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Papua New Guinea Birding

5 – 22 JANUARY 1998

Sicklebill Safaris Tour Report

LEADER: Phil Gregory

GROUP MEMBERS: David Narins and Laura Lee Woods

Species which were heard but not seen are indicated by the symbol (H).

Species which were not personally recorded by the leader are indicated by the symbol (NL).

Leader only species (L)

New Guinea endemic species are shown in bold type

This was the first Sicklebill Safaris tour to Papua New Guinea, home to some of the most spectacular and bizarre birds in the world, but also home to some of the most secretive and difficult to see birds on the planet. Birding in New Guinea must be among the most difficult anywhere, but with patience, skill, persistence and a fair bit of luck we managed to see an outstanding assortment of the New Guinea avifauna. The highlights were without any doubt the birds of paradise and paradise-kingfishers, where we did particularly well, and a superb male Wattled Ploughbill near Wau.

The island is home to some of the most spectacular and least known species in the world, and has a high degree of endemism with nearly 400 endemics: 27 species endemic to PNG, 42 to West Irian, and 51 to the Bismarck and Admiralty Islands. It is an essential destination for birders, yet peculiarly difficult to tackle due to various constraints:

· The terrain is incredibly beautiful yet rugged and difficult

· The climate is often adverse and insects an annoying and not to be under-estimated hazard

· Logistics are difficult and infrastructure often poor

· Local circumstances vary from the friendly to the downright dangerous

· Prices tend to be high

· Information is hard to access

· To cap it all, the birds are often very shy and skulking and birding here must be amongst the most challenging on the planet

New Guinea is a place for quality not quantity, and the joy of finding some rare or shy species is second to none. You work hard for your New Guinea birds, but the rewards for persistence are great. The locals call it The Land of the Unexpected and this is undoubtedly true, almost anything can happen and a tight schedule is not advised. Look on your tour as an adventure and take it as it comes, you will have an unforgettable time.

This particular tour was made for two clients who wanted an introduction to Papua New Guinea's wonderful birds, and wanted to see as many endemics as feasible within a short 18 day time span. David and Laura went on to Ambua alone when I returned to Australia, and this would have added a large number of high altitude species to the list, as our tour only touched on this habitat at Wau.

Itinerary

Pre-tour trip to Varirata on Sunday January 4 with Chris Eastwood

Day 1: Monday January 5 Port Moresby and Moitaka SP

Day 2: Tuesday January 6 Varirata NP / Pacific Adventist College grounds (PAC)

Day 3: Wednesday January 7 Veimauri and Varirata NP in the afternoon

Day 4: Thursday January 8 Veimauri logging roads and PAC

Day 5: Friday January 9 Brown River / Hisiu mangroves/ Lake Kerea

Day 6: Saturday January 10 Madang and Kau Wildlife Management Area

Day 7: Sunday January 11 Kau WMA, Bird Island and Alexishafen ponds

Day 8: Monday January 12 Lae – Boana

Day 9: Tuesday January 13 Lae- Sankwep Road

Day 10 Wednesday January 14 Lae- Bulolo- Wau- Kuper range

Day 11 Thursday January 15 Lae-Kiunga and Km 17 on the Tabubil Road

Day 12 Friday January 16 Elevala River

Day 13 Saturday January 17 Kiunga and Boystown Road. Heavy rain much of the day.

Day 14 Sunday January 18 Kiunga/ Boystown Road/ Gokonda on the Fly River

Day 15 Monday January 19 Boystown Road km 6 and km 12, Tabubil km 120 and Dablin Creek

Day 16 Tuesday January 20 Helsinki checkpoint and Dablin Creek

Day 17 Wednesday January 21 Ok Ma Road

Day 18 Thursday January 22 Helsinki checkpoint and Dablin Creek / to Port Moresby for PG and to Ambua for DN and LW

Our tour started in the Port Moresby area, going to Moitaka SP where 3 Australian White-eyed Duck were a very good find, as were 2 Garganey. Our first endemic was Grey-headed Mannikin, and some 150 Pied Heron made quite a show. The pits at the PAC gave us some lovely views of Green Pigmy-Goose, and a vagrant Great Cormorant dwarfing the smaller Phalacrocorax species on the lawn. Varirata, Veimauri, Hisiu and Brown River all proved rewarding, with the White-rumped Robin and King Bird of Paradise at Veimauri particularly memorable. Varirata gave us Brown-headed and White-tailed Paradise-Kingfisher, whilst a pre-tour trip here gave Pheasant Pigeon, Painted Quail-thrush and Blue-breasted Pitta. We added the Common Paradise-Kingfisher at Brown River for a very good start to the trip.

We also visited Aroa west of Port Moresby, where savanna species like Blue-winged Kookaburra, White-throated Gerygone and White-winged Triller were pleasing finds. The mangrove habitat at nearby Hisiu was as ever hot, bite-ridden and muddy, but it did give us good views of Little Kingfisher, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Dusky Myzomela and Rufous Fantail.

We then went over to Madang, to explore a Wildlife Management Area and visit Bird Island. We came perilously close to seeing more Common Paradise-Kingfishers, I still can't believe we didn't manage to lure one in, but our over zealous guide didn't help! However Mangrove Golden Whistler, Island Monarch and the spectacular Beach Kingfisher were good compensation. PG managed to run over a piglet too, one of the major no-no's of travel in New Guinea, and the K50 compensation that he paid was a narrow escape. Had this been in the Highlands, we would not have stopped!

Lae gave us some nice trip additions, including the colourful Edward's Fig-Parrot and the Huon peninsula endemic Emperor Bird of Paradise, plus a bonus Bat Hawk near a former nesting site. The road up to the Emperor site was an adventure in itself, with several massive land-slips to negotiate. An exploratory day-trip diversion up to Wau made for an interesting if tiring day, but the weather was kind to us, and we added a swag of high altitude species including a marvelous male Wattled Ploughbill.

From here we went to Kiunga, where luck really smiled on us as we became the first tour group ever to log all 4 of the Kiunga cripplers: Southern Crowned Pigeon, Flame Bowerbird, Little Paradise-Kingfisher and White-bellied Pitohui. The back-up cast included Great-billed Heron, Yellow-eyed Starling, Large Fig-Parrot, Pesquet's Parrot, Yellow-capped Pigmy-Parrot and White-spotted Mannikin, and it was a very happy group that traveled up to Tabubil for the final stage of the tour.

A 3 hour drive up a winding gravel road atop a ridge took us to the mid-altitude forests at the copper mining town of Tabubil, ticking off the rare and spectacular Golden-backed Whistler en route. The major drought of last year was thankfully almost over, but flowering and fruiting plants were still in short supply and we were struggling to find honeyeaters, fruit-doves and lorikeets in particular. However, compensation was lovely views of the almost unknown Obscure Berrypecker, great looks at male Magnificent Riflebird and Magnificent Bird of Paradise, and even some fly-by Streaked, Goldie's and Pigmy Lorikeets just when we thought we had dipped. A Papuan Boobook kept us entertained by the Hotel, as did Red-necked Rail, where the fun was in the trying! We also heard the mysterious and almost unknown Greater Melampitta, though were not able to lure any to come close this year.

My thanks to David and Laura for the opportunity to devise and lead the tour at short notice, and for being the guinea pigs thereon. An adventurous trip and a good learning experience, we done good guys……

Papua New Guinea January 5-22 1998

Sicklebill Tour # 1 Species List

PODICIPEDIDAE

Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae: 80 at Moitaka.

Eurasian Dabchick Tachybaptus ruficollis: 8 on the ponds at Alexishafen, a very local species in PNG.

FREGATIDAE

Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel (NL): Seen by Laura at Hisiu.

PHALACROCORACIDAE

Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris: Widespread.

Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos: 100 along the Elevala River.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo: An immature on the lawns at the PAC was a vagrant to PNG and a NG tick for PG.

ANHINGIDAE

Darter Anhinga melanogaster: Seen at Moitaka, Brown River and 10 along the Elevala.

ARDEIDAE

Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana: 2 of this rare and shy species along the Elevala River.

Great Egret Egretta alba: 40 at Moitaka was a good count.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta: 30 at Moitaka was a good count,

Pied Heron Egretta picata: Great views at Moitaka SP on the first day where we counted 150 birds.

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia: 20 at Moitaka.

Cattle Egret Egretta ibis: Now regular in the Port Moresby area, where it was hard to find ten years ago. Many in breeding plumage.

Striated Heron (Green-backed Heron) Ardeola striata: 15 along the Elevala was a very high count.

Rufous Night-Heron Nycticorax caledonicus: 20 at Moitaka.

Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis: Good flight views of one along the Elevala.

THRESKIORNTHIDAE

Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis (L) : 4 at Jackson's Airport on Jan 23 as PG was leaving

Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia: 2 at the PAC were nice to see.

PANDIONIDAE

Osprey Pandion haliaetus: One seen near Hisiu.

ACCIPITRIDAE

Crested Hawk (Pacific Baza) Aviceda subcristata: Seen well at Veimauri and Sankwep Road.

Long-tailed Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda: Seen very well at Varirata, Sankwep, Tabubil and Kiunga.

Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus: Excellent views of a single along the Sankwep Road, about 200m from the former nest site and not far from where PG saw it in April 1996. A great rarity in New Guinea.

Black Kite Milvus migrans: Common around Madang and Lae, a mainly north coast species in PNG. 1 at Jackson's Airport on Jan 23 (PG)

Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus: Widespread.

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus

White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster: Good views along the Elevala.

Spotted Marsh Harrier (Eastern Marsh Harrier) Circus spilonotus: Splendid views of males at Moitaka and Hisiu.

Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus: Singles at Moitaka and Veimauri.

Grey (Variable) Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae. Nicely seen around Lae and Tabubil. The form here is a likely future splitas Accipiter hiogaster, as it differs so much from the Australian species.

Grey-headed Goshawk Accipiter poliocephalus: 1 along the Elevala, a sparse species in PNG.

Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides: 1 along Sankwep Road, Lae.

FALCONIDAE

Brown Falcon Falco berigora. Nice views of two individuals over grassland along the road to Boana.

Australian Hobby Falco longipennis: 1 perched in a tree along the Veimauri logging tracks on Jan 8 was unseasonal, normally a winter migrant from Australia.

ANATIDAE

Spotted Whistling Duck Dendrocygna guttata: Seen at the Ox-bow, Alexishafen ponds and the Fly River near Kiunga. A near endemic.

Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata: 70 at Moitaka.

Green Pygmy-Goose Nettapus pulchellus: Lovely views at the PAC, also Moitaka and 30 at Lake Kerea, a delightful species.

Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa: 20 at Moitaka.

Garganey Anas querquedula: 2 at Moitaka, an uncommon annual visitor this far south.

Australian White-eyed Duck (Hardhead) Aythya australis: 3 at Moitaka, an irruptive vagrant to PNG with few recent records. A PNG tick for PG.

MEGAPODIIDAE

Orange-footed Scrubfowl Megapodius freycinet: Good views of 3 at Brown River.

Black-billed Brush-turkey Talegalla fuscirostris: Heard at Varirata. Seen on the pre-trip visit.

Brown-collared Brush-turkey Talegalla jobiensis (H): Heard quite close at Kau, but unfortunately could not be taped in.

PHASIANIDAE

Brown Quail Coturnix australis: 2 birds across the road near the PAC.

RALLIDAE

Red-necked Rail Rallina tricolor (H) Heard at Tabubil.

White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea: One showed briefly at Lake Kerea.

Bush-hen Amaurornis olivaceus (H) Heard at Moitaka, Brown River and Tabubil.

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa: Moitaka and the PAC

Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) Porphyrio porphyrio: Lovely views of the black backed race melanotus at Moitaka.

JACANIDAE

Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea What a great little bird, well seen at Moitaka (50) and the PAC

CHARADRIIDAE

Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva. A few at Nadzab airport, Lae were all we saw.

Little Ringed Plover  Charadrius dubius: 2 at Nadzab, and a splendid bird near Tabubil which showed the pink base to the bill and yellow eye ring very nicely. The subspecies in New Guinea papuanus has a very different call, when compared to Palearctic birds.

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii: 1 on the beach at Hisiu.

RECURVIROSTRIDAE

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus: 12 at Moitaka.

SCOLOPACIDAE

Greenshank Tringa nebularia: 1 at Hisiu.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus: 2 at Hisiu.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa: 8 of the Asian race melanuroides at Moitaka.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata: 12 at Moitaka.

Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos

Chinese Snipe Gallinago megala: 2 at Kiunga airstrip.

LARIDAE

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica: 3 at Moitaka.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo: 2 at Jais Aben.

Brown Noddy Anous stolidus: 20 off Jais Aben.

COLUMBIDAE

Rock Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia: A controversial species! PG thinks most birds seen in Port Moresby are domestic stock, as are the Tabubil ones. One for your conscience!

Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove (Brown Cuckoo-Dove) Macropygia amboinensis

Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia nigrirostris: Commonly observed.

Great Cuckoo-Dove Reinwardtoena reinwardtii: Good views at Tabubil, a spectacular bird.

Emerald Ground-Dove Chalcophaps indica

Stephan's Ground-Dove Chalcophaps stephani: Seen at Veimauri and Boystown. A near endemic.

Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata: Port Moresby area, very local in savanna areas of PNG.

Pheasant Pigeon Otidiphaps nobilis: Seen by Laura and Chris at Varirata on the pre-trip excursion, a great start. Heard along Boystown road.

Southern Crowned Pigeon Goura scheepmakeri: Four birds seen well at Samuel's Lodge just before the downpour. A magnificent species and a trip highlight.

Wompoo Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus magnificus: Heard on several occasions, but remarkably elusive, and seen only at Varirata and Veimauri.

Ornate Fruit-Dove  Ptilinopus ornatus: Good views of singles at Kiunga and Tabubil.

Superb Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus superbus. Two at Dablin Creek.

Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus aurantiifrons: A single along the Elevala, an uncommon endemic species.

Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus: Two near Kiunga.

Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus iozonus. Kiunga birds have a maroon shoulder bar lacking in the Port Moresby ones

Dwarf Fruit Dove Ptilinopus nanus: Wonderful views of a male that came in to Phil's call imitation along the Boystown road, and PG saw a female along the road to Tabubil. The scarcest of the Ptilinopus in PNG.

Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon Ducula rufigaster: One along the Elevala and one along the Boystown road, never an easy species to observe.

Pinon Imperial Pigeon Ducula pinon: Flyovers and perched along the Fly River.

Collared Imperial Pigeon Ducula muellerii: Small numbers only, maximum 6 by the Fly River; a specialist of riverine forest.

Zoe Imperial Pigeon Ducula zoeae: The common lowland and hill forest Ducula.

Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa: A singleof the race spilorrhoa at Moitaka.

Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii: Poorly named and quite widespread, maximum 100 near Tabubil.

PSITTACIDAE

Greater Streaked Lory Chalcopsitta sintillata: Wonderful views of 6 at Varirata, and flight views at Kiunga.

Dusky Lory Pseudeos fuscata: 300 over at Dablin Creek, 70 at Boystown.

Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus: Widespread in small numbers.

Goldie's Lorikeet Trichoglossus goldiei: 4+ of this very sparse species along the Ok Ma, with Streaked and Pigmy Lorikeets in the same area.

Western Black-capped Lory Lorius lory: Noisy and excellent, good views of the race somu at Tabubil.

Streaked Lorikeet Charmosyna multistriata: We nearly dipped but salvaged a single flying by at the Goldie's Lorikeet area on the Ok Ma road on our final attempt. A very localized species.

Pigmy Lorikeet Charmosyna wilhelminae: 5+ flying over along the Ok Ma road at the same site as Goldie's and Streaked Lorikeet on January 21. A rare and seldom recorded species, and great to have all 3 small streaked green lorikeets at the same place. The drought has meant many of the fruit and flower nomads moving away, and this was a lucky find.

Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou: Excellent views of 2 of this stunning species in the Kuper Range, Wau.

Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii: 2 in the Kuper Range, Wau.

Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus: A star bird, great views along the Fly River with up to 6 on one day. What style, what a beak, what a haircut!

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita: Maximum 20 along the Elevala.

Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta pusio: Seen brilliantly at Veimauri, one of the world's smallest parrots.

Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta keiensis: Seen very well perched at km 17 in the Kiunga area, a restricted range near endemic species.

Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta bruijnii: Uncharacteristically scarce at Tabubil this year, a few flyovers only.

Orange-breasted Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta gulielmitertii: Marvellous views along the Ok Ma Road, a real gem.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta diopthalma: Nice views of a single near Kiunga.

Large Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris desmarestii: Nice views of two single birds from along the Fly River and at Boystown road, a hard one to find.

Edward's Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris desmarestii: 6 of this large and colourful species were seen very nicely at Boana, well spotted by David.

Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi: Common and noisy in the lowlands.

Blue-collared Parrot Geoffroyus simplex: The wind chime bird, seen well in flight (as usual) at Tabubil with a maximum of 50.

Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus: Splendidly common and very noisy.

Vulturine (Pesquet's) Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus: Brilliant views of 2 along the Boystown road near Kiunga, well spotted by Laura. Also 2 seen nicely along the Ok Ma road at Tabubil. A superb, large, spectacular and near threatened species.

CUCULIDAE

Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus

Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis castaneiventris: Seen at Tabubil.

White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx meyeri (H): Heard at Tabubil.

Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva (H): Heard near Lae and at Kiunga.

White-crowned Koel Caliechthrus leucolophus (H): Heard at Kau and Lae.

Australian Koel Eudynamys cyanocephala: A male at Kiunga.

Greater Black Coucal Centropus menbeki (H):Sonorous booming at Veimauri and Brown River, but no views this time.

Lesser Black Coucal Centropus bernsteini: Singles at Sankwep and Boystown Road.

Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus: Common around Port Moresby

STRIGIDAE

Papuan Boobook Ninox theomacha: One excellently spotlit at Tabubil after several earlier attempts.

CAPRIMULGIDAE

Large-tailed Nightjar  Caprimulgus macrurus: A single at Tabubil.

HEMIPROCNIDAE

Moustached Tree-Swift Hemiprocne mystacea: Many great views at Kiunga and Tabubil–what a beautiful bird!.

APODIDAE

Uniform Swiftlet Collocalia vanikorensis

Mountain Swiftlet Collocalia hirundinacea. Above 2000m at Kuper Range, we ticked this one.

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta

Papuan Spine-tailed Swift Mearnsia novaeguineae: Quite common in the Kiunga area.

ALCEDINIDAE

Common Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera galatea: Crippling views at Brown River and again along the Fly River, and commonly heard at Kau FR. A great bird.

Little Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera hydrocharis: Fantastic views of one perched low in the under-storey of the forest along the Elevala. The smaller size and blue tail were immediately apparent. No calls heard. A lifer for PG who has made a variety of attempts for this species here. Clearly sympatric with Common Paradise-Kingfisher around Kiunga, but far rarer.

Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera danae : Excellent views of a sub-adult at Varirata, a tough one to find.

White-tailed (Buff-breasted) Paradise-Kingfisher Tanysiptera sylvia: Excellent views of nicely plumaged calling birds at Varirata and Veimauri, presumably the local resident population and not Australian migrants at this time of the year. A difficult species to find in New Guinea.

Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina: Heard on several occasions at Varirata and Kiunga, and calling close by at the former, but one of the most elusive kingfishers eluded us this time. None calling at Tabubil must be an effect of the drought.

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud: Spectacular and quite easy to find.

Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii: An excellent bird, seen really well at Varirata.

Beach Kingfisher Halcyon saurophaga: 2 seen beautifully off Jais Aben. A spectacular and elusive near endemic species.

Forest Kingfisher Halcyon macleayii: Nicely seen around Port Moresby and at Madang.

Collared Kingfisher Halcyon chloris: 2 at Hisiu, a mangrove bird here.

Yellow-billed Kingfisher Halcyon torotoro: Seen very well at Veimauri and Boystown Road.

Mountain Kingfisher Halcyon megarhyncha : Heard at Kuper Range, a very difficult species to find.

Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus: Heard along the Sankwep Road.

Little Kingfisher Alcedo pusilla: Good views at Hisiu, Alexishafen ponds and 3 along the Elevala where usually sparse.

Azure Kingfisher Alcedo azurea: 3 along the Elevala.

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis: Seen well at Rouna Falls and the ox-bow.

MEROPIDAE

Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus: A few around Port Moresby.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus: Long range views at Nadzab Airport.

CORACIIDAE

Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis: Common around Lae and in the far west.

BUCEROTIDAE

Blyth's Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus: Great views along the Elevala, maximum 10.

PITTIDAE

Blue-breasted Pitta Pitta erythrogaster: Seen on the pre-trip visit at Varirata, and heard there and at Boystown.

Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida (H): Heard at Kau WMA and around Kiunga, but could lure none in.

ALAUDIDAE

Singing Bushlark Mirafra javanica : A few at Moitaka and at Lae airport.

HIRUNDINIDAE

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica: Common around Port Moresby and in the west.

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica: 6+ at Nadzab airport on Jan 12 and Jan 14, then 24 at Kiunga on Jan 18 and 4 at Tabubil on Jan 21. Quite a good season for the species which has become much more frequent in recent years.

MOTACILLIDAE

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea: A few wintering birds around the Tabubil area.

Richard's Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae: Several at Nadzab airport. The form occurring in New Guinea (and elsewhere in Australasia) is sometimes treated as a separate species under the name Australian Pipit Anthus australis.

CAMPEPHAGIDAE

White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina papuensis

Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae. A couple around the Port Moresby area

Stout-billed (Large-billed) Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina caeruleogrisea: Seen at Sankwep and near Tabubil.

Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina lineata: Seen at Varirata and Veimauri.

Boyer's Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina boyeri: Regular observations at Varirata and Kiunga.

Black-shouldered Cicadabird Coracina incerta: A few seen and heard at Tabubil, where there are no records of Cicadabird.

Grey-headed Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina schisticeps: Fairly common in the Kiunga and Tabubil areas.

Black Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melaena: 3 at Veimauri, an uncommon endemic.

Golden Cuckoo-Shrike Campochaera sloetii: Seen well on several occasions in the Kiunga and Tabubil areas.

White-winged Triller Lalage sueurii: 3 at Aroa, a very local species in PNG only found in the Port Moresby savanna block.

Black-browed Triller Lalage atrovirens: 3 at Kau and a couple at Sankwep, a north slope species in PNG.

Varied Triller Lalage leucomela: Frequent.

TURDIDAE

Pied Chat (Pied Stonechat) Saxicola caprata: Nadzab and Tabubil.

CINCLOSOMATIDAE

Painted Quail-thrush Cinclosoma ajax (NL): One seen on the pre-trip visit to Varirata with Chris Eastwood, a very difficult endemic.

Blue Jewel-Babbler Ptilorrhoa caerulescens (H): Heard briefly at Kiunga, very unco-operative this year.

Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler Ptilorrhoa castanonota: A couple seen briefly at Varirata, and heard near Tabubil, but mega-difficult.

Greater Melampitta Melampitta gigantea: (H) We gave them an hour but none came close. One of New Guinea's least known birds but not uncommon around Tabubil.

POMATOSTOMATIDAE

Rufous Babbler Pomatostomus isidorei: Good views near Kiunga, and briefly at Kau WMA.

SYLVIIDAE

Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis: Only at Lae this trip.

Island Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephala: One in the Kuper range. A near endemic.

MALURIDAE

Emperor Fairy-Wren Malurus cyanocephalus: A pair at Kiunga performed very nicely and were greatly admired.

White-shouldered Fairy-Wren Malurus alboscapulatus

Orange-crowned Fairy-wren Clytomias insignis (H): Heard at Kuper Range.

ACANTHIZIDAE

Rusty Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis murina: Variations on a theme of 3 notes kept us well entertained and we saw two along the Ok Ma road.

Pale-billed Scrub-wren Sericornis spilodera: 2 at Varirata.

Buff-faced Scrub-Wren Sericornis perspicillatus: 2 at the Kuper Range.

Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster: Seen nicely in the Kiunga area.

Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronotus: The song really is the best thing about it.

Grey Gerygone Gerygone cinerea : 2 at Kuper Range, seen very well.

Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa: Seen briefly at Sankwep.

Brown-breasted Gerygone Gerygone ruficollis (H): Plenty heard at Kuper Range, but none close.

White-throated Gerygone Gerygone olivacea: Seen well in the eucalyptus savanna at Aroa, a very local species in PNG. Well found David!

RHIPIDURIDAE

Black Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura maculipectus: Seen very well at Brown River.

White-bellied Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax: Excellent views at Km 120.

Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons: Nicely seen at Hisiu.

Rufous-backed Fantail Rhipidura rufidorsa: Seen at Veimauri and Kiunga.

Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha: 2 at the Kuper Range.

Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata: 2 at Kuper Range.

Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris

Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys: We got the willies everywhere…….

MYIAGRIDAE

Island Monarch Monarcha cinerascens: Two seen well off Jais Aben, a difficult near endemic.

Spot-winged Monarch Monarcha guttula: Widespread.

Hooded Monarch Monarcha manadensis (L): A single at Kau WMA.

Golden Monarch Monarcha chrysomela: Males seen nicely at Kau and Tabubil.

Frilled Monarch Arses telescopthalmus

Ochre-collared Monarch Arses insularis: A single at Kau WMA, a split from the previous species.

Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula: A single at Veimauri.

Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto

Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus: Seen well at Kuper Range, a very attractive bird.

EOPSALTRIIDAE

Torrent Flycatcher Monachella muelleriana: 2 at Rouna Falls, a great bird.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher Microeca flavigaster: The Tabubil birds are odd, being very short tailed and bright yellow beneath as compared to the savanna birds at Aroa.

Olive Flycatcher Microeca flavovirescens: Singles of this uncommon endemic at Veimauri

Canary Flycatcher Microeca papuana: A single at Kuper Range.

White faced Robin Tregellasia leucops: A single showed well at Varirata.

Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca: Another elusive robin, seen quite well near Kiunga and at Brown River.

Northern Scrub-Robin Drymodes superciliaris: This skulking near endemic was seen at Veimauri.

White-rumped Robin Peneothello bimaculatus: Yet another elusive robin, the white bellied race seen well at Veimauri, and the dark bellied heard along the Ok Ma road.

PACHYCEPHALIDAE

Dwarf Whistler Pachycare flavogrisea: Seen at Tabubil, a great little bird.

Mangrove Golden Whistler Pachycephala melanura: One was seen briefly but quite well at Hisiu mangroves and another off Jais Aben. The calls are rather different too.

Golden-backed Whistler Pachycephala aurea: 2 seen nicely at Km 120, a rare and very localised endemic.

Grey Whistler Pachycephala simplex: Seen at Kiunga, near Tabubil, and at Varirata.

Brown-backed Whistler Pachycephala modesta: Seen well at Kuper Range.

Black-headed Whistler Pachycephala monacha: Seen at Boana.

Rufous-naped Whistler Pachycephala rufinucha (H): Heard at Kuper Range.

Little Shrike-Thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha

Grey Shrike-Thrush Colluricincla harmonica: Seen well in the Hisiu area.

Variable Pitohui Pitohui kirhocephalus (H): Heard in the Kau, Sankwep and Tabubil areas.

Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous: Common at Varirata.

White-bellied Pitohui Pitohui incertus: Seen nicely despite being shy along the Fly River above Kiunga, a party of 3 and a juvenile. A rare and little known endemic species.

Rusty Pitohui Pitohui ferrugineus: Seen well at Varirata and Brown River.

Crested Pitohui Pitohui cristatus (H):The amazing song was heard at Veimauri, but none wanted to show.

Wattled Ploughbill Eulacestoma nigropectus: This bizarre species was seen and heard exceptionally well up at the Kuper range, where a crippling male came in to the tape. One of the birds of the trip.

DICAEIDAE

Obscure Berrypecker Melanocharis arfakiana: Excellent views of 4 birds on the Dablin Creek trail near Tabubil; others were heard along the Ok Ma road. Another of New Guinea's almost mythical birds.

Black Berrypecker Melanocharis nigra: Seen at Varirata, Veimauri and Kau.

Red-crowned Flowerpecker (Papuan Flowerpecker) Dicaeum pectorale: Widespread

NECTARINIIDAE

Black Sunbird Nectarinia aspasia: Seen beautifully along the Ok Ma road.

Yellow-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis

ZOSTEROPIDAE

Black-fronted White-eye Zosterops atrifrons: Frequently heard and seen well. Likely to be split as Z. minor and an endemic in that case.

MELIPHAGIDAE

Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus: Seen on several occasions, most notably at Kau and near Tabubil.

Dwarf Honeyeater Oedistoma iliolophus: Common at Veimauri and Varirata, but hard to see well.

Pigmy Honeyeater Oedistoma pygmaeum: Seen well at Veimauri, a very unobtrusive species.

Green-backed Honeyeater Glycichaera fallax: 2 at Dablin Creek, this can be a difficult species to pick up. Near endemic.

Red-throated Myzomela Myzomela eques: Singles at Varirata, Veimauri and Sankwep, often quite hard to find.

Dusky Myzomela Myzomela obscura: Seen well at the Hisiu mangroves.

Papuan Black Myzomela Myzomela nigrita: Widespread, singles at Veimauri, Sankwep and Tabubil.

Mountain Red-headed Myzomela Myzomela adolphinae: Seen well at Varirata and at Boana.

Red-collared Myzomela Myzomela rosenbergii: Nicely seen at Kuper range.

Spot-breasted Meliphaga Meliphaga mimikae: A single watched at close range at Varirata.

Scrub White-eared Meliphaga Meliphaga albonotata: A single at Tabubil.

Mimic Meliphaga Meliphaga analoga: Singles at Varirata and Kiunga.

Graceful Meliphaga Meliphaga gracilis: Seen at Veimauri and Hisiu.

Varied Honeyeater Lichenostomus versicolor: 2 at Jais Aben.

Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfrenatus: A single at Kuper Range.

Spotted Honeyeater Xanthotis polygramma: A single at Varirata.

Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer: A common near endemic.

White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis: Well seen at Varirata.

Plain Honeyeater Pycnopygius ixoides: Singles of this sparse and unobtrusive endemic at Veimauri and Sankwep.

Marbled Honeyeater Pycnopygius cinereus: Seen nicely at Kuper Range, a very sparse species in PNG.

Streak-headed Honeyeater Pycnopygius stictocephalus: Seen at Veimauri, Kiunga and Tabubil.

New Guinea (Helmeted) Friarbird Philemon novaeguineae: Often split from Helmeted Friarbird and a near endemic.

Meyer's Friarbird Philemon meyeri: Singles at Veimauri and Boystown Road

Rufous-backed Honeyeater Ptiloprora guisei: One at Kuper Range.

Belford's Melidectes Melidectes belfordi: A single seen and lots heard at Kuper Range.

Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus: 2 at Kuper Range.

Brown-backed Honeyeater Ramsayornis modestus: Several at Hisiu.

Rufous-banded Honeyeater Conopophila albogularis: Seen at the PAC and at Lae.

ESTRILDIDAE

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa: Brief flyovers by this skulker at Tabubil.

Streak-headed Mannikin Lonchura tristissima: A flock of 14 at Sankwep, a difficult endemic of the forest edge. Bizarrely, Coates lumps this with the following species!

White-spotted Mannikin Lonchura leucosticta: We eventually got nice views of 50 birds in floating grass along the Fly River. Another difficult and localised endemic.

Grey-headed Mannikin Lonchura caniceps: Common around Port Moresby.

Hooded Mannikin Lonchura spectabilis: 3 at Kuper Range.

PLOCEIDAE

House Sparrow Passer domesticus: The first official bird of the trip at Jackson's Airport, Port Moresby. PNG has only two introduced species on the mainland (Rock Dove the other) plus Indian Mynah on Bougainville, the sparrow only colonising since 1992. Also a single female at Nadzab on Jan 15, the first away from POM and maybe the forerunner of a Lae population.

STURNIDAE

Singing Starling Aplonis cantoroides

Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica

Yellow-eyed Starling Aplonis mystacea: A flock of 12 along the Fly River, a rare endemic.

Golden Myna Mino anais. Nice views along the Fly of this spectacular and uncommon species.

Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii: Common in the lowlands.

ORIOLIDAE

Brown Oriole Oriolus szalayi: The amazing Friarbird mimic, or is it vice versa?

Figbird Sphecotheres viridis: Two at the PAC and several in the Aroa area, very local in PNG.

DICRURIDAE

Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentotus:

ARTAMIDAE

White-breasted Wood-swallow Artamus leucorhynchus

Great Wood-swallow Artamus maximus: A few around Tabubil.

CRACTICIDAE

Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus

Black-backed Butcherbird Cracticus mentalis: A regular in the Moresby area, near endemic.

Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi: Seen well at Sankwep.

Lowland Peltops Peltops blainvillii: Seen well at Veimauri.

Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus: Great views at Tabubil.

PTILONORHYNCHIDAE

White-eared Catbird Ailuroedus buccoides: We actually managed to see one well at Dablin Creek, but it sure took some doing! What an incredible call, and what a skulker!

Spotted Catbird Ailuroedus melanotis (H): One scolding along the Ok Ma road stayed stubbornly out of tape range.

Flame Bowerbird Sericulus aureus: Great views of 2 in female plumage along Boystown Road. A rare and hard to find endemic.

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera cerviniventris: Good views of 2 around Port Moresby, a near endemic.

PARADISAEIDAE

Glossy-mantled Manucode Manucodia atra: Seen and heard well along the Fly River, where very common with 12 on one day along the Elevala.

Crinkle-collared Manucode Manucodia chalybata: 4 seen in the Tabubil area, not easy to discern the crinkles, but the forehead bumps seem more obvious than those of Glossy mantled.

Trumpet Manucode Manucodia keraudrenii: Singles in the forest near Kiunga gave good views. PG still doesn't understand why it's called Trumpet Manucode, it's more like the Retching Manucode! A near endemic.

Magnificent Riflebird Ptiloris magnificus: 3 birds, including a male, were seen very well along the Ok Ma road near Tabubil. Another near endemic.

Eastern Riflebird Ptiloris intercedens: Seen at Varirata and Veimauri and a male at Boana. This form is a recent split from the previous species and its call is very different, growlers v whistlers. A restricted range endemic and not easy to see well.

Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise Seleucidis melanoleuca: Good and prolonged views of two males by the Fly River near Kiunga. What a stunner!

Princess Stephanie's Astrapia Astrapia stephaniae: A single immature at the Kuper Range.

Carola's Parotia Parotia carolae: The drought has meant no fruiting trees at Tabubil, so this year we only got to hear them.

King Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus regius: Wonderful views of single males on two days at Veimauri. Also seen along the Elevala. One of the birds of the trip

Magnificent Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus magnificus: Good views of 4 females/immatures in a fruiting tree in the Tabubil area.

Raggiana Bird of Paradise Paradisaea raggiana: 6 at Varirata, and also seen at Veimauri. The birds seen well along the Sankwep Road at Lae were somewhat curiously pale bellied and yellow mantled female/imms. which resembled Lesser Bird. I think these must be of the distinctive Huon form augustaevictoriae.

Greater Bird of Paradise Paradisaea apoda: Nice views of several males in a display tree near Kiunga. Maximum day count here was 10.

Emperor Bird of Paradise Paradisaea guilielmi: Excellent views of 6 at Boana, and quite an adventure to actually get to the site given the state of the road. Just as well it didn't rain…. A restricted range endemic.

CORVIDAE

Grey Crow Corvus tristis: A few of this strange corvid at Sankwep and at Kiunga.

Torresian Crow Corvus orru: Common around Port Moresby, Lae and Madang.

MAMMALS

Flying Fox Pteropus sp: A few in the Port Moresby area. Similar huge flying foxes along the Fly River near Kiunga, with a distinct golden collar on some.

Butterflies:

Ornithoptera priamus poseidon: Excellent birdwings at Kau, Kiunga and Varirata.

Papilio ulysses: The blue morpho-like swallowtail

June 1998

Phil Gregory
Cassowary House
Black Mountain Road
Kuranda 4872
Queensland

Phone (61) 740 937318
Fax (61) 740 939855


Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall