Ryan and I had 3 days on Bali pre-trip, basically one early morning, a late afternoon, one full day and the first couple of hours of departure day, with local guide KT Wahyudi or Udi, a ranger in Bali Barat NP. This got us a few nice things such as Bali Starling, Javan Banded Pitta and Javan Plover, well worth the stop over en route through Denpasar. Arrival here was amazingly straightforward, the 30-day Indonesian visa cost US$35 and was issued immediately, with no one asking for onward tickets either, and the folks at Udayana Kingfisher Lodge gave me a single room so I did not have to wake Ryan at 0400 when I arrived, which was much appreciated.
We then flew to Makassar, which is a very efficient hub, and saying we had sports equipment meant we did not get hit with baggage surcharges, if only Jetstar would be as helpful and courteous as these impressive Indonesian Airlines, each one we used was basically more to less on time, charged nothing extra or a nominal sum for extra baggage, gave no grief over hand bags and had clean modern planes. Sadly all a far cry from the smug and self-satisfied Australian versions which seem to like making air travel a hassle. I paid for 10kg extra on the dreaded Jetstar and was forced to fork out another $50 as I had 32 kg instead of 30, just total nonsense and then more bollocks over hand baggage as well from the officious and unpleasant Jetstar check in woman at Cairns, all a far cry from the pleasant service and lack of hassle we experienced throughout Indonesia. I can recommend Garuda and Sriwijaya air in particular, also Trigana and even budget Express Air.
Much to my surprise Untu met us at Makassar, which was great, and we found Paul and Nancy ensconced in Business on the flight to Biak, so we were in good shape right away. The Biak Hotel we used is right by the airport too, though they charged us for an extra night as we arrived at 0600!
Transport on Biak was very odd, a weird vehicle built for hobbits with about as much visibility as an Armoured Personnel Carrier, one of the most uncomfortable vehicles I have ever used, I was peering out of a sort of slit like a letterbox, and the back seat was built for midgets, truly bizarre. The same people seem to do the buses at the smaller airports, which have ridiculous half steps, no headroom and tiny capacity, all very odd and I suspect made locally.
Birding on Biak proved problematic, our driver was supposed to know some of the bird sites and we arranged to go out after we arrived whilst Untu was shopping and getting the surat jalans, but this proved a bust as he took us to a bird park right by a noisy and busy road, and basically we saw nothing of note. The afternoon was a little better, but the sound of chainsaws became a theme for the trip, I decided that this was really the Indonesian national anthem! Biak Black Flycatcher was found, and we had bad flybys of Biak Lorikeets, with the distinctive Geelvink imperial Pigeon being one nice addition, but a no show from the damn Biak Scops Owl, breaking my excellent run of Otus sightings.
The first full day next day was also frustrating, so much habitat has been trashed and a couple of Untu's tall forest sites were destroyed, costing us several endemics. We did get Biak Paradise Kingfisher nicely, and Geelvink Pygmy Parrot, and a mangrove site had great Beach Kingfishers, but the smaller birds were a bust and Biak Coucal was only heard, whilst another attempt at the Biak Scops Owl again ended in failure despite pretty good looking habitat.
Happily going to Numfor was much better, with a fairly comfortable and dry 3-hour crossing by fast boat, and a nice homestay very close to the forest, which is in much better condition here, although still being destroyed for farming plots. Numfor Paradise Kingfisher came within 30 seconds of getting out of the car, a great bird, and the afternoon walk soon got us Numfor Leaf Warbler, and we enjoyed the birding here. Going back we did not leave till 0900 and sea conditions were much worse, so we had a very bumpy 5 hours back against the tides and wind, not at all nice, next time we will stay 2 nights but leave early!
An afternoon on Biak was again disappointing, failing to find Biak Leaf Warbler and with Spotted Dove the only addition of note, the Biak section was the only disappointment of the entire trip, it looked to us as if Supiori still had much better habitat and this needs to be checked out for next tour. Flew next morning to Sentani and then drove to Nimbokrang.
Nimbokrang was the section of the trip that Untu and I were not really looking forward to, but amazingly Jamil now has a comfortable homestay and we were looked after very well, whilst it was not ridiculously hot for once. The downside was the on-going trashing of the nearby forest, with chainsaws snarling away constantly and making birding very frustrating-no more Victoria Crowned Pigeon or Brown-headed Crow nearby, and we were lucky to get King BoP and Pale-billed Sicklebill still hanging on and calling amidst the devastation. A fine Salvadori's Fig Parrot showed well, whilst Blue-black Kingfisher was very hard and took a lot of effort to see. Happily another site not too far away was still good and this got us a wonderful Pale-billed Sicklebill one afternoon plus very good Lesser BoP.
An early morning foray (when I was feeling pretty bad and almost did not go) got us 6 NG Vulturine Parrot plus Torrent Flycatcher, and unexpected evangelinae Crimson Finch and Grand Mannikin in paddies near the homestay. So Nimbokrang was still worth it but we have serious concerns about forest damage here, and a couple of key species are now very difficult. Northern Cassowary would need a full day with a very long hike, ditto Victoria Crowned Pigeon, chances of both are now seriously negatively impacted.
We flew Trigana Air to Wamena, just a 45 minute flight from Sentani, and the Baliem Valley / Snow Mts was one of the trip highlights, though again there is a horrific amount of damage being done to the lower montane forests as you go up to Lake Habbema, and the chainsaw motif was again writ large, how I hate those things! We scored a very nice male Superb BoP the first afternoon, plus Black-breasted Mannikin, but my quest for Baliem Whistler proved fraught and I only got a brief view of one next day on the way up the mountains.
Our crew of 10 were very experienced and professional and had two large tented tarp camps set up, with enough room for us to pitch our own tents underneath where it was dry, a wise precaution as it turned out as rain was daily here, with heavy overnight falls and not too many clear periods in the day. Still, we did really well and despite the altitude of 3200 m the walking was quite manageable and also not too steep, our longest hike was maybe 4 km to go see Splendid Astrapia and Macgregor's Honeyeater at some fruiting trees on a ridge near the lake, with Snow Mountain Quail flushing very nicely on the way back, with great flight views of a male and then a female. Orange-cheeked Honeyeater was quite common and very vocal, whilst Short-bearded Melidectes was much scarcer and Island Thrush curiously shy and uncommon. Snow Mountain Tiger Parrot showed several times, but Snow Mountain Mannikin was much harder and we almost dipped it!
Birding the upper Nothofagus forest around 2800 m was really good, and thankfully largely free of chainsaw havoc as yet, we saw more birds here than at any other single site, with an amazing Greater Ground Robin the star, suddenly starting to call long after dawn and showing very well. Black Sittella were common here, with Papuan Sittella a little lower down, Papuan Treecreeper and Hooded Cuckooshrike showed well, Papuan Thornbill and Black-throated Robin were here, as were vocal Subalpine Robins.
The Arfaks were next, flying into Manokwari and then heading up to Syoubri at Mokwam at 1800 m, staying at Zeth Wonggor’s new guesthouse. Weather was an issue here and we had a fair bit of rain, which we were mostly able to work around, though everything got very damp and the cold shower was quite a trial! The first morning was actually for me the worst day of the entire trip, as apart from wonderful views of Mag BoP at his display site, we really struck out and an entire morning birding in fair conditions not far from the lodge was really slow, with views being poor to indifferent at best- Vogelkop Scrubwren and Vogelkop Whistler were added but that was it, whilst I only heard some flyby Papuan Lorikeets early on which turned out to be the only ones of the trip. I was not a happy possum at lunch, but thankfully we had a break in the drizzly conditions mid-afternoon and got Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Superb BoP and Western Parotia and a fine Huon Melidectes all from right by the guest house, which cheered me up no end. I did manage to persuade Zeth to go check out an altenate site for the Western Parotia display court, saving us a trek of about 10 km; next day we did this new site, where they had built a very steep track and the blind just the day before, and had a fantastic encounter with displaying Western Parotia in full ballerina mode, bobbing and weaving with head wires waving, quite fantastic. Then despite the rain we decided to head up to Sicklebill Camp as planned, stopping en route for a check for Long-tailed Paradigalla, which was not productive. They took us an easier route up and it was basically not too steep as we climbed up to 1950 m and the camp site, going right by a couple of amazing bowers of Vogelkop Bowerbird en route, plus a nesting Ashy Robin.
The camp was a big tarpaulin covered area with wooden somewhat damp slats as beds, and I wished there was a fire for us as well as the cooks and porters, but it was OK and we stayed dry. That afternoon the rain cleared and we hiked up quite a way to the Black Sicklebill display area at 2130 m, past the old Japanese Camp, then got great views of a male calling after some elaborate moving about trying to position the scope. Zeth then took us further up to an area where Arfak Astrapia was possible, and Nancy and I got a quick view of one in flight before 2 were found much closer, and we watched one soliciting from and being fed by the other. One or two others also flew through and came to a fruiting tree, and it was a great relief to get this rare and elusive bird, another I was quite anxious about. Rufous-sided Honeyeater was almost an after thought, and a Papuan Boobook showed nicely that evening.
Next day we spent a while trying to get views of Vogelkop Bowerbird from a blind, without success, and Zeth took us back to try for a Smoky Robin we had heard the day before- this proved hard but eventually came good, and it was the only one we saw. The rain then started again, and unwisely we took what was described as a short cut back, which had a Mountain Owlet-nightjar staked out. The bird was good, but the track was extremely steep and very slippery and seemed to go on for ever, so I would not do this one again, the alternate route was far better! We did lunch back at the Paradigalla site but again with no sight or sound, though the guys did shoot off to construct another track and a blind for Vogelkop Bowerbird, which we did next day with great success.
Our last day saw Long-tailed Paradigalla as the major target, walking for 45 min back up to the site and then waiting a couple of hours without success, I was beginning to droop, but suddently Unto appeared rushing along the track and told us Zeth had just heard the bird. We hurried off with him and found Zeth peering upwards, then heard the amazing loud almost riflebird-like call of Long-tailed Paradigalla, right above us! Desperate peering finally got us onto the bird briefly, then it flew giving a good flight view before landing out of sight in another huge tree, where it began calling again. I was able to tape this, a call not described in any of the admittedly limited literature, but we did not see the bird again, it flew and began calling from way down and across the valley. Probably my most wanted bird of the trip and one I had grave doubts about finding, one of the most difficult of the family and with a very restricted range.
We then had a great experience up in the new Vogelkop Bowerbird blind, with the bird calling as we came in, and then eventually appearing off to one side but not in good view. This was neatly resolved with Untu pushing a large red biscuit packet out through the viewing hole, and the bird almost immediately perked up and then flew in to check it out, sitting in full view for some minutes then flying down to check the packet, swearing harshly when it found it too large to move! They seem to have a peculiar fondness for bright coloured packaging and plastic, with some bowers found object piles consisting almost entirely of such discards, not nearly as aesthetic as those that stay with flowers, seeds and fruits.
A try that afternoon for White-striped Forest Rail was unsuccessful, not even heard, but we did get to hear Green-backed Robin and failed to lure it into view- how I wish I’d known about these on the disapointing first morning when we were actually here for the Mag BoP.
Leaving next day we did some birding as we descended, finding Black-fronted White-eye, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Black-winged Monarch, Black Berrypecker and for some a Black-chinned Robin, but with no sign of Masked Bowerbird in the windy conditions.
The final phase of the trip was across to the Raja Ampat islands, in this case Waigeo, where the BBC film crew of Tim Laman and Ed Scholes had some blinds set up for the bops, and it made sense for us to make use of them too. We bought our Raja Ampat Conservation Area passes for US$100, valid for one year, and set off on the fast ferry for the 2-hour trip across. We stayed at a very nice small lodge on the beach, and had about a 45 minute walk (after being dropped off part way) to the Wilson’s and Red BoP sites, getting great views of both species in display, one of the trip highlights. The supporting cast over our 4 days included Common Paradise Kingfisher, Western Crowned Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Red-bellied Pitta, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Rusty Shrikethrush (Pitohui) of the very distinctive West Papuan Is race and the rare Brown-headed Crow. A boat trip out to the beautiful and striking narrow channel between Gam Is and Waigeo was brilliant, as we got Violet-necked Lory, Spice Imperial Pigeon and about 300 Great-billed parrots coming in to roost, and it was not too long, we stayed dry and the sea was calm for once. Waigeo was a great place and we very much enjoyed our stay there. The last birding of the trip was a quick foray out to some logging tracks about 18 km out of Sorong, where Black Lory became the final endemic to be added, Double-eyed Fig Parrot and Red-flanked Lorikeet showed much better than that species, and Ryan and I got an Oriental Hobby as we came back into the city.
A memorable trip, some fantastic sightings and wonderful localities and lots of nice memories, and all without it being physically too demanding. The Snow Mts and Waigeo were my favourites, but Nancy voted for the Arfaks and we all got lots of new birds, Ryan with over 100 and myself with 26, not too shabby since I’d already been in January 1994 but had not gotten up into the mountains. This had long been at the top of my “must do” list and I must thank Ryan, Nancy and Paul for the chance to finally do it. Shita and Untu did a great job looking after us, with Untu being our guide and again giving a fantastic service, all with great good humour, our thanks to them. Also thanks to Sue and Rowan at Sicklebill Safaris for co-ordinating and setting it all up, we have a great template for future tours. Thanks also to the great local guides we had in Jamil, Zeth and Benny, and to the numerous porters, camp staff, drivers and handlers we utilised during the trip, they were tireless and uncomplaining, not to mention very strong! Tim Laman and Ed Scholes are thanked for giving us lifts on Waigeo and permitting access to their blinds, whilst Eden Cottee-Jones was good company at Nimbokrang, Mokwam and Waigeo, and we enjoyed his tales of woe chasing Northern Cassowary and Victoria Crowned Pigeons in pouring rain and darkness – hardcore or what?
Sicklebill Safaris plans to run this trip again in 2017, watch the website for details.
Thursday June 4 Makassar Depart via Garuda 0115- Biak arriving 0530
0930-1130 Bosnik area, very hot and birdless; 1500-2000 Abrobensuk area, overcast.
Friday June 5 Makabo roadsides and Tanjung Boradi mangroves, overcast
1500-2000 Abrobensuk area, clear conditions.
Sat June 6 Boat to Numfor 0630-0930, calm conditions, then forest and bush near Letme village.
Sun Jun 7 0630-0830 roadsides 3 km west of Letme, then 0900-1400 very rough and bumpy 5 hour boat ride back to Biak. Birding near Biak town /Japanese caves area.
Mon Jun 8 Depart Biak 0730 90 min to Sentani; Roadside near Sentani for 30 min en route to Nimbokrang, arrived 1230, forest trail 1530-1730, some overcast so not too hot.
Tues Jun 9 0500-1100 Nimbokrang Forest remnants with Jamil, 1400-1730 Remu Forest, good weather, again not too hot.
Wed Jun 10 Nimbokrang Forest 0530-0930, then riparian forest near town 1530-1800, overcast.
Thurs Jun 11 Nimbon Tong 15 km NW 0530-0800, then paddies near Nimbokrang, depart 1300 for Sentani, overcast, heavy rain en route.
Fri Jun 12 Flew Trigana Air 737-300 at 0900 to Wamena at 1650 m, taking 1 hr. Cultivation in Baliem Valley 1500-1700, overcast with showers.
Sat Jun 13 Wamena to Lake Habbema at 3300 m camp site, 43 km, stopping at Km 17, Km 20 and Km 34.
Sun Jun 14 Lake Habbema Splendid Astrapia site 0545-1300, heavy rain late morning and much of the pm. roadside birding above camp 1500-1630, then very heavy rain all night.
Mon Jun 15 Depart 0515 to Km 34, 0600-0815, clear and sunny, then birding along road and near Don Wanimbo grave site up to camp; pm roadside birding above our camp, reaching an altitude of 3457 m
Tues Jun 16 Lake Habbema to Baliem Valley depart 0800, birding en route, overnight rain with a showery morning. Wamena 1500, then Jiwaka Mumi Village 1630-1715 in heavy rain.
Wed Jun 17 Depart Wamena 0930 on Trigana Air, back at Sentani 1015. Lake Sentani boat trip 1530-1830, visiting Pulau Asei Besar for crafts.
Thurs Jun 18 Depart Sentani 1130 on Sriwijaya Air to Manokwari, 90 min flight arr. 1300. Two 4WD’s for drive up to Mokwam and Syoubri, staying at Zeth Wonggor’s Lodge at 1700 m, arriving in heavy fog at 1700.
Fri Jun 19 Mag Bop site 0630-0800 below Syoubri Guest House; Trail above lodge 0930-1200, clear but clouding up for rain and fog later, clearing briefly 1500.
Sat Jun 20 Parotia lek 20 min from lodge, then hike up to Sicklebill camp at 1900 m taking 2.5 hours, with rain late morning and early pm, then clearing. Walked up to Sicklebill display site at 2130 m taking an hour, then overnight at Sicklebill Camp. Rain at night.
Sun Jun 21 Sicklebill Camp till 1100 then steep descent in rainy conditions, lunch at Paradigalla area, then back to Syoubri by 1540, weather clearing.
Mon Jun 22 Long-tailed Paradigalla site at 1730 m 0700-0900, then Vogelkop Bowerbird bower at 2030 m, drizzle and overcast. pm no rain, Mag Bop area.
Tues Jun 23 Depart Zeth’s GH 0715, roadside birding en route to Manokwari till 1130, reaching Manokwari 1300, fine weather.
Wed Jun 24 Depart Manokwari on Express Air at 0920, 30 min to Sorong, buying permits then catching ferry to Waigeo 1400, 2 hour calm crossing arr. 1630, birding en route to to Sapokrin Village and Papua Arts GH.
Thurs Jun 25 Depart 0430 for Wilson’s Bop lek, 0600-1000 in that area; pm 1530 on roadside birding near Sapokrin.
Fri Jun 26 Red Bop lek Depart 0500, at lek 0615-0930, walking back till 1130, very windy so no display today. pm roadside birding near village.
Sat Jun 27 Wilson’s Bop site 2 then short walk back; pm 1530-1900 boat to Kabui Bay and Gam Island passage.
Sun Jun 28 Red Bop lek depart 0515, at site 0615-0700 then walking back till 1000. Left GH 1300, Ferry departed 1400 back to Sorong 1 hr 45 min, pretty calm.
Mon Jun 29 Sorong logging area 0630-1015, 45 min drive out. Garuda flight to Makassar 1610, then on to Denpasar and Jetstar 2300 to Sydney.
Tues Jun 30 Sydney to Cairns on Jetstar, arrived 1300.
* denotes a near endemic
(H) indicates species which were heard but not seen (I) denotes introduced
Family order now follows Tree of Life findings 2015
Names follow the existing current PNG / Australian usage, based on the IOC Checklist.
[[Northern Cassowary Casuarius unappendiculatus
Droppings were seen on Waigeo but it has now become very hard at Nimbokrang as forest damage is rampant there.]]
Salvadori’s Teal Salvadorina waigiuensis
At least two birds seen amongst the Coots on Lake Habbema on Jun 13 and 5 birds on Jun 14. This is one of the few known localities that’s not on a river.
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
4 seen on Lake Habbema Jun 13, with 7 Jun16.
Grey Teal Anas gibberifrons
One on a small pond by Lake Habbema with the Black Ducks on Jun 13 was a surprise at this altitude.
Biak Scrubfowl Megapodius geelvinkianus (H)
Heard on Biak a couple of times. This species, split in the megapode monograph and most subsequent texts, is currently listed as globally Vulnerable.
*Dusky Scrubfowl Megapodius decollatus
Heard often on Waigeo, and Nancy saw 2 on her walk back on the last morning.
Red-billed Brush-turkey Talegalla cuvieri (H)
Two heard behind Sorong.
Brown-collared Brush-turkey Talegalla jobiensis (H)
Singles heard on several dates at Nimbrokrang. This genus is always nearly impossible to see!
PHASIANIDAE Game birds
Snow Mountain Quail Anurophasis monorthonyx
Two by Lake Habbema Jun 14 flushed off with noisy wing-beats – the male first, then two others, one of which was a female, they look like small grouse! Paul flushed another near our camp Jun 18. This monotypic genus is endemic to the highest Snow Mountain peaks and is by no means easy to find.
COLUMBIDAE Pigeons and doves
Sultan’s (Slender-billed) Cuckoo-Dove (Brown Cuckoo-Dove) Macropygia (amboinensis) doreya
Singles seen on many days in the lowlands, including Biak, Numfor and Nimbokrang. This is a split from the Brown Cuckoo-Dove of Australia, now lumped again by Pratt and Beehler but split by IOC as Australian Cuckoo-Dove!
* Bar-tailed (Black-billed) Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia nigrirostris
Fantastic views of one in the road as we came down from Lake Habbema, with another later, then some singles in the Arfaks.
* Great Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtii:
Heard daily on Biak and one of the distinctive race brevis was seen flying by, and we saw another of race griseotincta on Waigeo.
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis (I)
One on Biak near the Japanese caves on Jun 7 was a NG tick for me, this is a recent introduction here and also around Nimbokrang/Jayapura.
Emerald Ground-Dove Chalcophaps indica
Heard on Biak and a great view of a male feeding on fruits on Numfor, very distinct to Pacific Emerald Dove C. longirostris and split by most. These Geelvink Bay Is are the only site in NG for this species and it was a NG tick for me, not seen in 1994.
*Stephan’s Ground-Dove Chalcophaps stephani (H)
Singles heard at Nimbokrang and on Waigeo.
Western Crowned Pigeon Goura cristata
Trapping and hunting have made this species rare, but Benny knew a good area to try and we flushed two on Jun 25, luckily eventually locating one perched up for a great look. I’d only seen this in flight on my previous visit so this was a real treat.
Wompoo Fruit Dove Megalopreia magnificus
Singles seen at Nimbokrang and Waigeo and one or two heard.
Coroneted Fruit Dove Ptilinopus coronulatus
Two singles at Nimbokrang gave good views of this scarce species.
Orange-fronted Fruit Dove Ptilinopus aurantifrons
Nice looks at 2 from the Lake Sentani boat trip.
Superb Fruit Dove Ptilinopus superbus
A female on Biak Jun 5, 2 f on Numfor Jun 6 and one there next day, and a female at Nimbokrang, then a male on Gam Is. at a fruiting tree on Jun 27.
* Claret-breasted Fruit Dove Ptilinopus viridis
Good views of up to seven on Biak, race geelvinkianus then 4, 4 and 6 on Waigeo of race pectoralis. A mainly small-island species ranging from east Indonesia to the Solomon Islands and very restricted in N mainland New Guinea.
Mountain (White-bibbed or White-breasted) Fruit Dove Ptilinopus (rivoli) bellus
Heard commonly in the Arfaks and two fine males seen plus an incubating female on her scanty nest at head height at the Paradigalla site. Split by Pratt and Beehler from White-bibbed, but bizarrely not split by HBW/BirdLife who split lots of other doves!
Moluccan Fruit Dove Ptilinopus (rivoli) prasinorrhous
Paul saw this on Numfor but we were blocked on the wrong side of the car, and we did not find any others; sadly it would seem to be a hill forest bird on Waigeo as we failed to find it there either.
Geelvink (Yellow-bibbed) Fruit Dove Ptilinopus (solomonensis) speciosus
A male and then a female of this attractive diminutive species were seen on Biak, with 5 on Numfor. Another small-island species which is widespread on the islands east of New Guinea, with this isolated taxon on Biak/Numfor which is now split by HBW/BirdLife.
Orange-bellied Fruit Dove Ptilinopus iozonus
Up to 10 seen at Nimbokrang. This is typically the common fruit-dove of degraded lowland forests.
Dwarf Fruit Dove Ptilinopus nainus
One of this diminutive species was on Waigeo Jun 24, perched up with Claret-breasted Fruit Doves.
Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon Ducula rufigaster
A fine bird was found by Ryan at Remu near Nimbokrang on Jun 9.
Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon Ducula pinon
Fairly common on Waigeo and at Nimbokrang, with up to 6 seen most days.
Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon Ducula zoeae
Only seen en route to Nimbokrang,
Spice Imperial Pigeon Ducula myristicivora
This species is pretty scarce and we only found it on the boat trip off Gam Is on Jun 27, where we had a count of 10 birds, many of them on the Great-billed Parrot roost island. None seen on the main Waigeo island, which must surely reflect hunting pressure?
Geelvink Imperial Pigeon Ducula geelvikiana
This species lacks a bill knob and is surely more closely related to the Elegant Imperial-Pigeon, which occurs on small islands off south-west Papua, strange that it was for so long lumped with Spice Imperial when it is so different, it even has a yellow eye, and the new Pratt and Beehler splits it.
Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor
This was surprise find on Waigeo where we had 3 on Jun 21 and then 22 on Jun 22, feeding in a fruiting tree on the coast not far from our lodge. Waigeo is not listed in Pratt and Beehler as being in the range.
Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
A single on Biak showed the dark markings on the under tail coverts and vent very well, it is the most westerly population of this species and seems to be pretty darn scarce here.
*Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii
Surprisingly scarce with only two seen above Wamena and 6 in the Arfaks.
Greater Black Coucal Centropus menbeki
Heard at Nimbokrang and some saw it briefly on the way up to Mokwam.
Lesser Black Coucal Centropus bernsteini
Two seen in the paddies at Nimbokrang, and heard near Jamil’s earlier.
Biak Coucal Centropus chalybeus (H)
A pair heard calling on Biak but not seen. This species is uncommon and, like all forest coucals, rather difficult to see.
CUCULIDAE Old World Cuckoos
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus
Seen a couple of times on Biak and Numfor, and heard at all the lowland sites before the last one near Sorong.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis excitus
Two seen below Lake Habbema and heard calling in the Arfaks, I suspect this resident montane form will be split in due course.
Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
Two singing and seen on Biak Jun 5, and heard at Nimbokrang.
Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx ruficollis
Good views of two in upper montane forest below Lake Habbema, and heard on the way up to the Arfaks.
White-eared Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx meyeri (H)
One heard in the Arfaks. This is the mid-altitude bronze-cuckoo in New Guinea.
Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva (H)
Heard at Nimbokrang.
Eastern (Pacific) Koel Eudynamys orientalis (H)
Heard at Nimbokrang, also up near Mokwam and then at Sorong.
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae
Interestingly we had 2 singles from the boat by Gam Is off Waigeo Jun 26, and one heard next day. I suspect a resident population as the potential host Torresian Crow is also here
*Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis
Heard on Numfor, one with 2 juvs at Nimbokrang, then one on a nest in a fork in a huge tree by our lodge on Waigeo.
*Marbled Frogmouth Podargus ocellatus (H)
One heard calling briefly on the walk up to the Wilson’s Bird of Paradise.
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
Three heard and two seen hawking at dusk on Biak Jun 4 and 5.
Feline Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles insignis
A fabulous roosting bird above Syoubri in the Arfaks Jun 22, in one of the usual roosting areas. I also heard one pre-dawn at Sicklebill Camp the previous day.
Mountain Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles albertisii
Amazing daytime views of one roosting in the rain in the Arfaks Jun 21. Zeth’s knowledge of where to find this species was useful, but meant we did a very steep slippery descent and not the much easier alternate route back.
* Moustached Tree-swift Hemiprocne mystacea
Two singles on Biak, one at Nimbokrang and 3 on Waigeo Jun 26.
Mountain Swiftlet Collocalia hirundinacea
Seen at Lake Habbema, maximum 6, and a couple in the Arfaks.
Uniform Swiftlet Collocalia vanikorensis
Widespread in the lowlands and behind Sorong.
Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta
A few on Biak and Numfor, small numbers at Nimbokrang, and <10 at Lake Habbema.
Papuan Spinetail Mearnsia novaeguineae
Up to 15 daily at Nimbokrang, where many were flying low over the roads.
RALLIDAE Crakes and rails
Buff-banded Rail Rallus philippensis
Great views of one on the road in the Baliem valley, and one in the Nimbokrang paddies.
Rufous-tailed Bush-hen Amaurornis moluccanus (H)
Heard on Numfor.
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra novaeguineae
5 on Lake Habbema Jun 13 and 10 next day, this is an endemic race with a larger white frontal shield and little or no white in the wings.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Three on Waigeo Jun 24 and 2 on Jun 27.
LARIDAE Gulls and Terns
Crested Tern Sterna bergii
5 en route to Numfor and 7 en route to Waigeo
Black-naped Tern Sterna sumatrana
5 off our hotel on Biak Jun 8 and then 15 in a flock en route to Gam Is on Waigeo Jun 27.
Sooty or Bridled Tern Onychoprion sp.
Singles off Numfor Jun 6 and 7,
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
About 30 on Lake Sentani Jun 17, many in some odd first winter dress with a dark carpal bar, identified from photographs, they just seemed wrong for Whiskered Tern and this is why!
Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel
Ryan and I saw one from the plane as we came in to land at Sorong Jun 24.
Great Frigatebird Fregata minor
There was an afternon flyover each day on Waigeo, and they all seemed to be this species, we had counts of 60, 20, 30, 6 and 10 on the 5 days we were there.
Frigatebird sp. Fregata sp.
A few on the first couple of days off Waigeo
SULIDAE Gannets & Boobies
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
2 from the boat to Numfor, and one en route to Waigeo.
Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos
A couple seen off Gam Is on Jun 27.
Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana
One in the riparian forest near Nimbokrang Jun 7.
Eastern Great Egret Ardea (alba) modesta
One on Numfor and a single at Lake Sentani were all we saw.
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
One at Nimbokrang paddies, and a single at Lake Sentani.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
One on Biak and 2 off Gam Is on Waigeo.
Eastern Reef Egret Egretta sacra
One off Gam Is on Waigeo
Striated Heron Butorides striatus
One on Biak, and a couple off Gam Is.
Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis
Lake Sentani Jun 17 was the motherlode, I personally saw 10 individuals and I think we had about a dozen in all, by far the most I’ve ever seen. There was also one off Gam Is on Waigeo Jun 27.
Eastern Osprey Pandion (haliaetus ) cristatus
. Just one off Gam Is on Jun 27.
Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Singles from Biak, Nimbokrang and Waigeo.
Long-tailed Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda
One by Lake Sentani, and seen daily on Waigeo, with 2 on Jun 23 and 2 on Jun 25 and singles on the other days.
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
3 on Biak Jun 4, one at Nimbokrang and singles daily on Waigeo.
Papuan Harrier Circus (spilonotus) spilothorax
A single white-throated male perched at Lake Habbema Jun 12, 2 more sightings of white-throated males, then a black throated bird on Jun 16, a female plumage bird Jun 14 and a male in the Baliem Valley Jun 16. IOC and HBW treat this as a separate species from Eastern Marsh Harrier, but Pratt & Beehler lump it into Swamp Harrier, which I don’t believe.
* Variable Goshawk Accipiter (novaehollandiae) hiogaster
Singles on Biak and Numfor, one at Nimbokrang and one on Waigeo,
Black-mantled Goshawk Accipiter melanochlamys
A fine adult was perched up briefly at 3100 m near Lake Habbema but flew before most folks got on to it.
* Gurney’s Eagle Aquila gurneyi
One calling over the road up to the Red BoP sites on Jun 28, a single weak note given several times, the first time I have heard this uncommon species vocalize.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
One on Biak, one by Lake Sentani and one on Waigeo.
STRIGIDAE Typical owls
Papuan Boobook (Jungle Hawk-Owl) Ninox theomacha
Fantastic views of one in the Arfaks at Sicklebill Camp Jun 20, with another heard.
* Blyth's Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus
Pairs and small groups of this magnificent species in most lowland forest sites were a highlight, maximum 10 on Waigeo.
Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus
Small numbers were seen at Biak, Numfor and at Nimbokrang, up to 10 at Lake Sentani and seen again at Waigeo and Sorong.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
I missed this in the paddies at Nimbokrang, where one or two were seen.
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Small numbers were seen at Biak, Numfor and Nimbokrang, then again on Waigeo and at Sorong. Most were probably Australian migrants.
New Guinea Variable (Dwarf) Kingfisher Ceyx (lepidus) solitarius (H)
Much as usual this species was only heard, at Nimbokrang and on Waigeo.
* Common Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera galatea
Vocal on Waigeo around dawn, we saw a couple quite nicely here.
Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea
Heard at Lake Sentani, then one seen from the boat as we passed Gam Is Jun 27, perched on the Waigeo side of the channel
Numfor Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera carolinae
Another that was long on my most-wanted list, we nailed it within 30 sec of getting out of the car as one flew down the track, the white rump and tail contrasting with the velvety blue-black plumage. We then had great views of this and another 2 birds on Jun 6, with a single next day and quite a few calling. They are in good numbers where the forest is still intact, but fragmentation is of course on-going.
Biak Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera riedelii
A highlight of Biak was the great views of this endemic species, with a couple seen and several heard on Jun 5. Formerly considered a subspecies of Common Paradise-Kingfisher, this taxon has distinctive plumage and call as well as tail shape and colour.
Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina
Several calling at dawn on Waigeo with one very close (and almost seen!) at the Red Bird lek, and the guys found a juv at Nimbokrang which they offered to catch for us. We walked back and I got a quick view of it before it suddenly disappeared, even though it could apparently barely fly!
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud
This impressive forest kingfisher was heard regularly in lowland forest, with one seen at Nimbokrang and up to 4 seen on Waigeo,.
Blue-black Kingfisher Halcyon nigrocyanea
This Nimbokrang speciality led us a dance, we heard it on Jun 9 but could get no sighting, so a determined effort early next day eventually got a moderately responsive bird and we had some 4 views of it flying across the track, once coming straight at and over us! Ryan and Paul were the only ones to see the beast perched briefly, boy this was hard but it was a long overdue lifer for Phil and his main target at Nimbokrang. It’s bigger than I expected and looks amazingly dark in flight in the brief but close views I got. I’d like an upgrade but hey…..
Beach Kingfisher Halcyon saurophaga
Untu took us to a mangrove area on Biak on Jun 5, and here we saw 5 of this large and vocal species, with at least another 5 heard calling, by far the most I’ve ever encountered.
Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta
One of this Australian migrant on Biak, a max of four in open habitats at Nimbokrang, a single at Sentani and one near Sorong.
?Collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris
We saw a kingfisher 3 km inland on Numfor that had white underparts and looked far too pale to be Sacred, but it did seem smallish, and Collared is not known this far east, so I am now unsure and my photo did not come out.
*Yellow-billed Kingfisher Halcyon torotoro (H)
Heard at Nimbokrang, and it taunted and haunted us on Waigeo and at Sorong, but always stayed out of sight, remarkably (and unusually) unresponsive to playback. Cape York beckons Ryan?
Oriental Hobby Falco orientalis
Oddly the only falcon of the entire trip, this was the last trip addition as we came back into Sorong on Jun 29, just past the dead dog roadblock outside the city!
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Heard on Biak and one on Numfor, then up to 6 on several dates at Nimbokrang and up to 4 on Waigeo.
PSITTRICHASIDAE New Guinea Vulturine and Black parrots
New Guinea Vulturine (Pesquet’s) Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus
Six flying high over Nimbon Tong early morning on Jun 11, a good find of an elusive species, now placed in this new family too.
PSITTACULIDAE Australasian Parrots
Black Lory Chalcopsitta atra
The last of the endemics to become an addition to the trip, there were a couple feeding amongst Coconut Lorikeet in the logging area behind Sorong. Sadly they did not show at all well, this is a West Papuan endemic, basically restricted to the Vogelkop and West Papuan islands.
Brown Lory Chalcopsitta duivenbodei
Just one seen flying over the Vulturine Parrot site, though Ryan had one over Nimbokrang as well. A localised species endemic to the north coast of New Guinea.
Biak Red Lory Eos cyanogenia
Four day records from Biak and Numfor, of 2, 10, 3 and then 2. Listed as globally threatened, based on the rate of forest loss on Biak and exacerbated by trapping for the pet trade.
* Violet-necked Lory Eos squamata
A good pick up on our boat trrip off Gam Jun 27, with a group of 5 flying over, with 4 more later. A lifer for the group and a NG tick for Phil.
Coconut (Rainbow) Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus haematodus
Small numbers on the Raja Ampats, maximum 20 in a day on Waigeo and 10 near Sorong.
Biak Lorikeet Trichoglossus rosenbergii
Bad views of two Jun 4, then 3 next day flying over on Biak where it seems scarce, like just about everything else!
Western Black-capped Lory Lorius lory
One of the dark endemic race cyanauchen in flight on Jun 4 on Biak where it seems rare, two at Nimbokrang (presumably viricrissalis) and one seen and a few heard on Waigeo which are nominate race.
Red-flanked Lorikeet Charmosyna placentis
Just two seen in the forest behind Sorong.
Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou
A couple seen in flight in bad light on the first morning in the Arfaks Jun 20 proved to be our only sighting, and I only heard them! Unexpectedly scarce, I had thought this would be easy. Now split from Stella’s Lorikeet of the rest of New Guinea.
Plum-faced (Whiskered) Lorikeet Oreopsittacus arfaki
Heard in the Snow Mts and Arfaks, and one seen briefly below Lake Habbema.
Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii
Just a couple at the Paradigalla site in the Arfaks, though we heard them most days.
Orange-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus pullicauda
A total of about 15 in the forest below Lake Habbema.
* Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta keiensis
Heard in the hills behind Manokwari, then a fine male on Waigeo of race chloroxantha that showed very well, before being heard again in the forest behind Sorong, the fourth species of Pygmy-Parrot for the tour!
Geelvink Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta geelvinkiana
Four seen well on Biak Jun 5, then one by a nest in an arboreal ant mound on Numfor Jun 6 and 3 birds there next day. This is by far the rarest of the world’s pygmy-parrots, which range as far east as the Solomons.
Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta pusio
Two seen twice at Nimbokrang, including excellent views of two at their nest on the walkway trail.
* Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta bruijnii
A small and noisy flock in the forest by the Black Sicklebill in the Arfaks, I think folks saw them well but I was too busy taping them to get a look.
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot Cyclospitta diopthalma
Good views at Sorong, this is the nominate race.
Salvadori’s Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris salvadorii
A really good male with orange chest patch perched up in a tall tree at Nimbokrang Jun 9, with another nearby the same day, though how long that tree will remain is moot.
Brehm’s Tiger-Parrot Psittacella brehmii
Just one below Lake Habbema as we came up.
Snow Mts. Painted Tiger-Parrot Psittacella (picta) lorentzi
This is generally the highest-altitude tiger-parrot, we saw one female very nicely Jun 14 down near the lake, then a single next day higher up and a male on the way out Jun 16. Morphologically pretty distinct to the eastern birds and split by HBW/BirdLife.
Modest Tiger-Parrot P. modesta
A single down by Lake Habbema on Jun 14 was at a very high altitude at over 3000 m, then we had a couple of singles in the Arfaks.
* Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi
Common in most lowland sites, max. 30 at Nimbokrang.
* Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus
Up to 8 seen on most days in all lowland sites, and seemed partyicularly frequent on Waigeo where we had beautiful scope views.
* Moluccan King-Parrot Alisterus amboinensis
Frustrating, we had a couple of quick flybys on Waigeo and I heard one calling from the boat at the Great-billed Parrot roost, and got a glimpse as it flew away. I think trapping is making this bird hard to find.
Great-billed Parrot Tanygnathgus megalorhynchos
One of the trip highlights was the spectacular roost site on a very steep and inaccessible island off Gam Jun 27, where over 300 birds arrived in small flocks around dusk, making a lot of noise as they settled atop the cliffs-cut published on XC and IBC. A lifer for the group and a NG tick for Phil
Red-bellied Pitta Erythropitta erythrogaster
A couple calling on Waigeo, and one proved responsive on Jun 28, hopping into view then being warched as it called on two occasions, some great views. I think this is the race macklotii, and note some people now split this species into 15 or so……
Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida (H)
Elusive as always but heard calling on both Biak and Numfor.
PTILONORHYNCHIDAE Bowerbirds and catbirds
Tan-capped (White-eared) Catbird Ailuroedus buccoides
One showed remarkably well at Nimbokrang, usually a mega-skulker, I think it was nesting there. Now a 3-way split with this as Tan-capped Catbird.
* Arfak (Spotted) Catbird Ailuroedus crassirostris (H)
One heard near the Mag BoP site near Mokwam, but this species is always very hard to see in New Guinea. This montane race would be arfakianus, now split as Arfak Catbird.
Vogelkop Bowerbird Amblyornis inornatus
This species’ bower is undoubtedly one of the wonders of the avian world and very high on our wanted sightings list. We saw half a dozen bowers decorated with fruits, flowers, beetle elytrae and bright coloured plastic and paper junk, and one up by Sicklebill Camp had a one litre plastic bottle as a centrepiece inside the bower hut- how I’d like to have seen that being brought in, a flight shot would have been unbelievable! The birds were quite vocal but very hard to see, on Jun 22 we finally saw just a single bird coming to a bower where Zeth had built a blind especially for us. Their dour plumage compensates for their extraordinary extravagant bowers.
* Fawn-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera cerviniventris
Most folks saw one in the scrub by the Nimbokrang paddies, where it was calling noisily.
CLIMACTERIDAE Australian Treecreepers
Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens
Great views of a pair duetting in the forest at Km 34 in the Snow Mts, where they were very vocal. Heard on two other days as well.
Orange-crowned Fairywren Clytomias insignis
Three by the trail as we came down from the Paradigalla area Jun 21, quite a hard species to find.
Emperor Fairywren Malurus cyanocephalus
Four of this electric-blue forest fairywren were seen on Biak. This is one of the very few species of New Guinea passerines which have colonised Biak without speciating.
White-shouldered Fairywren Malurus alboscapulatus
Small numbers of this grassland species were seen at Nimbokrang and in the Baliem Valley, and then below Zeth’s Guest House.
Ruby-throated Myzomela Myzomela eques
Great views of a male on Waigeo Jun 26, a very elusive and uncommon species.
Papuan Black Myzomela Myzomela nigrita
Phil saw one male briefly on Waigeo on Jun 26.
Red-collared Myzomela Myzomela rosenbergii
Just single males seen below Lake Habbema, and in the Arfaks, a very spectacular bird.
* Green-backed Honeyeater Glycichaera fallax
Two on the way up to Mokwam on Jun 18 showed well, the pale eye is a good field character, this is an unobtrusive and easily overlooked species.
Rufous-sided Honeyeater Ptiloprora erythropleura
Two above Sicklebill Camp Jun 20, and one at the Paradigalla site, it seemed scarce but small birds were generally sparse, maybe due to the poor weather.
Grey-streaked (Black-backed) Honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata
Small numbers at Lake Habbema, where six were seen around the tree-line and another five in the forests below.
Streak-headed Honeyeater Pycnopygius stictocephalus
Just one at Nimbokrang, and others heard.
Spotted Honeyeater Xanthotis polygramma
Great views of four on Waigeo at the fruiting shrub, and one along another road next day, always an uncommon bird and great to see it so well.
*Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer
Rather elusive at Nimbokrang, where a couple were seen and others heard, then we had one above Manokwari, and some great views on Waigeo of up to 4 birds at a fruiting shrub. Two distinct taxon groups are involved here, the dull dusky meyeri at Nimbokrang, then the green group with flaviventer in the Vogelkop and the very distinct green and yellow fusciventris on Waigeo, which also had a harsh takking call I’d not heard from this species before. I anticipate there will be 3 or 4 splits here in due course.
Meyer’s Friarbird Philemon meyeri (H)
Heard at Nimbokrang. An unobtrusive canopy species which is often overlooked.
New Guinea (Helmeted) Friarbird Philemon (buceroides) novaeguineae
A very familiar call and common sighting in the lowlands, seen at Lake Sentani, at Nimbokrang and up to 12 on Waigeo. Now lumped back with Helmeted by Clements and Pratt and Beehler but sure to change…...
Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus
One seen and several heard at Nimbokrang.
Macgregor’s Honeyeater (of Paradise) Macgregoria pulchra
Lake Habbema is the only site where one can drive to see this very localised and highly sought-after species which was formerly classified as a bird of paradise. However they are hunted here and apparently have become rarer and shyer; We got great looks at a couple of them down near the lake at the Astrapia site, then a single not far from the Don Wanimbo grave site on the way down to the Baliem Valley, and they were also seen right by the camp a couple of times. A quite remarkable species, surely deserving of the name ‘Honeyeater of Paradise’.
Western Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes gymnops
A fairly common Vogelkop endemic but quite hard to see well, we had day counts of 6, 3 and 3 in the Arfaks. Very similar to the next species and the new species recently discovered in the Foya Mountains.
Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus
A few sightings from the Snow Mts. around the camp site mainly.
Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfrenatus (H)
Heard daily in the scrub and in the forest below Lake Habbema.
Short-bearded Honeyeater (Melidectes) Melionyx nouhuysi
This Snow Mountains endemic was decidedly uncommon in the subalpine shrubbery at Lake Habbema, we had day counts of 3, 2 and 1 only.
Cinnamon-browed Melidectes Melidectes ochromelas
A great view of two right by Zeth’s Guest House during a gap in the misty rain Jun 19.
Vogelkop Melidectes Melidectes leucostephes
Phil got a great view of one right by Zeth’s Guest House during a gap in the misty rain on Jun 19, but this was far more often heard and the folks caught up with it by increments at various sites. A rather unobtrusive species, often remaining hidden in the canopy.
Belford's Melidectes Melidectes belfordi
Characteristically common, noisy and pugnacious in the forests below Lake Habbema, where we had day counts of 15, 10, 10 and 4.
Ornate Melidectes Melidectes ornatus
One in the Baliem valley Jun 12 and some saw one Jun 16.
Forest (White-eared) Meliphaga (Honeyeater) Meliphaga montana
One seen on the way up to Mokwam at the Masked Bowerbird site.
Mountain Meliphaga Meliphaga orientalis
A couple seen around Zeth’s house in the Arfaks, the usual montane Meliphaga.
Mimic Meliphaga Meliphaga analoga
The usual lowland Meliphaga, with 2 at Nimbokrang and then seen well feeding at a fruiting shrub on Waigeo where we had day counts of 1, 3, 2 and 2.
Puff-backed Meliphaga Meliphaga aruensis
One came in to feed by the Mimic Meliphagas on Waigeo, and we could see the shorter stouter bill, smaller ear patch and bulkier build, nice to get such a comparison as individually these things are very hard
Orange-cheeked Honeyeater Oreornis chrysogenys
A spectacular Snow Mountain endemic – large, olive green and with a bright yellow-orange cheek patch and a characteristic “chirrip” call, often given in delayed sequences of three. Our day counts were 6, 20, 20 and 12 but they were often quite distant.
ACANTHIZIDAE Scrubwrens, gerygones & thornbills
Rusty Mouse-warbler Crateroscelis murina
We were lucky to have good views of a singing bird below Syoubri, then it was common and vocal on Waigeo, albeit impossible to see.
Mountain Mouse-warbler Crateroscelis robusta (H)
Regularly heard in the Arfaks and below Lake Habbema, but always hard to see.
Pale-billed Scrubwren Sericornis spilodera
Two by the Western Crowned Pigeon site on Waigeo on Jun 25, and heard the next two days.
Perplexing Scrubwren Sericornis virgatus
A group of five by Sicklebill Camp, and a single close to the guest house in the Arfaks. A difficult species to identify, especially as it exhibits great geographical variation, though I thought the voice here was quite distinct. Pratt and Beehler lump it in Tropical Scrubwren, but I think retaining this pro tem is sensible
Large Scrubwren Sericornis nouhuysi
Just two seen below Lake Habbema at km 34.
Vogelkop Scrubwren Sericornis rufescens
This Vogelkop endemic was seen several times, with 2 near Zeth’s Guest House on Jun 19 the first.
New Guinea Thornbill Acanthiza murina
A couple in the forest below Lake Habbema at Km 34, and 2 more next day near the Don Wanimbo grave site.
Ashy Thornbill (Mountain Gerygone) Acanthiza (Gerygone) cinerea
A single seen on the way up to Mokwam Jun 18, now reclassified as a thornbill even though it sings like Brown-breasted Gerygone!
Large-billed Gerygone Gerygone magnirostris
A single seen on Waigeo, with one on the boat trip on Gam.
Brown-breasted Gerygone Gerygone ruficollis
Several heard in the Snow Mts and Arfaks, with singles seen in both places.
* Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa
Four birds together as we came down from Mokwam Jun 23, including a striking male.
* Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronotus
Commonly heard on Waigeo and we finaly saw one in the logged forest behind Sorong on our final morning.
Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster
Two of the nominate subspecies seen at Nimbokrang but oddly none seen on Waigeo which has a distinctive subspecies.
POMATOSTOMIDAE Australasian babblers
Rufous (Papuan) Babbler Garritornis isidorei (H)
Vocal at Nimbokrang but proved frustraingly hard to see. One of the distinctive strange elongated pendulous nests was seen in the riparian forest.
Papuan Log-runner Orthonyx novaeguineae (H)
Several heard high in the Arfaks around Sicklebill Camp, these nominate birds sound quite similar to victorianus eastern birds but are apparently genetically quite distinct. A split from Australian Log-runner on the basis of biochemistry and morphology, but the songs, calls and habits are also diifferent.
MELANOCHARITIDAE Berrypeckers and longbills
Yellow-bellied Longbill Toxorhamphus novaeguineae
Singles seen at Nimbokrang and we heard them commonly on Waigeo..
Dwarf (Spectacled) Longbill Oedistoma iliolophus
Heard at Nimbokrang, and one on Waigeo, giving typically momentary views.
Pygmy Longbill Oedistoma pygmaeum
A single near the Red Bird lek Jun 27 and 4 along there next day, clicking away but hard to see well; this is NG’s smallest bird.
Black Berrypecker Melanocharis nigra
A male seen on the way up to Mokwam, and seen again as we came down, this nominate race is one of the taxa that have greyish not black underparts. Also seen on Waigeo, race pallida, with a male on two days. Potentially a split here I suspect, as eastern male birds are entirely black
Fan-tailed Berrypecker Melanocharis versteri
One around Lake Habbema and a couple in the Arfaks.
PARAMYTHIIDAE Tit and Painted Berrypeckers
Tit Berrypecker Oreocharis arfaki
A small flock of 6 was seen in the Arfaks above Sicklebill Camp, and it was heard on another couple of days. Several widespread New Guinea species are named after the Arfaks, where the first specimens originated, and many nominate taxa are also from here.
Western Crested Berrypecker Paramythia (montium) olivaceum
We saw 2 that looked to be nesting, followed by 6 at a fruiting tree on Jun 13, then 5 on Jun 15 and one next day at Lake Habbema – a gorgeous species, and now split from the Eastern form as it has a much bigger crest, more white on the face and duller colour upperparts.
CINCLOSOMATIDAE Quail-thrushes and jewel-babblers
Spotted Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa leucosticta (H)
Two heard in the Arfaks but completely unresponsive.
Blue Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa caerulescens (H)
Just one was heard calling at Nimbokrang.
Yellow-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus flaviventer
A male at Nimbokrang and heard on Waigeo.
Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus
Heard and one seen in the Arfaks.
ARTAMIDAE Woodswallows, Peltops & Butcherbirds
White-breasted Wood-swallow Artamus leucorhynchus
Just two on Waigeo were the only sighting.
Great Wood-swallow Artamus maximus
Two on the drive up to Lake Habbema.
Lowland Peltops Peltops blainvillii
Two singles seen on Waigeo Jun 25 – always a great bird!
Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus
A single on a distant ridge, seen from the viewpoint by Sicklebill Camp Jun 21.
Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus
Fairly common in the lowlands, with up to four seen on Biak and Numfor, Nimbokrang, Lake Sentani and Waigeo.
* Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi (H)
Only heard at Nimbokrang.
Hooded Cuckooshrike Coracina longicauda
Two of these impressive birds were seen in the forest below Lake Habbema.
White-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina papuensis
Some folks saw one at Lake Sentani.
Boyer's Cuckooshrike Coracina boyeri
Four of this usually common lowland species were seen at Nimbokrang.
Stout-billed Cuckooshrike Coracina caeruleogrisea
Good views of a female in the hills above Manokwari.
Black-bellied Cuckooshrike Edolisoma montana (H)
Heard above Wamena and in the Arfaks.
Cicadabird Edolisoma tenuirostris
The only records were 2 rufous females of meyerii on Biak and a male numforana on Numfor. No vocals heard, and this complex is way overdue for splitting up.
Black Cicadabird (Cuckooshrike) Edolisoma melaena
A male seen at Nimbokrang, and another in the hills above Manokwari.
Golden Cuckooshrike Campochaera sloetii
Two flying over calling at Nimbokrang, and heard again next day.
Black-browed Triller Lalage atrifrons
We saw 2 on two days around Nimbokrang.
Biak Triller Lalage (atrifrons) leucoptera
One seen briefly by the group on Biak Jun 5, this is a recent split from Black-browed Triller, but unexpectedly we did not find any more and it is clearly very scarce.
Black Sittella Daphoenositta miranda
Ten in a flock at Km 34 on Jun 13, with 5 there next visit Jun 15, usually uncommon and always a beautiful and acrobatic species.
Papuan Sittella Daphoenositta papuensis
A flock of 5 at Km 17 on the way up to Lake Habbema Jun 13, nice to see both species in one day. Now at last split from Varied Sittella.
Rufous-naped Bellbird (Whistler) Aleadryas rufinucha
Some folks had good views in the Arfaks and it was heard below Lake Habbema, exhibiting their unusual plumage, harsh call and furtive habits which all support their classification in a separate genus and family.
PACHYCEPHALIDAE Whistlers and shrike-thrushes
Black Shrike-thrush (Pitohui) Melanorectes (Pitohui) nigrescens
A male seen quite well in the Arfaks. This former pitohui prefers the understorey and is always difficult to see…
Vogelkop Whistler Pachycephala meyeri
This nondescript species was seen alongside the very similar female Sclater’s Whistler in the Arfaks, where at least a couple were seen, quite an i.d. problem here.
Lorentz’s Whistler Pachycephala lorentzi
Singles on 3 days around the tree-line at Lake Habbema. Endemic to the high mountains of West Papua.
Sclater’s Whistler Pachycephala soror
A female en route to Lake Habbema, then a male and a couple of females in the Arfaks.
Baliem (Golden) Whistler Pachycephala (pectoralis) balim
One male seen briefly on the way up to Lake Habbema Jun 13, and when we came back down we heard two males calling constantly, interrupted by chainsaws. Ryan managed to see one, and I got a view of a presumed female. The Golden Whistler complex is long overdue for a break up, with this one taxon on New Guinea, restricted to the montane valleys of West Papua and now split as Baliem Whistler.
*Grey-headed Whistler (Grey) Pachycephala (simplex) griseiceps (H)
Heard above Manokwari and on Waigeo. New Guinea birds are often called Grey-headed Whistler, which Clements splits from the simplex taxon of the Top End and SE PNG, which he calls Grey Whistler (even though it’s brown!)
Little Shrike-thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha
Heard at Nimbokrang where it has an odd whistler-like vocalization, then again en the way up to Lake Habbema at Km 17, and seen and heard on Waigeo. These are 3 distinct taxa, respectively idenburgi, megarhyncha and affinis and potentially all splittable as this is set to become the Not So Little Shrike-thrush with 8-10 splits pending! Groan.
Rusty Shrike-thrush (Pitohui) Pseudorectes (Pitohui) ferrugineus
We heard the dark-billed subspecies holerythrus at Nimbokrang, whilst yellow-billed leucorhynchus was common on Waigeo, and the dominant voice of the dawn chorus, with completely different vocals to the mainland birds- cut posted on XC.
ORIOLIDAE Old World Orioles
Brown Oriole Oriolus szalayi
Vocal at Nimbokrang and on Waigeo, I hope somebody saw one? Another friarbird-mimic, apparently deriving some peace from looking like an aggressive friarbird.
Northern Variable Pitohui Pitohui kirhocephalus
Three very vocal birds by the road as we came out of Sentani Jun 8, then another seen at Nimbokrang where we heard them every day. Another on Jun 18 above Manokwari which would be nominate race. The Sentani/Nimbokrang birds are the race rubiensis, and there are likely to be more splits in due course as some of these taxa are pretty distinct. Now classified with Orioles too, with Raja Ampat and Southern Variable split out.
Raja Ampat Pitohui Pitohui cerviniventris
Much less common than Rusty Shrike-thrush on Waigeo but heard every day, and seen well on Jun 25 as we chased Western Crowned Pigeon.
Fantail (Black) Monarch Monarcha axillaris (H)
Heard scolding in the Arfaks.
Spot-winged Monarch Monarcha guttulus
Great views of 2 on Waigeo.
Golden Monarch Monarcha chrysomela
A male of the Biak subspecies kordensis was distinctly orange, with the female like the male but lacking the face mask, very distinctive and I am sure a split in waiting. Also seen was a paler taxon on Numfor, presumably melanonotus. Then two males of this spectacular species at Nimbokrang, with one next day.
Frilled Monarch Arses telescopthalmus (H)
One heard above Manokwari, and then again on Waigeo.
Ochre-collared Monarch Arses insularis
A fine male at Remu near Nimbokrang and heard again next day, a very striking bird and both behaviourally and morphologically quite distinct from Frilled Monarch.
* Black-winged Monarch Monarcha frater
This was an excellent find below Mokwam, with great views of the distinctive Vogelkop race frater which has the eye distinct from the black face mask, very like the canescens form found on Cape York, (which may not belong here at all)
Island Monarch (Monarcha cinerascens)
One on Numfor Jun 7 was unexpected, an unusally large island for it to occur, they usually occupy the small islets.
Biak Black Flycatcher Myiagra atra
We saw 2 on Biak and 3 on Numfor, they were quite vocal but very low density.
Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto
Heard on Biak and one seen on Numfor and another on Biak on Jun 7. Then a striking female at Nimbokrang where we also heard others.
Papuan Spangled Drongo Dicrurus (bracteatus) carbonarius
Regularly seen in small numbers in lowland forest, including on Biak and Numfor, from where I posted sound cuts to IBC and XC. A pending split from the Australian drongos which have quite distinct calls.
White-bellied Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax
Singles heard frequently at Nimbokrang and one was seen briefly.
Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha
One in the forests below Lake Habbema.
Black Fantail Rhipidura atra
Another fairly common species in the Arfaks, where we heard them daily and saw a male and a female.
Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata
The common montane fantail, with up to six seen daily in the Arfaks and below Lake Habbema.
Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris
One at Nimbokrang and one above Manokwari.
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Common in open lowland habitats,
Grey Crow Corvus tristis
Just 3 at Nimbokrang and heard above Manokwari.
Brown-headed Crow Corvus fuscicapillus
Now very hard at Nimbokrang, but fortunately we came good with this rare restricted range species on Waigeo, seeing one fly over the main road not far from Sapokrin on Jun 25, the heavy deep bill very obvious in flight. Then next day two great birds sat calling in the forest, very noisy and enabling us to see the heavy deep black bills (not yellow) and brownish head. Jun 26 another flew across the main road again and Ryan was able to note the pale eye, though I missed the perched shot with my camera. I did however get a very nice recording of the noisy forest birds. It has a curious fragmentary range and seems low density.
Torresian Crow Corvus orru
Two at Nimbokrang and 4 on Waigeo, with others heard there.
Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris
One began calling in the Nothofagus forest below Lake Habbema and I managed to lure him in, sneaking in real close then crossing a log for us all to see.
PARADISAEIDAE Manucodes & Birds of paradise
Glossy-mantled Manucode Manucodia atra
Seen and heard at Nimbokrang and on Waigeo, where we had 4 birds on Jun 27.
Crinkle-collared Manucode Manucodia chalybata
I was quite surprised to see this at Nimbokrang on Jun 9 as it tends to be more of a hill forest species, but the head bumps and crinkly neck were undoubtedly this species.
Jobi Manucode Manucodia jobiensis
I think the manucode that was quite close in a tall tree at Nimbokrang Jun 10 was this species, but field characters are problematic, as is call. It seemed small and was definitely not Glossy-mantled.
Arfak Astrapia Astrapia nigra
This was one of the most difficult of the Vogelkop endemics as it was restricted to the highest altitudes, and Phil was very worried about missing it. We trekked up to Sicklebill Camp at 1950 m in the rain, and when it cleared that afternoon went up to an area for Black Sicklebill with an Astrapia site not too far above it around 2300 m. The bird has been hard of late but we really lucked in, with a single flying through, then 2 perched side by side with one feeding the other, before another at a fruiting tree. Very dark plumaged, the barring is basically invisible in the dull light of the forest interior. One bird seemed quite long and broad tailed and may have been an immature male.
Splendid Astrapia Astrapia splendidissima
Our trek down to the ridge by the lake on Jun 14 got us a male and 3 female or young birds, seen well in the scope; then we had a single female plumaged bird around 3400 m next day. The range just creeps into PNG but it is rarely seen outside West Papua.
Western Parotia Parotia sefilata
We saw 6 on Jun 19 during a break in the drizzle, moving through in a loose flock by Zeth’s GH and with one male amongst them. Next day however was the jackpot, as we climbed up a steep and muddy slope to get to the new hide built for us, and here we had the incredible spectacle of a male in full ballerina mode, dipping and rocking in front of the watching females, one of the most extraordinary sights in the bird kingdom.
Long-tailed Paradigalla Paradigalla carunculata
Perhaps my most wanted bird of the trip, and a very iffy proposition as they have been hard to fnd of late. Ethan had heard it at one area about 45 min above the village, a former nest site in fact, and he saw two briefly the day before, so we knew it was around but…..We checked this site in the rain going up to the camp without any sign, and spent a couple of hours there at lunchtime on the way back down, again with no sign. The third time is the charm however, so we got up there about 0700 and hung about, with me getting increasingly anxious, but at 0900 Untu came running through the forest and told us Zeth had just heard it. We promptly legged it back with him and saw Zeth peering up into a dense tree, and suddenly the Paradigalla called, a very loud almost riflebird like whistle; Ryan then got onto it, and I managed to lock on myself just before it flew, with a great look at the long graduated tail in flight. It landed not too far away and began calling, so I was able to get decent tape of these unusual vocalizations, which were nothing like any of the transcriptions, but the bird was secretive and we did not get another sighting before it vanished and then began calling from a song post down and across the valley. What a relief, perhaps the hardest of the family with a tiny range, it is one of three birds of paradise endemic to the Vogelkop. One of my birds of the trip though I’d have liked a longer view.
Superb Bird of Paradise Lophorina superba feminina
A fine calling male in the Bailem valley Jun 12, this is the race feminina, and Phil saw a stripe-headed female next day as we went up into the mountains, notably paler than eastern birds.
Vogelkop Superb Bird of Paradise Lophorina superba superba
Two females on Jun 19 near Zeth’s GH, one of them with the Parotia flock; it looks to be a mimic of that species here too, being amazingly different from Eastern Superb. The females are very black headed and virtually lack any headstripes, whilst the underparts are whitish and heavily but finely barred, it is remarkably like a smaller female Western Parotia. Sadly we did not see a male, but the call we heard is nothing like eastern birds, I am convinced this is a good split. Ryan said if new species were described on the female plumage then this one is home long ago, and I have to concur.
Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus
Great views of a calling male in the Arfaks at 2200 m, with another calling nearby, though balancing the scope on the steep slope was quite a performance. This call is a very powerful, resonant “wissik-wissink”, nothing like the sharp “wik wik wik” of eastern birds of race atratus. It carries over a km at least, and we could hear them from the Paradigalla site.
Pale-billed Sicklebill Drepanornis bruijnii
One seen in the swamp forest at Nimbokrang, singing above the roar of two chainsaws that were destroying its habitat, with another calling nearby too. Luckily that afternoon we got one that flew in at an undisturbed site at Remu, and then flew towards us to perch on a vine stem nearby for several minutes, all without calling. This poorly-known species is endemic to the central north coast plain (almost endemic to West Papua), and the only lowland sicklebill.
Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise Seleucidis melanoleuca (H)
One heard in the swamp forest at Nimbokrang.
Wilson’s Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus respublica
Amazing views of two different males just a few metres away at two different display grounds on Jun 25 and 27, on Waigeo. They carefully gardened the court, removing leaves and any debris, and called occasionally, but no females were in evidence. One of the most striking of the family with a quite unique colour combination.
King Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus regius
A beautiful male calling and showing off in his vine tangle whilst his tree is still standing at Nimbokrang.
Lesser Bird of Paradise Paradisaea minor
A fully-plumed male with at least six females and young males up at Remu on Jun 9. Also heard at Nimbokrang and above Manokwari.
Red Bird of Paradise Paradisaea rubra
A female on Jun 25, 5 birds including at least one plumed male in deep cover next day (when they did not come in to the lek site as it was too windy), heard Jun 27 then finally a great performance back at the lek on Jun 28. There were 2 two males and three females, the males in full display with the amazing black tail wires dangling and swaying.
PETROICIDAE Australian robins
Torrent Flyrobin (Flycatcher) Monachella muelleriana
Two on a fast flowing river at Nimbon Tong on Jun 11.
Canary (Papuan) Flycatcher Microeca papuana
One at the Paradigalla site in the Arfaks was the only record of this unobtrusive Microeca flycatcher.
Yellow-legged Flycatcher Microeca griseiceps
This very uncommon species was seen as we walked down the road above the Masked Bowerbird site in the Arfaks Jun 23, the yellow legs and feet showed well and it had a whitish throat and pale yellow underparts.
Garnet Robin Eugerygone rubra (H)
Heard by the Sicklebill display site in the Arfaks.
Subalpine (Mountain) Robin Petroica placens
Three seen and the same number heard below Lake Habbema on Jun 13, and heard each day we went down to the lower altitude forest, they were quite vocal and called from high in the trees for quite long periods, sound cut posted to IBC and XC. This is a rarely-recorded high altitude species.
Greater Ground Robin Amalocichla sclateriana
We checked the site on the way up without success, but coming back on Jun 15 we scored big time on this rare and little-known species, though all was quiet until the sun really got up about 0800. Suddenly we heard one loud musical call, then it went quiet again, so Untu took us inside on a short trail where a tree had been felled. Still no result, but as I was playing a tape of Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, we got a really loud and close call from Greater Ground Robin, which was really agitated and allowed us to see it sat on a horizontal branch at eye-level about 10 m away. It was a large chunky round bodied bird, brown above and greyish-white below with a long quite slender bill and long pale pinky legs, and a great loud musical throaty “too-weee” call, very distinctive. Long one of my NG most wanteds, the only time I have ever been in the range was at Myola on the Kokoda Trail, and there you have to hike up into the tree-fern forest to find it, which I never did.
Lesser Ground-Robin Amalocichla incerta
Several were heard in the Arfaks and two were seen quite well above Sicklebill Camp. The least shy out of New Guinea’s suite of shy ground birds.
Ashy Robin Heteromyias (Poecilodryas) albispecularis
One on a nest on Jun 20 near Sicklebill camp and 2 seen next day, whilst the voice was frequently heard in the Arfaks. Split by Pratt and Beehler from what they now call Black-capped Robin H. armiti, itself a split from Grey-headed Robin of Australia.
Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca
Heard at Nimbokrang and a couple seen on Waigeo.
Black-chinned Robin Poecilodryas brachyura
Our group saw one by the road below Mokwam Jun 23, but I managed to miss it.
Black-throated Robin Poecilodryas albonotata
Two seen below Lake Habbema and two in the Arfaks. A large robin with an easily-overlooked very thin whistle call.
White-winged Robin Peneothello sigillatus
Three seen below Lake Habbema, showing the white shoulder patch of this western subspecies quadrimaculata.
Smoky Robin Peneothello cryptoleucus
One seen at high altitudes in the Arfaks, we had heard it on Jun 20 and eventually managed to see it well next day. This Vogelkop endemic is quite similar in plumage to the Blue-grey Robin but paler grey and much paler beneath, with a very different voice.
Blue-grey Robin Peneothello cyanus
Heard below Lake Habbema, and likewise in the Arfaks, where three were seen.
Green-backed Robin Pachycephalopsis hattamensis (H)
Unfortunately this was only heard near the Mag BoP site Jun 22, and did not respond to recordings. Another Vogelkop endemic, named after Zeth’s tribe, the Hattam people
Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster (I)
Now common on Biak (but not Numfor), we did not see this here in 1994. An introduction from western Indonesia, probably Java, and now around Nimbokrang and Sentani as well.
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Small numbers, usually pairs, were widespread, especially around airports and hotels.
PHYLLOSCOPIDAE Old World Leaf Warblers
Island Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephalus
Two below Lake Habbema, and heard daily in the Arfaks.
Numfor Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus maforensis
Newly split from the previous species and very distinctive, it is very dingy with a poorly defined supercilium and no crown stripe, dark greyish below and with a quite distinctive slow smoky call. We saw 2 nicely on Jun 6, immediately recognised and tracked by the call, and we heard 4 others that day. Jun 7 we saw one and heard at least 4 more. Missing the newly split Biak species was a big disappointment.
Capped White-eye (Western Mountain White-eye) Zosterops fuscicapillus
A couple below Lake Habbema, then fairly common in the Arfaks where flocks of 5-15 were seen on most days.
Black-fronted White-eye Zosterops atrifrons
We saw about 10 birds in a noisy flock as we walked down from Mokwam on Jun 23, this race has the blackish face but a greeny forehead, and the call was typical of the species in PNG.
ACROCEPHALIDAE Reed warblers and allies
Australasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus australis
Heard on Jun 11 and one seen at Nimbokrang paddies Jun 12, presumably sumbae.
LOCUSTELLIDAE Grassbirds and allies
Papuan Grassbird Megalurus (timoriensis) papuensis
Three seen in the grasslands around Lake Habbema.
Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis
A vocal bird in the Baliem Valley.
bSTURNIDAE Starlings and mynas
Singing Starling Aplonis cantoroides
I have 2 in my notes for Biak, where it is not supposed to occur, presumably in error for Metallic Starling……otherwise we had 15 and then 7 on Waigeo.
Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica
Up to 10 on Biak and Numfor, and a couple behind Sorong.
Long-tailed Starling Aplonis magna
Eight were seen on Biak, where we had good views of this Geelvink Bay endemic alongside Metallic Starlings, then 2 nesting at our guest house plus 5 on Numfor and 10 on the last day on Biak. Numfor birds are of the shorter tailed race brevicauda, and I posted cuts of the calls of both taxa on IBC and XC.
Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii
Two at Nimbokrang and two at Lake Sentani.
Golden Myna Mino anais
Just two at Nimbon Tong of the race orientalis; sadly no sign of the distinctive likely to be split nominate one from the Vogelkop this trip.
Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus
Seen daily at high altitude at Lake Habbema, but only in very small numbers, the daily counts were just 1,2,3,2 and it was unexpectedly scarce. Why ?
MUSCICAPIDAE Old World Chats and flycatchers
Pied Chat (Pied Stonechat) Saxicola caprata
A couple in the lower montane grasslands in the Baliem Valley and a handful at Nimbokrang.
Black Sunbird Nectarinia aspasia
One of the most widespread birds of lowland forest, usually in forest edge, with a daily maximum of 6 on Biak, also seen on Numfor and at Nimbokrang and Lake Sentani. Only heard on Waigeo.
Olive-backed (Yellow-bellied) Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis
Similar status to the Black Sunbird but commoner in open habitats, also seen around Lake Sentani and at Nimbokrang. Heard on Waigeo also.
Olive-crowned Flowerpecker Dicaeum pectorale
One or two seen most days in the Arfaks and Waigeo.
Red-capped (Papuan) Flowerpecker Dicaeum (pectorale) geelvinkianum
A few on Biak and a couple at Nimbokrang.
PLOCEIDAE Weavers and sparrows
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus (I)
Now fairly common in all the towns, even including Wamena and Waigeo harbour, with up to 30 in Biak city, this species has rapidly colonised since 1994 and the same is true in PNG too where it arrived as recently as 2007.
Mountain Firetail Oreostruthus fuliginosus
Good views of one in the forest below Lake Habbema.
Streak-headed Mannikin Lonchura tristissima
Up to 30 seen at Nimbokrang and 7 at Mokwam. This is the common mannikin of forest edge and clearings.
Grand Mannikin Lonchura grandis
Three in the paddies at Nimbokrang with the Streak-headed Mannikins Jun 11.
Black-breasted Mannikin Lonchura teerinki
About 20 in the Baliem valley Jun 12, and 3 immatures as we came down into the valley on Jun 16; endemic to the mid-montane valleys of the Central ranges of West Papua.
Western Alpine Mannikin Lonchura montana
Untu and Paul saw one near Lake Habbema on Jun 14, and Ryan saved the day on Jun 16, spotting one bird just as we came to the edge of the subalpine shrubbery habitat, where we were able to track it down for a great scope view. This species just sneaks over the border into PNG, but this is really the place to see it.
Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton
This was a huge surprise at Nimbokrang where we saw 3 birds in the paddies near the mannikins on Jun 11, of the white-bellied race evangelinae which is native to the Trans-Fly and Cape York. Presumably a cagebird that is establishing itself in this region now.
Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa
Heard on several days above Mokwam and most folks saw one on Jun 22 as we came down from Sicklebill Camp.
MOTACILLIDAE Pipits and wagtails
Alpine Pipit Anthus gutturalis
Two along the road to Lake Habbema on Jun 13, and one on Jun 15, with one heard on Jun 14, this was unexpectedly scarce. This must be the easiest place to see this high-altitude endemic, as the Tari Gap road in PNG is not high enough.
Speckled Dasyure (Neophascogale lorentzi)
Seen nicely in the Nothofagus forest at Km 34 below Lake Habbema, this dasyurid is unusual in being diurnal.
Flying Fox sp
One smallish one on Waigeo pre-dawn Jun 25.
Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus)
Untu spotted one high in a dense tree with the Red BoPs on Waigeo, and it eventually clambered into good view, a very large specimen too.
It sounds like some of the group saw a large one in the Arfaks, maybe Black-footed (Antechinus melanurus), which is the montane one in PNG.
© Phil Gregory,
Sicklebill Safaris, PO Box 387,
Kuranda 4881, Queensland,
Phone: (61) 07 40 937318 Fax: (61) 07 40 939855
Phil Gregory firstname.lastname@example.org www sicklebillsafaris.com
Attenborough, D. (1996) Attenborough in Paradise
Perhaps the best memoir of Wilson’s and other birds of paradise. BBC TV DVD
Beehler, B., Pratt T. and Zimmerman, D. (2015). Birds of New Guinea. Princeton.
The standard field guide for New Guinea, the second edition is terrific, more of a handbook than a field guie but indispensible.
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 classic volume covers the birds of paradise and has some wonderful photographs. One of the great bird books of the last century, now out of print.
Coates, B. J. and Peckover, W. (2001) Photoguide to the Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. Dove Publications.
Frustratingly incomplete but still 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.
Gregory, P. (2015) Checklist of the Birds of New Guinea and its islands second edition.
Sicklebill Publications, Kuranda.
Gregory P. (in press) Field Guide to the Birds of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.
Lynx Edicions. Due late 2015, will also be indispensable, and includes the Bismarcks and Bougainville!
Laman, T. & Scholes E. (2013) Birds of Paradise. National Geographic.
The best ever photographs of this amazing family.