Day 11: Lake Murray bird watching

I woke up at 3:30am – well before my alarm for my 5:30 birding departure. I put everything into my suitcase and locked it up, applied sun lotion and deet and put on my dirty clothes ,- my laundry will be ready for pickup at 7am – can\’t wait!
I\’m relaxed but ready early and have a moment where I wonder if we are meeting at 5 instead of 5:30. But I see the lights on at my 2 neighbor\’s at 5:05 and 5:15 which confirmed a 5:30 depart time.
5:30 having coffee with the group, we chat a bit about the excitement for the day. Then we depart on a motor boat across the dark lake.
We almost get to the shore or our hike will start. I say almost because we\’re not quite there yet, the boat is struggling the last 20 ft to shore. Since it\’s the dry season the water is low. With a bit of maneuvering and pushing and pulling the boat we land in a darkness of pre-morning.
I grabbed my stuff and we head out we\’re following our guide in a single line through the dark and eerie forest. Every now and then I hear rustling in the bushes or the cry and some animal nearby. On the walk over there\’s talk of leeches. I have on long pants that should protect me from wilderness things, I also only have short socks. Every now and then the group stops and does a leech check. One woman has eight leeches on her and now there has three I have none. For the first half of the walk I don\’t use a flashlight I follow others with flashlights. It\’s something that I found quite unique walking through the jungle with very limited visibility. Eventually I turned on my cell phone\’s flashlight so that I would have less opportunity to trip.
We arrive a little that has a sunbeam in it. There are two positions in the jungle that are guide\’s want us to be in In order to see a bird of paradise. Shortly after we get there a bird arrives it takes me awhile to see it but once I do it\’s hard to take my eyes off it. It\’s called Regiana bird of paradise (it\’s on the flag!) And it only appears in the southern region of the lake. It\’s very high up on the tree and beautiful colors with beautiful feathers putting on quite a display. It\’s trying to get a mate today.
We wanted and photograph it for what feels like 45 minutes then it disappears into the jungle.
The group then trecks back to the boat doing leech checks periodically. The walk back is easier than the walk-in because I can see everything and perhaps because I did it once before.
At breakfast we discuss the bird and leeches and how leeches are actually sanitary etc. The doctor of our group has a lot of knowledge on it and says that it\’s still used in medicine. During breakfast the issue of my short socks comes up. Later the doctor loans me a pair of high socks for the remainder of the day – so nice! Guy rules.
After breakfast do you take a boat through lake Murray to the Kiam river in search of some bird. In this area I learned that I really love the \”hard yellow wood tree\”, That\’s the name of the tree that the guy gave me. On the river we saw a bunch of birds then headed back to lake Murray.
Then we went on another hike through the jungle in search of the elusive whatever bird. The hike was cool! Thick jungle. I saw the bird for a second before it flew off only one other person saw it.
Then we heights back to the boat and had lunch under a tree. The packed lunch for us was kind of bad so i snacked on it had some water and was ready to go.
After lunch we went back to be seeing spot that we hicked and continue to search for the whatever bird. Everyone saw it and took photos of it except for me the name of the bird turned out to be the crown pigeon which from the photos that I saw was actually quite lovely.
Since I didn\’t get a photo our guy became determined to make sure that I got a photo of the bird. He took me on a solo hike through the jungle to try to find the bird, I kept telling him I don\’t need a photo I didn\’t tell him that I actually didn\’t care. After a while I convinced him that I did not need a photo of the bird and we started the head back.
We came upon a hollowed out log canoe that was being built, and that\’s where we met up with our group. We spent some significant time there with the canoe some people taking photos inside the canoe and some people just having discussions.
Suddenly the crown pigeon dive bombed us and we all took notice and looked at the bird disappear. Our guide told me that the bird realized that we were following it, looking for it and that this was a trick to die from us and then all of the other birds scattered behind it while our attention was on that one. I thought that was pretty interesting good strategy from the bird side.
Then removed on down the lake to a thin portion where we saw no birds, then we started heading back to the lodge and we saw a ton of birds and we stopped to see them. Even I spotted a very small bird for the group everybody was proud of me.

We head back to the lodge… And I see a leech crawling away from me and the other person I was sitting with. I point it out and it is thrown overboard.

We get back to the lodge and I take a well-deserved shower. But I noticed a bloody spot on my leg from the leech. I wash it with soap and water but antibiotic cream on it and a bandaid.

We sit down to have a dinner. I tell my boat seat partner that it was me that had the leech on them, and they tell me that they found a leech injury on them also! So we both had a leach that was honest probably for most of the day gross!

For dinner, it\’s again nice to see that we are sitting all at the same table. We chat over dinner then on request the large master gives us our itinerary for the following day which he has entirely wrong. he has us birding in the morning then full day cultural tour then afternoon and evening birding. We once again need to correct him and we need to pressure him in order to make sure that there\’s one group that can go on a cultural tour and one group that will do a full day birding. This is another fuck up from this lodge manager. After a while it seems like we have a better plan for the next day.

I go back to my room and I lay out my clothes for my final day in Papua New Guinea and I prepare my clothes for my long journey home.
Then I go to sleep.