Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Barnes' Long-tailed Astrapia at lek area above Ambua, 2350m
Barnes' Long-tailed Astrapia at lek area above Ambua, 2350m
Barnes' Long-tailed Astrapia at lek area above Ambua, 2350m
Barnes' Long-tailed Astrapia at lek area above Ambua, 2350m
Princess Stephanie's Astrapia
The trip came together when Terry and Karen decided they wanted to do a special New Guinea itinerary and invite selected friends along for a small group experience. This gave us the choice of staying longer at prime sites, going upriver at the Elevala and staying over, and finishing up on New Britain, all of course at the mercy of Air Niugini which caused us to have the amend the schedules multiple times, all par for the course! Actually the Land of the Unexpected treated us pretty well overall, with good weather more or less throughout except for low cloud in Tabubil which meant the plane could not land and we had an extra night there. Had we not got ourselves down to Kiunga for the 1225 flight next day we might still be there, but happily we were able to connect with the second Hoskins flight of the day which they held for some 45 minutes for us, and we got back on track without too much loss. Western Province is actually regressing not progressing, with over-scheduled guides but thankfully no major logistics problems this time, it seemed to be a characteristic of the trip that our bird guides would vanish or go off with other groups, but it didn’t matter too much really even if it was a tad irritating.
Our first day at Varirata got us off to a great start when we lucked into a Forest Bittern, a major rarity and damn hard to see there. The Raggiana’s performed well in the afternoon after a day-off in the morning (bit like some of the local guides!), and we did nicely with Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher and also Variable Dwarf Kingfisher, as well as getting Growling Riflebird in with a feeding flock and thankfully seeing Barred Owlet-nightjar still on site, whilst Ornate Fruit Dove was an unexpected find.
Over next to Ambua Lodge, always a great destination, and how glad we were to not be staying elsewhere. The grounds gave us Lawes’s Parotia, Short-tailed Paradigalla, Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Black Sicklebill, Brown Sicklebill, Superb BoP, Blue BoP and Loria’s Satinbird, with a bonus of the rare Spotted Berrypecker with a pair feeding at flowers. A male Black Sicklebill was seen way off on a ridge, then I found one foraging in dead trees one afternoon which was a much nicer experience as it chipped away at the dead wood. One of the most amazing sights of the tour came with a hybrid Ribbon-tailed x Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia we had below the Bailey Bridge- now this was an extraordinary adult male, and it had a Ribbontail type white tail only thicker and bordered black, with the partly white-centred paddles of a Princess Stephanie’s tacked onto the end, quite the longest tailed bird I have ever seen and measuring well over 1.7 m (5’) in my estimation. It is known as Barnes’s Long-tailed Astrapia and males are very rarely seen, it was actually my own bird of the trip.
Other terrific finds were my first Ambua sighting of Shovel-billed Kingfisher, when one flew in front of us and landed as I was taping for a Chestnut Forest Rail; another forest stop saw a New Guinea Harpy Eagle sail over, though most of us only caught a glimpse. Mountain Owlet-nightjar was still in its hole despite the logging all around, and Archbold’s Bowerbird came good, as did the Sooty Owl down in the valley and a wonderful male Blue BoP with a male Superb singing in the same tree. Some of us got a look at the ever-elusive Spotted Jewel-babbler too, a memorable visit once again.
Airlines PNG functioned well to get us to Kiunga, ironically going via Tabubil first, and we managed to get hold of Jimmy who is one of the best guides. He took us up-river for the two nights at the very basic but quite manageable Kwatu Lodge, where the cuisine is rudimentary and I ticked off fried Spam for the year, though my bed was actually much better there than those horrid ancient rock hard monstrosities at Kiunga Guest House. The birding here was great, with Southern Crowned Pigeon tucked away early on, then Palm Cockatoo, King and Twelve-wired BoP’s, Common and Little Paradise Kingfisher and Wallace’s Owlet-nightjar seen mating, Long-billed Cuckoo, Red-bellied and Hooded Pitta, Blue Jewel-babbler, White-belled Pitohui and Hooded Monarch, with a great bonus of the legendary New Guinea Flightless Rail from a hide that Tropical Birding had set up for some Chinese photographers, who arrived when we were back at base- thanks guys! Flame Bowerbird showed briefly along the Boystown Road, as did the increasingly elusive Magnificent Riflebird, and the hybrid lek at Km 17 was terrific late afternoon, with some pretty good Greater BoP’s (90%!) amongst Raggianas and somewhat variable mongrel hybrids, which are known as Lupton’s Bird of Paradise.
The weather in Tabubil was moderate, and we did quite well, with nice looks at Carola’s Parotia and a female plumaged Mag BoP, Salvadori’s Teal, White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo, Torrent Flyrobin and fabulous Pesquet’s parrots. Streaked and Goldie’s Lorikeet on the drive up was a neat bonus too as both these are rare here now.
New Britain is a nice way to end, staying at the very comfortable Walindi Dive Resort and managing to find a respectable number of the endemic amongst the fragments of forest that have survived the oil-palm devastation, though I have noticed a marked decline in numbers of Red-knobbed Imperial pigeons and Blue-eyed cockatoos. Highlights were Volcano Scrubfowl by their spectacular diggings, King Quail, Black Bittern, White-mantled Kingfisher, Violaceous and White-necked Coucal, New Britain Boobook, Finsch’s, Yellowish and Island Imperial Pigeons, Nicobar Pigeon, Song Parrot, Purple-bellied Lory, Island Monarch, Sclater’s Myzomela, Buff-bellied Mannikin, Melanesian Myna and what was my first record of Tree Martin here.
Thanks to Sue at Sicklebill Safaris for good logistics, to Joseph at Ambua, Samuel and Jimmy at Kiunga and the guys at Walindi for their help, Patrick needs to brush up on his 4WD skills though! My thanks to everyone for being such a compatible and good-humoured group, it was a fun tour with some fantastic sightings, and it was nice for me to have someone else long who was really conscious of the bird vocalizations, I hope you got some good recordings Terry. Thanks to Barbara and Dan for being generous with their scope, it’s always nice to have more than one available. I hope our paths may cross again ere too long.
[*] Heard only [E] Endemic to New Guinea
SOUTHERN CASSOWARY (Casuarius casuarius) – Fresh footprints and scats in the forest around Kwatu Lodge were a sure sign, and suddenly a large subadult female known as Cassie appeared on the track and became a de facto member of the group! She’s a pet bird raised from a chick and is typically curious about what is going on. She sat down beside us when we were taping for paradise-kingfishers, and shooing her away only gave a short break before she wandered back, but she’s sweet natured and was fine, an enjoyable addition to the party.
DWARF CASSOWARY (Casuarius bennetti) – Droppings were seen up at Ambua.
BLACK-BILLED BRUSHTURKEY (Talegalla fuscirostris) Heard at Varirata and Kwatu, honking away like a goose, and a couple of huge active nest mounds were seen. [E*]
VOLCANO (MELANESIAN) SCRUBFOWL (Megapodius eremita) – We flushed 3 out at their amazing deep diggings along the Garu Road, and one flew in over the boat off Big Malo Malo Island.
KING QUAIL (Excalfactoria chinensis lepida) – Three were flushed from the wet grassland at Numundo, a long-established locality for what is a rare bird in the Bismarcks, of the endemic race lepida.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
SPOTTED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna guttata) – Three at the PAU were a nice find, and were actually on the main pond with the other whistling-ducks for the first time ever! Good spotting Barbara!
WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata) –Nice looks at 15 at the PAU. a good trip bird.
PLUMED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna eytoni)- 47 were still at the PAU where we had seen them on the Field Guides trip earlier this month, this was formerly a vagrant to PNG but the status seems to have changed over the last couple of years.
RADJAH SHELDUCK (Tadorna radjah) – Four flying over at the PAU were unexpected, this is not common here.
GREEN PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus pulchellus) – Two females and a fine male at the PAU.
SALVADORI’S TEAL (Salvadorina waigiuensis) – Two were seen at the waterfall below the Tari Gap by some, quickly flying off upstream, but happily we got a fine single bird at Ok Menga later, with then absent John also catching up on it the following day. [E]
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa) –30 at the PAU and a couple on New Britain.
AUSTRALASIAN GREBE (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) – 5 at the PAU, they call very like Eurasian Little Grebe
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
AUSTRALIAN WHITE IBIS (Threskiornis molucca) – 2 at the PAU, an uncommon winter migrant.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
FOREST BITTERN (Zonerodius heliosylus) – This was a great find up at Varirata, where we flushed one along the Lookout Trail creek, looking just huge in flight. Luckily it perched up mid-stratum and despite flushing again we were able to relocate it and got great views. I last saw this rare bird in 1999 along the Elevala, and no less than 3 FG leaders have encountered it at Varirata before my turn today, so I was well overdue to see one of the hardest Varirata species.
BLACK BITTERN (Dupetor flavicollis) – One fine adult along Ketu Creek one morning, then some good sightings in the oil palm plantations at Haella where we saw 3 or 4 individuals and Joseph saw one with white wings, showing this odd local leucistic variant still survives. Also one adult normal bird was seen at Numundo one afternoon.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – A couple along Ketu Creek were it for the trip, they must have got fed up with us pushing them so far long each time as they flushed in front of us.
NANKEEN (RUFOUS) NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus) – A smart adult at the
PAU and 2 flying nearby as we came out.
GREAT-BILLED HERON (Ardea sumatrana) – A sub-adult along the Elevala then a fine adult along Ketu Creek next day, a scarce and rather shy species.
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – One at the PAU, then a few along the Elevala.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Egretta intermedia) – 5 at the PAU and unexpectedly a flock of 7 at Numundo on New Britain
LITTLE EGRET (LITTLE) (Egretta garzetta nigripes) – One at the PAU, and a couple seen on the reefs off Walindi, which were unexpected.
EASTERN REEF EGRET (Egretta sacra) A couple of dark phase and one white phase off Walindi.
PIED HERON (Egretta picata) – 7 at the PAU, mostly in white-headed non-breeding dress.
EASTERN CATTLE EGRET (ASIAN) (Bubulcus (ibis) coromandus) – As usual only seen in the Port Moresby area, where they are quite common. Split by the IOC from Western Cattle Egret, the breeding dress is very distinct.
LESSER FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata ariel) – One over Ela Beach.
GREAT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata minor)- Two over Ela Beach.
FRIGATEBIRD sp. (Fregata sp.) – Six off Walindi but too distant to be sure of their identity.
Threskiornithidae (Ibis & spoonbills)
AUSTRALIAN WHITE IBIS (Threskiornis molucca) – A couple of this erratic austral migrant were at the PAU.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) – About 30 at the PAU.
LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) – 4 at the PAU.
EASTERN OSPREY (Pandion (h. ) cristata) One fine bird off Walindi, this taxon is now split from Ospreys elsewhere in Africa, Europe and the Americas, but a two way split makes little sense, either a 3-way separation or none at all is more logical!
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PACIFIC BAZA (Aviceda subcristata) – One perched up at Varirata, and one at the PAU was unexpected. Three were seen on New Britain at Garu and Kilu Ridge.
LONG-TAILED HONEY-BUZZARD (Henicopernis longicauda) – An unusually good trip for them, we saw singles at Kiunga, along the Elevala and no less than 3 en route to Tabubil, with one also at Dablin Creek [E]
BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans affinis) – Quite common around Port Moresby. Note this taxon is oddly enough NOT a part of Black-eared Kite.
WHISTLING KITE (Haliastur sphenurus) – Curiously the only sighting of the trip was a single bird along the Elevala.
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – Small numbers at all the lowland sites, and still quite common on New Britain.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – Good views along the Fly R. where an adult showed well. Also a fine adult by Restorf Island in New Britain.
PAPUAN HARRIER (Circus (spilonotus) spilothorax) – One was seen flying over Ambua Lodge by most of the group, a good pick up of a scarce species, usually split these days as Papuan Harrier. [E]
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster leucosomus) – One flying over Tari airstrip was being mobbed by a Willie-wagtail. Good views around Kiunga and along the rivers there.
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster dampieri) –Several sightings on New Britain, which is the race dampieri, a very plausible future split.
GRAY-HEADED GOSHAWK (Accipiter poliocephalus) – One briefly at Km 17 then one showed very nicely at Boystown Road. [E]
NEW GUINEA HARPY EAGLE (Harpyopsis novaeguineae) – Amazingly one flew across while we were in the forest along the remnants of Benson’s Trail, but only a few saw it and all I got was a fleeting glimpse. It's a very hard bird to see these days. [E]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
NANKEEN KESTREL (Falco cenchroides) – A single at Kiunga airstrip where they are a scarce and erratic winter visitor from Australia.
AUSTRALIAN HOBBY (Falco longipennis)- One of these scarce winter migrants was seen at the PAU.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
CHESTNUT FOREST-RAIL (Rallina rubra) – Heard briefly below the Tari Gap, they did not seem to be calling at all this trip. [E*]
FORBES’S FOREST RAIL (Rallina forbesi)- One came in to my tape opposite Benson’s Trail, but only Terry saw it; it began calling from cover but having checked us out that was it. [E]
RED-NECKED CRAKE (Rallus tricolor) - Heard at Dablin Creek and Kwatu but as always impossible to see here. [*]
NEW GUINEA FLIGHTLESS RAIL (Megacrex inepta) – We were the first to use the photographic hide so thoughtfully built for Tropical Birding, and amazingly we also got to see two splendid adult Flightless Rails just as we were about to leave after an hour long vigil. Even better, I was able to get them again later for Ray and Becky who had missed the first sighting, one of the great New Guinea prizes for sure.
BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – We flushed a couple in the grasslands at Numundo on New Britain.
WHITE-BROWED CRAKE (Porzana cinerea) One was heard at Haella in a swampy area in the fields there, and some folks may have seen it. [*]
(PACIFIC) PURPLE SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus) – Great looks at the PAU, may well be a split as Pacific Swamphen. Also seen at Numundo on New Britain.
DUSKY MOORHEN (Gallinula tenebrosa) – Five at the PAU.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
MASKED LAPWING (Vanellus miles miles) – A few at the PAU.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius dubius) – A fine adult at km 120 despite all the oil worker developments there.
COMB-CRESTED JACANA (Irediparra gallinacea) – Great views of 4 at the PAU, a superb little bird.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers etc.)
EURASIAN WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus variegatus) - Now split from the Hudsonian Whimbrel, we had 3 of these distantly off Walindi.
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)- One on the beach at Walindi.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BROWN NODDY (Anous stolidus) – One flushed out of the trees as we arrived by Restorf Is. off Walindi.
CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii) One adult off Walindi.
BLACK-NAPED TERN (Sterna sumatrana) – Great views off Walindi where we saw 20+ individuals at close range.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo longipennis) – A couple off Ela Beach were unexpected, then a handful were off Walindi, most in ragged first winter dress.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
FERAL (ROCK) PIGEON (Columba livia) – Birds in Port Moresby are probably racing pigeons, I doubt this species is really established in PNG, which has just 3 introduced species including this one.
SLENDER-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia amboinensis) – A few in flight at Varirata and on New Britain.
BAR-TAILED (BLACK-BILLED) CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia nigrirostris) – One flyby below Ambua. [E]
GREAT CUCKOO-DOVE (Reinwardtoena reinwardtii) Great looks at one on Schefflera at Ambua after a flyby down by the helipad, then later there were a couple of fly-bys at Kiunga. [E]
STEPHAN'S DOVE (Chalcophaps stephani) – One flew across the boat along the Elevala, then great looks in the oil palm plantations at Haella on New Britain.
NEW GUINEA BRONZEWING (Henicophaps albifrons) – One was calling along the Boystown Road. [E*]
NEW BRITAIN BRONZEWING (Henicophaps foersteri) This great rarity was calling distantly at Garu, the place where I had my only sighting some years back. [E*]
PEACEFUL DOVE (Geopelia placida) – A few at the PAU, very local in PNG.
BAR-SHOULDERED DOVE (Geopelia humeralis) – Two at the PNG, another very local bird here.
BRONZE GROUND-DOVE (Gallicolumba beccarii) One shot across the road by Benson’s Trail and was seen by a lucky few.
NICOBAR PIGEON (Caloenas nicobarica) – One of the great prizes on the Bismarcks, we saw it on both Restorf and Big Malo Malo, seeing about 6 on the latter and a couple on the former. The white tail shows well in flight and they are distinctively dark, broad-winged and short-tailed.
SOUTHERN CROWNED-PIGEON (Goura scheepmakeri) – This magnificent bird was found as usual perched in mid-levels, spotted by Jimmy from the boat as we went up the Elevala, with another later on the muddy bank which gave a great look. Then we had a third bird one morning as we went up the Elevala from Kwatu, low water seems to make seeing them a bit easier. [E]
WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus magnificus) – A couple at Varirata and one at Kiunga.
PINK-SPOTTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus perlatus) – Very sparse this trip, we saw a handful at Varirata and again at Kiunga. [E]
ORNATE FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus ornatus) – One along the Varirata approach road was a surprise, it's a hill forest species, and an elusive one too. [E]
ORANGE-FRONTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus aurantiifrons) – Great looks at two birds at the PAU.[E]
SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus superbus) – Seen by some and heard at Varirata, then a fine perched male in the fruiting tree at Dablin.
BEAUTIFUL FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus pulchellus) – Jimmy found us a lovely perched one at Kiunga, and it was vocal at Varirata. [E]
WHITE-BIBBED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus rivoli) – One fine male and a couple of females up at Ambua, at fruiting trees. [E]
ORANGE-BELLIED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus iozonus) – Fairly common and 2 races, pseudohumeralis with the maroon shoulder bar at Kiunga and finschii at Varirata. [E]
KNOB-BILLED FRUIT DOVE (Ptilinopus insolitus) – Two out at Garu, and 7 up on Kilu Ridge, some nice views. [E]
DWARF FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus nanus) – Heard along the Elevala, a tiny little dove that is always hard to find. [E*]
RED-KNOBBED IMPERIAL PIGEON (Ducula rubricera)- Now rather uncommon out in the forest remnants, we saw them at Garu, then nicely at Haella and Kilu Ridge. [E]
PURPLE-TAILED IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula rufigaster) – One was flushed at Ekame Lodge and we were able to locate it in the canopy for most, a spectacular and scarce species. [E]
FINSCH’S IMPERIAL PIGEON (Ducula finschii) – We were lucky at Garu, when 3 flew by over the forest, the white tail band showing nicely, and we had 2 perched up nearby shortly after. It has a great growling call too, and is quite scarce. [E]
ISLAND IMPERIAL PIGEON (Ducula pistrinaria) Good looks at about 40 of these on the small islands off Walindi, where they are very vocal.
PINON’S IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula pinon) – Nice looks at the taxon rubiensis at Kiunga. [E]
COLLARED IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula mullerii) – Small numbers upriver at Kiunga, where we had about 50. [E]
ZOE’S IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula zoeae) – Some good looks around Kiunga. [E]
TORRESIAN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula spilorrhoa) – 5 flew over at the PAU and unusually one was seen perched there.
YELLOWISH IMPERIAL PIGEON (Ducula subflavescens) – 7 out at Garu and 4 up at Haella, with 2 at Kilu Ridge, a quite striking bird with a strong yellowish wash on the head. [E]
PAPUAN MOUNTAIN-PIGEON (Gymnophaps albertisii) – Small numbers from Kiunga and Ambua. [E]
PALM COCKATOO (Probosciger aterrimus) – The Elevala came good and we saw several individuals nicely, with some great loud calls too.
SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO (Cacatua galerita) – Seen (and heard!) nicely at Varirata and Kiunga.
BLUE-EYED COCKATOO (Cacatua opthalmica) We saw about 10 birds out at Garu and Kilu Ridge, becoming distinctly uncommon these days. [E]
YELLOW-STREAKED LORY (Chalcopsitta sintillata) – Good views of this big dark-headed parrot at Kiunga after two flying high over at Varirata. [E]
DUSKY LORY (Pseudeos fuscata) –A couple flying by at Km 70 then around 800 in mid-size flocks late afternoon at Ok Menga one day, good to see some signs of recovery from the crash caused by the 1997 drought, as previously we would see 3000-5000 birds here. [E]
COCONUT (RAINBOW) LORIKEET (Trichoglossus haematodus) – New Guinea birds are often now split as Coconut Lorikeet, the plumage is pretty distinct from the Australian birds. They are quite common in the lowlands and we saw them well at Varirata.
GOLDIE'S LORIKEET (Psitteuteles goldiei) – One was heard as it zipped over at Ambua, a dreadful view! Later we saw at least one at Km 79 along the Tabubil-Kiunga road, feeding in flowers at the rather low altitude of about 450m. [E]
STREAKED LORIKEET (Charmosyna multistriata) A flock of 7 flew by at Km 79 on the Tabubil-Kiunga Road, small entirely green lorikeets with pointed tails. It’s become a rare species, formerly regular at Tabubil but decimated by the 1997 El Nino drought and since then very seldom found. [E]
BLACK-CAPPED LORY (Lorius lory) – These were noisy and widespread but getting them perched was problematic, the best were up at Varirata and at Kiunga. [E]
PURPLE-BELLIED (E. BLACK-CAPPED) LORY (Lorius hypoinochrous) We saw around 14 out at Garu and Kilu Ridge, with some nice flight views and great vocals.
RED-FLANKED LORIKEET (Charmosyna placentis) – Good looks eventually at Kiunga after lots of flybys. [E]
PAPUAN LORIKEET (Charmosyna papou) – One dark morph showed nicely up at Ambua, and there were a few flybys, it really is one of the most beautiful of all the parrots.[E]
PLUM-FACED LORIKEET (Oreopsittacus arfaki) – This tiny lorikeet with the husky voice was seen in flight above Ambua, with a flock of 10 being an unusually large number. [E]
YELLOW-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) – Quite common at Ambua. [E]
ORANGE-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus pullicauda) – Just a couple at Ambua. [E]
PESQUET'S PARROT (Psittrichas fulgidus) – A single perched bird at Ok Menga proved to have 2 companions sat back on and looking entirely black, a great bird that is becoming rare due to hunting and a very welcome trip addition. [E]
YELLOW-CAPPED PYGMY-PARROT (Micropsitta keiensis) – Flyover dust specks at Kiunga, if you've got floaters you've already seen it! [E]
BUFF-FACED PYGMY-PARROT (Micropsitta pusio) – One flew over us along the Garu Road but could not be refound. This genus comprises the world's smallest parrots. [E]
ORANGE-BREASTED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta gulielmitertii) – Seen at Dablin Creek and Kiunga, eventually quite well at the former site. [E]
DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta diophthalma) – One perched bird was seen from the boat along Ketu Creek, and they flew by along the Boystown Road.
LARGE FIG-PARROT (Psittaculirostris desmarestii) – One flyby up the Elevala. [E]
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella brehmii) – Good looks at Tari Gap, where it was very vocal. [E]
RED-CHEEKED PARROT (Geoffroyus geoffroyi) – Common and noisy from Varirata to Kiunga, their range of calls is surprisingly varied. Some good views both at rest and in flight.
BLUE- COLLARED PARROT (Geoffroyus simplex)- There were a couple of flybys below Ambua in the misty conditions, I have not recorded them here for some time. Then some lovely vocal birds up at Dablin with the chiming sleighbell calls, but as always flying high overhead, if you get to see the short tails you’ve done really well! [E]
SONG PARROT (Geoffroyus heteroclitus) One flyby up at Kilu Ridge late one afternoon, the yellowish head showed it to be a male but a better view is desired!
ECLECTUS PARROT (Eclectus roratus) – The only numbers were from New Britain where we got some great looks at the females in particular. It was scarce at Kiunga this year but again we had some good looks.
PAPUAN KING-PARROT (Alisterus chloropterus) – Great looks at 5 birds including a fine pair at Ambua airstrip, and heard at Varirata. [E]
BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus) – A barred imm. was seen nicely at Km14 on the Boystown Road.
FAN-TAILED CUCKOO (Cacomantis flabelliformis excitus) – Heard at Ambua and one very dark bird with deep chestnut underparts was seen by the fruiting tree, this is a montane race and might be a split.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CUCKOO (Cacomantis castaneiventris)- Heard at Ok Menga.
RUFOUS-THROATED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx ruficollis) – One seen very well at Ambua Lodge, and heard above the Bailey Bridge. [E]
WHITE-EARED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx meyeri) – A great look at a male at Dablin Creek. The host species is still unknown here. [E]
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus) – Seen very well at Varirata with a male at the picnic site, then 3 in one day along Ketu Creek at Kwatu, where they were singing very well, and another at Km 14 on Boystown Road.
SHINING BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx lucidus- One was at the Sooty Owl site, an unexpected find and maybe my first sighting from the Tari/Ambua area, where it would be a winter migrant.
LONG-BILLED CUCKOO (Rhamphomantis megarhynchus) – Just one up along the Elevala, with one perched atop a palm. Still a mystery bird, the (presumed) host species is unknown. [E] WHITE-CROWNED KOEL (Cacomantis leucolophus) – Heard at Varirata and Kiunga. [E]
DWARF KOEL (Microdynamis parva) – Heard at Varirata where one was very close, and also at Kiunga. [E*]
ASIAN KOEL (Eudynamys scolopaceus) – Heard out at Garu on New Britain. [*]
AUSTRALIAN KOEL (Eudynamys cyanocephalus) – Males and a dark capped female were seen at Kiunga along the river.
CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO (Scythrops novaehollandiae) – Two of this great prehistoric looking cuckoo flying by over the Fly R., then 24 in a loose flock perched up along the Elevala, they winter here from Australia. Unusually we had a single at Km 97 and then 2 flying by at Km 92, which were my first record for what was my Tabubil recording area.
WHITE-NECKED (PIED) COUCAL (Centropus ateralbus) – Great views of two calling in thicket along the Garu Road, this can be hard to actually see so we were lucky. [E]
VIOLACEOUS COUCAL (Centropus violaceus) – Scope views of them deep in thicket along the Garu Road, another one which can be hard to see. It’s a huge great thing with a dark rather decurved stout bill, a pale patch above the eye and blackish plumage glossed violet in good light, and with an amazing “wobble board” voice when they duet. [E]
GREATER BLACK COUCAL (Centropus menbeki) – Heard along the river at Kiunga. [E*]
LESSER BLACK COUCAL (Centropus bernsteini) – Phil saw the head of one at Km7 where they were calling well. [E*]
PHEASANT COUCAL (Centropus phasianinus) – Seen well whilst en route to Varirata.
SOOTY OWL (GREATER) (Tyto tenebricosa arfaki) – The new refined technique of scratching with a long pole is much better than bashing the trunk, as the bird came up and looked out at us then went back inside! This bird earns the landowners hundreds of kina per year! [E]
PAPUAN BOOBOOK (Ninox theomacha) –Two were calling at Ambua and we tried thrice, failing miserably each times though we were unlucky on that dawn effort when 3 birds were vocal and one was close but out of view. [E*]
NEW BRITAIN BOOBOOK (Ninox odiosa) – The Walindi guys had a daytime roost staked out and we had terrific scope views of one peering at us from its shady hideout high in a big tree. Actually endemic to New Britain too, the Bismarck Boobook of here and New Ireland is a myth as it’s a long-standing error that’s been copied from book to book! This was actually my first daytime sighting; the white spotted forehead was quite distinct. [E]
STARRY OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles tatei) – We heard this recently split species with two birds calling but non-responsive up at Kwatu, and none vocalizing at all the next night. [E*]
WALLACE'S OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles wallacii) – I went and checked out a site pre-dawn and saw the bird, so we went back next day and got them calling immediately, with two birds then mating right in front of us! Sorry you were just a tad too late Ray. [E]
MOUNTAIN OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles albertisi) – Amazingly the bird from 2011 was still using the hollow tree hole along Benson’s Trail despite the devastation all around. [E]
BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles bennettii) – I was pleasantly surprised that one of the old faithfuls from previous years was still on site at Varirata and showed very nicely without being flushed! The greyish-white neck collar was quite well marked. [E]
MARBLED FROGMOUTH (MARBLED) (Podargus ocellatus ocellatus) – Heard distantly at Kwatu, and what a great call.
PAPUAN FROGMOUTH (Podargus papuensis) –A photogenic pair in a tree in at the PAU made a nice finale to that afternoon.
PAPUAN NEEDLETAIL (Mearnsia novaeguineae) – Small numbers at Kiunga, it seems to replace Glossy Swiftlets over the big river systems. [E]
GLOSSY SWIFTLET (Collocalia esculenta) – Quite common in the hills.
MOUNTAIN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) – Lots at Ambua. [E]
WHITE-RUMPED SWIFTLET (Aerodramus spodiopygius) – We saw just a handful on New Britain of this Pacific islands endemic.
UNIFORM SWIFTLET (Aerodramus vanikorensis) – Widespread in the lowlands on both the mainland and New Britain.
MOUSTACHED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne mystacea) – Great looks at 2 at Kiunga then again up on Kilu Ridge on New Britain with the smaller race aeroplanes (really!) showing very well, this is the most spectacular of the family.
COMMON PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera galatea) – Thankfully this was also quite well behaved after a slow start, and we had fine scope views along the Elevala. [E]
LITTLE PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera hydrocharis) – This was amazing, it came right in to the tape and perched in full view, still a very little known and rare species endemic to the Fly drainage. [E]
BLACK-CAPPEDED (BLACK-HEADED) PARADISE- KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera nigriceps) We heard 3 of them on New Britain but they stayed out of sight. [E*]
BROWN-HEADED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera danae) – Daniel got us a fine bird on day one at Varirata, it's endemic to SE PNG and this is the only place I have ever seen them. My aim these days is to get them without using tape, they sit quietly and can often be picked up by the bright red breast. [E]
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis)- A nice look at one at the PAU, then several on New Britain with at least one living by Walindi.
AZURE KINGFISHER (Ceyx azureus) – Seen well along the Elevala.
VARIABLE KINGFISHER (Ceyx lepidus) – Daniel found us one sat in a tree along the Lookout Trail, they are kind of yellow-buff beneath and the tiny size makes finding them difficult.
BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo leachii) – Great views of a female at Varirata as we were leaving on the last day, the last addition to the trip list as I recall.
RUFOUS-BELLIED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo gaudichaud) – A fine male at Varirata, then seen again at Km 17. [E]
SHOVEL-BILLED KOOKABURRA (Clytoceyx rex) – An incredible find above the Bailey bridge, when one flew right in front of us and sat perched for a few seconds, it looked huge and rusty as it came in. I had never seen one at Ambua before, they are very rare and hard to find here.
FOREST KINGFISHER (Todiramphus macleayii) – Uncommon in PNG, we had one nicely twice up at Varirata.
WHITE-MANTLED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus albonotatus) – We tried several sites, hearing it at one before we got onto a pair near the road at Garu, this is a scarce bird that can be hard to find. [E]
BEACH KINGFISHER (Todiramphus saurophagus)- Fabulous looks at this striking white-headed bird on Big Malo Island.
SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus) – Only small numbers this trip, widespread but not as common as they sometimes are. It's an Australian migrant here and our first was at Ambua Lodge.
COLLARED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus chloris tristrami) – One was seen out along the Garu Road. This complex of 49 races is way overdue for splitting, it’s obvious it contains multiple species of which these forest dwelling Bismarck tristrami birds are likely to be one.
HOOK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Melidora macrorrhina) – Well, we almost saw one at the Elevala, it called fairly close but unfortunately stayed out of sight on a couple of occasions. Heard at dawn and dusk here as well and always tough to see. [E*]
YELLOW-BILLED KINGFISHER (Syma torotoro) – Great views of one up at Varirata on the very last afternoon, they were not very vocal this trip.
RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus) – Small numbers at Varirata and Kiunga,
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – Common in the lowlands and hills but still a terrific bird.
BLYTH'S HORNBILL (Aceros plicatus) – Who can forget those whooshing wing beats? These immense creatures were seen really well along the Elevala where we had up to 18, and at a fruiting tree along the Kiunga / Tabubil Road.
HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – Heard at Kiunga, with one coming right in when we were in the Flightless Rail hide, with most folks getting a great look at it.
RED-BELLIED PITTA (Pitta erythrogaster) – A good calling bird came in to the tape and hopped on the ground in the cover, eventually giving good views for just about everyone I think? Nice to have a two-pitta NG mainland trip.
WHITE-EARED CATBIRD (Ailuroedus buccoides)- One of this elusive species was calling up at Kwatu but remained out of sight, much as usual. [E*]
SPOTTED CATBIRD (Ailuroedus melanotis) – Great calls in the forest at Km 17, but they are almost impossible to see in PNG. [*]
ARCHBOLD'S BOWERBIRD (Archboldia papuensis sanfordi) – A female plumage bird flew across the road by the fruiting tree, after some loud calls, it's a rare high-altitude species that likes frost pockets in the forest. [E]
FLAME BOWERBIRD (Sericulus aureus) – This was lucky as a sunburst male flew over the Boystown Road twice and I think most of us got look; a female was also seen in flight on the second occasion. [E]
FAWN-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera cerviniventris) – Good views at the PAU with a fine single avenue bower as well.
WALLACE’s FAIRYWREN (Sipodotus wallacei)- Terry saw one at Ok Menga where I heard it call just prior to the sighting. [E]
WHITE-SHOULDERED FAIRYWREN (Malurus alboscapulatus) – One in a the hedge by the MAF terminal at Tari was a nice sight, then a pair were seen at Kiunga airstrip, with this race having a brown and white female, unlike the same-sexed black and white plumage of the highland birds. [E]
EMPEROR FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyanocephalus) – A terrific view of a pair near the bowerbird mound at Kiunga, it’s a spectacular sexually dimorphic species and these showed very nicely for once. [E]
SPOTTED HONEYEATER (Xanthotis polygrammus)- A good view of one of this scarce species at the blossoms at Dablin Creek. [E]
TAWNY-BREASTED HONEYEATER (Xanthotis flaviventer) – Good views of this at Varirata, where it is uncommon, and also at Kiunga.
BLACK-THROATED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus subfrenatus) – Brief looks up at Tari Gap where they were quite vocal. [E
OBSCURE HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus obscurus) – Heard at Boystown Road but elusive. [E*]
YELLOW-TINTED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus flavescens) – Nice looks at the PAU and heard by the hotel in POM.
MOUNTAIN MELIPHAGA (Meliphaga orientalis) – Several up at Dablin Creek at white vine blossoms, and Barbara spotted the tiny cup shaped leafy next about 6’ up in a small sapling, containing one whitish egg with sparse reddish markings. I am not sure if the nest of this bird is known, our knowledge of NG breeding birds remains fragmentary. [E]
SCRUB HONEYEATER (Meliphaga albonotata) – Seen briefly at Kiunga. [E]
PUFF-BACKED HONEYEATER (Meliphaga aruensis) – One along Boystown Road seemed plausible for this species, but this genus is one of the hardest on the planet to identify to species, with taxonomy and field characters uncertain and voice poorly known, with at least 4 species having a “tchup’ type call. Most tour companies conveniently see one of each on their tours! [E]
ELEGANT (GRACEFUL) HONEYEATER (Meliphaga (gracilis) cinereifrons) – Ah, now the Meliphagas at Varirata with the big pale ear spots are actually not Graceful but this recently split taxon Elegant Honeyeater M. cinereifrons, only the woefully outdated Clements hasn't picked up this yet. It's one of the few readily identified taxa in the genus too. [E]
YELLOW-GAPED HONEYEATER (Meliphaga flavirictus) – We got quite good looks at what is plausibly this rather rare species at Ekame Lodge, being pale below with a good gape line, and mid-sized ear spot. [E]
GREY-STREAKED (BLACK-BACKED) HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora perstriata) – The Grey-streaked Honeyeater was seen at Ambua a couple of times. [E]
LONG-BILLED HONEYEATER (Melilestes megarhynchus) – One at the Sooty Owl site was unexpected. [E]
SILVER-EARED HONEYEATER (Lichmera alboauricularis) – The last tick of the trip, seen well by PNG Art. [E]
WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus albogularis) – A few at the Varirata approach on the last afternoon.
PLAIN HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius ixoides) – One out at Km 14 on the Boystown Road, a good site for this elusive and quite uncommon species, albeit the classic LBJ. [E]
MARBLED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius cinereus) – One at the Blue BoP site, it is quite an uncommon species. [E]
STREAK-HEADED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius stictocephalus) – Some good views this trip, at Varirata, and then Kiunga, one of the "Friarbird mimics" along with Brown Oriole. [E]
MEYER'S FRIARBIRD (Philemon meyeri) – Heard along the Boystown Road. [E*]
NEW GUINEA (HELMETED) FRIARBIRD (Philemon buceroides) – Widespread in the lowlands, this is New Guinea Friarbird P. novaeguineae, quite distinct from Helmeted in calls and morphology. It always used to be split by the dreaded Clements, but it was then oddly demoted, but happily the IOC have split it again and now have it as a NG endemic. [E]
NEW BRITAIN FRIARBIRD (Philemon cockerelli) – Vocal at Walindi long before dawn, and seen nicely at the lowland sites. [E]
SMOKY HONEYEATER (Melipotes fumigatus) – The blushing honeyeater was seen well at Ambua. [E]
BELFORD'S MELIDECTES (Melidectes belfordi) – Bel Mels are liked by clients, being big, noisy and obvious, the very reason tour leaders hate 'em! [E]
YELLOW-BROWED MELIDECTES (Melidectes rufocrissalis) – Quite common at Ambua, just as noisy as its cousin. Unexpectedly a Melidectes at Dablin Creek proved to be this species, my first sighting there where Ornate is the usual version. [E]
RUFOUS-BANDED HONEYEATER (Conopophila albogularis) – Seen well near Koki market, then at the PAU, also at Kiunga wharf, where it is a recent arrival.
ASHY MYZOMELA (Myzomela cinerascens)- A few out at Garu, visiting blossoms there. [E]
PAPUAN BLACK MYZOMELA (Myzomela nigrita)- A fine male up at Varirata on the first day. [E]
SCLATER’S MYZOMELA (Myzomela sclateri) – This scarce small island endemic was seen very well on Big Malo Malo, with both sexes showing nicely. [E]
RED-COLLARED MYZOMELA (Myzomela rosenbergii) – Seen up at Ambua, the male is an eye-catching thing. [E]
GREEN-BACKED HONEYEATER (Glycichaera fallax)- A couple of us saw this warbler-like species up at Dablin Creek. Otherwise it’s only at Iron Range in Far N Queensland.
Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
RUSTY MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis murina) – Heard at Varirata, Tabubil and Kiunga but tough to see. [E*]
MOUNTAIN MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis robusta) – One heard mimicking a Papuan Tree-creeper near Makara Lodge at Ambua. [E]
LARGE SCRUBWREN (Sericornis nouhuysi) – Seen briefly by some above Ambua. [E]
BUFF-FACED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis perspicillatus)- Seen nicely near Benson’s place below Ambua, the buff eye ring is very obvious. [E]
PAPUAN SCRUBWREN (Sericornis papuensis) – Good looks at Tari Gap, where they sing late afternoon. [E]
PALE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis spilodera) – This was heard at Varirata, where I think Dan may have seen it? The quiet "nee naw" call sounds like a distant ambulance! [E]
ASHY (MOUNTAIN) GERYGONE (Gerygone cinerea) – Lucky here as we got 2 of this scarce species by the fruiting tree across the Tari Gap. [E]
GREEN-BACKED GERYGONE (Gerygone chloronota) – Quite good looks at one high in a tree by Km 14 on Boystown Road, and heard at most lowland sites.
FAIRY GERYGONE (Gerygone palpebrosa) – Heard at Varirata on the first morning. [*]
YELLOW-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone chrysogaster) – These were quite common in the lowland forests and members of all the bird flocks. [E]
LARGE-BILLED GERYGONE (Gerygone magnirostris) – Responsive birds at Kwatu, it's a riverine species here.
BROWN-BREASTED GERYGONE (Gerygone ruficollis) – Seen at Tari Gap, and at Ambua airstrip where two were feeding in kunai grass; also seen at the Sooty Owl site, the smoky descending song is the best thing about it. [E]
NEW GUINEA BABBLER (Pomatostomus isidorei) – Showed nicely at Kwatu where a noisy group was seen. One of the strange long pendulous nests was near the hide above Kwatu. Formerly known as Rufous Babbler here but now renamed to avoid a naming clash with an Asian species. [E]
PAPUAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx novaeguineae)- This very elusive species was singing really well near the fruiting tree across the Tari Gap, dueting very loudly in the late afternoon, but was impossible to access. Another responded briefly next day but was again sadly unseeable; it’s amazing how totally unlike their tame Australian congener these birds are in their behaviour. [E*]
LORIA'S SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus loriae) – Good looks at males and females at Ambua, now promoted out of bop's and into a new endemic family. [E]
CRESTED SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus macgregorii) This was heard at the fruiting tree across the Tari Gap, always elusive. [*]
Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers and Longbills)
OBSCURE BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis arfakiana) – One up at Dablin Creek, calling close by and showing briefly. Berrypeckers and longbills comprise an endemic family here. This one is still one of the least known species on the planet with just 4 specimens collected. [E]
BLACK BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis nigra) – Seen at Varirata on the full day there. [E]
FAN-TAILED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis versteri) – Quite good views above Ambua. [E]
SPOTTED BERRYPECKER (Rhamphocharis crassirostris)- A pair were coming to some fruits by cabin six and seemed remarkably unconcerned by us nearby. Note that Beehler’s book has the sexes reversed; it’s actually the female which is the spotted one. [E]
YELLOW-BELLIED LONGBILL (Toxorhamphus novaeguineae) – They sang close by and one showed very well at Kwatu. It may have been the owner of the nearby tiny insubstantial vine tendril cup nest just 4’ off the ground on small sapling, containing two whitish eggs with sparse reddish markings. [E]
DWARF LONGBILL (Toxorhamphus iliolophus) – One seen very well in the vine flowers up at Dablin Creek. Note it was moved out of Honeyeaters years ago but Clements is once again long outdated. [E]
Paramythiidae (Tit Berrypecker, Crested Berrypecker)
TIT BERRYPECKER (Oreocharis arfaki) – Elusive at Ambua this time, but it was seen by most at the Lodge and glimpsed up by the wrecked container. An endemic family too. [E]
CRESTED BERRYPECKER (Paramythia montium) – Good views at Tari Gap, a lovely bird. It's a member of an endemic family, along with Tit-Berrypecker. [E]
Cinclosomatidae (Quail-thrushes and Jewel-babblers)
PAINTED QUAIL-THRUSH (Cinclosoma ajax) – Heard at Kwatu and Varirata, one of the trio of major skulkers here that take much work to get. [E*]
SPOTTED JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa leucosticta) – Another mega-skulker, we heard it at Ambua and I got it to come in in the dense tangle, where a couple of us got a look at this striking and rather difficult to see species, the shyest of all the jewel-babblers [E*]
BLUE JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa caerulescens) – These jewel-babblers always take a long time to get onto and the attempt at Ekame produced glimpses as the birds flew or dashed across the track. Pretty typical, then happily most of the group got a good look as 3 of us waited for a second shot at the Flightless rails. [E]
CHESTNUT-BACKED JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa castanonota) – Another of the Varirata skulkers, and not tape responsive this trip. [E*]
BLACK-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus nigripectus) – Great views of this striking species at Ambua. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) – A female was seen well along the Boundary Track at Varirata.
GREAT WOODSWALLOW (Artamus maximus) – Great looks at Ambua, huddling in endearing fashion. Also seen at Tabubil. [E]
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – A few around Port Moresby and Kiunga.
Cracticidae (Bellmagpies and Allies)
MOUNTAIN PELTOPS (Peltops montanus) – We saw none at Ambua this time, being just heard, but we did get one at Ok Menga and 2 at Dablin. [E]
BLACK-BACKED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus mentalis) – Fine views at the PAU and Varirata, it's otherwise a Cape York special.
HOODED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus cassicus) – A good singer, and seen well at Varirata and Kiunga. [E]
BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi) – Seen at Ambua and Dablin Creek.
LARGE-BILLED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina caeruleogrisea)- A fine pair up at Varirata on the first day, and again on the last, with one at Dablin Creek also. [E]
BARRED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina lineata) – Good views of 2 at Varirata on the last afternoon.
BOYER'S CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina boyeri) – Small numbers in the hills and lowlands. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina papuensis papuensis) –Two at the PAU.
CICADABIRD (Coracina tenuirostris)-A male at Varirata, this seems to be a resident here, the call is quite unlike the whistled call of the rainforest birds in Queensland and not as harsh as the rasps of the southerly birds.
BLACK-SHOULDERED (PAPUAN) CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina incerta) – Heard at Dablin Creek, this is the Black-shouldered Cicadabird of the IOC and my checklist, Black-s Cuckooshrike in the NG field guide. Why Clements had to confuse it is baffling. [E*]
GRAY-HEADED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina schisticeps) – We saw this well up at Dablin, including the rusty color female. [E]
PAPUAN BLACK (NEW GUINEA) CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina melas) – We saw a pair at Varirata on the first day. Clements strikes again- Papuan Black Cuckooshrike works well and there are at least 11 other cuckooshrikes in NG making the name New Guinea Cuckooshrike essentially meaningless. [E]
BLACK-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina montana) – Heard at Ambua. [E*]
HOODED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina longicauda) Heard near Ambua Lodge. [E*]
GOLDEN CUCKOOSHRIKE (Campochaera sloetii) – We got a cracking male by the lek at Km 17, and had good views of 2 at Dablin, a really stunning species that is more like a minivet than a cuckooshrike. [E]
VARIED TRILLER (Lalage leucomela) – Two fine males at Varirata and also seen at Dablin.
BLACK SITTELLA (Daphoenositta miranda) – A brief look at 5 below the Tari Gap, they quickly flew off. [E]
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
BROWN-BACKED WHISTLER (Pachycephala modesta) – A good look at this PNG endemic across the Tari Gap. [E]
GRAY-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala griseiceps) – This was heard at Varirata on the first day. [*]
SCLATER'S WHISTLER (Pachycephala soror) – An orangey-coloured juvenile was at Ambua, then a fine female was out in full view at Dablin Creek, where they are scarce visitors from higher up. [E]
MANGROVE GOLDEN (BLACK-TAILED) WHISTLER (Pachycephala melanura) – A fine male in the thickets on Big Malo Malo, and heard on Restorf, this is a small island species here in the Bismarcks.
REGENT WHISTLER (Pachycephala schlegelii) – Seen at Ambua with a couple of good looks at the striking male. [E]
BLACK-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala monacha) – Seen quite nicely at the Sooty Owl site in the Tari valley. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED WHISTLER (Pachycephala leucogastra) – A lovely responsive male on the last day at Varirata, which was was singing and calling well. Endemic to SE PNG and bafflingly long lumped with the totally different plumaged Rufous Whistler. [E]
LITTLE (RUFOUS) SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha) – Heard at Varirata and seen at Kiunga, this species group of 28 taxa is reputedly about to become a 6+ way split, just what the world needs. I think the taxon is likely to be C. m. neos at Kiunga.
GRAY SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica) – Heard at Varirata approach road. [*]
WHITE-BELLIED PITOHUI (Colluricincla incertus) – A vocal group came though near Kwatu, always tough to get onto them, it's a poorly known Fly River endemic, now placed with shrike-thrushes rather than pitohuis it seems. [E]
HOODED PITOHUI (Pitohui dichrous) – Good views of them at Varirata, this is the famous poison bird and the newly slimmed down genus of 2 species (this and the next) may now be going to be placed in Oriolidae! [E]
VARIABLE PITOHUI (Pitohui kirhocephalus) – Seen well at Kwatu, a bigger and more ragged bird than Hooded Pitohui, this race brunneiceps having a blackish-brown head. This assemblage of 20 taxa is going to be a 3-way split, with West Papuan Is birds and NW birds being split out. [E]
RUSTY PITOHUI (Oronectes ferrugineus) – This was heard at Varirata, now moved out of the genus Pitohui and put in Oronectes. [E*]
RUFOUS-NAPED WHISTLER (Aleadryas rufinucha) – This odd bird showed very well at Ambua by the fruiting tree but it was remarkably non-vocal this trip. Placement in whistlers is still uncertain and it is moved to the end of the family sequence pending further work. [E]
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach stresemanni) – Seen well at the Tari Gap, a singularly beautiful shrike. This highland endemic race is a possible split.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
BROWN ORIOLE (Oriolus szalayi) – The friarbird mimic, quite common in the hills and lowlands and with a good voice. [E]
AUSTRALASIAN FIGBIRD (Sphecotheres vieilloti) – Another Port Moresby area savanna special the rather distinctive local race salvadorii (him again, the great unpacker!) having a grey throat and upper chest. We saw them at the PAU. Oddly, it's not listed in Clements.
SPANGLED DRONGO (Dicrurus bracteatus) – Birds of the endemic race carbonarius up at Varirata could well be a split from migrants from Australia, which is what I think we saw at Kiunga. The voices are distinct and they have differences in bill and head plumage.
WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys) – Very widespread, from lowlands to mountains, we even had them at Ambua at 2045m.
FRIENDLY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albolimbata) – Good looks at Ambua where it lives up to its name. [E]
CHESTNUT-BELLIED FANTAIL (Rhipidura hyperythra) – Seen nicely at Varirata where it a core member of species flocks. [E]
SOOTY THICKET-FANTAIL (Rhipidura threnothorax) – Calling noisily and seen briefly along the Treehouse Trail at Varirata. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED THICKET-FANTAIL (Rhipidura leucothorax leucothorax) – This skulker was heard along the Elevala and showed briefly at Km 14 on the Boystown Road. [E]
BLACK FANTAIL (Rhipidura atra) – This was heard at Ambua and Dan and Barbara saw it there, and we heard it at Dablin Creek later. [E]
DIMORPHIC FANTAIL (Rhipidura brachyrhyncha) – One below the Tari Gap flew over us a couple of times. [E]
RUFOUS-BACKED FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufidorsa) – One at Kwatu showed off well. [E]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLACK MONARCH (Symposiachrus axillaris) Heard at Dablin Creek but elusive in thick cover. [E*]
HOODED MONARCH (Symposiachrus manadensis) – Seen twice up at Kwatu, it’s an elusive bird. [E]
SPOT-WINGED MONARCH (Symposiachrus guttula) – Seen quite well at Varirata and briefly at Kwatu, but it’s always tough to get onto this species, which is very active. [E]
BLACK-TAILED MONARCH (Symposiachrus verticalis) Quite good looks at 2 of this very uncommon species at Garu on New Britain. [E]
ISLAND MONARCH (Monarcha cinerascens) - One on Big Malo Malo showed off quite well, a characteristic species of the small islands.
BLACK-FACED MONARCH (Monarcha melanopsis) A fine view of this Australian winter migrant at Varirata approach road on the last afternoon.
BLACK-WINGED MONARCH (Monarcha frater) One up at Dablin Creek was a good find of an uncommon species
GOLDEN MONARCH (Carterornis chrysomela) – A male at Ekame Lodge, then a pair seen nicely at Km 14 on the Boystown Road. [E]
FRILLED MONARCH (Arses telescophthalmus) – Nice looks at Varirata and then near Kiunga, both sexes are quite striking birds. [E]
LEADEN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra rubecula) – A pair was seen well at Varirata on the last afternoon, “shivering” the tail nicely.
SHINING FLYCATCHER (Myiagra alecto) – Seen along the Elevala River.
VELVET (LESSER SHINING) FLYCATCHER (Myiagra hebetior)- Heard at Garu. [E*]
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY CROW (Corvus tristis) – Sparse, just a couple at Varirata and two sightings from Kiunga, then a perched scope look at one at Ok Menga. [E]
TORRESIAN CROW (Corvus orru orru) – Quite common around Port Moresby out by the piggeries at 17-mile.
BISMARCK CROW (Corvus insularis) – Guy Dutson and I wrote the paper splitting this a couple of years ago, it’s actually more distinct than most of the 5 species of Australian corvids, being short-winged and short-tailed and with very different vocalizations to Torresian Crow. Common on the New Britain and very vocal at Walindi where I got some nice recordings of some curious variant calls.
GLOSSY-MANTLED MANUCODE (Manucodia ater) – One was seen at Varirata, then a few over the Elevala including one in its odd slow butterfly glide display. [E]
CRINKLE-COLLARED MANUCODE (Manucodia chalybatus) – One was seen on both our visits to Dablin Creek, the only one we saw. [E]
TRUMPET MANUCODE (Phonygammus keraudrenii) – Vocal, with two distinct taxa heard, and one watched calling along Boystown Road which was of the race jamesii.
SHORT-TAILED PARADIGALLA (Paradigalla brevicauda) – Great views of one at Ambua, complete with yellow butterfly shape at the base of the bill. [E]
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia mayeri) – Great looks at some resplendent males above the Bailey Bridge, with a hybrid with Princess Stephanie's along the road below there one morning. [E]
PRINCESS STEPHANIE'S ASTRAPIA (Astrapia stephaniae) – Good looks at female plumaged birds at Ambua, and one good male at the remains of their lek site, which is sadly now being logged. They resemble giant paradise- whydahs in flight! [E]
PRINCESS STEPHANIE’S x RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia stephaniae x mayeri)
An utterly astonishing sight was this hybrid adult male feeding at a Schefflera in the logging site where the lek still survives. It had the longest tail I have ever seen, I reckoned it was around 5 ft+ and was a bit like a thick Ribbon-tail tail broadly bordered black and with a Princess Stephanie’s paddle tacked onto the end, just amazing. It had an iridescent green head and chest with a coppery breast band and a small pom-pom at the base of the bill. This hybrid is known as Barnes’s Long-tailed Astrapia but adult males are very rare and this was the first I’ve ever seen, whilst Joseph with all his years here had seen it around 8 times. This is my bird of the trip for sure, we were so lucky to see and photograph it on two mornings at the same spot.
CAROLA'S PAROTIA (Parotia carolae) – Several f/imm. birds showed well at the fruiting tree at Dablin. [E]
LAWES'S PAROTIA (Parotia lawesii) – Early morning views of females and imms. at the fruiting tree by Ambua Lodge, they have a singularly flat-headed shape. [E]
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Pteridophora alberti) – A splendid singing male above the Bailey Bridge who performed beautifully, and a brief view of a f/imm. bird above Ambua. [E]
MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris magnificus) – One flew across the Boystown Road and gave a pretty reasonable flight view, it even flew back later so we were lucky, as this species has become very hard to see here these days. [E]
GROWLING (MAGNIFICENT) RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris (magnificus) intercedens) – The Growling Riflebird was seen along the Lookout Trail where a female plumage bird was with a feeding flock, and calling quite well. The voice is so distinct I am sure this is a good species, if the identical looking Chirruping and Chiming Wedgebills get split then so should this! [E]
SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Lophorina superba) – Nice female plumaged birds at the Lodge. and good views of a male on the same song tree as the Blue BoP below Ambua, what a weird shape! [E]
BROWN SICKLEBILL (Epimachus meyeri) – A female at Ambua, feeding on fruits by the cabins and showing the pale blue eye nicely. [E]
BLACK SICKLEBILL (Epimachus fastuosus) A female-plumaged bird at the fruiting tree at Ambua showed very nicely, then there was a terrific male foraging on the dead wood of the big trees down by the airstrip, quite fantastic to see it working so assiduously from tree to tree. Also a far distant male was scoped atop a song post one morning, good that this elusive bird is still around. [E]
MAGNIFICENT BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus magnificus) – A female plumaged bird was foraging high in a tree at Dablin Creek. [E]
KING BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus regius) – Great views of the fiery red and white male at his song tree near Kwatu, and a female along Boystown Road on the last day there. [E]
TWELVE-WIRED BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Seleucidis melanoleucus) – A fine male was on his song past near Kwatu Lodge, and we were able to count the tail wires, reaching 11 as I recall? [E]
GREATER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea apoda) – Now this was a nice surprise, as we had the lek going full bore at Km 17 late one afternoon with at least 7 pretty good looking male Greater BoP's showing off, with a couple of hybrids hanging about and a male Raggiana popping in and out. In recent years this lek was mainly hybrids, so good to see it coming good again, and it was a terrific show, perfectly timed for us. [E]
RAGGIANA BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea raggiana) – The main lek at Varirata was deserted on our early morning trip, but we went to another that afternoon and got several nice males, with another seen along the approach road on our last afternoon. Also seen at Kiunga and up along the Elevala, mostly females. [E]
BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea rudolphi) – A fine female-plumage bird was feeding in the tree at Ambua. A lovely male called and showed well from his song post near Benson's place too, with a Superb BoP in the same tree. This is a quite rare and restricted range species endemic to a narrow and heavily settled height band in PNG. [E]
Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)
LESSER GROUND-ROBIN (Amalocichla incerta) – Another mega-skulker, heard at Ambua where Ray got a brief look at one. [E]
TORRENT FLYROBIN (FLYCATCHER) (Monachella muelleriana) – Lovely views at Ok Menga. [E]
LEMON-BELLIED FLYROBIN (FLYCATCHER) (Microeca flavigaster) – Seen at Varirata, and also the strange birds with bright yellow underparts at Dablin Creek that may be an undescribed taxon.
CANARY FLYROBIN (FLYCATCHER) (Microeca papuana) – Seen briefly above Ambua. [E]
GARNET ROBIN (Eugerygone rubra) – A fine female-plumaged bird was singing below the Tari Gap, it's an odd arboreal robin that is more like a gerygone. [E]
WHITE-FACED ROBIN (Tregellasia leucops) –Heard at Varirata [*].
BLACK-SIDED ROBIN (Poecilodryas hypoleuca) – An eventually quite obliging one along a trail at Ekame Lodge, this can be a real devil to see well. [E]
WHITE-WINGED ROBIN (Peneothello sigillata) – Seen well along the trail by the wrecked container. [E]
BLUE-GRAY ROBIN (Peneothello cyanus) – A couple near Ambua, they have become shyer here in recent years. [E]
WHITE-RUMPED ROBIN (Peneothello bimaculata) Barbara saw one fly across the track at Dablin, and we heard it there on both visits. [E]
ASHY ROBIN (Heteromyias albispecularis) – Heard as usual at Ambua, this is a hard one to actually see. [E*]
NORTHERN SCRUB-ROBIN (Drymodes superciliaris) – The third of the trio of mega-skulkers at Varirata, heard only this trip. [*]
INCERTAE SEDIS Uncertain family placement
LESSER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta lugubris) – Heard at Ambua. I am sure these are incorrectly placed in Paradisaeidae; Incertae Sedis is better till we know what they are. [E]
BLUE-CAPPED IFRITA (Ifrita kowaldi) – A group favorite and we did well for this oddity, which creeps along branches and picks over lichens. No-one knows what family it is among, it has been placed in various groups and basically remains Incertae Sedis. It is also a poisonous bird a bit like pitohuis, certainly an important species to see on a New Guinea trip and we did nicely for them at Ambua. [E]
WATTLED PLOUGHBILL (Eulacestoma nigropectus) – A calling bird at the fruiting tree over the Tari Gap was elusive, though I think some folks saw it fly across the road. I wonder which family this really belongs in? [E]
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – Small numbers in the lowlands.
TREE MARTIN (Petrochelion nigricans)- A flock of about 40 were over the grasslands at Numundo on New Britain, a Bismarck tick for me as it’s a rare migrant here.
ISLAND LEAF-WARBLER (Phylloscopus poliocephalus) – Seen quite well singing near Benson's place at Ambua.
Acrocephalidae (Reed-Warblers and Allies)
AUSTRALIAN REED-WARBLER (Acrocephalus australis sumbae) – There was one singing in the dense kunai grass at the end of the Kiunga airstrip, my first record here; then good views of them in the reedy grasses at Numundo on New Britain, these are of the taxon sumbae which may be this species or possibly a split.
Megaluridae (Grassbirds and Allies)
PAPUAN GRASSBIRD (Megalurus ) – Now split as Papuan Grassbird, much larger than Tawny, with montane habitat and different song. We had a great view of one above Ambua.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata) – Seen at Port Moresby and the Ambua area, a wide-ranging species in NG.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ISLAND THRUSH (Turdus poliocephalus) – Great looks up at the Tari Gap, very reminiscent of Eurasian Blackbird.
BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor) – Vocal at Varirata and we got good views on the first morning. [E]
CAPPED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops fuscicapilla) – Seen in the Tari valley and also at Dablin, but never gave good looks [E]
METALLIC STARLING (Aplonis metallica) – Common along the river at Kiunga, with a nest colony by the airstrip there.
YELLOW-EYED STARLING (Aplonis mystacea)- A couple of us got onto one among the Metallics along the Elevala but it was really hard to get a clear view of the head. It’s a little known and rare species. [E]
SINGING STARLING (Aplonis cantoroides) – Just a few sightings, with 10 at Ela Beach, a few at Jackson's Airport and then 2 at the PAU. Also seen at Hoskins airport on New Britain.
MELANESIAN (LONG-TAILED) MYNA (Mino kreffti) – Scarce this trip, we had a couple of sightings from Garu and Haella. The voice is quite different to Yellow-faced Myna and it has a much longer tail. Endemic to the Bismarcks and Solomons.
YELLOW-FACED MYNA (Mino dumontii) – Great croaking voice, we saw them at Varirata and Kiunga, it's usually one of the first endemics we see. [E]
GOLDEN MYNA (Mino anais) – We the 4 of the race robertsoni along the Elevala, and one at Km 14 on the Boystown Road was unusual there. Always in small numbers and generally sparse. [E]
RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) – Some saw this tiny bird at Varirata and Ambua but it became a standing joke as we never got good views. [E]
BISMARCK (RED-BANDED) FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum eximium) – A decent look at one perched in vines along the Garu Road, and a couple of flybys. [E]
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
BLACK SUNBIRD (Leptocoma sericea) – Very striking if seen well, we saw at Kiunga with both males and females showing nicely.
YELLOW-BELLIED (OLIVE-BACKED) SUNBIRD (Nectarinia jugularis) – Seen at Walindi.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A few around Port Moresby, it has colonized since 1992. [I]
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – Another new colonist, this one since 2007, doubtless via container ships. We saw it at Jackson's Airport and Ela Beach, then had a couple in Kiunga where it arrived late last year. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
MOUNTAIN FIRETAIL (Oreostruthus fuliginosus) – Great views of a male up at Benson’s Trail, it's a striking and quite scarce finch of the montane zones. [E]
GREY-HEADED MANNIKIN (Lonchura caniceps)- Nice looks at a small flock of 12 at the PAU, with the first one in the city near Koki market on our very first afternoon. This is endemic to SE PNG. [E]
HOODED MUNIA (Lonchura spectabilis) – Nice views at Ambua airstrip on a misty late afternoon, and couple of immatures in with Buff-bellied Mannikins on New Britain, they are noticeably smaller. [E]
BUFF-BELLIED MANNIKIN (Lonchura melaena) - Nice looks at the uncommon species at Numundo on New Britain. [E]
Dasyuridae – Antechinus, quolls, phascogales
SPECKLED DASYURE (Neophascogale lorentzii) – We saw this one twice above Ambua, clambering about along mossy limbs. It’s a diurnal carnivorous/insectivorous marsupial in the dasyurid group with quolls, phascogales etc. [E]
Phalangeridae- Cuscus & possums
SPOTTED CUSCUS (Spilocuscus maculatus)- One was asleep high in a tall tree across the Ok Menga, a good find.
Pteropodidae- Flying foxes
GREATER FLYING FOX (Pteropus neohibernicus) – Some great looks at this huge spectacular Pterodactyl-like creature on New Britain, where they seem to be partly diurnal.
Muridae- Mice, Melomys etc.
? Long-footed Tree Mouse (Lorentzimys nouhuysi) A dark brown rather pointed face “mouse” type with a long dark tail was seen along Benson’s Trail, and may be this montane species, or perhaps a Melomys sp. which I what I suspected at the time. It was poking about amongst fallen branches and debris from the logging.
Blind snake (Ramphotyphlops or Typhlops sp.) one 10 cm specimen was on the trail at Kwatu, but they are impossible to identify to species in the field.
Phil Gregory info@sicklebillsafaris www sicklebillsafaris.com