This was where I made a mistake – I didn’t book a guide in advance, thinking it would be easy to just call one when we got there as it was low season. Wrong! I already had some sources such as Benny from Biak who has guide contacts in Sorong and a website that was advertising day birding trips. The itinerary from Papua Expeditions looked great- several Birds of Paradise (BOPs) and Black Lories amongst other birds. First thing I did upon checking into the Royal Mamberamo was to load the website to get the phone number and call or text them. But wait – no phone number on the whole site! I sent an email but didn’t get a reply. Benny from Discover Papua texted me back that his guide wasn’t replying. My husband and I were on our own. I went back online to try to find phone numbers for other guides or at least trip reports showing where the best places were. I found a couple trip reports that said Black Lories were in the Hutan Lindung area at km 14, about 8km past the airport.
And this report had a similar bird list.
We had the hotel book us a car and driver, explain to the driver where we wanted to go and tell us the price – 70,000 rupiah an hour. First we went out on the Makbon Road in search of lowland forest that looked “birdy”. We passed a few villages and finally found a likely spot. The villagers were curious about us but understood that we wanted “burung” which means birds. One of them even knew where to find a Twelve-wired BOP further away but we would have been too late. We walked down the road but didn’t hear or see anything interesting, just a few barn swallows.
We went back to Hutan Lindung to try our luck. It was around 11am by now so too late for real birding but we tried! We did hear the screech of cockatoos flying in the distance but couldn’t see them. We gave up and had the driver bring us back to the hotel.
The next morning, we got up early and once again hired a car and driver, bringing our bags with us so we could be dropped at the airport afterwards. Last chance birding for West Papua! We would only have time for a couple hours in Hutan Lindung. This time we did much better. Cockatoos were heard but not seen again. We saw a pair of Black Lories doing a fly-by off in the distance. And I could swear I heard Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrots in a tree near the road but within the foliage. They sounded like the ones we saw in Nimbokrang and I could see movement but not a clear shot of a bird. As usual, I got great photos of leaves! Then again, I managed to get some butterfly shots so it wasn’t a total photographic loss!