Monday, February 19, 2018

Raja Ampat Birds

Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) in Waigeo island
Raja Ampat regency of West Papua
I often visit Raja Ampat to guide visitors who are interested in birdwatching and snorkeling. Because Raja Ampat has got hundreds of small islands that are covered by tropical rainforest, the avifauna of this regency is a rich combination of sea birds that like to eat fish and rainforest birds that like to eat fruits, insects and small reptiles.

Coastal Birds
When I went birdwatching in the coastal area of Waigeo island, I was able to see Beach Kingfisher, Radjah Shelduck, Plover, Crested Tern, Frigate bird, Torresian Crow, Pacific Swallow, Brahminy Kite, and Eastern Osprey. There birds like to sit on the branches of trees that grow near the beach. For Crested Tern, they like to sit on top of poles, or on man-made wooden structures along the coast to observe the movements of fish on sea surface.

Rainforest Birds
Palm Cockatoo at the beach of Waigeo island
Tropical rainforest that covers Waigeo island stretches from the mountainous areas to coastal areas. That's why, we could see rainforest birds even when we walk along the beach. Palm Cockatoo was one of the birds that I saw at the beach of Yengkawe homestay. It was busy eating catappa fruits and I took picture of the bird using my Fujifilm HS50EXR. Palm Cockatoo was locally called Kakaktua Raja (meaning King Cockatoo). This bird likes to sit on a bare vertical branch of a tree to dry his feather under morning sun. Palm Cockatoo can also be seen in lowland to lower montane forest of mainland New Guinea from coastal area to its remote interior region.
Olive-backed Sunbird (Cynniris jugularis)
In addition to Palm Cockatoo, I saw Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Hooded Butcherbird, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Pinon Imperial Pigeon, Coconut Lorikeet, Olive-backed Sunbird, Spangled Drongo, Starling, Willie Wagtail, Yellow-faced Myna, Lowland Peltop, Blyth's hornbill, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra in Raja Ampat.
For me, I was personally attracted to Olive-backed Sunbird. It has got a natural skill of hovering in the air like a helicopter or a dragon fly when he or she is feeding on nectar of a flower. I was able to take a good picture of the Olive-backed Sunbird in eastern part of Waigeo island when I was guiding three visitors from India. The bird was feeding on nectar of coconut flowers. When it sat to take a rest on the twig of coconut fruit, I shot him using my old camera Fujifilm HS50EXR.

Paradise Birds
Wilson's Bird of Paradise in Raja Ampat
Two important paradise birds of Raja Ampat are Wilson's Bird of Paradise and Red Bird of Paradise. They are the main target that birdwatchers like to see. I saw them in the southern region of Waigeo. In the past, we could see the birds in coastal forest, they moved deeper into the forest because of human activities such as construction of roads, and houses. My best experience of watching Red Bird of Paradise was when I guided a Chinese lady and two Australian visitors. We woke up at 04.30 and did an hour of hiking to the birding ground of Red BOP. We were very lucky because we could see the male and female birds for more than one hour. Male Red BOP performed courtship dance to attract female Red BOP. For the Wilson's BOP, it was one of the most beautiful Birds of Paradise with contrast colors of Red, Yellow, Turquoise blue, dark brown and black. Although it was a small but very attractive bird.

Birdwatching and Snorkeling Tour in mainland West Papua and Raja Ampat
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White Sandy Beach of an Uninhabited Island in Raja Ampat
Also read:
Raja Ampat Snorkeling and Birding Tour
Snorkeling Tour in East Raja Ampat

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