Camping and Birding in Arfak Mountains
|Common Paradise Kingfisher|
Arfak mountains have been famous as one of the most important destinations among birdwatchers. There are several places in the region that are frequently visited by foreign birdwatchers who want to see paradise birds. One of them is Susnguakti forest. It is located in the south of Manokwari city approximately one hour by car. To watch birds such as Magnificent Riflebird, Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor), and Common Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea) visitors need to stay for at least 2 to 3 days in the mountains. As of today, there is no guesthouse in the jungle of Mount Mabowi. So, birdwatchers need to stay in tents in campsites that have been prepared by local guides.
|Lesser Birds of Paradise|
Birds are usually active in the mornings and in the afternoons. For instance, Lesser Birds of Paradise like to gather and dance at around 06.00. So, visitors need to wake up early at 05.00. After drinking tea or coffee and some biscuits or bread, they have to walk for 20 minutes to the birding ground. They can watch the birds until 09.00. In addition to watching Lesser B.O.P., visitors can watch King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius), Hooded Butcherbird, Rainbow Lorikeet, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, and a lot of other birds that are endemic to New Guinea.
Birders, in general, bring their own binoculars, and spotting scope. Some also bring Swiss Army Knife, GPS tracker, and sound recording device. I highly recommend a field guide book: Birds of New Guinea written by Than K. Pratt, and Bruce Beehler.
|Cuscus Possum in Susnguakti forest of Manokwari.|
Night walk is usually carried out by local villagers and guide to find cuscus possum. In certain places, villagers and tourists will stop and sit on the ground. After that, one of the villagers will immitate the sound of female cuscus to attract the male one. When the call is being done, all flash lights have to be off. Glowing mushrooms can also be seen at night especially during rainy season.
Bringing a portable dome tent is a good idea but not a must. There are some campsites in the forest of Mount Susnguakti which I, and local villagers built for visitors. There are also plates, glasses, and cooking pans. With all of the available equipment, I hope that visitors who go to the forest can enjoy their birding trip in the area well.