Papua New Guinea: West New Britain Jul 22—27, 2017
Posted by Dion Hobcroft
After settling in to the very comfortable Walindi Dive Resort, with its well-planned rooms, tasty meals, and excellent staff, we headed out for our first birding in New Britain. We met Joel, a local villager, who guided us up beyond his village into the forest. He led us to a New Britain Boobook, a small hawk-owl he keeps tabs on (and has done so for the past few years). With the elections on, I joked with Joel that we should call the owl “Prime Minister Pete.” We had actually seen the Prime Minister the day before.
After great looks at “Pete” we slowly wandered to a viewing area over the forest that was heaving with birds—lots of Eclectus Parrots, our first Blue-eyed Cockatoos, dozens of Red-knobbed and Yellowish imperial-pigeons, Long-tailed Myna, Variable Goshawk, an all-white Pied Coucal, a single Channel-billed Cuckoo (quite rare on NB), the beautiful Purple-bellied Lory, the scarce Black-bellied Myzomela, and great views of the colorful Knob-billed Fruit-Dove. It was a great start.
The next morning we did the boat trip to the inshore islands of Malo Malo and Restoff. The weather was not great, with strong winds and consistent rain. Luckily we did not get exposed to the open ocean, and eventually the rain fizzled out. One of the first birds was a surprise Peregrine Falcon, actively hunting pigeons. This is a rare bird in the Bismarck Archipelago, here represented by the small, black-backed subspecies ernesti. It certainly had the pigeons in a flap, and we had great views of many Island Imperial-Pigeons, several Mackinlay’s Cuckoo-doves, and the sought after Nicobar Pigeon. A Brahminy Kite tried to snatch a Rainbow Bee-eater, putting a wintering flock of hundreds of individuals to flight. Several White-bellied Sea-Eagles were also present. We found the brilliant Beach Kingfisher and Sclater’s Myzomela, but the Mangrove Golden Whistler was hard to pin down in the windswept forest on Restoff. There were plenty of terns about (Black Noddy, Bridled, Siberian Common, Black-naped, and Crested) with the odd Lesser Frigatebird loitering about. On the reefs we found the odd Whimbrel, Pacific Reef Egret, and singles of both Great and Little Egret.
Read Dion’s full report in his Field List.