Torres Strait Trip No 2 Trip Report Oct 2007

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Torres Strait Trip No 2 Trip Report Oct 2007
From: richard baxter <>
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2007 00:01:16 -0700 (PDT)
Torres Strait (Boigu-Saibai-Dauan) Trip Report 16th-23rd Oct 2008.
This trip is the second of two Torres Strait birding trips organised by Phil 
Hansbro and myself to six islands in the Torres Strait. These non-profit trips 
were held over 7 nights and 8 days, aboard the 60ft cruiser San Miguel.   Iʼve 
booked the boat again in Nov 2008 and Feb 2009 (wet season) for another two 
cruises visiting Boigu-Saibai-Darnley-Coconut Islands.  
Prior to starting the trip we all gathered at the Gateway Resort on Horn Island 
and we birded both Horn Island and Thursday Island prior to boarding San 
Miguel.  Some of the more interesting species seen were Broad-billed Sandpiper, 
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Radjah Shellduck, Lesser 
Frigatebird, Beach Stone-curlew, Little Tern, Barking Owl, Red-headed H/E, 
Helmeted Friarbird, and two Yellow Wagtails, one on Thursday Island and the 
other at the Gateway Resort on Horn Island.
We boarded from Horn Island jetty with a Lesser Frigatebird circling the boat 
and a Common Tern fishing near the jetty.  After an hour or so at sea we began 
to see Brown and Black Noddy, Common Tern, Bridled and Sooty Tern.  Early on in 
our journey north towards Saibai Island, Black-naped Tern was common but the 
further north we traveled we began to see feeding flocks of Black and Brown 
Noddy.  Amongst these were a few Roseate Terns as well as Crested and Lesser 
An early start on Saibai with our goal to find Papuan Flowerpecker.  We walked 
to the Eastern end of town and through the coastal vine scrub where we soon 
started to find some good northern birds including, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, 
Pied Heron, Osprey, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Large-billed Gerygone, the local 
subsp of Pheasant Coucal, Rufous-banded and Tawny Breasted H/E, Northern 
Fantail, Black Butcherbird and large numbers of Yellow-bellied Sunbirds.  As we 
waited and searched for the Flowerpecker we had good views of two Collared 
Kingfishers feeding in the nearby creek and well as several Pied Imperial 
Pigeons flying overhead.  After a two hour search we finally had good views of 
two PAPUAN FLOWERPECKERS as they landed in some dead canopy branches close by.  
With our mornings target bird seen we headed off to the airport runway where we 
located four Little Curlew and a lone Australian Pratincole. A search of nearby 
wetlands and plains produced three Brolga and 2 Oriental Plover. After lunch we 
returned to the island with our afternoon target being Collared Imperial 
Pigeon.  This time we walked to the western end of town and after two hours of 
searching and waiting we had two magnificent COLLARED IMPERIAL PIGEONS land on 
an exposed branch of a nearby tree giving everyone great views as it continued 
to reposition itself allowing our group to take many photos of this beautiful 
bird.  Without doubt the nicest bird of our entire trip.
 The most interesting bird of the day was a large dark grey pigeon which flew 
out of the rainforest, causing great excitement until it flew directly over our 
heads revealing itself to be a Topknot Pigeon, which are rare north of 
Cooktown!  A couple of members of our group successfully searched for Zitting 
Cisticola near the town rubbish dump on the way back to the jetty ending a very 
successful first day in the islands of the northern Torres Strait.
A dawn walk around the island produced our first Great-billed Heron of the trip 
as well as Lesser Frigatebird, Pied and Striated Heron, Brolga, Australian 
Pratincole, Brush Cuckoo, Large-billed Gerygone, Tawny-breasted and 
Yellow-spotted H/E as well as further views of Papuan Flowerpecker and Collared 
Imperial Pigeon.  Our afternoon was spent on the drying wetlands towards the 
centre of the island where we located a flock of 500 Pelicans.  Also present 
were Black-necked Stork, Gull-billed Tern, Australian Pratincole and several 
wader species.
On the 19th we headed for Boigu with our main target bird being Singing 
Starling. We quickly headed for the large fruiting and flowering trees near the 
waterfront and after a few minutes our entire group had excellent views of 
about 30 SINGING STARLING near the jetty. Also that afternoon on the island we 
found Wandering Whistling-Duck, Wood Sandpiper, Lesser Sandplover, Little Tern, 
Collared Imperial Pigeon and Large-tailed Nightjar as well as good numbers of 
Brown-backed, Rufous-banded and Red-headed Honeyeaters.  Red-backed Button 
Quail were again very common and easy to photograph in the late afternoon at 
the back of the airport. The most interesting bird of the day was a unusual 
Needletail seen flying low over the drying wetlands near the rubbish dump in 
the afternoon.
The following two days we again birded around the settlement of Boigu, locating 
Little Curlew, Yellow Wagtail, White-winged Black Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, 
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Red-cheeked Parrot, Northern 
Fantail, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow Oriole, Black Butcherbird as well 
as large numbers of Singing Starling.
On the 21st we departed for Dauan, arriving around midday and giving us a full 
afternoon ashore as well as the entire following day.  Dauan proved to be 
immediately productive with the New Guinea race of Eclectus Parrot seen by all 
as well as Forest Kingfisher, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Mangrove Golden 
Whistler, Koel, Tree Martin, Noisy Pitta and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.  The 
following morning some of our group decided to bird the exposed reef and 
located a Wandering Tattler amongst many other waders.
Our final day involved traveling back to Horn Island in uncomfortable and windy 
conditions with a two hour stop at Little Tuesday Island to search for the 
Torres Strait and northern Great Barrier Reef endemic Pale White-eye.  Two 
Beach Stone-curlew greeted us at the beach and we soon located several 
Broad-billed Flycatchers, Mangrove Golden Whistler and a small flock of PALE 
WHITE-EYE. A nice bird to finish the trip with.
If you would like a full trip list of species seen let me know.  I also have a 
list of butterflies seen over the two weeks.  

The Nov 2008 trip has 2 vacancies remaining and I've only just booked the boat 
for the Feb 2009 wet season trip so there are plenty of spots available at this 
Richard Baxter

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