TORRES STRAIT TRIP REPORT APRIL 2012 Part 1
It's been three years since my last visit to the islands of the Northern Torres
Strait. My Feb 2009 trip was a very rewarding week and I've been keen to get
back ever since. The several trips during 2007-2009 were by boat and the new
itinerary for the several trips I have planned for 2012-2014 are either charter
flight or both flights and boat. This trip was solely by plane, with the seven
of us staying on Boigu for three nights, Saibai for four nights and also
spending a full day on Dauan.
We arrived at Horn Island airport at 8.30am and boarded our charter flight to
Boigu. During the flight we had clear views of many of the TS islands and
after 30min the expanse of the PNG mainland came into view, with a very wet
looking Boigu sitting just offshore. After a 45 minute flight we landed on the
island and made our way to the fairly new Boigu Motel.
Our first hour was spent purchasing supplies at the supermarket, organising our
meals and paying visits to the head of the island's council and two of the
island's elders to let them know we're birding on the island for the next three
Our first target was Singing Starling and we headed off to a well known roost
site in the centre of town. On our way we had good views of the local Spangled
(Papuan) Drongo race carbonarius, Leaden Flycatcher PNG race papuana, Torresian
Crow, Large-billed Gerygone and Black Butcherbird, all endemic sub species
found only these northern islands or the PNG mainland. Collared Kingfisher and
breeding plumaged Lesser Sand Plovers were nice to see, as were the large
numbers of Pied Herons.
After a short walk we eventually located a couple of cooperative SINGING
STARLING near the council building. As we photographed these several more
began to fly into the nearby trees and after a short while we all had close
views and lots of photos, of what would be our first rarity of the trip. We
returned to our accommodation for our seafood banquet, which was prepared by a
couple of local woman.
The weather on the morning of our first full day had changed completely over
night. Our early morning walk was in strong northerly winds and overcast
skies, perfect weather for something to fly over from PNG. We walked around
the corner to the waterfront and within seconds had two PACIFIC SWALLOW soaring
over our heads, giving everyone short but good views before they cruised off
over the mangroves with a decent tailwind.
A short walk towards the mangroves gave us Shining Flycatcher, Whistling Kite
and a flock of Tree Martin and White-breasted Woodswallow. As we spread out
along the road, two of our group saw GLOSSY SWIFTLET circling the treetops with
the martins. Unfortunately I was 200m away and missed them entirely.
Our next walk was through the mangroves where we saw Tawny-breasted Honeyeater,
Olive-backed Sunbird, Large-billed Gerygone, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater and
great views of RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER.
On our second full day on the island we travelled by boat down the Boigu River
to remote beaches on the southern side of the island. The rest of the time was
spent exploring the area surrounding settlement. It was the very end of the
wet season and the entire interior was underwater, making travel more than 400m
from town impossible by foot. We kept ourselves busy birding along the runway,
the mangroves, the foreshore and a few small ponds near town, as well as
keeping a constant vigil for anything passing overhead.
To be continued
Birding Tours Australia
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