Welcome to Birdquest
Saturday 2nd July - Monday 25th July 2016
Mark Van Beirs
The avian highlights of our recent exciting and remarkable Remote Papua New Guinea tour were the stunning Wahnes’s Parotia, the extraordinary Goldie’s Bird of Paradise, the exquisite Fire-maned Bowerbird and the gorgeous Emperor Bird of Paradise. Several other members of what is probably the best bird family in the world, the Birds of Paradise, also performed very well: Magnificent and Lesser Birds of Paradise, the amazing Huon Astrapia and the more subtle Glossy-mantled, Crinkle-collared and Curl-crested Manucodes. We visited some remote corners of Papua New Guinea, as we explored Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago, New Ireland and Tench in the Bismarcks, Manus and Tong islands in the Admiralties, the fabled Huon peninsula and the remote Adelbert range. Our visit to the tiny seabird island of Tench was especially memorable with its tame Melanesian Megapodes, displaying Great Frigatebirds, scores of breeding Red-footed and Brown Boobies, thousands of Black Noddies, stylish and so adorable White Terns, magnificent Nicobar Pigeons and rare Atoll Starlings. We took nine flights and four boat trips and enjoyed a close insight into the culture and lifestyle of this traditional and very religious country. At the same time we also experienced some major cultural frustrations, but the trip went unexpectedly smoothly. The logistics worked very well on this trip, Air Niugini only let us down once (!!!), the seas were smooth and we only experienced a few minor hiccups. We recorded an excellent variety species that included well performing ‘diamond’ birds such as Heinroth’s Shearwater, Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel, Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Black-mantled Goshawk, Papuan Harrier, Forbes’s Forest Rail, Pale-vented Bush-hen, Great and Pied Cuckoo-Doves, no fewer than 13 species of Fruit Doves, 10 species of Imperial Pigeons, Dwarf Koel, lots of Channel-billed Cuckoos, Manus and New Ireland Boobooks, Islet, Beach and Yellow-billed Kingfishers, Palm and superb Pesquet’s Parrots, Papuan King Parrot, the lovely Edward’s Fig Parrot, MacGregor’s Bowerbird, New Ireland and Bismarck Black Myzomelas, Manus Friarbird, Spangled Honeyeater, Mottled Berryhunter (in its own family), the splendid Paradise Drongo, Bismarck Fantail, Banded Yellow and Black-throated Robins and Louisiade White-eye. For the first time on this tour we heard the rare Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher. Mammals were not very obvious, but we did enjoy the nice sightings of Northern Common Cuscus, Great Flying Foxes and elegant Indo-Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphins.