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WorldTwitch - Australasia Bird News
Indonesia - Sulawesi: Jan Ohlson had a 20-minute view of Geomalia and Heinrich's Nightjar on the Anaso Track in Lore Lindu in November 2002. He recommends hiring a guide such as Nurlin Djuni (not a birder) at the Purnama Raya Hotel in Palu.
Jon Hornbuckle's Wallacea Trip Report, October-November 2001. The trip visited Sulawesi, Sangihe, Sumba, Komodo, West Timor & Flores.
On 13 July 2001, Edward Pollard reported on the OrientalBirding list that local people have invaded and cleared formerly good birding habitat in Lore Lindu National Park near Palu: "The area of lowland/lower montane forest along the track from Kamarora post to the tarred road at Tongoa has, by all accounts, been more or less cleared to several hundred meters from the road. The forest around the Post is still ok, and this is still a good place for many raptors. In addition, areas on both sides of the road running through the Park, up a valley known as Dongi-dongi, have been cleared."
Phil Benstead reported on OrientalBirding that uncontrolled logging has caused considerable damage in Bogani Nani-Wartabone National Park (formerly Dumoga-Bone National Park) on the Minahasa Peninsula. A second Cinnabar Hawk-Owl, Ninox ios, previously known from one specimen taken in 1985 at 1140 m in Bogani Nani-Wartabone NP, was mist-netted in the Gunung Ambang Nature Reserve (east of Bogani Nani-Wartabone) at 1420 m in November 1999. R.J. Lee and J. Riley, Wilson Bull. (2001) 113(1): 17-22. Since then, the patch of forest where the bird was caught has been cleared by farmers and surrounding forest severely degraded by selective logging. The owl may also be threatened by commercial bat trappers who supply the wild meat market.
A study of Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail Parrot, Prioniturus flavicans, shows that the species has a much more restricted distribution than previously believed, being confined to the eastern two-thirds of the northern peninsula. Population densities were more than twice as great in the Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park than in the Tangkoko Duasaudara Nature Reserve. Jonathan Walker & Alexis Cahill, Bird Conservation International 10(2):131-136 (June 2000).
It was quite a surprise to find an online photo of the little-known Geomalia of the Sulawesi highlands, and on the same site (Nell Tours) a photo of the endemic Blue Cuckoo-Shrike and Maleo, which though rare are much more likely to be seen than Geomalia. (The best known Geomalia site, on the Dongi-Dongi road, may have been cleared in 2001 -- see above.)
Ben King reports having observed a probable new species of small flycatcher in Lore Lindu National Park in 1997. He taped the bird's call notes and located a pair in another place a few days later. The species has been video recorded by Pete Morris, who also found and videotaped a male Satanic Nightjar, Eurostopodus diabolicus, at Lore Lindu.
Other interesting observations on Sulawesi by David Bishop et al. included a pair of Yellow-crested Cockatoos, Cacatua sulphurea, flying after dawn to coastal swamp forest just a few km east of Moutong, North Sulawesi, and a Sulawesi Hawk-Cuckoo, Cuculus crassirostris, at Dumoga-Bone National Park, which is being logged intensively, like most accessible sites in Indonesia.
Indonesia - Lesser Sundas: From BirdLife International, 17 September 2003: Two-thirds of the most important biodiversity sites on Indonesia's holiday islands lack protection.
Flores Green Pigeons Treron floris have been found in good numbers on the small islands of Alor, Lembata, and Pulau Besar. A flock of 40-50 in eastern Alor is apparently the largest ever observed. World Birdwatch 24:3 (September 2002).
Indonesia - Sumba: The mystery owl of Sumba, formerly believed to be an Otus, is in fact a Ninox. It was been described as Ninox sumbaensis, Little Sumba Hawk-owl, by Olsen et al., Emu 102:223-231 (2002). The owl was believed to be an Otus, based on its small size and the low, hooting voice, which is unlike any other known Ninox. The nicely illustrated article is now online as a free sample -- save it to your hard disk!
Indonesia - Talaud Islands: In September 1996, Frank Lambert purchased specimens of two new species of rails from a bird trapper on Karakelong, an island midway between Mindanao and Halmahera. He described the TALAUD RAIL, Gymnocrex talaudensis in FORKTAIL 13:1-6(1998), and the TALAUD BUSH HEN, Amaurornis magnirostris in Bull. B.O.C. 118(2):67-82 (1998). The latter bird is sympatric with the Bush Hen, which Frank has split into two species, A. olivaceus of the Philippines, and A. moluccanus, ranging from the Moluccas and Sangibe to Australia. A new species of Ninox owl also has been discovered on the Talaud Islands. A description will be published in due course.
Indonesia - Sangihe: Frank Lambert also discovered that the scops owl on nearby Sangihe is a new species, named Sangihe Scops Owl, O. collari. See Bull. B.O.C. 118(4):204-217 (1998).
The CERULEAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER, EUTRICHOMYIAS ROWLEYI, has been relocated on Sangihe. For details about getting to and birding on Sangihe and Talaud, islands north of Manado, Sulawesi, and handheld photos of rowleyi and other endemics, see the excellent article by Jim Wardill and Jon Riley in OBC Bulletin 29:29-35 (1999). More on this exciting rediscovery will follow in a future Oriental Bird Club publication.
Indonesia - West Timor: David Bishop et al. had a Timor Black Pigeon, Turacoena modesta, in remaining forest at Bipolo which is going fast.
Timor-Leste (East Timor, now independent): BirdLife Timor-Leste survey finds five rare Timor endemics in unexpectedly high numbers in the Ira Lalaro-Jaco Island area near Timor's northeastern tip: Timor Green-Pigeon Treron psittacea and Timor Imperial-Pigeon Ducula cineracea, both classified as Endangered, Black Cuckoo-dove Turacoena modesta (Vulnerable), Timor Sparrow Padda fuscata (Vulnerable) and Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea (Critically Endangered) - one of the world's rarest birds.
Indonesia - Buru: Rufous-throated White-eye, Madanga ruficollis, was found at 1,540 m by a BirdLife International expedition. See Report on the BOU's Tropical Forests and Islands Conference, 3-5 April 1998, by Julie Vickery.
Indonesia - Seram: Photos of the Seram form of Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot, Micropsitta bruijnii and other parrots of Seram may be seen on Project Bird Watch.
Indonesia - Damar: BirdLife International reports that the distinctive Damar Flycatcher Fidedula henrici was rediscovered and found to be locally common by Colin Trainor during a bird survey of Damar in September 2001. See the BirdLife webpage for more information. [Photo of Damar Flycatcher.]
Indonesia - Papua (Irian Jaya): Photos of Bruijn's Brush-Turkey.
Highlights of a Rapid Assessment Program carried out by Conservation International in the Freeport-McMoran mining area included Papuan Whipbird, Androphobus viridis, observed at helipad 55 (1,890 m). One of the most poorly-known birds of New Guinea, Brass's Friarbird, Philemon brassi, was found to be fairly common at Wapoga Alpha (1,070 m) and Logari, LS 21 (275 m). Previously this species was known only from a few locations in the Idenburg drainage and only a handful of specimens exist. (A. Mack and Wahyu).
It was reported on 10 Jan 2000 that the MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) is refusing to land at the Wamena airport because of unsafe conditions -- people and livestock on the runway. There apparently are no other regular passenger services between Jayapura and Wamena. (In 1988, my friends and I made the trip in the back of an ancient DC-3 cargo plane because the passenger flight was full.)
Papua New Guinea: David Bishop found the first known grey-morph Starry Owlet-Nightjar Aegothels tatei (see below for an illustration of the rufous morph) in an area of slightly rolling, primary lowland forest along the Dringas Road, c. 17km north of Kiunga, Western Province. David writes that "the bold silvery-white 'stars' at the point where the wing joins the body are diagnostic, as is the fine whitish speckling giving the bird a slightly forested appearance." This apparently was the first field observation of the species as well as an extension of the known range.
In the January 2000 issue of the Auk, Thane Pratt proposed the elevation to species status of the Starry Owlet-Nightjar, Aegotheles tatei, from the southern lowlands of Papua New Guinea. It previously had been lumped with the montane Feline Owlet-Nightjar, A. insignis. I highly recommend that anyone interested in the identification and relationships of the large Aegotheles obtain a copy of this article, as the author has included much detailed information, including three charts comparing tatei, insignis, and the closely-related Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar, A. crinifrons. In addition, the issue includes a superb cover plate and a black-and-white illustration of the head by Jim Coe. [Neotropical birders will note the striking plumage convergence with the Ocellated Poorwill, Nyctiphrynus ocellatus.]
Papua New Guinea Trip Report, 1999, by Phil Gregory.
Papua New Guinea Trip Report, June-July, 1998, by Phil Gregory.
Papua New Guinea Trip Report (Parrot Fanciers), July-Aug, 1998, by Phil Gregory.
Papua New Guinea Trip Report, Jan 1998, by Phil Gregory
Comparative behavioral and biochemical studies of bowerbirds and the evolution of bower building. Gerald Borgia, in Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources (1996).
See A.W. Kratter et al., Auk (2001) 118(2): 472-483 for details on birds observed and collected during field studies on Isabel. A highlight was the discovery that Woodford's Rail Nesoclepeus woodfordi, a large, flightless wood-rail, is locally common.
In July 2002, Guy Dutson photographed an unknown rail on Malaita. The rail closely resembled Woodford's Rail, but was browner with more pale spots on the wings. World Birdwatch 24:3 (September 2002).
New Caledonia: Murray Lord reports that Rivière Bleu National Park, the most reliable publicly accessible site for Kagu and Crow Honeyeater, is closed due to cyclone damage. It will not reopen before mid-June 2003.
The New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar Aegothelse savesi rediscovered? Joe A. Tobias & Jonathan M.M. Ekstrom. Bull. B.O.C. 122(4): 282-285 (2002). The bird was observed at 18:40 on 5 November 1998 along a disused logging road in the Rivière Ni valley on the western flank of the Massif de Kouakoué, Province Sud, in riverine humid forest on moderate slopes at c. 1,000 m.
New Caledonia Trip Report, December 2000, by Phil Gregory, with directions to the NC Grassbird.
New Caledonia Trip Report, December 1999, by Jon Hornbuckle.
New Caledonian Grassbird, Megalurulus mariei - An Overview - Compiled by Oscar van Rootselaar.
Fiji Trip Report, 1996-7, by Phil Gregory.
Another small island endemic turned up in Australia on 17 December 1999, when an exhausted Abbott's Booby, Papasula abbotti, was found roosting in a tree at the Eco Beach Resort on the Broome Peninsula, WA. After a few meals of fish, it was on its way.
At about 18:30 on 1 June 1998, Hugh Dingle observed a probable Night Parrot, Pezoporus occidentalis, on the edge of the bitumen along the Dajarra/Cloncurry Road, northwest Queensland, about 25 km south of the intersection with the Mt. Isa/Cloncurry Road in an area of grassy woodland in a valley between rocky hills. Habitat in the area south of Malbon where there have been previous Night Parrot sightings has been destroyed by pigs and cows.
New Zealand: Trip Report by Jon Hornbuckle, November 1999.