The delightful Western Crowned Pigeon Goura cristata is among 60 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 (11 days/10 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. Finally, we shift our attention 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 four 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, Sorong lowlands, Manokwari, and Arfak montane forests.
Day 7-9 > Arfak montane forests.
Day 10 > Arfak montane forests and Manokwari.
Day 11 > 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 restricted-range Red-billed Brushturkey, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher and Black Lory. Other noteworthy species present here include Pacific Baza, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, New Guinea, 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, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Blyth's Hornbill, Palm and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Pesquet's Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Moluccan King Parrot, Eclectus and Red-cheeked Parrot, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Black-capped and Dusky Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Large and Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot, Papuan and Hooded Pitta, Wallace's and Emperor Fairywren, Green-backed, Plain, Streak-headed, Spotted and Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, New Guinea Friarbird, Long-billed, Mimic, Yellow-gaped and Puff-backed Honeyeater, Rusty Mouse-warbler, Yellow-bellied, Green-backed and Fairy Gerygone, Papuan Babbler, Black Berrypecker, Dwarf, 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, Southern Variable Pitohui, Brown Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Northern Fantail, Spot-winged, Golden and Frilled Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Grey Crow, Glossy-mantled and Trumpet Manucode, Magnificent Riflebird, Magnificent, King and Lesser Bird-of-paradise, Metallic Starling, Yellow-faced and Golden Myna, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Black and Olive-backed Sunbird, and Streak-headed Munia. 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 restricted-range Black Lory. Finally, a nocturnal foray here could produce Rufous Owl, both Papuan Boobook and Hawk-Owl, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth, and Papuan and Large-tailed Nightjar. Dinner and overnight in Sorong hotel.
Day 2 > Sorong and Waigeo Island After breakfast in our partnering 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 Matsudaira's Storm Petrel, Streaked and Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel, Red-necked Phalarope, and Pomarine Skua in season. We shall then continue overland by chartered 4WD-vehicle to a family-owned guest house located on the beach-front on Waigeo's southwestern shores. Birds we may encounter around the guest house include Pacific Reef Heron, Eastern 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 guest house 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. The final hours of light we shall devote to 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. Finally, a nocturnal foray en route back down toward the coast could produce Rufous Owl, Papuan Boobook, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth, Large-tailed Nightjar, and Wallace's Owlet-nightjar. Dinner and overnight in family-owned guest house.
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 Cinnamon Ground Dove, Pheasant Pigeon, Papuan Pitta, Rusty Mouse-warbler, Pale-billed Scrubwren, and Black Butcherbird. 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, Red-necked Crake, New Guinea Bronzewing, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon, Dwarf Koel, 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, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Green-backed, Spotted, Long-billed, Brown-backed and Puff-backed Honeyeater, Yellow-bellied, Green-backed and Fairy Gerygone, Black Berrypecker, Dwarf, Pygmy and Yellow-bellied Longbill, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Lowland Peltops, Barred Cuckooshrike, Common and Black Cicadabird, Waigeo Shrikethrush, Sooty Thicket Fantail, Brown-headed Crow, and Olive Flyrobin. We shall enjoy lunch at the guest house and continue our search for some of these more elusive species throughout the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in family-owned guest house.
Day 4 > Waigeo Island Today there shall be further opportunities to spend potentially rewarding time with the Wilson's and Red Bird-of-paradise, or we could simply bird in the wider vicinity in search of some of the more elusive species already mentioned above. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight in family-owned guest house.
Day 5 > Waigeo Island and Sorong After 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 guest house, we shall then drive out by chartered 4WD-vehicle to catch the public fast boat back to Sorong. Dinner and overnight in Sorong hotel.
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 6 > Sorong, Sorong lowlands, Manokwari, and Arfak montane forests Following a pre-dawn breakfast in our Sorong hotel, there shall be a final opportunity to spend some potentially rewarding time in the Sorong lowlands before transferring to Sorong's DEO Airport for the late morning flight to Manokwari. We shall enjoy lunch at our partnering Manokwari hotel and then 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. Here we shall start our exploration of these fabled mountains with a gentle introduction to the commoner or more conspicuous species of the garden clearings and roadside gap-phase environment: Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Variable Goshawk, Sultan's, Bar-tailed and Great Cuckoo-Dove, Mountain Fruit Dove, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Plum-faced and Yellow-billed Lorikeet, White-shouldered Fairywren, Red-collared Myzomela, Western Smoky Honeyeater, Vogelkop and Ornate Melidectes, Vogelkop and Grey-green Scrubwren, Brown-breasted Gerygone, Grey Thornbill, Mid-mountain Berrypecker, Dwarf Longbill, Black-breasted Boatbill, Black-bellied Cicadabird, Sclater's Whistler, Black Fantail, Black Monarch, Western Parotia, Blue-grey Robin, Canary Flyrobin, Island Leaf Warbler, Capped and New Guinea White-eye, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, 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, Spotted 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 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 Trumpet Manucode. In the surrounding forest we may see New Guinea Bronzewing, Superb Fruit Dove, Wallace's Fairywren, Red, Papuan Black and Mountain Myzomela, Marbled, Long-billed and 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, Olive Straightbill, Rufous-sided and 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 and Manokwari 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, Piping Bellbird, Rusty and 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. We shall drive back to Manokwari in the evening for dinner and a good night's rest in our Manokwari hotel.
Day 11 > 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 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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