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ULTIMATE WEST PAPUA

Monday 3rd July - Monday 31st July 2017

DANI LOPEZ-VELASCO

Wilson's Bird of Paradise, bird no.#1 in the world for many. Here on Waigeo (Photo by Dani Lopez Velasco).

Wilson's Bird of Paradise, bird no.#1 in the world for many. Here on Waigeo (Photo by Dani Lopez Velasco).

This year´s Ultimate West Papua tour was possibly our most successful ever trip to this incredible region. The tour was packed with highlights, and several stand out. A displaying male Black Sicklebill in the Arfaks was absolutely amazing, as was the out-of-this-world Western Parotia on its display court just a few feet from our hide. We were also blessed with gripping views of displaying Wilson´s Bird-of-paradise (for many, the best bird in the world) in Waigeo – and very close to the road! -, while the stunning Masked Bowerbird couldn´t have shown any better in the Arfaks. Other close contenders included frame-filling scope views of a calling Papuan (New Guinea Harpy) Eagle on our last day near Sorong, terrific views of the rare Papuan Hawk-Owl, a ridiculously tame Papuan Logrunner in the Snow Mountains, a bizarre Feline Owlet-Nightjar that we saw so well in its daytime roost, the outstanding MacGregor’s Honeyeater (sadly not a bird-of-paradise anymore) and the grotesque Western Crowned Pigeon, which showed exceedingly well in Waigeo.

Probably the main attraction of this tour is the chance to get up close encounters with some members of the most beautiful, spectacular and enigmatic bird family in the world: the Birds-of-paradise (BoPs for the aficionados). In fact, the heart-warming display of quite a few species was witnessed at minimal range, and this is surely an experience any birder should experience at least once in a lifetime. We also observed a great selection of kingfishers, pigeons and parrots, as well as many endemics or rarely observed species such as Snow Mountains Quail, Chestnut Forest Rail, Geelvink, Spice and Spectacled (first for mainland New Guinea!) Imperial Pigeons, New Guinea Bronzewing, Western Ornate Fruit Dove, Black, Brown and Violet-necked Lories, Modest and Snow Mountain (Painted) Tiger Parrots, Salvadori´s and Large Fig Parrots, Archbold´s Nightjar, Mountain Owlet-Nightjar, Biak Scops Owl, Tan-capped (White-eared) Catbird, Archbold´s and Vogelkop Bowerbirds, Numfor, Biak and Common Paradise Kingfishers, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Papuan Treecreeper, Spotted, Black-throated, Orange-cheeked and Marbled Honeyeaters, Short-bearded, Sooty and Vogelkop Melidectes, Ruby-throated and Red Myzomelas, Vogelkop and Grey-green Scrubwrens, Fairy Gerygone, Goldenface, Western Crested Berrypecker, Biak Triller, Black Sittella, Mottled Berryhunter (a new endemic NG family), Vogelkop, Lorentz´s and Sclater´s Whistlers, Arafura Fantail, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Sooty Thicket Fantail, Biak Monarch, Brown-headed Crow, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Arfak and Splendid Astrapias, Pale-billed Sicklebill, King, Lesser and Red Birds-of-paradise, Ashy, Garnet, Mountain and Smoky Robins, Greater Ground Robin, Mountain Firetail and Streak-headed, Great-billed, Black-breasted, Western Alpine and last, but not least, Grey-banded (a Birdquest lifer!) Mannikins, amongst others.

The smart Biak Black Flycatcher was bird no. 8000 for Birdquester Keith Betton. Congratulations Keith! (Photo by Dani Lopez Velasco).

The smart Biak Black Flycatcher was bird no. 8000 for Birdquester Keith Betton. Congratulations Keith! (Photo by Dani Lopez Velasco).