up here in the Arfaks!

Back at the homestay for lunch we compared notes on a successful morning before heading back out immediately to visit a couple different Western Parotia hides, one of which had a displaying male ‘doing his thing’ for quite a while. But the other just had a male sitting around posing and not really doing much at all…… Them’s the breaks! But the trail back downhill did produced another Goldenface, Papuan Treecreeper, Arfak Catbird, a flock of Red-collared Myzomela and ended up with everyone seated in another hide watching a rather demure Vogelkop Bowerbird perched next to his amazing bower.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon staking out a fruiting tree, which produced a steady stream of sightings. Several Vogelkop Melidectes got the ball rolling, with Slender-billed, Black-billed and Great Cuckoo-Doves appearing regularly. An Arfak Honeyeater then appeared, another Vogelkop Scrubwren showed well, a superb pair of Ornate Melidectes added the Wow! factor, and a group of Black-fronted White-eyes passed in front of us. A Mountain Mouse-Warbler called from dense vegetation behind us before we saw a mixed group of New Guinea and Capped White-eyes, and ended with a brief Eastern Superb Fruit-Dove and some Papuan Mountain-Pigeons to end the day on a high.

Black Sicklebill


We headed in 3 different directions again today. Myself, Ray, Dave & William headed to a site for Black Sicklebill, Peter & Colin went to check out a hide for Masked Bowerbird – which unfortunately turned out to be duff, and Graham & Brian headed to the Superb BoP hide and then joined me at the Black Sicklebill hide a little later. As it turned out, the sicklebill hide was set up opposite a feeding station, and was quite a walk up in the dark at 5am I can tell you. It was steep, slippery and I thought quite dangerous – however, when it came time to walk back down, some of our entourage had constructed hand rails along the path and made the whole walk much easier! Anyway, the feeding station became alive with activity shortly after daybreak with up to 5 female Western Parotia coming in to feed. Fortunately, Graham & Brian arrived before a female Black Sicklebill arrived at 08:45am, and she visited on two separate occasions about half an hour apart. We waited in vain for the male to show before deciding to leave. The forest here was amazing, with every branch seemingly covered in moss, tree ferns and epiphytes, it was beautiful. A Canary Flyrobin flew in to take a look at us as we stood around, a Vogelkop Scrubwren appeared nearby and we then spent the next 20 minutes trying to get a view of a Trumpet Manucode that flew around us but never settled. Next up was an Arfak Honeyeater before we spent quite a while trying to call in a Spotted Jewel-Babbler that came in so close but the vegetation was so dense and it was clearly an impossible ask. So we walked lower down the trail and enjoyed a fine Lesser Ground-Robin, brief Mountain Mouse-Warbler and Capped White-eye before meeting a disgruntled Peter & Colin along the road who had spent some time waiting for Masked Bowerbird in vain and then being left stranded by our ground crew!!!

In the afternoon we birded along the road, mainly hanging around a fruiting tree where Masked Bowerbird allegedly was visiting. It never did and that was no surprise to anyone but we did get Vogelkop Whistler, Papuan Flowerpecker and Mountain Myzomela before staking out the fruiting tree. Luckily, a diminutive Fairy Lorikeet flew in and lingered long enough for most of us to lay eyes on it, whilst a group of Arfak Catbirds gave only the briefest of views. At dusk a Papuan Boobook answered my iPhone and we eventually tracked it down to a nearby tree after giving us the runaround! So an interesting and ultimately productive day in all, finished off with Ray not really nailing his landing that successfully into a 5 foot deep concrete roadside drainage ditch……

masked bowerbird
MAsked Bowerbird


We had a big chunk of the morning to catch up with a few things, so whilst most of the group began birding along the road with Royke, getting a surprise Bicoloured Mouse-warbler and Moluccan King Parrot, I went with William to the Superb BoP hide. It was only a short walk of maybe 15 minutes down to the hide but I was a little surprised to see it was a feeding station about 30m down below us. Well, in about an hour and a half here we saw at least one male and two female Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise coming in to feed. Apparently males display on the large fallen tree in front of the feeding station, but maybe due to the rain they didn’t fancy it this morning. But we were both content with decent, prolonged views of a male. An Arfak Catbird came in to feed and remained for several minutes, a few female Western Parotias appeared as well, a Crinkle-collared Manucodeappeared, and there were several pairs of Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise to round off a truly stunning stint in the hide. The photos aren’t so great but I was happy to get a few record shots, especially to sort out which manucode it was. So we left and got back up to the road just as the group arrived, with Colin & Pete heading down to the hide to catch up with this new Superb BoP split – having seen it in PNG some years before.

Whilst waiting for Colin & Pete we walked along the road and amazingly came across a group of Masked Bowerbirds with a stunning male being absolutely mind-blowing. My initial reaction was absolute joy for a nanosecond, followed by a ‘Oh f%$k’ as two of us weren’t here and I knew how much everyone wanted to see this stunner. Well, we followed the group of bowerbirds and had repeated views, also seeing Black and Black-bellied Cicadabirds as well as a few commoner species before Colin & Pete arrived. Just about now there was an intense period of sustained activity with a distant calling Magnificent Riflebird we couldn’t locate, a Glossy-mantled Manucode below us, Red Myzomela, a cracking Papuan King Parrot and another Ashy Thornbill. As the flock moved along the slope below us we followed and picked up a group of Hooded Pitohui before amazingly, a male Masked Bowerbird flew across in front of us and followed the treeline beside the road giving everyone a chance to connect with this superb creature. It even had Peter running!!

So by now it had passed 10am and we had a flight to catch so drove back down to Manokwari and caught the short flight to Sorong, where we took full advantage of hot showers and cold beers at a great hotel!

Pacific Baza
Pacific Baza


We had the morning to check out the nearby mangroves where a pair of Brown-backed Honeyeaters were nest-building quite close to our parked cars. We walked along a road between the mangroves and had a Collared Imperial-Pigeon fly slowly overhead, brief Little Kingfisher, an Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove teed up in the scope, whilst overhead Uniform Swiftlets and our one and only Barn Swallow were screamed at by some supersonic Coconut Lorikeets. A short, sharp shower stopped us in our tracks as we tried to get a view of a Buff-banded Rail walking through a grassy area. So we hopped in the cars and drove a short distance and at this section of mangroves we had a party of Little Bronze Cuckoos moving through. As we watched them a Large-billed Gerygone appeared, and then a Blue-black Kingfisher called. After several flyby’s we eventually managed a decent perched view of it nestled in a dense patch of mangrove before it flew away. There was also a Sacred Kingfisher at the same spot and a Black Butcherbird to keep us entertained before we decided to drive to an area of low hills above Sorong.

Several Blyth’s Hornbills flying past indicated that this must be a good forested area and we also had White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Black-browed Triller, Eclectus Parrot, New Guinea Friarbird, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra and a pair of Yellow-faced Mynas but the only new bird was a Pacific Baza. So we returned to the hotel with plenty of time to pack and have lunch before catching the 2pm ferry to Waigeo.

This was a fast ferry and the journey was only maybe 2.5 hours, during which time we saw 3 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, distant Great Frigatebirds and a Great Crested Tern. Upon arrival we were met by our 3 cars and drove to a lovely resort where we’d be spending the next 3 nights, seeing a group of Singing Starlings along the way.

Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise

Day 11   WAIGEO

So this was it. THE day. The day when we would get to see the incomparable Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise. If anyone has ever asked you what’s the ‘best bird’ you’ve seen or some similar awkward question, well look no further! It was almost an hour’s drive to the start of the trail and we did it in the dark of course (another 4.30am start) and then a short and very easy 15 minute walk to the large hide. We were inside by 5.45am and then waited impatiently for dawn to break, but could hear the Wilson’s BoP’s calling almost as soon as we arrived. With the light seemingly taking an inordinate amount of time to do it’s one job we could see several birds moving around and eventually could make out bright scarlet or crimson backs of at least 4 Wilson’s BoP’s. Anyway, over the next hour and a half we had the most incredible views of what has to be THE most beautiful of all Birds-of-Paradise…. The males danced around their vertical display spikes just a few inches above the ground, whilst several females watched on rather unamused I thought. It was one of those magical sights I’ve dreamed about for years. I mean, the males look like they have glowing blue brains exposed to the world, a bright scarlet mantle, shining green underparts, and curly tail wired that look like they are made out of velvet. Just look at these photos man!

I could go on with the superlatives but at the risk of you throwing up! SO how to follow that little episode……? Well a Papuan Pitta began calling and it took a bit of effort but eventually everyone had decent looks at this most-wanted bird as well. What a start to the morning, with numerous Common Paradise-Kingfishers calling all around we walked back to the waiting cars and had breakfast. We were definitely on a roll as a pair of Raja Ampat Pitohui’s showed quite well right next to us before we drove a bit further along the former logging track. We then began walking, trying to find Western Crowned Pigeon but I wasn’t enthused by our chances as the local guides didn’t seem that bothered in my opinion. So instead we just birded and had a successful couple of hours along a side trail with Common Paradise-Kingfisher, Frilled Monarch, Black Berrypecker, several Tawny-breasted Honeyeaters, Northern Fantail, Pale-billed Scrubwren and Fairy Gerygone.

After lunch back at the resort we returned to the same forest and this time had good views of the rare Brown-headed Crow, as well as Puff-backed Honeyeater, and repeated views of many of the same species as this morning. But it was rather slow going, with a Papuan Frogmouth seen on telegraph wires as we drove back to the resort.

Red Bird-of-Paradise

Day 12   WAIGEO   

So how to follow yesterday’s Wilson’s BoP extravaganza? With another BoP displaying of course and this morning’s entertainment was provided by some male Red Bird-of-Paradise darting around their display tree in a crazy manner. A totally different experience this one as we were sat on benches out in the open gazing up at a tall tree maybe 70m away and watching this extraordinary species darting around the branches in maniacal fashion. It really was a superb display. Whilst watching this, a pair of Hooded Butcherbirds began feeding right in front of us and we enjoyed fine looks at this endemic. We then spent the rest of the morning wandering along the old logging track looking for Western Crowned Pigeon, occasionally taking side trails or heading inside the forest but we didn’t get a sniff. All we had to show for this morning’s efforts were Papuan Drongo, another Pale-billed Scrubwren and a Green-backed Gerygone.

At lunch I decided we needed a change of scenery and to take a boat out to some islands, and what a great decision this proved to be. New birds came thick and fast and spending an hour cruising in a boat wasn’t the worst experience either. On the way out we had fantastic close views of a White-bellied Sea-Eagle, some distant frigatebirds most of which were probably Greater there was at least one Lesser Frigatebird as well. Once ashore on what was for all intents and purposes a typical tropical paradise island we were greeted immediately by a Beach Kingfisher. We hadn’t walked more than 20m when some Violet-necked Lory’sscreeched by and we eventually had decent perched views of this stunning species. In a nearby large leafy tree we saw Olive Honeyeater, Arafura Fantail, Variable Honeyeater, and a nice Island Whistler. Nearby some Moluccan Starlings seemed to be nesting in a dead palm tree and as we scoped them an Eastern Hooded Pitta began calling. Usually I find this species not too difficult to track down, but this individual was very tricky and we ended up spending way too long trying to get everyone on to it, which we did in the end. So we left here and headed to another island to look for Spice Imperial-Pigeon, but arrived too late and only saw lots of Pied Imperial-Pigeons and some White-breasted Woodswallows, although the sight of hundreds of huge Flying Foxes setting out to hunt against the setting sun made for a pretty spectacular end to the day.

Day 13   WAIGEO - SORONG   

After a final morning's birding where we saw a bunch of previously seen species we returned to the lodge for lunch before taking the afternoon ferry back to Sorong and a comfortable hotel. Our final evening meal together gave us time to reminisce on the great birds we had seen and we had plenty of time to prepare for tomorrow's flight back to Jakarta and onward journey home.


GALLIFORMES: Megapodiidae

Dusky Megapode (H)  Megapodius freycinet

New Guinea Scrubfowl   (leader only)  Megapodius decollatus

GALLIFORMES: Phasianidae

Brown Quail  Synoicus ypsilophorus


Papuan Nightjar  Eurostopodus papuensis


Marbled Frogmouth  Podargus ocellatus

Papuan Frogmouth  Podargus papuensis

APODIFORMES: Hemiprocnidae

Moustached Treeswift  Hemiprocne mystacea


Glossy Swiftlet  Collocalia esculenta

Uniform Swiftlet  Aerodramus vanikorensis

Papuan Spine-tailed Swift  Mearnsia novaeguineae


Ivory-billed Coucal  Centropus menbeki

Black-billed Coucal  Centropus bernsteini

Dwarf Koel   (H)  Microdynamis parva  

Pacific Koel   (H)  Eudynamys orientalis

Channel-billed Cuckoo  Scythrops novaehollandiae

Little Bronze Cuckoo  Chrysococcyx minutillus

Brush Cuckoo  Cacomantis variolosus


Rock Dove  Columba livia

Metallic Pigeon  Columba vitiensis

Spotted Dove  Spilopelia chinensis

Amboyna Cuckoo-Dove  Macropygia amboinensis

Bar-tailed Cuckoo-Dove  Macropygia nigrirostris

Great Cuckoo-Dove  Reinwardtoena reinwardti

Wompoo Fruit Dove   (H)  Ptilinopus magnificus

Pink-spotted Fruit Dove  Ptilinopus perlatus

Orange-fronted Fruit Dove  Ptilinopus aurantiifrons

Superb Fruit Dove  Ptilinopus superbus

Coroneted Fruit Dove  Ptilinopus coronulatus

Mountain (White-bibbed) Fruit Dove  Ptilinopus rivoli

Orange-bellied Fruit Dove  Ptilinopus iozonus

Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon   (H)  Ducula rufigaster

Pinon's Imperial Pigeon  Ducula pinon

Zoe's Imperial Pigeon  Ducula zoeae

Pied Imperial Pigeon  Ducula bicolor

Papuan Mountain Pigeon  Gymnophaps albertisii

GRUIFORMES: Sarothruridae

White-striped Forest Rail   (H)  Rallicula leucospila


Buff-banded Rail  Hypotaenidia philippensis

Pale-vented Bush-hen   (H)  Amaurornis moluccana


Pacific Golden Plover  Pluvialis fulva

Common Sandpiper  Actitis hypoleucos


Greater Crested Tern  Thalasseus bergii


Wilson's Storm Petrel  Oceanites oceanicus

SULIFORMES: Fregatidae

Great Frigatebird  Fregata minor

SULIFORMES: Phalacrocoracidae

Little Pied Cormorant  Microcarbo melanoleucos


Striated Heron  Butorides striata

Great Egret  Ardea alba


Osprey  Pandion haliaetus


Pacific Baza  Aviceda subcristata

Long-tailed Honey Buzzard  Henicopernis longicauda

Pygmy Eagle  Hieraaetus weiskei

Variable Goshawk  Accipiter hiogaster

Grey-headed Goshawk   (H)  Accipiter poliocephalus

Papuan Harrier  Circus spilothorax

Whistling Kite  Haliastur sphenurus

Brahminy Kite  Haliastur indus

White-bellied Sea Eagle  Haliaeetus leucogaster


Papuan Hawk-Owl  Uroglaux dimorpha

Papuan Boobook  Ninox theomacha


Blyth's Hornbill  Rhyticeros plicatus


Oriental Dollarbird  Eurystomus orientalis


Hook-billed Kingfisher  Melidora macrorrhina

Common Paradise Kingfisher  Tanysiptera galatea

Shovel-billed Kookaburra   (H)  Dacelo rex

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra  Dacelo gaudichaud

Blue-black Kingfisher  Todiramphus nigrocyaneus

Collared Kingfisher  Todiramphus chloris

Beach Kingfisher  Todiramphus saurophagus

Sacred Kingfisher  Todiramphus sanctus

Yellow-billed Kingfisher  Syma torotoro

Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher   (H)  Ceyx solitarius

Azure Kingfisher  Ceyx azureus

Little Kingfisher  Ceyx pusillus


Rainbow Bee-eater  Merops ornatus

Blue-tailed Bee-eater  Merops philippinus


Palm Cockatoo  Probosciger aterrimus

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo  Cacatua galerita


Pesquet's Parrot  Psittrichas fulgidus

Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot   (H)  Micropsitta pusio

Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot  Micropsitta bruijnii

Moluccan King Parrot  Alisterus amboinensis

Papuan Eclectus  Eclectus polychloros

Red-cheeked Parrot  Geoffroyus geoffroyi

Fairy Lorikeet  Charmosynopsis pulchella

Black-capped Lory  Lorius lory

Violet-necked Lory  Eos squamata

Coconut Lorikeet  Trichoglossus haematodus

Salvadori’s Fig Parrot  Psittaculirostris salvadorii

Double-eyed Fig Parrot  Cyclopsitta diophthalma


Papuan Pitta  Erythropitta macklotii

Hooded Pitta  Pitta sordida

PASSERIFORMES: Ptilonorhynchidae

Tan-capped Catbird   (H)  Ailuroedus geislerorum

Arfak Catbird  Ailuroedus arfakianus

Vogelkop Bowerbird  Amblyornis inornata

Masked Bowerbird  Sericulus aureus

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird  Chlamydera cerviniventris

PASSERIFORMES: Climacteridae

Papuan Treecreeper  Cormobates placens


Emperor Fairywren  Malurus cyanocephalus


Brown-backed Honeyeater  Ramsayornis modestus

Long-billed Honeyeater  Melilestes megarhynchus

Arfak Honeyeater  Melipotes gymnops

Plain Honeyeater  Pycnopygius ixoides

Streak-headed Honeyeater  Pycnopygius stictocephalus

Ruby-throated Myzomela  Myzomela eques

Red Myzomela  Myzomela cruentata

Mountain Myzomela  Myzomela adolphinae

Red-collared Myzomela  Myzomela rosenbergii

Meyer's Friarbird  Philemon meyeri

New Guinea Friarbird  Philemon novaeguineae

Tawny-breasted Honeyeater  Xanthotis flaviventer

Olive Honeyeater  Lichmera argentauris

Puff-backed Honeyeater  Meliphaga aruensis

Mimic Honeyeater  Microptilotis analogus

Varied Honeyeater  Gavicalis versicolor

Vogelkop Melidectes  Melidectes leucostephes

Ornate Melidectes  Melidectes torquatus


Goldenface  Pachycare flavogriseum

Rusty Mouse-warbler  Crateroscelis murina

Mountain Mouse-warbler  Crateroscelis robusta

Bicolored Mouse-warbler  Crateroselis nigrorufa

Pale-billed Scrubwren  Aethomyias spilodera

Vogelkop Scrubwren  Aethomyias rufescens

Large Scrubwren  Sericornis nouhuysi

Perplexing Scrubwren  Sericornis virgatus

Large-billed Gerygone  Gerygone magnirostris

Yellow-bellied Gerygone   (H)  Gerygone chrysogaster

Green-backed Gerygone  Gerygone chloronota

Fairy Gerygone  Gerygone palpebrosa

Grey Thornbill  Acanthiza cinerea

PASSERIFORMES: Pomatostomidae

Papuan Babbler  Garritornis isidorei

PASSERIFORMES: Melanocharitidae

Mid-mountain Berrypecker  Melanocharis longicauda

Black Berrypecker  Melanocharis nigra

Yellow-bellied Longbill   (H)  Toxorhamphus novaeguineae

PASSERIFORMES: Cinclosomatidae

Spotted Jewel-babbler  Ptilorrhoa leucosticta

Blue Jewel-babbler   (H)  Ptilorrhoa caerulescens


White-breasted Woodswallow  Artamus leucorynchus

Lowland Peltops  Peltops blainvillii

Black Butcherbird  Melloria quoyi

Hooded Butcherbird  Cracticus cassicus

PASSERIFORMES: Campephagidae

Boyer's Cuckooshrike  Coracina boyeri

White-bellied Cuckooshrike  Coracina papuensis

Black-bellied Cuckooshrike  Edolisoma montanum

Grey-headed Cuckooshrike  Edolisoma schisticeps

Black Cicadabird  Edolisoma melas

Black-browed Triller  Lalage atrovirens

PASSERIFORMES: Pachycephalidae

Black Pitohui  Melanorectes nigrescens

Island Whistler  Pachycephala phaionota

Vogelkop Whistler  Pachycephala meyeri

Sclater's Whistler  Pachycephala soror

Rusty Pitohui  Pseudorectes ferrugineus

Arafura Shrikethrush  Colluricincla megarhyncha


Northern Variable Pitohui  Pitohui kirhocephalus

Raja Ampat Pitohui  Pitohui cerviniventris

Hooded Pitohui  Pitohui dichrous


Spangled (Papuan) Drongo  Dicrurus bracteatus


Willie Wagtail  Rhipidura leucophrys

Northern Fantail  Rhipidura rufiventris

White-bellied Thicket Fantail  Rhipidura leucothorax

Black Fantail  Rhipidura atra

Friendly Fantail  Rhipidura albolimbata

Rufous-backed Fantail  Rhipidura rufidorsa

Arafura Fantail  Rhipidura dryas


Black Monarch  Symposiachrus axillaris

Golden Monarch  Carterornis chrysomela

Ochre-collared Monarch  Arses insularis

Frilled Monarch  Arses telescopthalmus

Shining Flycatcher  Myiagra alecto


Brown-headed Crow  Corvus fuscicapillus

Grey Crow  Corvus tristis

PASSERIFORMES: Paradisaeidae

Glossy-mantled Manucode  Manucodia ater

Jobi Manucode  Manucodia jobiensis

Trumpet Manucode  Phonygammus keraudrenii

Western Parotia  Parotia sefilata

Vogelkop Lophorina  Lophorina niedda

Magnificent Riflebird   (H)  Ptiloris magnificus

Black Sicklebill  Epimachus fastosus

Pale-billed Sicklebill  Drepanornis bruiinii

Magnificent Bird-of-paradise  Diphyllodes magnificus

Wilson's Bird-of-paradise  Diphyllodes respublica

King Bird-of-paradise  Cicinnurus regius

Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise  Seleucidis melanoleucus

Lesser Bird-of-paradise  Paradisaea minor

Red Bird-of-paradise  Paradisaea rubra


Slaty Robin  Peneothello cyanus

Black-sided Robin  Poecilodryas hypoleuca

Canary Flyrobin  Devioeca papuana

Garnet Robin  Eugerygone rubra

Green-backed Robin  Pachycephalopsis hattamensis

Lesser Ground Robin  Amalocichla incerta


Pacific Swallow  Hirundo tahitica

Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica

Tree Martin  Petrochelidon nigricans


Golden-headed Cisticola  Cisticola exilis


Black-fronted White-eye  Zosterops chrysolaemus

Capped White-eye  Zosterops fuscicapilla

Papuan White-eye  Zosterops novaeguineae


Metallic Starling  Aplonis metallica

Singing Starling  Aplonis cantoroides

Moluccan Starling  Aplonis mysolensis

Yellow-faced Myna  Mino dumontii


Olive-crowned Flowerpecker  Dicaeum pectorale

Red-capped Flowerpecker  Dicaeum geelvinkianum

PASSERIFORMES: Nectariniidae

Black Sunbird  Leptocoma aspasia

Olive-backed Sunbird  Cinnyris jugularis


Eurasian Tree Sparrow  Passer montanus

House Sparrow  Passer domesticus


Crimson Finch  Neochmia phaeton

Streak-headed Mannikin  Mayrimunia tristissima

Great-billed Manakin  Lonchura grandis

Hooded Manakin  Lonchura spectabilis

Scaly-breasted Munia  Lonchura puntulata


twelve-wired bird-of-paradise