New Guinea: Lowland Rainforest Dawn

New Guinea:
Lowland Rainforest Dawn

A wild, melodic soundscape from a
pristine lowland rainforest in New Guinea.

Recording Location: Bird’s Head Peninsula, West Papua
Habitat: Lowland tropical rainforest
Duration: 61 minutes (5 tracks)
Year of Release: 2020 © All rights reserved
Download Formats: mp3 & FLAC (48kHZ/24bit)


New Guinea: Lowland Rainforest Dawn

Album Description

New Guinea is home to the largest expanse of rainforest in the Asia-Pacific region (and the third largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon and Congo). Vast areas of undisturbed forest can be found throughout the island and its biodiversity is simply amazing.

In 2019, I spent five days in an area of pristine lowland rainforest on the Birds Head Peninsula in West Papua. Dawn, day, dusk, night, frogs, insects, mammals, birds, rain, storms – I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy in the field, there were so many unique sounds to enjoy and record. When I first entered the forest, the abundance of wild, exotic and melodic sounds was overwhelming. It’s hard to describe just how extraordinary the soundscapes were. You need to hear it with your own ears to appreciate what I mean!

This album, ‘New Guinea: Dawn in Lowland Rainforest’, was recorded on my final morning at this location. Rising early, well before dawn, I placed the recording gear in a stunning area of forest I had scouted the previous day. The album covers a period of one hour from predawn darkness, through the rich dawn chorus and ends as the soundscape settles and the diurnal insect activity increases.

The album begins while the forest is completely dark and for the first 16 minutes or so, the sounds of insects, frogs, flying-foxes, owls and even a distant cuscus create a fascinating predawn chorus.

With the light gradually brightening, the soundscape shifts into a sublime combination of the sounds of night and day. Hooded Butcherbirds sing rich, fluty melodies along with the pulsing of insects, frogs and the calls of a Papuan Boobook (a type of owl). This transition period, from night to day, is only brief and lasts around 17 minutes [from approx Track 2 (2:45) to Track 3 (9:35)], after which the sounds of diurnal birds begin to dominate the dawn chorus. A few male Lesser Birds-of-Paradise occasionally call from the canopy above, spectacular gold and white plumes glowing in the morning light. Bird activity increases quickly with lorikeets, lories, cockatoos, parrots, hornbills, imperial pigeons, fruit doves, orioles, friarbirds, mynas and many more species moving about the forest and each adding their own unique sound to the symphony.

Listen to a Sample

Listen to an excerpt from Track 3 ‘Dawn Symphony’

Recording Location

Map - West Papua

Track Listing

1. Darkness (12:23)
Frogs and insects dominate the predawn chorus. Flying-foxes occasionally flap overhead, huge leathery wings beating as they return to their daytime roost. At around 5:20m a Red-billed Brushturkey squawks in the background and a Papuan Boobook starts making its distinctive double note ‘kyeow-kyeow’ call. At 6:20 a distant cuscus can be heard making its unusual growling sound. From 8:28 the song of the Hooded Butcherbird becomes clearer and at 10:55 an Ivory-billed Coucal hoots from the forest understorey.
2. Predawn Light (11:07)
As the dim light slowly brightens, the birdsong intensifies. Between approximately 4:00-8:20 more Hooded Butcherbirds join in song and pause briefly for about two minutes while a New Guinea Friarbird sings in the foreground with it’s repetitive ‘weow-wook’ dawn calls. Papuan Boobook, Papuan Frogmouth and Grey Whistler can also be heard in the latter part of this track.
3. Dawn Symphony (11:58)
Hooded Butcherbirds now sing their superb fluty phrases as the vibrant dawn chorus begins. An unidentified pigeon (or possibly an Ivory-billed Coucal) hoots rhythmically in the background, while other species such as Rusty Pitohui, Black-sided Robin and Grey Whistler add layers to the symphony. From 8:30 a few male Lesser Birds-of Paradise can be heard occasionally making their wild advertising calls from a lek high in the canopy.
4. Sunrise (10:01)
The dawn chorus starts to subdue and the Hooded Butcherbirds now sing only sporadically. Many other species can now be heard as the forest becomes more active and the birds begin to move about the forest.
5. Early Morning (16:21)
Morning birdsong comes and goes in waves of activity. Brown Orioles sing warm, fluty phrases. Black-capped and Black Lories dart overhead in small flocks. Orange-bellied Fruit Doves, Pinon’s and Zoe’s Imperial Pigeons call as they feed on small fruits in the canopy. The track concludes as the noisy day cicadas begin to intensify.

Bird species heard on this album include:

Red-billed Brushturkey, Superb Fruit Dove, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon, Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon, Ivory-billed Coucal, Papuan Boobook, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Blyth’s Hornbill, Triton Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot, Black-capped Lory, Black Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Large Fig Parrot, Dwarf Koel, New Guinea Friarbird, Rusty Mouse-warbler, Yellow-bellied Longbill, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Hooded Butcherbird, Black Butcherbird, Grey Whistler, Rusty Pitohui, Brown Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Black Thicket Fantail, Frilled Monarch, Lesser Bird-of-Paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Black-sided Robin, Yellow-faced Myna, Golden Myna and Olive-crowned Flowerpecker.

Photos from the Recording Location