27 August 2010

Kingfishers "on tap" in New Guinea...(Kwatu Lodge): June 2010

Returning to New Guinea, after our morning of BOPs and Pigeons on way up to Kwatu Lodge we made the most of our afternoon around Kwatu itself. I believe this is one of the true great wilderness areas on Earth, the lodge is surrounded by a blanket of dense, rich rainforest that can only be accessed by way of a three hour boat journey. Frankly if the lodge was of a higher standard (which sadly it probably never will be) we would stay for days on end. There are sure to be more avian discoveries in this forest. Anyway back to what IS there. A lunch break in the steaming heat of the day at the lodge itself brought me a lifer in the "garden": Long-billed Cuckoo, that not that long ago was near mythical (then the call became known, the bird became a reality, and the rest is history). We then drifted down the Ketu River and made a stop in an area of swamp forest with kingfishers in mind. And one after the other they came: spectacular kingfisher after another. First up was the "carrot-billed" Common Paradise-Kingfisher, which proved a little easier than expected.

Then a Hook-billed Kingfisher piped up and called at close range. This species is near crepuscular in terms of calling habits and so I was expecting little return from trying to "duel" with it. Amazingly though a quick blast of playback of its own call bought the bird in really close, and before I knew our local man was pointing to it! As we ogled it repeatedly though the scope (see photo) I wondered back to my first trip in PNG where I chased it and was tormented by it relentlessly for what seemed like the whole three weeks! Sometimes they can behave.

As if that was not enough next up was another flashy paradise-kingfisher. Although this one the more inconspicuous Little Paradise-Kingfisher, that unsurprisingly led us a merry dance for a while before we managed to line it up in the scope for one and all (when I am sure it thought it was hidden behind a trunk, although through some inventive scope positioning and neck straining we solved this problem). The day was finished off (after a considerable period of hunting the bird down mind you), with a Wallace's Owlet-Nightjar blinking back at us in the spotlight.

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