ONE FINE DAY …
...in Papua New Guinea
sight nor sound of Kwatu’s star nd, the Starry Owlet-Nightjar. However, another rare creature of the night has also been discovered near the lodge, the scarce Wallace’s Owlet- Nightjar that let us know pretty quick they were around and ready to play. However, the bird’s idea of play and mine were slightly dier- ent. I wanted the bird to simply call and then come in for us all. A simple plan. The bird’s idea however was for me to chase it around like an idiot for some time! Finally, I’d had enough and went in o trail after the bird to try and triangulate the by now infuriating sound. It took a bit of time, and quite a bit of thrash- ing through the undergrowth but soon enough I realized I was extremely close to the devilish bird and waited for it to call again before I made my move with the spotlight. I waited alone in the dark, the group waiting impatiently back on the trail, and waited. Maybe I had overplayed my hand by crashing in so desperately, and perhaps it was
gone altogether, let alone silent. Sweat poured down by forehead and streamed down my back in the still oppressive heat, but then, Just as I was thinking we should eat sometime soon, the bird betrayed itself into calling, and it was clear the bird must be sitting very close. Very close indeed. Quietly I shifted my angle towards the sound and fumbled for the on switch to my Maglite, and readied myself for the next call. I was pretty sure where it must be but I did not want to scan randomly, I wanted to go straight to the source. I waited again, the bird called again and with condence I shone my torch onto my chosen branch: empty. Swear words circu- lated in my head and I dropped the light just a little lower, where there it was, a tiny barred shape blinking back at me: Wallace’s Owlet- Nightjar. Now I had to plan how the hell everyone else waiting back on the trail was going to see it. I called back to them as quietly as I could, and soon enough hurried move-
ments were heard behind. I kept the light rmly xed on the bird for fear it would take ight the moment darkness descended over it again. As the rst members of the group approached one hit a fern, another tripped on the trunk of a sapling and my heart sunk. How much of this can a shy creature of the night take? As it turned out, quite a lot. Before I knew there we were, all nine of us, staring up at this rarely seen bird. A simply wonderful end to what had been a magical day in one of the most remote and special areas of rainforest that I know of. Everyone should experi- ence this at least once.
Our next Papua New Guinea tour is scheduled for 11 – 28 July 2011, with a fascinating New Britain Extension running after the main tour.