Watching Paradise Birds in Klasow Valley of West Papua
New Guinea the Epicenter of Paradise Birds Diversity
Birdwatching is a recreational and scientific activity that a lot of people do around the world. One of the most popular destinations among birdwatchers is West Papua (the western half of New Guinea island). It is a territory in the Republic of Indonesia. There are 779 birds known to occur in the island including 37 species of birds of paradise from 41 species that are known to science. Every year thousands of tourists come to the island to watch paradise birds. There are a lot of birding sites in the coastal and mountainous regions of West Papua. One of them is Klasow forest. It is located in the east of Sorong city approximately a 2-hour car ride and another 2-hour jungle walk.
Guided Birdwatching Tour
As a tourist guide, I have run a lot of birding tours in the jungle of Klasow valley for international birdwatchers. We usually spend three to four days in the jungle. We stay in a jungle village near Klabolo stream. There is a simple wooden hut that was built for tourists by the indigenous people. The house is made of natural materials such as rattan, wood, tree bark, and sago leaves (for the thatched roof). Tropical birds are usually active in the mornings and in the afternoons. Birding can be done from the clearing areas around the wooden hut, and along the path that connects the main road and the jungle village. Paradise birds can be watched in an special area of the jungle around one and a half hour walk from the village.
Watching the Courtship Dance of Paradise Birds
To watch paradise birds, we need to wake up early in the morning at around 04.30. After drinking some tea or coffee, we will leave the jungle village for the lek of Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor). It takes around one and a half hour to two hours of walk to reach the trees where the birds dance. We will arrive at the birding site at around 06.00. Male birds of paradise start to call their mating partners at that time. When more female paradise birds come, male birds will compete against one another by performing courtship dance and showing their beautiful feather. If one or two female birds are impressed with the performance, she or they will mate with the winner. We usually watch them until 09.00. Beyond that time, they will fly away to find food or return to their resting place. We can walk slowly back to our hut. During the hiking tour, we may see such birds as Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), Pinon Imperial Pigeon (Ducula pinon), Blyth's hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus).
There are two other species of paradise birds in Klasow valley, the Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae) and Twelve-wired Birds of Paradise. However, it is very difficult to spot them.
- Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor)
- Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus)
- Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise (Seleucidis melanoleucus)
- Papuan hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus)
- Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
- Large Fig Parrot (Psittaculirostris desmarestii)
- Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus rotatus)
- Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus)
- Western Crowned Pigeon (Goura cristata)
- Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
- Black Lory (Chalcopsitta atra)
- Black-capped Lory (Lorius lory)
- Red-cheeked Parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi)
- Beautiful Fruit-dove (Ptilinopuspulchellus)
- Pink-spotted Fruite-dove (Ptilinopus perlatus)
- Pinon's Imperial Pigeon (Ducula pinon)
- Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis)
- Golden Myna (Mino anais)
- Yellow-faced Myna (Mino dumontii)
- Moustached Treeswift (Hemiprocne mystacea)
- Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta)
- Rufous-bellied Kookaburra (Dacelo gaudichaud)
- Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)
- Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx solitarius)
- Yellow-billed Kingfisher (Syma torotoro)
- Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida)
- Helmeted Friarbird (Philemon buceroides)
- Black Sunbird (Leptocoma aspasia)
- Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto)
- Grey Crow (Corvus tristis)
- Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus) and etc.
- Green Birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera priamus)
- Blue Mountain Swallowtail (Papilio ulysses)
- Meadow Argus butterfly (Junonia villida)
- Cruiser Butterfly (Vindula arsinoe)
- Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala limniace)
- The Great Eggfly Butterfly (Hypolimnas bolina)
- The Silky Owl (Taenaris catops)
- New Guinea Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos tigrina); and a lot more
- Fruit bats
- Wild Pigs
- Deers (Cervus timorensis)
- Cuscus Possum
- Various kinds of snakes
- Soa-soa lizards
- Crocodiles (particularly in Klasow river)
Body Massage and Ginger Tea
Klasow valley is a great place to enjoy birdwatching. Most of the birding activity will involve long walks through dense forest, and river crossings. Avid birdwatchers may spend one to two weeks traveling across West Papua to see birds both in lowland, and highland areas. Make sure that you are fit enough for the birding trip in West Papua. A regular jogging or walking exercises will improve your physical readiness. I used to guide 3 ladies and 1 gentleman from France. We had a full day hiking tour deeper into the forest of the valley in Klaglass area where we would build tents at the riverside, stayed and did wildlife watching for 3 days/ 2 nights. When we arrived all the ladies felt exhausted. I felt very tired too. One of the ladies asked me to give her massage on her body. Later the other ladies requested body massage too. So, I gave them body massage one by one. I applied some drops of sandalwood oil on my palms and rubbed both of my palms to evenly spread the oil and generate some heat. After that I began to massage the muscles one by one from shoulder down to the muscles of the back area and to the legs. Each of the lady enjoyed approximatey 30 to 45 minutes of my massage service. They said they like it very much. After the massage, we had sweet jasmine tea at the bank of Klaglass river served by local people. Dominique, one of the ladies, asked me if there was some ginger. I went to the kitchen to find it. I returned with the ginger. She cut it into smaller pieces and put them into her glass of hot water. While all of us were drinking hot sweet jasmine tea, Dominique enjoyed her ginger tea. But later we became curious with the ginger tea and asked her to put some slices of ginger into each of our glasses. I felt so exhausted after giving the full body massage. That evening I fell asleep sooner in my tent.
You need to bring a good birding device such as a pair of binoculars, a powerful spotting scope and a good bridge camera such as Nikon Coolpix P900 for taking pictures of birds in distant or tall trees. I highly recommend that you also read Birds of New Guinea written by Thane K. Pratt and Bruce M. Beehler. The book was beautifully illustrated by John C. Anderton and Szabolcs Kókay.
How to get there?
If you want to visit West Papua and enjoy birdwatching in Klasow valley of Sorong regency, here is how to get there:
- Fly from your country to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia)
- After that fly from that Jakarta to Sorong city. There are daily regular flights between these cities served by such airlines as Garuda, Express Air, Sriwijaya Air and Lion Air.
- I will meet you at the airport or at a hotel in Sorong city and organize your birding tour to the tropical jungle of Klasow valley
This birdwatching tour can be combined with snorkeling tour and turtle watching tour in the northern coast of West Papua.
There are hotels in Sorong city which you can choose to stay. A few of them are listed below:
- Swissbel hotel
- Belagri hotel
- You and Me hotel
- Waigo hotel
When you go to Klasow valley, the available accommodation is the jungle hut.
If you still need more information about birding tour in Klasow valley, you can contact me (Charles Roring) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send whatsapp text messages to my number: +6281332245180
You can also read my blog posts