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...in Papua New Guinea

for any betrayal of what it was that caused him to do this. He shifted us this way and that, cut the motor, and we gently drifted in towards the bank. Then there they were, they hit us like a barn door in the face: a pair of monstrous Southern Crowned Pigeons perched on a large rainforest bough, sporting deep red wine underparts, and a bold ash in the wing that they nervously icked every so often, a piercing blood red eye, and a fancy, silvery-gray, lace-like crown. The World’s largest pigeon. To no great surprise considering such wonder- ful views enjoyed by all, this was voted as the bird of the trip by some margin. For those who think PNG is all about just birds-of- paradise, think again. New Guinea is the “land of the unexpected”, home to many strange, bizarre birds and other creatures, and this

massive perfectly.


  • ts



The morning ew by as one massive target bird fell after another, and with an impressive supporting cast too: Collared Impe- rial Pigeons, brightly-colored Eclec- tus Parrots, hulking Blyth’s Hornbills and even the odd Palm Cockatoo were all noted from our boat between stops. Over lunch at the rustic Kwatu Lodge, surrounded by thick rainforest we were inter- rupted by a Long-billed Cuckoo that came in to the garden to check us out. As if that was not enough, the most outrageous cuckoo-shrike on Earth showed up too: Golden Cuckoo-Shrike. There was no rest for the wicked though and soon enough we were squelching our way back to our canoe, and motoring towards another area of thick riparian rainforest. If the morning was all about birds-of-paradise and impressive pigeons, the afternoon belonged to kingshers, a family

very well-represented PNG. First up was Common Paradise-Kingsher. The paradise-kingshers are a particularly elegant group of kingshers that all sport a rather fancy long tail. They are all forest birds though, and therefore can be devilishly dicult to see. Or so we thought. Within fteen minutes of squishing through the mud we had one lined up and we were all admir- ing its carrot-colored bill and cerulean blue back. Now mid- afternoon we then chased after the semi-crepuscular Hook-billed King-

  • sher that for some reason was

calling outside its normal comfort zone (dawn and dusk). It was close and the moment was tense, as this shy sher can slip away at a moments notice. Then Kwiwan gestured for the scope, I crept towards him, trained the scope on it, and, after some slow tense squelching through mud, we all

soaked kingsher.




Continuing the theme, we had one more special kingsher to focus on, the exceedingly shy Little Paradise-Kingsher. As is usual in New Guinea once the kingsher

was heard a duel ensued, between

  • rst me and the kingsher, then

Kwiwan and the kingsher, and I am sure at one point possibly between all three of us! The Little is markedly more challenging to see than its larger cousin the common, and the slightest movements can cause it to hightail it out of there. No easy thing to avoid though when the excitement of spotting one in a group of keen birders occurs. After several “scares” where the bird was spotted, we reacted and then the bird ed into the jungle at high speed, we nally tracked one down that clearly thought it was blocked by a large trunk. The bird was wrong and with some twisting of the scope, some craning of the necks we all man- aged some super looks at the little known, Little Paradise-Kingsher. At the end of what had been a remarkable, if typical, day in these parts we returned to the lodge and decided to delay our dinner. We were on a roll and so opted to try for some of the tough nightbirds around the lodge. My condence boosted by the day behind us appeared a little misplaced, with no




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