Designed To Dance: Birds Of Paradise

This stunning documentary is a Japanese production filmed by Tadashi Shimada in central Papua New Guinea.  He has amazing footage of Bird of Paradise species never seen before and completely different to the David Attenborough documentary.  I’m tempted to put PNG on my bucket list (actually it already is) but the footage of the terrain at around 37:00 looks even more difficult than the Arfak Mountains.

PNG is an easy flight from Brisbane, getting there would be no problem with Qantas flights via Cairns to POM or Virgin Australia from Brisbane.  But PNG is one of the most expensive countries to bird in.  There are safety issues and this is one place I would rather be with a group and group tours are not cheap!  So until I win the lottery, videos like this are as close as I may ever get to the stunning Ribbon-tailed Astrapia & Blue Bird of Paradise.

The video is hosted on YouTube but embedding is disabled so click here to see it.

The 10 Sexiest Male Birds

The BBC brings us this list of stunning birds who really know how to impress the chicks!  I’ve only seen one in person, the Satin Bowerbird in Girraween NP.   He was quite happy to take a blue bottle cap to impress his paramour!  With those brilliant purple eyes, he’s pretty impressive already!

IMG_9110aCheck out the full list and see how many YOU have seen!

Parrot Conservation Indonesia Part 2 – Ecotourism

In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to Mehd Halouate and his work with the World Parrot Trust.  Today, I will show you some of the eco-tours he and his wife, Lena are operating throughout Indonesia.  First, have a look at his website and see the tours organized for 2014-2016.

Use your miles to get to Indonesia and save your money for the tour and to spend locally!

Tours for 2014
Tours for 2015
Tours for 2016

If you enjoyed my series on West Papua from March 2013 but were afraid to go on your own, the good news is that Mehd & Lena are offering all the same destinations with more time at each one on this tour.

My Top Twenty-Five Bird Sightings Of 2013

Following on from last year’s post in which I highlighted only parrot sightings, this year I have expanded to all bird species.  There were just so many birds who made a major impression on me!  I have also increased the number to 25 since we did 3 birding trips this year.  I didn’t always get good shots so I will put my own photo when I got one.  Some of them were pretty quick!  They are being presented in chronological order.

1.  Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) – seen at Nimbokrang & Waigeo, Indonesia; March 2013

Palm Cockatoo2.  Lesser Bird-of-paradise, (Paradisaea minor) – seen at Nimbokrang, Indonesia; March 2013

I couldn’t get a photo as he stayed in the trees so here’s one taken in Jurong Bird park, Singapore.

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3.  Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) – seen at Nimbokrang, Indonesia; March 2013

Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Nimbokrang

Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Nimbokrang

4.  Western or Arfak Parotia (Parotia sefilata) – seen at Siyoubring, Indonesia, March 2013  I’ll never forget this feathered Lord of the Dance trying so hard to woo 3 aloof females!

One female Western Parotia comes in for a closer look while the male shows his best moves.  There were a couple other females higher up in the branches.

One female Western Parotia comes in for a closer look while the male shows his best moves. There were a couple other females higher up in the branches.

5.  Vogelkop Bowerbird (Amblyornis inornata) – seen at Siyoubring, Indonesia, March 2013

OK lady Bowerbirds, come and check out my awesome bower!

OK lady Bowerbirds, come and check out my awesome bower!

6.  Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) – seen near Nimbokrang and on Waigeo Island, Indonesia, March 2013

IMG_78677.  Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, (Cicinnurus respublica) – seen on Waigeo Island, Indonesia in March 2013.   This little guy played hard-to-get with the camera.
Wilson's Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica

Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, Cicinnurus respublica

8.  Red Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra) – seen on Waigeo Island, Indonesia , March 2013.

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

9.  Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis) – seen at Crooked Tree, Belize, Tikal, Laguna del Lagarto, Carara, Soberania, August 2013.  This was the first parrot we saw after arriving in Central America so I chose him to represent all the Amazon species seen all over Central America.

Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)

Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)

10.  Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – seen at Crooked Tree, Belize, Tikal, Selva Verde, Laguna del Lagarto, Soberania, August 2013

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11.  Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) – seen at Selva Verde & Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013

IMG_951112. Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata) – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013.

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13.  Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)  – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013.

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14.  Collared Araçari (Pteroglossus torquatus) – seen at Selva Verde, Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, Soberania.  August 2013.

IMG_982415.  Hummingbirds (all of them) – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Monteverde, Savegre, Soberania.  There is no way I can single out one species, they are all spectacular!

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IMG_1486 IMG_1483 IMG_149616.  Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker (Celeus castaneus) – seen at Laguna del Lagarto, Costa Rica, August 2013

IMG_969917.  Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) – seen at Monteverde (Curi Cancha) & Savegre.  I will never forget both sightings of this stunning bird!  The first one because I found him by myself and the 2nd one because there were several of them and they hung around a while so I could watch them.

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IMG_1092a18.  Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) – seen at Savegre, Costa Rica, August 2013

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I haven’t started the India & Sri Lanka series yet, we only got back a few weeks ago and I have been playing catch-up.  These birds will be covered first thing in the New Year.  The photos are a sneak-peek!

19. Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columboides) – seen in Coorg, India; Nov. 2013.  This time there were only fleeting glimpses of a flock flying overhead so the photo is one I took in 2011 in Kerala.

Malabar Parakeet A20.  White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) – seen at Kithulgala, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.

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21.  Layard’s Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae) – seen at Kithulgala & Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.  They were swift flyers and refused to perch & pose.

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22.  Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot (Loriculus beryllinus) – seen at Kithulgala, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.  At least he posed, albeit with the sun behind him!

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23.  Alexandrine Parakeet – (Psittacula eupatria) – seen at Kithulgala & Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.

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24.  Malabar Trogon (Harpactes fasciatus) – seen at Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.  He only let me get one shot before turning his back.

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25.  Sri Lanka Blue Magpie or Ceylon Magpie (Urocissa ornata) – seen at Sinharaja, Sri Lanka. Dec 2013.

I didn’t get a photo of them since they stayed in the trees so here’s one from Wikipedia.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Bird Of Paradise – Dancing In The Trees

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo

An Indonesian endemic, the Red Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra, also Cendrawasih Merah) is distributed to lowland rainforests of Waigeo and Batanta islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua. This species shares its home with another bird-of-paradise, the Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise.   They are easier to see because they dance in the trees in the same place and don’t seem to mind spectators sitting in the hide below.

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

Yeah, you better be watching me!

Yeah, you better be watching me!

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OK where did the lady BOPs go?

Large, up to 33 cm long, brown and yellow with a dark brown iris, grey legs and yellow bill. The male has an emerald green face, a pair of elongated black corkscrew-shaped tail wires, dark green feather pompoms above each eye and a train of glossy crimson red plumes with whitish tips at either side of the breast. The male measures up to 72 cm long, including the ornamental red plumes that require at least six years to fully attain. The female is similar but smaller in size, with a dark brown face and has no ornamental red plumes. The diet consists mainly of fruits, berries and arthropods.

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Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo – dancing in the trees

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Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo – fancy moves

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Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo – trying to impress the ladies

For a stunning professional shot by a Nat Geo photographer, read the fascinating story of the lengths they go through to get these shots!  There’s also a video showing a Nat Geo crew filming other Birds of Paradise which shows more of their technique.  Climbing trees is probably out of scope for the typical eco-tourist!

This is my “real life” pitiful attempt to get them dancing on video.

 And this one appears to have been filmed on Batanta (Waigeo doesn’t have that sign overhead) by someone staying at a dive resort on Kri Island.  The resorts are quite nice, but not cheap!  Bonus footage of a Paradise Kingfisher!