Bougainville Birding, 16th to 23rd August, 2001.
Brilliant weather (warm as), good birding, nice people. Sums up a
week on Bougainville. Same day flights (2) from CNS to Buka for A$1075 -
Least Frigatebird, Crested Tern, Island Fruit Pigeon, Solomon's
Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Cardinal Lory, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Sacred
Kingfisher that afternoon and Intermediate Egret, Yellow-eyed C-shrike,
Cicadabird, Pacific Swallow, Willie Wagtail, Yellow-throated White-eye,
Musical Myna and three Aplonis Starlings, Metallic, Singing,
Brown-winged, in one feeding tree outside the lodgings, added the
following morning. O'night at Kuri Lodge for A$58 w/b'fast.
Runabout taxi-boat (Kina1.00) over the 150m channel to the main
island of Bougainville the next day and air-con 4wd to Arawa (K50 = A30)
4+ hrs later. Saw little on the way except Purple Swamphen and a fast
Woodford's Rail Nesoclopeus woodfordi scooting across the sealed road
near Arawa. (ArAHwa).
Don & Llane Hadden are "going finis" this Dec, hence the unseemly
haste of both Phil Gregory (he's there now) and myself to do a prospect
of the place. Don and I watched a Woodford's rail for 10 mins just on
sunset. Very nice. Off-white beak, dark-grey legs, dull blackish body.
They're actually quite common.
An apology from me at this stage is called for. I did mention a year
ago that Don had been given two new (dead and very bedraggled) birds
unknown to science. Make that one, the Odedi, as the other (which we in
Cairns had hoped might be a new shrikebill from the photo), turned into
the local version of an immature Golden Whistler. Our mistake, not Don's
- he wouldn't be drawn into such an identification. As soon as he got
fresh specimens he realised what it was.
The fresh specimen of the Odedi (still un-named) looks like a
juvenile with very yellow gape, a rusty cap, lighter brown on the back
and tail and pale under with dark spots. This specimen is lso on the way
to Mary LeCroy in New York.
Don showed me a third specimen in his freezer, an adult received
when nearly dead. Olive-brown nearly all over, very plain; must be very
hard to see in the highland rainforest. Total length about 4.5 to 5
inches, very short winged. I should think it would only fly as far as a
Lesser Melampitta, say from a large log down to the ground a few metres
away (personal observation of the Melampitta). But white fellas (birders
included) will not be able to access the higher-than-coast habitats on
Bougainville for some time. Not even Don.
So coastal birding is what we did over the weekend, and the
following two days. Seen amongst the more common birds and additional to
the trip list were Spotted Whistling Ducks (new for B'ville), Variable
Goshawk, Pied Goshawk (dark phase only), Spot-breasted Pigeon,
Macropygia mackinlayi, Red-knobbed Fruit Pigeon D. rubricera,
Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Duchess Lorikeet Charmosyna margarethae,
Brush Cuckoo, Solomons' Boobook Ninox jacquinoti, perched nicely in very
good light, both White-rumped and Uniform Swiftlets, and River
Then there were the Todirhamphus kingfishers, Ultramarine
T.leucopygius, Sacred , a silent and normal-looking green-backed
migrant, ANOTHER of similar body and beak size with similar habits and
calling in pairs like breeding Sacred (four even notes) but coloured
like the Chestnut-bellied in Doughty, ANOTHER, possibly longer-billed
and similarly coloured but calling in pairs with 3 notes, the first two
even and the second one note down, and supposed to be the local version
The races of T. chloris must be due for some very close study. This
particular race is not only coloured differently to the "normal" chloris
but seems much smaller, shorter beak to head length, lives in a
different habitat and calls differently.
Other notable spp were Papuan Hornbill, Bougainville and Solomon's
Pied Monarchs, M. erythrostictus and barbatus, Steel-blue Flycatcher,
White-winged Fantail, Bougainville Crow, and Midget Flowerpecker.
I was fortunate to go on a tuna-trawling trip back at Buka. There
were two or three smaller-than-Crested terns following the bait fish and
although I never id-ed them properly they were probably Grey-backed.
Hard to look at through all that spray. I spent some time that afternoon
on a forest-covered coral atoll and saw one Melanesian Scrubfowl, one
Solomon's Eagle, three beach Thick-knees, one Beach Kingfisher, and a
pair of Island Monarchs.
An island paradise.
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