It's a Papuan Frogmouth - Swimming! | Observation of the Week, 11/24/19

A swimming Papuan Frogmouth bird, seen in Australia by @davidgwhite, is our Observation of the Week!

For over 22 years, David White has been a tour guide on the Daintree River in northern Queensland, Australia, and for the last 17 years he’s operated his own tour business, running a solar boat on the river. He also looks after orphan Flying Foxes as part of a wildlife rescue initiative. In over two decades on the river, David has seen a lot but he has never seen a swimming frogmouth.

“The frogmouth swimming was like everything: good timing,” David tells me. He was leading a tour with three people who were mainly interested in spotting a Little Kingfisher when 

I saw in the distance a large bird, which I thought was a Black Kite. It approached the water, flew around low, then went back to a branch. We all saw it and I said I had never seen a Black Kite fishing before, as that’s what I presumed it was doing. I was driving the boat and filming from my phone so that’s why it’s shaky. As we got closer we realised it was a Frogmouth. And certainly while I see them regularly on the river I never see them flying in the day, let alone swimming. I was amazed, absolutely amazed, and the bird was very comfortable doing [in the water].

The longest of the frogmouths, Papuan Frogmouths range from Australia’s Cape York Peninsula into the Aru Islands and New Guinea (of course). Like other members of its family, it is generally crepuscular and nocturnal, sleeping during the day and relying on its insane camouflage for protection. When hunting, the frogmouth will use its large moth to consume insects as well as small vertebrates. David showed his video to a frogmouth expert, and “she was amazed and had never seen anything like it; from the entry and the exit she said it seemed like it does this all the time. She had seen other birds swim with great difficulty.”

David heard about iNaturalist from some customers, and says he spends pretty much every day of the year out in nature, so he has plenty of opportunities to see some cool stuff (eg “I have many many more observations to enter,” he says. 

Unfortunately computers and technology are a little daunting to me so I do struggle with entering information. But I have to say all the people on iNaturalist have been patient with me and help me so much...I don’t have formal training and there are many people on [iNaturalist] that can help me answer questions. l also I like looking at people’s observations. I will use it if I ever go on a holiday to spot wildlife.

- by Tony Iwane. Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

- Take a gander at David’s video of the swimming frogmouth, it’s pretty awesome!

- And you can find his boat’s website here.

- Several years ago, video of a swimming Great Horned Owl went viral.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 25, 2019 04:06




Posted by isabelle3005 16 days ago (Flag)

What a fantastic shot! Love the video. When it is flat up against the tree the way it is in the video, it almost reminds me of a lizard. Thanks for sharing Kudos!

Posted by walkingstick2 16 days ago (Flag)

Absolutely amazing! What a great observation!

Posted by susanhewitt 16 days ago (Flag)

Love the shot of the Great Horned Owl swimming, as well.

Posted by walkingstick2 16 days ago (Flag)


Posted by edwardrooks 16 days ago (Flag)

Very awesome! Also highlights that we need some way to properly add/embed videos to observations, some of the coolest stuff is never seen by anybody because it's hidden in a link in the description.

Posted by stanvrem 16 days ago (Flag)

Incredible bird and sighting

Posted by wonderwalker 15 days ago (Flag)

Wow! Wonder if it was very hot and it was cooling off?
Love the Daintree.

Posted by kathyclaypolebiggs 15 days ago (Flag)

This is amazing and fascinating sight to see! Thanks so much!

Posted by damsel50 15 days ago (Flag)

Wow, it's great , I am amazed by this picture.

Posted by shahrzadasa 15 days ago (Flag)

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by greenesnake 14 days ago (Flag)

That's an amazing discovery!

Posted by droh 14 days ago (Flag)

A nocturnal nightjar species flying at midday it is interesting, but this bird floating in the water in sunlight, so that it is just something really special! The best video and photo I have ever seen on this extraordinary bird species. Thank You!

Posted by tamaszeke 13 days ago (Flag)

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