After my stay in Waigeo, it was time to get down to business and visit West Papua. I chose to visit the Vogelkop, or Bird’s Head as its called; it’s the part where Sorong and Manokwari are located, looking a bit like a bird’s head, the body being the whole island of New Guinea.
That area offers reasonably easy access to mountain areas as well as lowlands… Well… What’s left of them, that hasn’t been transformed into a palm plantation.
In the Arfak Mountains, in addition to seeing lots of great bird species, I managed to see the following bats: Pipistrellus collinus, Pteropus macrotis, Nyctimene albiventer, Miniopterus magnater and M.macrocneme as well as Dobsonia magna. I also recorded, and saw a large Rhinolophid. There is no known species in a 2000km radius that fits what I saw and recorded so I concluded it had to be a new species! Given there has been virtually no bat research in the area, it’s not a surprising find. But a very welcome one as discovering a new species has always been my childhood dream! (I was a bit of an odd ball when I was a child).
In the lowlands, my guide, Carlos (from BirdTour Asia) knows an area that hasn’t been too logged yet. I won’t disclose the location in respect of his work in the area.
Rain in the evenings meant batting had to happen in the morning. And I was already very tired from travelling for so long and given I am absolutely not a morning person, it was very challenging…
Early mornings were great for bird watching though with a few more species of Birds-of-Paradise, of which I saw/heard a total of nine in both the Arfaks and the lowlands, as well as a number of endemics we couldn’t see at higher altitudes.
Our stay at a mid-altitude campsite had to be cancelled because of typical Papuan last minute changes. Flexibility is the key to a successful trip to any part of Papua and I am extremely grateful to Carlos for admirably handling it all! I’d definitely recommend him for any trip, anywhere in Indonesia. And I’ve turned him to the Dark Side so he’s really into bats now!