Heavy rains during the last night made the path through the steep slopes of the rainforest almost impassable. Again and again I sink up to my knees in the mud while I try to follow my guide, who is carrying my luggage and using his machete to help us through the thicket of lianas and branches. Suddenly we hear a short whistle: That must be the courtship call of a Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise (Cicinnurus magnificus). Although we can spot no bird, a courtship area can be clearly seen in front of us on the forest floor. My guide builds a provisional hiding place out of leaves and a few hours later we visit the place again. But since it starts to rain again, no bird can be seen. Over the next five days I keep trying my luck in the hide, but unfortunately it rains almost all the time. Only in the rain breaks does a male stop by and inspect the courtship area. After all, I am rarely lucky enough to see a Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) which is now split taxonomically and called a Papuan Pitta (Erythropitta macklotii). This species is extremely shy and difficult to observe. The annual rainfall in this area of New Guinea is 6,000 millimeters, so rain (mostly at night) is quite the order of the day. I set my trip in the dry season, but unfortunately, according to the locals, I apparently had hit a particularly wet dry season. After that unsuccessful experience, I changed location to the Central Highlands around Mt. Hagen in the middle of the island. Here I was accomodated in the rustic lodge, the Kumul Lodge, and my success level developed much better. Here I shot the image of the blog, the female Crested Bird-of-paradise.
When the first scientists from Europe saw New Guinea’s birds-of-paradise at the beginning of the 19th century, they were completely perplexed: “I was too amazed to shoot the bird,” wrote the French doctor and naturalist Rene Lesson in 1824. But at the beginning of the In the 20th century, the colorful feathers of the birds of paradise were exported to Europe in large numbers. Export was later banned, first in the eastern part of the island under British rule, then in the western part, which was then a Dutch colonial territory. Today, the hunt for birds of paradise is only permitted to a limited extent if the traditional ceremonies of the indigenous tribal communities so require. It is forbidden for foreigners to own a bird-of-paradise or its feathers. Most birds of paradise are crows or starlings, with powerful beaks and claws and strongly curved feathers. In the course of evolution they developed bizarre decorative feathers and courtship rituals in their often isolated biotopes. Given the small number of natural enemies or food competitors and the plentiful supply of food, the birds had plenty of time for extravagant mating rituals. 34 of the 38 bird of paradise species native to New Guinea are endemic, most of them live confined to specific altitudes. The Greater Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) is a lowland species that lives in regions up to 600 meters above sea level. The Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) is native to altitudes between 500 and 1,000 meters and quite common in the Trans-Fly area around Kiunga. The Brown Sicklebill (Epimachus meyeri) and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia (Astrapia mayeri) inhabit the plateaus and cloud forests at altitudes above 2,000 meters. Crested Birds-of-Paradise (Cnemophilus macgregorii) live in the mountain forests above 2,500 meters, where they are common in the Central Highlands around Mt. Hagen in the middle of the island. They mostly roam in the lower areas of the trees.
Few areas on earth can compete with New Guinea in terms of diversity of flora and fauna. The Pacific island has the largest tropical forest in Australasia and an extremely high level of biodiversity that can easily compete with that of the Amazon region. Almost seventy percent of the total area of New Guinea is covered by forests. While the lowlands are characterized by tropical rainforests, deciduous and pine forests that look like Central Europe can be found in the highlands. In the marshland near the coast, mangrove forests dominate the scene and acacias and eucalyptus trees are predominant in the dry savannahs. The varied fauna is home to a fascinating wealth of species, which is subject to Asian but above all Australian influences. Particularly interesting for nature photographers are the more than 770 (including over 670 for the main island alone) bird species, including Birds-of-paradise and Bower Birds, which have their habitat in the vast tropical forests of New Guinea.
In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rarer species of Palaearctic Bird-lens.com has specifically made trips to remote places. Additionally every chance is used, if a rare bird is around the homeground. This to do everything to ensure excellent photos of the Birds of the Western Palearctic . The yield of pictures also of rare Western Palaearctic birds is very good. There are other nice images of birds, that you will find behind the tab “Picture Shop“. Just give a notice to Bird-lens.com if you need a picture of a bird which is not online.