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.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Wanna see a BoP? Part four

The next couple of days was spent at Kumul Lodge, situated at 2900m in montane forest. It was cold (as was the water in the taps, when there was any), it was wet (again) and the food wasn't great but they did have a great bird table.

This was regularly loaded with fruit and provided a constant procession of birds that could be photographed easily from the balcony. The range of species wasn't great when compared to feeding stations in South America for instance, but the ease of viewing compared with much of PNG meant that a lot of time was spent sitting on the balcony.

Brown Sicklebill (male)
Brown Sicklebill (female)
Brehm's Tiger Parrot
Common Smoky Honeyeaters are widespread in PNG but it was good to be able to observe a bizarre aspect of their behaviour. This is a normal one:

But when they get excited they look like this:

You could actually see the facial skin colour change as they got themselves wound up around the food.
Other birds seen around the garden included:

Papuan Lorikeet - great expression
Friendly Fantail
White-winged Robin
Island Thrush - apparently. Be serious, it's a Blackbird
Mountain Owlet-Nightjar
The trails around the lodge were generally quiet but a few highlights were

Crested Satinbird
Blue-capped Ifrita
Regent Whistler

Coconut Lorikeet
And my second favourite bird of the trip:

King of Saxony Bird of Paradise
Unfortunately my favourite bird of the trip (Twelve-wired BoP) was too distant to photograph. Not much closer was the Lesser Bird of Paradise lek but it was good to get any sort of views as the lek that used to be visited by birding groups was along a road that was impassable in wet weather and it seemed unlikely that we'd be able to get there. The new site was across a large river which apparently was crossed by walking along a tree trunk. I wasn't keen! We actually found that the villagers had constructed a new bridge but it wouldn't win any health and safety awards and I was quite happy that we could get distant views of the lek without crossing the river.

The only mammal we saw in the Kumul area was another Speckled Dasyure. It used to be a good area for mammals but a couple of years ago the two local villages decided to start killing each other. The police didn't intervene because they don't have to when something is classed as a tribal dispute! The losing villagers fled the area but left their dogs behind and these went feral and killed all the local mammals.

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