Papua New Guinea
:
Paradise Untamed

Raggiana Bird-of-paradise, Varirata NP/Sam Woods
RAGGIANA BIRD-OF-PARADISE
Varirata NP (Sam Woods)

18 August - 4 September 2008

Guide: Sam Woods

a TROPICAL BIRDING custom tour


Special thanks to Mark Harper for allowing me to use his photos in this report.

Papua New Guinea is a wild and untamed place, swathed in thick, lush rainforest, that is full of some of the weirdest and most awe-inspiring birds on the planet. None are more jaw-dropping than the main group of birds that New Guinea is justly famous for - the incredible Birds-of-paradise. Our tour, as with any bird tour to this wild island, focused first and foremost on these amazing birds, although we picked up a 'few' others along the way too (our trip total ended up over 340 species).

PNG is so full of spectacular birds that it is a tough call when it comes to naming the bird of the trip at the end, and it is quite shocking what can be overlooked at the end of a trip in the 'bird of the trip debate'. Birds like Shovel-billed Kookaburra lurking in the shadows along the OK Ma road at Tabubil, the monstrous Southern Crowned Pigeon found at the death on our first Fly River cruise, the blue legged, 'blood-and-snow' covered King Bird-of-paradise seen hopping along its display perch by the Elevala River, and the male Brown Sicklebill watched calling, 'machine-gun style' from the Kumul bird table, all not even getting a mention at the final call. The pair of male Raggiana Birds-of-paradise seen in the full throws of their incredible display at Varirata were also worthy of note, although this spectacular show was still not voted for as the overrall showstopper of the trip, when it came down to it at the end. Similarly, a couple of dazzling male Painted Quail-thrushes that slowly walked past us in the steamy forests of Varirata right on the edge of PNG's infamous capital, (Port Moresby), was also not considered a good enough topic of discussion at our last night farewell dinner at our seaside resort! For the guide it was tempting to call the showy pair of Papuan Whipbirds as the top trip bird, if not for looks but for the 'grip value' alone, as it is one of the most tricky of the New Guinea endemics to come by. In addition to that this legendary skulker somehow decided to let EVERYONE present get a great look. Wholly unexpected by all of us.

So there were some of the 'low lights' not considered worthy (!), and here were those that did get a notable mention during the final discussion. A surprising entry was Yellow-billed Kingfisher (that for me anyway seemed bizarrely nominated ahead of the even more stunning and endemic Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfishers that thrilled us at Varirata in our closing days). The fiery male Flame Bowerbird that glowed in a tree by the infamous Boystown Road 'flame knoll' also got one nomination (only one!), but was unsurprisingly edged out by the outstanding beauty of the BOPs. So inevitably it ended up being a BOP or two that stole the show, and this tour was no exception. There is just such a wealth of colorful and 'eye-damaging' species in New Guinea, and the BOPs are right at the top of this impressive pile. 24 BOPs were seen on the trip, and the Blue BOPs that were seen first seen at Kumul, and later more spectacularly in the Tari Valley in the Central Highlands Province were a hot favorite to win, but were just squeezed out by the antennae-wielding male King-of-Saxony Birds-of-paradise watched at close range in PNG's bird rich highlands. A worthy winner indeed. People fantasize about this bird the moment they glance at it in the field guide and one look at the bird brings nothing but amazement at just how impressive a creature this really is.

Yellow-faced Myna, PAU/Mark Harper
YELLOW-FACED MYNA PAU (Mark Haper)

Day 1 (August 18) Brisbane to Port Moresby, Pacific Adventists University
With our Air Nuigini flight predictably delayed, we reached Moresby desperate for some action, and headed straight out in the field. By birding the open savanna in the grounds of the Pacific Adventists University we not only got our first endemic in the dowdy form of a Brown Oriole, we also picked up some of the out of the way Aussie species that only exist there in the far reaches of the Cape York Peninsula. These included Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds hanging out by the campus library, along with a Black-backed Butcherbird or two around there too, and a few noisy Red-cheeked Parrots around the edge of the grounds. The sewage ponds held Wandering Whistling-ducks, Comb-crested Jacanas and others. Although the afternoons prize birds were the bark-clad Papuan Frogmouths hiding in a campus rain tree. Other interesting Australian birds around this chilled out campus included a few pied Torresian Imperial Pigeons, and a couple of hulking Blue-winged Kookaburras.

Papuan Frogmouth, PAU/Sam Woods
PAPUAN FROGMOUTH PAU (Sam Woods)

Day 2 (August 19) Port Moresby to Kiunga
Unfortunately a regular feature of any New Guinea trip is lengthy waits for delayed flights at the airport, such is the reliability of their national airline. So we settled in for our first of these, although on this occasion it was not too long and we had another endemic to amuse us while we waited, as a single Gray-headed Munia fed by the departure lounge along with the local sparrows. Australian Pratincoles were also found from the plane, hiding out along the edges of the runway. Once we had arrived in the sweaty lowlands of Kiunga we headed out to the forest for the first time, and soon after kicked off the BOP tally for the trip, picking up three species in that afternoon alone. Greater Bops were around, along with a few Raggiana Bops (with which they often hybridize in this area), and the glossy green form of a Trumpet Manucode was also found attending a fruiting tree along with the other aforementioned species. The manucode can also be found in the far reaches of the Cape York Peninsula, in northern Queensland. This Bop trio was of course the main afternoon highlight, although we came upon some of the more common lowland birds of New Guinea in the process to, including the impressive Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Orange-breasted Fig-parrots brightened a dull tree, Moustached Treeswifts scythed overhead in the late afternoon, and a few impressive pigeons graced us in the surrounding trees, included the beautiful Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove and striking Zoe Imperial Pigeon. Perhaps less impressive were a showy Lesser Black Coucal, a few shocking Yellow-faced Mynas, and a Black-capped Lory or two.
It was then early to bed in preparation for our first Fly River Cruise the following day, and the rigors of a full on birding tour to PNG ahead.

Day 3 (August 20) Fly and Elevala River Boat Trip (Kiunga)
We began our exploration of the jungles surrounding the mining port town of Kiunga by traveling the short distance by boat to where a flashy 'black-and-yellow number' comes to call in the first rays of dawn to any females in town. Our local guide Samuel swung the boat towards the shore at his first sight of the male Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise that briefly alighted on his favored dead snag. A short time later we were on the shore with nothing but a dead snag to look at! A little over excitement initially caused everyone premature excitement when another figure appeared on the 'holy' snag only for it to turn out to be another less impressive bird-of-paradise-the decidedly more subtle Glossy-mantled Manucode, one of a triumvirate of manucodes witnessed on this bop-filled tour. Patience was rewarded though eventually as the male came back to a less obvious perch a little way back, for 'crackerjack' looks in the 'scope. Most definitely the first "wows" of the trip were uttered during these exciting moments! It was then back in our motorized boats and eyes to the sky banks and surrounding trees, as a dawn trip up the Fly and Elevala Rivers is a feast for the eyes as birds pass overhead, perch up on dead snags and swoop low over the waters, so much so that it is difficult to know where to look. Being our first real foray into an extensive tract of lowland forest we were frankly bombarded with new birds for the trip. Some of the sexiest birds of the Fly were in evidence, not least the jaw-dropping Eclectus Parrots, that display extreme sexual dimorphism with the female being a brilliant scarlet and royal blue, compared to the dowdy bright emerald green and orange-billed males! Many times our heads were turned skyward as small parties of these gorgeous parrots passed over the river. Another species like the Eclectus, that is found both in PNG and in the far reaches of the Cape York Peninsula in Australia, the massive scarlet-faced, Palm Cockatoo, was also a notable presence along the river. Some were even seen perched up and flaring their funky crest by the riverside. The dominant birds though along both the Fly and Elevala Rivers seemed to be pigeons. A short time after dawn roving flocks of mainly Collared Imperial Pigeons (this most impressively marked of all the New Guinea Imperials), flurried overhead presumably passing from one area of fruiting trees to another. Here and there we also picked out a few Pinon Imperial Pigeons trying to hide in amongst their ranks. Some of the most striking of all the lowland forest birds exist in the forests flanking the Fly River, that serves as a major port for the vast OK Tedi mine, further downstream around the town of Tabubil that where we made our next stop off on the tour. These included the huge gray cross shapes of several Channel-billed Cuckoos dragging their huge frames across the river on a number of occasions. Some of these, the largest of all the cuckoos, are merely winterers in New Guinea, heading south to Queensland and northern New South Wales to breed during the Austral summer in Australia. Another awesome sight were our first visions of New Guinea's only hornbill species, the most southerly occurring species on Earth-Blyth's Hornbill. Our Fly River Cruises brought us in contact with them on many occasions, most impressively on the following day when a huge group of nearly forty birds streamed overhead, that was understandably earmarked at the trip end as a memorable highlight. Other impressive observations that day included a furtive Little Paradise-Kingfisher that some of us were treated to great looks at as it sat and called unobtrusively in the rainforest undergrowth. Arguably the shyest of all the regularly recorded Paradise-kingfishers on this tour. A Hooded Pitta in the same area glistened in the leaf litter for Nigel and Sam only unfortunately (although I guess he was not complaining!), before it hopped away into the gloom. Lowland Peltops, Golden Mynas, and Hooded Butcherbirds were found perched out on snags alongside the Elevala, as were a group of Dusky Lory. A White-bellied Thicket-Fantail (notably more skulking than their Asian cousins), was tempted out from his hiding place and showed to all of us waiting quietly in the boat below. Our first Variable Goshawks, and for some a single Gray-headed Goshawk were also found on the cruise. The real show stealer made us wait though and it was with some relief for me when, just a short time before dusk crept in, Samuel casually swung the boat around, and calmly announced the presence of a tail-bobbing Southern Crowned Pigeon perched up on a bare branch by the Fly River. We watched transfixed below by the sight of the World's largest pigeon, as it glared down at us with its bright red eyes, a fine way to end the day.

Day 4 (August 21) Fly and Elevala River Boat Trip 2 (Kiunga)
The day before we had stopped in at a traditional King BOP site and been startled to find no King BOP showing. With this in mind we headed out to a top secret site normally reserved for documentary film-makers. These were nervous times, the clean white and deep red form of a male King BOP is one of the undoubted reasons that birders come to PNG, it is quiet simply always a top target bird, no matter what kind of birder you are. In light of this we focused our energies on getting this dreambird. We arrived early and chased around a Common Paradise-Kingfisher for a while, that allowed a great flyby look and just a few perched views before falling silent. The same area also held a Black-sided Robin, a noisy mob of New Guinea Babblers, and our first Gray-headed Whistler (the latter a split from Gray Whistler that is found in Australia, and very scant compensation for the main event we were waiting for!) Eventually after a number of subdued calls nearby and few snatched glimpses for the few, the male King Bird-of-paradise appeared in its favored tree and pretty soon we all had top notch looks in the scope at this snow-white and rich red wonder, all topped off nicely by a set of pale blue legs to boot. Paul nicely described the bird as the 'blood-and-snow bird', a great description of one of Kiunga's most famous residents. It was a all a little quiet thereafter except for a pair of Emperor Fairywrens at a village we stopped at, and we were downtrodden when heavy rain hit just at the key time for the Flame Bowerbird to put in an appearance at his chosen bower. In light of this plans were shuffled around for the following day, as their was universal agreement that we should go after this huge target bird.

Day 5 (August 22) Kiunga to Tabubil
This morning was all about the 'avian torch' - Flame Bowerbird. Having had to abandon our bower watch the day before due to heavy, heavy rain we decided to go to another spot for this dazzling bird. Our time in Kiunga was dogged by frequent and heavy spats of rain despite this being the so-called dry season. This caused us a little extra walking as the vehicles struggled to make it along a heavily rutted quagmire of mud along the Boystown Road. With Flame Bowerbird the target though it was pretty easy to get everyone moving in the direction of the famed grassy knoll. A few of the group checked out some flyovers on the way there, although the vivid fiery plumage left them in no doubt they had caught their first sight of our main target bird. Once on the knoll picking up Double-eyed Fig-Parrots and Boyer's Cuckoo-shrikes on the way, we scoured the skies for flashes of orange moving through the air. All was quiet for a while then a shout went up that was thankfully not too distressing for the male Flame Bowerbird that opted to land in a near treetop, where it simply glowed at us through the scope eyepieces. An absolute corker of a bird, that (just) got a worthy mention at the end of the trip. We then packed up and headed for our next destination after a quiet spell at another Kiunga spot. On the way there we stopped in at a gravel pit, where we found several of the distinctive New Guinea form of Little Ringed Plover, that may yet prove to be a full species in its own right (due to its pale bill base and noticeably different call).
Better still though was to come as we made a late afternoon run to OK Menga, near the mining town of Tabubil. Here we scanned the huge boulders in the wide Menga River and found several pied Torrent Flycatchers, and then we waited and continued scanning the rushing waters for New Guinea's answer to South Americas Torrent Duck. Thirty minutes or so later there they were, a pair of yellow-billed Salvadori's Teals came swimming down the river, shortly joined by a third that prompted an all out fight between two of them before they disappeared downstream in a flurry of, (sometimes brutal), activity.

Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Tabubil/Mark Harper
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CUCKOO Tabubil (Mark Harper)

Day 6 (August 23) Tabubil
By moving from near sea-level at Kiunga to the mid-elevation forests around the town of Tabubil we had opened up a whole suite of new avian possibilities. We spent the day birding Dablin Creek, an area not too far from the massive OK Tedi copper mine, that much of the town services. Unfortunately the area for birding at Dablin is diminishing year on year due to unchallenged deforestation, so we had to focus our search in the remaining tract along the steep road the ascends the hillside. Most of the action occurred late in the afternoon or early on in the morning. We scoured the trees for any sign of a fruit, that can be a major draw for BOPs. Early on the large black and white form of a male Carola's Parotia was spotted in a tree that's fruit harvest was all but over, although our local guide Samuel soon found another tree nearby that still had a bounty of fruits hanging from its branches. By staking this tree out for a time we enjoyed further views not only of the parotia, but also a male Magnificent Bird-of-paradise (to add to the female seen as ascended this steep track). A lot of patience was required between the long bouts of inactivity although in the end we received reward for our efforts as this narrow stretch of forest also brought us a pair of cracking Goldenfaces (Dwarf Whistlers), as well as the recently described Obscure Berrypecker. The latter a bird so dowdy, indistinctive, and lacking in color that it was almost voted for as the 'heap of the trip'! Another favorite along there was a small party of Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrots, one of the tiniest parrots in the world. Other newbies at Dablin included Blue-collared Parrots tinkling their way overhead, a White-eared Bronze-cuckoo feeding low in the brush, our only trip Sclater's Whistler, a male Black Fantail, several Mountain Peltops standing sentry from high dead branches, a furtive White-rumped Robin, and the impossibly 'endowed' Long-billed Honeyeater. In addition to this rowdy bunch a Black-fronted White-eye or two were seen, our first Great Woodswallows were found hanging out on power lines around Tabubil town itself, a stunning pair of Golden Cuckoo-shrikes were a favorite as they 'shone' in the trees above us, and our final butcherbird of the trip, Black Butcherbird was also in attendance.

Shovel-billed Kookaburra, Tabubil/Mark Harper
SHOVEL-BILLED KOOKABURRA Tabubil (Mark Harper)

Day 7 (August 24) Tabubil
On this day we birded another forested road, unfortunately also undergoing the same fate as Dablin, with clearance narrowing the field for birding each year. It a typical New Guinea birding day, a flurry in the morning, a flurry in the evening and little to show in between. We stuck at it thought and pulled in some real avian gems by the day end. An early start was the order of the day as we found ourselves on the OK Ma road as the first hints of dawn began to show on the horizon. That did not stop a Papuan Boobook from calling though, and Nick soon trained us onto him as he called from a roadside tree. As with last year it was not long though before we was forgotten as OK Ma's most special bird began calling in earnest as dawn was upon us. The the race was on to find one before they fall silent again a short time after dawn. Samuel and I searched several spots the birds calling and then falling silent before we could get a hook on where they were calling from, Then a Shovel-billed Kookaburra piped up and called nice and close and luckily I picked a flash of orange in the shadows of the forest that proved to be the breast of a brilliant Shovel-bill, one of the most highly-rated Kingfishers in New Guinea, largely due to its heavy, odd looking bill that it uses to dig in the soil with. After this fine start the birding slowed right down, and frankly things were quiet along there in the morning. A New Guinea Bronzewing was found perched up calling in the forest although waited until the first person had raced to position before flying off deep in the forest. The day in general turned out to be frustratingly quiet, although patience led us o a few goodies, not least a little group of Papuan Hanging-parrots that fed in the trees and could be teed up well in the scope in the afternoon. A single Ornate Fruit-Dove, what with a distinct lack of fruit found in many areas ended up being our only tour sighting. Several cuckoo-shrikes were found along there - just a few of us witnessed the hulking form of a Stout-billed Cuckoo-shrike lurking in a dead tree, although everyone got the pair of Black-shouldered Cuckoo-shrikes in the same area. Another good bird, although decidedly more subtle in tone was an Olive Flyrobin watched feeding in the trees along the roadside. A couple of Crinkle-collared Manucodes were also found, and having heard them many times throughout the day most people eventually got a look at a Magnificent Riflebird or two. Best of all though came in the late morning when taping in a Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler that decided to come right in and give Mark and Richard an eyeful. Some of the rest of the group would have to wait until Varirata for further looks at that cracking ground-dweller.

Brehm's Tiger-Parrot, Kumul Lodge/Mark Harper
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT Kumul Lodge (Mark Harper)

Day 8 (August 25) Tabubil to Kumul Lodge (Mount Hagen)
With very little time before our flight into New Guinea's highlands we opted to check out a bank of forest for a parrot that had not yet showed up for us - the enigmatic Pesquet's or Vulturine Parrot. With only around half hour to spare before we had to be at the airport we frantically scoured the trees, when Samuel quietly announced that some were calling, and before we had time to get a hook on the sound there they were a group of four vulturines in the air, that quickly landed and had scopes trained on them in seconds, just in the nick of time at the 'last chance saloon'! After another obligatory short delay we were on our way to the highlands and all the avian riches that it holds for the first time on the trip. Kumul Lodge has shot to world fame in the last few years as THE place to get up close and personal with Birds-of-paradise that come to gorge on the array of tropical fruits that the lodge staff endlessly put out for them. A great example of a community run project, the lack of hunting historically in the area around this mountain hideaway has led to some of the birds being much more approachable than in other parts of this thickly forested island. The reputation of this lodge was well known to the group who were frustrated that the infamous Kumul bird table could not be viewed right from our lunch table. So some of them snapped, wolfed down their lunch in record time and headed to the lodge balcony that overlooks a fruit laden table that is a hotspot for some very special mountain birds. This being the quiet time of day we were not expecting much, although one of the resident blue-eyed female Brown Sicklebills gave us an early show nevertheless, much to the joy of our assembled crowd getting their first taste of the rich avian rewards of highland New Guinea. Soon after one of their regular Brehm's Tiger-Parrots appeared at the 'trough' and began feasting on the array of fruits on offer. We were glued to the table, although pulled ourselves away to train our eyes on a fruiting tree along one of Kumul's narrow trails under the advice of one of the lodge's local guides. The reason for our dragging ourselves from the show in the lodge garden was simple - a pair of Crested Birds-of-paradise had been visiting this tree faithfully over recent days. So we watched avidly at the hanging green fruits, some of us being momentarily distracted by a trio of White-winged Robins clasping some nearby tree trunks. When we returned to the tree we found Paul watching a pretty unimpressive female Crested BOP feeding quietly on the fruits. So we waited some more, and were rewarded with a passing Black-breasted Boatbill and our first 'blue waxwings' or Crested Berrypeckers, before a flash of brilliant orange had us waiting nervously until this fantastic male Crested Bird-of-paradise emerged and joined us by the fruiting tree, a truly magic moment. Most of us were well satisfied with this and were desperate to get back to the action at the bird table. Soon after assuming the position, we were faced with one of the most amazing of all Kumul's regular visitors. A large dark bird flew in and a change in the light revealed some metallic green spangling on the upperparts and fluffed out pale flank feathers. These interesting colors were matched by the overall dramatic appearance of this magical bird-of-paradise - a male Brown Sicklebill, one of the top birds of the trip for the guide due to such unrivalled views of the intricacies of the subtle spangled plumage of this magnificent bird-of-paradise. Superb. The first rather subdued female Ribbon-tailed Astrapias (another montane BOP), also caused a bit of a stir when they appeared brazenly on the close table too. Way more subtle, although a top target bird due to the paucity of sightings of this shy forest denizen, was the pair of Bronze Ground-Doves that fed on fallen fruit beneath the bird table in the later afternoon. Other birds in the garden included some bare-eyed Smoky Honeyeaters, Black-backed Honeyeaters twitched in amongst the orange blooms in the garden, and several Fan-tailed Berrypeckers chased each other around the garden shrubs in a flurry of nervous activity.

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Tari/Mark Harper
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA Tari (Mark Harper)

Day 9 (August 26) Kumul Lodge (Mount Hagen)
On this day we decided to go after a very special and spectacular Bird-of-paradise that is most easily found downslope from Kumul. Soon after arrival a fantastic male Lesser Bird-of-paradise was found in the casuarina trees that he sometimes displays from. On this day though there was no display even when a female appeared a little later, but we did get to see this incredible bird posing at length in the close cypress pines, where his flashy golden yellow flank plumes and emerald green throat stood out. A really special BOP. The same dry country area brought us the localized Yellow-breasted Bowerbird, a male Black-headed Whistler, and a couple of striking Ornate Melidectes, while endemic Mountain Swiftlets glided overhead. Some nectar rich red flowers on site drew in some nectar-feeders that included a number of Mountain Red-headed Myzomelas, and a single Slaty-chinned Longbill, the latter a species from one of New Guinea's endemic bird families (a family that also includes the Berrypeckers). White-shouldered Fairywrens flitted around in the clusters of tall grass on site, that also held a few Tawny Grassbirds, this 'race' sometimes split off as Papuan Grassbird. A short walk in the open country around there saw us run into our first roadside group of Hooded Munias, in addition to our first New Guinea White-eyes and several Marbled Honeyeaters . We then headed back towards the lodge for lunch making a special stop along a rushing mountain stream where we searched the boulders and riverside rocks for our quarry. A few Torrent Flycatchers flitted in and out of the rocks providing a false alarm or two before the shout went up as when someone spotted a male Torrent Lark lurking on one of the riverside boulders. An afternoon walk along a mountain forest trail produced our first nuthatch-like Blue-capped Ifritas (one of New Guinea's poisonous bird species), our first Dimorphic Fantails, and a very flashy male Regent Whistler, arguably the most attractive of New Guinea's seemingly endless variety of whistler species. Arguably though the best bird of the day came in the dark of night right around the lodge. The previous night and morning we had tried for an owlet-nightjar that can sometimes be heard squeaking like a rubber duck right around the lodge grounds, and although we had got close to one it slipped away just as we had got in viewing range. This night however was different, the few keen birders in the group could not resist another try and a quick burst of tape brought an instant reply from the Mountain Owlet-nightjar, a pair of which swooped in and perched on a cable overhead. With the rest of the group still up I raced back to find alert them to the lifer ion the car park. However when we returned Mark who had stayed with bird informed us that they had gone. We played a little more of the birds calls and again got a close reply, this time the bird staying firm where we found it sitting low and motionless by the lodge car park, for fantastic prolonged views of this high class nightbird.

Mountain Owlet-Nightjar, Kumul Lodge/Sam Woods
MOUNTAIN OWLET-NIGHTJAR Kumul Lodge

Day 10 (August 27) Kumul Lodge (Mount Hagen)
Another morning out of Kumul Lodge and once again we were hot pursuit of another top quality Bird-of-paradise, this time the breathtaking Blue Bird-of-paradise. Before we got to that beauty though we had to content ourselves with watching three or more Superb Birds-of-paradise visiting a fruiting tree, one of the males having a good set of visible metallic green 'wing collars'. Also in the same area were several Yellow-browed Melidectes, and Yellow-billed and Goldie's Lorikeets. Our patience wa finally rewarded when a calling male BOP flew by made us wait another anxious 5 minutes and then joined a female feeding in the same fruiting tree that the superbs had gorged in earlier. We saw both a female and two separate beautiful ivory-billed, white-spectacled males birds. On the way back we stopped of at an area of fruiting tree where our local guide pout us onto a roving party of Tit Berrypeckers up the slope from us. The afternoon birding session was cut short due to a heavy thunderstorm that came in, although not before we went after and got a bird that in the final reckoning became the top trip bird by virtue of just one more vote than the Blue Bops. Our local guide Max had us in position overlooking a special tree around 3pm. Not long later our quarry was heard giving its strange rattling call from its favored tree, and soon after we were training our bins on the yellow-breasted form of an incredible male King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise, probably one of the most instantly recognizable birds on the planet courtesy of the fact that it possesses a truly unique set of serrated 'antennae' that it wields when in display mode. We did not see him displaying but we did see his famous appendages flailing around behind him as he fed in the tree above us. A magic bird. Back at the lodge as we sheltered from the deluge we watched a female Crested Bird-of-paradise from the balcony along with a Rufous-naped Whistler hopping around on the lawn, and some people got further looks at the endemic Mountain Firetail in the garden. Best of all though was a yellow-capped male Sanford's Bowerbird that whizzed past the balcony before a few stunned individuals who were on high alert for this scarcely seen bowerbird.

Day 11 (August 28) Kumul Lodge to Port Moresby (Mount Hagen)
Our original plan had been to fly to Tari on this day, although a late cancellation of our chartered flight from the airline had us coming back to the capital for one more night. In light of this changed schedule we opted for the late flight, that gave us further time around Kumul. First thing we re-checked a fruiting tree close to the lodge that had failed us on a previous evening although this time was found to hold Ribbon-tailed Astrapia and a velvety-black male Loria's Bird-of-paradise. A walk along Max's trail saw us come across some real treats, in spite of the fact it was a hot and generally quiet morning. Two separate Garnet Robins were found, including one that fed out in the open just a short distance away in the understorey. Blue-gray Robin also turned up in the same area. A little higher up the trail our first Plum-faced Lorikeets stopped off for a bit in the treetops. However, the undoubted star of the morning was a bird that remains of uncertain taxonomic affinities, by way of the fact that the male possesses a set of bright pink wattles on the throat. On playing the tape the bird responded by coming in and perching up close for a prologed time when Mark picked him up and we had to live with the fact that our cameras were back at the lodge, and not here taking proper advantage at this badly missed rare photo op. of the bizarre Wattled Ploughbill. Other notable additions and good birds included a vocal group of Black Monarchs, a lemon-breasted Canary Flycatcher, a pair of Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, and several showy Black-breasted Boatbills along the same trail. We also were able to watch a ringtail Papuan Harrier quartering the airfield as we waited for our Air Niugini flight to PNG's capital, Port Moresby.

Day 12 (August 29) Port Moresby to Tari
After our lunchtime arrival in Tari we experienced a heavy prolonged period of afternoon rain that saw us stranded in the garden of Ambua Lodge in the scenic tari Valley. However, there are not too many better places to be stranded by rain than overlooking a fruiting tree in the grounds where birds-of-paradise came and went, including three new species for us that pushed us over the 20 species threshold. First a scintillating male Princess Stefanie's Astrapia came in for fruit (with a couple of females in tow too), then several Lawe's Parotias came to and fro in pursuit of fruit, along with a female Superb Bird-of-paradise, and finally the other prize we were after - the very strange looking Short-tailed Paradigalla. 3 new Bops on a rainy afternoon stranded at Ambua Lodge - I can think of worse things to do! In the evening when the rain eased we headed beyond Bailey's Bridge and picked up a pair of Mountain Nightjars.

Ambua Lodge, Tari/Sam Woods
AMBUA LODGE Tari (Sam Woods)

Day 13 (August 30) Tari
Day 13 was all about amassing a good bunch of Bops, with some cool forest skulkers to boot. We covered a number of spot in the Tari Valley, dropping in and out of different elevations, targeting different species in the process. In the morning we ventured downhill from our scenic mountain lodge, Ambua, with our attentions at this time being focused wholeheartedly on the banks of trees, and most importantly the emergent dead snags among them. One of Tari's star sicklebills uses these open branches to call and display from in the early morning. Listening intently we did not pick up any calls of the bird at all, that ordinarily would have been expected to be emanating from the hills by then. In spite of this, and with more than a little dose of luck (considering they were seemingly not interested in calling or displaying at the time), we picked up the large black shape of a male Black Sicklebill perched up high on a dead snag, that remained firmly silent the whole time. The clouds then rolled in across the hills and we lost him from view, just in the nick of time. This was to be one of 8 different species of birds-of-paradise our group recorded throughout the day (the others being Loria's BOP, Short-tailed Paradigalla, Ribbon-tailed and Princess Stephanie's Astrapias, King-of Saxony BOP, Brown Sicklebill and Lesser Melampitta that is currently very bizarrely still lumped in with the BOPs). Not bad at all! Also found downhill from the lodge were our only Capped White-eyes of the trip, although a calling Mountain Kingfisher gave us the slip (as it continued to do for the remainder of the trip!)

King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise, tari/Sam Woods
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE Tari (Sam Woods) voted for as the BIRD OF THE TRIP

In the middle of the valley, up slope from our lodge, we found a stout-billed Papuan Parrotfinch feeding high in the trees that gave surprisingly good views for a parrotfinch, that can be notably furtive when they choose to be. The same area also saw us find some Orange-billed Lorikeets hiding out in a roadside tree. A little higher up the valley we checked out a fruiting tree where some low 'cooing' sounds led us to a pair of White-breasted Fruit-Dove, the lone fruit-dove at these lofty elevations. Then we ventured onto some narrow mountain trails to go after some of Tari's legendary forest skulkers. Not long after lining up in position for a furtive robin one of the strangest experiences of the trip happened. We played for Ashy Robin, as it was known to have a territory in the area. The robin came in and performed in exemplary fashion, when its distinctive song and strikingly different black-and-white head pattern could be seen from its cousin - Gray-headed Robin of the Atherton Tablelands in Australia, that it is confusingly lumped with right now. However as we waited to all get the cracking looks that followed of the robin, Nick picked up a fantastic Spotted Jewel-Babbler that had also come in to check out the tape, that gave him an eyeful before sneaking away before anyone else could be alerted to the presence of this top draw skulker in the area. Lesser Ground Robins were very vocal, one individual coming right in on several occasions, when some of the group were in just the right position to get it. The Northern Logrunner in the same area was equally elusive, showing to just a couple of people fortuitously positioned at the time. Our local guide took us to a stakeout for Forbe's Forest Rail, where several plays of a recording had little effect, until suddenly the frog-like call of the rail could be heard emanating from the dark undergrowth. The bird sneaked by poorly at first, and then unbelievably stopped right where everyone could see it in an opening in the undergrowth where we could make out it was an unspotted male bird. Truly memorable looks at one of Tari's notorious skulkers. Not long after we made another attempt to find a calling Melampitta (we had chased Lessers in Kumul, and Greater in Tabubil to little effect until now). This jet black, red-eyed ground bird is strangely lumped in with the birds-of-paradise currently, basically being considered a terrestrial Bop, that seems hard to believe from hearing its song or watching its behavior, although that is exactly where it is listed right now. This bird was a lot more helpful than on our previous encounters, and this time everyone got a close look at one that passed by us on the leaf litter. This morning of skulkers however was not over just yet. The star skulker of them all then made an incredible showing in the late morning. Our local guide uttered some quiet almost indiscernible words that seemed to have the word 'whip' in there somewhere. Hardly daring to believe him we moved closer where he motioned to a quiet call coming from near a close fallen log. A little ducking and weaving, 10 minutes went by and in the process we had ALL got heart-stopping looks at a pair of Papuan Whipbirds, one of the top Tari skulkers. Our local guide Joseph indicated that this was the first time he'd ever showed this bird to a whole group, and that these were his very best looks ever. Considering we all had great looks at both the plainer female and white-moustached male I would say that was easy to believe. We emerged back onto the road shaking our heads in disbelief, and barely bothered when our driver mentioned in passing that he had just seen a Harpy Eagle cruising in our direction. Missing Harpy for a whipbird is a fair trade I feel! Around Ambua Lodge Tit Berrypecker put in appearance, and, at lunchtime, a Meyer's Goshawk passed by. The afternoon was understandably less dramatic, although a stop around 7 corners in the Upper Tari Valley was worth it for Crested Berrypecker, cracking looks at both red and black phase Papuan Lorikeets, Plum-faced Lorikeets, and another encounter with the nuthatch impressionist, Blue-capped Ifrita, when its electric blue cap glowed in the evening sunlight. The evening saw us again try for Feline Owlet-nightjar that was heard calling on every attempt but never showed any inclination to come into viewing range-frustrating.

Squabbling Great Woodswallows, Tari/Sam Woods
GREAT WOODSWALLOWS Tari (Sam Woods)

Day 14 (August 31) Tari
After the day before barrage of new birds this day was decidedly quieter in comparison. We started brightly when we opted to head early on to Bailey's Bridge and try and find that Harpy Eagle that our driver had seen in the vicinity while we were watching whipbirds, the day before. A couple of plays later and I picked up the low 'growns' of a calling Harpy and we raced downhill to try and find the source. From the bus panic ensued when Mark picked up a large raptor perched up high in the trees. To much relief when we got off the bus, birders equipment dropping all over the place in the mayhem that followed, there it was a massive New Guinea Harpy Eagle calling with all its might from an open branch high in the trees for great, great looks in the 'scope. A fantastic start to our second day in the Tari Valley. One group of people could not resist heading downhill to a mountain garden where the owner showed them a superb close calling powder blue male Blue Bird-of-paradise, that very nearly grabbed the prize spot of bird of the trip from the King-of-Saxony. This same heavenly garden held a Papuan King-Parrot. Higher up in the Tari Valley a male King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise was found rattling away from the top of a moss-drenched roadside snag, and a Black-mantled Goshawk glared down at us from another dead tree further on. A flowering lower down tempted in Black-throated Honeyeaters, and a truck load of Red-collared Myzomelas, including many black and vermillion males. The same area also saw us run into a scarce whistler, that also probably holds the prize of the dullest, when we found a steely gray male Mottled Whistler calling in the treetops. One birder who hung back at the luxurious Ambua Lodge was rewarded for his walk around their scenic grounds - he picked up a furtive Papuan Parrotfinch feeding in the grounds and a jet black Lesser Melampitta hopped about in front of him on one of their trails. Late in the afternoon we traversed the Tari Gap, finding the diminutive Papuan Thornbill on the other side of it (although not the hoped-for bowerbirds in a deserted fruiting tree); a very obliging covey of Brown Quails that walked right up to our van; and also chanced upon a pair of Australasian Grass Owls cruising the grassy plains up there, and seemingly bringing in prey top a hidden nest up in the 'moorland'.

New Guinea Harpy Eagle, Tari/Mark Harper
NEW GUINEA HARPY EAGLE Tari (Mark Harper)

Day 15 (September 1) Tari to Port Moresby
Just a final few hours were left for us in the Tari Valley where we combed the trees in search of any gaps on our list. Some roadside bamboo not far from our lodge brought joy for Nigel and others who had missed our earlier Wattled Ploughbill in Enga province, as he found first a male and then a female fed by the roadside. The same area held our only Hooded Cuckoo-shrikes of the trip, one of a brace of mountain cuckoo-shrikes seen on the trip, the other of which - Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrike was also seen during our final hours in the valley. Not many other new additions could be found in this short time, although we did find some other 'goodies' that were very pleasing to see again - a black-and-canary yellow Black-breasted Boatbill, a noisy flock of Yellow-billed Lorikeets, a passing Papuan Harrier en-route to the airport, and some further great tit - like Tit Berrypeckers. Both Ribbon-tailed and Princess Stephanie's Astrapias also gave us some final looks in the Tari Valley that morning. However, one of the highlights was non-avian that morning and found right ON the lodge itself, when a massive pair of Hercules Moths were found clasped to the side of the woodwork, attracted in by the lights around the dining room. A true goliath amongst moths! Unfortunately what followed this was a long and protracted wait at Tari airstrip for our long-delayed plane to Port Moresby, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon chilling out in our pleasant island resort, preparing for the 'rigors' of the coming few days when we made our final push at some of New Guinea's cool endemics.

Day 16 (September 2) Varirata NP
The coastal park of Varirata is notably different to all the other areas visited on the trip. This oasis on the outskirts of Port Moresby, could not feel any further away from the hustle and bustle of the capital itself. The nature of the forest there is quite different too - being much drier than all the others visited, with a good smattering of casuarinas or cypress pines, interspersed with large rocky ridges, outcrops and cliffs, giving the place a quite different feel altogether. The birds are an interesting mix of mid-elevation species, along the lines of Tabubil, with some lowland species (along the lines of Kiunga), with a few other top class specialties thrown in. This interesting blend of mountain and lowland species, the ease of access right on the edge of Papua New Guinea's capital, and simply the great birding to be had there make it a must-see destination. Soon after we got to the park we heard the loud calls of the Yellow-billed Kingfisher right around the scenic picnic area, and our local guide Daniel soon had him lined up for us which made for a magic start to what turned out to be a really enjoyable day in Varirata. This is a stunning kingfisher in its own right, although another one exists in the park that is one of the top draw cards as it is a New Guinea endemic that is confined to southeastern PNG. With this in mind we ventured onto a a nearby trail with our intention being to look for that beauty. However, a passing feeding flock soon distracted us from our pursuit bring many new trip birds and lifer to the group in the process. Combing through the hive of activity above us we picked out Black-faced, Frilled and Spot-winged Monarchs moving through in this busy bird 'wave', along with a few rust and black Hooded Pitohuis (New Guinea's 'original' poisonous bird species), and a few hyperactive Chestnut-bellied Fantails. Another bright monarch was found in their mist, when a Yellow-breasted Boatbill turned up, that completed a good brace of boatbills with the endemic Black-breasted seen in the mountains earlier in the trip. This same loose flock held what is arguably Papua's only good looking gerygone - with some black-and-white faced Fairy Gerygones (a species that can also be found in Australia), and there were also a few Black Berrypeckers and Pale-billed Scrubwrens moving through in the same wave (two other key target species for Varirata). Our attentions then turned to what was going on on the ground. A Northern Scrub-Robin called real close and amazingly came in really well for some of us, at which point someone else spotted a movement behind that turned out to be a Black-billed Brush-Turkey that was trying to pass by unnoticed. In our attempts to re-find the turkey, that is seemingly becoming tougher and tougher to come by there, Daniel heard the high-pitched whistles of a Painted Quail-thrush, and our attentions quickly switched to this dazzling endemic. I am glad to say that on this occasion the bird came in brilliantly, walking right past all of us, when our jaws just dropped at the site of this superb male whipbird walking by fully in the open, a magic bird indeed. The flurry of new and fantastic birds did not end there though as we also picked up that exquisite kingfisher that had been our whole reason for walking into the woods in the first place, where we watched up to three different rusty-headed, rose-pink-breasted, Brown-headed Kingfishers calling in the understorey (their long royal blue tails pumping as hey did so). Real top quality New Guinea birding. As we walked out from the forest gloom into the picnic area once more we also found our first Rusty Mouse-Warblers hopping around by a fallen tree. We then went with our local guide to a 'stake-out' for a roosting Barred Owlet-nightjar that had been reliable in the area recently, only to find no-one at home! Nerves were frayed here as the other holes also had been deserted in recent times. However, Daniel was undeterred and checked a few holes on the way out, and at the death one popped right out of the top of a dead tree and glared back at us from a bare branch for a choice encounter with this top nightbird.

Barred Owlet-Nightjar, Varirata NP/Sam Woods
BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR Varirata NP (Sam Woods)
Barred Owlet-Nightjar, Varirata NP/SamWoods

In the heat of the day, with activity cooling we visited a nesting site for a truly scarce raptor, and found the Doria's Hawk sitting right out on the edge of the nest. The nesting habits of this scarce endemic species are poorly known and this may well constitute the first ever nest recorded for Doria's. With Nigel perched on 3999 for his life list, and looking for something really special for the big 4000 we headed out of the park to an area of swamp and rank vegetation for a rare finch in the late afternoon (He had managed to avoid seeing another potential life bird - Pheasant Coucal - by hiding out in the van as he considered this unworthy of this landmark!!!). On arrival at the marsh all was quiet before a roving flock of Gray-headed Munias were found at the back of the marsh, an endemic finch yes but not the one we were after (we had seen this one from the terminal at Port Moresby airport earlier on). Then Daniel drew our attention to a movement in the ferns closeby where soon after a bright chestnut-and jet black finch emerged on top of the swampy vegetation. The hulking blue bill confirmed the bird as our final target of the day - a superb pair of Grand Munias became number 4000 on Nigel's list, and no-one else complained about picking up this stout-billed finch either!

Day 17 (September 3) Varirata NP
Having arrived a little late in the morning the day before we set out pre-dawn so that we could be in position for the BOP show just after the break of dawn, flushing a Large-tailed Nightjar off the road as we headed there in the half light of dawn. We headed off into the forest along a short track just as the first male Raggiana Birds-of-paradise began to give their raucous cries from close to their chosen display area. One particular innocent, decidedly un special looking branch became the focus of our attentions as that is exactly where the males choose to perform when a female is in town. Well there may have been nothing to suggest that the branch was outstanding but whatever the attraction of this particular stage we were happy to watch on and two different males went into the full throws of their crazy displays for an unseen female that must have been hiding in the vicinity somewhere, such were the energies out into their displays. At this time the males come into their own. Sure they are dazzling whenever you see them, although when they fluff up their gaudy red flank plumes and begin gyrating on their perch they come into their own and it i immediately obvious why birders flock to PNG, for such incredible sights that only birding in New Guinea can provide. In a word, breathtaking. We were bleary eyed and sleep on arrival from our extremely early start, although by the end of the BOP's 'party piece' we were all wide awake and thoroughly bedazzled by their awesome show. Once the show had ended, as presumably the female had slinked away once more, and normality returned to proceedings we headed down to a trail, a Cinnamon Ground-Dove flying across the road in front of the bus as we did so. The day before we had been lucky in re-finding one roosting bird-Barred Owlet-Nightjar, although had been given the slip by another. So we checked in on a known spot for Marbled Frogmouth. Glancing up in the trees our main in Varirata, Daniel, made up for the day before (and then some), by finding not one but THREE roosting Marbled Frogmouths sitting out in broad daylight. Although there intricate camouflaged plumage meant they were never really obvious except to the trained eye. In the afternoon, with us all still desperate for a look at Eastern Riflebird, that had been regularly 'growling' in the area we finally managed to pick one out, a glossy blue and black male calling in a high casuarina. Superb. This 'Magnificent Riflebird' is currently lumped in with the Magnificents found at Tabubil and other sites to the west, although has a markedly different growling call, and therefore is commonly believed to be a separate species, Eastern Riflebird. We also enjoyed some final looks at the array of flashy kingfishers on offer in PNG, with Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, the monstrous Blue-winged Kookaburra and several more (far from boring though) Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfishers all seen in the park. To add to these additional sightings we also had our only looks at Azure Kingfishers of the trip that day. The flock fare was a little less in evidence on this day compared to the day before, although one fast moving bird party held the distinctly un-drongo like Papuan (Mountain) Drongo, in addition to Black Berrypecker, and Golden and Black-winged Monarchs. A lunch stop at a viewpoint was quiet although brought us our 13th and final cuckoo-shrike of the trip - the handsome Yellow-eyed (Barred) Cuckoo-shrike. A good late addition (straight out of the Cape York in Australia, where it is also found) was a subtle 'flycatcher', that is technically part of the Australasian Robin family despite appearances to the contrary-Yellow-legged Flycatcher. Our final time on the muddy rainforest trails of Varirata ill also be remembered for our last looks at some of Varirata's legendary, but beautiful skulkers, when first a male Painted Quail-thrush once again came into to check us out (much to the visible relief of Nigel who had been absent the day before when another individual paraded past us); and also a pair of Chestnut-backed Jewel-babblers flew around and walked in close to some of us, giving some heart-stopping looks in the process. The nearby Crested Pitohui though remained typically steadfastly hidden in the undergrowth as usual. Some more Blue-collared Parrots tinkled overhead as we were preparing to leave for the dry wooded areas on the way out, and Papuan Black Myzomelas visited some trees on the edge of the clearing. These gave us some widespread Aussie birds like Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and White-throated Honeyeater, though best of all was a notable endemic in the form of a male of the rarely seen White-bellied Whistler singing his heart out at the top of a roadside gum tree. A perfect last ditch endemic species to end the trip on.

Day 18 (September 4) Departure

In many ways this was a very typical PNG tour - we had to work very hard for many of the birds (over 340 species were recorded), although the pay off for this were many, many cherished moments, with some great sightings for all of us. For the guide at least the close encounter at Tari with a pair of Papuan Whipbirds was certainly unexpected and memorable, although there were many other more colorful offerings that dominated discussions during our final farewell dinner. Strangely King Bird-of-paradise (infamously dubbed the 'blood-and-snow bird' by Paul) was not one of them. Thrilling at the time but forgotten by the end of a long trip that was packed with both the colorful and the bizarre. On the strange front, the Shovel-billed Kookaburra watched in Tabubil was noteworthy, being one of the weirdest of all the kingfishers. Indeed kingfishers were well-represented and contained some really special birds, not least the Brown-headed Paradise-kingfishers seen near the trip end at Varirata. However, this dazzling 'fisher was bizarrely upstaged by the orange-headed Yellow-billed Kingfishers seen at the same site that got a nomination as top trip from Shirley. Strangely too that no one picked out Red-bellied Pitta at the final call. As I have said before, in this country where pittas are overlooked because of all the other colorful fare on offer speaks volumes about the dazzling birdlife of New Guinea. Although not colorful, majestic, magnificent and impressive would be three apt words to describe our prolonged encounter with a New Guinea Harpy Eagle in the Central Highlands. Back on the colorful theme, the full adult male Flame Bowerbird (the so-called 'avian torch') that landed on a tree beside us at Kiunga rated highly, was truly a 'heart stopping' moment and one that surprisingly only got a single vote at the trip end. The brilliant chestnut, white and black form of the beautiful male Painted Quail-thrush that strutted past us at Varirata was also strangely forgotten at our final dinner, although at the time caused rippled of excitement through the group. As ever the 'big blue waxwing' Crested Berrypecker also soon got forgotten in spite of its truly impressive appearance I guess they are just too easy to come by to be a top trip bird (I mean they hang out by the Kumul balcony!). The canada-warbler like form of the Dwarf Whistler, was also thrilling and in many countries would steal the show, although they along with another striking bird, the gold and black Golden Cuckoo-shrike were just swamped out by too many other thrilling sights.

The nightbirds brought some excitement too, some people getting their first taste of the Owlet-Nightjar family at Kumul with Mountain Owlet-Nightjar in the lodge car park, and later again with a Barred Owlet-Nightjar perched out in the open in broad daylight at Varirata.

So in the end the focus always comes back to New Guinea's most famous birds of all, the fantastically adorned Birds-of-paradise. On this trip we saw 24 different birds-of-paradise (this includes Eastern Riflebird in the total, a widely touted split). You'd think it would be hard to thrill someone of the caliber and travel experience of David Attenborough, although he was clearly excited during his encounters with these very special birds in his landmark program 'Attenborough in Paradise'. Like him, we too were mesmerized by these barely believable birds. The sight of a calling male Brown Sicklebill calling like a machine gun from the Kumul bird table will live long in the memory. This male sporting glistening green glossy patches on an already impressive plumage (do not look to the book to reveal the true beauty of this highly impressive BOP). In spite of his performance once again he too was 'forgotten', discarded and ignored at the trip end. Our firs afternoon at Kumul saw us come face to face with the vivid orange and black form of the exquisite Crested Bird-of-paradise, that should have remained long in the memory although was again engulfed within a swathe of other beautiful birds. Same too goes for the fully-tailed male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia seen close to Tari Gap. The sight of its clean white, over meter long, tail coup[led with his metallic green-glossed head brought gasps from the group at the time, although it was thrown out at the final call, such is the nature of New Guinea birding. Same too went for the male Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise perched up on his 'dancing pole' at Kiunga. In the end it all came down to a fight out between two of the biggest draw cards in New Guinea - the brilliant blue form of a male Blue Bird-of-paradise that thrilled in a Huli mountain garden in the Central Highlands, and the completely unique, antennae-wielding male King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise that was seen higher up the same BOP-filled valley at Tari. The blue was surely dazzling, however the 'Sax BOP' is just too different from any other living creature on Earth that it won out in the end, and trumped the blue to title of TOP TRIP BIRD.


BIRD LIST

Taxonomy and nomenclature follow Clements, J. (6th ed. updated 2007) Birds of the World. A Checklist. Pica Press. Includes recent updates.

Species marked *ENDEMIC* are endemics to New Guinea (satellite islands and New Britain are included within the definition of New Guinea used here).
Those marked with an (H) were only heard.

If a species is often given an alternative name to the one denoted here by Clements, I have indicated the other commonly used name in brackets, for ease of cross-reference with other sources.

I have selectively annotated the checklist for species that may be of particular interest.

GREBES: Podicipedidae
Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

GANNETS AND BOOBIES: Sulidae
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
One was seen from our coastal Port Moresby resort

CORMORANTS: Phalacrocoracidae
Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos

ANHINGAS: Anhingidae
Darter Anhinga melanogaster

FRIGATEBIRDS: Fregatidae
Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel

HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNS: Ardeidae
Great Egret Ardea alba

Pied Heron Egretta picata
One was seen on our first afternoon around the PAU campus.
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Pacific Reef-Heron Egretta sacra
A few were seen by our resort in Port Moresby.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Rufous Night-Heron Nycticorax caledonicus
A few were seen along the Elevala River, near Kiunga.

IBIS AND SPOONBILLS: Threskiornithidae
Australian Ibis Threskiornis molucca
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis

DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS: Anatidae
Spotted Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna guttata
This bird is also found in the far reaches of the Cape York Peninsula in Australia. Their usual site in Moresby, the sewge ponds of the campus at PAU, has recently undergone some habitat alterations (i.e. gardening) that seems to have been bad for the ducks, destroying the little habitat they had for them there. Plans are afoot to change this for the future we hope. We did see two pairs along the Fly River not too far from Kiunga though.
Wandering Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna arcuata

Salvadori's Teal Salvadorina waiguensis *ENDEMIC*
A nervous wait at the OK Menga lookout (Tabubil) ended happily when a pair of these 'New Guinea Torrent Ducks' swam around the corner and then remained in the area for some time. After a while they were joined by another individual that prompted a very aggressive fight between two of these bright yellow-billed teals, before they were swept downstream by the dam waterfall furiously fighting all the while! On a return visit to the dam to try for Torrent Lark, a pair flew by close past the lookout.
Gray Teal Anas gracilis
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa

OSPREY: Pandionidae
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
One was seen by our Port Moresby resort.
NB. Some authors split this off as Eastern Osprey.


HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES: Accipitridae

Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Long-tailed Honey-buzzard Henicopernis longicauda *ENDEMIC*
Just a couple of sightings of this distinctively-shaped raptor in the Tabubil area.
Black (Fork-tailed) Kite Milvus migrans

Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Eastern (Papuan) Marsh-Harrier
Circus spilonotus *ENDEMIC?*
Seen around MT Hagen airport while waiting for (yet another) delayed Air Nuigini flight! Also picked up near Tari.
NB. This species is currently grouped with the widespread Eastern Marsh Harrier, although many authors split this off as the New Guinea endemic, Papuan Harrier.
Variable Goshawk Accipiter hiogaster

Recorded several times around Ekame.
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus
A single bird was seen downhill from Kumul Lodge.
Black-mantled Goshawk Accipiter melanochlamys *ENDEMIC*
One was seen perched in the upper Tari valley.
Gray-headed Goshawk Accipiter poliocephalus *ENDEMIC*
One was was seen during our first Fly River Cruise out of Kiunga, and then later some were treated to a perched view along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil.
Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus

One was seen at both Tari, and in the dry woodlands of Varirata National Park.

Meyer's Goshawk Accipiter meyerianus
One flew over the garden at Ambua Lodge, Tari.
Doria's Goshawk Megatriorchis doriae *ENDEMIC*
Dablin Creek in Tabubil has suffered some extensive deforestation in recent times, prompting discussions as to whether this species still exists in that particular stretch of forest. Needless to say we did not get them there in light of this, although were fortunate to find out that a nest had recently been discovered of this scarce and poorly known bird in Varirata NP. We visited the nest there and found an adult bird perched out in the open on the edge of the nest for rare perched views of this very scarce endemic hawk.
New Guinea (Harpy) Eagle Harpyopsis novaeguineae
Definitely one of the trip highlights was hearing the strange low calls of this huge eagle emanating from the treetops, that caused a frantic run for the bus and rally downhill to try and locate the source of this brilliant sound. As we descended towards the area Mark picked up its huge frame high in the trees, so we all rapidly jumped off the bus and lined it up in the 'scope for excellent views of this impressive Papuan raptor.
Little Eagle Aquila morphnoides
One overflew our boat on the Elevala River. There has been some talk of this form in New Guinea being split off as the endemic New Guinea Little Eagle.

FALCONS: Falconidae
Brown Falcon Falco berigora
Two were found downslope from Kumul Lodge in Enga province.

MEGAPODES: Megapodiidae

Black-billed Brush-turkey Talegalla fuscirostris *ENDEMIC*
The brush-turkeys were heard in a few places, although by voice seemed decidedly uncommon this year. One was chanced upon as it tried to sneak behind us while we were waiting off trail for some skulkers at Varirata NP.

QUAIL: Phasianidae
Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora
Two were seen close to our bus at Tari Gap.

RAILS, GALLINULES AND COOTS: Rallidae
Forbes's Rail Rallina forbesi *ENDEMIC*
We all enjoyed truly spectacular views of an unspotted male bird on a narrow forest trail in the Tari Valley.
Red-necked Crake Gallirallus philippensis (H)
Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

One was seen running along the road near Ambua Lodge.
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

JACANAS: Jacanidae
Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea
Seen at the Pacific Adventists University.

PRATINCOLES: Glareolidae
Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella
Several were seen standing on the runway at Port Moresby and Daru Airports.

PLOVERS AND LAPWINGS: Charadriidae

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
A few were found on the Tari airstrip.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius *ENDEMIC?*
Three of this distinctive resident 'race' were seen in their usual hangout between Kiunga and Tabubil. They possess a pale base to the bill and give a very different call to the nominate race, leading some to treat this as a separate, endemic species.
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii

SANDPIPERS: Scolopacidae

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Several were seen close to our Port Moresby resort.
Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
One flew over our boat along the Fly River.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Gray-tailed Tattler Tringa breviceps
One was seen by our Port Moresby resort.

TERNS: Sternidae
Black Noddy Anous minuta
A group of noddies flying around as we transferred from our Port Moresby resort was believed to be this species.
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
As we awaited our onbound flight to Kiunga, at Daru airport, we watched a few of these stout-billed terns cruising along the airstrip.
Great Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
Regularly seen around our coastal Port Moresby resort.
Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis

One of these orange-billed terns was found in a flock of Great Crested Terns by our Port Moresby resort.

PIGEONS AND DOVES: Columbidae
Rock Pigeon Columba livia

Slender-billed (Brown) Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia amboinensis
NB. This is a split from Brown Cuckoo-Dove that is found in Australia.
Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia nigrirostris *ENDEMIC*
Just recorded in the highlands in our time at Kumul and Ambua Lodges.
Great (Long-tailed) Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtii
First recorded alongside the Fly River, and later downslope from Kumul Lodge, and also at Varirata NP.
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
New Guinea Bronzewing Henicophaps albifrons *ENDEMIC* (GO)
A frustation for the guide was managing to find one of these striking doves calling in a tree, only for it to fly right off as the first people came into check it out, along a trail in Tabubil.
Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida

Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis
Just recorded at Pacific Adventists University.

Cinnamon Ground-Dove Gallicolumba rufigula *ENDEMIC*
One flew across the road in front of our bus at Varirata NP.
Bronze Ground-Dove Gallicolumba beccarii
A really great recent development at Kumul Lodge is the arrival of a couple of these tiny doves, that at the time of our trip were coming intermittently to the lodge garden and feeding on fallen seeds underneath their fruit-packed bird table. Long may it continue!
Pheasant Pigeon Otidiphaps nobilis *ENDEMIC* (H)
Decidedly quiet during our time in New Guinea, only heard distantly at Tabubil, and later heard just once briefly calling in Varirata NP.
Southern Crowned-Pigeon Goura scheepmakeri *ENDEMIC*
A BIG target in many ways during our 'Fly River Cruises', being the world's largest pigeon. Once again Samuel came into his own, pulling it out 'at the death', late in the afternoon just when all hope seemed lost!
Wompoo Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus magnificus
Just a couple were seen, briefly in the Kiunga area, and later in Varirata NP.
Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus perlatus *ENDEMIC*
A very attractive fruit-dove, that is also one of the commoner species. We recorded this beautiful dove around Kiunga, Tabubil, and finally at Varirata NP.
Ornate Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus ornatus *ENDEMIC*
Just one was seen, along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil.
Superb Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus superbus
This Australian species was seen first in Kiunga, and then others were seen in Tabubil and Varirata NP.
Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus *ENDEMIC*
A distinct lack of fruiting trees during this trip meant many of the fruit-doves were thin on the ground. Just the one of these great looking doves was seen during one of our 'Fly River Cruises'.
White-breasted (-bibbed) Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus rivoli
A pair of these highland fruit-doves was found feeding in a fruiting tree in the Tari Valley.
Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus iozonus *ENDEMIC*
Seen a number of times around Kiunga, and later again in Varirata NP.
Dwarf Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus nanus *ENDEMIC* (H)
Just heard on one occasion, alongside the Elevala River.
Purple-tailed Imperial-Pigeon Ducula rufigaster *ENDEMIC*
One was seen from the 'Flame Knoll' along Boystown Road, Kiunga.
Pinon Imperial-Pigeon Ducula pinon *ENDEMIC*
Several 'pimps' were seen during both of our boat trips down the Fly River in the Kiunga area.
Collared Imperial-Pigeon Ducula mullerii *ENDEMIC*
The common Fly pigeon, many of these well-marked 'imps' were seen flocking along both the Fly and Elevala Rivers (near Kiunga).
Zoe Imperial-Pigeon Ducula zoeae *ENDEMIC*
Recorded several times around both Kiunga and Tabubil.
Torresian Imperial-Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa
They were seen regularly in small numbers around Port Moresby.
NB. This Australasian species is sometimes lumped in with the Asian Pied Imperial Pigeon, although is currently considered distinct within the Clements list.

Papuan Mountain-Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii
This flocking pigeon was seen around Tabubil, Kumul, and Tari.
NB. This species is also found within the Moluccas of Indonesia.

COCKATOOS: Cacatuidae
Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus

A true monster in the 'parrot' world. Seen several times dragging its massive frame across the river from our boat trips down the Fly, and also seen near Kiunga when searching for Flame Bowerbird, and later also along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita

PARROTS: Psittacidae
Yellow-streaked (Greater-streaked) Lory Chalcopsitta sintillata *ENDEMIC*
A few fly bys were had in the Kiunga area.
Dusky Lory Pseudeos fuscata *ENDEMIC*
A small group were found perched up by the Fly River.
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus
Goldie's Lorikeet Psitteuteles goldiei *ENDEMIC*
A few were seen near the Blue BOP spot close to Kumul Lodge, and later a few others were seen leaving a flowering tree in the Tari Valley.
(Western) Black-capped Lory Lorius lory *ENDEMIC*
This brilliantly colored lory was seen several times in the Kiunga and Tabubil areas
Red-flanked Lorikeet Charmosyna placentis
A pair overflew us in an area of forest close to the port town of Kiunga.
Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou *ENDEMIC*
This flashy, extremely long-tailed lorikeet was seen on a number of occasions in the Tari Valley, and included both dark and red phase birds.
Plum-faced (Whiskered) Lorikeet Oreopsittacus arfaki *ENDEMIC*
These smart highland parrots were seen a few times in the upper Tari Valley.
Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii *ENDEMIC*
Seen both in the Kumul Lodge area and also in the Tari Valley.
Orange-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus pullicauda *ENDEMIC*
Just a couple of these were seen, not far from our lodge in Tari.
Pesquet's (Vulturine) Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus *ENDEMIC*
We had to sweat a little on this one. We never found any during our Fly river trips, or on our first two days around Tabubil. So we decided to make one final throw of the dice with just an hours birding available before our flight out of Tabubil for the highlands. This paid off handsomely when Samuel picked up the calls of this bizarre parrot coming from the hill opposite, and soon after a group of these huge parrots were watched making for a tree where we were able to line them up in the 'scope for all.
Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta bruijnii
People got a real kick out of this tiny, tiny parrot that behaves much more like a nuthatch than a psittacid. We had a few sightings during our day along the Dablin Creek road, including some good perched views of gorgeous male birds.
Orange-breasted Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta gulielmitertii *ENDEMIC*
Seen regularly around Kiunga and Tabubil.
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma

Superb views were had of a small party of these small parrots along the Boystown Road, Kiunga, as we walked from our grounded vehicle to the Flame Knoll there. This species is also found in northern Australia.
Large Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris desmarestii *ENDEMIC*
A pair flew over our boat along the Elevala River on one trip.
Brehm's Tiger-Parrot Psittacella brehmii *ENDEMIC*
A bird table regular at Kumul Lodge, the only place we recorded it.
Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi
First recorded on our first afternoon around Port Moresby, at PAU, and then later seen again in Kiunga and Tabubil.
Blue-collared Parrot Geoffroyus simplex *ENDEMIC*
One day I hope to see this bird perched! Typically high flight views of this parrot were had in Tabubil and also in Varirata NP, where their characteristic tinkling call betrayed their presence to us.
Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus
A superb and striking parrot that also occurs in the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. Both bright jade green males, and scarlet-and-blue females were recorded during the boat trips we made out of Kiunga. Later also recorded along the OK Ma Road in Tabubil too.
Papuan King-Parrot
Alisterus chloropterus *ENDEMIC*
A few singles were seen in the Tari area of the Central Highlands.
Papuan Hanging-Parrot Loriculus aurantiifrons
A great suprise find by Nick was a small group of these tiny parrots feeding alongside the OK Ma Road one afternoon in Tabubil, that hung around for a while and gave everyone a good eyeful of this dinky and rarely encountered parrot.

CUCKOOS: Cuculidae
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus
Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis castaneiventris *ENDEMIC*
One was seen really well along the Dablin Creek Road, Tabubil.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis (H)
Just heard around Tari in the highlands. This species also occurs in Australia.
Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx ruficollis *ENDEMIC*
Two singles were seen close to Ambua Lodge, Tari.
White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx meyeri *ENDEMIC*
Recorded at both Dablin and OK Ma in the Tabubil area.
Little Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
One was seen during our first 'Fly River Cruise', Kiunga.
White-crowned Koel Caliechthrus leucolophus*ENDEMIC* (H)

Easy to hear, hard to see. Only ever heard distantly, when none of them showed any inclination to respond to playback.
Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva *ENDEMIC* (H)
Just heard distantly on one occasion, along the Dablin Creek Road, Tabubil.
Australian Koel Eudynamys cyanocephala
Seen during our boat trips out of Kiunga on a few occasions.
NB. Currently considered a separate species on the Clements list from the Asian or Common Koel, E. scolopaceus, although some
authors consider them all one widespread species.
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae
These massive cuckoos were seen during both of our boat trips up the Fly River. The largest of all the cuckoos.
Greater Black Coucal Centropus menbeki *ENDEMIC* (H)
This skulker of note was only heard in the vicinity of Ekame Lodge, near Kiunga.
Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus
This Australian species was seen in the drier country around Varirata NP, and also at the Grand Munia site in Moresby. Due to a blatant strategy of 'trash bird' avoidance by Nigel, he narrowly escaped this species becoming his landmark 4000th species!
Lesser Black Coucal Centropus bernsteini *ENDEMIC*

Good views were obtained of an individual in the Kiunga area.

BARN-OWLS: Tytonidae
Australasian Grass-Owl Tyto longimembris
A pair were seen quartering the moorland at the top of the Tari Valley, one of which seemed to go down in the grass with prey, so they may well have been nesting in the area at the time.

OWLS: Strigidae

Jungle Hawk-Owl (Papuan Boobook) Ninox theomacha *ENDEMIC*
We had just got in position at OK Ma Road, (Tabubil), in preparation for when the Shovel-billed Kookaburras would start calling just prior to dawn, when one of these boobooks began calling close to the road. Soon after Nick pointed out a significant dark shape on a close branch, and there it was-a fine Papuan Boobook in the spotlight. One person was still getting his gear ready in the car and arrived just after it flew off to roost, but happily picked it up later on the trip, right around our cabins at Ambua Lodge (Tari).

OWLET-NIGHTJARS: Aegothelidae
Feline Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles insignis *ENDEMIC* (H)
A frustrating miss was hearing this bird many times in the Tari valley. It does seem to be rarely actually seen these days though.
Mountain Owlet-Nightjar Aegotheles albertisi *ENDEMIC*
We took a little time to get this one last year around the lodge at Kumul, and it was no different this year. This species just seems to be in the mood to call some nights/mornings and not on others. Persistence paid off though, when we finally did hear them close and played back, a pair came flying in and perched on a cable right above us calling agitatedly. As only a few people were present, and it was not long after our dinner, I then went full pelt to round the group up, as I was sure everyone would still be up. Thankfully they were all awake, alert, and soon after were watching one of these cute nightbirds perched in a different place right by the lodge car park.
Barred Owlet-Nightjar Aegotheles bennettii *ENDEMIC*
The roosting hole where it had been traditionally reliable in recent years had unfortunately been abandoned this year. However, our local guide was not perturbed as he had found another reliable spot for them in Varirata NP. Checking this new 'reliable' spot we were dismayed to find no one at home, and the thought of a 'dip' was looming large when Daniel checked out another fairly innocent looking tree close by, where a Barred Owlet-Nightjar shot out of the top of it. The bird perched beside the hole where it glared down at us from this unwanted intrusion, a great relief, and a great look and at this fabulous nightbird.

FROGMOUTHS: Podargidae
Marbled Frogmouth Podargus papuensis
Our local guide checked a recent roost area for them at Varirata NP on our first visit, but found no birds present. Checking again the next day he found not one, but three birds roosting in the very same open casuarina trees that had been 'empty' the day before.
Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis
The star birds on our first afternoon around the campus of the Pacific Adventists University. One of the scientists on campus took us to a tree where they regular roost, although was careful to point out they had gone AWOL recently. Within minutes of this gloomy news however, he was pointing straight up at one doing a great bark impression above us, and we soon found the other half of the pair close by.

NIGHTJARS: Caprimulgidae

Archbold's (Mountain) Nightjar Eurostopodus archboldi *ENDEMIC*
On arrival at the quarry in Tari where they usually regularly hang out, we had a pair fly around us that soon disappeared. On checking the quarry again on other nights no other birds were seen.
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
One bird flushed up in the van headlights off the road at Varirata NP, as we made our way to the Raggiana BOP display area predawn one morning.

SWIFTS: Apodidae
Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta
Mountain Swiftlet Aerodramus hirundinaceus *ENDEMIC*
These dull endemic swifts were seen on a number of occasions in our time around Kumul and Ambua Lodges.
Uniform Swiftlet Aerodramus vanikorensis
Papuan (Spine-tailed-) Needletail Mearnsia novaeguineae *ENDEMIC*
A few of these distinctively shaped swifts were seen on all of our days around Kiunga and the Fly River area.

TREESWIFTS: Hemiprocnidae
Moustached Treeswift Hemiprocne mystacea
A really cracking species that was seen extremely well in Kiunga, and later again at Tabubil. Also recorded once at Varirata NP.

KINGFISHERS: Alcedinidae
Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea
A couple were seen in Varirata NP.
Little Kingfisher Alcedo pusilla
One was seen by some during one of our boat trips along the Fly and Elevala Rivers.
Variable (Dwarf) Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus
Just heard in the Kiunga area on one occasion.
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
A few of these large kookaburras were seen in dry country around Port Moresby (near PAU and Varirata NP).
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud *ENDEMIC*
The most commonly recorded kookaburra in PNG, we saw them frequently from our boats along the Fly and Elevala Rivers, and also saw them again in Tabubil and Varirata NP.
Shovel-billed (Kingfisher) Kookaburra Clytoceyx rex *ENDEMIC*
This massive, strange-billed kingfisher is a big target bird for visiting birders. It seems to be almost crepuscular in its habits, almost never heard out of these times, and is shy and difficult to come by when not calling or nesting. So dawn found us at one of the key sites for the species - the OK Ma Road in Tabubil. After the little distraction of a Papuan Boobook in our spotlight nearby the shovel-billeds began calling in earnest and the chase was on to locate one in the short window of opportunity before they stop calling just minutes later. Thankfully one was perched in a great position where I picked up the rich rufous underparts hiding in the shadows. It remained there for all to get great scope views of this enigmatic kingfisher, before they all soon fell silent and were never seen or heard from again the rest of that day.
Forest Kingfisher Todirhamphus macleayii
Just one was seen at the trip start and trip end in the dry country of Port Moresby.
Sacred Kingfisher Todirhamphus sanctus
This Australian species was recorded at a number of lowland sites throughout the tour.
Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina *ENDEMIC* (H)
As ever easy to hear but steadfastly refusing to budge from their position in dense forest understorey in Kiunga.
Yellow-billed Kingfisher Syma torotoro
Heard first in Kiunga, although we had to wait until the trip end to catch up with them in Varirata NP, by far the easiest site to get them on the tour. 2 separate birds were seen well in Varirata NP, prompting Shirley to nominate this attractive 'fisher as her personal top trip bird.
Mountain Kingfisher Syma megarhyncha *ENDEMIC* (H)
The highland counterpart of Yellow-billed Kingfisher, heard distantly in Tari on several occasions.
Little Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera hydrocharis *ENDEMIC*
This formerly rare kingfisher seems to be being recorded with greater regularity these days along the Elevala River. As we waited for a King BOP to perform we heard a bird calling that showed well on several occasions as it called continuously from the forest understorey.
Common Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera galatea
This one played up, and only gave a short look or two to most people, and then only a closeby flight view before disappearing into the forest gloom.
Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera danae *ENDEMIC*
This one performed with excellence in Varirata NP, where we had a number of 'crackerjack' looks at this breathtaking kingfisher, a species that is only found within southeastern Papua New Guinea.

BEE-EATERS: Meropidae

Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus

ROLLERS: Coraciidae
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Very, very common on our Fly River trips, and also seen at Tabubil and Varirata.

HORNBILLS: Bucerotidae
Blyth's (Papuan) Hornbill Aceros plicatus
This magnificent bird was seen regularly during our boat trips out of Kiunga. One of the trip highlights that was widely mentioned at the 'last supper' was the awesome sight of almost 40 of these superb hornbills passing over our boat along the Fly River one evening. They were also seen in the Tabubil area.

PITTAS: Pittidae
Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida

Two separate birds were seen briefly in the Fly River area, although on both occasions the birds showed for just one or two people as they remained hidden in dense cover.
Red-bellied (Blue-breasted) Pitta Pitta erythrogaster
One bird came in to check out our tape at Varirata NP, and with a lot of patience and persistence we ALL managed to get views of this red-bellied beauty as it hopped about in the forest understorey.

SWALLOWS: Hirundinidae
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica


WAGTAILS AND PIPITS: Motacillidae
Australasian Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae

A few were seen up at the Tari Gap.

CUCKOO-SHRIKES: Campephagidae
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Stout-billed Cuckoo-shrike Coracina caeruleogrisea *ENDEMIC*
Just the one of these chunky cuckoo-shrikes was seen along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil.
Yellow-eyed (Barred) Cuckoo-shrike Coracina lineata
A small party of these handsome cuckoo-shrikes was found on our second day at Varirata NP, close to Port Moresby.
NB. This fruit-loving cuckoo-shrike is also found in Australia.
Boyer's Cuckoo-shrike
Coracina boyeri *ENDEMIC*
Recorded in Kiunga, Tabubil and Varirata NP.
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina papuensis
Hooded Cuckoo-shrike Coracina longicauda *ENDEMIC*
One of two true montane cuckoo-shrikes in Papua-along with Black-bellied. A pair of these large cuckoo-shrikes were seen during our final hour of birding in the Tari Valley.
Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris
A single bird was seen by Nigel in Varirata.
Papuan (Black-shouldered) Cuckoo-shrike Coracina incerta *ENDEMIC*
A couple of pairs were seen in Tabubil.
Gray-headed Cuckoo-shrike Coracina schisticeps *ENDEMIC*
First seen in the Kiunga area, and later again around Tabubil.
New Guinea (Black) Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melas *ENDEMIC*
Seen at the start of the trip near to Kiunga, and at the trip end in the park at Varirata.
Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina montana *ENDEMIC*
This montane cuckoo-shrike was first seen along a steep trail close to Kumul Lodge, and later again several times within the Tari Valley in the Central Highlands.
Golden Cuckoo-shrike Campochaera sloetii *ENDEMIC*
The undisputed top cuckoo-shrike in New Guinea (maybe even the world?), I mean where in the world could you get a bright yellow-and-black cuckoo-shrike except PNG? This makes a dramatic departure from the normal grays and blacks that ordinarily dominate the plumage of this family. Some poor views were initially had in the Kiunga area, and then finally in Tabubil we could fully appreciate the awesome coloration of this superb bird, when a pair were found feeding in a tree overhead, along the Dablin Creek Road.
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela
Seen in the foothills of both Tabubil and Varirata NP.

THRUSHES: Turdidae
Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus
A regular visitor to the garden lawn and bird tables during our time at Kumul Lodge, also seen a few times on the road up at the Tari Gap.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS: Sylviidae
Island (Mountain) Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephalus

Seen in the mountains of Kumul and Tari.
Tawny (Papuan) Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis *ENDEMIC?*
Seen at several places in the highlands.
NB. Some authors propose this to be split off as Papuan Grassbird, although I cannot see why personally!

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS: Muscicapidae
Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
Commonly recorded in open country (i.e. 'trash habitat'!)

FANTAILS: Rhipiduridae

Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris

Recorded at several sites in the foothills of Tabubil.
Willie-wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
A fairly common bird in lowland areas, especially along the Elevala River.
Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata *ENDEMIC*
Recorded daily in the mountains of Kumul and Tari.
Chestnut-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hyperythra *ENDEMIC*
Arguably the best-looking fantail on the tour, and a flock regular at Varirata NP, which is exactly where we found them, (mixed in with scrubwrens, berrypeckers, monarchs and a boatbill or two).
Sooty Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura threnothorax *ENDEMIC*
The thicket-fantails are straight from the top draw of skulkers in New Guinea, always being difficult to see. We heard them on a number of occasions in Tabubil, and then finally picked one up along the Boundary Track at Varirata NP near the end of the trip.
White-bellied Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax *ENDEMIC*
We managed to tape this one in along the Elevala River during our first boat trip, saving us a lot of chasing around later on!
Black Fantail Rhipidura atra *ENDEMIC*
First seen in the foothills at Tabubil, and later again in the highlands around Kumul and Tari.
Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha *ENDEMIC*
Seen on several occasions in the highlands, including along the Kumul Lodge trails themselves.

MONARCH FLYCATCHERS: Monarchidae

Black Monarch Monarcha axillaris *ENDEMIC*
A small, vocal party of these Black Fantail 'wannabees' was seen along a steep trail close to Kumul Lodge.
Black-winged Monarch Monarcha frater

One was seen in a 'bird wave' with Golden Monarch, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Hooded Pitohuis and others, on a small forest trail at Varirata NP.
Also found in extreme northern Australia.
Black-faced Monarch Monarcha melanopsis
Also found within one of Varirata's roving feeding flocks, along Frilled and Spot-winged Monarchs, and others.
Spot-winged Monarch Monarcha guttulus *ENDEMIC*
Singles were seen on both of our days in Varirata, within mixed feeding flocks.
Golden Monarch Monarcha chrysomela *ENDEMIC*
Two trip sightings-first one afternoon near the Elevala River, and later a pair came through in a mixed feeding flock by the car park at Varirata NP.
Frilled Monarch Arses telescopthalmus *ENDEMIC*
Another dazzling flock follower, we saw them first in the Kiunga area and later several times within Varirata NP.
Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto
Several were seen hanging out in low riverside vegetation, along the Elevala River during our boat trips there.
Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus *ENDEMIC*
The highland boatbill. Seen on around 5 occasions in the highlands, including within the grounds of both Kumul and Ambua lodges.
Yellow-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus flaviventer

The 'lowland' boatbill in New Guinea, being found in the lowlands and foothills (whereas Black-breasted is a true mountain species). We picked this one up on our first day in Varirata, moving through in a feeding flock with Frilled, Black-faced and Spot-winged Monarchs among others.
Also found in the rainforest belt of northern Australia.

AUSTRALASIAN ROBINS: Petroicidae
Lesser Ground-Robin Amalocichla incerta *ENDEMIC*
A real 'low down and dirty' skulker, we heard them in both Tari and close to Kumul Lodge. One responded really well at Tari, although in spite of this only a few people got onto it, as it came in and quickly moved back into thick undergrowth again.
Torrent Flycatcher Monachella muelleriana *ENDEMIC*
Seen 'boulder-hopping' first in Tabubil around OK Menga, and later again at the Torrent Lark site near Kumul Lodge.
Lemon-bellied Flycatcher Microeca flavigaster

One of these Aussie birds was seen in the dry eucalypts on the entrance road to Varirata NP close to Port Moresby.
Yellow-legged Flycatcher Microeca griseoceps
One was seen really well along a trail at Varirata, on one day only.

Olive Flyrobin Microeca flavovirescens *ENDEMIC*
One was seen along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil, thanks to Mark.
Canary Flycatcher Microeca papuana *ENDEMIC*
Several of these bright yellow robins were seen near Kumul, and later around Tari.
Garnet Robin Eugerygone rubra *ENDEMIC*
A male and a female were seen along a steep trail close to Kumul Lodge, (the female feeding low down right beside us in the open), and several more were heard in the Tari Valley.
White-faced Robin Tregellasia leucops (H)
A big miss this one, we just heard the one in our time there, a poor showing for this species.
Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca *ENDEMIC*
One of the only lowland robins, most of which are montane species. We saw one briefly by the second King Bird-of-paradise site visited.
Black-throated (-bibbed) Robin Poecilodryas albonotata *ENDEMIC*
Strangely difficult on this trip, where just the one was seen, perched briefly by the roadside in the Tari Valley.
White-winged Robin Peneothello sigillatus *ENDEMIC*
These delightful robins are regular along Kumul's trails, and are sometimes also in the garden there. We saw several in this area, clasping to the side of vertical trunks.
White-rumped Robin Peneothello bimaculatus *ENDEMIC*
One bird was seen several times briefly along the Dablin Creek Road in Tabubil.
Blue-gray Robin Peneothello cyanus *ENDEMIC*
Singles were seen well at two separate sites in the Kumul area, with others being heard in the Tari Valley.
Gray-headed (Ashy) Robin Heteromyias albispecularis *ENDEMIC?*

Clements currently has this lumped with the northern Australian Gray-headed Robin, that differs markedly in it's song and completely in its habits. The birds in Australia being showy and even tame at times. A far cry from the New Guinea birds that are notoriously skulking. Other authors have split this off as a New Guinea endemic, Ashy Robin. This year a bird at Tari though was far from skulking giving everyone there absolutely cracking views. Others were heard close to Kumul Lodge.
Northern Scrub-Robin Drymodes superciliaris
Another of New Guinea's low down and dirty skulkers. One of them threw the rule book out of the window this year, and came out well at Varirata NP for a short time, giving several people great looks. Others were heard in Tabubil.

WHISTLERS: Pachycephalidae
Mottled Whistler Rhagologus leucostigma *ENDEMIC*
Quite often a tricky species, although for us this year straightforward, a drab male of which was scoped up along a trail at Tari.
Dwarf Whistler (Goldenface) Pachycare flavogrisea *ENDEMIC*
One of a few cracking whistler species in New Guinea. This Canada Warbler-esque whistler was seen well along the Dablin Creek Road, Tabubil.
Rufous-naped Whistler Aleadryas rufinucha *ENDEMIC*
This terrestrial whistler was seen well hopping around on the lawn in the Kumul Lodge garden.
Rusty Whistler Pachycephala hyperythra *ENDEMIC* (H)
Frustratingly only heard in Tabubil.
Brown-backed Whistler Pachycephala modesta *ENDEMIC*
This white-breasted whistler was recorded several times around Kumul Lodge and also in Tari.
Gray-headed Whistler Pachycephala griseiceps
Seen in the Kiunga and Tabubil areas, and also in the park at Varirata.
NB. A recent split from the Gray Whistler, P. simplex in Australia.
Sclater's Whistler Pachycephala soror *ENDEMIC*
Just the one seen, a female in Tabubil.
Regent Whistler Pachycephala schlegelii *ENDEMIC*
The males of this whistler are about as good as they come, a well-named bird indeed. Several were seen around Kumul Lodge and also in Tari. A fantastic male even came in to check out the lodge garden at Kumul.
Black-headed Whistler Pachycephala monacha *ENDEMIC*
A singing male was seen while we were watching the Lesser Birds-of-paradise, downslope from Kumul Lodge.
White-bellied Whistler Pachycephala leucogastra *ENDEMIC*
A scarce, endemic whistler with a interesting taxonomic history. Originally considered a subspecies of Rufous Whistler, P. rufiventris, which is also found in Australia, although only fairly recently split off as a species in its own right. There are now some authors who are proposing that it be lumped with another species again, although this time with Black-headed Whistler, P. monacha.
We found a singing bird in the dry woodland along the entrance track to Varirata NP on our final day, that was our final endemic (and addition to the trip list).
Rufous (Little) Shrike-Thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha
Singles were seen in Varirata NP.
Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous *ENDEMIC*
This poisonous bird was seen several times around the clearing and in some of the mixed feeding flocks at Varirata NP.
White-bellied Pitohui Pitohui incertus *ENDEMIC* (H)
Heard close on several occasions by the Elevala River, but we just could not find it, within dense cover.
Rusty Pitohui Pitohui ferrugineus *ENDEMIC* (GO)
One sneaked by the group at Varirata before I could get anyone on it.
Crested Pitohui Pitohui cristatus *ENDEMIC* (H)
Never heard close, and ALWAYS in dense cover, the usual score with this shy and skulking, ground-dwelling 'whistler'.
Black Pitohui Pitohui nigrescens
A calling bird moved through in front of us in the Tari Valley, although no one got a good look at it at all.
Wattled Ploughbill Eulacestoma nigropectus *ENDEMIC*
Dwarf or Regent Whistler would normally be expected to be considered the best whistlers in PNG, were it not for this completely bizarre bird. We first had incredible and prolonged views of a fleshy-wattled male bird near Kumul Lodge, with a male and female also being seen in our final morning at Tari. Whether it is a whistler or not who knows - the 'ploughbill' is certainly unique, as are the bright pink wattles that protrude from its cheeks, a real avian oddity and highly rated for that alone. Superb.

PSEUDO-BABBLERS: Pomatostomidae
New Guinea (Rufous) Babbler
Pomatostomus isidorei *ENDEMIC*
A noisy rabble of these babblers came through while we waited for the male King Bird-of-paradise to weave his magic, in Kiunga.

LOGRUNNERS: Orthonychidae
Northern (New Guinea) Logrunner Orthonyx novaeguineae *ENDEMIC*
A couple of lucky birders at the end of the line had one of these sneaky birds come past them. They were fairly quiet during our time in Tari. This has recently been split from the Aussie version, that calls and behaves very differently.

WHIPBIRDS AND QUAIL-THRUSHES: Eupetidae
Papuan Whipbird Androphobus viridis *ENDEMIC*
It is tough for me as the guide to NOT call this the bird of the trip, as it is just so unexpected, although more than that was the fact that when we saw it, EVERYONE there got excellent views of the pair that called and fed on the ground in front of us for around 5 minutes, (in Tari). Unexpected and also exceptional views of a truly rarely seen bird.
Painted Quail-thrush Cinclosoma ajax *ENDEMIC*
Another dazzling performer on the tour for us. Just after a Black-billed Brush-Turkey had tried to sneak past the group, some of us tried to re-find it although were quickly distracted by the close whistles of this quail-thrush. The recorder was put to work, and I soon played back at the bird which, (after an agonizing wait), walked into the tape and gave everyone there a good eyeful of this cracking whipbird. Open celebrations followed, but had to be muted when we realized some of the group had stayed back in pursuit of the brush-turkey. Luckily for them, the following day, another male called closeby and once again performed in exemplary fashion, walking by us at close range, (where I am sure it could see our gaping mouths at the time!), much to the relief of Nigel I am sure. Again for the guide one of the birds of the trip, although it again was overshadowed by those hard-to-beat BOPs at the 'last supper'.
Spotted Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa leucosticta *ENDEMIC*
As we waited patiently for an Ashy Robin to come into my tape, Nick picked up a movement in the undergrowth and could not believe his eyes when he clapped eyes on a superb Spotted Jewel-Babbler instead! The bird came in once again although only allowed me the briefest of silhouette views. We tried others and they just were not interested. Still, at least one person got great looks at this highland whipbird!
Blue Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa caerulescens *ENDEMIC* (H)
Frustratingly just heard, on a trail close to Kiunga on several occasions.
Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler Ptilorrhoa castanonota *ENDEMIC*
First seen at Tabubil, when a bird appeared just a few meters from us close to the OK Ma Road, although only the chosen few were well-placed to get it at the time. Later in Varirata NP another flew across the river close to all of us in response to tape, and later in the day another crept in close to some of the group who once again got a good eyeful of this superb whipbird.
Blue-capped Ifrita Ifrita kowaldi *ENDEMIC*
Seen a few times in the highlands. Currently considered a whipbird, although its nuthatch like habits call this into question, and bizarre vocalizations, so who knows where its true taxonomic affinities lie??!! All know is it is one great looking bird, that is often undervalued beforehand, due to the dowdy illustration in the field guide.

FAIRYWRENS: Maluridae
White-shouldered Fairywren Malurus alboscapulatus *ENDEMIC*
This attractive fairywren was first seen while standing around and admiring Lesser BOPs downslope from Kumul Lodge. Also recorded at a few other highland sites around Kumul and Tari.
Emperor Fairywren Malurus cyanocephalus *ENDEMIC*
Not too co operative in our time in PNG, just the briefest of views of a pair were had at the Flame Bowerbird village near Kiunga.

THORNBILLS AND ALLIES: Acanthizidae
Rusty (Lowland) Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis murina *ENDEMIC*
Heard and seen briefly by one person in Tabubil, and later seen better in the foothills of Varirata NP.
Mountain Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis robusta *ENDEMIC*
A few sightings of singles were made around both of our highland lodges.
Large Scrubwren Sericornis nouhuysi *ENDEMIC*
A small party were seen around Kumul Lodge and another around the lodge at Tari.
Buff-faced Scrubwren Sericornis perspicillatus *ENDEMIC*
Three were seen in the Kumul area, and another single was seen in the Tari Valley.
Papuan Scrubwren Sericornis papuensis *ENDEMIC*
Seen a number of times (our most frequently recorded scrubwren species), around both highland sites visited.
Pale-billed Scrubwren Sericornis spilodera *ENDEMIC*
The 'foothill scrubwren'. Just the one was seen in a passing flock in Varirata NP.
Papuan Thornbill Acanthiza murina *ENDEMIC*
Some of the group picked this one up downslope from Kumul Lodge, while the rest of us had to wait until Tari, where we found it on the far side of the Tari Gap one afternoon.
Mountain (Gray) Gerygone Gerygone cinerea *ENDEMIC* (H)
Only heard along a steep trail close to Kumul Lodge.
Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronotus
One was seen (and others heard), in the Tabubil area.
Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa
A few were seen in several of the feeding flocks in Varirata NP, at the end of the trip. Also found in Australia.
Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster *ENDEMIC*
The most frequently recorded gerygone, seen in Kiunga, Tabubil, and Varirata NP.
Brown-breasted Gerygone Gerygone ruficollis *ENDEMIC*
Commonly recorded in the highlands, a really smart gerygone (its all relative!)

AUSTRALASIAN TREECREEPERS: Climacteridae
Papuan Treecreeper Cormobates placens *ENDEMIC* (H)
Heard a few times in Tari, during a morning when seemingly everything refused to co operate!

SUNBIRDS: Nectariniidae
Black Sunbird Leptocoma sericea
Recorded a number of times in Kiunga and Tabubil.
Olive-backed (Yellow-bellied) Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis
Only recorded in some mangroves in Port Moresby.

BERRYPECKERS AND LONGBILLS: Melanocharitidae
Obscure Berrypecker Melanocharis arfakiana *ENDEMIC*
A fairly recently described species (it is not even in the field guide), and one look at this drab, inconspicuous bird it is easy to see how it got overlooked! We got some great looks at this foothill berrypecker along the Dablin Creek Road, Tabubil. Very nearly voted for as 'heap of the trip' due to its drab plumage and uninspiring appearance (I mean it does have to live up to Birds-of-paradise, bowerbirds, fairywrens and the like!
Black Berrypecker Melanocharis nigra *ENDEMIC*
We had a few sightings of this foothill species in mixed feeding flocks in Varirata NP.
Lemon-breasted (Mid-mountain) Berrypecker Melanocharis longicauda *ENDEMIC*
Just a couple of sightings on this tour-first near Kumul Lodge, and another in the Tari Valley.
Fan-tailed Berrypecker Melanocharis versteri *ENDEMIC*
A really cracking little highland bird, seen best in the garden at Kumul Lodge.
Slaty-chinned Longbill Toxorhamphus poliopterus *ENDEMIC*
One was seen feeding on some bright orange flowers at the Lesser BOP site downhill from Kumul Lodge.
Dwarf (Plumed Longbill) Honeyeater Toxorhamphus iliolophus *ENDEMIC*
A single was seen first in Dablin Creek, Tabubil, and others were seen later at Varirata NP.
Pygmy (Longbill) Honeyeater Toxorhamphus pygmaeum *ENDEMIC*
Just two singles of New Guinea's smallest bird were seen in two separate areas in Tabubil.

TIT AND CRESTED BERRYPECKERS: Paramythiidae
Tit Berrypecker Oreocharis arfaki *ENDEMIC*
'New Guinea Great Tit' (the male of this species looks remarkably like that completely unrelated Eurasian species), first recorded at some distance. Much better looks were had in Tari, when some even saw them coming to fruit in the lodge grounds there.
Crested Berrypecker Paramythia montium *ENDEMIC*
This 'Big Blue Waxwing' was regularly recorded (while drinking tea of course), from the Kumul Lodge balcony. Others were also seen in the Tari Valley. A really beautiful highland species, that is always overshadowed and underappreciated as a result of the many stunning BOPs on this tour!

FLOWERPECKERS: Dicaeidae
Red-capped (Papuan) Flowerpecker Dicaeum geelvinkianum *ENDEMIC*
Recorded at a number of sites both in the lowlands and the highlands.

WHITE-EYES: Zosteropidae

Black-fronted White-eye Zosterops minor *ENDEMIC*
Seen first in Tabubil, and later again in the foothills of Varirata NP.
Capped (Western Mountain-) White-eye Zosterops fuscicapillus *ENDEMIC*
Just recorded the once, downslope from our Tari lodge.
New Guinea White-eye Zosterops novaeguineae *ENDEMIC*
Recorded a number of times in the Kumul area, where it was fairly common in areas of fruiting trees.

HONEYEATERS: Meliphagidae
Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus *ENDEMIC*
A couple of these well-endowed honeyeaters was seen along the Dablin Creek road in Tabubil.
Green-backed Honeyeater Glycichaera fallax
One put in an appearance late in our day along the Dablin Creek Road, Tabubil. Also found in extreme northern Australia.
(Papuan) Black Myzomela Myzomela nigrita *ENDEMIC*
A few were seen in the foothills at Varirata NP.
Mountain (Red-headed) Myzomela Myzomela adolphinae *ENDEMIC*
Seen in the foothills of Varirata, and also in the highlands.
Red-collared Myzomela Myzomela rosenbergii *ENDEMIC*
A magic site on the tour was coming across a tree bustling with many males of this species, as well as a few red phase Papuan Lorikeets and Black-throated Honeyeaters, in the Tari Valley.
Mountain Meliphaga Meliphaga orientalis *ENDEMIC*
Recorded frequently in the foothills at Tabubil.
Scrub (White-eared) Honeyeater Meliphaga albonotata *ENDEMIC*
Seen a few times in Kiunga and in the Tabubil area.
Mimic (Meliphaga) Honeyeater Meliphaga analoga *ENDEMIC*
A few meliphagas in the Kiunga and Varirata area were believed to be this species. The exact ranges, and vocalizations of many of the New Guinea meliphagas still remain poorly understood.
Graceful Honeyeater Meliphaga gracilis
A few were recorded in the Kiunga area, and also around Varirata NP.
Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfrenatus *ENDEMIC*
Seen several times in the highlands, including in a tree brimming with Red-collared Myzomelas also feasting on the nectar harvest.
Obscure Honeyeater Lichenostomus obscurus *ENDEMIC* (H)
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavescens
Two of these Australian birds were seen in a garden on the edge of the PAU campus in Port Moresby.
Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer
Recorded at Kiunga, Tabubil and Varirata NP.
White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis

Only recorded in the wooded savanna on the outskirts of Varirata NP.
Marbled Honeyeater Pycnopygius cinereus *ENDEMIC*
Seen at the Torrent Lark site downslope from Kumul Lodge, where a fruiting tree pulled in a number of them, and later also seen at the Blue BOP site near Kumul.
Streak-headed Honeyeater Pycnopygius stictocephalus *ENDEMIC*
Three were seen along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil, and another was seen in the foothills of Varirata NP.
Helmeted (Papuan) Friarbird Philemon buceroides
Commonly recorded in the lowlands and foothills.
Rufous-backed Honeyeater Ptiloprora guisei *ENDEMIC*
Seen on a number of times around Kumul and in the Tari Valley.
Black-backed (Gray-streaked) Honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata *ENDEMIC*
Regularly seen feeding on the bright orange flowers in the Kumul Lodge garden.
Belford's Melidectes Melidectes belfordi *ENDEMIC*
Very commonly seen around Kumul Lodge, frequently in the garden itself.
Yellow-browed Melidectes Melidectes rufocrissalis *ENDEMIC*
Recorded at a few sites in the highlands, where they were most frequently seen in our lodge garden at Tari.
Ornate Melidectes Melidectes torquatus *ENDEMIC*
This strikingly marked honeyeater was seen around the Lesser BOP site downslope from Kumul Lodge.
(Common) Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus *ENDEMIC*
Commonly recorded at many places in the highlands, including regularly at the Kumul Lodge bird table.

ORIOLES: Oriolidae
Brown Oriole Oriolus szalayi *ENDEMIC*
Our first endemic of the tour, that was found within the PAU campus grounds. Later seen at all of the lowland and foothill sites visited.
Green Figbird Sphecotheres viridis
Only recorded on our first day, around the Pacific Adventists University.

SHRIKES: Laniidae
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
A few were seen in the highlands.

DRONGOS: Dicruridae
Papuan (Mountain) Drongo Chaetorhynchus papuensis *ENDEMIC*
Just one person clapped eyes on one of these Mountain Drongos as it moved through with a fast moving bird wave at Varirata NP.
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus

MUDNEST BUILDERS: Grallinidae
Torrent-lark Grallina bruijni *ENDEMIC*
The New Guinea 'Mudlark'. We tried for this originally in Tabubil, although it failed to appear at both of the sites visited. Our final try came on the way back from the Lesser BOP site at Kumul when Nigel picked up a pied bird standing on a rock that proved to be one of these mudnest builders.

WOODSWALLOWS: Artamidae
Great Woodswallow Artamus maximus *ENDEMIC*
The 'highland' woodswallow in New Guinea. Recorded first in the foothills of Tabubil, where some of them were seen hanging around on wires in the middle of the mining town. Better views though were had at Ambua Lodge, where up to six birds would perch around the lodge garden and feast on the moths that were attracted to the lodge lights and clung to lodge wall as a result. Thankfully we saved the Hercules Moths from a similar fate!
White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus


BELLMAGPIES AND ALLIES: Cracticidae
Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus *ENDEMIC*
Commonly seen along the Dablin Creek road, frequently standing sentinal from the top of a dead snag.
Lowland Peltops Peltops blainvillii *ENDEMIC*
One was seen from our first trip along the Elevala River, and another was seen along the Boystown Road in Kiunga.
Black-backed Butcherbird Cracticus mentalis
This Cape York species was seen on our first afternoon around the PAU campus.
Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus *ENDEMIC*
Recorded in Kiunga, Tabubil and Varirata.
Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi
Two birds were seen in Tabubil.

BIRDS-OF-PARADISE: Paradisaeidae
Loria's Bird-of-paradise Cnemophilus loriae *ENDEMIC*
A velvety black male was first seen visiting a fruiting tree close to Kumul Lodge, and later several females and males came into the Ambua lodge garden to feast on their own fruiting tree. They were in attendance with several Lawe's Parotias, Princess Stephanie's Astrapias, and at one time a Short-tailed Paradigalla too!
Crested Bird-of-paradise Cnemophilus macgregorii *ENDEMIC*
On arrival at Kumul we were informed about a regular fruiting tree for this bird in the lodge grounds. So we opted to stake it out on our first afternoon. A female quietly feeding in the tree shortly after arrival got our hopes up, and then a flash of orange led us to a male that was hiding out in a tree nearby. Amazingly not voted for by anyone as top trip bird, despite the flashy appearance and great looks we all had!
Glossy-mantled Manucode Manucodia atra *ENDEMIC*
Commonly recorded during our boat trips along the Fly and Elevala Rivers.
Crinkle-collared Manucode Manucodia chalybata *ENDEMIC*
Surprisingly elusive during our time in the foothills, with just a single pair seen along the OK Ma Road, Tabubil.
Trumpet Manucode Manucodia keraudrenii
One was seen visiting a fruiting tree, along with Raggiana and Greater BOPs, on our first afternoon in the lowland forests of Kiunga.
Short-tailed Paradigalla Paradigalla brevicauda *ENDEMIC*
Heavy rain greeted us on arrival in Tari and we were therefore grounded at Ambua Lodge for our first afternoon with few other options available in the dismal weather that can so often hit in PNG. However, it turned out really well as a fruiting tree just above Nigel's room held no fewer than three new BOPs for us during the afternoon. Several Princess Stephanie's Astrapias visited, including a super male bird with a rich green-glossed head, in addition to a number of Loria's BOPs, several female and a single male Lawe's Parotias, as well as one of these odd BOPs. It was not such a bad place to be stranded after all!
Ribbon-tailed Astrapia Astrapia mayeri *ENDEMIC*
This striking BOP visited the bird table at Kumul for our first looks. Although these were mostly drab female or immature male birds. The full beauty of this bird can never realy be appreciated though until you come across a fully mature, fully tailed male bird as we did in the upper Tari Valley. We watched spellbound when our driver pointed out a male bird feeding on some roadside fruits with his over meter long ivory tail blowing in the wind below him. A real stunner with no equal in the bird world.
Princess Stephanie's Astrapia Astrapia stephaniae *ENDEMIC*
Seen well on a number of occasions in the Tari Valley, although perhaps the best views were of the awesome male bird in a fruiting tree above our cabins in Ambua Lodge. A really special BOP that was a welcome distraction from the heavy rain pelting down at the time (and therefore defeated all my attempts to photograph him)!
Carola's Parotia Parotia carolae *ENDEMIC*
This one had eluded us last year in Tabubil. When the right fruits are in abundance the bird is allegedly meant to be straightforward, although once again few fruits were around during our visit. Samuel did find a fruiting tree with limited visible fruits, just after I had glimpsed a male parotia, that later came into the fruiting tree several times in the morning and in the late afternoon, while we were watching closely.
Lawes's Parotia Parotia lawesii *ENDEMIC*
Several females and a single male visited a fruiting tree (that also held Stephanie's Astrapia and Loria's BOP and Short-tailed Paradigalla), in our lodge garden at Tari, during our first rainy afternoon there.
King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise Pteridophora alberti *ENDEMIC*
The TOP BIRD OF THE TRIP. This bird is always a massive target for visiting birders, as it is just too weird, being unlike anything else on the planet. The bird possesses two long, serrated antennae that flail around in the wind when it is calling, that give the bird an alien appearance. The bird may not be flashy and colorful like some of the other BOPs, but it more than makes up for this in the bizarre department. In the end quirkiness won out over beauty, as this just pipped the Blue BOP to the title of top trip bird. We first had great looks at a male near Kumul and later ran into another regular bird in the Tari Valley. On every occasion we all felt compelled to have a look at this wonderfully unique bird.
Magnificent Riflebird Ptiloris magnificus
These BOps were heard calling in both Kiunga and Tabubil. At the latter site a few females overflew the OK Ma Road, before finally late in the afternoon someone found one feeding in a fruiting tree, so we could get some more prolonged looks.
'Eastern Riflebird' Ptiloris magnificus intercedens *ENDEMIC*
Frequently touted as a split from Magnificent Riflebird on the basis of its very different, 'growling' call. We chased them many times over our two days in Varirata NP before we finally found a male calling from low in a casuarina canopy that we lined up in the scope.
Superb Bird-of-paradise Lophorina superba *ENDEMIC*
While we waited for the Blue BOPs to appear, downslope from Kumul, we were entertained by three or more Superbs coming into the fruiting tree we were trained on for the Blues. These included some male birds, sporting their distinctive metallic green 'crevattes' that they use when they are displaying.
Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus *ENDEMIC*
In hindsight I felt really lucky to get this one, even if it was at some distance away, as none were calling during our visit to Tari. We were relieved to finally find one standing atop a dead snag down the road from our Tari lodge.
Brown Sicklebill Epimachus meyeri *ENDEMIC*
One of Kumul's star birds, where several blue-eyed females and a stunning male were coming into the bird table while we were there. Best of all came when the male decided to call his loud machine gun rattle right there from the bird table. A magic and surreal moment. Most of us were shocked to see how colorful the male was, the book not illustrating the full extent of the metallic green touches on his plumage. A real crowdpleaser that again was strangely omitted in the final top trip bird debate.
Magnificent Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus magnificus *ENDEMIC*
Two males and a female came into a distant fruiting tree along the Dablin Creek Road in the foothills of Tabubil. The same 'magic' tree also attracted a male Carola's Parotia.
King Bird-of-paradise Cicinnurus regius *ENDEMIC*
Usually almost a 'given' around Kiunga, although amazingly played hard to get for us. In the end this proved fortuitous as Samuel our local Kiunga guide opted to take us to a 'secret' site he uses for the BBC crews and other documentary makers, that he rarely allows normal birding groups to visit. We still required a nervous wait there though before, this immaculate bird flew in and shimmied up and down a branch for a while, revealing his pure white belly, iridescent red upperparts, and odd bright blue legs in the process. Well worth the wait.
Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise Seleucidis melanoleuca *ENDEMIC*
Just a short distance out of Kiunga Samuel swung the boat towards the shore, where we hopped off and focused on a dead snag where a short time earlier a male had appeared, that had prompted our rapid change of course. A nervous wait ensued before Richard eyed another dead snag behind that this black-and-yellow vision came onto several times, allowing everyone great looks at in the process. Simply brilliant.
Lesser Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea minor *ENDEMIC*
We were a little disappointed that on the day we visited these birds chose not to display. However, we did get superb views of males perched up with their rich golden flank plumes trailing below them. A ridiculously well-adorned bird.
Greater Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea apoda *ENDEMIC*
Unfortunately, again, during our visit none were displaying, although we did pick up a male at several females in our time around Kiunga.
Raggiana Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea raggiana *ENDEMIC*
One of the overall spectacles of the trip came on our very last morning of the trip, when we visited a display site at Varirata NP. An exceptionally early rise was required to get there in time, although everyone unanimously agreed it was all worth it when a couple of flashy males dropped onto their near perch and began fluffing up their bright red flank plumes and dancing up and down the branch for an unseen female nearby. What we call a real 'Attenborough moment'.
Blue Bird-of-paradise Paradisaea rudolphi *ENDEMIC*
One of the top targets for any visiting birder and one I heard a lot about before we tried for it. On our first visit to an are near Kumul we watched a male and female visiting the same fruiting tree that Superb BOPs were feasting on a little earlier. Some of the group opted to visit another site later in Tari too, due to an obsession to see this bird for as long and close as they could, and were rewarded with super views of a spectacular male bird, that I felt sure would win the prize of top trip bird, although in the end he was just beaten by the all out weirdness that is King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise.
Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris *ENDEMIC*
We spent quite a bit of time chasing this low down skulker in the highlands. Mark, Richard and Shirley were rewarded for some 'illegal' lunchtime birding around Kumul when they chanced upon one along a trail at the lodge. And later we all saw one along a narrow forest trail in the Tari Valley. The call, behavior and appearance of this bird though do suggest that it is far from a Bird-of-paradise!
Greater Melampitta Melampitta gigantea *ENDEMIC* (H)
There are many, many difficult species in PNG and this one is right up there at the top of the pile. Easy to see but damn hard to see, we heard it calling along the OK Ma Road, and despite a muddy effort to see it, no one got even the slightest hint of its presence thereafter!

BOWERBIRDS: Ptilonorhynchidae
Sanford's Bowerbird Archboldia sanfordi *ENDEMIC*
One male flew by the Kumul Lodge bird table for a few lucky birders who were on watch at the time.
Macgregor's Bowerbird Amblyornis macgregoriae *ENDEMIC* (H)
Flame Bowerbird Sericulus aureus *ENDEMIC*
The ultimate bowerbird, AKA the 'avian torch'. We tried a bower stake out and patiently waited in a blind for the male to appear, only for the rain to come crashing down at the peak time putting paid to that idea. We then rescheduled our plans the following day in light of this and visited a more traditional site for the bird - the 'Flame Knoll', along the Boystown Road, in Kiunga. The heavy rains at the time turned the road into a quagmire making it impossible for our vehicles to make it all the way, and forcing us on foot for the last few kilometers or so. For Mark and others this paid off when they had a few Flame Bowerbirds shoot over the top of them, much to the chagrin of the others. Eventually we made it to the knoll and waited, when finally a scream went up and our eyes were all drawn to the flashing vision in orange that was darting through the air and fortuitously landed in a great spot closeby. 'Scopes were swung into action and eyeballs slammed against the eyepieces to take in the site of this awesome orange, red, and black bird glowing from the top of a near tree. It is hard to comprehend the brightness of this bird, a truly scintillating species. In spite of this, it only received one vote for bird of the trip!!!
Yellow-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera lauterbachi *ENDEMIC*
A localized highland species, that we found with some ease thankfully, close by the Lesser BOP display area, downslope from Kumul Lodge.
Fawn-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera cerviniventris
An Aussie species that is found in the dry country around Port Moresby. We got some good looks in the savanna on the PAU campus, and later someone picked one up outside one of our Moresby hotels from the restaurant window!

CROWS AND JAYS: Corvidae

Gray (Bare-eyed) Crow Corvus tristis *ENDEMIC*
This bizarre crow was recorded daily in all the areas around Kiunga, and later again in Varirata NP.
Torresian Crow Corvus orru

Commonly recorded around Port Moresby.

STARLINGS: Sturnidae
Metallic (Shining) Starling Aplonis metallica
Commonly recorded on our Fly River boat trips.
Yellow-eyed Staling Aplonis mystacea *ENDEMIC*
Many starlings were seen flying around the Fly and Elevala Rivers, a few of which were seen well enough to nail as these guys.
'Singsing' Starling Aplonis cantoroides *ENDEMIC*
Seen well around the university campus at PAU.
Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii
First picked up on our first afternoon in Port Moresby, on the PAU campus. Later seen again several times in the lowlands of Kiunga and also in the foothills of Varirata NP.
Golden Myna Mino anais *ENDEMIC*
Seen during both of our boat trips up the Fly and Elevala Rivers, and also recorded in the foothills of Tabubil.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS: Passeridae
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

WAXBILLS AND ALLIES: Estrildidae

Mountain Firetail Oreostruthus fuliginosus *ENDEMIC*
A single bird (presumably the same one), was seen around the lodge at Kumul everyday.
Papuan Parrotfinch Erythrura papuana *ENDEMIC*
One was seen feeding high in the trees along the road up the Tari Valley.
Streak-headed (White-spotted) Munia Lonchura tristissima *ENDEMIC*
A couple were seen briefly along the Boystown Road, Kiunga.
Hooded Munia Lonchura spectabilis *ENDEMIC*
The common highland munia, recorded in the mountains around Tari and Kumul Lodge .
Grand Munia Lonchura grandis *ENDEMIC*
One of the surprises of the trip. None of these stout-billed finches had been seen over the past few years, so it was good to find that they had returned to a swamp just outside Port Moresby. We waited patiently by the marsh, only recording Gray-headed Munias at first, before our guide drew our attention to a bright chestnut, blue-billed finch in the center of the marsh that proved to be this scarcely seen endemic. A pair were seen and watched in the area for 5-10 minutes before they dropped down into the depths of the swamp once more. Nigel was looking for a landmark bird to count as his landmark 4000th species on his world list, and I think this more than qualified. It was so nearly Pheasant Coucal, although whenever there was a shout of that bird Nigel retreated to the safety of the vehicle to avoid that 'trash bird' becoming his unwanted 4000th!
Gray-headed Munia Lonchura caniceps *ENDEMIC*
Alarmingly we missed them on our first afternoons birding around the PAU campus, although the group recovered it well the next morning, from the departure lounge at Port Moresby airport! Later another small group were seen at the Grand Munia site close to Port Moresby.
Chestnut-breasted Munia Lonchura castaneothorax
A couple were seen by Nick in the grounds of the PAU campus.