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Papua New Guinea Parrot Trip

26 July - 12 AUGUST 1998

TOUR REPORT by Phil Gregory

Leader: Peter Them, bird guide Phil Gregory of Sicklebill Safaris

Group members: Ebba Them, Alison and Ian Wright , Ketil Knudsen, Christian Brandt, Nils Skaar, Ingrid Schone, Ursula Mueller, Holger and Helle Windeloeve.

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

This was a Parrot Data birding and cultural tour of 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 amongst the most difficult anywhere, but with patience, skill, persistence and a fair bit of luck we managed to see a very pleasing assortment of the New Guinea avifauna. Among the highlights were 26 species of parrot including 3 species of Pigmy-Parrot, and the great Vulturine Parrot and Palm Cockatoo. We also did well with the birds of paradise, with twenty-one species seen.

Our diverse tour group, ranged from youth to 80+ years old and included an aquatic plant expert, a photographer, a budding anthropologist and assorted parrot and pheasant fanciers and bird folks. We commenced in Port Moresby, where we had a look at the superb display of orchids at the Botanical Gardens, and admired some of the captive birds there. This was followed by a trip to the grounds of the Pacific Adventist Collage (PAC) where we had our first introduction to New Guinea birds, with great photo opportunities of some of the waterbirds. Next day we went up to Varirata National Park and had lovely views of a male Raggiana Bird of Paradise at a roadside lek, along with Glossy-mantled Manucode and later a marvelous Papuan Frogmouth on a nest.

Next day we took a flight to Kiunga, far to the west on the border with Irian Jaya. Kiunga was hot but interesting, and the very diverse group interests were well catered for, be it the local people, plants, culture or birds. Our thanks to Theresa and Mavis for their kindness here. Samuel, our local guide, showed us around the rich lowland rainforest surrounding Kiunga, though the Boystown road was out of commission due to deep mud. Lovely views of plumed male Greater Bird of Paradise, Trumpet Manucode, Yellow-capped Pigmy-Parrot, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot and the elusive White-spotted Mannikin kept us richly rewarded.

We also spent a full day on the Fly River and along the Elevala, one of its tributaries. PG was somewhat under the weather this day, but we still managed to see the impressive and comical-looking Palm Cockatoo, Large Fig-Parrot, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Yellow-eyed Starling and great dawn performances from the Twelve-wired Birds of Paradise. Another trip rewarded us with excellent views of Common Paradise-Kingfisher, a flock of the rare and little known White-bellied Pitohui, and a marvelous male King Bird of Paradise that required some of more dedicated of the group to wade a creek, all part of the PNG experience!

What turned out to be a 3 hour drive in the dark and pouring rain, much delayed due to tyre problems, took us next to the mid-altitude forests at the copper mining town of Tabubil. These supply troubles really brought home just how remote we were here, my thanks to the group for their patience and fortitude as we got it sorted out. The major drought of last year is thankfully over, but the wet weather really lost us a day, the only time on the trip that we got caught out. 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 nice views of Vulturine Parrot, great looks at male Magnificent Riflebird and the seldom seen male Magnificent Bird of Paradise, whilst the rare and mysterious Greater Melampitta were calling noisily, though we were not able to lure any into view this year.

Ambua Lodge is one of the most beautiful lodges in New Guinea, situated near Tari in the Southern Highlands. The forests surrounding are, without any doubt, the best place in the world to observe and admire birds of paradise. No less than ten species regularly reside here and we managed to see almost all. A forest clearing had a good supply of fruiting plants, and this enabled us to get simply devastating close range (2m!) views of males of Crested, Loria's, King of Saxony Bird of Paradise and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia. A calling Blue Bird of Paradise gave some of us brief views down in the Tari Valley, and we also had excellent views of female Brown Sicklebill, male and female Stephanie's Astrapias and male Lawes Parotia, with a calling male Black Sicklebill for good measure. This latter was a real bonus as they have not been seen regularly here for several years. The expertise and keen eyes and ears of Joseph, the local birdman, helped us immensely.

We spent a lot of time in the moss-festooned mountain forests below the Tari Gap, checking the forest floor. Here we had unforgettable sightings of male Chestnut Forest-Rail, some marvellous Josephine's Lorikeets and Plum-faced Lorikeets feeding at a fruiting Schefflera, Brehm's Tiger Parrots, Spotted Jewel-babbler, and Mountain Firetail. Other excellent species here included Blue-capped Ifrita, Crested Berrypecker, Wattled Ploughbill for a lucky few, White-winged Robin, Mountain Kingfisher and Archbold's Bowerbird, whilst the elusive and very shy Torrent-Lark also made an appearance.

The cultural side was also not neglected, with a magnificent Long-tailed Buzzard at Dr Bogias' place (the local witch-doctor), and some fascinating insights at the Huli wigmen's camp. The group also visited a sing-sing at the nearby cultural village and these glimpses into the strange and very much thriving Huli culture made for a very unusual and unforgettable part of the trip.

Next it was off via small plane to the spirit house type lodge at Karawari, in the Sepik area. We visited several villages and had some good insights into the Sepik culture set-up. Finding birds in the hot humid forests proved hard work, but we were rewarded with outstanding views of Palm Cockatoo, Dusky Lory, Buff-faced Pigmy-Parrot and the very localised Edward's Fig-Parrot. We found a feather from a Victoria Crowned Pigeon, whilst a local dug up eggs of Brown-collared Brush-turkey. Both these species would have been life birds for all of us of course!

Finally it was back to Port Moresby and just time for an artifact buying trip, whilst Ketil and I made a foray out to Lea Lea for a selection of waders and savanna birds- 17 lifers for our Norwegian photographer was pretty good going!

This was a memorable trip with some outstanding sightings, good views of many very special birds, lots of endemic species, a keen and dauntless group and various curious happenings to keep us alert (and no doubt dined out later in the year). Quite an introduction to New Guinea, and my thanks to our exceptionally diverse multinational group for their enthusiasm, patience and generally good humour. Thanks also to Peter Them of SAS and Tommy Iversen for enthusiasm, logistics and putting it all together.

Papua New Guinea 1998 Tour Species List

PODICIPEDIDAE

Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae: Good views at the PAC.

PHALACROCORACIDAE

Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris: Well seen at the PAC.

Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos

ANHINGIDAE

Darter Anhinga melanogaster: A single on the river near Karawari.

ARDEIDAE

Great Egret Egretta alba

Little Egret Egretta garzetta:

Pied Heron Egretta picata: Lots on the Sepik and a few around Port Moresby.

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia: A few at the PAC.

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

Striated Heron (Green-backed Heron) Ardeola striata: Seen well near Kiunga.

Rufous Night-Heron Nycticorax caledonicus: 2 near Port Moresby on July 27.

Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis: Good flight views of one on the Fly near Kiunga and 3 on the Sepik, always a nice bird to find.

ACCIPITRIDAE

Crested Hawk (Pacific Baza) Aviceda subcristata: Seen well on the Elevala and Sepik.

Long-tailed Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda: Seen very well at Varirata, Kiunga, the witch-doctor's place, and on the Sepik.

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus: A single in the Tari Valley. A scarce and strangely locally distributed species in New Guinea.

Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus: Common in the lowlands.

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

Grey (Variable) Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae. Nicely seen at Tabubil, Kiunga and Tari, where a nest was seen. The form here is now at last split in the latest edition of Clements as Accipiter hiogaster, since it differs so much from the Australian species.

Grey-headed Goshawk Accipiter poliocephalus A single along the Elevala of this rather sparse endemic species.

FALCONIDAE

Brown Falcon Falco berigora. Great views at Tari Gap.

Australian Hobby Falco longipennis: Well seen near Kiunga.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus A single along the Karawari River was unexpected.

ANATIDAE

Spotted Whistling Duck Dendrocygna guttata: Seen in flight along the Fly River early one morning.

Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata: Several at the PAC near Port Moresby

Green Pygmy-Goose Nettapus pulchellus: Lovely views at the PAC, a delightful species

Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa: Some at the PAC.

Grey Teal Anas gibberifrons 2 at the PAC.

MEGAPODIIDAE

Orange-footed Scrubfowl Megapodius freycinet (H) Calling in the night at Karawari

Black-billed Brush-turkey Talegalla fuscirostris (H) Heard at Varirata and a nest mound seen.

Brown-collared Brush-turkey Talegalla jobiensis (H): Heard at Karawari and a nest mound found. These New Guinea brush-turkeys are very hard to actually see!

RALLIDAE

Chestnut Forest-Rail  Rallina rubra: Persistence pays: Incredible observations after glimpses only the first day. A male performed beautifully and walked right in on day two.

Bush-hen Amaurornis olivaceus (H) Heard near Varirata.

Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) Porphyrio porphyrio; Lovely views of the black backed race melanotus at the PAC

JACANIDAE

Comb-crested Jacana Irediparra gallinacea What a great little bird, well seen at the PAC

CHARADRIIDAE

Masked Lapwing  Vanellus miles: 10 birds at the PAC

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

SCOLOPACIDAE

Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos: A few on the Elevala and at Karawari.

Swinhoe's (Chinese) Snipe Gallinago megala: A very early bird was on the muddy soccer field at Tabubil on August 2; Identified by the large size and pot-bellied appearance, analogous to Great Snipe.

GLAREOLIDAE

Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella 3 at Kiunga, a migrant from Australia.

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 in the hills.

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

Emerald Ground-Dove Chalcophaps indica: A single near Varirata.

Stephan's Ground-Dove Chalcophaps stephani: Singles at Kiunga and Karawari.

Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata. A single at Port Moresby just after we arrived.

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

Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus perlatus: Excellent telescope views on several occasions.

Ornate Fruit-Dove  Ptilinopus ornatus: Good views in the Tabubil area.

Superb Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus superbus. Brief views near Tari.

Beautiful Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus pulchellus: One near Kiunga, and one along the Ok Ma.

White-breasted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus rivoli One male at Ambua.

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

Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus aurantiifrons: One at Karawari was a good find.

Dwarf Fruit Dove Ptilinopus nana: A flyover and briefly perched along the Elevala River was our only record this trip, the scarcest of the Ptilinopus in PNG.

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

Collared Imperial Pigeon Ducula muellerii: Maximum 150 by the Fly River; a specialist of riverine forest. Also a single along the Karawari, where they seem very sparse.

Zoe Imperial Pigeon Ducula zoeae: Singles on a number of dates. The common lowland and hill forest Ducula.

Torresian Imperial Pigeon Ducula spilorrhoa: Nice views of a single at the PAC.

Papuan Mountain Pigeon Gymnophaps albertisii: Poorly named and quite widespread.

PSITTACIDAE

Greater Streaked Lory Chalcopsitta sintillata: Brief views near Varirata.

Dusky Lory Pseudeos fuscata: A few around Tabubil and hundreds at Karawari.

Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus

Goldie's Lorikeet Trichoglossus goldiei: Just 2 fly-bys at Ambua.

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

Red-flanked Lorikeet Charmosyna placentis: Two flyovers along the Ok Ma and 2 at Karawari.

Josephine's Lorikeet Charmosyna josefinae: Splendid views of 4 birds feeding at a Schefflera plant up at Tari Gap. A rare and little known species.

Papuan Lorikeet Charmosyna papou: Excellent views of this stunning species in the Tari Area, including both black and red phases.

Plum-faced Lorikeet Oreopsittacus arfaki: Nice views of 7 birds at Tari.

Yellow-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus musschenbroekii: Quite common at Ambua.

Orange-billed Lorikeet Neopsittacus pullicauda: Seen well, though we only saw 2 above Ambua, where it is usually at higher levels than the preceding species.

Palm Cockatoo Probosciger aterrimus: A star bird, brief views along the Fly River and then Ursula found us a great one at Karawari. What style, what a beak, what a haircut!

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita: Small numbers at Kiunga and Tabubil and a few along the Sepik. Cocky kai kai is the distinct PNG captive call

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

Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta keiensis: Seen well flying about on several occasions in the Kiunga area, maximum 10 on one day of this restricted range species.

Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot Micropsitta bruijnii: Uncharacteristically scarce at Tabubil this year, a flock of 14 flyovers only.

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

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta diopthalma: Great views of 3 near Kiunga and a pair at Karawari Lodge, sympatric with Edward's Fig-Parrot.

Edward's Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris edwardsii : Daily at Karawari, maximum 10 birds, and seen really well.

Large Fig-Parrot Psittaculirostris desmarestii: Nice views of 2 birds from along the Elevala River, a hard one to find.

Brehm's Tiger-Parrot Psittacella brehmii: Excellent prolonged close views on several occasions at Tari Gap.

Red-cheeked Parrot Geoffroyus geoffroyi: Common along the KarawariRiver and at Kiunga.

Blue-collared Parrot Geoffroyus simplex: The wind chime bird, heard at Tabubil and flying over at Ambua!

Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus: Fairly common and very noisy in the lowlands.

Vulturine Parrot Psittrichas fulgidus: Brief flight views along the Ok Ma road at Tabubil, just as we were about to give up! A superb, large, spectacular and near threatened species.

Papuan King-Parrot Alisterus chloropterus: Seen very well at Tari.

CUCULIDAE

Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus

Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis castaneiventris (H): Heard at Tabubil.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis (H): Heard at the Tari Gap

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus: Well seen near Kimbe.

White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx meyeri : A single along the Ok Ma road at Tabubil.

Dwarf Koel Microdynamis parva (H): Heard near Karawari.

White-crowned Koel Caliechthrus leucolophus (H): Heard at Kiunga and Tabubil.

Common Koel Eudynamys scolopacea: A male at Kiunga and heard frequently in the lowlands. It was probably the Australian form cyanocephala at Kiunga, but males are indistinguishable from scolopacea of Asia.

Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae: Great views along the Elevala and at Karawari ; weird prehistoric-looking creatures.

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

Lesser Black Coucal Centropus bernsteini A single at Karawari. A local and uncommon species.

Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus: Heard near Varirata.

STRIGIDAE

Papuan Boobook Ninox theomacha (H): Calling at Tabubil and Ambua, but all distant.

PODARGIDAE

Papuan Frogmouth Podargus papuensis: A wonderful view of one on a nest up at Varirata, a memorable bird and a trip favourite.

HEMIPROCNIDAE

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

APODIDAE

Uniform Swiftlet Collocalia vanikorensis

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

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta

Papuan Spine-tailed Swift Mearnsia novaeguineae: Quite common in the Kiunga and Karawari areas.

ALCEDINIDAE

Common Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera galatea: Crippling views along the Fly River. A great bird.

Hook-billed Kingfisher Melidora macrorrhina: Heard on several occasions at Tabubil and Kiunga, and calling incredibly close at Karawari where 2 were seen one dusk. One of the most elusive kingfishers, so seeing a juvenile captive one perched on a young girl's head was a surprise. I hope the photo comes out Ketil!

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra Dacelo gaudichaud: Lovely views at Kiunga and Karawari.

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

Forest Kingfisher Halcyon macleayii: 2 near Varirata gave good views.

Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta : Common in the lowlands, an austral winter migrant from Australia.

Yellow-billed Kingfisher Halcyon torotoro: One along the Elevala was a fortunate find.

Mountain Kingfisher Halcyon megarhyncha : Brief views near Ambua for some of this large montane form, which is a very difficult species to find.

Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus (H): Heard at Kiunga.

MEROPIDAE

Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus: Quite common around Varirata and Kiunga.

CORACIIDAE

Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis: Up to 40 at Kiunga and common at Karawari too.

BUCEROTIDAE

Blyth's Hornbill Rhyticeros plicatus: Great views in the Kiunga area and just 2 at Karawari, where hunting pressure must be high.

PITTIDAE

Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster (H): Heard at Varirata.

Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida (H) Heard at Kiunga

HIRUNDINIDAE

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica: Common in the lowlands

CAMPEPHAGIDAE

White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina papuensis: A few at Karawari.

Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae. A few near Port Moresby

Stout-billed Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina caeruleogrisea: The largest of the Cuckoo-shrikes, seen near Tabubil.

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

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, and again at Tari and along the Karawari River.

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

Black-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina montana (H): Heard near Ambua.

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

Black-browed Triller Lalage atrovirens: Common around Karawari, where it replaces the Varied Triller of the southern watershed lowlands.

Varied Triller Lalage leucomela: A few around Tabubil and Kiunga

LANIIDAE

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach: Ambua and Karawari.

TURDIDAE

Pied Chat (Pied Stonechat) Saxicola caprata: Common at Tabubil and Ambua.

Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus; Very scarce this year, we managed to find 1 near the Tari Gap

ORTHONYCHIDAE

Logrunner Orthonyx temminckii (H): heard at Ambua. The call is quite unlike the Australian birds and a potential split is likely as O. novaeguineae.

MUSCICAPIDAE

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

Spotted Jewel-Babbler Ptilorrhoa leucosticta : This mega-skulker was seen rather nicely at Ambua.

Lesser Melampitta Melampitta lugubris (H) One heard calling quietly near the Tari Gap

Greater Melampitta Melampitta lugubris Heard calling nearby along the Ok Ma road.

Blue-capped Ifrita Ifrita kowaldi: Seen very well on several occasions at Tari.

POMATOSTOMATIDAE

Rufous Babbler Pomatostomus isidorei: Brief views of 4 near Kiunga.

SYLVIIDAE

Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis: Common along the roadside above Ambua

Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis: One at Karawari was all we found.

Island Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus poliocephala: Seen well near Ambua Lodge and in the Tari Valley.

MALURIDAE

Emperor Fairy-Wren Malurus cyanocephalus (H): Heard at Kiunga.

White-shouldered Fairy-Wren Malurus alboscapulatus: Seen at Kiunga and near Tari

ACANTHIZIDAE

Rusty Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis murina: Seen briefly at Tabubil by some

Mountain Mouse-Warbler Crateroscelis robusta: Good views at Tari.

Large Scrub-Wren Sericornis nouhuysi: Quite common in the Tari area.

Buff-faced Scrub-Wren Sericornis perspicillatus: Seen well in the Tari valley

Papuan Scrub-Wren Sericornis papuensis: Common near Tari Gap, the high altitude

Sericornis.

Yellow-bellied Gerygone Gerygone chrysogaster: Seen at Kiunga and heard at Karawari.

Green-backed Gerygone Gerygone chloronotus (H): Heard at Tabubil. The song really is the best thing about it.

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

RHIPIDURIDAE

White-bellied Thicket-Fantail Rhipidura leucothorax: Excellent views near Kiunga

Dimorphic Fantail Rhipidura brachyrhyncha: Seen several times above Ambua.

Black Fantail Rhipidura atra: A pair were well seen at Ambua

Friendly Fantail Rhipidura albolimbata: Common at Ambua

Northern Fantail Rhipidura rufiventris: Singles at Tabubil on a couple of days

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

MYIAGRIDAE

Black Monarch Monarcha axillaris: Black Fantails with the white scapular spot at Ambua were this species, which closely resembles the males of the Black Fantail.

Frilled Monarch Arses telescopthalmus: A couple along the Ok Ma road.

Ochre-collared monarch Arses insularis: A pair near Karawari of this distinctive split from the Frilled Monarch complex.

Shining Flycatcher Myiagra alecto: A single at Karawari.

Black-breasted Boatbill Machaerirhynchus nigripectus: Seen well on several occasions at

Ambua, a very attractive bird.

EOPSALTRIIDAE

Torrent Flycatcher Monachella muelleriana: Nicely seen in the Tari Valley, a great bird.

Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca (H): Another elusive robin, heard near Kiunga.

Black-throated Robin Poecilodryas albonotata: A nice obliging robin, one showed very well near Ambua one afternoon.

White-winged Robin Peneothello sigillatus: Excellent views of 3 including a juvenile below the Tari Gap, an elusive high altitude species.

White-rumped Robin Peneothello bimaculatus (H): Yet another elusive robin, heard along the Ok Ma road.

Blue-grey Robin Peneothello cyanus: Lovely views of this frequently found Ambua resident.

PACHYCEPHALIDAE

Dwarf Whistler Pachycare flavogrisea (H): Heard at Tabubil, but regrettably no views.

Regent Whistler Pachycephala schlegelii: A male was seen very well at Tari.

Golden-backed Whistler Pachycephala aurea : Brief views of one of this rare and localised species at Km 120 from Kiunga, it has been hard to see this year.

Grey Whistler Pachycephala simplex: Seen near Tabubil.

Brown-backed Whistler Pachycephala modesta: Seen well on several occasions near the lodge at Tari, a PNG endemic species.

Black-headed Whistler Pachycephala monacha (H): Heard in the Tari valley

Rufous-naped Whistler Pachycephala rufinucha: Performing well at Ambua

Little Shrike-Thrush Colluricincla megarhyncha: Seen at Ambua

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

Variable Pitohui Pitohui kirhocephalus: Heard in the Tabubil area, and one seen at

Karawari.

Hooded Pitohui Pitohui dichrous: The famous PNG poison bird was seen quite well at Varirata.

White-bellied Pitohui Pitohui incertus: Seen nicely despite being shy along the Fly River above Kiunga, with 4 birds in evidence. A rare and little known restricted range species.

Wattled Ploughbill Eulacestoma nigropectus: This bizarre species was seen by some of the group up at the Gap.

NEOSITTIDAE

Black Sittella Daphoenositta miranda: Good views of 5 below the Bailey Bridge.

DICAEIDAE

Fan-tailed Berrypecker Melanocharis versteri: Seen very well at Ambua.

Red-crowned Flowerpecker (Papuan Flowerpecker) Dicaeum pectorale: Quite common in the lowlands.

Tit Berrypecker Oreocharis arfaki: Good views of this gorgeous looking mutant Great Tit look-alike at Ambua.

Crested Berrypecker Paramythia montium: Superb views of 7 in total at the Tari Gap, a high altitude and spectacular endemic species.

NECTARINIIDAE

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

ZOSTEROPIDAE

Black-fronted White-eye Zosterops atrifrons: Seen at Varirata.

Western Mountain White-eye (Dark-capped White-eye) Zosterops fuscicapillus: Several seen well in the Tari valley.

MELIPHAGIDAE

Long-billed Honeyeater Melilestes megarhynchus: Seen near Tabubil.

Dwarf Honeyeater Oedistoma iliolophus: Common round Tabubil, but hard to see well.

Papuan Black Myzomela Myzomela nigrita: A single male at Varirata.

Red-collared Myzomela Myzomela rosenbergii: Nicely seen at Ambua, the male a stunning little bird.

Scrub White-eared Meliphaga Meliphaga albonotata: The common trip Meliphaga, with a nest found at Dablin Creek, Tabubil, well spotted Ian.

Mimic Meliphaga Meliphaga analoga: One seen well at Tabubil, and common along the Karawari River.

Mountain Meliphaga Meliphaga orientalis: 2 up at Dablin Creek.

Graceful Meliphaga Meliphaga gracilis: Seen at Tabubil.

Obscure Honeyeater Lichenostomus obscurus (H): A few heard at Tabubil, a rather rare species.

Black-throated Honeyeater Lichenostomus subfraenatus: Quite common and noisy above Ambua this time.

Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavescens: This savanna species was seen nicely at the Islander Hotel in Port Moresby

Spotted Honeyeater Xanthotis polygramma: Seen at Tabubil, always a nice bird to find.

Tawny-breasted Honeyeater Xanthotis flaviventer: Common at Tabubil and along the Karawari River.

Streak-headed Honeyeater Pycnopygius stictocephalus : Seen at Varirata and quite common at Karawari.

New Guinea Friarbird Philemon novaeguineae: Noisy, nosy, ugly and frequent throughout the lowlands.

Grey-streaked Honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata : Regular observations near the lodge at Ambua.

Belford's Melidectes Melidectes belfordi: Noisy, ugly and common, even down at the Lodge.

Yellow-browed Melidectes Melidectes rufocrissalis: Regular in the Tari Valley.

Common Smoky Honeyeater Melipotes fumigatus: Common at Ambua.

Rufous-banded Honeyeater Conopophila albogularis: A few in Port Moresby.

ESTRILDIDAE

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch Erythrura trichroa: Brief views of this skulker at the Tari Gap, where a small group was present in the roadside bamboo.

White-spotted Mannikin  Lonchura leucosticta: We eventually got nice views of 4 birds in a grassy patch by the Drimgas Road at Kiunga. A restricted range endemic.

Grey-headed Mannikin Lonchura caniceps: One at the PAC, a SE PNG endemic.

Hooded Mannikin Lonchura spectabilis: Good views at Tari.

Mountain Firetail Oreostruthus fuliginosus: A brief view below the Gap at Ambua.

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.

STURNIDAE

Singing Starling Aplonis cantoroides: A few in Port Moresby.

Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica: Common at Kiunga and along the Karawari, where a huge flying ant hatch had dozens of them hawking the insects from the river.

Yellow-eyed Starling Aplonis mystacea: We saw 3 along the Fly River, a very rare and little known restricted range species.

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

Yellow-faced Myna Mino dumontii: Common in the lowlands, and what a great voice!

ORIOLIDAE

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

Figbird Sphecotheres viridis: Several at the PAC, a very local species in PNG.

DICRURIDAE

Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentotus: Frequent in the lowlands.

GRALLINIDAE

Torrent-Lark  Grallina bruijni: Splendid views along a stream at Ambua; never easy to observe, but these showed very well.

ARTAMIDAE

White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorhynchus: Port Moresby and Kiunga.

Great Woodswallow Artamus maximus: Common around Tabubil and at Tari.

CRACTICIDAE

Hooded Butcherbird Cracticus cassicus: Seen at Varirata and Kiunga.

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

Black Butcherbird Cracticus quoyi: Seen well at Tabubil.

Lowland Peltops Peltops blainvillii: Seen well near Kiunga, a very attractive species.

Mountain Peltops Peltops montanus: Great views at Tabubil and Tari.

PTILONORHYNCHIDAE

White-eared Catbird Ailuroedus buccoides (H): We heard one along the Fly River.

Archbold's Bowerbird Archboldia papuensis: Several decent views at Tari, including a scoped male. A rare and restricted range montane species.

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird Chlamydera cerviniventris: Good views near Varirata.

PARADISAEIDAE

Crested Bird of Paradise Cnemophilus macgregorii: Crippling views of a male along Joseph's trail, a study in flame orange and black. Always a really hard bird to find.

Loria's Bird of Paradise Cnemophilus loriae: Outstanding close views of several males feeding at Ambua.

Glossy-mantled Manucode Manucodia atra: Seen and heard well along the Fly River, where very common. Also seen and heard at Karawari.

Crinkle-collared Manucode Manucodia chalybata: Seen along the Ok ma road; Not easy to discern the crinkles, but the forehead bumps seem more obvious than with Glossy-mantled.

Jobi Manucode Manucodia jobiensis: A single flew across a tributary of the Karawari, looking small and shorter tailed than the extremely similar Glossy-mantled. A PNG tick for Phil.

Trumpet Manucode Manucodia keraudrenii: One 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!

Magnificent Riflebird Ptiloris magnificus: A male was seen very well via the scope on the Ok Ma road near Tabubil, and heard in the Kiunga area.

Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise Seleucidis melanoleuca: Amazingly good and prolonged views of a displaying male and females by the Fly River near Kiunga. Also seen nicely near Karawari. A truly outstanding bird.

Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus: A single calling male on a ridge below near the Lodge gave nice scope views early one morning. The loud whic whic whic call was audible even at that long range. This is a rare and near threatened species which is hunted for its astonishing long tail plumes, and was an excellent find as they are hard to see these days.

Brown Sicklebill Epimachus meyeri: Excellent views of a female along the trail , the pale blue eye being very obvious when seen well.

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia Astrapia mayeri: Wonderful views of many at Tari, including lots of fine males with full tail-streamers. Outstanding, and another restricted range PNG endemic.

Stephanie's Astrapia Astrapia stephaniae: A superb male was found and seen well along a short stretch of road below the Bailey Bridge at Tari.

Superb Bird of Paradise Lophorina superba: A fine male at the TNT compound area gave very nice views.

Carola's Parotia Parotia carolae: The drought has meant no fruiting trees at Tabubil, so this year we were very lucky to see 2 female/immature dress birds at Dablin Creek.

Lawes's Parotia Parotia lawesii: A fine male below the Lodge and also a dancing ground, with very nice views of both male and female plumaged bird at a fruiting Schefflera.

King of Saxony Bird of Paradise Pteridophora alberti: Fairly common in the Tari Gap area, and showing well on several occasions (including a superb male). The song is unbelievable, like a Corn Bunting x a deep fat fryer!

King Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus regius: The team waded waist deep across a creek above Kiunga to be duly rewarded with wonderful views of a male high in a tree. One of the birds of the trip, and such dedication!

Magnificent Bird of Paradise Cicinnurus magnificus: Quite good views of a male in a fruiting tree in the Tabubil area, a very hard species to see.

Raggiana Bird of Paradise Paradisaea raggiana: Some good males at a lek near Kiunga, and a brilliant obliging male at Varirata, getting the trip off to a fine start.

Greater Bird of Paradise Paradisaea apoda: Nice views of several males in fine plumage in a display tree near Kiunga, another restricted range species.

Blue Bird of Paradise Paradisaea rudolphi: Brief scope views for some of a male calling from a partly dead tree in a garden in the Tari Valley. Unfortunately he was very flighty on this day. A restricted range and near threatened PNG endemic.

CORVIDAE

Grey Crow Corvus tristis: A few along the Fly River and in the Tabubil area.

Torresian Crow Corvus orru: A few around Port Moresby.

MAMMALS

Flying Fox Pteropus sp: Huge flying foxes along the Fly River near Kiunga.

House Mouse (Mus musculus) : 2 in the kitchen at Kiunga (!) and 1 at the MAF terminal in Tabubil.

Butterflies:

Ornithoptera priamus poseidon: Excellent birdwings Kiunga and Varirata.

Papilio ulysses: The blue morpho-like swallowtail

My apologies for being so long in finishing the report, having relocated to far north Queensland and led 3 more tours since this trip my time has been somewhat limited!

December 1998

Phil Gregory Cassowary House PO Box 387 Kuranda 4872 , Queensland

Phone 61 740 937318 Fax 61 740 939855


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