Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Wanna see a BoP? Part five

The far west of PNG beckoned and, amazingly, our flights back to Port Moresby and out to Kiunga were both pretty much on time. From Kiunga we had a two hour drive to the mining town of Tabubil. A friend who had been there wrote in his trip report something along the lines of 'get me out of this god-forsaken shit hole' so perhaps my judgement was somewhat coloured before I arrived but neither the town nor the hotel did little to change my mind. The service in the hotel restaurant was the worst I've experienced anywhere in the world and on one evening my meal just never arrived. One hotel notice did provide entertainment though.

The area did produce a number of really good birds including Salvadori's Teal and Papuan Eagle although neither showed for long enough to allow photography. It seemed that most of the birds that we were going to see showed on the first day and I'd have happily not stayed on any longer. The weather wasn't helping much either.

The insect life in the area provided many of the highlights.

There were several different species of these tortoise beetles (or helicopter beetle) as some called them, and an entomologist in our group took a few specimens to send to a world expert in this group.

Jumping spider
Praying Mantis stalking skipper butterfly
My only cockroach sighting of the trip was in our bathroom at the hotel in Tabubil but by the time I'd called my brother to come and see it, it was an ex-cockroach.

During our time in this part of PNG we were followed around by a group of birders from (I think) Taiwan. Their attire was sufficiently entertaining that I couldn't resist.

Their behaviour in leaving all their rubbish behind at the Greater BoP lek was somewhat less entertaining and I was sorely tempted to tell them exactly what I thought of them. Thankfully our group removed the rubbish.

Not before time, we left Tabubil and returned to Kiunga where the main attraction was a site poetically called Kilometre 17. This is the site where David Attenborough was hauled up into the canopy to see the Greater BoP's lek. But before we got to that there were some more good insects to see.

And even a cool spiders web.

But the birds took centre stage:

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra
King Bird of Paradise
Greater Bird of Paradise
Whilst watching the displaying Greater BoPs, a raucous commotion announced the arrival of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

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