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.