A somewhat belated report on the birds in Torres Strait. I spent a week on
Boigu and another week on Saibai Island in July. Both islands had received
considerable rain and conditions remained overcast and drizzly throughout
our stay. The upside was that it was relatively cool, the down side was that
mosquitos were in plague proportions. It is worth flagging that these
islands have limited access, accommodation and other facilities and that one
requires permission from both the island council and the prescribed body
corporate of the community to visit and stay.
Boigu produced the usual Singing Starlings (seen daily within the town) and
Papuan Flowerpeckers (heard or seen every day). Other nice birds included a
Black Bittern, Australian Hobbies on a number of days, small numbers of
Red-backed Button-Quail, large numbers of Rainbow Lorikeets (photos confirm
these as caeruleiceps, the southern PNG form), 1-3 Eclectus Parrots (PNG
race) each day, numbers of Large-tailed Nightjars and a single Little
Kingfisher. Interesting passerines included numbers of Spectacled Monarchs,
Leaden Flycatchers, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes (all juvenile) and
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes and Tree Martins, most of which are likely to
be dry season migrants.
On Saibai Island, Papuan Flowerpeckers were again seen or heard on a daily
basis. The biggest surprise for me was an observation of a Wedge-tailed
Shearwater flying low over houses in the middle of the day. After circling a
couple of times it flew out into the strait between Saibai Island and PNG
and moved off. Other new species for the island list were Spotted Nightjar
(a bird seen and photographed in day light) and an immature Pallid Cuckoo.
Other interesting birds included several more Australian Hobbies, 2-3 Brown
Goshawks of the pale form thought to be race dogwa, a single Red-backed
Button-Quail, large numbers of Rainbow Lorikeets, up to five Eclectus
Parrots each day, at least three pair of Barking Owls, a pair of Collared
Kingfishers (at the usual spot) and a single Forest Kingfisher. Although I
have seen them on both Boigu and Saibai before Forest Kingfishers are quite
scarce up here; Sacred Kingfishers (mostly juveniles) by contrast are quite
common. Interesting passerines included those species listed above for Boigu
Island as well at several Black-faced Monarchs.
Photographs of most of the above mentioned species from Boigu and Saibai can
be found by visiting my Australian Birds gallery at
www.pbase.com/wildlifeimages/australian_birds then navigating to individual
As I have only just finished the site any feedback would be appreciated.
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