The delightful Western Crowned Pigeon Goura cristata is among 65 bird species that are endemic to West Papua and, except for an introduced population on the Moluccan island of Seram, occurs nowhere else on Earth. Copyright © Bent Pedersen
Birding expedition (12 days/11 nights)
We begin our West Papuan birding adventure with two relaxed introductory excursions outside the town of Sorong, situated on the northwestern tip of New Guinea's Bird's Head or Vogelkop Peninsula. Next morning we set out on a four days' pilgrimage to the avian delights of Waigeo Island in the fabled Raja Ampat archipelago off Sorong.
The second leg of our birding adventure takes us to the Arfak Mountains near the town of Manokwari, on the opposite eastern side of the Bird's Head, where we shall be based for five nights in search of an entire suite of so-called Vogelkop endemics.
This is the very best the Bird's Head has to offer in a relaxed and worry free, seamless travel experience!
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 > Sorong and Sorong lowlands.
Day 2 > Sorong and Waigeo Island.
Day 3-4 > Waigeo Island.
Day 5 > Waigeo Island and Sorong.
Day 6 > Sorong, Manokwari and Arfak montane forests.
Day 7-10 > Arfak montane forests.
Day 11 > Arfak montane forests and Manokwari.
Day 12 > Manokwari.
Day 1 > Sorong and Sorong lowlands Morning arrival at Sorong's DEO Airport on overnight domestic flight from Jakarta or alternative gateway. We will be there to welcome you at the airport, and we shall soon drive out together by chartered vehicle for 30 minutes along a road winding into the surrounding foothills. Here we shall bird the rest of the morning through selectively logged rainforest along the road, making incursions into the forest as necessary in search of our main targets: the West Papua endemic Red-billed Brushturkey and Black Lory and the restricted-range Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher. Other noteworthy species we may encounter here include Pacific Baza, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Pygmy and Gurney's Eagle, Variable and Grey-headed Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Wompoo, Pink-spotted, Claret-breasted, Orange-bellied and Dwarf Fruit Dove, Purple-tailed, Pinon's and Zoe's Imperial Pigeon, Greater and Lesser Black Coucal, Dwarf Koel, Little Bronze Cuckoo, White-crowned and Brush Cuckoo, Papuan Spine-tailed Swift, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Blyth's Hornbill, Palm and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus and Red-cheeked Parrot, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Black-capped Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Papuan and Hooded Pitta, Emperor Fairywren, Green-backed, Long-billed, Plain and Streak-headed Honeyeater, New Guinea Friarbird, Spotted, Tawny-breasted, Puff-backed, Mimic and Yellow-gaped Honeyeater, Rusty Mouse-warbler, Yellow-bellied, Green-backed and Fairy Gerygone, Black Berrypecker, Spectacled, Pygmy and Yellow-bellied Longbill, Lowland Peltops, Black and Hooded Butcherbird, Boyer's and Golden Cuckooshrike, Grey-headed and Black Cicadabird, Black-browed Triller, Grey Whistler, Arafura Shrikethrush, Brown Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Northern Fantail, Spot-winged, Golden and Frilled Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Grey Crow, Glossy-mantled and Trumpet Manucode, Metallic Starling, Yellow-faced Myna, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Black and Olive-backed Sunbird, and Streak-headed Munia. Other sought-after birds that occur here include New Guinea Eagle, Western Crowned Pigeon, Long-billed Cuckoo, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Pesquet's Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Moluccan King Parrot, Dusky Lory, Large Fig Parrot, Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot, Wallace's Fairywren, Papuan Babbler, Southern Variable Pitohui, Magnificent Riflebird, Magnificent, King and Lesser Bird-of-paradise, and Golden Myna. We shall enjoy lunch in town and continue our search for some of these more elusive species throughout the afternoon. The final hour of light or so shall see us gathered at an open vantage point to witness evening flights of pigeons, hornbills and parrots, the latter usually including the West Papua endemic Black Lory. Finally, a nocturnal foray here could produce both Papuan Hawk-Owl and Boobook, Rufous Owl, Papuan and Large-tailed Nightjar, and Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth. Dinner and overnight in our partnering Sorong hotel.
Day 2 > Sorong and Waigeo Island After breakfast in our Sorong hotel, we shall set out on the two hours' ride by scheduled public fast boat across Dampier Strait to Waigeo. En route we may be rewarded with sightings of Lesser Frigatebird, Brown Booby, Brown and Black Noddy, Greater and Lesser Crested Tern, Bridled, Black-naped and Common Tern as well as Streaked and Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Red-necked Phalarope and Whiskered and White-winged Tern in season. Other migrant or vagrant species we may come to grips with en route include Wilson's and Matsudaira's Storm Petrel, Bulwer's Petrel, Red-footed Booby, Black-headed Gull, Gull-billed, Spectacled and Sooty Tern, and Pomarine Skua. We shall then continue overland by chartered 4WD-vehicle to our partnering resort located on the beach-front on Waigeo's southwestern shores. Birds we may encounter around the resort include Pacific Reef Heron, Osprey, Stephan's Emerald Dove, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Spice and Pied Imperial Pigeon, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Beach and Sacred Kingfisher, Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot, New Guinea Friarbird, Mimic Honeyeater, Large-billed Gerygone, Hooded Butcherbird, Willie Wagtail, Shining Flycatcher, Torresian Crow, and Olive-backed Sunbird. We shall enjoy lunch at the resort and drive out by chartered 4WD-vehicle again along a track winding into the surrounding forested limestone hills, where we shall start our exploration of Waigeo proper. Blyth's Hornbills and colorful parrots, including Palm and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Black-capped Lory and Coconut Lorikeet may fly overhead as we acquaint ourselves with the vocally or behaviorally conspicuous subset of the forest avifauna here: Variable and Grey-headed Goshawk, Sultan's and Great Cuckoo-Dove, Wompoo, Pink-spotted, Superb, Beautiful and Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Pinon's Imperial Pigeon, Brush Cuckoo, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Grey Whistler, Rusty and Raja Ampat Pitohui, Brown Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Northern Fantail, Spot-winged, Golden and Frilled Monarch, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Black-sided Robin, Yellow-faced Myna, and Olive-crowned Flowerpecker. Finally, a nocturnal foray en route back down toward the coast could produce Greater Sooty and Rufous Owl, Papuan Boobook, Large-tailed Nightjar, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth, and Wallace's Owlet-nightjar. Dinner and overnight in resort.
Day 3 > Waigeo Island Following a pre-dawn breakfast, we shall proceed by chartered 4WD-vehicle to an area where a number of display courts of the Wilson's 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 full array of display postures and high-intensity male-female interactions in this nearly mythical species at close range from well-appointed hides. Other species often visiting the courts here include Red-necked Crake, Cinnamon Ground Dove, Papuan Pitta, Rusty Mouse-warbler and Pale-billed Scrubwren. We shall then bird the wider vicinity, primarily in search of the Western Crowned Pigeon, which we may stumble upon along the track or flush up with clapping wing beats from the forest floor to alight in nearby tall forest trees. Other goodies we may come to grips with here include Dusky Megapode, Pacific Baza, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Pygmy and Gurney's Eagle, Collared Sparrowhawk, New Guinea Bronzewing, Pheasant Pigeon, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Dwarf Koel, White-eared and Little Bronze Cuckoo, White-crowned Cuckoo, Moustached Treeswift, Hook-billed Kingfisher, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Moluccan King Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot, White-eared Catbird, Green-backed, Brown-backed and Long-billed Honeyeater, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Spotted and Puff-backed Honeyeater, Yellow-bellied, Green-backed and Fairy Gerygone, Black Berrypecker, Spectacled, Pygmy and Yellow-bellied Longbill, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Lowland Peltops, Black Butcherbird, Barred Cuckooshrike, Common and Black Cicadabird, Waigeo Shrikethrush, Sooty Thicket Fantail, Brown-headed Crow, and Olive Flyrobin. We shall enjoy lunch at the resort and continue our search for some of these more elusive species throughout the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in resort.
Day 4 > Waigeo Island After a pre-dawn breakfast, we shall proceed by chartered 4WD-vehicle to an area that holds a popular display tree of the fabled Red Bird-of-paradise, taking ample time to observe the up to eight plumed males that normally gather here, interacting with soliciting females. The rest of the day we shall bird the wider vicinity in search of the more elusive species already mentioned above. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight in resort.
Day 5 > Waigeo Island and Sorong After a pre-dawn breakfast there shall be a final opportunity for an observation session at either the Wilson's or Red Bird-of-paradise. Alternatively, we could bird in the wider vicinity in search of some of the more elusive species already mentioned above. Following lunch back at the resort, we shall then drive out by chartered 4WD-vehicle to catch the public fast boat back to Sorong. Dinner and overnight in Sorong hotel.
Day 6 > Sorong, Manokwari and Arfak montane forests We shall enjoy breakfast in our Sorong hotel and transfer to Sorong's DEO Airport for the first morning flight to Manokwari. We shall soon set out 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, 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 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, Glossy-mantled, Crinkle-collared and Trumpet Manucode, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Crescent-caped Lophorina, Black-billed Sicklebill, Papuan Grassbird, New Guinea White-eye, and both Blue-faced and Papuan Parrotfinch, as well as Gray's Grasshopper Warbler in season. 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.
Once again thanks so much for this birdwatching trip. It has been very special for me and I will never forget this experience. — Philip Koch, Wildlife Biologist, Germany
Day 7 > 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 8 > 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 Glossy-mantled, Crinkle-collared 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.
Day 9 > 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 10 > Arfak montane forests Following a nocturnal breakfast, we shall 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 New Guinea Eagle, Pheasant Pigeon, Moluccan King Parrot, Papuan Pitta, Masked Bowerbird, Wallace's Fairywren, Green-backed, Spotted and Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, Piping Bellbird, Rusty, Vogelkop and Grey Whistler, Northern Variable Pitohui, Chestnut-bellied and Rufous-backed Fantail, Black-winged and Frilled Monarch, Grey Crow, Glossy-mantled, 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. 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 Lesser Bird-of-paradise again. 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. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 11 > Arfak montane forests and Manokwari We have an entire day to capitalize on some of the more elusive Arfak montane specialties already mentioned above and shall drive back to Manokwari in the evening for dinner and a good night's rest in our partnering Manokwari hotel. Breakfast and lunch in community-owned guest house. Dinner and overnight in Manokwari hotel.
Day 12 > 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 Vogelkop lowlands.
❯Read on about the birdlife of Waigeo Island.
❯Read on about the birdlife of the Arfak Mountains.
❯Read on about the first photographs taken of Bruijn's Brushturkey in the wild on Waigeo Island on a PE exploratory bird tour.
❯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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