December 6, 2015: West New Britain, Papua New Guinea — Joseph Ando and I spent a couple hours in the forest above Rondon Ridge this morning and found some fun birds (Brown Sicklebill, Stephanie’s Astrapia, Regent Whistler, Yellow-bellied Longbill), though we saw all of these same species yesterday. I did enjoy getting close to a bower of the Macgregor’s Bowerbird, which builds an elaborate totem-like structure of woven twigs, decorated with moss and berries, to woo passing females. Today Joseph and I managed just one addition, a plump green creature with a funky beak called the Wattled Ploughbill. Time to move onward.
I said goodbye to Rondon, with its panoramic views of the Mount Hagen Valley and fresh strawberry ice cream desserts, and headed for the lowlands. When my driver stopped at the Mount Hagen airport, I marveled at how big and shiny the terminal is.
“Oh, yes, it just opened on Friday,” said the driver. “There are flights from here direct to Australia now.” Less than 90 years after first contact with the outside world, the Mount Hagen Valley has a modern, international airport—and, it seems, I was one of the first people to pass through its new renovation.
After a brief connection in Port Moresby, I continued this afternoon to the island of West New Britain, northeast of New Guinea, where I am settled in tonight at the Walindi Dive Resort, one of the world’s best scuba diving spots. I had dinner here with a fun couple of birders from Australia who live in Italy, work in New Guinea, and spend their winters in various other parts of the world. New Britain has a number of endemics, and I hope to find a few goodies in my last 48 hours before hitting Australia.
New birds today: 4
Year list: 5578