Monday, February 19, 2018

Raja Ampat Birds

Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) in Waigeo island
Raja Ampat regency of West Papua
I often visit Raja Ampat to guide visitors who are interested in birdwatching and snorkeling. Because Raja Ampat has got hundreds of small islands that are covered by tropical rainforest, the avifauna of this regency is a rich combination of sea birds that like to eat fish and rainforest birds that like to eat fruits, insects and small reptiles.

Coastal Birds
When I went birdwatching in the coastal area of Waigeo island, I was able to see Beach Kingfisher, Radjah Shelduck, Plover, Crested Tern, Frigate bird, Torresian Crow, Pacific Swallow, Brahminy Kite, and Eastern Osprey. There birds like to sit on the branches of trees that grow near the beach. For Crested Tern, they like to sit on top of poles, or on man-made wooden structures along the coast to observe the movements of fish on sea surface.

Rainforest Birds
Palm Cockatoo at the beach of Waigeo island
Tropical rainforest that covers Waigeo island stretches from the mountainous areas to coastal areas. That's why, we could see rainforest birds even when we walk along the beach. Palm Cockatoo was one of the birds that I saw at the beach of Yengkawe homestay. It was busy eating catappa fruits and I took picture of the bird using my Fujifilm HS50EXR. Palm Cockatoo was locally called Kakaktua Raja (meaning King Cockatoo). This bird likes to sit on a bare vertical branch of a tree to dry his feather under morning sun. Palm Cockatoo can also be seen in lowland to lower montane forest of mainland New Guinea from coastal area to its remote interior region.
Olive-backed Sunbird (Cynniris jugularis)
In addition to Palm Cockatoo, I saw Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Hooded Butcherbird, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Coconut Lorikeet, Olive-backed Sunbird, Spangled Drongo, Starling, Willie Wagtail, Yellow-faced Myna, Lowland Peltop, Blyth's hornbill, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra in Raja Ampat.
For me, I personally attracted to Olive-backed Sunbird. It has got a natural skill of hovering in the air like a helicopter or a dragon fly when he or she is feeding on nectar of a flower. I was able to take a good picture of the Olive-backed Sunbird in eastern part of Waigeo island when I was guiding three visitors from India. The bird was feeding on nectar of coconut flowers. When it sat to take a rest on the twig of coconut fruit, I shot him using my old camera Fujifilm HS50EXR.

Paradise Birds
Wilson's Bird of Paradise in Raja Ampat
Two important paradise birds of Raja Ampat are Wilson's Bird of Paradise and Red Bird of Paradise. They are the main target that birdwatchers like to see. I saw them in the southern region of Waigeo. In the past, we could see the birds in coastal forest, they moved deeper into the forest because of human activities such as construction of roads, and houses. My best experience of watching Red Bird of Paradise was when I guided a Chinese lady and two Australian visitors. We woke up at 04.30 and did an hour of hiking to the birding ground of Red BOP. We were very lucky because we could see the male and female birds for more than one hour. Male Red BOP performed courtship dance to attract female Red BOP. For the Wilson's BOP, it was one of the most beautiful Birds of Paradise with contrast colors of Red, Yellow, Turquoise blue, dark brown and black. Although it was a small but very attractive bird.

Birdwatching and Snorkeling Tour in mainland West Papua and Raja Ampat
Please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or by whatsapp to my number: +6281332245180.
White Sandy Beach of an Uninhabited Island in Raja Ampat

Saturday, December 16, 2017

7 Snorkeling Spots in Raja Ampat

Isanak beach in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat islands are considered as the best destination in the world for snorkeling and scuba diving. The coral reef environment of the archipelago is the natural habitat of 1,427 reef fishes, 553 hard corals and 42 mantis shrimp. It is not surprising to see that the number of visitors going to Raja Ampat increases every year.
There are a lot of snorkeling sites in Raja Ampat, for visitors who only have one to two weeks of their vacation time, I suggest that they choose locations that are close to their homestay or beach resort, and budget.
To explore coral reef sites in numerous islands of Raja Ampat, visitors can arrange snorkeling tours with the resort or homestay owners who usually have got boats for rent.
Recommended Snorkeling Spots:
Coral Reef in Raja Ampat
  1. Isanak Beach - This coral reef area is located in a small uninhabited island in the eastern tip of Waigeo. Because human activities in the island are very little, the coral reef at this beach is very healthy and is very richh of marine life. The beach faces the open water of Pacific Ocean. Visitors who want to enjoy snorkeling at this site have to be accompanied by local people. They have to bring small motorized wooden boat from the nearby village to escort you from the sea while you enjoy snorkeling. Don't forget to bring an underwater camera.
  2. Paradisea beach - This beach is located in the southern region of Waigeo island where Paradisea Dive Resort is operating. Visitors are advised to stay there for a few days if they want to enjoy snorkeling, sunbathing and birding. Snorkeling here is easy because the beach has got a wide reef flat that gradually leads to reef edge and then the drop off. Snorkeling during high tide is highly recommended to avoid any damages to the coral reef when visitors enjoy snorkeling and freediving at the beach.
  3. Yenbuba Strait - This is a famous snorkeling and scuba diving site in Raja Ampat located between Kri and Mansuar islands. A lot of marine animals can be seen in the strait from a small moorish idol, and diagonal sweetlips to hawksbill turtle to black tip reef shark and wobbegong.  
  4. Western tip of Mansuar - there are several snorkeling sites in this area, the one that faces Gam island and the ones that is at the same beach line with Sawondarek village. In the past, Sawondarek was a very good site for snorkeling. Unfortunately, its reef flat area now has broken. However, its outer reef and drop off areas are still in very good condition. Visitors who enjoy snorkeling can see barracuda, giant trevally, spadefish, grouper.
  5. Karst islets of Kabui bay - Here the sea is calm. Visitors can choose one of the many karst islets that stand on the water like mushrooms to see its marine life. There are abundant anemonefish, butterflyfish and parrotfish. If a sea-snake comes closer, don't provoke the animal. Just swim away from him. 
  6. Five Rocks - This site is suitable for more advanced snorkelers. The sea is not always calm. The marine life is abundant. Don't swim too close to the rocks when there are waves. 
  7. Cape Kri - This is one of the most recommended sites in Raja Ampat for snorkeling, freediving and scuba diving. Coral reef is very healthy with abundant marine life. Because, most often the current is strong, visitors have to be escorted by a small motorized boat. 
There are still a lot of snorkeling sites in Raja Ampat that I haven't mentioned. Visitors can explore them by themselves when taking a vacation to this beautiful tropical region. - written by Charles Roring
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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Snorkeling at Paradisea beach of Waigeo island

I visited Raja Ampat a few days ago to enjoy snorkeling and birding at Paradisea beach. It was located in the southern coast of Waigeo island approximately 35 minutes ride from Port of Waisai. The beach was an ideal site for anybody who was a nature lover. Coconut trees, catappa trees provided shade along the white sandy beach.
Raja Ampat sea
The crystal clear blue water of the beach and the coral reef of the area were the natural habitat of hundreds of species of tropical fish. Some of them were the Moorish Idol, Butterflyfish, Anemonefish, Striped Surgeonfish, and Diagonal Sweetlips.
Reef fosh in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat has been famous around the world as one of the best destinations for scuba divers and snorkelers. If you are interested in Snorkeling and Birding in Raja Ampat, please, contact me by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com or whatsapp: +6281332245180

Friday, December 1, 2017

Birding and Snorkeling at Paradisea Beach of Raja Ampat

I have just finished a birding and snorkeling trip in Raja Ampat today. I visited a place in southern area of Waigeo called Paradisea beach. Although I only spent 2 days there, my birding experience was very nice. I saw Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Eclectus Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Rufous Bellied Kookaburra, Willie Wagtail, Spangled Drongo, Common Brush Turkey, Yellow-faced Myna, Blyth's Hornbill, Little Tern, Red Bird of Paradise and a lot more.
Female Red Bird of Paradise ( Paradisaea rubra
Pinon Imperial Pigeon in Raja Ampat
The waters of Paradisea beach is also rich of healthy coral reef and tropical fish. I enjoyed snorkeling in the morning and I saw a lot of species of fish including Parrotfish, Butterflyfish, Striped Surgeonfish,and Grouper.
Unfortunately, my underwater camera was broken a few years ago. So, I could not take pictures of the fish and its beautiful marine environment.
Paradisea beach of Raja Ampat
Paradisea beach is located approximately 30 minutes ride to the south of Waigeo island from the harbor of Waisai. It is very potential destination for visitors who like birding and snorkeling. I frequently visit Raja Ampat but it was my first experience of birding and snorkeling at paradisea beach. I like the place very much. If you are interested in snorkeling and birding in Raja Ampat and need me as your private guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) e-mail to: peace4wp@gmail.com or send text message to my whatsapp: +6281332245180.
Don't forget to bring your snorkeling gear, underwater camera, binoculars and spotting scope.
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ornithoptera tithonus

Birdwing Butterfly Ornithoptera tithonus
Birds are not the only animals that attract my attention. When I guide tourists in the forest or at the beach, I like to take pictures of everything from beautiful lanscape to paradise birds and butterflies. Last week, I guided 3 French visitors in Arfak range. I saw several species of birdwing butterflies that were eating the nectar of flowers. Here is the picture of Ornithoptera tithonus that was feeding on the nectar of New Guinea impatient flowers. His wings were mostly decorated with black, green and yellow colours. For the female butterflies, their wings have got black, white and yellow colours. The best time to observe butterflies is during dry season, such as in September, October and November.
Snake in the forest of Arfak range
In addition to butterflies and birds, visitors may see other animals such as snakes, and cuscus possum, soa-soa lizards during their trip in Arfak range. I personally saw a snake two months ago when I went camping in lower montane forest of Arfak mountains. I did not know whether it was a venomous one or not. So, when I took a picture of the reptile, I kept a safe distance from it.
Arfak range has been a famous destination in Manokwari for birding and wildlife watching.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Watching Paradise Birds with Some American Photographers

Male Lesser Birds of Paradise
Early this month I organized a hiking and birding tour in Klasow valley for some American photographers. They were led by a lady - Adriana. We spent 2 nights exploring the rainforest of the valley to find Lesser Birds of Paradise and a lot of other species of birds that live in the tropical jungle of Sorong regency.
During the hiking and birding tour, we were able to see Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow Faced Myna, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Golden Myna, Helmetted Friarbird, Blyth's hornbill. In the last day of our trip, we trip to spot a King Bird of Paradise but we were not so successful in finding the bird.
To watch Lesser Birds of Paradise, we had to wake up early in the morning at 04.30. After making preparations, we had to walk for 1 hour to reach the birding ground. It was a great experience. We were able to watch paradise birds for several hours. I was able to take pictures of the birds too. After the wonderful adventure in the jungle, we return to Sorong city again by two 4wd-pickup cars.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Birding Tour in Manokwari Highland and Lowland Forest

Magnificent Bird of Paradise
I have just completed a 1-week birding tour with Bruno, Michelle and Chantal. They were 3 birders who came from France. We visited higher montane forest of Arfak range for 3 days and 3 nights and lowland forest of Manokwari for 3 days/ 2 nights.
During the first leg of our tour in higher elevation forest of Arfak mountains, we watched several species of birds of paradise including Magnificent Birds of Paradise, Western Parotia. For me, I was so happy because I could see Magnificent Birds of Paradise again.
In the second leg of our birding trip, we enjoyed hiking, camping, swimming and birdwatching along a river in Manokwari.
Birding in Lowland Forest of Manokwari
There are tropical birds that we watched including Little Egret, Brahminy Kite, Grey Crow, Great-billed Heron, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Lowland Peltop, Pacific Baza and Palm Cockatoo. The tropical rainforest in lowland area of Manokwari is relatively a new birding destination. We haven't built guesthoses in the forest for visitors. So, we use tents if we want to stay for several days.
The birding tour in lowland forest of Manokwari was a more adventurous trip. We spent most of our time, walking along the bank of a river or wading through its knee-depth water to find such birds as Little Ringed Plover, Grey Wagtail and Variable Goshawk.
Our birding experience was greatly enhanced with a Swarovski HD spotting scope brought by one of the tour participants. It was a nice birding adventure and I hope to be back into the jungle again soon.