Torres Strait trip report part 2 April 2012

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Torres Strait trip report part 2 April 2012
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 19:33:00 -0700 (PDT)

Species numbers were similar to previous years except for a few notable 
absences.  We only had one possible sighting of Red-headed Honeyeater and did 
not see a single lorikeet in three days.  Despite searching we also failed to 
see Collared Imperial Pigeon or any fruit doves.  A pleasant surprise was the 
high number of breeding plumaged waders along the foreshore and very close to 
the town's main road.  Over three days we had Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot, 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Lesser Sand Plover and Red-necked Stint in full 
breeding plumage...a spectacular sight.    

Our trip down the Boigu River produced views of three Little Kingfisher, Varied 
Triller, Varied Honeyeater and Brown-backed Honeyeater as well as Crocodile and 
Mangrove Monitor.

Our flight to Saibai was over in 20min.  We eventually settled into our 
accommodation and set about exploring the nearby area.  My first job was to 
find one of the locals and put in an order for the biggest Barra he could catch 
in the next two days.  Two days later he arrived at our front door with two big 
Barramundi, one of which was big enough to feed our entire group.

As we taxied along the runway earlier in the afternoon, Geoff thought he saw 
two snipe stick their heads up from the grass on the runway verge.  Our first 
walk was to the far side of the runway to search for these possible snipe.  
Considering the time of year and location we thought Swinhoe's was a 
possibility and after an hour or so and some muddy shoes we located four snipe 
tucked away in the long grass near the boundary fence.  The first three flushed 
showing no feet extending beyond the tail, then a few seconds later the final 
bird decided to go, showing feet clearly projecting beyond the tail in flight.  
Conclusive flight photos taken by Brian clinched our fifth rarity of the 

Over the following four days we again birded close to town.  Like Boigu, the 
interior of Saibai was a vast floodplain and virtually inaccessible.  The few 
short walks we did do into the wetlands revealed Brolga, Zitting Cisticola, 
Pheasant Coucal, Brown Goshawk A.f.dogwa and 'Siberian' Whimbrel.

On our second day we caught the ferry to Dauan, which is a tall granite boulder 
strewn island next door to Saibai and also the most northerly point of the 
Great Dividing Range.  We we greeted by a very vocal Eclectus Parrot (PNG race 
polychloros) flying along the northern coast as well as flocks of Torresion 
Imperial Pigeons descending on the fruit trees covering the hillside. We saw 
our first Emerald Dove of the trip as well as Mangrove Golden Whistler and 
Forest Kingfisher.

Despite a week of scanning the skies we did not see a single Collared Imperial 
Pigeon, which was the first time in six trips that we've missed it.  At the end 
of the week we had recorded over one hundred species and visited every 
accessible part of the islands.  Since returning I've decided to do the next 
few trips staying on Boigu and then using the live aboard boat for Saibai and 
Dauan as well as for Ugar and Darnley on the longer trips.
I'm hoping to have this trip report with photos on our website in the next 
couple of days.
Richard Baxter
Birding Tours Australia 

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