At 5:00 a.m. the night in the Ambua Lodge, a luxurious mountain hotel, is over. Today a trip around Ambua Lodge in the Southern Highlands is announced. After breakfast we start driving. It is still quite dark, but it does not rain. The target species of our morning observations are the Blue Bird-of-paradise (Paradisornis rudolphi) and the Superb Bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba).
Our guide, Benson, drives us to hurry. After a short drive, stop on the edge of a small settlement and in a rush, Benson leads us on narrow paths over a steep slove and a valley up again on a hill. Here is an invisible border. We cannot go any further. The village beyond the border does not give permission to enter their gardens and fields. We are now on a small agricultural plateau at about 1,900 m (asl). The distance offers a beautiful, mist-covered view on old primeval trees. This is the place to see the Birds-of-paradise. On small birds Benson calls Brown Quail (Synoicus ypsilophorus) and Iceland Leaf-Warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus), which is also called New Guinea Leaf warbler probably belong in the area to the subspecies giulianettii. Our second guide, Peter, takes me aside after a short time. He has a very special job for my camera, which he wanted to show me. So we walk through allotments, intensively farmed, narrow sunken paths, past pigsties until we come to a collection of huts, where also some fruity trees exist. Here the photographer can get started. A female Blue Bird-of-Paradise quickly appears. Even the male of the Blue Bird-of-Paradise does not take a long time before coming in. The male Blue Bird-of- Continue reading Blue Bird-of-paradise near Ambua Lodge/ Papua-New Guinea
At 5:00 a.m. the night in the mountain hotel is over. 5:30 a.m. breakfast is announced. Afterwards we are guided straight to a fruiting tree to observe Birds-of-paradise at the bungalow no. 7. The inconspicuous green and black berry tufts lure Birds-of-paradise again and again. Here you might find the Lawes Parotia (Parotia lawesii). We are rewarded very fast. A female feeds intensively in the low canopy of the fruiting tree.
The species belonging to the genus Parotia is probably one of the most sophisticated dancers among birds and even among the Birds-of-paradise. The males of these petite birds compete on the ground and cultivate “their” place with great effort. The males are considered polygynous, i.e. they are having two or more mates, either simultaneously or successively. Parotias have promiscuous males that entertain terrestrial courts seasonally. The male cleans his arena of leaves and twigs and decorates it with snakeskin, mammal dung, chalk, fur, feathers and bones. Any leaf that falls on the empty arena is removed immediately, so nothing disturbs the upcoming performance. Sometimes the decoration of neighboring courts is stolen. When females arrive and sit down on a branch above the arena, the male begins its unique ballerina dance. With splayed feathers, which actually remind of a skirt, he trip on the floor back and forth. He shakes his head and moves his six wire-like feathers of the head, which he has now pointed forward. Then the Continue reading Lawes’s Parotia in Ambua Lodge/ Papua-New Guinea
Right from the boat in a loop of the Kwatu River (one of the tributaries of the mighty Fly River), we discover an open-topped bowl of the Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) which is also written Willie-wagtail. I have to photograph the nest with the 3 nestlings. We see how an adult Willie Wagtail has brought a dragonfly to its brood. Early in the nestling period, the chicks are unable to eat such large prey, but they are now fairly well developed and almost ready to leave the nest.
The nests of Fantails of the family Rhipiduridae in general are smooth, bowl-shaped structures. Both sexes contribute to the nest- building process, which takes 8-15 days. The first stage involves twisting spider’s webs around the chosen branch or fork to create a platform. The second involves building up the outer walls with rootlets, bark strips and plant fibers. During the final stage the whole structure is plastered with spiders’ webs, which are gathered using the head or body and then wiped over the cup to bind the materials together. The nest of the Willie Wagtail is comparatively robust and therefore usually built on top of a broad branch or other level surface.
Because incubation begins with the last egg, hatching is synchronous in Fantails, and as a result it is usual for all members of a brood to fly within a period of a few hours. Observations of this Continue reading Willie Wagtail at a nest
New Guinea is an island located just south of the equator. New Guinea is home to 46 species of parrots (s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrots_of_New_Guinea), which makes it the third most diverse biogeographic region in parrot diversity, after the continent of South America which harbours about 100 species and Australia which has 57 species.
New Guinea on the other side is only a fraction as big in land mass as these two zones. Thus making New Guinea’s parrot diversity truly spectacular.
New Guinea is the land of Eclectus Parrots, Pesquest’s Parrot, Lories, Cockatoos, Fig-parrots, but also of Fruit-Doves, Honeyeaters, Cassowaries and of course Birds-of-Paradise. Because of its astounding variety of habitats due to topography and the influence of tropical climate, New Guinea supports over 700 species of birds.
New Guinea shares three species of cockatoos and five species of true parrots with Australia and other islands. 38 species of parrots are endemic to the island of New Guinea and minor offshore islands.
A good example of PNG´s richness in birds is the Eclectus Parrot, Eclectus roratus. Continue reading Parrots in Papua New Guinea
In the Central Highlands of PNG I found this nice Black Sittella (Daphoenositta miranda) . This species belongs in the Neosittidae family. It is found in several mountainous areas in New Guinea. There is not much known about this close relative of the more common Varied Sittella. Even Wikipedia does not show much more. For more details of Black Sittella (Daphoenositta miranda) – HBW 12, p. 641 or look at their website The subspecies kuboriensis occurs in the Central Highlands (Kubor Range and Mt Giluwe), in EC New Guinea. This nice male individuum Continue reading Black Sittella in Papua New Guinea