Northern Torres Strait Trip Report

To: <>
Subject: Northern Torres Strait Trip Report
From: "Rohan Clarke" <>
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 18:55:11 +1100
Hi All,
I have just returned from two weeks in Northern Torres Strait. Spent 6 nights 
on Boigu, 3 on Dauan and 6 on Saibai.
It was very hot, humid and dry (they are predicting a late wet up that way) so 
access wasn't too bad. Given the swamps were all but dry I found no need to 
swim with the crocodiles this time and thankfully the mosquito numbers were 
low. I was last up there in Jan/Feb 2002

Highlights in terms of rare birds were mostly restricted to Boigu Island so 
Mike Carter has already forwarded my key records...and no I didn't record six 
new species for Australia as he predicted I might!

Orange-bellied Fruit-dove: Boigu Island. 1 in flight on 15th Nov and then 
perched and seen very well (good photographs) on the 16th Nov. First record for 

Papuan Spine-tailed Swift: Boigu Island. Three together in flight and drinking 
on the wing from a small freshwater swamp 0753-0800 on 17th Nov. About the size 
of a White-rumped Swiftlet but with the structure of a needletail this species 
is distinctive. All key features seen and about 65 images taken during the 7 
mins they were in view. Several photos show the tail spines. First record for 

Gurney's Eagle: Boigu Island. Two soaring together over grassland in the am on 
18th Nov. About 20 photos show key features. Third record for Australia.

Red-capped Flowerpecker: Boigu Island. Three to four sightings of a pair and 
two adult males together. A few record photographs. First record for Boigu and 
about the fifth for Australia.
On Saibai Island this species was seen almost daily at three different sites 
(but not near the cemetery where the species has been seen before). Evidence 
they were breeding at at least one site. Good photos of some birds.

Collared Imperial Pigeon: Boigu Island. Seen daily with a running tally of 31 
individuals seen. Mostly in flight but a few perched.
On Saibai Island this species was seen almost daily with a running tally of 27 
individuals. A couple of good photographs of birds in flight.

Singing Starling: Boigu Island at least 60 in and around town...mostly in a big 
fruiting fig tree near the church. Lots of juveniles. Nesting in hollow 
mangroves surrounded by water at high tide at several sites.
Saibai Island: 1 juvenile in town (second record for Saibai).

Other good sightings included migrating Rufous Fantails, Spectacled Monarchs 
and Dollarbirds in small numbers. Good numbers of Spangled Drongos and Tree 
Martins heading south on certain days. The first Mangrove Robins (a pair) for 
the NW group were recorded on Boigu, first Straw-necked ibis for NW group on 
Saibai and first Beach Stone Curlew for NW group (?) on Dauan. Lots of photos 
of many birds will hopefully help shed light on sub-specific identification.

About 90 species on Boigu, 50 on Dauan and 110 on Saibai with 10-20 new species 
for each island.

Good mammals were Large-eared Flying fox (small breeding colony 150-200) on 
Saibai Island, a huge camp (10,000s) of Black (?) Flying fox on Boigu, a 
Pipistrelle sp., Dugong and Rusa Dear (both Boigu and Saibai). A medium but 
very rotund rat with a short tail observed in mangroves on Saibai may well go 

Reptiles included a Papuan Black Snake (Saibai), plenty of Mangrove Monitors V. 
indicus, a small species of monitor in grassland on Saibai and about 10 skink 



Dr Rohan Clarke
Threatened Mallee Bird Project
Zoology Department
La Trobe University
Bundoora 3086
Ph: 03 9479 1672 Mobile 0408 947001

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