Monday, July 16, 2018

Birding and Snorkeling in Raja Ampat Karst

Red Bird of Paradise in Raja Ampat
I have just completed another birding, snorkeling, and sightseeing tour for a Dutch visitor in Raja Ampat karst islets. The way we did birding was quite different from my other birding trips in Klabolo forest, Arfak mountains and Syugrar river.
In Raja Ampat, we had a special day where we just sat in a motorized outrigger boat and did a birding tour throughout the karst formation of the archipelago. It was a fascinating trip because we were able to see a lot of species of birds without having to walk up and down the steep slopes of Waigeo or Batanta islands. Some of the birds that we saw were: Spice Imperial Pigeon, Rainbow Bee-eater, Eastern Reef Egret, Brahminy Kite, Black-capped Lory, Eclectus Parrot, Lesser Frigatebird, Pacific Swallow, Striated Heron, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, White-bellied Seaeagle, and etc.
Spice Imperial Pigeon
Most of the birding visitors who go to Raja Ampat want to watch Red Bird of Paradise and Wilson's Bird of Paradise.
To watch them, we had to wake up early in the morning and did hiking to the lek of the Red Bird of Paradise for around 45 minutes. We watched them from 06.30 to 09.00. I used a pair of Visionking 10×42 mm binoculars. I also brought a 20 -60×60 mm spotting scope to watch birds in distant trees. Camera with telephoto lens such as D-SLR camera with 600 mm lens, bridge camera Nikon Coolpix B700 or Fujifilm HS50EXR could enhance the birding experience of every visitor who wants to take picture of the paradise birds. For identification of the birds, I brought a field-guide book Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce Beehler.
Birding in the karst region of Raja Ampat by boat is something that I consider unique. It was a nice experience for most of the participants of the birding tours that I have organized and guided in the last few months.
White-breasted Woodswallow
I am also an avid snorkeler and freediver. So, after guiding birders in hundreds of coral islets, I like to spend my relax time by taking pictures of marine life of Raja Ampat. I don't use a professional underwater camera. My photographic device was only an action camera Brica Pro5 Alpha Edition. With this small tool, I could take pictures of coral reef and colorful fish. At depths of 2 to 7 meters, I saw Striped Surgeonfish, Convict Surgeonfish, Diagonal Sweetlips, Parrotfish, Wrasse, Grouper, Anemonefish, and Blacktip Shark. July is not the best season for snorkeling and freediving in Raja Ampat. But there are places in the islands where the waters are calm and suitable for marine tour.
Marine Life in Raja Ampat
For visitors who can't swim but want to enjoy snorkeling, they can do that easily by wearing a lifejacket and a snorkeling set (mask, snorkel and water shoes). I suggest that every visitor bring his or her own snorkeling and birding equipment (binoculars, field guidebook, laser pointer, and sound recording)
If you are interested in taking a birding, snorekeling tour to the karst of Raja Ampat and want me to be your guide, please, contact me (Charles Roring) by email to: peace4wp@gmail.co  or by whatsapp to: +6281332245180.

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