18 September 2010

Canceled Flights, Changing Plans...and Owlet-Nightjars (Papua New Guinea): 2 July 2010

Returning to my first PNG trip this summer. Events on this day were a little stressful. On arrival at the airport Air Niugini said they could not take us as we had too much luggage. Well under our weight limit, the group took this amazingly well in their stride and stripped their luggage down further to the bare minimum (55kg in total between 9 people-a miracle!), only for the airline to cancel our Tari-bound flight, leaving us stranded in Port Moresby! Thankfully, there is a great national park Varirata, nearby and we simply re-routed ourselves there with some quick shuffling of plans and rapid phone calls. In the end this turned out to be a fine afternoon's birding. We began on a narrow forest trail, sun beating down, and still baking hot with little activity we decided to check in on a roost site for the odd, whiskered BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR. On arrival at the first spot there one was peering out of its woody hollow (bottom photo). We thought we'd check another very close hole too and amazingly another one was dozing there too. Still hot, we checked another roosting nightbird and found a Marbled Frogmouth sleeping bark-like in a casuarina. The clearing held some fruiting trees holding the widespread endemic PINK-SPOTTED FRUIT-DOVE (top photo), while another forray into the forest once birds had become active again found a Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher glowing in the understorey. Not a bad "detour" from our original Tari plans...

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