An adult male Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus feasts on the fruit of a Pandanus-palm high-up in the cloud-forest of the Arfak Mountains. Copyright © Myron Tay flickr.com/photos/avianphotography
Birding expedition (9 days/8 nights)
This West Papuan birding expedition focuses exclusively on the isolated and rugged Arfak Mountains in the eastern sector of New Guinea's Bird's Head or Vogelkop Peninsula, near the provincial capital Manokwari.
On the first and main leg of our birding adventure we basically follow in the footsteps of the great Italian naturalists D'Albertis and Beccari, who once collected in the Hattam-country only a few kilometers away from our base in the Arfak Mountains on the mid-slopes of majestic Mount Indon, towering 2,425 m above the Prafi Valley.
150 Years have now elapsed since the intrepid D'Albertis was the first westerner to penetrate any distance into the mountains of New Guinea exactly here in 1872, but birding these magnificent woods, swathed in clouds during parts of most days, remains an irresistible adventure. A privileged opportunity also, to be taken in tow by the Hattam, across their ancestral lands, and marvel at endemic birdlife that comparatively few outsiders have ventured to come and see before.
The second leg of our expedition then takes us to the Anggi Giji basin, situated at 1,860 m elevation in the Sougb-country of the southern Arfak Mountains, primarily in pursuit of its endemic Grey-banded Munia. But the visually stunning Anggi Giji basin is also an excellent place to come to grips with more widely ranging wet grassland specialists like Lewin's Rail and Spotless Crake. And stands of swampy Pandanus-dominated forest at the base of the surrounding slopes support the nearly mythical Shovel-billed Kookaburra, with a good selection of the montane Arfak avifauna waiting to be explored uphill.
Possible year-round, but most certainly best from June to November.
Please enquire for details on our upcoming departures.
Reasonable physical fitness and good agility are required for this tour which plies some challenging terrain.
Day 1 > Manokwari and Arfak montane forests.
Day 2-5 > Arfak montane forests.
Day 6 > Arfak montane forests and Anggi Giji basin.
Day 7 > Anggi Giji basin.
Day 8 > Anggi Giji basin and Manokwari.
Day 9 > Manokwari.
Day 1 > Manokwari and Arfak montane forests Morning arrival at Manokwari's Rendani Airport on overnight domestic flight from Jakarta or alternative gateway. We will be there to welcome you at the airport, and we shall soon set out together on the two hours' drive by chartered 4WD-vehicle to a community-owned guest house located at c. 1,600 m elevation in the Mount Indon area of the Arfak Mountains. We shall make several stops en route where we may be rewarded with sightings of Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Sultan's Cuckoo-Dove, Ornate, Superb, Claret-breasted and Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Pinon's Imperial Pigeon, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Moustached Treeswift, Blyth's Hornbill, Palm and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Pesquet's, Eclectus and Blue-collared Parrot, Masked Bowerbird, Obscure Berrypecker, Mountain Peltops, Black-bellied Cicadabird, Piping Bellbird, Rusty Whistler, Northern Variable Pitohui, Black-winged Monarch, Torrent-lark, Grey Crow, Magnificent Riflebird, Lesser Bird-of-paradise, Black-chinned Robin, Torrent Flyrobin, and Olive-crowned Flowerpecker. After a packed lunch at the guest house we shall then start our exploration of these fabled mountains proper with a gentle introduction to the commoner or more conspicuous species of the garden clearings and roadside gap-phase environment: Variable Goshawk, Sultan's, Bar-tailed and Great Cuckoo-Dove, Mountain Fruit Dove, White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Plum-faced and Yellow-billed Lorikeet, White-shouldered Fairywren, Western Smoky Honeyeater, Red-collared Myzomela, Vogelkop and Ornate Melidectes, Vogelkop and Grey-green Scrubwren, Brown-breasted Gerygone, Grey Thornbill, Mid-mountain Berrypecker, Spectacled Longbill, Black-breasted Boatbill, Sclater's Whistler, Black Fantail, Black Monarch, Western Parotia, Blue-grey Robin, Canary Flyrobin, Island Leaf Warbler, Capped and New Guinea White-eye, and Streak-headed Munia. Other goodies we may come to grips with here include New Guinea and Pygmy Eagle, Collared Sparrowhawk, Metallic Pigeon, Pesquet's and Blue-collared Parrot, Pygmy, Fairy and Josephine's Lorikeet, Thick-billed Berrypecker, Mottled Berryhunter, Crinkle-collared and Trumpet Manucode, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Crescent-caped Lophorina, Black-billed Sicklebill, and both Blue-faced and Papuan Parrotfinch. Finally, a nocturnal excursion after dinner could produce Greater Sooty Owl, Papuan Boobook and Feline and Mountain Owlet-nightjar, while the predominantly lowland-dwelling Papuan Hawk-Owl and Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth also have been recorded here on occasion. Overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 2 > Arfak montane forests After a pre-dawn breakfast, we shall monitor nearby display courts of the Western Parotia from well-appointed hides. The wacko ballet performance of the court-tending male of this species simply has to be witnessed to be believed and invariably ranks as the highlight of a birding trip to the Arfaks. Besides the not-to-be-missed display performances of the parotias themselves, these hides potentially also offer an intimate window of observation into the secretive lives of habitual ground-dwellers as Wattled Brushturkey, White-striped Forest Rail, Cinnamon and Bronze Ground Dove, Mountain Mouse-warbler, Spotted Jewel-babbler, Ashy and Green-backed Robin, and Lesser Ground Robin. Following lunch back at the guest house, there shall be further opportunities to spend potentially rewarding time with the parotias, or to get up close and personal with the highly entertaining Vogelkop Bowerbird from one of the hides set up in front of its formidable so-called roofed maypole bowers in the area. The last hours of light shall see us birding around the garden clearings. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 3 > Arfak montane forests Following a hearty nocturnal breakfast, we shall hike pre-dawn to an area of secondary forest where a number of display courts of the Magnificent Bird-of-paradise are located in close proximity to one another in a so-called exploded lek configuration. Here we stand an excellent chance of witnessing the amazing array of display postures and high-intensity male-female interactions in this glorious species at close range from well-appointed hides. Other birds often in evidence around the courts here include Wattled Brushturkey, White-striped Forest Rail, Stephan's Emerald Dove, Cinnamon Ground Dove, Pacific Koel, Arfak Catbird, Rusty Mouse-warbler, Pale-billed Scrubwren, Green-backed Robin, and Trumpet Manucode. In the surrounding forest we may see New Guinea Bronzewing, Superb Fruit Dove, Wallace's Fairywren, Long-billed and Marbled Honeyeater, Red, Papuan Black and Mountain Myzomela, Mountain Honeyeater, Goldenface, Fairy Gerygone, Yellow-bellied Longbill, Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler, Vogelkop and Sclater's Whistler, Arafura Shrikethrush, Hooded Pitohui, Rufous-backed and Drongo Fantail, Black-winged and Frilled Monarch, White-faced and White-rumped Robin, Papuan Scrub Robin, Yellow-legged Flyrobin, and Black-fronted White-eye. We shall enjoy a packed lunch on site and continue our search for some of these more elusive species throughout the afternoon, or we could spend potentially rewarding time with the Magnificent Bird-of-paradise again. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Needless to say we are still talking about our trip and the wonderful time we had, not the least of which was the pleasure of your company. There is nothing we can think of that would enhance your tours. You have literally thought of everything and really go the extra mile to ensure your guests are comfortable and get maximum value. We were also most impressed with the way you deal with the local communities. — Doug and Ulai Kirwin, Thailand
Day 4 > Arfak montane forests After a pre-dawn breakfast, we shall bird all day along a loop ascending to a high point at c. 2,000 m elevation in pursuit of three potentially highly elusive species of bird-of-paradise present here: Arfak Astrapia, Black Sicklebill and Black-billed Sicklebill. Most of the trail follows gently-sloping ridgetop cloud-forest but we shall also be traversing some challenging and steep terrain. Other goodies we may come across along the loop include Wattled Brushturkey, New Guinea Eagle, Ornate Fruit Dove, Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Brehm's and Modest Tiger Parrot, Papuan Lorikeet, Vogelkop Bowerbird, Papuan Treecreeper, Orange-crowned Fairywren, Rufous-sided Honeyeater, Olive Straightbill, Black-throated Honeyeater, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Mountain Mouse-warbler, Perplexing Scrubwren, Papuan Logrunner, Fan-tailed and Tit Berrypecker, Spotted Jewel-babbler, Mottled Berryhunter, Papuan Sittella, Rufous-naped Bellbird, Black Pitohui, Regent Whistler, Friendly and Dimorphic Fantail, Lesser Melampitta, Ashy, Black-throated, Smoky and Garnet Robin, and Lesser Ground Robin. We shall enjoy a packed lunch in a natural forest clearing in which Archbold's Nightjar has been found to nest, and where Black-mantled and Meyer's Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Mountain Swiftlet, and Great Woodswallow may be seen flying overhead. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 5 > Arfak montane forests Following a pre-dawn breakfast, there shall be a final opportunity for an observation session at either the Vogelkop Bowerbird, Western Parotia or Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, or we could bird in the wider vicinity in search of some of the more elusive species already mentioned above. Alternatively, if circumstances thereto are deemed favorable, we could try our luck at an active display site of the Crescent-caped Lophorina, a jaw-dropping shape-shifter that normally performs very infrequently only. After lunch back at the guest house, we shall then proceed to a popular display tree of the stunning Lesser Bird-of-paradise, taking ample time to observe the up to six plumed males that normally gather here, interacting with soliciting females. Other noteworthy species we may encounter here include Moluccan King Parrot, Masked Bowerbird, Wallace's Fairywren, Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler, Vogelkop Whistler, Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Black-winged Monarch, Crinkle-collared and Trumpet Manucode, Magnificent Riflebird, White-faced and White-rumped Robin, and Papuan Scrub Robin. And with all the luck in the world we may be treated to a Vogelkop Owlet-nightjar at its day-time roost here. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 6 > Arfak montane forests and Anggi Giji basin After breakfast and a final morning's birding in the Mount Indon area of the Arfak Mountains, we shall set out on the three hours' drive by chartered 4WD-vehicle to our host village near the shores of Lake Anggi Giji, enjoying a packed lunch en route. Along the seasonally fluctuating lake edge, Pacific Black Duck, Tricolored Grebe, Nankeen Night Heron, Great and Intermediate Egret, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant, and Eurasian Coot can be numerous, and it shall not take long before we spot our first Grey-banded Munias, which in season can congregate in flocks of more than 150 individuals. But observing the two secretive rails may require considerable effort and is influenced also by water levels in the basin. Come evening and we shall take up position near locally exposed muddy stretches at the interface between water and grassland or reedbeds. Here both Lewin's Rail and Spotless Crake ordinarily come out to feed toward dusk, and we may hear both species vocalizing in season. Other birds we may see here include Yellow and Black Bittern, Baillon's Crake, White-shouldered Fairywren, Australian Reed Warbler, and Papuan Grassbird. Dinner and overnight in village residence.
Day 7 > Anggi Giji basin Following a hearty nocturnal breakfast, a pre-dawn foray could produce Papuan Boobook, Large-tailed Nightjar and Feline and Mountain Owlet-nightjar. Around the crack of dawn then we hope to find the nearly mythical Shovel-billed Kookaburra as it starts calling from the surrounding forested hill slopes. Other noteworthy forest birds that we may encounter here include New Guinea Woodcock, New Guinea Eagle, Vogelkop Bowerbird, Rufous-sided and Western Smoky Honeyeater, Vogelkop Melidectes, Mountain Mouse-warbler, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Fan-tailed Berrypecker, Papuan Sittella, Black Sicklebill, Ashy Robin, and Lesser Ground Robin. We shall enjoy a packed lunch on site and continue our search for some of these most elusive species throughout the afternoon, with a potential resit for the Shovel-billed Kookaburra around dusk. Dinner and overnight in village residence.
Day 8 > Anggi Giji basin and Manokwari After breakfast and a final morning's birding in the Anggi Giji basin, we shall enjoy lunch at our village abode and drive back to Manokwari, making several birding stops en route. Dinner and overnight in our partnering Manokwari hotel.
Day 9 > Manokwari We shall enjoy breakfast in our Manokwari hotel and transfer you to Manokwari's Rendani Airport to check you in for the first morning flight to Jakarta or alternative destination.
❯Read on about the birdlife of the Arfak Mountains.
❯Read on about our Easy West Papua birding expedition visiting the Arfak Mountains.
❯Read on about our filming expedition for Vogelkop Bowerbird in the Arfak Mountains with the BBC Natural History Unit.
❯Browse our terms and conditions.
❯Browse our checklist of the birds of West Papua
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