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Field Guides Tour Report
New Guinea & Australia 2016
Oct 27, 2016 to Nov 14, 2016
Jay VanderGaast & Doug Gochfeld

The amazing Wattled Ploughbill, a Papuan endemic, photographed by guide Doug Gochfeld.

As the snow falls outside and winter envelops my home, it's fun to look back on this wonderful tour and recall the tropical heat and all the hot birding that took place during our time in PNG and Australia. It was a whirlwind couple of weeks in which we visited some of eastern Australia's premier birding hotspots, sandwiched around a brief visit to a couple of choice destinations in PNG. The results were satisfying, as we enjoyed a great selection of the region's unique birds, including representatives of a number of families restricted to this part of the world, from Emus and brushturkeys to bowerbirds, fairywrens, and of course, birds-of-paradise.

We began our adventure in the steamy tropics of Far North Queensland, arriving in the friendly coastal city of Cairns, which we used as a base to explore the surrounding, bird-rich areas. Our first afternoon of birding just to the north of the city and along the famous Esplanade gave us our first taste of the treats in store for us, with Green Pygmy-Goose, Magpie Goose, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Rainbow Bee-eaters, and Crimson Finches starting things off right at Yorkey's Knob and Cattana Wetlands, and the high tide along the Esplanade pushing a plethora of shorebirds within easy viewing distance. The next few days took us up to the Atherton Tablelands, where we saw a great variety of habitats and special birds. Dry country in the Mareeba area gave us close encounters with a family of Emus, a fantastic encounter with a displaying male Australian Bustard, and a bunch of other local specialties including Red-winged Parrot, Squatter Pigeon, Gray-crowned Babbler, and our first of many bowerbirds in the form of a male Great Bowerbird maintaining his well-kept display area in hopes that a female might drop by.

In agricultural areas of the Tablelands, mixed groups of Brolgas and Sarus Cranes gave us a great opportunity to study their subtle differences, and one of the largest concentrations of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos I've ever seen fed in some recently cultivated fields. And the dense rainforests, home to a number of very localized endemics, offered up such prizes as the stunning Golden Bowerbird at his incredible maypole bower, the colorful Wompoo Fruit-Dove, delicate little beauties like Lovely Fairywren, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, and Pied and Spectacled monarchs, and some wonderful Victoria's Riflebirds practicing their impressive courtship displays. Some unique and interesting mammals also played a role in making our time here memorable, from the Sugar Gliders and gorgeous Striped Possums at the nocturnal feeders at Chambers to the delightful Mareeba Rock-Wallabies at Granite Gorge, to the bizarre Platypus that showed so well one late afternoon.

From Cairns we winged across the Coral Sea to find ourselves in the completely different world that is Papua New Guinea. We started things off with an afternoon visit to PAU, where, among many other species, we enjoyed great looks at dapper Pied Herons, a trio of massive Papuan Frogmouths, raucous Yellow-faced Mynas, and at day's end, unbeatable views of a scarce Black Bittern. Our visits to nearby Varirata National Park were equally productive, as among expected standouts such as Raggiana BoP, Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Barred Owlet-Nightjar, Frilled Monarch, and Hooded PItohui there were also some wonderful surprises in the forms of Dwarf Koel, Hooded Pitta, and Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher, all three of which allowed us lengthy scope studies! Fruit-doves were also memorable here, with Pink-spotted, Orange-bellied, the tiny Dwarf, and the beautiful Beautiful fruit-doves all giving excellent views.

Up in the highlands around Kumul Lodge our good luck continued. The feeders were alive with birds, including an amazing male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia with one intact long tail plume, and a subadult male Brown Sicklebill, which delighted us all as he regularly called and displayed right above the feeding table! Also around the lodge were a number of other gorgeous highland specialties, including Red-collared Myzomela, Crested Berrypecker, Regent Whistler, and a pair of endearing Blue-capped Ifrita, while on the lodge's trails a male Wattled Ploughbill displayed his bizarre floppy pink wattles to the delight of all who did the walk. Further afield, birds-of-paradise were among our main targets, and they didn't disappoint. A male Blue BoP made the strenuous hike up the Tonga Trail a worthwhile endeavor, a calling male Superb BoP eventually came out into the open for some scope studies, his turquoise breast shield aglow in the sunlight, and, after a futile wait at the Lesser BoP lek (which was productive for other birds), we lucked into a gorgeous male along the roadside, which allowed us close views for several minutes as it fed and called near the road, making it pretty much a shoo-in for bird of the trip!

Leaving PNG behind, we had a couple of other stops to make back in Australia. First, to Brisbane, and a morning at the Port of Brisbane Wetlands. Here we enjoyed the sight of a massive White-bellied Sea-Eagle being attacked by some crows just overhead, gorgeous Black Swans aplenty, and one of my favorite honeyeaters, the lovely Striped, before we headed up to the justly famous O'Reilly's Guest House. Of course we were greeted by the many habituated Crimson Rosellas, Australian King-Parrots, and Regent Bowerbirds upon arrival, and over the next couple of days we made acquaintance with most of the other local specialties, including a couple of male Albert's Lyrebirds, a very localized species. Also making an impression were the cheeky Eastern Whipbirds that fed and called loudly right next to the trail, the quirky Logrunners with their wonderful sideways kicking motion, a colorful Noisy Pitta on a canopy song perch, and a lovely male Rose Robin singing its pretty song. Spotted Pardalotes, Varied Sittellas, Red-browed Treecreeper, and a pair of scarce Glossy Black-Cockatoos feeding quietly in some roadside Casuarinas made a trip into the dryer eucalyptus forest worthwhile, and an afternoon visit to a local waterhole to watch birds coming in to bathe and drink was a magical finish to our time here.

Our final venue was Sydney, where a visit to Royal NP was in order. Our main quarry here took some time to show, but we were eventually pleased to find a very cooperative male Superb Lyrebird, as well as an equally friendly Rockwarbler, a very localized endemic. A planned visit to a sea-watching area was thwarted by the hordes of locals taking advantage of a hot, sunny day, so a last-minute change of plans brought us to Centennial Park, where we tracked down Buff-banded Rail and Tawny Frogmouths for our final birds of the tour.

All in all, a good time was had by all, your guides included. Thanks for joining in the fun, and for your part in making this another successful and enjoyable run of this trip. Thanks too, to the various local guides and drivers along the way, particularly Clayton in the Cairns region, Leonard and Kelly around Port Moresby, and Wilson at Kumul. Their local knowledge and keen eyesight contributed greatly to our pleasure. Thanks also to Doug, who quickly made people forget he was on his first trip here.

Here's wishing you all a very safe and happy 2017, and Doug and I hope to see you all again on another tour in 2017 or beyond.


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Casuariidae (Cassowaries and Emu)
EMU (Dromaius novaehollandiae) – With the cassowary looking like a no-show, we decided to alter plans and track down another large, flightless bird in its place. Our subsequent visit to the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve proved successful as we were rewarded with close studies of a pair with a trio of full-grown young. [E]

Comb-crested Jacana, photographed by participant Chuck Holliday.

Anseranatidae (Magpie Goose)
MAGPIE GOOSE (Anseranas semipalmata) – Fairly large numbers of these large, gangly geese were present at various sites around the Atherton tablelands, despite the extremely dry conditions and low water levels. [E]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
PLUMED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna eytoni) – What Hasties Swamp lacked in waterfowl diversity, it made up for in sheer numbers of this elegant duck, as we estimated in the vicinity of 7,000-8,000 of them lining the edges of what little water remained. We also counted 38 of these at the PAU ponds in PNG, a respectable count for the country, though quite short of the record 61 I found there last year. [E]
WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata) – We managed to pick out just one of these among the hordes of Plumed Whistling-Ducks at Hasties Swamp, though there were likely more tucked away there. Our only other record was of several birds at the PAU ponds.
BLACK SWAN (Cygnus atratus) – Though we saw a couple on the Atherton tablelands, they were a long way off, so we really didn't get to appreciate the beauty of these birds until we got those close views at the Port of Brisbane wetlands.
RADJAH SHELDUCK (Tadorna radjah) – These birds have become quite habituated at Centenary Lakes in Cairns, and are now quite regular and easy to see there. We even had a noisy pair overhead in a tree. A single bird was also seen at the PAU ponds in New Guinea. [E]
GREEN PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus pulchellus) – Cattana Wetlands near Cairns is usually the only spot we see this attractive, small goose, and it would have been this time too, had we not made that impromptu visit to the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve. [E]
MANED DUCK (Chenonetta jubata) – Quite numerous in wetlands around Brisbane and Sydney, with a high count of 60+ birds at the completely dry pond at Fred Bucholz park on the drive down from O'Reilly's. [E]
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa) – Australia's answer to the Mallard, this common duck was present in decent numbers at virtually all wetland sites in both countries.
GRAY TEAL (Anas gracilis) – A pair at the Port of Brisbane and a second pair at Fred Bucholz park were the only ones.
CHESTNUT TEAL (Anas castanea) – Seen only at the Port of Brisbane wetlands, where they were numerous, even outnumbering Pacific Black Ducks! Several pairs here were accompanied by recently hatched ducklings. [EN]

An adult male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia -- the fantastic white tail plumes are so long they drag across branches as the bird forages. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Megapodiidae (Megapodes)
AUSTRALIAN BRUSHTURKEY (Alectura lathami) – Bold and common through much of Australia's eastern rainforest region. As is often the case, an active mound was just outside some of the cabins at O'Reilly's and the male was often busy there, covering or uncovering the eggs as the temperatures warranted. [EN]
YELLOW-LEGGED BRUSHTURKEY (Talegalla fuscirostris) – Not an uncommon bird at Varirata National Park, but unlike its Australian cousin, this bird is shy and rarely seen. They sure are noisy though! [E*]
ORANGE-FOOTED SCRUBFOWL (Megapodius reinwardt) – Numerous around Cairns, where we enjoyed many good views of these odd birds.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
AUSTRALASIAN GREBE (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) – A few birds in non-breeding plumage in the Atherton tablelands, then a single breeding-plumaged bird on one of the rapidly shrinking ponds at PAU.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus australis) – Lake Barrine is the only place on our tour route that regularly hosts this species. We scoped a raft of 65+ birds there this trip.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Microcarbo melanoleucos) – Widespread and seen at most wetland sites in both countries, but never seems to be as numerous as the Little Black Cormorant.
GREAT CORMORANT (AUSTRALASIAN) (Phalacrocorax carbo novaehollandiae) – A couple of birds at Lake Barrine and a single at Royal NP were the only ones of the tour.
LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) – Seen at most wetland sites, but most numerous at the PAU ponds, where the huge number counted coming in to roost for the night there tripped the Ebird filter before we were anywhere near finished counting. [E]
PIED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax varius) – Seen only at the Port of Brisbane wetlands, where we had a nice comparison of this large cormorant alongside the similar, but smaller, Little Pied Cormorant. [E]
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
AUSTRALASIAN DARTER (Anhinga novaehollandiae) – A couple of active nests at Yorkey's Knob Golf Course our first afternoon gave us our best views. Man, those young birds are homely! [EN]

This male Superb Fairywren was one of several obliging individuals that put on a show at O’Reilly’s. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AUSTRALIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus conspicillatus) – Small numbers all down the coast of Australia, with especially nice close looks along the Cairns Esplanade. Another sitting atop a light post along the road down to Royal NP drove home how huge these birds are. [E]
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BLACK BITTERN (Ixobrychus flavicollis) – We were about to give up looking for this bird when Gayle located it tucked away in a half hidden niche along the edge of a pond at PAU. After its discovery, it sauntered out across the lily pads into the center of the pond and proceeded to give us all amazingly good views! Too bad the probable Forest Bittern at Varirata the next day wasn't quite so cooperative.
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – Seen regularly in small numbers at pretty much all wetland sites visited.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Mesophoyx intermedia) – Singles were seen at several sites, including one that offered side by side comparisons with the larger Great Egret. If you looked closely, you could clearly see the difference in the gape lines between the two species- a useful field mark when no size comparison is possible.
WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae) – Singles at several Australian sites included a bird along the Cairns Esplanade and another that offered a close fly-by at Royal NP.
LITTLE EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Egretta garzetta nigripes) – Several birds along the Cairns Esplanade and a couple at the PAU ponds were pretty much it for the trip.
PACIFIC REEF-HERON (Egretta sacra) – Great views of a dark-morph individual hunting in the shallows along the Cairns Esplanade.
PIED HERON (Egretta picata) – These gorgeous small herons were seen only at PAU, where they were pretty numerous.
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – Numerous throughout, with quite a few birds showing their beautiful breeding plumage.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – A lone bird along the Saltwater Creek at Centenary Lakes was the only one of the trip.

We had fabulous looks at Superb Lyrebird in Royal N.P. near Sydney -- check out those filamentous plumes! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

RUFOUS NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus) – Oddly there was just a single bird in the regular roosting tree along the Cairns Esplanade, and we had better views at PAU, where we found three lovely adults roosting in a large rain tree next to the ponds. [E]
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
AUSTRALIAN IBIS (Threskiornis moluccus) – Overall we saw fewer of these common birds than I would have expected, though there were still quite a few birds at several sites.
STRAW-NECKED IBIS (Threskiornis spinicollis) – A single bird near Mareeba was upstaged by the displaying male bustard, and hence pretty much forgotten until that night's checklist. Only a couple of others were seen, at Centenary Lakes, and at a pond at the amusement park near PAU. [E]
ROYAL SPOONBILL (Platalea regia) – Not seen until we hit Brisbane, but there we found 29 of these wonderful birds at the Port of Brisbane wetlands.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (AUSTRALASIAN) (Pandion haliaetus cristatus) – A single bird at the Cairns Esplanade, and another at the Port of Brisbane were our only sightings.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
AUSTRALIAN KITE (Elanus axillaris) – During a stop on the tablelands one day, we got nice looks at a pair of these kiting over the grasslands and perched in some bare branches. They turned out to be the only ones we saw. [E]
LONG-TAILED HONEY-BUZZARD (Henicopernis longicauda) – Not a bird I've seen often at Varirata, but we saw this species on both visits this trip, with especially nice views of one along the entrance road as we left the park on our final day in PNG. [E]
WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE (Aquila audax) – Even at a distance, the distinct shape of this large eagle makes it pretty easy to identify, which is a good thing, as both of our sightings were of pretty distant birds. First, Doug spotted one soaring high overhead as we watched the cranes on the Atherton tablelands, then we picked out a pair of birds riding the thermals over a distant ridge-top from the Kamarun Lookout below O'Reilly's. [E]
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster) – As we looked for munias next to the Kokoda Track monument, one of these Accipiters flew in with a couple of Black-backed Butcherbirds on hot pursuit. It landed in a nearby tree where it sat, partially obscured for a bit, before it finally was driven out of the area by the persistent butcherbirds.
GRAY GOSHAWK (Accipiter novaehollandiae) – A lovely pale gray adult soared over the parking area at Mt Hypipamee one morning, our only sighting of the trip. [E]

One Tawny Frogmouth keeps watch while the other pretends it's a stub -- and a convincing stub it is. Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

BROWN GOSHAWK (Accipiter fasciatus) – Chuck spotted a couple of these flying over a clearing along Black Mountain Road, shortly after our encounter with the Lovely Fairywren. Then in PNG, we watched an adult delivering some prey item to a nest where a large, hungry juvenile was waiting impatiently for dinner. [N]
COLLARED SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter cirrocephalus) – One flew over, calling at the Varirata Lookout on our second visit to the park, another was seen the following day at the Daisy Hill Koala Center outside of Brisbane. This and the preceding species are very similar in appearance; this species closely resembles Sharp-shinned Hawk in shape and structure, while Brown Goshawk is more like a Cooper's Hawk. [E]
BLACK KITE (BLACK) (Milvus migrans affinis) – Widespread in the Atherton Tablelands where there were huge numbers especially around the recently cultivated fields near the town of Atherton that also held all the black-cockatoos. Also numerous in the highlands of PNG.
WHISTLING KITE (Haliastur sphenurus) – Though likewise widespread, this species is never as numerous as is the Black Kite. We saw scattered individuals in various parts of the Cairns and Atherton regions, as well as a couple of birds high in the mountains of PNG, not far below Kumul Lodge, and quite a bit higher than the field guide's reported elevational range.
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – This lovely and distinctive kite was seen in both countries, but was best seen at Varirata NP, where an obliging pair were hanging around the picnic area, where there is often an active nest.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – Incredible views of one right overhead at the Port of Brisbane wetlands, dwarfing the crows that were chasing it. This magnificent bird was Cynthia's pick as her favorite Aussie bird.
Otididae (Bustards)
AUSTRALIAN BUSTARD (Ardeotis australis) – What looked like a white post on a grassy hillock near Mareeba turned out to be a male bustard displaying, with his neck puffed up and bill pointed skyward. Surprisingly this spectacular sighting was topped by a much closer bird right along the roadside on our way in to the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve. Not bad for a species we don't expect to see every year. [E]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – John and Helena were the only ones with the guides when we spotted one of these rails feeding along a swampy channel below the flying fox colony at Centennial Park in Sydney. Everyone else was enjoying a photographic session with a cooperative pair of Tawny Frogmouths, and the rail refused to show when we went back for it.
WHITE-BROWED CRAKE (Amaurornis cinerea) – Heard a couple of times our first afternoon at Cattana Wetlands, but they seemed unwilling to emerge from cover in the oppressive heat of midday. [*]
AUSTRALASIAN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio melanotus melanotus) – Not uncommon at wetland sites in both countries. Our first were at the platypus site near Lake Eacham, where a pair with at least 3 downy black chicks kept us entertained between platypus sightings. [N]

There's no profile quite like a male riflebird in display. This is a young male doing his thing on the Atherton Tablelands. Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

DUSKY MOORHEN (Gallinula tenebrosa) – A bunch at the PAU ponds were our first, though we later saw them around Brisbane and Sydney as well.
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra australis) – Not many, but there were a few on several wetland areas around the Atherton tablelands, and a single bird noted at the Port of Brisbane wetlands.
Gruidae (Cranes)
SARUS CRANE (Antigone antigone gillae) – Outnumbered by the Brolgas, but we did pick out several of these larger cranes by their red legs, more extensive bare red skin on their napes, and their paler bustle.
BROLGA (Antigone rubicunda) – On the drive out from Granite Gorge, we found a gathering of an estimated 150 of these magnificent birds with a handful of Sarus Cranes mixed in for some good comparisons. [E]
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
BUSH THICK-KNEE (Burhinus grallarius) – Quite common around the Cairns region, and not all that hard to find if you know where to look. [E]
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
PIED STILT (Himantopus leucocephalus) – A handful of birds at Hasties Swamp and some distant ones in the crater at Bromfield Swamp were the only ones of the trip. Many normally common wetland birds were somewhat scarce this year due to widespread flooding in the interior of Australia, which apparently attracts many species inland to breed.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
PIED OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus longirostris) – A couple of pairs showed nicely at the shorebird roost at the Port of Brisbane wetlands. [E]
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis fulva) – We made a stop near Cairns to try and find a reported Oriental Plover, but only came up with 5 of these instead. Elsewhere we saw this species along the runway at Jackson's Airport in Port Moresby (which was NOT named for Michael Jackson despite what we were told) as well as around the ponds at PAU. [b]
MASKED LAPWING (MASKED) (Vanellus miles miles) – This is the form that was so common in the Cairns region and in PNG. Several pairs were vigorously protecting small young, including a pair right across from our hotel along the Esplanade. [N]
MASKED LAPWING (BLACK-SHOULDERED) (Vanellus miles novaehollandiae) – And this form, with the dark bars along the sides of the breast, were seen around the Brisbane region.

The long view from Varirata National Park, photographed by guide Doug Gochfeld.

LESSER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius mongolus) – A few birds among the many shorebirds at the Cairns Esplanade. [b]
GREATER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius leschenaultii) – Usually outnumbered by Lesser SP, as was the case this year. It's always good to see the two species side by side, as they can be very tough to separate. This one has a longer bill, giving the head a more oval appearance compared to the shorter-billed, rounder-headed look of Lesser SP. [b]
RED-CAPPED PLOVER (Charadrius ruficapillus) – A lone bird at the Port of Brisbane high tide roost was a nice pick up as we failed to run across this species along the Cairns Esplanade, though there were a bunch there the day before the tour started. [E]
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius) – A pair at the shrinking ponds at PAU were a surprise, as I'd never encountered this species there before. Note that these birds are part of a resident, non-migratory PNG population (nominate race). Boreal migrants, which can also occur in PNG, would have been in non-breeding plumage at this time of year.
BLACK-FRONTED DOTTEREL (Elseyornis melanops) – A pair of these attractive shorebirds were seen well along the Cairns Esplanade our first afternoon, another pair were in a stubble field north of Cairns alongside our first golden-plovers. [E]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
COMB-CRESTED JACANA (Irediparra gallinacea) – Small numbers were regular in appropriate habitats around the Cairns region, as well as at the PAU ponds. Further south, 3 birds at the dry lake at Fred Bucholz park on our way back from O'Reilly's were looking a bit out of their element.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
LITTLE CURLEW (Numenius minutus) – Small numbers of these tiny curlews were noted at the Port Moresby airport each time we went through, though they were best seen from the departure lounge as we awaited our flight to Brisbane. [b]
WHIMBREL (SIBERIAN) (Numenius phaeopus variegatus) – Quite numerous along the Cairns Esplanade as well as the high tide roost at the Port of Brisbane. [b]
FAR EASTERN CURLEW (Numenius madagascariensis) – We had some wonderful views of these very large curlews along the Esplanade, with a couple also present at the Port of Brisbane. [b]
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (MELANUROIDES) (Limosa limosa melanuroides) – A few were mixed in with the more common Bar-tailed Godwits at the Cairns Esplanade. This species is more uniform gray, with less patterning, and has a longer, straighter bill than Bar-tailed, in addition to having a very different wing and tail pattern. [b]

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo...quite common and still quite a sight! Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica) – The common godwit, with plenty both along the Esplanade and the Port of Brisbane. [b]
GREAT KNOT (Calidris tenuirostris) – Fair numbers of these chunky birds were along the Esplanade. [b]
RED KNOT (Calidris canutus) – Doug picked one of these smaller knots out among the many Greaters, but only Helena was still around to see it, as everyone else had moved further along the Esplanade. [b]
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER (Calidris acuminata) – A few birds each along the Esplanade and the Port of Brisbane. [b]
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea) – Fair numbers of this long-billed peep both at Cairns and Brisbane. [b]
RED-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis) – The common small peep on the mudflats along the Esplanade. [b]
TEREK SANDPIPER (Xenus cinereus) – A couple of these distinctive, short-legged sandpipers with long upturned bills were seen along the Esplanade, though the fact that they never hold still makes them a bit tricky to scope! [b]
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – Not that common on this trip. We saw one bird in each country, with a single at Lake Barrine, and another perched atop a large boulder along the Lai River. [b]
GRAY-TAILED TATTLER (Tringa brevipes) – Just a few birds along the Esplanade. [b]
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) – A single bird on the Esplanade mudflats on each of our visits. [b]

While we saw only one flock of Squatter Pigeons on the tour, these birds at Granite Gorge were so accommodating that we wouldn’t have been able to improve on the views we had even if we HAD seen them again. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
SILVER GULL (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) – A common coastal bird in eastern Australia, and the only gull likely to be encountered on our tour route.
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons) – One of these tiny terns was actively fishing along the Cairns Esplanade on our first afternoon.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – A lone bird at the high tide roost at the Port of Brisbane wetlands was in non-breeding plumage.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – A single bird was loafing with a flock of Silver Gulls on our final morning's survey along the Cairns Esplanade.
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida) – More a tern of inland waters, so the lone bird in partial breeding plumage that landed among the shorebirds at the Cairns Esplanade was a bit of a surprise there.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Mostly in city, though a few were pretending to be shorebirds at the Port of Brisbane. [I]
METALLIC PIGEON (Columba vitiensis) – Doug spotted one teed up in the canopy, visible through a narrow window, as we waited for Crested Satinbird at a fruiting tree just behind Kumul Lodge A couple of folks got to the scope in time to see it before it flew off; I sadly wasn't one of them, as this scarce pigeon would have been a lifer for me :-(
WHITE-HEADED PIGEON (Columba leucomela) – Seldom numerous, but we found and scoped this lovely pigeon a couple of times around Chambers and O'Reilly's. [E]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – Small numbers around Cairns and Sydney. [I]
BROWN CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia phasianella) – Common in Australia's eastern rain forests, and we saw them pretty much daily there. [E]

This Southern Boobook provided us with wonderful views on two consecutive nights at O’Reilly’s. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

AMBOYNA CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia amboinensis) – The recent taxonomic updates have split Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove into two species, with this one being the bird found in eastern PNG. We saw them regularly both in the highlands and at Varirata. [E]
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia nigrirostris) – Smaller and slimmer than Amboyna Cuckoo-Dove, this species is also a brighter rufous in color, and shows barring on the tail. We saw a few birds, often together with Amboyna Cuckoo-Doves, in the fruiting trees along the road below Kumul. [E]
PACIFIC EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps longirostris longirostris) – Emerald Dove has now been split into two species, with this being the bird found in both Australia and PNG. We had exceptionally good views of a gorgeous pair feeding on the road in front of the bus not far from Cassowary House, as well as a female feeding with the rat-kangaroos below the balcony there.
STEPHAN'S DOVE (Chalcophaps stephani) – One rocketed out of the forest and right past the group as we searched for Papuan Pitta at Varirata. At this speed, the most obvious mark to separate it from the similar Pacific Emerald Dove would have been the white forehead, and the lack of white on the forewing. [E]
CRESTED PIGEON (Ocyphaps lophotes) – A common, open-country species in Australia. [E]
SQUATTER PIGEON (Geophaps scripta) – A group of 7 birds were loafing around the campground at Granite Gorge. It's almost cheating counting these habituated birds, as otherwise this species is not all that east to find. [E]
WONGA PIGEON (Leucosarcia melanoleuca) – A few of these beautifully-patterned forest floor pigeons were enjoyed around O'Reilly's where these usually shy birds are relatively easy to see. [E]
PEACEFUL DOVE (Geopelia placida) – Seen daily in the Cairns region as well as around Port Moresby, but not around Brisbane or Sydney though it occurs in these areas as well. [E]
BAR-SHOULDERED DOVE (Geopelia humeralis) – A group of 6 or 7 was feeding on the ground near the hide at Cattana Wetlands, and a couple were in the mangroves at the north end of the Esplanade. A few birds were also seen at PAU. [E]
WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus magnificus) – The largest of the fruit-doves in the region, and a pretty spectacular one, too. We saw them in small numbers at several sites down the east coast of Australia, and at Varirata NP in PNG, with at least a couple excellent scope studies along the way.

The sunset view from O'Reilly's in Lamington National Park. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

PINK-SPOTTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus perlatus) – Scarcer than usual at Varirata, but we still managed a couple of nice scope views of this attractive bird. [E]
ORANGE-FRONTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus aurantiifrons) – We had to work a bit harder than usual for this species at PAU, as none were sitting on exposed perches this time around, but we eventually found a fruiting tree with at least 4 of them hiding among the foliage, and we wound up with some nice looks. [E]
SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus superbus) – Heard once along Black Mountain Road, but it wouldn't play nice. [*]
BEAUTIFUL FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus pulchellus) – No more beautiful than a number of other stunners in this genus, but still an apt name for this colorful dove. We had excellent scope views of a single bird on our first visit to Varirata. [E]
ORANGE-BELLIED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus iozonus) – A couple along the entrance road on our first visit to Varirata showed off their namesake orange bellies beautifully. [E]
DWARF FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus nainus) – Several inches shorter than the next smallest fruit-dove in the region, this tiny dove is never numerous and often hard to find, but a quietly perched bird on the first visit to Varirata was a nice pick up by Doug. [E]

Another family all their own, the Pardalotes were represented on this tour by Spotted Pardalote, which has a complex pattern that is quite an eyeful! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

ZOE IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula zoeae) – One flew past low and close as we walked around in the picnic area at Varirata on our second visit. [E]
TORRESIAN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula spilorrhoa) – Abundant in the Cairns region at this time of year, with a few birds also around Port Moresby. The number of nesting birds around Cairns has apparently increased substantially in recent years after a number of traditional breeding islands in the Torres Strait were heavily damaged by recent cyclones. [N]
TOPKNOT PIGEON (Lopholaimus antarcticus) – First seen well below O'Reilly's where a lone bird sat for an extended period in a bare tree, perhaps waiting for us to leave the area so it could visit the waterhole we were watching. Later we saw a few small flocks both around O'Reilly's and at Royal NP. [E]
PAPUAN MOUNTAIN-PIGEON (Gymnophaps albertisii) – Until this tour, I had never seen this species around Kumul Lodge, and indeed, saw it far more often in lowlands and foothills than in the mountains, but this trip there were quite a few around Kumul (as well as a couple of scarce Metallic Pigeons, at least) so perhaps there was a preferred food source in good supply there this year.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
PHEASANT COUCAL (Centropus phasianinus) – Seen well in both countries, with sightings in open country at Granite Gorge and near Brisbane in Australia, and at PAU and along the Varirata entrance road in PNG.
DWARF KOEL (Microdynamis parva) – A responsive male came in quickly and sat out for a nice long scope and photography session at Varirata on our second visit there.
PACIFIC KOEL (AUSTRALIAN) (Eudynamys orientalis cyanocephalus) – Usually heard far more often than seen, so we made certain everyone had a good look at the first one, a calling male at the "friendliest golf club in North Queensland"! We then went on to see three more a couple of days later, all at the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve.
CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO (Scythrops novaehollandiae) – Also seen at the Mareeba Wetlands, where a couple of birds were perched above the visitor enter along with the koels. Usually we just see this large cuckoo in flight, so it was great to actually have a lengthy scope study of them.
RUFOUS-THROATED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx ruficollis) – Wonderful looks at a calling bird, with a brilliant Red-collared Myzomela in the same view, on our first afternoon at Kumul Lodge. [E]
SHINING BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx lucidus) – Decent looks at one high overhead along the entrance road to Mt Hypipamee, then better views of a couple of territorial ones as we watched the bathing birds at Charlie's water hole.
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus) – A trio of these cuckoos were calling and actively chasing each other around at the mangroves on the north end of the Esplanade on our final morning in Cairns. It was a bit tricky getting one to sit still for long enough to scope, but we stuck with it and eventually had nice views.
WHITE-CROWNED KOEL (Cacomantis leucolophus) – As often is the case, we just heard this one at Varirata. [E*]
FAN-TAILED CUCKOO (Cacomantis flabelliformis) – There is some thought that the race that is endemic to the highlands of PNG may be a separate species from true Fan-tailed Cuckoo. If this proves to be the case, we're covered, as we saw the PNG form as we waited for Blue BoP along the Tonga Trail, then saw the Australian version below O'Reilly's.
BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus) – Heard regularly in the PNG highlands, though we saw just one, as we waited for the Lesser BoP to put in an appearance. We also heard Brush Cuckoo at Royal NP.

We saw Red-browed Firetail in several places, with perhaps the best views coming along the Black Mountain Road outside of Cairns. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Strigidae (Owls)
SOUTHERN BOOBOOK (Ninox novaeseelandiae) – We scored with these owls on two consecutive nights at O'Reilly's, where a vocal pair were seen well in the subcanopy along the Booyong Track. [E]
PAPUAN BOOBOOK (Ninox theomacha) – Heard distantly early one morning at Kumul Lodge. [E*]
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
TAWNY FROGMOUTH (Podargus strigoides) – Chuck's persistence in searching for this species paid off when he managed to spy one of these cryptic birds perched next to the trunk of a Eucalyptus at Sydney's Centennial Park, and we soon found it's mate perched nearby as well. These birds got Chuck's vote for Australian bird of the trip. [E]
PAPUAN FROGMOUTH (Podargus papuensis) – This large frogmouth was seen beautifully in both countries, though our first sighting at Centenary Lakes in Cairns was especially memorable. There, we were enjoying a photo shoot with a female and a young chick on a nest when a Black Butcherbird took note of the nest and started moving in while the female kept a wary, half-open eye on this voracious predator. Eventually the butcherbird got bold enough to fly right down next to the nest, to the concern of the female and all of us watching. But almost immediately, a male frogmouth that had been sitting on a nearby hidden perch flew down to the same branch, wings spread and mouth agape, and chased the butcherbird off in a flash! Obviously a big fan of frogmouths, Chuck chose the trio we saw at PAU as his favorite PNG birds. [E]
Aegothelidae (Owlet-nightjars)
BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles bennettii) – Local guide Leonard proved his worth when he found one of these small nocturnal birds roosting in a hollow tree after we'd missed it at the usual roost sites. On our second visit to Varirata, our driver Kelly spotted another bird as it popped its head out of a different hollow tree as we drove down from the Varirata Lookout. [E]
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-THROATED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus caudacutus) – A summer migrant to Australia from it's breeding grounds in Asia, this species was just arriving in the country. We had okay looks at a few flying over the canopy at Black Mountain Road, then much better looks at a bunch flying over the large clearing around O'Reilly's on our first afternoon there. I believe the ones we saw there were the first record of the season for the site; at the very least, they had not been seen regularly before then. [b]
GLOSSY SWIFTLET (Collocalia esculenta) – Common in PNG, and seen daily from Varirata on up into the highlands. During a predawn excursion at Kumul, we found a pair sitting on a nest under the thatched overhang above the entrance. [N]
MOUNTAIN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) – The drab, uniform swiftlet in the Kumul region, where it replaces the drab Uniform Swiftlet, which is similar, but occurs at lower elevations. [E]
AUSTRALIAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus terraereginae) – Numerous and seen daily in the Cairns region. [E]
UNIFORM SWIFTLET (Aerodramus vanikorensis) – Fairly common at Varirata, where they tend to fly higher than the Glossy Swiftlets that also occur here.

Rainbow Lorikeet, photographed by participant Chuck Holliday.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
AZURE KINGFISHER (Ceyx azureus) – One of the few kingfishers of the region that are true "fishers". The majority of Australasian kingfishers actually hunt prey on dry land, and the new PNG field guide actually puts these 'Woodland Kingfishers" in a separate family from the "River Kingfishers", of which this is one of 4 in the region. We ran into this species several times, starting at the Platypus spot, and had excellent looks at this exquisite bird both at Varirata NP and on our final morning at Royal NP. [E]
LAUGHING KOOKABURRA (Dacelo novaeguineae) – Numerous throughout the regions of Australia visited on this tour, and it's always wonderful to listen to the raucous laughing of this iconic Australian bird. [E]
BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo leachii) – Overlaps broadly with the previous species in the Cairns region, though this species seems to be most prevalent in drier areas there. We saw this one at Granite Gorge and in the Mareeba area, as well as at Varirata NP. [E]
RUFOUS-BELLIED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo gaudichaud) – A striking kookaburra of lowland forest in PNG. We had fantastic looks at several noisy birds along the Varirata entrance road on our first visit there. [E]
FOREST KINGFISHER (Todiramphus macleayii) – We saw these flashy little kingfishers pretty regularly in the Atherton Tablelands, beginning with an excited pair in some roadside pines at Granite Gorge.
TORRESIAN KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sordidus) – A mangrove specialist, this species was until recently called Collared Kingfisher, but has since been split into several closely related species. We had super looks at three of these birds along the Cairns Esplanade on our final morning before flying to PNG.
SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus) – Though generally common and widespread in both countries, this kingfisher eluded us until we we finally tracked down a lone pair in the dry forest at the Daisy Hill Koala center.
YELLOW-BILLED KINGFISHER (Syma torotoro) – A standout, even among the many beautiful kingfishers encountered on this tour. We tracked down one of these stunners high up in a roadside Casuarina tree on our second visit to Varirata NP. Richard was particularly impressed, and chose this as his favorite PNG bird. [E]
MOUNTAIN KINGFISHER (Syma megarhyncha) – The highland counterpart of the preceding species. Unfortunately a vocal bird along the Tonga trail refused to come close enough for us to see. [E*]
BROWN-HEADED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera danae) – Always one of the star birds at Varirata, where we had some good luck with this species, getting scope views of a couple of different ones on our first visit to the park. [E]

One of the world's most wonderfully strange creatures, the Platypus. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BUFF-BREASTED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera sylvia) – We don't often see this species on this tour, as most birds arrive in the Cairns region a little later than we normally visit, and I seldom encounter them in PNG. So I was pretty excited when we heard one calling at Varirata, and even more thrilled when we managed to pin it down for some awesome scope views. What's not to like about scoping two species of paradise-kingfishers in a day! [E]
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus) – Quite numerous and seen almost daily in the Cairns region, beginning our first afternoon when we watched several skimming the surface of the pond at Yorkey's Knob. Further south we also saw a couple of birds at the Port of Brisbane wetlands. This species winters in PNG, but it seems they had all left for Australia, as we failed to connect with them there.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – Yet another summer breeding resident that winters in PNG and Indonesia (with other races occurring further north in Asia). We had them in small numbers pretty much throughout the areas we visited in Australia, as well as a couple of birds along the entrance road at Varirata NP.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AUSTRALIAN KESTREL (Falco cenchroides) – A few birds were seen over several days in the Atherton Tablelands, and a single bird at Fred Bucholz Park, but overall they were quite scarce this year. [E]
BROWN FALCON (Falco berigora) – Singles were seen on two days in the tablelands, their upswept wings making them look very un-falcon-like. In fact they look more like a harrier at a distance, and one of our birds initially had us thinking harrier before it got close enough to positively identify. [E]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Doug spotted a rather distant bird soaring over a ridge as we birded our way back up to Kumul Lodge one morning. The birds found here belong to the resident race, ernesti, which is restricted to the New Guinea region.
Cacatuidae (Cockatoos)
RED-TAILED BLACK-COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus banksii) – That huge congregation of these birds in the recently harvested field near Atherton was the biggest group I've ever seen. We estimated at least 450 of them, but there easily could have been more. [E]
GLOSSY BLACK-COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus lathami) – There were several recent reports of these scarce cockatoos along the road below O'Reilly's, so we set off one afternoon to try and find them. During a slow drive down the road, we quickly spotted a pair feeding quietly in some Casuarinas, and wound up with lengthy scope studies of them. These cockatoos are listed as Vulnerable due to habitat loss and/or fragmentation. [E]
GALAH (Eolophus roseicapilla) – Though an abundant bird in many parts of Australia, the Galah is rather uncommon on our tour route, as we only had a couple of sightings in the Brisbane region: a single bird feeding in the short grass along the highway as we headed up to O'Reilly's (unfortunately in a spot with no place to pull over), and then a pair that flew past at Fred Bucholz Park. [E]
LITTLE CORELLA (Cacatua sanguinea) – A few each at Fred Bucholz Park and Royal NP. The natural range of this species is generally further inland, and the Royal NP birds at least are a feral population that has been established via escaped and/or released cage birds. The ones at Fred Bucholz park, on the other hand, may well be there due to natural range expansion from further inland. [E]

A fun selection of video clips from the tour, assembled by guide Doug Gochfeld.
SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO (Cacatua galerita) – Common throughout eastern Australia, as well as at Varirata NP in PNG.
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
AUSTRALIAN KING-PARROT (Alisterus scapularis) – Though present in the Atherton Tablelands (and we did see a female at Chambers), it wasn't until we got to O'Reilly's until we finally got a good encounter with this beautiful parrot. Then, of course, our encounters were up close and personal, as they often sat on our heads or arms to look for handouts. I personally preferred the ones at Royal NP, that, although very approachable, still resembled wild creatures. [E]
RED-WINGED PARROT (Aprosmictus erythropterus) – The Mareeba area is the only regular site where we can expect this lovely parrot, and we wound up with a couple of nice sightings. First we had one fly over as we watched the displaying bustard, then later that morning we saw at least three more near the Mareeba Golf Course. [E]
ECLECTUS PARROT (Eclectus roratus) – Seen on both of our visits to Varirata NP, with three on the first day, including a scope view of a distant pair perched side by side, then a single male that flew over the picnic area on the second visit.
RED-CHEEKED PARROT (Geoffroyus geoffroyi) – A pretty common bird in the Port Moresby region, where we met up with our first ones on our afternoon visit to PAU, then had several more on each of our two visits to Varirata NP. This and the Eclectus Parrot (along with a bunch of other birds including Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Fawn-breasted Bowerbird) are part of a suite of PNG species that also occur in Cape York, at the far northeastern point of Queensland. [E]
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella brehmii) – These endearing small parrots are regular visitors to the fruit feeders at Kumul Lodge, but are otherwise unobtrusive and difficult to find, like all the other tiger-parrots. Thank goodness for feeders! [E]
YELLOW-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) – Our first one was an injured bird that we spotted running down the road as we headed back up towards Kumul Lodge one morning. We collected it and it later escaped into the forest behind the feeders, where, hopefully, it will be able to survive and recover. We also had several nice views of these birds as they scrambled around in some fruiting trees along the roadside near where we found the injured bird. [E]
CRIMSON ROSELLA (Platycercus elegans) – Like the king-parrots, ridiculously tame at O'Reilly's. We also saw some in more natural settings at Royal NP. [E]
DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta diophthalma) – Not uncommon around Cairns, but quite unobtrusive and can be tough to find, but we had several excellent studies of these tiny parrots on several days, beginning with a nice encounter with a couple of pairs at Centenary Lakes.
PAPUAN LORIKEET (Charmosyna papou) – Scarce this year, despite there being some good fruiting Schefflera around Kumul Lodge. We ended up seeing just one pair of these large lorikeets, one regular and one black morph, as they flew over the clearing at Murmur Pass. [E]

This Papuan Frogmouth was brooding a tiny chick. Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

BLACK-CAPPED LORY (Lorius lory) – A few nice flybys along the Varirata entrance road on our first visit there were all we had this trip. [E]
RAINBOW LORIKEET (COCONUT) (Trichoglossus haematodus haematodus) – This is the PNG version of the familiar Rainbow Lorikeet, and, as it is in Australia, this species was the most regularly seen lorikeet in the country.
RAINBOW LORIKEET (RAINBOW) (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) – These common but gorgeous birds were seen pretty much daily throughout the Australian portion of the tour.
SCALY-BREASTED LORIKEET (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) – Usually noted in small numbers mixed in with flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets, and that was the case this trip, as we found pairs with flocks of Rainbows on two occasions in the Cairns region, once at Mareeba, and then again by the flying fox roost in downtown Cairns. [E]
Pittidae (Pittas)
PAPUAN PITTA (Erythropitta macklotii) – Formerly known as Red-bellied Pitta. We heard the distinctive call of this species on our second visit to Varirata, but it was a bit too far to do anything with. [*]
HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – One sang nearby as we walked along a track at Varirata, the first time I've ever heard this species at the park. A bit of playback quickly lured the bird into flying across the trail, where we were fortunate to spot it perched just off the ground way back in the forest. Spectacular scope views ensued that were easily my best, and longest views ever of this species.
NOISY PITTA (Pitta versicolor) – One along Black Mountain Road popped out onto a track in front of us, but pretty much everyone was caught off guard and no one really got a good look before it vanished and lost interest in my imitations. Another at O'Reilly's was much friendlier, sitting and singing high in a tree where our scopes gave us amazingly lovely looks.
Menuridae (Lyrebirds)
ALBERT'S LYREBIRD (Menura alberti) – The smaller of the two lyrebirds, this species has a tiny range on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. One of the O'Reilly's specialties, and we had good luck this trip, getting exceptional views of a male on two consecutive days around the lodge. [E]
SUPERB LYREBIRD (Menura novaehollandiae) – We kept getting tantalizing reports of lyrebirds further along the track from walkers and joggers we met at Royal NP, with one young woman showing us a photo she'd taken just a little earlier. When we finally arrived at the right place, Doug spotted a male skulking around in a dark gully, but it soon disappeared. Eventually though, it ran across the track and up onto a rocky outcrop, where it sat out in full view for quite a long time before wandering off. This was easily one of the more satisfying views I've had of this great bird. [E]
Ptilonorhynchidae (Bowerbirds)
SPOTTED CATBIRD (Ailuroedus maculosus) – Pretty common in the rainforests on the Atherton Tablelands, where we had plenty of good looks, particularly right around our lodging at Chambers. We mentioned at one point that this one may have been renamed "Black-eared Catbird" but upon further research, I've learned that in Australia, that name applies only to a small population of catbirds on Cape York. Otherwise that species is found only in PNG.

Our crew taking a brief break from birding the Atherton Tablelands to mug for the camera. We certainly did have some great fun along the way! Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

GREEN CATBIRD (Ailuroedus crassirostris) – Replaces the Spotted Catbird in the Brisbane area, and pretty common around O'Reilly's, though they seem to be tougher to see overall than the Spotted. Still, we managed to get good looks at them regularly during our stay there, and added another view at Royal NP. [E]
TOOTH-BILLED CATBIRD (Scenopoeetes dentirostris) – We saw one of these Atherton endemics early one morning at Chambers, which was a good thing, as they were pretty tough this time at Lake Barrine. Often there are several males on display areas along the trail there; this time we heard just one, and he was well-hidden. It took some time to finally locate him on his song perch, and his display ground hadn't been recently decorated either, so it was a bit underwhelming once we did find him. [E]
GOLDEN BOWERBIRD (Amblyornis newtoniana) – Another Atherton endemic, and a bit more spectacular that the Tooth-billed Catbird in that not only is the male a much more colorful, attractive bird, but his bower is much more elaborate. We had fine views of a male and his massive bower at a long-occupied site at Mt Hypipamee. [E]
REGENT BOWERBIRD (Sericulus chrysocephalus) – This is a truly stunning bird, and always a favorite. This year it was voted best Australian bird of the tour, with both John and Terry picking it as their favorite overall. As usual, up close and personal encounters with these beauties at O'Reilly's. [E]
SATIN BOWERBIRD (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) – Another fine bowerbird from O'Reilly's, where we had them daily, and got to watch one male hop around inside his well-decorated bower. [E]
GREAT BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera nuchalis) – This one isn't much to look at, though it does have that nice lilac nuchal. We also got to watch one working on his bower at Granite Gorge, and had a great close look at a second bower there as well. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera lauterbachi) – Good looks at a lone bird at the usual spot near the Lai River on our way back from the Lesser BoP encounter. This species builds a unique 4-walled avenue bower, a structure I've seen only once. [E]
FAWN-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera cerviniventris) – Common in the savanna region around Port Moresby, where we saw good numbers especially at PAU, plus a well-maintained avenue bower. [E]
Climacteridae (Australasian Treecreepers)
WHITE-THROATED TREECREEPER (Cormobates leucophaea) – We had a few looks at race minor (Little Treecreeper) in the Atherton region, though they were always high in the canopy and moving fast, so the looks were not really satisfying. Our fortunes changed further south, and we had incredible scope views of a motionless bird on a dead tree at Charlie's water hole below O'Reilly's, then a number of close encounters with others along the track at Royal NP. [E]
RED-BROWED TREECREEPER (Climacteris erythrops) – A lone bird carrying food in its beak showed up right in front of us along Duck Creek Road, giving us a good, if brief, look, before flying off down the hillside, supposedly to its nest to feed its young. [E]

Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove: this photo gives a good idea why it can be so hard to spot them in the trees! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BROWN TREECREEPER (Climacteris picumnus) – Despite the hot, dry conditions during our mid-day visit to the Wondecla area, we managed to get a great look at one of these birds, which was one of our main targets for the area. [E]
Maluridae (Fairywrens)
SOUTHERN EMUWREN (Stipiturus malachurus) – Hot, windy weather is not really ideal when you're looking for heath birds, but unfortunately, that was what we had to deal with at Royal NP. The track through the heath was understandably quiet, and while we managed to find a couple of groups of these small birds, they were completely uncooperative and refused to come out of the dense scrub. As it was, the best we could do was get fleeting glimpses of them as one flitted across a small opening in the vegetation. [E]
VARIEGATED FAIRYWREN (Malurus lamberti) – A party of 4 or 5 birds, including a couple of brilliant males, showed well along Duck Creek Road, with the males posing out in the open a few times for some great views. For those that missed that outing, we had another good encounter with this species along the Lady Carrington Track in Royal NP. [E]
LOVELY FAIRYWREN (Malurus amabilis) – Formerly lumped with Variegated Fairywren, but this species is much shorter-tailed, and has a very different female plumage. This is one of the more difficult of the Australian fairywrens to find on this trip, but we managed to track down a lone male (unusually, as these birds are almost always in groups) along Black Mountain Road, where he gave us phenomenal looks. [E]
SUPERB FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyaneus) – Richard's pick for best Australian bird. These charming birds were regulars in the Brisbane and Sydney regions, and remarkably easy to see, especially so at O'Reilly's. [E]
RED-BACKED FAIRYWREN (Malurus melanocephalus) – A gorgeous male in dense roadside scrub near Gallo Dairyland was especially friendly, sitting up on the fence a couple of times for some awesome views. Unusually, he appeared to be alone, or at least we didn't see any others there. [E]
WHITE-SHOULDERED FAIRYWREN (Malurus alboscapulatus) – Of the several fairywrens in PNG, this is the only one that is fairly easy to see, the other 5 species all being much more difficult. We saw this species daily in the highlands. [E]
Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)
EASTERN SPINEBILL (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) – Though we had a couple of birds in a flowering tree at Lake Barrine, they were far more numerous further south, and we had daily encounters with these striking honeyeaters in the Brisbane and Sydney regions. [E]
MARBLED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius cinereus) – Great views at a couple of these large honeyeaters along the Tonga Trail as we waited for Blue BoPs. [E]
STREAK-HEADED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius stictocephalus) – This large honeyeater seems to be much more vocal at this time of year then when I visit in July, and is thus easier to find. We had nice views of them on each of our visits to Varirata. [E]

We saw both distinctive subspecies of Masked Lapwing, including this “black-shouldered lapwing” (Vanellus miles novaehollandiae). It was among a fine variety of shorebirds we logged on the tour. Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

YELLOW-SPOTTED HONEYEATER (Meliphaga notata) – The honeyeaters in this genus are notoriously difficult to tell apart in PNG, but luckily, there are just three in Australia, and they have fairly distinct vocalizations which makes them relatively easy by comparison to the mess in PNG. This species was quite common around Cassowary House, including at the feeders. [E]
LEWIN'S HONEYEATER (Meliphaga lewinii) – The most widespread Meliphaga in eastern Australia, and we had them throughout. [E]
MOUNTAIN MELIPHAGA (Meliphaga orientalis) – In PNG, this species occurs at higher elevations then any others, which aids in their identification. We saw a few around the Lai River on our way back from the Lesser BoP trip. [E]
GRACEFUL HONEYEATER (Meliphaga gracilis) – The smallest of the three Australian species. We saw a couple along Black Mountain Road. [E]
ELEGANT HONEYEATER (Meliphaga cinereifrons cinereifrons) – Until recently this was lumped with Graceful Honeyeater, but the birds of PNG's Southeast Peninsula are now split out from the more wide-ranging Graceful. One of the more distinctive of PNG's 9 mainland Meliphaga species, this one was fairly common at Varirata. [E]
YELLOW HONEYEATER (Stomiopera flava) – Though lots of honeyeaters have yellow in their plumage, this one is all yellow, so the name is apt. These birds were reasonably common around Cairns. [E]
YELLOW-FACED HONEYEATER (Caligavis chrysops) – First seen at Hasties Swamp, where we had brief views of a couple, but these birds were much more numerous further south. We saw them especially well at Charlie's Waterhole below O'Reilly's, where several were coming in to bathe. These were the ones that flew out into the middle of the pond before splashing in on the wing and returning to a shoreline perch. [E]
BELL MINER (Manorina melanophrys) – The wonderful colony of lerp-harvesting Bell Miners along the trail behind Charlie's Waterhole was once again an enjoyable experience. I love the chiming calls of this species, though I understand it drives some folks mad when they live near a colony like this. [E]
NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala) – Noisy indeed, and pretty numerous, too. We had a few birds around Wondecla, then many more in the Brisbane and Sydney regions. [E]
ORNATE MELIDECTES (Melidectes torquatus) – This large, fancy honeyeater showed nicely as we waited for Lesser BoPs to show up at Kama. [E]

This Mareeba Rock-Wallaby had a joey in her pouch. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BELFORD'S MELIDECTES (Melidectes belfordi) – Numerous around Kumul Lodge, including at the feeders. [E]
YELLOW-BROWED MELIDECTES (Melidectes rufocrissalis) – Generally found at lower elevations than Belford's Melidectes, but higher elevations than Ornate. We saw just a couple along the Tonga Trail. [E]
BRIDLED HONEYEATER (Bolemoreus frenatus) – An Atherton endemic. We had a couple of sightings at Mt Hypipamee, but our best views were of a single bird among a bunch of other honeyeaters at a flowering tree in the Lake Barrine parking lot. [E]
LITTLE WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera chrysoptera) – Seen only at Royal NP, where we ran into several along the Lady Carrington Track. [E]
VARIED HONEYEATER (Gavicalis versicolor) – Not uncommon along the Cairns Esplanade, where one gave especially nice views as it fed on the ground at the edge of the mud flats as we watched shorebirds. [E]
FUSCOUS HONEYEATER (Ptilotula fusca) – The common honeyeater in the dry forest at Wondecla, though there is some debate as to whether these birds are true Fuscous, or another, as yet undescribed, species. These birds are much more yellow-faced than normal Fuscous, looking somewhere in between Fuscous and Yellow-tinted honeyeaters. [E]
BROWN-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ramsayornis modestus) – This small species was seen nicely at Yorkey's Knob, where one bird was seen going back and forth between two nests about a meter apart, entering each for a few seconds at a time. Wonder what was going on there? Also seen around Centenary Lakes. [E]
RUFOUS-BANDED HONEYEATER (Conopophila albogularis) – Though it occurs across northern Australia as well, we saw this species only in PNG, where there were quite a few around the ponds at PAU. [E]
SMOKY HONEYEATER (Melipotes fumigatus) – Numerous in PNG's highland forests. Folks always enjoy watching these birds' bare facial skin turn from yellow to red in an instant, and the feeders at Kumul are a great place to observe this trait. [E]
LONG-BILLED HONEYEATER (Melilestes megarhynchus) – An unexpected bonus bird at the Lesser BoP site. This bird paused in the open for long enough so that we could all get a good look at its exceptionally long bill and red-orange eye. This seems quite high for this species, and I was pretty surprised to see it here. It certainly was my first in the area. [E]

This Long-tailed Honey-Buzzard gave us a great low flyover at the end of our first day birding Varirata National Park. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

DUSKY MYZOMELA (Myzomela obscura) – As drab as they come, this chunky Myzomela was fairly common around the Atherton Tablelands.
ELFIN MYZOMELA (Myzomela adolphinae) – I think a couple of folks got quick views of females of this species along the road at Kama, but the arrival of the male Lesser BoP curtailed any and all interest in any smaller Passerines. [E]
SCARLET MYZOMELA (Myzomela sanguinolenta) – Quite common by voice in the Atherton Tablelands, as well as the slopes below O'Reilly's, though we only managed to see a small number in both regions. [E]
RED-COLLARED MYZOMELA (Myzomela rosenbergii) – A dazzling male popped into view just below the Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoo we were watching at Kumul Lodge, giving us an eyeful before both birds vanished. It was our one and only of the tour. [E]
RUFOUS-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora guisei) – Very similar to the next species, but occurs at slightly lower elevations. We saw a couple of these at Murmur Pass. [E]
GRAY-STREAKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora perstriata) – Quite common around Kumul Lodge, where it especially likes those small, orange tubular flowers that are all over the gardens. [E]
BROWN HONEYEATER (Lichmera indistincta) – Usually one of the more common honeyeaters around the Cairns region, and while we did see them on most days in the area, there didn't seem to be as many as usual.
NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) – These striking honeyeaters turned up on our last day of birding at Royal NP, but we were a bit lucky we saw them well there. We didn't really put in a lot of effort to see them in the morning, as they are usually pretty numerous and easy in the coastal heath I'd planned on visiting in the afternoon. But the coastal sites were all closed off due to the overwhelming number of cars and people already there, and we were unable to get to them as planned. So, it was fortunate that these birds showed themselves so easily in the morning! Albatrosses and shearwaters on the other hand... well, there wasn't much we could do. [E]
WHITE-CHEEKED HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris niger) – The sister species to New Holland Honeyeater, and likewise a strikingly patterned and beautiful bird. Some folks had brief looks at a furtive bird in a flowering shrub outside the restaurant in Tolga, then we had a much more cooperative one at Hasties Swamp. Finally, we had outstanding views of one bathing among the many other birds at Charlie's Waterhole, which was something of a surprise, as local guide Duncan claimed it was only his second sighting of this species in the area! [E]
BLUE-FACED HONEYEATER (Entomyzon cyanotis) – A half a dozen or so of these large honeyeaters were at Granite Gorge, though they're often far more numerous and conspicuous than they were this year. [E]

Participant Chuck Holliday grabbed this pic of the lovely male Lesser Bird-of-paradise we spotted along the roadside after some frustration at the actual lek!

WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus albogularis) – This genus is made up of seven similar, small honeyeaters, six of which are endemic to Australia (and 2 of which are found only in Tasmania). This is the lone species that occurs outside the country, and it is fairly common in savanna habitat around Port Moresby, where we saw several along the entrance road to Varirata. [E]
WHITE-NAPED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus lunatus) – Very similar to the preceding species, but with a bright red eyelid of bare skin that can be quite conspicuous. We saw these only below O'Reilly's, including some bathers at Charlie's Waterhole. [E]
TAWNY-BREASTED HONEYEATER (Xanthotis flaviventer) – A pair of these large honeyeaters with their distinctive, spectacled look, turned up in a fruiting tree as we were about to leave Varirata for the last time, showing very well as they fed in the open at eye level. [E]
MACLEAY'S HONEYEATER (Xanthotis macleayanus) – This Atherton endemic was fairly common and conspicuous, turning up daily during our time in the tablelands. [E]
STRIPED HONEYEATER (Plectorhyncha lanceolata) – One of my favorite honeyeaters, this fine bird (4 of them!) showed up beautifully at the Port of Brisbane wetlands. [E]
LITTLE FRIARBIRD (Philemon citreogularis) – Never as numerous as the bigger friarbirds, and an easy one to miss. We finally caught up with a lone bird as we ate our lunches at Fred Bucholz Park. [E]
HELMETED FRIARBIRD (NEW GUINEA) (Philemon buceroides novaeguineae) – Australian and PNG forms of this species are sometimes treated as separate from each other. This is the one we saw regularly around the Port Moresby region. [E]
HELMETED FRIARBIRD (HORNBILL) (Philemon buceroides yorki) – The common friarbird of the Cairns and Atherton areas, with fair numbers on most days. [E]
NOISY FRIARBIRD (Philemon corniculatus) – Replaces the Helmeted Friarbird in drier parts of the Atherton Tableland. Often quite numerous, but we the only ones we saw were about 4 birds at a flowering tree at Granite Gorge. [E]
Pardalotidae (Pardalotes)
SPOTTED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus punctatus) – This gorgeous small bird showed well several times along Duck Creek Road and was heard at Royal NP. Like Bell Miners, these birds feed extensively on lerps in Eucalyptus woodland. [E]

Guide Jay VanderGaast with armfuls of Australian King-Parrot and Crimson Rosella...the world's best avian welcoming committee at O'Reilly's. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
ROCKWARBLER (Origma solitaria) – The only species of bird that is entirely endemic to New South Wales, the Rockwarbler occurs only in the Hawkesbury sandstone region of a tiny part of the state's southeast. We eventually found a very cooperative bird that gave us any eyeful at Royal National Park. [E]
YELLOW-THROATED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis citreogularis) – Looking reminiscent of a Common Yellowthroat, this scrubwren was pretty easy to see at O'Reilly's. [E]
WHITE-BROWED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis frontalis) – Like the above species, this one was also common and easy to see at O'Reilly's. [E]
LARGE SCRUBWREN (Sericornis nouhuysi) – A few birds were regular along the trails at Kumul Lodge. [E]
LARGE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis magnirostra) – The common arboreal scrubwren of the Atherton tablelands, where we saw them regularly. [E]
BUFF-FACED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis perspicillatus) – A few of these fairly distinctive (for a scrubwren) birds were present at the Blue BoP site along the Tonga trail. [E]
BROWN THORNBILL (Acanthiza pusilla) – The common thornbill of the Brisbane and Sydney regions, where we saw them daily. [E]
STRIATED THORNBILL (Acanthiza lineata) – A couple of these were sighted high in the eucalypts along Duck Creek Road, but better views were obtained at Royal NP, where a pair showed some interest in us and gave us nice close views. [E]
GREEN-BACKED GERYGONE (Gerygone chloronota) – Heard a couple of times at Varirata NP. [E*]
FAIRY GERYGONE (Gerygone palpebrosa) – Though it occurs in both countries, our only record was of a single bird with the Lovely Fairywren along Black Mountain Road. [E]

The male Golden Bowerbird that gave us such fine views near its maypole. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

WHITE-THROATED GERYGONE (Gerygone olivacea) – We heard the beautiful, cascading song of this little warbler as we watched for Platypus near Yungaburra, and with a little playback, the bird came out and showed off nicely. [E]
LARGE-BILLED GERYGONE (Gerygone magnirostris) – Brief views for some of a lone bird at Centenary Lakes, then better looks at a pair in the mangroves at the north end of the Esplanade on our final morning at Cairns. [E]
BROWN GERYGONE (Gerygone mouki) – Pretty common in Australia's eastern rainforests, and seen at most of the sites we visited in that habitat. [E]
BROWN-BREASTED GERYGONE (Gerygone ruficollis) – Not uncommon in the PNG highlands, and we had a few encounters with these birds, which, like many gerygones, aren't much to look at but have wonderful songs. [E]
MANGROVE GERYGONE (Gerygone levigaster) – Nice views of a little family group in the mangroves at the Port of Brisbane wetlands. [E]
Pomatostomidae (Pseudo-Babblers)
GRAY-CROWNED BABBLER (Pomatostomus temporalis) – Really only likely at Granite Gorge on this trip, so it was great that we managed to track down a small group of 3 or 4 in our short time there. [E]
Orthonychidae (Logrunners)
AUSTRALIAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx temminckii) – These wonderful birds gave a great show at O'Reilly's, even demonstrating their quirky side-kick feeding technique as we watched them at close range. [E]
Cnemophilidae (Satinbirds)
LORIA'S SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus loriae) – A lone, satiny-black male put in an appearance at a nearby fruiting tree as we watched for King-of-Saxony BoPs at Murmur Pass. [E]
Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers and Longbills)
FAN-TAILED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis versteri) – A pair with a juvenile were around Kumul Lodge, but were not seen by everyone there. Far more cooperative was a male we found feeding in some roadside scrub below the lodge. He stayed in place for a couple of minutes showing extremely well in the process. [E]
SPECTACLED LONGBILL (Oedistoma iliolophus) – Always elusive; we heard this species along the creek at Varirata. [E*]

A great flight shot by guide Doug Gochfeld of a Gray Goshawk.

Paramythiidae (Tit Berrypecker and Crested Berrypecker)
TIT BERRYPECKER (Oreocharis arfaki) – A stretch of road below Kumul Lodge that had plenty of fruiting trees also had plenty of these birds, though we had a heck of a time spotting any, despite hearing them all over the place. On our final morning, a return visit paid off when we managed excellent looks at a couple. [E]
CRESTED BERRYPECKER (Paramythia montium) – These berrypeckers were far more cooperative, with a pair turning up below the balcony and really showing off a couple of times. [E]
Psophodidae (Whipbirds and Wedgebills)
EASTERN WHIPBIRD (Psophodes olivaceus) – Though we saw a couple up in the Atherton Tablelands, it was the up close and personal encounters with this bird at O'Reilly's that really won people over. Helena and Gayle both chose it as their favorite Australian bird, leading to it taking second place in the overall voting. [E]
Machaerirhynchidae (Boatbills)
BLACK-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus nigripectus) – A couple of these delightful little birds gave us a nice showing in the highlands near Kumul Lodge. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) – Though we heard this species on several days in the Atherton tablelands, we only managed a single sighting one early morning at Chambers. [E]
Artamidae (Woodswallows)
GREAT WOODSWALLOW (Artamus maximus) – A few of these larger, darker woodswallows (in comparison with the next species) flew overhead at the Lesser BoP site. [E]
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – Quite numerous both in the Cairns region and around Port Moresby.
DUSKY WOODSWALLOW (Artamus cyanopterus) – A handful of these birds were tallied at our only site for them, in the dry eucalyptus forest near Wondecla. [E]
Cracticidae (Bellmagpies and Allies)
BLACK-BACKED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus mentalis) – The common butcherbird in the savanna habitats around Port Moresby, where we saw several, including a couple mobbing a Variable Goshawk at the Kokoda Track monument. [E]
GRAY BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus torquatus) – We finally tracked down this one at Royal NP, and lured a pair into view with a playback of their wonderful song. [E]

Quintessentially Australian: Emu! Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

HOODED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus cassicus) – Generally replaces Black-backed Butcherbird in wetter lowland forests of PNG, though there is some overlap, and we had a trio of them at PAU, where Black-backed is more common and expected. Also seen at Varirata NP. [E]
PIED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus nigrogularis) – The common Aussie butcherbird, and we had sightings of these birds at a number of locations. [E]
BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi) – Not uncommon around Cairns, where the one that was checking out the frogmouth nest only to be chased off by the male frogmouth was particularly memorable. Also seen in PNG at Varirata NP.
AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE (Gymnorhina tibicen) – Widespread and common in Australia, where we saw them most days. [E]
PIED CURRAWONG (Strepera graculina) – Likewise widespread and seen often, though most common and easiest to see around O'Reilly's. [E]
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
STOUT-BILLED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina caeruleogrisea) – A pair of these bulky birds turned up and showed well as we waited for Blue BoPs along the Tonga Trail. [E]
BARRED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina lineata) – Two different races were seen. We had great views of the nominate form at Chambers; this race has both males and females with barring below. And in PNG, we saw race axillaris at Varirata NP, this race sees only the females with barring below, while the males are all gray. The yellow eye of this species makes it easy to identify no matter the plumage. [E]
BOYER'S CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina boyeri) – Commonly seen in small parties around Varirata NP. Some folks may even have managed to see the cinnamon wing linings, a feature shared only with the much larger Stout-billed Cuckooshrike. [E]
BLACK-FACED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina novaehollandiae) – Just a couple were seen in the Cairns region this trip, with a few more down around Brisbane and Sydney.
WHITE-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina papuensis) – The most widespread and commonly seen cuckooshrike, with many sightings in the Cairns and Atherton regions (race artamoides) as well as around Port Moresby and Varirata (race angustifrons) and in the highlands near the Lai River (nominate race).

While they can be difficult to see well in some regions where they occur, Eastern Spinebills can be absurdly abundant at O’Reilly’s, and that was certainly the case during our stay this year, where these boldly patterned honeyeaters put on a show day after day. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

VARIED TRILLER (Lalage leucomela) – Occurs in both countries, but our only sightings were of a few birds in the Cairns region. We also heard them in a few other places in Australia.
BLACK-BELLIED CICADABIRD (Edolisoma montanum) – We had a group of these at the clearing at Murmur Pass but they weren't especially cooperative and I don't think too many of us had a good look. [E]
COMMON CICADABIRD (Edolisoma tenuirostre) – We had great views of a calling male out along Black Mountain Road, then several more below O'Reilly's. There is some discussion as to whether this species is actually made up of three different cryptic species based on the different call types in different areas of Australia. Perhaps DNA analysis will one day back this up.
BLACK CICADABIRD (Edolisoma melan) – A pair of these were with a mixed brown and black flock at Varirata, and we had good looks at both the black male and the rusty brown female. [E]
Neosittidae (Sittellas)
VARIED SITTELLA (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) – Never easy birds to track down, as they are always on the move, and seem to cover a lot of ground in the process. We lucked into a quartet of these below O'Reilly's just after our encounter with the Glossy Black-Cockatoos. [E]
Eulacestomatidae (Ploughbill)
WATTLED PLOUGHBILL (Eulacestoma nigropectus) – Your two guides agreed on this oddball species as their favorite PNG bird. It would look like a rather ordinary bird if it wasn't for those enormous, floppy, bubblegum pink wattles hanging off the sides of its bill! As it is, it's a pretty amazing looking thing, and we had a fantastic look at a male below Kumul Lodge. Best of all, Doug got what may be the best photo ever of this weird bird. [E]
Falcunculidae (Shrike-tit)
CRESTED SHRIKE-TIT (EASTERN) (Falcunculus frontatus frontatus) – This has long been one of my favorite Australian birds so I'm always pleased to see one, not least of all because they are rather scarce and difficult to find. That wasn't really the case this trip, though, as we scored nice looks (unexpectedly) right outside the bird hide at Hasties Swamp, the first time I'd seen one there. Our second sighting at Wondecla was kind of anticlimactic as a result. [E]
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
RUSTY PITOHUI (Colluricincla ferruginea) – Heard and glimpsed on both of our visits to Varirata, but overall pretty elusive, as usual. The pitohuis have recently undergone some taxonomic revision resulting in the group members being assigned among 3 different families of birds. This is not one of the famous poisonous pitohuis. [E]
LITTLE SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha) – Though it occurs pretty much everywhere we visited in both countries, we saw very few, with just a couple of sightings in the Cairns region.
GRAY SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica) – First encountered in the dry forest at Wondecla, where we saw a pair reasonably well, but as with several species, this one was much easier to see around O'Reilly's, where they are a little bolder and more approachable. [E]

A lovely Dollarbird in full fan, photographed by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BOWER'S SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla boweri) – Endemic to the Atherton Tablelands, this bird gave us several looks there, starting with a very cooperative bird our first morning at Chambers. [E]
REGENT WHISTLER (Pachycephala schlegelii) – This striking whistler is fairly common in the highland forests around Kumul Lodge, where we saw them daily. [E]
GOLDEN WHISTLER (Pachycephala pectoralis) – And this beauty is quite numerous throughout Australia's eastern rainforests, though we never tired of looking at them.
BROWN-BACKED WHISTLER (Pachycephala modesta) – A lone bird showed up above the Kumul Lodge feeders as we birded from the balcony just after our arrival there, and it ended up being the only one we were to see. [E]
GRAY WHISTLER (GRAY-HEADED) (Pachycephala simplex peninsulae) – The Australian race of this species, this dull whistler turned up in a couple of mixed flocks, once in the Atherton region and once along Black Mountain Road. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED WHISTLER (Pachycephala leucogastra) – A fairly scarce and local species of open forests in the Port Moresby region. We finally caught up with a lovely male on our way out of Varirata on our final day in the country. [E]
BLACK-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala monacha) – A couple of birds at the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird site below Kumul didn't show off quite as well as we would have liked. [E]
RUFOUS WHISTLER (Pachycephala rufiventris) – Our only ones were a pair in the dry forest near Wondecla, where they came close and showed beautifully. [E]
Oreoicidae (Australo-Papuan Bellbirds)
RUFOUS-NAPED BELLBIRD (Aleadryas rufinucha) – Several, including some subadult birds in some confusing plumages, were regulars in the gardens of Kumul Lodge. Formerly considered a whistler, but has recently been moved into a small family made up of this bird, Australia's Crested Bellbird, and Piping Bellbird which was formerly Crested Pitohui. [E]
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (NASUTUS GROUP) (Lanius schach stresemanni) – The only shrike species to occur regularly south of the Wallace's line, this fine looking shrike was seen a bunch of times in open areas of the PNG highlands around Kumul.

Buff-banded Rail, one of our last new sightings for the tour. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
HOODED PITOHUI (Pitohui dichrous) – The classic poisonous pitohui, this very oriole-like bird showed well on both our visits to Varirata. [E]
BROWN ORIOLE (Oriolus szalayi) – A pretty common and easy to see species around Port Moresby, and often one of the first PNG endemics we encounter, as was the case this year, as we saw at least three at PAU our first afternoon. [E]
OLIVE-BACKED ORIOLE (Oriolus sagittatus) – Our first was a very drab individual singing out in the open in the dry forest at Wondecla. Another the next day at Mareeba Wetlands Reserve was likewise pretty dull. The ones we saw further south, at O'Reilly's and Royal NP were quite a bit more colorful. [E]
GREEN ORIOLE (Oriolus flavocinctus) – Dory spotted the one and only one we saw on our first afternoon by the pond at Yorkey's Knob. [E]
AUSTRALASIAN FIGBIRD (Sphecotheres vieilloti) – Numerous around the Cairns region, where we saw them daily, with a few also in the Brisbane region. Also occurs locally in SE PNG, and we saw several at PAU. [EN]
Dicruridae (Drongos)
SPANGLED DRONGO (Dicrurus bracteatus) – Seen regularly in the Cairns region, with a couple of birds sighted at Varirata NP as well. Though some Australian birds migrate to spend the winter in PNG, the ones we saw there would have been the resident form, given the time of year.
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
BLACK FANTAIL (Rhipidura atra) – Reasonable views of a couple of birds at the Blue BoP site along the Tonga trail. [E]
WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys) – Pretty much ubiquitous, though we somehow managed to miss this species on one day at O'Reilly's (where it is actually quite uncommon) and on our final day around Sydney. [EN]
RUFOUS FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufifrons) – A small number of these lovely fantails were seen daily at O'Reilly's, usually high in the canopy, but a couple of times lower down as well.
FRIENDLY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albolimbata) – Among the PNG fantails, this is a pretty apt name, as most of the other species are quite a bit more difficult to see (especially thicket-fantails!). We had good numbers of these daily around Kumul Lodge and adjacent areas. [E]

This young male Brown Sicklebill had a grand old time defending the feeders at Kumul and periodically practicing the species’ bizarre display and machine gun-like chatter. Photo by participant Chuck Holliday.

GRAY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albiscapa) – A regular mixed flock member in the eastern Australian rain forests. We saw them most days in the country. [E]
Ifritidae (Ifrita)
BLUE-CAPPED IFRITA (Ifrita kowaldi) – A bit of a taxonomic enigma, this species has moved around a lot and now finds itself in the Monarch Flycatchers family, though who knows how long it will stay there? We saw these charming, pudgy birds daily around Kumul Lodge. [E]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
WHITE-EARED MONARCH (Carterornis leucotis) – This monarch has often given me trouble on this tour, and it looked to be a repeat when a bird that was calling near Cassowary House popped in above us but was only seen by me before it took off for good. Luckily, we found a far friendlier pair below O'Reilly's (where I've tried for it before, but never with any success), one of which sat out for a long period atop a leafy tree at about eye level, giving us unbeatable views of this striking bird. [E]
BLACK-FACED MONARCH (Monarcha melanopsis) – The most common monarch in Australia's rainforests, and we saw some most days there, which is fine, as this is one gorgeous bird! [E]
SPECTACLED MONARCH (Symposiachrus trivirgatus) – Another fine monarch, this one was mainly seen in the Atherton region, where we found several excitable pairs, with just a lone bird seen further south at O'Reilly's. [E]
SPOT-WINGED MONARCH (Symposiachrus guttula) – Mixed flocks of small birds were hard to find at Varirata, and we never really connected with the expected groups, but we did manage to connect with a lovely pair of these monarchs on our second visit there. These birds are usually a big part of the mixed flocks here, but the ones we saw were on their own. [E]
FRILLED MONARCH (Arses telescopthalmus) – A lone male found on our first visit to Varirata unusually stayed still enough for us to actually get some scope views! [E]
PIED MONARCH (Arses kaupi) – We also found just a single male of this Atherton Tableland specialty, but it took a long time to get one going. When this bird finally started calling and showing some interest, it showed a lot of interest and gave us incredible close views along Black Mountain Road. [E]
MAGPIE-LARK (Grallina cyanoleuca) – A pretty ubiquitous bird of open country in Oz, where we saw plenty of them most days, including a couple of pairs with their well-shaped, beautifully constructed mud nests, best being the one in Mareeba. [EN]
TORRENT-LARK (Grallina bruijnii) – Always much more skittish and elusive then its close Australian relative, and only Cynthia and local guide Wilson were able to see these birds below Kumul before they flew off up the stream and out of sight. [E]

Blue-capped Ifrita, another one-of-a-kind Papuan endemic. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

LEADEN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra rubecula) – Scarce this trip, with just a female seen by a couple of us at the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve, and then 2 or 3 in eucalyptus forest below O'Reilly's. [E]
SHINING FLYCATCHER (Myiagra alecto) – Nice looks at both the satiny black male and the more colorful, rust, black, and white female as they tended their nest at the Yorkey's Knob golf course pond. [EN]
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
TORRESIAN CROW (Corvus orru) – The common Corvid in both countries, and we saw them regularly throughout except in the PNG highlands. [E]
AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides) – On our trip found regularly only around Sydney, where we had our only one, a bird giving its distinctive crying baby call, at Centennial Park. [E]
Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-Paradise)
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Pteridophora alberti) – One of the biggest disappointments of the trip was that we never could find this bird, despite the fact that a male was calling very sporadically not far away at Murmur Pass. [E*]
SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Lophorina superba) – It took a lot of searching, but eventually we managed to locate a calling male in a grove of trees quite a long way from the roadside below Kumul. Fortunately he stayed put long enough for scope views, with most everyone getting to see his brilliant turquoise breast shield at some point. [E]
PARADISE RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris paradiseus) – Not terribly vocal during our time at O'Reilly's, but one young male landed above us and sat out long enough for scope views at the entrance to Luke's Farm. [E]
VICTORIA'S RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris victoriae) – Quite a few were seen around the Atherton Tablelands, with some memorable sightings of at least a couple of different young males practicing their moves atop a prominent display perch at Chambers, and some excellent close looks at an adult male at the feeders at Cassowary House. [E]
MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (GROWLING) (Ptiloris magnificus intercedens) – Based on the very different vocalizations, I'm pretty sure this form from eastern PNG will soon be split from the other populations found in the rest of PNG and NE Australia. We heard these distinctive growling vocalizations regularly at Varirata, and had views of a female as she moved with a brown/black flock on our first visit there. [E]
BROWN SICKLEBILL (Epimachus meyeri) – Seen daily at and around Kumul Lodge, with a couple of adult males seen well at Murmur Pass, but the most memorable was the young bird at the Kumul feeders. When I was last there in July, it was of indeterminate sex, still being fed by its mother. Now though still mainly in juvenile plumage, its regular calling and displaying in full view over the feeders made it clear it is definitely a male. Hope he'll stick around at the feeders as he matures. [E]

Black Bitterns like to blend in and fade away, but luckily for our group, this one was out in the open. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

STEPHANIE'S ASTRAPIA (Astrapia stephaniae) – Those that persevered and made it along the muddy trail to the clearing at Murmur Pass were rewarded with good flyby views of an adult male in full plumage. [E]
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia mayeri) – A common bird around Kumul Lodge, including at the feeders. It was pleasing to see a long-tailed adult male at the feeders again, after the stumpy-tailed bird of the past couple of years, even if he only had one long tail plume. This showy bird took second place in the bird of the trip voting for PNG, though Terry picked it as his number one. [E]
BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea rudolphi) – it's a bit humbling to struggle up that steep Tonga Trail while local school children and elderly folks are strolling along past us without huffing and puffing, but no matter, we got to where we needed to get to, and were rewarded with gorgeous views of a stunning male, which both Gayle and Helena chose as their top PNG bird. This pushed into third place behind the astrapia and the next species. [E]
LESSER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea minor) – After a lengthy wait at the lek with no sign of these birds, we finally pulled ourselves away, feeling a little disappointed at the lack of activity. No sooner had we made it out onto the roadway, however, when we heard one calling quite close, and soon we were looking at a spectacular adult male as it foraged along close to the road, eventually flying across overhead. The sense of relief and the experience of spending several minutes drinking in the beauty of this amazing bird no doubt led to it being the top pick of both John and Cynthia, and ultimately the overall favorite PNG bird of the trip. [E]
RAGGIANA BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea raggiana) – Despite hearing plenty of calling birds around Varirata NP, we didn't find any activity at all at the regular lek on our first visit to the park. Still we saw quite a few females and younger males that day. On the second visit things improved slightly, and we had brief looks at a lone male that was in some semblance of breeding dress, but it wasn't as good an experience as the Lesser gave us. [E]
Melampittidae (Melampittas)
LESSER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta lugubris) – Surprisingly good views for several folks when we had a pretty responsive bird on the trails at Kumul. This one is always tough to see well, so any view is a win! [E]
Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)
TORRENT FLYCATCHER (Monachella muelleriana) – We had a couple of nice sightings of these lovely birds in the PNG highlands; as usual, they were hanging around fast-flowing rivers. [E]
LEMON-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Microeca flavigaster) – Not uncommon along the Varirata entrance road, where we saw several including a pair feeding some fledglings. [EN]
ROSE ROBIN (Petroica rosea) – The first male we saw right out front of O'Reilly's was a first year bird and pretty dull, so we made an effort to track down another, and struck gold with a very responsive and much brighter male on our final morning there, out along the entrance road. [E]
WHITE-FACED ROBIN (Tregellasia leucops) – We only found a single bird at Varirata this time, but it gave us all a great look, so who can complain? [E]

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, photographed by guide Doug Gochfeld.

PALE-YELLOW ROBIN (Tregellasia capito) – Never as numerous or easy to see as the Eastern Yellow Robin, so we did quite well with these birds, seeing one high up at the Curtain Fig Tree, then another pair along with the Lovely Fairywren along Black Mountain Road. [E]
EASTERN YELLOW ROBIN (Eopsaltria australis) – First picked up in that flurry of activity behind the hide at Hasties Swamp, where we also saw our first shrike-tit. Once we got to O'Reilly's though, they were pretty hard to miss. [E]
MANGROVE ROBIN (Eopsaltria pulverulenta) – We got a bit concerned about seeing this species as just before we got to the mangroves along the Cairns Esplanade, a truck spraying for mosquitos had made a run along the fringes of the mangrove area, and I was pretty sure the birds would have made a retreat well back in among the trees. Not to worry, though, as a lone bird stuck it out at the edge and gave us a nice show. [E]
WHITE-WINGED ROBIN (Peneothello sigillata) – Common, conspicuous, and seen daily around the gardens at Kumul. [E]
GRAY-HEADED ROBIN (Heteromyias cinereifrons) – Another Atherton regional endemic. We saw quite a few of these around the tableland's rainforests, including a pair with two very recently fledged youngsters right next to the trail at Mt Hypipamee. [EN]
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
WELCOME SWALLOW (Hirundo neoxena) – The default swallow in Australia, where they are numerous and widespread. [E]
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – Replaces the similar Welcome Swallow in PNG, and likewise common and widespread, in the lowlands at least.
FAIRY MARTIN (Petrochelidon ariel) – There seemed to be more around than we usually encounter, and we wound up seeing them nicely on several days in the Cairns region then again around Brisbane. [E]
TREE MARTIN (Petrochelidon nigricans) – Just a couple of sightings, initially amongst some Fairy Martins in the tablelands, then again around Fred Bucholz Park on our way to the Brisbane airport. [E]
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
ISLAND LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus maforensis) – Looking at the large number of Phylloscopus warblers on the checklist for my next tour (18 of them on the Thailand checklist!) makes me very happy that PNG has only one of these notoriously difficult warblers. So I can say with confidence that this was the species we saw so well along the Tonga Trail!
Acrocephalidae (Reed-Warblers and Allies)
AUSTRALIAN REED-WARBLER (Acrocephalus australis) – A bunch of these were extremely vocal and quite willing to show themselves at the Port of Brisbane wetlands. [E]

This Eastern Whipbird (named for its amazingly loud call) play peek-a-boo with us around a tree trunk. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
TAWNY GRASSBIRD (Megalurus timoriensis) – The only one of this form that we saw was a single bird that we scoped in the scrubby pasture across the creek at the Platypus spot. [E]
TAWNY GRASSBIRD (PAPUAN) (Megalurus timoriensis macrurus) – This large form is the one found in the PNG highlands, and is sometimes treated as a different species. We had nice looks at a vocal pair as we searched for the Superb BoP below Kumul. [E]
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
GOLDEN-HEADED CISTICOLA (Cisticola exilis) – Cisticola's are another notoriously difficult to identify group of birds, but once again, this is the lone representative that we encounter on this trip (go to Africa, there are dozens of them!). We saw a single at the Platypus spot, another near the Kokoda monument in PNG, and a few more in the Brisbane area.
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor) – The standard, black-fronted form of this species was only heard at Varirata NP. [E*]
BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor minor) – I've got to admit that I'm not feeling too confident about the identification of those white-eyes in the PNG highlands, and I look forward to some clarity coming my way one day. We concluded that the ones we saw were mainly, if not all, the "green-fronted" form of this species, based on the pattern of the underparts and the very thin, barely there, white eye ring. But looking at online photos, similar looking birds have been labelled as New Guinea White-eyes. Clearly some more work needs to be done to clarify this situation. [E]
SILVER-EYE (Zosterops lateralis) – Pretty common and seen regularly at many sites in Australia, where it is the only widespread white-eye, and the only one to be found in the areas we visit. See comments above on Phylloscopus and Cisticola.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata) – Fairly common in scrubby habitat in PNG, particularly in the mountains, but also down in the lowlands. We saw plenty in the right habitat in the mountains.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
RUSSET-TAILED THRUSH (Zoothera heinei) – Australia's two scaly thrushes are extremely similar, quite hard to tell apart, and to top it off, occur side by side at O'Reilly's. Usually we see several, mainly Olive-tailed, and often struggle to get this one. This trip, the lone thrush we saw well enough to ID was a responsive and cooperative one of these along the Python Rock track. [E]
ISLAND THRUSH (Turdus poliocephalus) – A regular visitor to the Kumul feeders.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
METALLIC STARLING (Aplonis metallica) – Huge numbers around the Cairns area, including one large flock of mainly (exclusively?) juvenile birds along the Esplanade in the late afternoons.

Crested Pigeon was seen especially well at a couple of locations around the Port of Brisbane. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

SINGING STARLING (Aplonis cantoroides) – As is sometimes the case, this was our final new species in PNG, though we didn't see it until we'd already passed through Immigration on our way out, as a pair was once again hanging around on the jet bridge, visible from the departure lounge. [E]
YELLOW-FACED MYNA (Mino dumontii) – Among the first PNG endemics we encountered, with several showing wonderfully at PAU our first afternoon. [E]
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – Thankfully scarce on this trip, though we did see a few around Brisbane and Sydney. [I]
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) – Numerous in Australia. [I]
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) – A widespread PNG bird, and we had a few good views of them at various sites. [E]
MISTLETOEBIRD (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) – The only flowerpecker that makes it into Australia. Seen pretty regularly in the Cairns area, including a couple of fine birds right outside the window as we ate lunch at Gallo Dairyland. Also seen one day around O'Reilly's. [E]
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis) – Like the flowerpeckers, sunbirds are far more numerous north of the Wallace's Line, and only this species makes it to Australia (with a couple of others in PNG). These were pretty numerous in the Cairns region, where we saw plenty of them on a daily basis.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AUSTRALASIAN PIPIT (AUSTRALIAN) (Anthus novaeseelandiae australis) – The bus flushed a few of these in the Atherton tablelands, but never where it was convenient to stop, so it wasn't until we got to the Port of Brisbane wetlands that we finally saw pipits well enough to count. Once again, this is the only Australian representative of what is a quite large and difficult to identify group of birds.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Common around Cairns region, with a few seen in Port Moresby as well. [I]
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – Has quickly become the common Passer in PNG and now quite abundant around Port Moresby. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
MOUNTAIN FIRETAIL (Oreostruthus fuliginosus) – A single juvenile bird seen in the gardens below the balcony at Kumul was the only one we saw. Seemingly quite scarce this year, as we missed it altogether in July, despite some effort. [E]
RED-BROWED FIRETAIL (Neochmia temporalis) – The most oft-seen native finch in Australia. We ran into them several times in the Atherton tablelands before we arrived at O'Reilly's where you have to be careful not to step on them in the feeding area. [E]
CRIMSON FINCH (Neochmia phaeton) – Quite uncommon in the Cairns region, and I had never actually had them on this tour before, so I was especially pleased when a pair flew in as we birded by the Yorkey's Knob golf course our first afternoon, and even happier that they posed long enough for all to get great looks. [E]
DOUBLE-BARRED FINCH (Taeniopygia bichenovii) – If any bird deserves to be called cute, it's this tiny finch. Even there calls are cute. It wasn't a great year for them but we did manage to find a single flock of 9 birds along the roadside on our way into the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve. [E]
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata) – Aka Nutmeg Mannikin. Pretty common around Cairns, and seen especially well along the Esplanade. [I]
HOODED MUNIA (Lonchura spectabilis) – Quite numerous in grassy fields in the NEw Guinea highlands, and we saw good numbers there. [E]
GRAY-HEADED MUNIA (Lonchura caniceps) – We were extremely lucky that the only one of these munias that seemed to be at the Kokoda Track monument perched up on a wire for us to scope. [E]
CHESTNUT-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura castaneothorax) – This handsome species was seen in small numbers most days in the Cairns region, with a little group of them also at the Kokoda Track monument in PNG. [E]

PLATYPUS (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) – Platypus are overall pretty common in eastern Australia, though finding a good place to see one can be tough, so some local knowledge is a big help. Good thing for us Clayton knew a spot not far from our Chambers, and it turned out to be a winner. We enjoyed plenty of prolonged looks at a couple of these curious animals over the course of the hour we spent with them. As always, people were pretty surprised at how small they actually are. I know I expected something larger before I first saw one. [E]
LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT (Peramelas nasuta) – A pair of these marsupials turned up to lap up honey at the Sugar Glider feeders at Chambers. [E]
KOALA (Phascolarctos cinereus) – This was a first for me-- I've never actually heard a koala vocalizing before! Sadly it was a bit too far off the track and it didn't come barreling in after I played back some koala calls, so we had to be content with a heard only one. Good thing we'd stopped in to see the rehab koalas at Daisy Hill a couple of days earlier. [E*]
SUGAR GLIDER (Petaurus breviceps) – For those that stuck it out rather than going to bed, one of these very cute marsupials turned up at the feeders on our second night at Chambers. Too bad it was so late that no one wanted to go owling anymore. [E]
COMMON RINGTAIL POSSUM (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) – Singles were seen on each of the two nights we went looking for boobooks at O'Reilly's. [E]
GREEN RINGTAIL POSSUM (Pseudochirops archeri) – Dory and Clayton were the only ones to see this local species during the day at Mt Hypipamee. [E]
STRIPED POSSUM (Dactylopsila trivirgata) – A couple of these striking possums were nightly visitors to the honey feeders at Chambers. [E]
MUSKY RAT-KANGAROO (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus) – The smallest true macropod. There were quite a few of these tiny kangaroos foraging for fallen fruit below the feeders at Cassowary House, including a teensy youngster. [E]
RED-NECKED PADEMELON (Thylogale thetis) – Numerous, especially after dark, on the lawns around O'Reilly's. [E]
RED-LEGGED PADEMELON (Thylogale stigmatica) – A few of these would come out on the lawn at Chambers after dark, but they aren't as confiding there as the O'Reilly's pademelons. [E]
MAREEBA ROCK-WALLABY (Petrogale mareeba) – Like adorable little plush toys, these very local wallabies were enjoyed up close at Granite Gorge. [E]
AGILE WALLABY (Macropus agilis) – For most this was our first macropod species, as we spied our first ones from the bus as we approached Mareeba (and the displaying bustard) on our first morning afield. We saw them better at the wetlands reserve, though, as a close pair fed in the rank grass along the boardwalk. [E]
RED-NECKED WALLABY (Macropus rufogriseus) – Surprisingly missed at Daisy Hill, but we saw a few of these in pastures along the road below O'Reilly's. [E]
WHIPTAIL WALLABY (Macropus parryi) – Also called Pretty-face Wallaby, this attractive species showed nicely along the road through the eucalyptus forest on our way up to O'Reilly's. [E]
EASTERN GRAY KANGAROO (Macropus giganteus) – A great mob of these large kangaroos were seen during our unfriendly reception at the "friendliest golf course in Queensland". We also saw some more wild-looking animals along the road into the Mareeba Wetlands Reserve. [E]
BLACK FLYING-FOX (Pteropus alecto) – It looked to me like the big roost we saw near Canungra was all this dark species, and we definitely saw at least one in among the huge numbers of Gray-headed FF at Centennial Park in Sydney.
SPECTACLED FLYING-FOX (Pteropus conspicillatus) – These are the ones that roost in enormous numbers in downtown Cairns. [E]
GRAY-HEADED FLYING-FOX (Pteropus poliocephalus) – As mentioned above, these were numerous at Sydney's Centennial Park. [E]
BLACK RAT (Rattus rattus) – The rat that came in below the honey feeders at Chambers the first night was apparently this introduced species. [I]


Totals for the tour: 370 bird taxa and 19 mammal taxa