Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Birding at Sea and at the Beach of Raja Ampat Islands

Before the Covid-19 pandemic reached Indonesia, I often traveled to Raja Ampat islands to guide visitors. We spent between 3 to 5 days exploring the rainforest, the beach, and the islets to watch beautiful tropical birds such as Red Bird of Paradise, Wilson's Bird of Paradise, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Red-cheeked Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Hooded Butcherbird, Spangled Drongo, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, and a lot more. These birds live in rainforest along the coastal and hill areas of Waigeo island. 

Wilson's Bird of Paradise
Wilson's Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica)

Because Wilson's Bird of Paradise can only be found in deeper forest, we need to leave homestay early in the morning and did long morning walk to its display ground. My favorite site for watching this paradise bird was Zedekiah's forest located at the entrance area of Kabui bay. There is a very narrow beach where speed boat can land for tourists to go hiking up steep slopes, to the place of Wilson's Bird of Paradise.

American visitors were birding with Charles Roring in Waigeo island

My favorite places for watching birds were the southern, eastern, and northern areas of Waigeo, Gam island, as well as karst in Kabui bay.  When traveling in the bay, we used a motorized outrigger boat, or speed boat. Sea and coastal birds could be seen at the beaches and in the sky including White-bellied Sea Eagle, Whimbrel, Radjah Shelduck, White-breasted Woodswallow, Eastern Osprey, tern, and a lot more.

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra)
A Couple of Red Bird of Paradise

In certain islets where we could find nice white sand beaches, I would ask boat driver to land on them. We could spend around 1 hour enjoying the beauty of the seascape and watch birds using spotting scope mounted on a tripod.

Raja Ampat had a lot of beautiful things for visitors to see both above and underwater. I really hope that the situation will be better in the near future so that government will allow foreign visitors to come to this country again.  

The main gate to this tropical archipelago is Sorong city. Visitors can fly in from any major cities in Indonesia. Domestic airlines such as Garuda, Sriwijaya Air, Batik Air, Lion and Nam Air offer regular flights to Sorong. Arriving in DOMINE EDUARD OSOK airport, visitors still need to cross the sea by fast ferry boat to Waisai town. There are a lot of homestays and beach resorts which visitors can choose for staying in Raja Ampat for a few days. by Charles Roring

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