Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sorong city the gate to Raja Ampat and the Jungle New Guinea


Pelabuhan Rakyat of Sorong City
I have been running snorkeling and rainforest tours from Sorong city since last year. Sorong has been famous around the world because it is the main gate for entering Raja Ampat islands. Flights to DEO airport can be taken from major cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Ambon and Manado. Tens of thousands of visitors go Sorong every year to continue their trip in Raja Ampat where they will be able to enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling or climbing steep karst islets to see its beautiful scenery.
As a tour guide, I offer tour packages for snorkeling in Raja Ampat or trekking and birding in Tambrauw Mountains.
This week I will be guiding some French tourists on a jungle tour in Klasow valley. We will see tropical plants, butterflies and colorful beetles and birds. We also want to see wallaby and deer that live in the jungle.
This evening, I still have some relax moment of sitting at a street food stall eating a traditional Indonesian fried chicken cuisine called 'Ayam Lalapan'.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Watching Little Frigatebirds at Bakaro Beach

I am sitting at Bakaro beach now. It is approximately 30 minutes ride from the city. Near evening time, I saw some Lesser Frigatebirds flying over the sea in search of food. Female frigatebirds have got more white flanks on their chest and armpits. They are mostly black with fish as their main food. I can identify the birds because I bring my binoculars and have got Birds of New Guinea e-book in my tablet. Unfortunately, I don't bring my telephoto camera, so, I couldn't shoot the birds.

Marinelife
I used to see dolphins, and a lot of reef fish in the waters of Bakaro. Coral reef in Bakaro is relatively in good condition. Unfortunately, its white sandy beach is littered with a lot of plastic wastes and soft drink cans. Every Sunday, when the weather is good city dwellers of Manokwari like to come here for picnics and swim. Very few of them are brave enough to enjoy snorkeling in deeper water. 
Between November and March, the northern coast of Manokwari is exposed to bigger waves. So, it is the period that is suitable for wave surfers. For me, it is a rigt time to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the beach.

Wounded Moustached Tree Swift

When I went birding in the jungle of Klasow valley early this year with two birdwatchers from birdventures.com, I had an opportunity to see a Moustached Tree Swift closely. A boy from the jungle village, picked it up on the ground after watching it falling from the air. He told us that this bird was fighting against another tree swift and got hit on his eye.
Moustached Tree Swift
Simon Thomson, one of the birdwatchers, held the bird and put it on his Swarovski Optiks HD-ATS-80 HD Spotting Scope with 20x60 Eyepiece (Angled, 80mm) for closer examination. Because of the fighting, the bird suffered severe injury on his eyes. Free fall to the ground also worsened his condition.
I asked the boy what food he had given to the bird to help him survive. He answered, "sweet tea." We were so surprised to hear that. Later, Simon explained that the bird should be given insects such as grasshopper. There were around fifteen children who were around us.
After that they boy returned to his house which was not far from our basecamp. The next two days when I returned again to the valley with a Dutch tourist, they children told me that the bird did not survive. I was sad to hear that but highly appreciated the boy's effort in helping the bird.
Klasow valley is a birding site in Sorong regency of West Papua. The jungle village near Klabolo stream where I stayed was a new human settlement in the jungle. The villagers were cutting trees, clearing the lands to open vegetable gardens and build their houses. The valley is also the natural habitat of abundant butterflies, wallaby, and tropical plants.
I introduce ecotourism in the valley to curb illegal logging and to stop the destruction of rainforest. Visitors need to walk for around one and a half hour to reach the jungle village. To travel to the valley, every visitor needs a good backpack that can carry some clothes, and photographic equipment.
Birdwatchers and nature lovers who want to see tropical rainforest or watch birds in West Papua can contact me (Charles Roring) by email to peace4wp@gmail.com.

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.