Stunning Birds In Waigeo, Easy Birding

Actually the first day of birding wasn’t THAT easy.  We had hired a normal car to get up the hill from which we would have a short hike to the hides for Wilson’s Bird of Paradise and the Red Bird of Paradise.  We got about halfway up, then the road became so bad (potholed) that only a high-clearance 4WD was going to get up the hill.  It was hot and a tough slug up but at least we weren’t walking in mud!  The next day, we used a 4WD truck and had a very pleasant and much easier day of birding.  There are lots of birds to see in Raja Ampat.  There’s a full birdlist on Avibase.  Since I was targeting parrots and the 2 BOPs, I will copy the parrot list here and highlight in red the ones we actually saw during our 2 day stay on Waigeo.

Psittacidae
Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot Loriculus aurantiifrons
Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot Micropsitta keiensis
Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Black Lory Chalcopsitta atra
Violet-necked Lory Eos squamata Endemic (country/region)
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
Black-capped Lory Lorius lory
Red-flanked Lorikeet Charmosyna placentis
Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi
Great-billed Parrot Tanygnathus megalorynchos
Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus
Moluccan King Parrot Alisterus amboinensis Endemic (country/region)
Double-eyed Fig Parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma
Large Fig Parrot Psittaculirostris desmarestii

 

Benny leads the way

Benny leads the way

Hasna from HamuEco Lodge had organized Benny to be our guide as he knows the locations of the Wilson’s Bird of Paradise and Red Bird of Paradise (BOPs) and had even built hides in their display grounds.  He charged us 150,000 rupiahs per person per day and he can be reached on his mobile phone 0852 54881306 or though Hasna at HamuEco via their Facebook page.  Once you get up the hill, it’s a short walk to the grounds where you see the BOPs.   It’s not too steep but can be muddy after rain.  There are plenty of fallen logs to sit on if you need a rest.  Once you are in the hide, you need to be very quiet so you don’t scare the birds away.

Walking through unspoiled rainforest to the Wilson BOP display grounds

Walking through unspoiled rainforest to the Wilson BOP display grounds

The hide Benny made to conceal us from the Wilson's BOP, unfortunately he wasn't fooled!

The hide Benny made to conceal us from the Wilson’s BOP, unfortunately he wasn’t fooled!

The Red BOP hide was larger and featured wooden log benches

The Red BOP hide was larger and featured wooden log benches

Benny and friend in the Red BOP hide

Benny and friend in the Red BOP hide

Of course there are several parrot species in Waigeo too and they can easily be seen flying overhead on the same hill you walk up for the BOPs.  I also saw Palm Cockatoos flying over the trees while relaxing in my overwater bungalow at HamuEco.  Once again, I didn’t get very good shots other than the Eclectus Parrot who was perching.  The other parrots were what I call “Video Game Birds” – meaning they fly quickly overhead or off in the distance.  My challenge is to try to get the little red dot in my viewfinder on the flying bird and hold it long enough to get a shot, all the while trying to hold 3 kgs worth of camera and 400mm lens!  I never was any good at video games, LOL!  Don’t consider these as professional photos, they are far from it.  What they are good for is showing you how far you will be from the birds and what sort of gear you will need to bring in an attempt to get photos.  I didn’t bring a tripod as it’s pretty much useless for flying birds and hiking through the rainforest.  I didn’t have much choice about the back-lighting so sorry about all the silhouettes!

A flock of Blyth's Hornbill fly overhead at dawn

A flock of Blyth’s Hornbill fly overhead at dawn

Sulphur Crested (Triton subspecies) Cockatoos

Sulphur Crested (Triton subspecies) Cockatoos

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Female Eclectus Parrot

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This Palm Cockatoo was too fast for me

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And there goes another Palm Cockatoo!

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Peregrine Falcon

Perching Female Eclectus Parrot

Perching Female Eclectus Parrot (yes, that was at full 400mm zoom!)

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Pair of Eclectus Parrots

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Female Eclectus Parrot in flight

Find the hidden Rainbow Lorikeet (he has his wing up)

Find the hidden Rainbow Lorikeet (he has his wing up)

That tiny speck about a third down in the middle is a butterfly!

That tiny speck about a third down in the middle is a butterfly!

Too dark to see what kind of lorikeets these are

Too dark to see what kind of lorikeets these are

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeets

Lorikeet in silhouette

Lorikeet in silhouette

Rainbow Lorikeet eating

Rainbow Lorikeet eating

Rainbow Lorikeets mating

Rainbow Lorikeets mating

Rainbow Lorikeets mating

Rainbow Lorikeets mating

Rainbow Lorikeets mating

Rainbow Lorikeets mating

An ethereal looking Triton SC Cockatoo

An ethereal looking Triton SC Cockatoo

Male Eclectus in flight

Male Eclectus in flight

Female Eclectus perching pretty, not sure about the bird flying overhead

Female Eclectus perching pretty, not sure about the bird flying overhead

Not sure what these birds are

Not sure what these birds are

OTHER ISLANDS IN RAJA AMPAT

As I  mentioned in my other post, if you are with a tour group, you will probably go to Batanta and Salawati with a chartered boat.  The birdlist for Batanta is pretty much the same as Waigeo (see above).  The birdlist for Salawati has more in common with that of the Sorong Lowlands which I will cover in a separate post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Denise DeBlois

    Awesome birding