Recent Updates From the Field
Papua New Guinea and New Britain (July-August 2010) Guided by Sam Woods
Our most successful tour of Papua New Guinea yet amassed 410 species, helped along by our new extension to the island of New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago (see WHAT’S NEW for a more detailed account of this particular section of the tour). This tour, more than any other, is jam-packed with truly “mind-altering” species, making picking a winner for best birds of the trip more dicult here than anywhere else on Earth. Frankly, this TB tour oers up the most awe- inspiring species of any tour, and if you are looking for a tour that will give you more than a few new and unbeatable entries on your Top World Birds list then this is the ultimate destination for you! Many of my favorite world birds have been seen on this island, and are simply
never coming out of my top ten. From outrageous birds-of-paradise to kingshers from paradise; to torch-like bowerbirds; to immense pigeons and multicolored doves; to furtive jewel-babblers, New Guinea is simply packed with mouth- watering birds. Of course any tour to this truly unique island inevitably cannot help but focus on “the best bird family on Earth”, the birds-of- paradise. These well-named creatures featured heavily, with 24
dramatic displays, and numerous gorgeous males in pristine breeding condition. It is near impossible to narrow down the highlights even from this family, although the incredible displays of Greater BOPs in Kiunga, and the Raggiana BOPs in Varirata were undoubted standout moments that just left us in awe of what is possible in this magical birding destination. The kingshers deserve more than a brief mention, with 18 dierent species seen (including ve dierent
paradise-kingshers), and included the strange-Shovel-billed Kooka- burra, to the cute-Yellow-billed King-
sher, to the just plain
jaw-droppingly beautiful-Brown- headed Paradise-Kingsher. On top of all of that we witnessed a number of the“brightest birds on the planet”,
apping from one rainforest patch
to another. Other less colorful birds, though no less impressive included day roosting Barred Owlet-Nightjars and Sooty Owl, and a hulking New Guinea Harpy Eagle that apped by. Immense Southern Crowned Pigeons with their fancy “crown” of lace impressed along the Ketu River, though for the guide anyway seeing the truly mythical New Guinea Flightless Rail stomping around a palm swamp will remain the most unexpected memory of all. With all this and more New Guinea denitely lived up to its reputation as“the land of the unexpected”.
Our next Papua New Guinea tour is running in 2011: July 11-28, with the New Britain Extension running after the main tour 28 July – 2 August 2011.