Torres Strait trip report April 2012 Part 1

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Torres Strait trip report April 2012 Part 1
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 18:56:07 -0700 (PDT)


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 

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

Richard Baxter
Birding Tours Australia 

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