08 August 2013

Creatures of the Night…(Indonesia) 26th July

Any participants on a trip to this Wallacean part of Indonesia naturally suffer from sleep deprivation; after all some 10% of the endemic birds are nightbirds! And so our trip was taking this turn with late nights and early mornings in pursuit of these. In an ideal world we would have found all three of Halmahera’s specialty nightbirds in one sitting the night before, but alas no. So before the first cock had crowed we were back in the field, in hot pursuit of Halmahera’s most odd “creature-of-the-night”, the Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar. Although one of its calls is described intriguingly as a “blood curdling scream”, we did not hear this one unfortunately, but heard some of its ore regular, and less dramatic calls. It toyed with us for a while and required a scramble in to the forest to see it, but it was well worth it. The bird was quickly elevated to “Bird-of-the-trip” status by virtue of the showing and this particularly wonderfully marked individual.

Our daytime birding adventures were no less dramatic though with first a Common Paradise-Kingfisher showing well (nothing common or ordinary about this one though!), several of the endemic Blue-and-white Kingfisher decorating the wires along the highway.

And then the ultimate “quest bird” of the trip seen, as it sang back at us from the forest canopy – the stunning Ivory-breasted Pitta, the so-called “Pitta maxima”, which lives up to its name; it’s big, very big and spectacular with its clean “Persil” white breast, deep crimson vent, dark upperside and electric blue shoulder epaulets.  The rest of our day on Halmahera may have been fairly quiet, but after this haul we were not complaining. Day of the trip…so far!

More to come from deepest, darkest Halmahera soon…

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