In June of 2019 I had the fantastic opportunity of joining a group of 6 birders from Hawaii on a 3 weeks trip to the Western part of New Guinea. The trip was organized by Birdtour Asia, Thane Pratt, the author of the field guide I’m working for, was so kind of inviting me. Our guide was Carlos N. G. Bocos from Spain, who made sure I could have the best possible chance to see as many bird of paradise, as possible. We ended the tour with an incredible list of 23 species of this incredible group.
We started in the lowland forests around Sorong city, before taking the ferry to Waigeo Island. We’ve spent 4 days there. The highlight was having eye-level views of Red Birds of Paradise from a canopy tower. Beside fantastic birding, I had the chance to do some snorkeling in front of our lodge.
Our next destination was the Arfak Mountains, staying in Mingre village for 5, and in the high elevation Sicklebill Camp for 2 nights. Watching Vogelkop Superb, Magnificent BoPs, Western Parotias, Black Sicklebills from hides was mindblowing. Loads of inspiration!
Then we flew to Wamena in the Baliem Valley, and made daily trips up to the Snowy Mountains. We were very lucky, as the road to the high elevation Habbema Lake was opened a few weeks before our arrival, and was closed again for security reasons later that year. We’ve seen the most incredible BoP species here, the Splendid Astrapia. Seeing an adult male literally blew my mind. Another highlight was the New Guinea Woodcock (I’m a shorebird fanatic).
Our last destination was the lowland forests near Jayapurra. We stayed in Alex Waisimon’s Isio Hills Lodge. I’ve almost missed the Pale-billed Sicklebill, found it on one of the last days. Seeing Victoria Crowned Pigeons was also an incredible experience.
On the way back to Jacarta, I’ve bumped into some fabric in the giftshop of Jayapurra airport. I was stunned to recognize my Lesser Bird of Paradise painting from the field guide’s cover as the main element on it.