Merauke and Wasur National Park

Merauke, Papua, Indonesia
30 August – 4 September 2007

After arranging a travel permit (surat jalan) for Merauke I took the 1 hour Merpati flight from Sentani and landed in Merauke at noon on 30 August.
I took a taxi straight to the WWF office as they can help arrange birding trips in the area. No one answered the door, so I checked in at a hotel. From the hotel I tried to phone WWF again several times – but no answer. This was not really according to my plan as there were no local guides mentioned in the literature I had.
I decided to go out the next morning anyway and chartered two motorbikes (one for my luggage and one for me and the camera) to take me to Wasur NP – towards the savannah.
We stopped in a local village and I asked the village head (kepala desa) if it was OK to stay there for a couple of nights. No problem, the local people are always friendly.

This is bird heaven! Large flocks of cockatoos flying by the hundreds over my head. The land is flat, so no tough trekking and good light for photographing.
For four days I birded the area together with the kepala desa, who also was my guide.

Day 1: We went out walking after lunch. It was incredibly hot and short rain showers and . we still managed to see many bird species this first day. we still managed to see many bird species this first day. Australian PratincoleWe went to a wetland where we saw many Australian species; Black-necked Stork, Australian Pelican, White-faced Heron, Glossy, Australian and Straw-necked Ibises, Royal Spoonbill and Australian Pratincole.

Day 2: We decided to visit the paperbark swamps and the nearby patches of rainforest and set off at 05 in the morning. The weather was still not good, with grey rain-clouds hanging over us. On our way we passed through a Pandanus-forest and I have never seen so many Palm cockatoos congregate. I could count to at least 20 individuals. They were eating the Panadanus fruits. Bar-shouldered doves were also very common in this forest and 6 Brolga flew over and landed in the grassland behind us. The first species we saw when we entered the paperbark swamps was a pair of Rufous-bellied Kookaburras. Spangled and Blue-winged Kookaburras were also easily seen. A small flock of Grey-crowned Babblers were feeding noisily in the Paperbark trees. Flocks of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were feeding on the grass between the trees. All of a sudden I was stopped by my guide and he pointed at a snake only 2 meters away. It was resting in the high grass, but I managed to get a couple of photos. Taipan?This is most likely a Taipan (I’m no reptile expert).
There are both Taipans and Death Adders in Wasur NP, so it is important to be careful and not wander off from the trail and guide.

Day 3: I really wanted to see the Little Corella. The kepala desa told me that we had to go by motorbike to a much drier area to see them, so we set off around 05 in the morning. After an hour on the motorbike we came out to dry savannah. It was the same kind of flora as in Australia and we also could see Agile Wallabies. We also got Black-backed Butcherbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Whistling Kites, Sulphur-crested Little corella drinking dew in the grasscockatoos and Little Corellas in mixed large flocks. Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds were seen several times, but we didn’t manage to locate a bower. Close to the waterholes we got Azure and Forest Kingfishers. From a distance we could also see 2 Australian Bustards and Black-necked Storks (again). The kepala desa told me that these two species are hunted for their meat and are very nervous.

Day 4: I headed back to Merauke and decided to spend the afternoon birding close to the village Yanggandur in the Trans Fly. I birded the patches of forest and I managed to see a female Greater Bird of Paradise. They are heavily hunted and not easy to see. I also saw Trumpet Manucode, Orange-breasted Fig-parrot, Red-winged Parrot, Blyth’s Hornbill, White-winged Triller, Spectacled Monarch and Red-headed Myzomela to name a few.

Many thanks to John Hornbuckle for the Irian Jaya 1991 trip report. Most of the information in his trip report is still accurate and it’s a good help while birding this region.

Birdlist:

  1. Little Black Cormorant – Phalacrocorax sulicirostris
  2. Little Pied Cormorant – Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
  3. Darter – Anhinga melanogaster
  4. Australian Pelican – Pelecanus conspicillatus
  5. Great Egret – Egretta alba
  6. Cattle Egret – Egretta ibis
  7. Little Egret – Egretta garzetta
  8. Pied Heron – Ardea pacifica
  9. White-faced Heron – Egretta novaehollandiae
  10. Rufous Night Heron – Nycticorax caledonicus
  11. Black-necked Stork – Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
  12. Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
  13. Sacred Ibis – Threskiornis aethiopicus
  14. Straw-necked Ibis – Threskiornis spinicollis
  15. Royal Spoonbill – Platalea regia
  16. Yellow-billed Spoonbill – Platalea flavipes
  17. Long-tailed Buzzard – Henicopernis longicauda
  18. Black-winged Kite – Elanus caeruleus
  19. Whistling Kite – Haliastur sphenurus
  20. Brahminy Kite – Haliastur – indus
  21. White-bellied Sea Eagle – Haliaeetus leucogaster
  22. Swamp Harrier – Circus approximans
  23. Grey Goshawk – Accipiter novaehollandiae
  24. Collared Sparrowhawk – Accipiter cirrhocephalus
  25. Brown Falcon – Falco berigora
  26. Magpie Goose – Anseranas semipalmata
  27. Wandering Whistling Duck – Dendrocygna arcuata
  28. White-headed Shelduck – Tadorna radja
  29. Common Scrubfowl – Megapodius freycinet
  30. Brolga – Grus rubicunda
  31. Australian Bustard – Ardeotis australis
  32. Comb-crested Jacana – Irediparra gallinacea
  33. White-headed Stilt – Himantopus leucocephalus
  34. Bush Stone Curlew – Burhinus grallarius
  35. Australian Pratincole – Stiltia isabella
  36. Masked Lapwing – Vanellus miles
  37. Grey Plover – Pluvialis squatarola
  38. Lesser Golden Plover – Pluvialis dominica
  39. Whimbrel – Numenius phaeopus
  40. Little Curlew – Numenius minutus
  41. Common Sandpiper – Tringa hypoleucos
  42. Terek Sandpiper – Tringa terek
  43. Black-tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa
  44. Red Knot – Calidris canutus
  45. Whiskered Tern – Chlidonias hybridus
  46. Crested Tern – Sterna bergii
  47. Feral Pigeon – Columba livia
  48. Peaceful Dove – Geopelia striata
  49. Bar-shouldered Dove – Geopelia humeralis
  50. Wampoo Fruit Dove – Ptilinopus magnificus
  51. Pied Imperial Pigeon – Ducula bicolor
  52. Rainbow Lorikeet – Trichoglossus haematodus
  53. Yellow-streaked Lory – Chalcopsitta scintillata
  54. Red-flanked Lorikeet – Charmosyna placentis
  55. Palm Cockatoo – Probosciger aterrimus
  56. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo – Cacatua galerita
  57. Little Corella – Cacatua pastinator
  58. Orange-breasted Fig Parrot – Cyclopsitta gulielmiterti
  59. Red-cheeked Parrot – Geoffroyus geoffroyi
  60. Eclectus Parrot – Eclectus roratus
  61. Red-winged Parrot – Aprosmictus erythropterus
  62. Brush Cuckoo – Cacomantis variolosus
  63. Fan-tailed Cuckoo – Cacomantis flabelliformis
  64. Horsfield’s Black Cuckoo – Chrysococcyx basalis
  65. Common Koel – Eudynamys scolopacea
  66. Channel-billed Cuckoo – Scythrops novaehollandiae
  67. Pheasant Coucal – Centropus phasianimus
  68. Masked Owl – Tyto novaehollandiae
  69. Barking Owl – Ninox connivens
  70. Papuan Frogmouth – Podargus papuensis
  71. Large-tailed Nightjar – Caprimulgus macrurus
  72. Uniform Swiftlet – Collocalia vanikorensis
  73. Australian Paradise Kingfisher – Tanysiptera sylvia (Heard only)
  74. Rufous-bellied Kookaburra – Dacelo gaudichaud
  75. Spangled Kookaburra – Dacelo tyro
  76. Blue-winged Kookaburra – Dacelo leachii
  77. Forest Kingfisher – Hacyon macleayii
  78. Sacred Kingfisher – Halcyon sancta
  79. Azure Kingfisher – Alcedo azurea
  80. Blue-tailed Bee-eater – Merops philippinus
  81. Rainbow Bee-eater – Merops ornatus
  82. Dollarbird – Eurystomus orientalis
  83. Hooded Pitta – Pitta sordida (heard only)
  84. Singing Bushlark – Mirafra javanica
  85. Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
  86. Tree Martin – Hirundo nigricans
  87. White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike – Coracina papuensis
  88. Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike – Coracina novaehollandiae
  89. Cicadabird – Coracina tenuirostris
  90. White-winged Triller – Lalage sueurii
  91. Grey-crowned Babbler – Pomatostomus temporalis
  92. Clamorous Reed Wabbler – Acrocephalus stentoreus
  93. Zitting Cisticola – Cisticola juncidis
  94. White-shouldered Fairy-Wren – Malurus alboscapulatus
  95. Beccari’s Scrub-Wren – Sericornis beccarii
  96. Large-billed Gerygone – Gerygone magnirostris
  97. Mangrove Gerygone – Gerygone levigaster
  98. Rufous Fantail – Rhipidura rufifrons
  99. Willie Wagtail – Rhipidura leucophrys
  100. Spectacled Monarch – Monarcha trivirgatus
  101. Leaden Flycatcher – Myiagra rubecula
  102. Shining Flycatcher – Myiagra alecto
  103. Restless Flycatcher – Myiagra inquieta
  104. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher – Microeca flavigaster
  105. Black Sunbird – Nectarinia aspasia
  106. Olive-backed Sunbird – Nectarinia jugularis
  107. New Guinea White-eye – Zosterops novaeguineae
  108. Brown Honeyeater – Lichmera indistincta
  109. Dusky Myzomela – Myzomela obscura
  110. Red-headed Myzomela – Myzomela erythrocephala
  111. White-throated Honeyeater – Melithreptus albogularis
  112. Blue-faced Honeyeater – Entomyzon cyanotis
  113. Meyer’s Friarbird – Philemon meyeri
  114. Little Friarbird – Philemon citreogularis
  115. Helmeted Friarbird – Philemon buceroides
  116. Noisy Friarbird – Philemon corniculatus
  117. White-spotted Mannikin – Lonchura leucostica
  118. Grey-crowned Mannikin – Lonchura nevermanni
  119. Black Mannikin – Lonchura stygia
  120. Crimson Finch – Neochmia phaeton
  121. Metallic Starling – Aplonis metallica
  122. Yellow-faced Myna – Mino dumontii
  123. Olive-backed Oriole – Oriolus sagitatus
  124. Yellow Oriole – Oriolus flavocinctus
  125. Spangled Drongo – Dicrurus hottentottus
  126. Magpie Lark – Grallina cyanoleuca
  127. White-breasted Wood-Swallow – Artamus leucorhynchus
  128. Black-faced Wood-Swallow – Artamus cinerius
  129. Black-backed Butcherbird – Cracticus mentalis
  130. Australian Magpie – Gymnorhina tibicen
  131. Fawn-breasted Bowerbird – Chlamydera cerviniventris
  132. Trumpet Manucode – Manucodia keraudrenii
  133. Greater Bird of Paradise – Paradisaea apoda ( just females)
  134. Torresian Crow – Corvus orru

Other Wildlife:

  1. Agile Wallabies
  2. Greater Flying Fox
  3. Taipan
  4. Water monitor
  5. Frill-necked Lizard

References:
Photographic guide to the birds of Indonesia – Morten Strange
Irian Jaya 1991 Trip Report – John Hornbuckle
Birds of New Guinea – Beehler, Pratt & Zimmerman

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