Trip report - Boigu and Saibai Islands, Torres Strait, Qld

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Trip report - Boigu and Saibai Islands, Torres Strait, Qld
From: <>
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 10:46:24 +1000
Hi All,

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 then navigating to individual species galleries.

As I have only just finished the site any feedback would be appreciated.

Rohan Clarke

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