West Papua birding hotspots
Where to go birding in West Papua? In declining order of importance, the territory's paramount centers of avian endemism are the isolated Arfak Mountains on the Bird's Head Peninsula, the oceanic twin islands of Biak-Supiori plus nearby Numfor in Geelvink or Cenderawasih Bay, the Snow Mountains along the central cordillera, and the Waigeo ophiolitic suite comprising the islands of Waigeo, Batanta and Kofiau in the Raja Ampat archipelago. Moreover, the vast expanses of lowland forest effectively isolated to the north and south of the central dividing range, harbor a presently still underestimated endemism component on a grander scale.
An extensive bird-watching itinerary in West Papua therefore ideally combines all these major avifaunal subregions. When restricted by time, however, we always recommend spending longer at fewer sites as this invariably turns out to be more rewarding. Exactly which destinations to choose, may then depend ultimately upon your particular interests, physical strength, or personal taste of priority most-wanted species. Some of the better known birding destinations in West Papua are briefly introduced below.
At early morn, before
the sun has risen, we hear a loud
cry of 'Wawk—wawk—wawk,
wok—wok—wok' which resounds
through the forest, changing
its direction continually. This is
the Greater Bird of Paradise going
to seek his breakfast.
Others soon follow;
lories and parroquets
cry shrilly, cockatoos scream,
kingfishers croak and bark, and the
various smaller birds chirp and whistle
their morning song. As I lie listening
to these interesting sounds, I realize
my position as the first European
who has ever lived for months
together in the Aru Islands,
a place which I had hoped
rather than expected ever to visit.
I think how many besides myself have
longed to reach these almost fairy
realms, and to see with their
own eyes the many wonderful and beautiful
things which I am daily encountering.