Thursday, January 7, 2016

Birding Trip in Sorong regency of West Papua

I spent New Year 2016 in the jungle of Sorong regency. I organized two birding trips for birdventures.com and then for a guest from the Netherlands. Each of the trip lasted for 3 days. These birdwatching tours were greatly enhanced with the use of a powerful spotting scope - Eyeskey 20-60x60 that I ordered from Hongkong. With this device, we could clearly see several species of tropical birds in distant trees.
Simon Thomson, the owner of birdventures.com, kindly shared his expertise in identifying birds and experience in running birding tours in many parts of the world. Simon, his mother, and Mark Welford came from the United States of America. They stayed in Swiss-Belhotel of Sorong. We went birding in the jungle of Klasow valley from 31 Des 2015 until 2 Jan 2016. Unfortunately, Mark had an injury on his knee after an accident in Raja Ampat. He could only go birding in the suburb of Sorong when our chartered car, together with him, came from the city to pick us up.
After that I guided Mr. Jan Houthijzen from 3 to 5 January. We went birding in the same forest. He said that the number of bird species that he could see was higher than expectation.
Species of Birds
Some of the New Guinea birds that we saw were moustached tree-swift, sulphur crested cockatoo, large fig-parrot, red-cheeked parrot, rainbow lorikeet, noisy friarbird, scrub wren, golden myna, lesser birds of paradise, westerned crowned pigeon, black lory, and pink spotted fruit dove, pinon imperial pigeon, beautiful fruit dove, grey crow, yellow-billed kingfisher. We also heard Papuan frogmouth night.
Fieldguide
As a birdwatcher, I highly rely on a book entitled Birds of New Guinea: Second edition (Princeton Field Guides) for identifying names in English and Latin, and getting more info about its certain characteristics and natural habitat. Don't forget to buy the book if you plan to go birding in West Papua. I organized the birding tour in Klasow valley approximately 1.5 hours by car from Sorong city and 2 hours walk through dense rainforest to the base camp.
Birding Camera
To take pictures of the bird, I used Fujifilm HS 50EXR. It is a bridge camera with a moderate telephoto lens that sports 42x optical zoom. I was quite lucky during the last part of the birdwatching tour because I was able to shoot dwarf kingfisher that was sitting on a branch above a small river. Today, Nikon has launched a powerful camera that is affordable for serious birdwatchers, it is called Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In Wi-Fi(Black).
The camera has got pre-defined setting for shooting birds. 
This small bird was not afraid of humans who me and Jan (the Dutch) tourist who were nervously and carefully aiming our camera at it. The dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx lepidus) was at the branch approximately 4 meters from us. I made some pictures of the bird.
The lowland rainforest of Klasow valley is not only the natural habitat of a lot of birds but also wallaby, wild pigs, bandicoot, soa-soa lizard and numerous colorful butterfly.
Sorong city is the entrance gate to Raja Ampat islands - the most popular destination in the world for scuba divers. However, its regency is not famous as tourist destination. To promote eco-tourism and preservation of tropical rainforest in Sorong, I introduced birding trips to Klasow valley. I hope that in the coming years, the number of tourists who visit Sorong's forest will increase. If you are interested, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.com.