Birds of Paradise that are endemic to Raja Ampat islands are Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) and Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica). They live in tropical forest of Waigeo, Gam and Batanta islands. They have got different colours compared to their relatives in mainland New Guinea such as Lesser Birds of Paradise and Magnificent Birds of Paradise.
These beautiful birds have now become tourist attractions. Local people in Batanta, Gam and Waigeo islands whose forests are the playing areas of these paradise birds could generate income from tourism. Usually, tourists go to the lek of Red Bird of Paradise early in the mornings and in the afternoons.
Where to watch the Red Bird of Paradise?
Some watching sites in Saporkren village of Waigeo have got wooden stages made of wood that are built several meters above the ground. This allows visitors to have better window among trees when they watch the paradise birds. There are other birds that also land on the same trees just to take a break before continuing their journey. They include Hooded Butcherbird, Helmetted Friarbird, Blyth's Hornbill, and Palm Cockatoo. Further south around 1 kilometers from the village near the mouth of Kabui bay, there is a homestay called Yengkawe homestay. It is located in a secluded beach. Behind the beach, there is a hill covered by rainforest. In the mornings, at around 05.30, if the weather is good, the forest will be noisy of the sounds of a lot of species of birds. Red Birds of Paradise gather in trees to dance and mate. We could hear the calls of Eclectus Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, and Spangled Drongo.
Another good site for watching Red Bird of Paradise and other tropical birds is Warduwer beach that is located in the south of Waigeo island. There is a resort at the beach, its name is Raflow resort. Tourists could stay there to enjoy swimming, snorkeling and birdwatching. Some Red Bird of Paradise usually perch on the branches of trees around the resort early in the mornings. Other birds that can be watched in the surrounding trees include Eclectus Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Palm Cockatoo, Hooded Butcherbird, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Dusky Scrubfowl, Helmetted Friarbird, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Beach Kingfisher, Willie Wagtail, Eastern Osprey, Brahminy Kite, Blyth's Hornbill, White-breasted Woodswallow, Mimic Meliphaga, Hooded Butcherbird, Yellow-faced Myna, Spangled Drongo, Singing Starling, Torresian Crow, and a lot more.
Most birdwatchers bring their own binoculars. Sometimes some of them bring spotting scope and bridge camera with telephoto lens such as Nikon P1000. A laser pointer (that emits green light) is also needed. As of today, there are 2 fieldguide books that are available on the market. Birdwatchers who plan to go birding in West Papua province can choose one of them.
Field guide book
- Birds of New Guinea - second edition written by Thane K. Pratt, Bruce Beehler, John C. Anderton, Szabolcs Kókay - Princeton University Press.
- Birds of New Guinea including Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville by Phil Gregory - Lynx Edicions.
How to go to Raja Ampat?
Foreign travelers need to take international flight from their respective countries to one of the major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Makassar and Manado. After that, they can continue their trip by taking domestic flight to Sorong city. Airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air, Lion Air, and Nam Air provide regular flight service between most of the major cities in Indonesia to Sorong city. Domestic flight tickets can be bought through a popular website: traveloka.com. Arriving at Domine Eduard Osok airport of Sorong city, visitors can continue their trip by airport taxi to ferry harbour or by public transportation from the main-street outside the airport area to Pelabuhan Rakyat (ferry harbor). There they could buy tickets to cross the sea to Raja Ampat islands. There are homestays, lodges, guesthouses, dive resorts, hotels in the islands which visitors can choose to stay during their holiday.
If you are interested in taking a birdwatching trip to Raja Ampat and other birding sites in West Papua or other places such as Sulawesi and Halmahera in Indonesia and want me to organize your trip or guide you, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.