Papua New Guinea - September 5th - 29th 2009

Published by Phil Gregory (info AT

Participants: Phi Gregory + 6


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Spangled Kookaburra
Spangled Kookaburra

Leader: Phil Gregory

Group members: Colin Campbell, Sally Conyne, David Donsker, David Ford, Steve Gast, Frank Gill, Larry Master.

Our group met up successfully in Port Moresby and we duly settled into our hotel before setting off for an excellent inaugural afternoon at the PAU, where Spotted Whistling-Duck was in residence again, and a vagrant Plumed Whistling-Duck was a mega for PNG! Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove, Papuan Frogmouth, and some great Pied Herons made a nice show, as did Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and a very nice bower, a great introduction to PNG, but not really how the birding is!

An early departure next day saw us heading up to Varirata, and this was great- Doria’s Hawk, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and a superb Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher, White-crowned Koel, Barred Owlet-nightjar, White-faced Robin, White-bellied Whistler, Elegant Honeyeater (!) and of course displaying Raggianas, a good haul for just a day here this trip.

Our flight into Tabubil was again exciting, with a steep bank and turn right over the town, much to the alarm of myself and the flight attendant, but we soon checked into Cloudlands Hotel and despite the Ok Ma being still unreachable due to a broken bridge, the birds were also good. Highlights were Obscure Berrypecker, Torrentlarks on the pipeline, a male Carola’s Parotia, brief views of Mag BoP, White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo and of course Blue-collared Parrot at considerable height. A major highlight was the sightings of a female Shovel-billed Kingfisher, which was luckily back at her nest hollow for this trip, plus Salvadori’s Teal and Pesquet’s Parrot.

Kiunga was rewarding as ever, with our stay up-river at Kwatu Lodge being basic but very birdy-views of Southern Crowned Pigeon on a nest, King BoP, Twelve-wired BoP, Common, Little and Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers all showing well, great looks at Hook-billed Kingfisher, and White-bellied Pitohui overall an impressive haul. Our night foray was frustrating in that the birds were impossible to see, but in the space of about 90 minutes we heard Wallace’s Owlet-nightjar (and I should have gone straight in after it rather than wait!), Marbled Frogmouth, Sooty Owl, Starry Owlet-nightjar and Papuan Hawk Owl, a quite incredible mix. Next dawn anticipation was high but Marbled Frogmouth was our only reward.

Kiunga itself was quite hard work, but Trumpet Manucode showed well eventually, White-spotted Mannikin was brief and in flight only after a lot of work, Golden Cuckoo-shrike was stunning, though the mixed Great and Raggiana BoP lek was fantastic once again.

Our charter to Mt Hagen for Kumul Lodge worked very nicely, and with no worries over weight as TNT have a snazzy new airplane, much to our relief! Kiunga airstrip shut the day we left PNG by the way, so we were dead lucky to get out when we did. Kumul is terrific for photography, and obliged us again with unforgettably bizarre and exotic male Brown Sicklebills, male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Chestnut Forest Rail and a flyby Crested Satinbird for most. New Guinea Woodcock roding at dusk, Crested Berrypecker, Tit-berrypecker, an obliging Garnet Robin, Yellow-breasted Bowerbird and Lesser BoP made for some terrific sightings, and what about the mystery small dark grey streaky Ptiloprora, which still awaits identification?

From Kumul it was an exhilarating charter flight to Bensbach in far sw PNG, in the Trans-Fly lowlands, a site that used to be on the birding itineraries but dropped off due to landowner issues, and has only just come back into the realms of possibility. We were the first bird tour for some years, and it was great to do some pioneering again, some 15 years after my last visit. Spangled Kookaburra was still right by the Lodge, as was Barking Owl, and there were some very nice additions in Great-billed Heron, Brolga, Black-necked Stork, Australian Bustard, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, Blue-tailed Bee-eater and Red-headed Honeyeater for a few. The Lodge was fun and the staff very helpful, and some of our group even got in some barramundi fishing with very respectable catches that fed us that night.

Our finale was at Ambua, one of the world’s top birding destinations, and we had mixed weather for our 3 days here, losing the first afternoon to heavy rain and dodging showers and fog on afternoons of the other days. We had the excellent Joseph and Benson as our local guides, with roads and bridges still in excellent condition, but with major roadworks in progress above the Lodge. Southern Highlands is in the midst of a massive natural gas boom and much infrastructure work is now going ahead fast. The birding was really tough, with many species non-tape responsive at the end of a hard season’s thrashing by sundry tour groups, and worrying levels of damage and disturbance to the forests, where logging has become a local industry. The famous Benson’s Trail was sadly an epicentre of this logging and we did not even get on it this trip, unheard of! Still, we also had lovely views of Sooty Owl, Papuan Lorikeet, a bonus Mountain Kingfisher, Tit-berrypecker, Dimorphic Fantail and Short-tailed Paradigalla going to roost by the cabins one evening, whilst a brief Black-billed Sicklebill next morning was an Ambua mega, a very hard bird to see here. The male King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise (the longest English bird name?) was a star, singing and showing off their plumes at two sites, and a male Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia was pleasing despite all the damage around the site.

The fantastic moss-festooned Antarctic beech forests below the Tari Gap were very hard work but gave an incredible view of Mountain Kingfisher, Blue-grey and White-winged Robins, Blue-capped Ifritas, Papuan Tree Creeper and Papuan Whipbird calling at close range and glimpsed by a few. Benson’s Blue Bird site also paid off, with lovely scope views of a male and female Blue Bird-of Paradise, females of both Brown and Black Sicklebill together at one stage, plus both sexes of Lawes’s Parotia.

Departure day was a tad fraught as the Air Niugini Tari flight came in late and we didn’t leave till 1300 for a 1430 flight ex-POM, but we got the pilot to call ahead and say 7 pax were en route, and the ground staff met us off the plane and whisked the group through with only a minor delay to the flight out. Whew!

Particular memories that spring to mind now:
• A great first afternoon at the PAU, giving a totally false impression of what PNG birding is like!
• Frank and Sally’s budget chairs, which gave hours of fun.
• More chairs, this time the thrones on the boat at Bensbach.
• The female Shovel-billed Kingfisher removing a faecal sac from the nest hole.
• The night birding at Kwatu when we heard 5 different major nocturnal species including 2 lifer owlet-nightjars for Phil.
• Kwatu Lodge overall, and the local guides there
• Getting back muddy and chiggered to Kiunga to find they had given the nice rooms away and we had annexes and a floor in the manager’s house!
• Steve traumatizing the newly arrived tour group by showing off his chigger bites.
• The flights with Sylvester on the New TNT PAC made in New Zealand STOL plane, and no worries about weight.
• Kumul Lodge and the fantastic New Guinea Woodcocks at dusk.
• What is that Ptiloprora at Kumul????
• Scoring my official 700th New Guinea bird (Noisy Friarbird!) at Bensbach.
• The habitat loss at Ambua and worries about the future there as the province goes into high gear for the gas projects.

To conclude, we got a fine introductory selection of the 430 endemics in New Guinea, home to some of the most spectacular and bizarre birds in the world with its iconic Birds of Paradise, kingfishers and Crowned Pigeons. The tour was also as ever memorable for the people we met, and the wonderful sites we visited in the “Land of the Unexpected”. This was a first division spotting group too, well prepared, quite fit and above all enthusiastic; it was great fun facilitating it all for you, thank you all for coming. We had some great sightings, and thanks to David for generously sharing his scope. Thanks also to Teresa at Field Guides Inc for setting it up, Steven in POM, Joseph and Benson at Ambua, Samuel and Jimmy at Kiunga, Bok, Peter and Kapai the manager at Bensbach, and Lin, Max and staff at Kumul for making us so welcome.

Species Lists

Bold type denotes a New Guinea endemic species.
* denotes a near endemic
Species which were heard but not seen are indicated by the symbol H.
NL means a non-leader bird.
Names and taxonomy largely follow the IOC version 2.2, reflecting the existing current PNG or Australian usage.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl M. reinwardt
Good views of a few at Bensbach.
Black-billed Brush-turkey Talegalla fuscirostris H
Heard at Varirata and Kiunga, where it was calling as well. Two of the huge leaf mound nests were seen.

PHASIANIDAE Pheasants, quail, grouse etc.
Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora
Two nicely in flight at the Gap, where it was calling.

Spotted Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna guttata
19 birds perched up at the PAU in the big rain-trees on our visit, and up to 50 at Bensbach where birds were nesting in dense wet grass and one pair had 6 ducklings on the river..
Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata
7 were at the PAU ponds.
Plumed Whistling-Duck D. eytoni
Amazingly there was one of this rare vagrant to PNG by the main lake at the PAU. This was just Phil’s fourth PNG sighting and only about the eighth record; maybe the dry weather in Australia has pushed them northwards?
Radjah Shelduck Tadorna radjah
A few sightings at Bensbach.
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
20 at the PAU and small nos. at Bensbach.
Salvadori’s Teal Salvadorina waigiuensis
Great looks at 3 at Ok Menga after a short wait, bobbing down the river like Torrent Ducks.

Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus australis
A couple of singles seen at Bensbach, this is an isolated form and its taxonomic status is worth a review.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Small flocks at Bensbach, with a day max. of 75.
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Four at the PAU and a few small flocks at Bensbach.
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
Small numbers at Bensbach.
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
One flock of 6 and another of 7 at Bensbach.

Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana
Four downriver and 6 upriver on two dates at Bensbach.
Eastern Great Egret E. (alba) modesta
Two at the PAU and small numbers at Bensbach.
Intermediate Egret E. intermedia
One at the PAU, a few at Kiunga and widespread at Bensbach with up to 40 per day.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta nigripes
One at the PAU and a couple at Bensbach, scarce this trip.
Pied Heron E. picata
30 at the PAU ponds, and up to 150 at Bensbach.
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus (ibis) coromandus
Small flocks in the Port Moresby area and up to 40 at Bensbach.
Striated Heron Butorides striatus
A few seen along the Elevala and quite common at Bensbach.
Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus
One at the PAU and common at Bensbach, with over 100 on one day, flushing out of roost trees along the riverbank.
Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis
One immature bird seen at Bensbach.

Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus
Two day records at Bensbach, with a single and two birds.

Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
A few seen at the PAU and Bensbach.
Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos
A few seen at the PAU, Kiunga and Bensbach.

Eastern Osprey Pandion cristata
One was seen near the Lodge at Bensbach, curiously scarce here this trip.

Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Four day records with two birds each time..
Long-tailed Honey Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda
Curiously scarce all trip, we saw just one bird near Tabubil only.
Black Kite Milvus migrans affinis
A few near POM, a strangely local species in PNG and an oddly disjunct range if the distinctive lineatus is split.
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Nice views at the PAU, nesting at this site., and common at Bensbach with up to 70 per day.
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
Good views of this attractive bird in the lowlands, small numbers only.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
One along the Fly R. and up to 7 per day at Bensbach, mostly adults.
* Variable (Grey) Goshawk Accipiter (novaehollandiae) hiogaster
The form here has now been split from the Grey Goshawk since it differs so much from the Australian species. We saw an odd pale headed juv up at Dablin and an adult over the Elevala, sparse this trip.
Black-mantled Goshawk A. melanochlamys
A single in foggy conditions perched above Ambua Lodge, flying just as we got the scopes lined up.
Grey-headed Goshawk Accipiter poliocephalus
One seen briefly along the Boystown Road, and another up along the Elevala that gave good views. An uncommon species.
Doria’s Goshawk Megatriorchis doriae
We had a fine view of this great rarity at Varirata, after waiting near the nest for just over an hour before the bird emerged and sat beside it. We had decided to tick the distinctive tail if needs be, which briefly poked up out of the nest at one point, but thankfully this was not required!
[Papuan Hawk-Eagle Hieraaetus (morphnoides) weiskei]
A far distant raptor at Benson’s place may well have been this newly split endemic species, but the views were a tad distant for confidence.

Australian Hobby Falco longipennis
One of this scarce winter visitor from Oz was near Bensbach.
Falcon sp. Falco sp.
One over the airstrip at Mt Hagen may have been a Nankeen Kestrel, but views were poorly aspected and it flew just as I got the scope out.

Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis
Two males and a female upriver from Bensbach, great views.

RALLIDAE Crakes and rails
Chestnut Forest Rail Rallina rubra
Up to two females seen daily under the feeder at Kumul, great to see this shy species so well.
Buff-banded Rail Rallus philippensis
Two seen near Bensbach.
Plain Bush-hen Amaurornis olivacea ruficrissa H
Heard at Dablin, but too skulky to entice out.
White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea H
Heard near Bensbach.
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
Four were seen at the PAU.
Black-backed (Purple) Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) Porphyrio (p.) melanotus
Lovely views of the taxon melanotus at the PAU and Bensbach, sensibly split by some.

Brolga Grus rubicunda
Only in the Trans-Fly in New Guinea, we saw a flock of 16 downriver and 12 next day.

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles miles
Good views at the PAU and Bensbach of this northern race, which is an incipient species with a narrow hybrid zone between it and the distinctive southern taxon.
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
Most of us saw 2 at Kiunga, and I think 6 may have been the total, quite early for them to appear here.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
An adult at Km 120 near Tabubil. The subspecies in New Guinea dubius (formerly papuanus and probably prematurely merged) has a very different call compared to Palearctic birds and could well be a split.

Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea
What a great little bird, well seen at the PAU and Bensbach.

SCOLOPACIDAE Woodcock, Snipe & sandpipers
New Guinea Woodcock Scolopax rosenbergii
A roding bird at Kumul was a major trip highlight of a rarely seen endemic, brilliant to hear it giving the strange thrumming flight call and then seeing it perched up on a mossy tree limb on our second night at the site.
Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala
2 at Kiunga airstrip were newly arrived, then 2 more at Bensbach, great flight views of this pot-bellied species with the monosyllabic dry call.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Seen at the PAU, Ok Menga and Bensbach.

Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella
Two at Kiunga airstrip, quite common at Bensbach with up to 120 per day, and then the wintering bird still at Tari airstrip.

LARIDAE Gulls & Terns
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
A couple at Bensbach.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
A couple of sightings at Bensbach, max. 2 birds.

COLUMBIDAE Pigeons & Doves
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Some birds in Mt Hagen might be feral but are more likely domestic pigeons.
Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia amboinensis
Widespread in small numbers. This is a split from the Brown Cuckoo-Dove of Australia, quite distinct on voice and morphology..
Bar-tailed (Black-billed) Cuckoo-Dove M. nigrirostris
Four day records of singles or two birds, seen at Tabubil, the Elevala and Tari.
* Great Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtii:
Just one brief fly-by at Varirata of this huge spectacular dove, unusually scarce this trip.
Pacific Emerald Dove Chalcophaps (i.) longirostris NL
Colin photographed one at Bensbach.
* Stephan’s Dove C. stephani
Heard at Kiunga and some folks saw a flyby on the river.
Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata
A few around the PAU and just one at Bensbach.
Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis
A few at the PAU and Bensbach.
* Bronze Ground-Dove Gallicolumba beccarii NL
David D. saw one under the feeder at Kumul, and I dipped by running to get everyone for what proved to be a no-show!
Wompoo Fruit-Dove (Pigeon) Ptilinopus magnificus
A couple seen up at the Elevala.
Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus perlatus
Just a few around at Varirata and Kiunga, unusually sparse this trip.
Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus aurantiifrons
One at the PAU was a nice find, then widespread at Bensbach with up to 10 in a day.
Superb Fruit-Dove P. superbus
Heard up at Varirata and one briefly at Boystown Road.
Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus
One at the Boystown Road for a couple of folks, and then again up on the Elevala, way up in the canopy.
White-bibbed (breasted) Fruit-Dove P. rivoli
A couple of fine males at Ambua, typically the higher altitude fruit-dove.
Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus iozonus
A few around Kiunga.
Dwarf Fruit-Dove P. nana
This tiny and scarce species was taped in and seen very well perched and singing at Ekame Lodge.
Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon Ducula rufigaster
Heard at Kwatu, and a good flight view of one over the Elevala River.
Pinon’s Imperial-Pigeon Ducula pinon
Nice views of a few flyovers and perched birds along the rivers at Kiunga, and a couple seen at Bensbach..
Collared Imperial-Pigeon D. mullerii
Great looks along the Elevala R. and a few down at Bensbach, very much a riparian species
Zoe’s Imperial-Pigeon D. zoeae
A few around Kiunga gave nice looks.
* Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
A couple at the PAU and quite common at Bensbach, where a couple of the grey morph were seen in flight.
* Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii
A few at Kiunga and up at Ambua where it was displaying. It is poorly named, as it’s quite widespread in lowlands and hills as well as the mountains.
Southern Crowned Pigeon Goura scheepmakeri
A nesting bird along the Elevala showed quite well, and we flushed a couple by Ekame Lodge. They are always harder when the river levels are low.

* Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus
Up to 5 a day up river at Kiunga, a fabulous bird. Also a single seen at Ok Ma.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita triton
Seen at Varirata and Bensbach, they sound quite different to Australian birds, and have a blue periopthalmic ring.

Yellow-streaked (Greater-streaked) Lory T. sintillata
Small numbers around Kiunga and some good views eventually.
Dusky Lory Pseudeos fuscata
Up to 80 in a day over in the west at Tabubil and Kiunga, but no perched views. Numbers seem to be creeping back up from the low point following the great drought year of 1997, but are still nowhere near the thousands we used to see going to roost then.
Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
This is the default “Rainbow” Lorikeet of the east, with clear dark bars on the red chest, looking quite different to Australian birds and those at Bensbach. I think the taxon in the SE must be massena
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus (haematodus) moluccanus
The birds at Bensbach look and sound like normal Rainbow Lorikeets, with no dark barring on the chest band, and giving me an extra PNG tick as a species to add to the Sicklebill checklist following the split of Coconut Lorikeet. I think this form must be caeruleiceps of SC NG, but it might be nigrogularis.
Goldie’s Lorikeet Psitteuteles goldiei
Great views of this uncommon and beautiful little parrot at Kumul.
(Western) Black-capped Lory Lorius lory
Terrific views of 6 at Varirata, and we saw small numbers of the distinctive race somu over in the west.
Red-flanked Lorikeet Charmosyna placentis
Seen at Kiunga, with nice views along Boystown Road..
Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou
Good views of this stunning endemic at Kumul and in the Ambua area, including the melanistic form, which must be one of the world’s most beautiful parrots.
Plum-faced Lorikeet Oreopsittacus arfaki
This delightful tiny lorikeet only gave flight views at Kumul, and briefly perched up at the Tari Gap.
Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii
Small numbers in the Ambua area, not as many as usual.
Orange-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus pullicauda
Good views of 10 birds at Kumul on the Pigites track.
* Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot Micropsitta. pusio
Nice views of this species foraging like a diminutive creeper along branches at Dablin.
Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot M. keiensis
Fly-bys at Kiunga as per usual, I’ve not had a scope view of one for years.
Orange-breasted Fig Parrot Cyclopsitta gulielmitertii
Lovely views at Tabubil, usually in flocks of 5, and also seen at Bensbach.
* Double-eyed Fig-Parrot C. diopthalma
Two records of birds around Kiunga, with some quite good views. This is the distinctive red-faced race aruensis of SW New Guinea.
Brehm’s Tiger Parrot Psittacella brehmii
Wonderful views of a single of this lumbering great beast on the feeders at Kumul, with male, female and immature plumages on show.
* Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi
Common and noisy at Varirata and around Kiunga.
Blue-collared Parrot G. simplex
One seen at Tabubil, the usual flight views of a Geoffroyus with the lovely chiming call- sometimes this species is so high up it’s invisible when calling from the clouds! I’ve only seen it perched a handful of times ever.
* Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus
Seen at Varirata and over in the west, with around 10 per day at Kiunga.
Pesquet’s (Vulturine) Parrot Psittrichas fulgidas
Two called and then came right over us as we waited at the Shovel-bill site; also seen in flight along Ketu Creek. Listed as Near Threatened by BirdLife International. Skins of this species fetch hundreds of kina in the highlands, where they are valued as decoration in traditional dress.
Papuan King Parrot Alisterus chloropterus
Seen several times up at Ambua and Piakonda, with birds seen on two dates.
Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus
Most folks got to see a small flock fly over the boats at Bensbach. It’s a Trans-Fly special in PNG.
{Papuan Hanging-Parrot Loriculus aurantiifrons}
Two bulleted over at along the Tabubil-Kiunga Road at Km 95, all very unsatisfactory! I don’t think anyone but me saw them so it fails to make the trip list but sneaks onto PG’s year list.

Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva
Great views of two along Boystown Road, with a male really close and in the scope for ages. This can be a very hard bird to see.
Eastern (Australian) Koel Eudynamys (s.) cyanocephala
A few were seen along the Elevala and at Bensbach. Clements also splits the Australian and southern NG forms as Australian Koel.
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae
Amazingly scarce this trip, they seem to have departed early. We saw two perched up at the PAU, which was an unusual locality, then heard them at Kiunga and Bensbach.
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus
Seen at Dablin Creek, Kiunga, Kwatu and Bensbach.
* Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis castaneiventris
A great view of one at the Lesser BoP lek at Kama, and seen at Varirata earlier.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo C. flabelliformis excitus
Two called in at Ambua Lodge, much pinker and less orangey chested than Chestnut-breasted though the call is very similar. This is a montane species in NG and I suspect a split, it’s an isolate and the Pacific Is birds are completely different with very different songs.
White-crowned Koel Cacomantis leucolophus
These things are hard to see but we managed to get one in at Varirata, the same place as on my last trip here. Heard at Dablin too. Formerly included with koels in the monotypic genus Caliecthrus, but now reassigned.
(Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus)
This Asian migrant may have been the mystery cuckoo sat bolt upright on a snag along the Fly R. just after dawn, but we never clinched it. Silent birds are not identifiable to taxon, so the recent split here would problematic for us. It is assumed most are horsfieldi, but it is possible that the Himalayan Cuckoo C.saturatus also occurs
Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis
One at Bensbach was a great find as it was a PNG tick for Phil; it’s a scarce Australian winter migrant here.
Little (Malay) Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
A fine male singing at Varirata, then one at the Boystown Road and another at Bensbach, where also heard a few times.
White-eared Bronze Cuckoo C. meyeri
Two at Dablin Creek, and one seen well at Benson’s place at Ambua, where they are scarce.
Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx ruficollis
One seen at Kumul just before dusk, and another at Ambua, this is the high altitude bronze-cuckoo in NG.
Long-billed Cuckoo Rhamphomantis megarhynchus
This rare and little known bird performed well at Boystown, and then with an adult at Km 17; the host is still unknown and it seems to be an ancestral form to the other small cuckoos.

Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus
One at the PAU and one at Kiunga.
White-billed (Greater Black) Coucal C. menbeki
The sonorous booming was often heard along the Elevala, and we saw one along Ketu Creek.
Black-billed (Lesser Black) Coucal C. bernsteinii
Heard at Kiunga and some folks saw one there.

Greater Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa arfaki
One flushed from its hole at the usual site, a pity Tendiki belted the tree so hard that it just bulleted out! This is the large endemic race arfaki, is this one species, or three?

STRIGIDAE Typical owls
Papuan Boobook (Jungle Hawk-Owl) N. theomacha
A lovely view at Cloudlands, Tabubil where it had disappeared some years ago due to clearance.
* Barking Owl Ninox connivens
This was very obliging at Bensbach, with a pair roosting close by the Lodge, and two others seen nearby.
Papuan Hawk-Owl Uroglaux dimorpha H
One was heard during the night foray at Kwatu, with quite a deep toned double hoot, maybe a female as it seemed lower pitched than the usual calls.

* Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis
Two on our visit to the PAU, unbelievably well camouflaged in a huge rain tree, and one on a nest up along Ketu Creek.
* Marbled Frogmouth P. ocellatus
The Varirata birds had sadly moved away, but we got a great look at one at Kwatu pre-dawn, after hearing them the night before.

White-throated Nightjar Eurostopodus mystacalis
One over the Fly R. at dawn was good sighting of an uncommon migrant.
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
Two by the Cloudlands Hotel at Tabubil, and great looks at Bensbach by the airstrip.

AEGOTHELIDAE Owlet-nightjars
Starry Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles tatei H
One was heard calling distantly at Kwatu.
Wallace’s Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles wallacii H
One called right by the hut at Kwatu and I should have gone in straight after it rather than waiting and trying to tape’ Needless to say it did not call again that night or next day.
Mountain Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles albertisi salvadorii H
Heard up at Kumul but none near the Lodge this time. This is a potential split as Salvadori’s Owlet-nightjar, A. (a.) salvadorii.
Barred Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles bennetti
One at Varirata, still in its usual site along the Lookout Trail.

* Moustached Tree-swift Hemiprocne mystacea
Good views of this spectacular bird at Varirata, and again at Kiunga, Tabubil and Bensbach.

Mountain Swiftlet Collocalia hirundinacea
Seen above 2000m at Ambua where it was widespread this time.
Uniform Swiftlet Collocalia vanikorensis
Seen throughout the lowlands.
Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta
Common in the hills and lowlands up to 2800m, the white belly a good field character.
Papuan Needletail Mearnsia novaeguineae
Common at Kiunga along the rivers, where they replace Glossy Swiftlets entirely. The first was at Km 93, not far from the Ok Tedi.

Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Small numbers at Kiunga and Bensbach plus a few at Varirata.

Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea
One along the Elevala and some saw it at Bensbach.
Little Kingfisher Alcedo pusilla
Nice looks at two individuals at Bensbach, a great little bird.
Variable (Dwarf) Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus H
Frustratingly this bulleted past calling but unseen on several occasions at Varirata, Kwatu and Kiunga
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
An excellent bird, seen very nicely in the POM savannas and at Bensbach where three species of kookaburra overlap. This is the rather dark-headed race intermedia.
Spangled Kookaburra Dacelo tyro
This attractive Trans-Fly endemic was seen very well at Bensbach, a bird that has not featured on bird tour lists for quite a while now.
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud
Seen nicely at Kiunga and Bensbach.
Shovel-billed Kingfisher Clytoceyx rex
The female was back in her nest hole at Ok Menga, much to our surprise as we thought it had been abandoned. We went back next day and had a very good look as she removed a faecal sac from the hole, suggesting that she has young. One of the great New Guinea prizes.
Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus macleayana
Two at Varirata, where it is scarce these days, and a couple at Bensbach.
Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus
Just a couple at the PAU and one at Tabubil before being quite common at Kiunga and Bensbach.
Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina
A great daylight view of this New Guinea icon at Kwatu, a really hard bird to get.
* Yellow-billed Kingfisher Halcyon torotoro
Seen very well at Varirata and Bensbach, a terrific bird with its amazing domed head shape, and heard at Kiunga.
Mountain Kingfisher Halcyon megarhyncha
Sally found an amazing bird sat low in a Casusrina above Ambua, and another was calling in the car park there. This can be a very difficult species to find and was my first sighting this year.
Common Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera galatea
This was surprisingly difficult, we heard a very few up river, and we got to see two when we pulled into the bank above Ekame, chasing off a Rufous-bellied Kookaburra at one point.
Little Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera hydrocharis
Great looks at one near Kwatu Lodge, after some 3 attempts to see it, this is a rare and restricted range Trans-Fly special
Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera danae
Great views of an adult at Varirata, a rare bird only found in SE PNG.
* Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher T. sylvia
Great views of an adult near Kwatu Lodge, sat way high in the canopy and calling well, and we heard several others nearby. I suspect these are wintering birds from Australia coming into breeding dress, and not the nominate New Guinea form. This was a life bird for Jimmy!

MEROPIDAE Bee-eaters
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Seen at the PAU and Varirata, but oddly none at Bensbach, though we did see them in the Middle-Fly at Kawito on a stopover there.
Blue-tailed Be-eater Merops philippinus
Unexpectedly common at Bensbach, with up to 70 per day.

* Blyth's Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus
Some nice sightings up river at Kiunga.

Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida
One was seen by most of us near Kwatu.
Noisy Pitta Pitta versicolor H
A couple were heard calling near Bensbach Lodge, but were in too deep to get a view. This is only known from the southern Trans-Fly in New Guinea and is I suspect a resident here rather than a migrant.

PTILONORHYNCHIDAE Bowerbirds & Catbirds
* Spotted Catbird Ailuroedus melanotis
A very hard bird to see in New Guinea, we got good looks at it at Bensbach, a much more richly coloured bird with a huge black ear spot, quite distinct to the Queensland form. Also heard at Kiunga.
Archbold’s Bowerbird Archboldia papuensis
A fine female plumaged bird was visiting the feeder at Kumul, albeit very warily. It is a rare restricted range montane endemic.
Macgregor’s Bowerbird Amblyornis macgregoriae
We got brief view of them at Ambua.
Yellow-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera lauterbachi
Max knew a good site near Kumul and we eventually got pretty good views of this montane species. Larry got to see the bower too, scrambling down slope to get to it.
* Fawn-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera cerviniventris
Good views at the PAU, where we saw a nice bower, with another at Bensbach too where this species was widespread. Another Cape York special otherwise.

Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens
We now have a good site for this elusive bird, and Joseph picked out a fine bird late one afternoon as we dodged the rain.

White-shouldered Fairywren Malurus alboscapulatus
Seen well at Kumul, Bensbach Ambua and Varirata. Females of the race lorentzi at Kumul are black and white on the throat and chest, birds at Bensbach are brown and white and the females are the same pattern as the males at Ambua, a very complex situation that would repay investigation
Emperor Fairywren M. cyanocephalus
Brief looks at a male near Kiunga, a really beautiful species that is very skulking.
Wallace's Fairywren Sipodotus wallacii
Frank saw this briefly at Varirata.

Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus
A few sighting sat Dablin and Kiunga, a striking bird.
* Green-backed Honeyeater Glycichaera fallax
Two seen quite well up at Varirata and then again Dablin with 3 bird, feeding high in a tall flowering tree. Then we had another at Kwatu, an unexpected site for this uncommon and elusive bird.
Silver-eared Honeyeater Lichmera alboauricularis
Ignoring my golden rule of “ Don’t muck about on flight days”, we detoured into town to try for this uncommon bird and found one in the tree by the hardware store just like we did back in July! Yay!
Red Myzomela Myzomela cruentata
The incisive, quiet metallic note at Dablin proved to be from this species, with a fine bright red male. Birds on New Britain are apparently (race coccinea) are apparently similar, but the New Ireland birds are quite distinct and a likely split. Whatever, it’s an uncommon nomad and one we may not see for long periods.
Black Myzomela Myzomela nigrita
One male at Dablin was a good trip bird.
Mountain (Red-headed) Myzomela Myzomela adolphinae
Seen well at Kama with a fine tiny male and several females in a flowering bush.
Red-collared Myzomela M. rosenbergii
Just one male and one female seen at Kumul, unusually scarce this trip.
* Red-headed Honeyeater (Myzomela) Myzomela erythrocephala
Frank got some of us onto an singing male of this species upriver from Bensbach, in swampy forest, unexpectedly far inland for what is usually a coastal or mangrove bird, but which may venture inland along rivers. It was an overdue NG tick for Phil too, thanks Frank!
Mountain Honeyeater (Meliphaga) M. orientalis
This small montane Meliphaga was seen at Dablin.
Scrub (White-eared Meliphaga) Honeyeater M. albonotata
A few around Kiunga and Tabubil, one of the few readily identifiable species in the group.
Mimic and Puff-backed Honeyeater (Meliphaga) M. mimikae and M. aruensis
Meliphagas seen along the river above Kiunga probably belong to one or both of these species, but brief views make field i.d. problematic, and calls are seemingly no help. They are one of the most difficult of all bird genera, far worse than greenbuls or cisticolas, with taxonomy still unresolved and vocalizations largely unknown. One along the Boystown Road looked good for Puff-backed.
Elegant Honeyeater M. (gracilis) cinereifrons
This split from Graceful Honeyeater with the large yellow ear patch, which does not give the “plik” call of FNQ birds, was seen at Varirata. One of the few readily identifiable Meliphagas.
* Graceful Honeyeater Meliphaga gracilis
Quite common at Bensbach, and they do give the “plik” call much like FNQ birds.
Yellow-gaped Honeyeater (Meliphaga) M. flavirictus
We saw this a couple of times around Kwatu in the forest. It has a “chup” call (like most!), a yellow gape line and greyish legs. It is seldom recorded and may be quite rare, but identification problems cloud the issue; I have very few sightings to date but I suspect it is regular here.
Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfrenatus
Good views at Kumul, and again at Ambua.
Obscure Honeyeater Lichenostomus obscurus H
Heard at Boystown road but unresponsive.
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavescens
Seen at the PAU, the race here (germana) has curious call similar to Fuscous Honeyeater in Far North Queensland.
* Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer
A few around Tabubil and Kiunga, otherwise only on Cape York.
White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis
Well seen at Varirata.
Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
A few sightings of one or two at Bensbach, where it is a Trans-Fly special.
Marbled Honeyeater P. cinereus
This scarce high altitude species was seen at Benson’s place.
Streak-headed Honeyeater P. stictocephalus
This friarbird mimic was seen at Varirata and at Kiunga.
Meyer’s Friarbird P. meyeri H
One of these small dull friarbirds was heard along the Boystown Road but stayed out of view.
Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis
Quite common at Bensbach, being a Trans-Fly special in NG.
* New Guinea Friarbird (Helmeted) Philemon novaeguineae
Common in the lowlands and hills, and seen up to 1800m near Wabag (jobiensis), this northern race having a distinct voice and no bill knob, a likely split. Nominate birds are quite common at Bensbach. Now again prematurely lumped with Helmeted by Clements. Note the IOC split yorki of Cape York as Hornbill Friarbird in which case novaeguineae becomes an endemic.
Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus
One downriver from Bensbach, with 2 probables the previous day, Phil’s official 700th NG bird, not seen on my two previous trips here. It another of the Trans-Fly specials in NG.
Leaden-type Honeyeater Ptiloprora plumbea
One of the major mysteries of the trip was the small dark Ptiloprora seen not far below Kumul at 5200’ This odd bird had heavy dark streaks on the chest and white at the bend of the wing, and I saw some white in the tail as well as a hint of greenish on the wing. It was way too small for P. guisei or perstriata, and is closest to Leaden, but with some significant plumage anomalies. Larry got some photos and some of the group saw 2 similar birds by the original one. Leaden is a very uncommon species and is not so far known here, though the height band is OK for it.
Rufous-backed Honeyeater Ptiloprora guisei
Good views at Kumul and near the lodge at Ambua, a PNG endemic.
Grey-streaked (Black-backed) Honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata
Quite common at Kumul and Ambua, usually the higher elevation bird of this species pair.
Belford's Melidectes Melidectes belfordi
A common feeder bird at Kumul, and both noisy and annoyingly common at higher levels at Ambua!
Yellow-browed Melidectes Melidectes rufocrissalis
Common in the Tari Valley and at Ambua Lodge.
Ornate Melidectes Melidectes torquatus
This striking species is quite common up at the BoP lek at Kama.
Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus
Common at Kumul and Ambua, where it has the endearing habit of blushing, the facial disc going from yellow to red!
Brown-backed Honeyeater Ramsayornis modestus H
One was heard on the approach to Varirata.
Rufous-banded Honeyeater Conopophila albogularis
A few were seen at the PAU and at Kiunga where it is a new arrival.

Rusty Mouse-warbler Crateroscelis murina
This elusive bird was heard and glimpsed at Varirata. The variations on a theme of three notes kept us entertained.
Mountain Mouse-warbler Crateroscelis robusta
Seen nicely at Kumul.
Large Scrubwren Sericornis nouhuysi
Quite a few sightings at Kumul and Ambua this trip.
Buff-faced Scrubwren S. perspicillatus
Seen well at Ambua.
Papuan Scrubwren S. papuensis
One at Kumul, we got fogged out where it is common up at the Tari Gap!
Pale-billed Scrubwren S. spilodera
This scarce species was seen at Varirata. The call sounds like a faint distant ambulance siren, a repetitive disyllabic nee-naw sound!
Mountain (Ashy) Gerygone Gerygone cinerea
This scarce montane endemic showed well on the Pigites track at Kumul.
* Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronotus
Seen high in the canopy at Dablin.
* Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa
Two males showed well at Varirata.
Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster
Good views at Kiunga and Varirata.
Large-billed Gerygone G. magnirostris
Seen at Kwatu and Bensbach.
Brown-breasted Gerygone Gerygone ruficollis
Nice views at Kumul and Ambua, with a great smoky song.

Rufous (New Guinea) Babbler Pomatostomus isidorei
Good looks at this strange rusty bird with the decurved yellow bill near Kiunga.
Grey-crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis
Small flocks at Bensbach, this race strepitans is another of the Trans-Fly specials in NG.

Crested Satinbird Cnemophilus macgregoriae
A male flew past the Lodge on one day, and David D. saw it by a chalet on another, so most folks caught up with it. This is always a tricky species to find.
Loria's Satinbird Cnemophilus loriae
A male was by the Bailey Bridge and a female was seen at Ambua, I think everyone but Colin caught up with a representative of this new family eventually!

Obscure Berrypecker Melanocharis arfakiana
One seen and calling well at Dablin, still a virtually unknown bird known from a handful of sites.
Black Berrypecker Melanocharis nigra
Good views of a male in the forest understorey up at Varirata, and heard upriver at Kiunga.
Fan-tailed Berrypecker Melanocharis versteri
Males and several females were seen well at Kumul and Ambua, the male is a very striking bird with all that blue iridescence.
Mid-mountain (Lemon-b) Berrypecker Melanocharis longicauda
One was seen at Ambua, the yellow pectoral tufts being a good field character.
Yellow-bellied Longbill Toxorhamphus novaeguineae
Singles seen on 3 days at Kwatu and Kiunga.
Dwarf Longbill (Honeyeater) Oedistoma iliolophus
One at Dablin on two days.
Pygmy Longbill (Honeyeater) O. pygmaeum
A brief view of one of this tiny and easily missed species at Bensbach on the last day. This is NG’s smallest bird.

Tit Berrypecker Oreocharis arfaki
Good views of this gorgeous looking mutant Great Tit look-alike at Kumul and then Ambua. An endemic family too.
Crested Berrypecker Paramythia montium
Nice views at Kumul and up at the Gap, a great bird of an endemic family.

Papuan Whipbird Androphobus viridis
Two were calling a whistled quite jewel-babbler like sequence up below the Gap, and went on for some minutes without ever showing beyond glimpses. Phil has only once seen a female and it would have been great to get a view here, still an almost unknown species.
Spotted Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa leucosticta H
I think some folks got to hear this on the last morning in the Orchid Garden? Yet another major-league skulker.
Blue Jewel-babbler P. caerulescens
A male showed well, being lured across the track at Kwatu by the young guy, who did a brilliant imitation of the call. Always a great prize.
Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa caerulescens H
Heard giving the alarm call at Dablin, a very shy and elusive species.

Painted Quail-Thrush Cinclosoma ajax
A female was seen briefly in Varirata by David D and I, but vanished almost at once. We heard them here and at Kwatu but this is always a very hard bird to see.

Yellow-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus flaviventer
A male was seen nicely at Varirata.
Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus
Seen well at Ambua, a very attractive bird.

White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorhynchus
A few around POM.
Great Woodswallow Artamus maximus
Lovely views at Kumul, Ambua and at Tabubil. The largest of the family.

* Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi
Seen briefly and heard at Dablin, these western birds have a very beautiful and distinct song. Also heard at Bensbach, giving the usual Queensland-type calls.
* Black-backed Butcherbird Cracticus mentalis
Good views at the PAU. Another of the Cape York specials in Australia.
Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus
Good views at Varirata.
Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
A couple of sightings at Bensbach, this is the dark backed race papuana.
Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus
Great views at Ambua and Dablin. Where oh where were all the Lowland Peltops this trip?

Black-faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Small numbers at Bensbach.
Large-billed (Stout-billed) Cuckooshrike Coracina caeruleogrisea
Seen well at Benson’s place and Dablin after a brief look at Varirata.
* Yellow-eyed Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata
One at Varirata, of the very distinct and probably splittable NG race (axillaris), in which the males have little or no barring. The call is also very distinct, it would be well worth doing some genetic work on this assemblage.
Boyer’s Cuckooshrike C. boyeri
Good views at Varirata.
White-bellied Cuckooshrike C. papuensis
A few at Varirata and quite common at Bensbach.
Hooded Cuckooshrike C. longicauda
Distant views for some of us of the this large species at Ambua on departure day, the final tick of the trip, and heard in the fog the day before.
Black-shouldered (Cicadabird) Cuckooshrike (New Guinea C-s) C. incerta (C. morio)
Seen well at Dablin, this is a hill forest species.
Cicadabird C. tenuirostris
Two seen at Varirata, and a female at Bensbach. These birds all give a deep churring cicada-style call, not the rising whistle of the rainforest birds of north Queensland, which are currently placed in melvillensis but sing quite differently to the birds of the Top End. I think the New Guinea birds are a resident form, and need to be convinced that nominate Australian birds (tenuirostris) really occur here at all. This whole Cicadabird complex is way overdue for a major split-up, with many very distinct island forms.
Grey-headed Cuckooshrike C. schisticeps
A few at Kiunga and Tabubil.
Papuan Black Cuckooshrike (Papuan C-s) C. melas
A male at Varirata and an unexpected male at Kwatu were a nice find.
Black-bellied Cuckooshrike C. montana
Good views of a pair at Kumul and one seen at Ambua.
Golden Cuckooshrike Campochaera sloetii
Great views of pairs around Dablin, Kiunga and Kwatu, a really lovely species.
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela
Seen at Varirata, Tabubil and Bensbach.

Papuan Sittella Daphoenositta (chrysoptera) papuensis
This newly split montane isolate taxon was seen by Frank at Ambua, after I heard them twittering.

Mottled Whistler Rhagologus leucostigma
A rather distant bird along the Pigites track caused us some problems until Phil nailed the song, and resolved the mottled breast issue. This is always a tricky species to find.
Rufous-naped Whistler Aleadryas rufinucha
Nice views of this odd species at Kumul and Ambua, now about to be relocated in Colluricinclidae after genetic work shows it not to be a whistler at all.
Rusty Whistler Pachycephala hyperythra
A superb view of one at Dablin, it’s great that this very uncommon bird is still hanging on here and it was the first I’d seen for some years.
Brown-backed Whistler Pachycephala modesta
Seen well at Ambua, one of the last ticks of the trip, this is a PNG endemic.
* Grey Whistler (Grey-headed) Pachycephala (simplex) griseiceps
Seen at Varirata and Dablin Creek, NG birds are often called Grey-headed Whistler. Clements splits it from the simplex taxon, which he calls Grey Whistler even though it’s brown!
Sclater’s Whistler Pachycephala soror
A couple of females at Kumul, and two males at Ambua.
Regent Whistler P. schlegelii
Several sightings at Kumul, and a nice view of a male at the Gap above Ambua, a really snazzy whistler.
Black-headed Whistler Pachycephala monacha
A male seen nicely at Dablin, and another in Casuarinas at Piakonda.
White-bellied Whistler P. leucogastra
One male along the approach to Varirata, always a good bird to get, especially now it is an endemic following the split of Wallacean Whistler from the Lesser Sundas. Note the NG Field Guide lists it as Rufous Whistler, but it is obviously distinct.

Little Shrike-thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha
Seen at Varirata and one unusually high up at the Bailey Bridge at Ambua.
Grey Shrike-thrush Colluricincla harmonica
Seen at the PAU and Varirata.
Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous
A couple seen at Varirata, where they were vocal but elusive.
White-bellied Pitohui P. incertus
A couple of brief views of two groups above Ekame, a restricted range species endemic to the Upper Fly. It is quite vocal and the loud musical call gives it away.
Rusty Pitohui P. ferrugineus
Seen by some at Varirata, where it was also heard.
Crested Pitohui Pitohui cristatus H
Heard at Dablin but as always impossible to see.
Variable Pitohui Pitohui kirhocephalus
Fair views of several brownish-headed birds in the Kiunga area, presumably of the race brunneiceps. NW and West Papuan birds are about to be split as another two species.
Black Pitohui P. nigrescens
One was sen at Ambua on the last morning by a couple of folks with Joseph. About to be relocated into Pachycephala according to recent research.

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Seen well at Kumul and the Tari Gap, this is the black-headed montane isolate race stresemanni.

Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus carbonarius
A few at Varirata. PNG birds of the race carbonarius have different calls to those in Australia. Coates splits it in his photoguide as Papuan Drongo, not to be confused with Pygmy or Mountain Drongo (Chaetorhynchus). Birds at Bensbach and Kiunga belong with bracteatus by call, presumably Australian migrants

Brown Oriole Oriolus szalayi
Good views at the PAU, Tabubil and Varirata, one of our first endemics. It is an amazing mimic of a friarbird in appearance.
Yellow (Green) Oriole Oriolus flavocinctus
A few seen at Bensbach, where it is one of the Trans-Fly specials. I hate to admit it but the Clements name of Green Oriole is probably better than the actual Australian name of Yellow Oriole……
Australasian Figbird Sphecotheres vieilloti
Great views of several at the PAU, where the males of the SE PNG taxon salvadorii have a greyish chest and are much greener than the FNQ birds. Clements omits this taxon in error.

Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Seen almost everywhere, from lowlands to hills and mountains.
Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris
Seen at Tabubil only.
Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata
Common at Kumul and Ambua.
Chestnut-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hyperythra
Nice views at Varirata with a mixed feeding flock.
Sooty Thicket Fantail Rhipidura threnothorax H
One was calling along the trail to the lek but did not come by, it’s always very tough to see.
White-bellied Thicket Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax
Two showed quite well at Dablin. Always skulky but usually comes good.
Black Fantail Rhipidura atra
The species was seen well at Kumul and Ambua.
Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha
Seen well at Kumul.
Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons
One was seen briefly at Bensbach, and was this form by the song; it’s a scarce and poorly known migrant from Australia with few published records, most of the coastal birds are Arafura Fantail.
Rufous-backed Fantail Rhipidura rufidorsa
One seen nicely along the Boystown Road.

Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula
A male and female seen near Varirata, and a female at Bensbach.
Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto
A few up along the Elevala, where we saw a nest, and at Bensbach.
Black Monarch Monarcha axillaris
This bizarre mimic of the male Black Fantail was seen well above at Dablin, where the white on the bend of the wing showed well. We saw a pair and an immature.
* Black-winged Monarch M. frater
One at Dablin with a mixed flock, otherwise only on northern Cape York in the wet.
Black-faced Monarch Monarcha melanopsis
One at Varirata on the first afternoon would be a winter visitor from Australia.
Spot-winged Monarch Monarcha guttula
Excellent views at Varirata and one at Dablin.
Spectacled Monarch Monarcha trivirgatus
Steve saw an immature at Bensbach; it’s one of the Trans-Fly specials in New Guinea.
Hooded Monarch M. manadensis H
Rare on the southern watershed, we heard it at Kwatu.
Golden Monarch Monarcha chrysomela
A lovely view of a pair at Kiunga and a male at Kwatu.
Torrentlark Grallina bruijni
A very nice look at 3 birds on the pipeline at Dablin one morning, it’s a shy bird of torrents in the hills and mountains.
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Just one seen at Bensbach, where it is a Trans-Fly special, unexpectedly largely absent this trip.
Frilled Monarch Arses telescopthalmus
Great views of this curious endemic bird, even seeing the amazing ruff of a male at Varirata. The Frill-necked Monarch (lorealis) of Cape York is a recent split from Frilled, which is now a NG endemic.

Grey Crow Corvus tristis
Nice looks at this bizarre species at Kiunga and Varirata.
Torresian Crow Corvus orru
A few around POM.

INCERTAE SEDIS Uncertain affinities
Blue-capped Ifrita Ifrita kowaldi
It was very vocal this time above Kumul and Ambua, with several nice sightings. This is reputedly another member of the guild of poisonous birds.
Dwarf Whistler Pachycare flavogrisea
A male of this highly aberrant species, currently placed with whistlers, at Dablin in a mixed flock. Which family does this bird really belong among?
Greater Melampitta Melampitta gigantea H
One began calling at Ok Menga, a new site for this elusive bird but not surprising given the amount of karst in the area. We usually get (or at least hear!) them along the Ok Ma and I’d written it off for this year.
Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris
Very quiet and not very vocal above Ambua, and one seen briefly by some at Kumul.
Wattled Ploughbill Eulacestoma nigripectus
Some speculative taping brought a response from what proved to be a fantastic male along the Pigites Track, what a singular little bird this is with its big pink face flaps, and where does it belong? Another was heard and seen briefly by some at Ambua.

Glossy-mantled Manucode Manucodia atra
Quite common up-river at Kiunga and at Bensbach
Crinkle-collared Manucode M. chalybata
One at near Tabubil and one at Dablin, also seen at Boystown.
* Trumpet Manucode M. keraudrenii
One at Km 17 and again at Boystown. Otherwise only on Cape York away from NG. This race is presumably jamesi, and the whole complex needs a reworking as it contains montane and lowland forms and many races have very distinct vocalizations.
Short-tailed Paradigalla Paradigalla brevicauda
Calling loudly by the Lodge, and we eventually got a fabulous view of one going to roost by chalet 7 late one afternoon, disappearing into a clump of dense leaves near the top of a tall sapling and being barely visible once tucked away. We also saw it again next day, foraging nearby.
Ribbon-tailed Astrapia Astrapia mayeri
Lovely views of a male and up to seven female plumaged birds at Kumul, the males being one of the most bizarre and spectacular of all birds. Two good males up above Ambua too. Another restricted range PNG endemic.
Princess Stephanie's Astrapia Astrapia stephaniae
Seen on the Pigites track, and then a superb male amidst the destruction above Ambua. A PNG endemic too.
Carola’s Parotia Parotia carolae
These are hard to come by these days, but we had fine views of a male at Dablin thanks ti some great spotting by Steve.
Lawes’s Parotia Parotia lawesii
Good looks at female plumaged birds at Benson’s place, and luckily a fine male also showed off there.
King of Saxony Bird of Paradise Pteridophora alberti
Excellent views of a male by the Bailey bridge, and another lower down next day. We had seen female plumaged birds on several occasions at Kumul but the male is an absolute star.
* Magnificent Riflebird Ptiloris magnificus H
A male was heard along the Boystown Road. The loud wolf-whistle call is very distinctive and quite unlike eastern birds.
Growling (Eastern) Riflebird P. (m.) intercedens
Heard and seen briefly at Varirata, the growling call is very different to the Western and Cape York birds and I am sure it is a good species.
Superb Bird of Paradise Lophorina superba
A male showed well down at Benson’s place, a nice catch-up after one took off just after Sally spotted it near Wapenamanda, and we had several females at Ambua Lodge. A fine and truly bizarre bird.
Brown Sicklebill Epimachus meyeri
Incredible views of two superb males at the Kumul feeder, and several females there. The pale blue eye is very obvious when seen well. Also memorable for the males amazing machine-gun like call, which we heard a number of times. Seeing female Brown and Black Sicklebill together at Benson’s place was also memorable.
Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus
A distant displaying male atop a ridge from Ambua, then a female feeding with a Brown Sicklebill female at Benson’s place, always a good bird to get.
Black-billed Sicklebill Drepanornis albertisi
We were watching the Paradigalla when a Black-billed Sicklebill suddenly flew through, and we had flight views of it as it ducked back up the hill. It called a few times but we could not lure it back. This is the hardest of the BoP’s to get at Ambua and only my third sighting here.
Magnificent Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus magnificus
A female plumaged bird was seen briefly at Dablin, and males heard calling there and at Lai-Mambis, where Larry got a flight glimpse.
King Bird of Paradise C. regius
A lovely racquet-less male near the Km 17 lek, hiding in a vine tangle for ages before we got him, then we had fine views of a full plumage male in his vine thicket tree canopy territory near Kwatu.
Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise Seleucidis melanoleucus
A fine male along Ketu Creek, complete with tail wires.
Greater Bird of Paradise Paradisaea apoda
Marvellous looks at Km 17 where 4 males were displaying at the lek, along with Raggianas. Hybrid males have pinkish plumes with an orangey flash, and we saw up to 4 of these at the lek. It seems to be a hybrid swarm around Kiunga, with true Greater still at Tabubil and pure Raggianas upriver.
Raggiana Bird of Paradise Paradisaea raggiana
A brilliant perched male at Varirata was the first of many birds of paradise, and we had very nice views. Also seen at the lek at Km 17 and up-river. This species is a PNG endemic.
Lesser Bird of Paradise Paradisaea minor
The lek at Kama is fairly newly discovered, lying at 1800 m too which seems quite high. We had very good views of 5 males and a female there, well worth the bumpy road and early start.
Blue Bird of Paradise Paradisaea rudolphi
Nice views at a fruiting tree at Benson’s place, allowing a nice scope looks of a male and several females. This is another PNG endemic BoP, and a distinctly Vulnerable one as the habitat lies in a heavily settled zone.

Lesser Ground Robin Amalocichla incerta H
Heard at Ambua along Joseph’s Trail but very quiet this trip.
Torrent Robin Monachella muelleriana
Two along the river by the Ok Menga intake.
Canary Flyrobin Microeca papuana
Good views in the Ambua area, bright yellow with orange legs. One of the last ticks of the trip
Garnet Robin Eugerygone rubra
A great view of a male along the Pigites track. An arboreal gerygone-like robin!
* White-faced Robin Tregellasia leucops
Great views of this clown-faced robin in Varirata, otherwise only on Cape York.
Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca
One showed well at Kwatu, this can be a mighty elusive species to see well.
Black-throated Robin P. albonotata
Seen at Ambua..
White-winged Robin P. sigillatus
Nice looks at Kumul and seen below the Tari Gap area as usual. A very attractive bird.
Blue-grey Robin Peneothello cyanus
Lovely views at Ambua, quite a confiding species.
White-rumped Robin P. bimaculatus
One was seen briefly by some of us at Dablin Creek on the short but slippery descent.
Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis H
Heard at Ambua. This is often lumped with the Grey-headed Robin of FNQ, but the calls, songs, habits and habitat are quite different.
* Northern Scrub-Robin Drymodes superciliaris H
One was singing along the Lookout Trail, another of the park skulkers, and also heard at Dablin. A very different taxon occurs on Cape York.

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
The common NG swallow, seen as high as Tari.
Tree Martin Pseudochelidon nigricans
Small numbers at Bensbach.

Island Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephala
Seen well near Ambua, the only breeding Phylloscopus in New Guinea.

Australasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus australis H
Two were calling in kunai grass at Bensbach.

Papuan Grassbird Megalurus (timoriensis) papuensis
Our first was at Tabubil, and it was common above Ambua. The calls and the highland habitat are quite distinct from lowland PNG and Australian birds.
Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis
Common at Bensbach.

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Quite common at Bensbach, this is proposed as a new race and this whole complex seems to involve quite disparate forms, it would be well worth unravelling this assemblage, paying particular attention to songs and calls as well as the genetics.

Black-fronted White-eye Zosterops atrifrons
Seen well at Dablin, this is the common lowland and hill forest white-eye.
Capped (Western Mountain) White-eye (Dark-capped W.) Zosterops fuscicapillus
A few seen at Ambua.
New Guinea White-eye Z. novaeguineae
Quite common around Kumul.

Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica
A few seen up river at Kiunga.
Yellow-eyed Starling A. mystacea
This rather rare restricted range bird was seen well around Ekame, with 10+ at Ketu Creek.
Singing Starling Aplonis cantoroides
Good views at the PAU, Port Moresby and Mt. Hagen.
Golden Myna Mino anais
Great looks at this lovely species up river at Kiunga, but only in very small numbers with 4 one day and 3 on another.
Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii
Good views at the PAU, and in the west; it has a curious frog-like call.

Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus
Seen well at Kumul and two up at the Tari Gap, adults looking remarkably like greyish male Common Blackbird.

Pied Bushchat (Pied Stonechat) Saxicola caprata aethiops
Quite common at Tabubil, Kumul and Ambua. This is an isolated taxon and might be a split in due course.

Red-capped Flowerpecker (Papuan Flowerpecker) Dicaeum (p.) geelvinkianum
Good views at various sites from Ambua to Varirata.

Black Sunbird Nectarinia aspasia
Nice looks at Kiunga and Tabubil.
Yellow-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis
This was seen at Bensbach on the last day.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
The sparrow only colonized PNG since 1986, mostly since 1992, and we duly logged it in POM and at the PAU. PNG now has only 3 introduced species on the mainland (this plus Tree Sparrow and the Feral Pigeon), plus Common Myna (which hopefully may now be extirpated) on Bougainville.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
A couple at the PAU were at a new site for this new arrival, only in PNG since 2007.

Mountain Firetail Oreostruthus fuliginosus
Fine views of a male at Kumul.
Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa
Glimpses at Dablin and heard up at Ambua, the sole records for this trip.
Grey-headed Mannikin Lonchura caniceps
This was one of our first endemics for the trip, with 10 seen at the PAU. It is actually a restricted range species only found in SE PNG.
Hooded Mannikin Lonchura spectabilis
Seen nicely at Ambua, with rich buff underparts. Back in the early 90s they were white beneath here, but I believe another race (?wahgiensis) invaded and hybridised them out! I actually saw an intermediate up at the Gap in August, the likely direction of influx.
White-spotted Mannikin L. leucosticta
A scarce and restricted range western endemic that later Clements up-dates lump with Streak-headed Mannikin L. tristissima. We saw 2 at the airstrip, 2 at km 14 on Boystown Road, and a small flock by the lodge at Bensbach as well as a few upriver.


Wallaby sp.
A striking wallaby with brown pelage and a white throat and belly was again under the feeders at Kumul. Flannery’s Mammals of New Guinea is distinctly unhelpful with descriptions, but a possibility here is something called Calaby's pademelon. I am hoping Larry can help?
Greater flying-fox Pteropus neohibernicus
This large species was seen over the Fly River at dawn.
Speckled dasyure Neophascogale lorentzii
Nice looks at a couple of these diurnal dasyurids, one at Kumul and another at Ambua, the pale tips to the ears really show up.
Black-tailed giant rat Uromys anak
The large cat-size mosaic tailed rat on the feeders at Kumul is I think the black-tailed giant rat, a little known endemic and the only big one with a dark tail.
Sugar glider Petaurus breviceps
We were checking likely holes for owlet-nightjars at Kwatu, and found a lovely one that looked in use high up a forest tree. Sadly however the occupant proved to be a sugar glider…..


Water dragon (Hypsilurus sp). One at Ok Menga.
Forest dragon (Hypsilurus dilophus) A striking animal in the forest at Kwatu.
Mangrove monitor (Varanus indicus) A beautiful large yellow-spotted one was upriver at Bensbach. Another species with way fewer spots was also seen here.

Butterflies & moths

Ulysses Swallowtail Papilio ulysses
The spectacular blue morpho-like swallowtail was common in lowland forests.
Goliath Birdwing Ornithoptera goliath
A female of this huge birdwing was at Dablin.
Pearl Owl Taenaris artemis
This striking butterfly is quite common on the trails at Varirata and a similar species is at Kiunga.
Hercules moth Coscinocera hercule
Three superb specimens were landed on the lodge at Ambua, one of the largest moths in the world.

Bird book references

Beehler, B., Pratt T. and Zimmerman, D. (1986). Birds of New Guinea. Princeton.
The standard field guide for New Guinea, now a bit out of date but still essential. A new edition is in the works.
Beehler, B. and Frith C. (1998). Birds of Paradise. Oxford University Press.
A very thorough monograph on the family, hard to read but the modern reference on the group.
Coates B. J. (1990). Birds of Papua New Guinea Vol. 2. Dove Publications, Alderley.
This volume covers the birds of paradise and has some wonderful photographs. Out of print.
Coates, B. J. and Peckover, W. (2001) Photoguide to the Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. Dove Publications.
Incomplete but very useful.
Cooper, W. T. and Forshaw, J. M. (1977). The birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Collins, Sydney.
A terrific work with best ever illustrations, large format in slipcase. Out of print but well worth tracking down.
Frith C. and Frith D. W. (2004) Bowerbirds. OUP Family series.
The standard reference, but taxonomically conservative and with rather disappointing illustrations, also hellish expensive.
Gill F. and Wright M. (2006). Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Helm, London.
Also see for free downloads of the regularly up-dated IOC World Checklist. Highly recommended.
Gregory, P. (2008) Birds of New Guinea and Associated Islands; A Checklist. Sicklebill, Kuranda.
Restall, R. (1996). Munias and Mannikins. Pica Press. Useful for the group and some fairly good plates.

© Phil Gregory, Cassowary House, Black Mountain Road, Kuranda 4881, Queensland, Australia. Phone: (61) 07 40 937318 Fax: (61) 07 40 939855