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Field Guides Tour Report
New Guinea & Australia 2014
Oct 1, 2014 to Oct 19, 2014
Jay VanderGaast

No mistaking this one! The distinctive profile of one of the great birds of the world: a male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia in the highlands of New Guinea -- it was our group's overall favorite bird of the tour. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

Our timing was just a little off for this trip; a few days later and we might have been able to pick up a few copies of the brand new field guide for PNG before we went there! I hope by now you've all received your copies and are enjoying browsing through it as I am. That aside, this was a fun, pretty worry-free trip that I truly enjoyed leading. Australia is one of the most comfortable foreign countries to bird in, and PNG is just exotic enough to spice things up, making this a perfect mix for a tour.

We kicked things off in Cairns, where birds are simply everywhere, even in the heat of the day. The Esplanade right across from our city hotel is an amazing place, and I just love walking along there, enjoying the birds and all the activity going on. Amid all the joggers, cyclists, skateboarders, picnickers, musicians, etc., we saw a ton of great birds there, including a great variety of shorebirds of course: both Lesser and Greater sandplovers, Terek Sandpiper, Gray-tailed Tattler, and Great Knot, to name but a few. Other Esplanade treats included a gorgeous male Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove in the mangroves, all those busy Torresian Imperial-Pigeons, a sleepy looking Rufous Owl, a pair of Collared Kingfishers, and some confiding Mangrove Robins. Elsewhere in and around the city we enjoyed an adorable family of Radjah Shelducks, a nesting pair of Bush Thick-knees, a couple of bold pairs of White-browed Crakes at Cattana, some amazingly cryptic Papuan Frogmouths, and an electric blue Little Kingfisher at Yorkey's Knob.

A short drive into the Atherton Tablelands and we were amidst a whole new set of birds, including many localized endemics. The varied habitats here offer a great variety of birds, and this has long been one of my favorite birding regions in the country. A huge male Southern Cassowary with a small striped chick in tow was easily one of the biggest thrills at the aptly named Cassowary House, but there was plenty of competition. A family of Australian Bustards strolling across a grassy field, huge flocks of Brolgas and Sarus Cranes dotting the pastures around Atherton, an awesome Wedge-tailed Eagle perched over the highway, a flock of huge Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos feeding in a roadside eucalyptus, a stunning male Golden Bowerbird near its impressive maypole bower, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, White-eared Monarch, Crested Shrike-Tit, Victoria's Riflebird... how do you even pick a favorite? And then there's all those great mammals: a Platypus swimming along a quiet creek at dusk, a Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo dozing in the subcanopy of a large tree, and cuddly looking Sugar Gliders and a striking Striped Possum at the feeding station at Chambers! There weren't many dull moments in this region!

A short flight from Cairns took us into a whole different world, exotic Papua New Guinea. The first day there saw us head up to the wonderful Varirata National Park, where we had a nice introduction to the country's incredible bird life. Here we tallied such species as Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove, a roosting Barred Owlet-Nightjar, gorgeous Rufous-bellied Kookaburras, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher, stunning Black-capped Lories, the poisonous Hooded Pitohui, and showy Raggiana Birds-of-paradise. Plus we stumbled upon a fantastic mixed feeding flock in the forest, which, fortunately, stuck around long enough for most of us to get on all its many members. It kicked off with a trio of beautiful White-faced Robins chasing each other about, then quickly the other birds surrounded us: Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Yellow-bellied and Fairy gerygones, Spot-winged, Frilled, and Black-winged Monarchs, Pale-billed Scrubwren, and a rare Spotted Honeyeater among them.

Next stop was the rustic charm of Kumul Lodge, smack dab in the middle of some excellent bird-of-paradise habitat. It didn't take long for us to find our first ones, Brown Sicklebill and Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, right on the feeders outside the main lodge. Over the next couple of days we also added the bizarre King-of-Saxony BOP, a gorgeous Blue BOP, and an incredible Superb BOP, enjoying excellent looks at all of them. Many other highland specialties were seen too: a Dusky Woodcock below the feeders, stunning Papuan Lorikeets and tiny Plum-faced Lorikeets giving multiple close views at the flowering Schefflera trees, boldly patterned Ornate Melidectes, a tree full of brilliant Red-collared Myzomelas, showy Tit and Crested berrypeckers, a twittering flock of Varied Sittellas, a strange male Wattled Ploughbill with its day-glo pink wattles, and many, many more.

Our time in PNG came to a close with a visit to the grounds of the Pacific Adventist University, where we enjoyed an easy afternoon of birding, with plenty of waterbirds (including the oft missed Spotted Whistling-Duck), a huge White-bellied Sea-Eagle, a lovely Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove, and plenty of Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds, along with a nicely decorated bower. All in all, it was a great taste of what this country has to offer.

Back to Australia, we had a short but sweet stay at the justly famous O'Reilly's, where binoculars can be superfluous for many of the local specialties. Australian King-Parrots and Regent Bowerbirds regularly used us as perches, while Eastern Whipbirds, Australian Logrunners, Superb Fairywrens, Eastern Yellow Robins and others were often just an arm's length away, completely habituated to the presence of humans. Other highlights from the region included a musical colony of Bell Miners, an incredible vocal performance from a (sadly hidden from view) male Albert's Lyrebird, and three, yes three Koalas along Duck Creek Road!

Our grand finale took place at Royal National Park near Sydney, where our main quarry, Superb Lyrebird, proved elusive at first but eventually showed quite well. In the meantime, a number of other species kept us well occupied. Flocks of Topknot Pigeons feeding in the treetops, Sacred Kingfishers chattering along the creek, a pair of the localized endemic Rockwarbler hopping among the rocks (appropriately enough), and a cryptic Olive-tailed Thrush creeping stealthily through the leaf litter were just some of the birds that filled the time until the lyrebird showed itself. Later in the heath habitat we tallied Southern Emuwren, several elusive Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens, a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, and a superb male Rufous Whistler as some of the final additions to our trip lists.

All in all this was a fun trip, made all the more so by a compatible group of folks to share it with. Thanks for joining in the experience; I'm glad you chose to come along with me on this adventure, and I would be more than happy to see all of you on another trip sometime. Happy birding to all of you until we meet again!


NB: The birds marked as "Endemic" in the following list are only those that are endemic to either Australia or the island of New Guinea (which also includes West Papua, part of Indonesia). In addition to these, there are a good number of species that occur in both countries but are regional endemics.

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)

Always a crowd-pleaser: a male Regent Bowerbird at O'Reilly's (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

SOUTHERN CASSOWARY (Casuarius casuarius) – A big sigh of relief went up when papa cassowary showed up with his watermelon-like youngster in tow. He's a big, scary looking bird, and we prudently enjoyed our views from the safety of the Cassowary House balcony. Both Pati R. and Peter chose this as their favorite Australian bird, and it was the second favorite Australian bird overall.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
MAGPIE GOOSE (Anseranas semipalmata) – We saw our first at Centenary Lakes in Cairns, where 4 birds were present, but quickly surpassed that sighting with flocks of hundreds at Hasties Swamp and behind Gallo Dairyland farm.
SPOTTED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna guttata) – One of our final new birds of the tour. We thought we'd missed them but then found a pair on the last pond at PAU. Nice to get the whistling-duck hat trick!
PLUMED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna eytoni) – Hundreds, if not a couple of thousand of these elegant ducks were at Hasties Swamp.
WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata) – We scoped just a couple on the far shore of Hasties Swamp, then had better looks at about a dozen around the ponds at PAU.
FRECKLED DUCK (Stictonetta naevosa) – At least 8 of these (there were 10 reportedly here) were hanging on at Hasties Swamp, a good record for the region, as they are quite rare locally and this is outside their normal range. [E]
RADJAH SHELDUCK (Tadorna radjah) – A pair at Cattana Wetlands and several birds at Centenary Lakes, including a pair with 9 adorable ducklings. Also a pair with the Spotted Whistling-Ducks at PAU. [N]
GREEN PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus pulchellus) – About 5 or 6 pairs of these miniature geese were seen well at the ponds at Cattana Wetlands.
MANED DUCK (Chenonetta jubata) – Five next to a pond as we left Granite Gorge were our only ones until we got further south a couple of weeks later. In the Brisbane and Sydney areas they were quite common, with good numbers at the Walnut Road wetlands and at Royal NP. A pair with a lone duckling was at Royal, our only breeding record. [EN]
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa) – The common dabbling duck in Australia's wetlands, as well as at PAU.
GRAY TEAL (Anas gracilis) – A group of about 20 birds at Hasties Swamp were the only ones we encountered.
CHESTNUT TEAL (Anas castanea) – Three males were seen flying along the creek at Audley in Royal NP, and one ventured into the picnic area to investigate all the belongings left behind by the running club. A couple of females after lunch were a bit tougher to identify, looking very much like Gray Teal, but the throat and face didn't seem to be light enough for that species. [E]
PINK-EARED DUCK (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) – About 75 of these odd ducks were at Hasties Swamp and we had some nice looks at them eventually. We witnessed one pair exhibiting an interesting feeding behavior: facing each other, they put their heads in the water next to one another and proceeded to spin in a circle. It was like watching synchronized swimming, only far better! [E]
WHITE-EYED DUCK (Aythya australis) – About a dozen at Hasties Swamp, then a pair at Lake Barrine that showed off their long white wing stripe as they flew across the water.
Megapodiidae (Megapodes)
AUSTRALIAN BRUSH-TURKEY (Alectura lathami) – Numerous and perfectly habituated around the Cairns region and at O'Reilly's. It was fun watching these industrious birds kick leaves around, especially the one that sprayed us with leaf litter along the roadside near the Cairns Botanical Gardens. [EN]
ORANGE-FOOTED SCRUBFOWL (Megapodius reinwardt) – Fairly common and habituated in the Cairns region, where we had especially nice studies of a couple digging around in the leaf litter at Centenary Lakes.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
BROWN QUAIL (Coturnix ypsilophora) – A half a dozen quails flushed up from the scrubby fields at Max's homestead below Kumul Lodge.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
AUSTRALASIAN GREBE (Tachybaptus novaehollandiae) – A few in non-breeding plumage at Hasties Swamp, then a beautiful breeding plumaged bird on the pond at PAU, and a couple more breeding birds at Royal NP.

Green Pygmy-Geese at the Cattana wetlands (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (Podiceps cristatus australis) – A raft of about 50 were scoped on the far side of Lake Barrine.
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
SHORT-TAILED SHEARWATER (Puffinus tenuirostris) – The only seabird close enough to shore to identify at Garie Beach in Royal NP. We had nice looks at a couple that were bobbing on the water's surface just beyond the surfers.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) – Numerous at suitable wetlands in both countries. [E]
GREAT CORMORANT (AUSTRALASIAN) (Phalacrocorax carbo novaehollandiae) – A couple of birds among the Little Blacks at Lake Barrine, then a single one flying past at Garie Beach.
LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) – Seen at several wetlands in both countries, though seemed to always be greatly outnumbered by Little Black. [N]
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
AUSTRALASIAN DARTER (Anhinga novaehollandiae) – Several in the Cairns region included a couple of nests at Cattana Wetlands, and a close perched female at Centenary Lakes. [N]
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AUSTRALIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus conspicillatus) – The ones at Centenary Lakes were pretty tame, coming right in close to a young lad and his mother for some bits of bread. Many more birds were seen pursuing normal prey items at wetlands throughout Oz. [E]
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
PACIFIC HERON (Ardea pacifica) – One among a bunch of other waders at Cattana Wetlands, a couple at Hasties Swamp, and one peeking over a dirt mound along the highway near Canungra. [E]
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – Seen mainly in ones and twos at pretty much all the wetland areas in both countries.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Mesophoyx intermedia) – Fair numbers at suitable sites in both countries. It was great to be able to study this and the larger, but otherwise similar Great Egret side by side. The length of the gape line looks to be a pretty reliable field mark if size isn't.
WHITE-FACED HERON (Egretta novaehollandiae) – The only ones we saw were on the mud flats at Lota, but we sure saw a Lota them there, about a dozen or more.
LITTLE EGRET (LITTLE) (Egretta garzetta nigripes) – Far less common that the other white egrets, with just a couple flying pst the Cairns Esplanade and another two or three at PAU.
PACIFIC REEF-HERON (Egretta sacra) – A dark morph bird flew past at the Cairns Esplanade and appeared to land in one of the trees down the path, though we were unable to find it again.

It was a great trip for Tawny Frogmouth -- we had multiple good sightings this year, including this one trying to be inconspicuous. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

PIED HERON (Egretta picata) – These gorgeous small herons showed beautifully at the PAU ponds, where there were about 30 of them.
CATTLE EGRET (ASIAN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – Pretty numerous in suitable areas throughout Oz and PNG.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – One was fishing along Saltwater Creek at Centenary Lakes, and a couple were noted along the Brisbane River during our cruise on the City Cat.
RUFOUS NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus) – Day roosting birds were seen at a bunch of sites, including right along the Cairns Esplanade where there were at least gazing down on all the oblivious passers-by, and another ten or more in a huge Ficus at PAU.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – A couple of birds were scoped on the far shore of Hasties Swamp, then up to three birds were around the ponds at PAU, a first for me in PNG.
AUSTRALIAN IBIS (Threskiornis moluccus) – Loads in Australia, where they are pretty much everywhere it seems, with a handful at PAU in PNG, where they are much scarcer. Folks enjoyed watching the young bird being fed by a parent at the Brisbane Botanical Garden. [N]
STRAW-NECKED IBIS (Threskiornis spinicollis) – Outnumbered by the above species at most places, but still quite numerous and seen on many days in Australia.
ROYAL SPOONBILL (Platalea regia) – A regular sight at various wetlands in the Cairns region, but the lone bird at PAU was the first I'd seen in PNG.
YELLOW-BILLED SPOONBILL (Platalea flavipes) – A lone bird at the Walnut Road wetlands (where a Royal was also present) was one of our final new birds in the Brisbane region. [E]
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (AUSTRALASIAN) (Pandion haliaetus cristatus) – A pair of streaky youngsters appeared to be nearly ready to leave their nest on a communications tower in Cairns. [N]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
AUSTRALIAN KITE (Elanus axillaris) – Hard to believe that last year's tour recorded just a single bird, as we saw them daily, and in pretty good numbers, in the Cairns region. Patty M. got a great shot of a copulating pair behind the Atherton Mobil Station, so there should be more on the way soon! [E]
PACIFIC BAZA (Aviceda subcristata) – Beautiful views of a perched bird in the town of Tolga on the Atherton tablelands. Great spotting Patsy! Also seen in PNG where we had a couple flying around on the approach road to Varirata NP. Finally, we saw one also along Duck Creek Road near O'Reilly's.
SQUARE-TAILED KITE (Lophoictinia isura) – Daisy Hill Koala Center is the only reliable place to see this species along our tour route. Even so, you've got to be pretty lucky to spot one in the little time we have to spend there. We were lucky, however, and had pretty good looks at one circling over the parking lot. [E]
PYGMY EAGLE (Hieraaetus weiskei) – A BVD for sure, as this one was seen only by a few as it flew across in front of the bus as we headed back down to Mt. Hagen. This bird has recently been split off from the Little Eagle of Australia. [E]
WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE (Aquila audax) – Two or three rather distant flying birds in the Granite Gorge area were trumped by a perched bird by the roadside near Mareeba that allowed fairly close approach and numerous photos. Nice looks at another soaring bird from our rooms at O'Reilly's was just icing. [E]
SPOTTED HARRIER (Circus assimilis) – We spotted one over a field near Atherton as we were driving. Jun did a quick u-turn and we soon found ourselves right next to it as it flew along the roadside ditch. Beautiful views of this stunner were preserved thanks to Patty M.'s quick camera work! [E]
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster) – Formerly considered conspecific with Australia's Gray Goshawk. We had one perched on a light pole acoss from our Port Moresby lodge in the early morning before leaving for Varirata. [E]
GRAY GOSHAWK (Accipiter novaehollandiae) – A good year for them in the Cairns region. We saw the head of one peeking out of a large stick nest at Centenary Lakes, then had several more soaring birds, with our best being one that came low across the parking lot at Lake Barrine. Sadly none of the white morph though. [E]
BROWN GOSHAWK (Accipiter fasciatus) – One interrupted our Crested Shrike-Tit hunt at Wondecla by swooping in and frightening all the small birds away. We also had one soar by over the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird site near Wapanemanda.
BLACK KITE (BLACK) (Milvus migrans affinis) – Common in both countries, with loads in the Atherton tablelands and the highlands of PNG.

A male Double-eyed Fig-Parrot is quite the eyeful. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

WHISTLING KITE (Haliastur sphenurus) – A few among the Black Kites in the tablelands, and a pair with a couple of fledged juveniles (they were still incubating in July) at PAU. The latter ones were pretty upset about the presence of the sea-eagle there! Further south we had a single bird at Walnut Road wetlands.
BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – A perched bird north of Cairns as we whizzed along the highway. We had much better views of soaring birds at the Varirata Lookout and below Kumul Lodge, and another at the Lota mangrove area, where it was dwarfed by a sea-eagle it was dive-bombing.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – As we were watching a seemingly distressed family of Whistling Kites perched above the ponds at PAU, the reason for their distress swooped in and landed among them, then flew off over the ponds, scattering dozens of egrets, cormorants, and herons. We later found it perched for some great scope views. Singles at Lota, O'Reilly's, and Garie Beach kept the raptor lovers content. This was Beth's favorite Australian bird.
Otididae (Bustards)
AUSTRALIAN BUSTARD (Ardeotis australis) – A pair with a couple of half-grown youngsters strolled across a stubble field near Mareeba, and were the only ones we saw. [EN]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – Pati R. spotted the first foraging across the creek from us as we awaited the appearance of a platypus. A couple of days later we saw a couple probing through cow pats in a roadside field near Mt Hypipamee. Our lone PNG sighting was of one that strolled out into the road before scurrying across as we drove down to Mt Hagen for our return flight to Moresby.
WHITE-BROWED CRAKE (Porzana cinerea) – Two pairs of these small crakes emerged from the dense vegetation to stroll across the lily pads in the late afternoon at Cattana Wetlands.
PURPLE SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio porphyrio) – Generally in big numbers wherever we saw them: Hasties Swamp, PAU (where a couple of small chicks were noted), Walnut Road, and Royal NP. [N]
DUSKY MOORHEN (Gallinula tenebrosa) – A single at Centenary Lakes, and a few each at PAU, Brisbane Botanical Gardens and Royal NP.
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra australis) – Small numbers at Hasties Swamp, Lake Barrine, and Royal NP.
Gruidae (Cranes)
SARUS CRANE (Grus antigone gilliae) – Lots of cranes were still present in the Atherton region, and we saw big numbers of both species. This species is a little darker, a little larger, and has more red skin on the neck than the Brolga, and seemed to be the more numerous of the two overall.
BROLGA (Grus rubicunda) – Good comparative views of the two cranes as they always seemed to be in mixed groups. The lighter gray of this species seemed to be more easily discernible by naked eye than through our optics. [E]
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
BUSH THICK-KNEE (Burhinus grallarius) – A nesting pair at Centenary Lakes, with the female crouched on the nest right out in the open among the dead leaves. I'd nearly trod on her the day before with the male attacking me spread-winged and hissing! A few others were seen around the tablelands, and they could be heard nightly along the Cairns Esplanade. [EN]
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
PIED STILT (Himantopus leucocephalus) – A pair at Hasties Swamp, another couple at Lota, and a single at Walnut Road wetlands.
Haematopodidae (Oystercatchers)
PIED OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus longirostris) – Three day records of one or two birds along the Cairns Esplanade. [E]
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PACIFIC GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis fulva) – Three birds were around the first pond at PAU, one of them still with some blackish in its underparts. The shorebirds seen by some as we landed at Mt Hagen were most likely this species too. [b]
MASKED LAPWING (Vanellus miles miles) – Numerous around Cairns and the Tablelands, with a handful at PAU as well. One pair at PAU had a downy chick in tow, and at least one other pair acted as if they had a nearby nest. [N]
MASKED LAPWING (Vanellus miles novaehollandiae) – This form has black lines down the sides of its breast, which the nominate race lacks. Small numbers were seen in and around Brisbane and Sydney. A pair with young chicks were at the little park in Lota. [N]
LESSER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius mongolus) – About 5 or 6 birds were among a larger group of Greater Sand-Plovers at the Cairns Esplanade. The two can be tough to tell apart, but having them together, and getting looks at both species in the same scope view, was very helpful. [b]

Straw-necked Ibis (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

GREATER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius leschenaultii) – Several small groups totalling about 20 birds on the mudflats at Cairns. [b]
RED-CAPPED PLOVER (Charadrius ruficapillus) – A lone individual at Walnut Road wetlands was a bit hard to see clearly in the heat haze there. [E]
BLACK-FRONTED DOTTEREL (Elseyornis melanops) – Fair numbers at various points along the Cairns Esplanade and a couple at Walnut Road. [E]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
COMB-CRESTED JACANA (Irediparra gallinacea) – A lone bird was seen on the edge of the pond at Yorkey's Knob, a few birds at Cattana Wetlands, and a couple at PAU.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
TEREK SANDPIPER (Xenus cinereus) – A couple of these short-legged, long-billed birds were along the Cairns Esplanade. [b]
GRAY-TAILED TATTLER (Tringa brevipes) – Though we surveyed shorebirds along the Esplanade a couple of times, we only managed to find a single tattler. [b]
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) – One with some godwits at the mangrove end of the Esplanade on our final morning at Cairns. [b]
WHIMBREL (SIBERIAN) (Numenius phaeopus variegatus) – A couple at Cairns and two or three at Lota, where they were among the few shorebirds close enough to ID. [b]
FAR EASTERN CURLEW (Numenius madagascariensis) – A handful on the mudflats at Cairns, and another half dozen or so at Lota. Apparently populations of these large curlews are in a seriously steep decline for some reason. [b]
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (SIBERIAN) (Limosa limosa melanuroides) – Four or five birds were among the much more numerous Bar-tailed Godwits at Cairns, where side by side comparisons were useful for getting a grip on how to separate the two. [b]
BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica) – Twenty to 40 birds daily along the Cairns Esplanade. Presumably a high percentage of the distant godwits at Lota would also have been this species. [b]
GREAT KNOT (Calidris tenuirostris) – Daily along the Esplanade, with an estimated 80+ birds one day being our highest count. [b]
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER (Calidris acuminata) – I think this was the most numerous shorebird on my first day in Cairns, so I was surprised how few were around during the tour! We had only two one day, and ten the next, with a single bird also seen by some at Hasties Swamp. [b]
CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea) – Seen a couple of days at Cairns with a high count of only about a dozen birds. [b]
RED-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis) – The common small peep on Australia's east coast, with a high count of about 40 birds one day. [b]
LATHAM'S SNIPE (Gallinago hardwickii) – A couple at Hasties Swamp were a nice find; one even sat out in the open long enough for a good view. [b]
DUSKY WOODCOCK (NEW GUINEA) (Scolopax saturata rosenbergii) – Susan and Patsy were the only ones in the main lodge at Kumul late one afternoon when I spotted one of these birds probing the mud below the feeders. The three of us had great views, but sadly the bird did not return the next evening during our woodcock stakeout. [E]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
SILVER GULL (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) – Common along the coast of Australia, where it is the only gull.
LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons) – One of these tiny terns was seen offshore from the Cairns Esplanade one afternoon.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – Seen regularly on the Cairns mudflats with a high of about 15 one afternoon. Also three at the Lota mangrove area.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – Two day records of one or two birds on the Cairns waterfront.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

Susan gets a special birthday greeting from an Australian King-Parrot at O'Reilly's! (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
WHITE-HEADED PIGEON (Columba leucomela) – A couple of flybys at Chambers was all most of us saw, but I think Pati R. got a photo of a perched bird that only she saw early one morning. [E]
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – Fairly common in Cairns with a couple of roadside birds in Sydney, too. [I]
BROWN CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia phasianella) – Geoff spotted our first at the platypus site near Chambers, and we had small numbers daily on the tablelands after that, with a couple of sightings each at O'Reilly's and Royal NP. [E]
SLENDER-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia amboinensis) – Formerly lumped with the preceding species, but now treated as a PNG endemic. We saw a single bird up at Varirata, one near Anji village, and a couple more from the bridge at the Lai River. [E]
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia nigrirostris) – Smaller and rustier than the preceding species, and barred all over. We saw three at the Blue BOP site near Anji, though I don't think anyone could make out the barring, despite the fact they were pretty close. [E]
EMERALD DOVE (PACIFIC) (Chalcophaps indica longirostris) – Our only one was a bird that walked out onto the road in front of the van as we left Chambers one morning, distracting everyone's' attention from what would prove to be our only cooperative Pale-yellow Robin.
CRESTED PIGEON (Ocyphaps lophotes) – Beth spotted a couple perched in a shady shrub when we stopped for the Pacific Baza in Tolga. A couple of others were seen during drives in the tablelands, then some of us had good views of a pair perched on a power line at Walnut Road wetland. [E]
SQUATTER PIGEON (Geophaps scripta) – Ridiculously tame and easy to see at Granite Gorge, where we saw about a dozen of them. Considering I've missed them on past tours, I'll take that! [E]
WONGA PIGEON (Leucosarcia melanoleuca) – Scarce at O'Reilly's this visit, with just one our last morning, sadly missed by the folks that skipped the pre-breakfast walk. [E]
PEACEFUL DOVE (Geopelia placida) – Numerous and seen daily in the Cairns region and the tablelands, with a few also at PAU, but not seen any further south.
BAR-SHOULDERED DOVE (Geopelia humeralis) – One at Yorkey's Knob was our first, and we had a couple of other sightings in the Cairns region, though they're never as numerous as Peaceful Doves. On PNG we saw a single bird at PAU.
BRONZE GROUND-DOVE (Gallicolumba beccarii) – Patty M. saw and photographed a male under the feeders at Kumul one afternoon, but it never showed afterward.
WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus magnificus) – A beautiful large fruit-dove with a distinctive, though not very attractive call. We saw a few around the tablelands and a couple at Cassowary house, with one sighting of a very cooperative one below O'Reilly's as well. In PNG we only heard a couple at Varirata.
PINK-SPOTTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus perlatus) – With no fruiting Ficus trees at Varirata, fruit-doves were in short supply, but we did get decent views of this species a couple of times, one along the approach road, the other at the picnic area. [E]
ORANGE-FRONTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus aurantiifrons) – We were driving out of PAU late in the afternoon with just a couple of unsatisfactory flyby sightings of this lovely dove, when Leonard spotted one perched on the bamboo island in the main pond. We all scrambled out for a nice scope view of this bird, one of our last new ticks for PNG. [E]
SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus superbus) – A bit of red through the leaves caught Patsy's attention early one morning at Chambers, and she got us all on a male of this gorgeous dove. Turned out that it was our only one.
ROSE-CROWNED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus regina) – One of our targets for the final morning of birding around Cairns, and it worked out perfectly, with a responsive male flying in and calling from an exposed perch at the edge of the mangroves. What a beauty, and a poser... can't wait to see some of the photos! [E]
ORANGE-BELLIED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus iozonus) – Nice scope views of a pair as we drove away from Varirata NP, perched in the same tree that had just been vacated by a pair of Black-capped Lories! [E]
TORRESIAN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula spilorrhoa) – Abundant around Cairns, with plenty of courtship behavior, nest-building, and occupied nests along the Esplanade. Fairly recently arrived back from their PNG wintering grounds, though not all had returned, as we saw quite a few at PAU, too. [aN]

Mareeba Rock-Wallaby (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

TOPKNOT PIGEON (Lopholaimus antarcticus) – This large pigeon can be quite nomadic, and could be missed on this tour, but after that first one local guide Justin showed us at O'Reilly's, we saw quite a few more there, then large numbers along the Lady Carrington Track at Royal NP. [E]
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
WHITE-CROWNED KOEL (Cacomantis leucolophus) – A couple of birds were calling as we waited for the Raggiana BOPs to turn up on their lek. [E*]
BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus) – A few scattered records, with one seen our first afternoon at Yorkey's Knob, another at Yaramanda as we waited for the Lesser BOPs, and another at Royal NP. We also heard a few others in addition to the 3 sightings.
FAN-TAILED CUCKOO (Cacomantis flabelliformis) – A juvenile at Centenary Lakes on our first morning showed well. Heard several times later in the trip, but it took Geoff and Beth (who missed that first morning's walk) until our final day to catch up. We had a responsive adult near the Audley cafe that showed nicely.
SHINING BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx lucidus) – A pair of very responsive birds came in close for a photography session at Lake Barrine, and we heard them several times subsequently.
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus) – This is the one with the bright red eye ring. We had super looks at a close bird at the rock wallaby hangout at Granite Gorge, no playback required!
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus russatus) – The Little Bronze-Cuckoo we heard at Cassowary House was apparently this taxa (alternately known as Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo), as, according to Phil, it is the only small cuckoo present there. Given the identical vocalizations, it seems unlikely that this is a good species, as it has been sometimes treated. [E*]
AUSTRALIAN KOEL (Eudynamys cyanocephalus) – An incredibly responsive female at Yorkey's Knob must have been in high breeding condition, as she got terribly excited by my whistled imitation, and, if I'd had feathers, well... As it was she flew in close and posed for a long time; a very striking bird. Our only other record was of a calling bird at Walnut Road wetland. [a]
CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO (Scythrops novaehollandiae) – This is the large cuckoo that I said looked like a flying cross. We had good looks at one that flew over near Bromfield Swamp in the Atherton tablelands, and a few folks saw another flyover the following day. A recently returned migrant from the PNG wintering grounds. [a]
PHEASANT COUCAL (Centropus phasianinus) – A quick look at one at the Cattana Wetlands parking area, then much better views of a couple near Granite Gorge, and three along the Varirata approach road.
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)
SOOTY OWL (LESSER) (Tyto tenebricosa multipunctata) – Pati R. and I heard one calling numerous times as we watched Sugar Gliders on our first evening at Chambers. The next night we tried for it, and heard nothing:-( [E*]
Strigidae (Owls)
RUFOUS OWL (Ninox rufa) – A local birder on the Cairns Esplanade informed me that this bird was roosting in its usual tree not far away, so we hurried over to have a look, only to find it was no longer there. On a hunch, I checked a nearby fig tree and found it perched out in the open for some great views. Next afternoon we returned to find it back in its original tree, lucky for the folks that skipped the previous outing! An unexpected bonus bird.
Aegothelidae (Owlet-Nightjars)
FELINE OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles insignis) – I've got a pretty good record for this species at Kumul, for hearing it anyway. Still waiting for my first sighting, though it was pretty darned close this time. [*]
MOUNTAIN OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles albertisi) – Also heard on our night foray at Kumul, but not at all interested in coming closer. [E]
AUSTRALIAN OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles cristatus) – Duncan's first stake out spot at O'Reilly's never did pan out, but his backup spot worked perfectly. A little playback coaxed a bird into view at the opening of its roost hole, and it sat out for a good scope study. [E]
BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles bennettii) – This one needed no enticement, as it was already sitting in the entrance to its long used roost hole at Varirata when we arrived. [E]
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
TAWNY FROGMOUTH (Podargus strigoides) – It was a great trip for this species, with 4 pairs seen, including three nests! Jun showed us our first pair at Granite Gorge, then Beth spotted one at Daisy Hill (and an employee showed us the mate on a nest), then we found another pair with a nest near O'Reilly's that same afternoon! Finally, we found another bird on a nest, and its nearby mate, at Canungra during the return drive to Brisbane. You might not believe me that it is possible to miss this species on the tour! [EN]

This Squatter Pigeon gave a good stretch and made for an artsy photograph by guide Jay VanderGaast.

PAPUAN FROGMOUTH (Podargus papuensis) – After Jun found us our first one at the Cairns Botanical Garden, a groundskeeper told us of another near the cafe. After striking out in finding this bird, we concluded we were looking in the wrong place, but a short while later, the groundskeeper turned up and pointed it our, hiding in plain sight! Now that's good camouflage!
Apodidae (Swifts)
GLOSSY SWIFTLET (Collocalia esculenta) – The low-flying swift with the glossy blue back, seen well daily at Kumul.
MOUNTAIN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) – The brownish swift at Kumul, generally flying higher than the preceding species. [E]
AUSTRALIAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus terraereginae) – Fair numbers daily in the Cairns and tablelands region. [E]
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
LITTLE KINGFISHER (Ceyx pusillus) – An easily missed small kingfisher. I was surprised and excited when I spotted this blue flash flying across the pond at Yorkey's Knob, more so when it landed right next to the road and sat for long scope views and numerous photos. The blue on this thing is intense; I might have to lower the saturation levels on my photos!
LAUGHING KOOKABURRA (Dacelo novaeguineae) – Is there a more iconic Australian bird than this? We saw a bunch of them throughout the Australian part of the trip, and had a few nice vocal encounters, too. Other birds dislike them as they're voracious predators, but they are generally pretty popular with the birders, and Patty M. picked it as her favorite Aussie bird. [E]
BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo leachii) – One of our final new birds in the Cairns region before moving on to PNG. We had one near the botanical gardens, sitting stoically on a power line as several smaller birds protested its presence. Also seen at PAU in PNG. This species made it to the top of Geoff's list for Oz, and topped the list of overall favorites for Australia.
RUFOUS-BELLIED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo gaudichaud) – Quite vocal along the Varirata approach road, where we also managed to call a couple of these beauties into view. [E]
FOREST KINGFISHER (Todiramphus macleayii) – One was seen at Yorkey's Knob, immediately after our Little Kingfisher appeared, allowing us to note the differences. Our only other one was a roadside bird on a fencepost near the Gallo Dairy farm.
COLLARED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus chloris) – Pretty much restricted to mangroves, which is where we found a vocal and cooperative pair at Cairns.
SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus) – Surprisingly few of these normally common kingfishers, with just a single our first day up in the tablelands, and a pair at Royal NP our last day. This latter pair was a big hit, and Susan chose it as her favorite bird in Australia.
YELLOW-BILLED KINGFISHER (Syma torotoro) – One called shortly after we arrived at the Varirata picnic area, and then responded quickly to playback, popping into a nearby Casuarina tree for great scope views. It certainly impressed Geoff, as he chose it as his favorite PNG bird.
BROWN-HEADED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera danae) – A calling bird near the Raggiana BOP lek kept its distance, but did perch out in the open where we could get a nice scope view of it. [E]
BUFF-BREASTED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera sylvia) – One was calling excitedly on the opposite side of the road from the preceding species, but we just couldn't coax it into view. [a*]
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus) – These brilliant birds were seen almost daily in the Cairns region, including several that were diving into the water on a warm afternoon at Hasties Swamp. In July they were pretty numerous along the Varirata entrance road, but we saw none in PNG this trip; presumably many of the birds there were winter migrants from Australia, though there is also a breeding population in PNG. [a]
Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – About 5 birds showed nicely along the Varirata approach road, and were our only ones until we spotted one at Royal NP, where it had probably returned only recently from its wintering grounds. [a]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AUSTRALIAN KESTREL (Falco cenchroides) – Inexplicably scarce this trip, with just a couple of sightings on the tablelands. [E]
BROWN FALCON (Falco berigora) – One bird in each country: a perched bird on a power pole near Atherton that was a bit tough to make out in the dust churned up by a tractor and plough, and a soaring, screaming bird at the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird site near the Lai River. [E]
Cacatuidae (Cockatoos)

Simply patterned, but beautiful: Little Kingfisher (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

RED-TAILED BLACK-COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus banksii) – A trio that flew past at Granite Gorge was missed by some, so it was pleasing to find a group of 8 or more feeding quietly in a roadside tree in the southern region of the Atherton tablelands. [E]
GALAH (Eolophus roseicapilla) – Though they often occur in huge flocks, our only sightings of this gorgeous small cockatoo were of two singles, one seen during the cruise on the Brisbane River, the other flying past in the Canungra region. [E]
LONG-BILLED CORELLA (Cacatua tenuirostris) – Kane, our Brisbane area driver, spotted a pair of these perched quietly in a gum tree right over the bus at Walnut Road wetlands. I believe the birds here are naturalized, as this seems to be outside of their normal range. [I]
LITTLE CORELLA (Cacatua sanguinea) – Poor views of a few birds at Walnut Road, then several excellent looks at some at Royal NP, including a pair that seemed to be investigating a possible nest site along Lady Carrington Track. [E]
SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO (Cacatua galerita) – Pretty common and seen almost every day in Australia, including large numbers of cheeky, habituated birds getting fed at Royal NP. In PNG we had a handful of birds below the lookout at Varirata.
Psittacidae (Parrots)
RAINBOW LORIKEET (COCONUT) (Trichoglossus haematodus haematodus) – The PNG form of this common species. All our views were of birds in flight, so we never really got to appreciate the difference between these and Australian birds.
RAINBOW LORIKEET (RAINBOW) (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) – The default lorikeet, common throughout eastern Australia, and seen daily, usually in good numbers.
SCALY-BREASTED LORIKEET (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) – Often a few were present together with the much more common Rainbows. We saw them first in a flowering tree at Granite Gorge, than again at several other tablelands sites. [E]
GOLDIE'S LORIKEET (Psitteuteles goldiei) – Patsy, Pati R. and Eugenia had good scope views of a small group that landed and seemed to be settling down for the night in one of the big trees near the upper cabins at Kumul. Otherwise we had only brief flight views, which is my normal experience with this attractive lorikeet. [E]
BLACK-CAPPED LORY (Lorius lory) – A last-minute save as we spotted a pair of these brilliant birds perched along the entrance road as we left Varirata NP. This pair gave us enough time for some long scope studies before leaving the tree to an arriving pair of Orange-bellied Fruit-Doves. Further down the road, our driver spotted another pair feeding in a fruiting tree near the road. [E]
LITTLE LORIKEET (Glossopsitta pusilla) – These tiny parrots were tricky to see, as they disappear quickly among the leaves and flowers, but we stuck with it and had excellent looks at several in the dry eucalypt forest near Wondecla. [E]
PAPUAN LORIKEET (Charmosyna papou) – The Schefflera trees were at the perfect stage of flowering during our stay at Kumul, keeping these spectacular lorikeets coming back steadily through our afternoons there, giving us incredible close views again and again, and allowing plenty of photographic opportunities. Not surprising then that both Susan and Eugenia picked it as their favorite bird in PNG. Had we seen the stunning black morph, perhaps more of you would have followed suit. Incidentally, the new field guide has split this into 2 species, with the one we saw called Stella's Lorikeet, C. stellae.
PLUM-FACED LORIKEET (Oreopsittacus arfaki) – Another tiny, hard to see lorikeet, but the flowering Schefflera worked its magic with these ones, too, as a trio of them, perhaps more, were pretty constant visitors, and they seemed pretty unperturbed by our presence nearby. Nice to see them so well, so often. [E]
YELLOW-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) – After our climb to the Blue BOP site, we made a roadside stop on our way back up to Kumul and found several of these feeding in the roadside trees there. [E]
DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta diophthalma) – Incredible looks at a pair that flew in and began feeding in a fruiting tree just a couple of meters above us on our first morning visit to Centenary Lakes. Another pair posed nicely for scope views in the mangroves along the Esplanade on our final morning in Cairns.
CRIMSON ROSELLA (Platycercus elegans) – Quite numerous around O'Reilly's, where they come in for a free feed, though they weren't quite as bold or aggressive as the king-parrots. [E]
PALE-HEADED ROSELLA (Platycercus adscitus) – Reasonably nice looks at a pair feeding near the office at Granite Gorge, but the ones Pati R. spotted along Duck Creek Road were even better. [E]
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella brehmii) – These adorable little guys were a regular part of the feeder scene at Kumul. [E]
RED-CHEEKED PARROT (Geoffroyus geoffroyi) – Seen only at Varirata, where they can be quite common. We saw about 10 birds altogether, with good scope studies of both males and females. One of a handful of PNG birds that are also found on Cape York in Far North Queensland. The next species is another.
ECLECTUS PARROT (Eclectus roratus) – About 5 along the approach road to Varirata, with a close flyby male and a nice scope view of a perched female among them.
AUSTRALIAN KING-PARROT (Alisterus scapularis) – I'd promised my 4-year-old, Noah, that I would get a picture of myself with one of these on my head, then our first day at O'Reilly's, they stubbornly refused to cooperate, despite Eugenia sprinkling some raw almonds on my head. They did land on pretty much everyone else in the group though. Evidently they were only teasing me- next morning I couldn't seem to keep them off me! [E]
Pittidae (Pittas)

A family of Radjah Shelducks at Centenary Lakes in Cairns (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

NOISY PITTA (Pitta versicolor) – One of a pair regularly frequented the area of open forest between the beginning of the main track and the parking area at O'Reilly's, where it was fairly easy to see and enjoy.
Menuridae (Lyrebirds)
ALBERT'S LYREBIRD (Menura alberti) – We had an amazing experience with a male on our final morning at O'Reilly's; we heard him calling and displaying from a close, but hidden spot, with local guide Duncan identifying all the birds it was imitating and describing what the bird was doing. We never did get to see him, but it was memorable nonetheless. Geoff and Beth did see one scurry across the Border Track as they took a stroll by themselves one morning. [E]
SUPERB LYREBIRD (Menura novaehollandiae) – We had better luck with this one, spotting one feeding on the side of the Lady Carrington Track before it got spooked by us, and we got pretty decent views before it moved off into the brush. On our way back, those of us at the front of the pack had a nice male cross the track just in front of us. [E]
Ptilonorhynchidae (Bowerbirds)
SPOTTED CATBIRD (Ailuroedus melanotis) – Fairly easy to see in the Atherton tablelands, with a couple of bold ones feeding on offered bananas at Chambers, and another one visiting the porch feeders at Cassowary House. [E]
GREEN CATBIRD (Ailuroedus crassirostris) – It seems unusual that this bird is so much more difficult to see than the Spotted Catbird, especially considering it occurs at O'Reilly's! In any case, we ran into them several times there, and had some good views, with an especially good encounter with a couple near the forest floor on our last morning. [E]
TOOTH-BILLED CATBIRD (Scenopoeetes dentirostris) – One bird at Chambers had a large fruit in its beak, which it clumsily dropped, then quickly snatched out of mid-air before it fell to the forest floor. Impressive! We also saw one on its display ground at Lake Barrine, singing loudly from a few feet above its platform- a circular area on the forest floor which it had covered with leaves, turned upside down to reveal the silvery undersides. [E]
ARCHBOLD'S BOWERBIRD (Archboldia papuensis) – A female was a regular visitor to the Kumul Lodge feeders. I have yet to see a male of this scarce species. [E]
GOLDEN BOWERBIRD (Amblyornis newtoniana) – Jun brought us into the forest to show us an impressive double maypole bower (the largest bower of all Australian bowerbird species) at Mt Hypipamee. Luckily the male was also hanging about, and after a short wait, we managed to spot him sitting quietly nearby, before he took off in pursuit of another bird, though whether it was a suitor or a rival, we couldn't see. [E]
REGENT BOWERBIRD (Sericulus chrysocephalus) – An absolutely stunning bird, and very easy to see at O'Reilly's. I especially like their trick of appearing out of nowhere the minute someone holds out their arms as if they just might have some food to offer. Sharp little claws they have though. [E]
SATIN BOWERBIRD (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) – As usual, easy to see at O'Reilly's where we also saw a long-used bower decorated with blue flowers, plastic bottle caps, straws, pen lids, etc. We also saw a couple of males along the Lady Carrington Track at Royal NP. [E]
GREAT BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera nuchalis) – Not the most impressive of bowerbirds, though getting to see the purplish nape patch on a bird in Mareeba was nice. That same bird also had one heck of an impressive bower, with two complete avenues and all manner of plastic crap picked up, no doubt, in the nearby park. Our first was on the barbecue of one of the campsites at Granite Gorge. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera lauterbachi) – We journeyed down to the Lai River below Kumul Lodge for this one, and it didn't take long before one turned up in the top of a nearby bare tree, though it did keep its yellow belly turned away from us. [E]
FAWN-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera cerviniventris) – Quite numerous at PAU, where we saw at least half a dozen and visited a bower, which had obviously been lovingly tended by the male, as it was much more nicely decorated since my visit in July. [E]
Climacteridae (Australasian Treecreepers)
WHITE-THROATED TREECREEPER (Cormobates leucophaea) – Geoff spotted our first one from the parking lot at Chambers, the local form being of the race C.l.minor, which is sometimes called Little Treecreeper. Our best looks though, came at the end of the trip, where we had beautiful views of a couple of close birds at Royal NP. [E]
RED-BROWED TREECREEPER (Climacteris erythrops) – A rather local species that can be tricky on our tour route, but we lucked out and had excellent looks shortly after we entered the eucalypt forest along Duck Creek Road. [E]
BROWN TREECREEPER (Climacteris picumnus) – A single bird showed very well in the dry eucalyptus forest at Wondecla. [E]
Maluridae (Fairywrens)

A Papuan (or Stella's) Lorikeet at Schefflera flowers (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

SOUTHERN EMUWREN (Stipiturus malachurus) – We had pretty nice conditions to bird in the heathlands of Royal NP (it's often hot and windy) and so were able to hear this bird calling nearby, and were also able to lure it in with playback. It was still pretty difficult as it never stopped moving for long, but in the end we all had pretty good views of its long wispy tail, and some also got to see the blue throat. [E]
ORANGE-CROWNED FAIRYWREN (Clytomyias insignis) – We heard a small party as we walked down to Max's Orchid Garden, but I think I was the only one to get any sort of look; they just showed no interest in playback. [*]
VARIEGATED FAIRYWREN (Malurus lamberti) – We met up with several small parties at both O'Reilly's and Royal NP, and though female plumaged birds were more numerous, we did see a few smashing males as well. [E]
LOVELY FAIRYWREN (Malurus amabilis) – Until recently treated as a subspecies of Variegated FW, but this bird has a much shorter tail and a very different female plumage, with the female showing more blue than any other female fairywren. This one was difficult, but we did find a couple of females in a lantana thicket at Centenary Lakes. [E]
SUPERB FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyaneus) – This aptly named little bird was obviously a real charmer, as it took 3rd place in the voting for the top 3 Australian birds. We had wonderful encounters with them several times at O'Reilly's, where they are quite bold. [E]
RED-BACKED FAIRYWREN (Malurus melanocephalus) – A group of three birds, including a splendidly plumaged male, showed well at Wondecla. We also saw a pair along Duck Creek Road, with the male of this pair in a rather blotchy intermediate plumage, indicating it was a rather young male, as older, dominate males tend to not go into a nonbreeding, eclipse plumage. [E]
WHITE-SHOULDERED FAIRYWREN (Malurus alboscapulatus) – We finally connected with a trio of these in a scrubby area at the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird site below Kumul Lodge. An oddity among fairywrens in that females are identical to males in many regions. [E]
Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)
EASTERN SPINEBILL (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) – This gorgeous honeyeater showed up first at Lake Barrine and then proved quite common at both O'Reilly's and Royal NP, where they were quite aggressive towards each other and we saw lots of chase activity. [E]
MARBLED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius cinereus) – A trio of these were seen in a flowering tree as we waited for Lesser BOPs at Yaramanda. [E]
STREAK-HEADED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius stictocephalus) – A large honeyeater which could be mistaken for a friarbird or a Brown Oriole unless seen well. We did see 3 or 4 birds very well along the Varirata approach road, getting decent looks at their streaky crowns and white malar streak. [E]
MOUNTAIN MELIPHAGA (Meliphaga orientalis) – The only one of this difficult genus to be found at higher elevations in PNG. We had a couple chasing each other around at the Lai River bridge. [E]
GRACEFUL HONEYEATER (Meliphaga gracilis) – The three Australian members of this genus are a little more straightforward than the PNG ones, though they are still very similar. This is the smallest of the three, and has distinctive call notes, aiding the ID. We saw several along Black Mountain Road near Cassowary House. Note that the PNG form (which we did not see) has now officially been split as Elegant Honeyeater (M. cinereifrons). [E]
YELLOW-SPOTTED HONEYEATER (Meliphaga notata) – Found together with the preceding species at Cassowary House. In addition to the larger ear spot, this species has a very distinct call, and we saw and heard both species together along Black Mountain Road. [E]
LEWIN'S HONEYEATER (Meliphaga lewinii) – The widespread Meliphaga in Australia, with plenty of them at all rainforest sites. [E]
BLACK-THROATED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus subfrenatus) – We scoped one of these large honeyeaters up the hill from us as we watched the Blue BOP near Anji village. [E]
BRIDLED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus frenatus) – An Atherton tableland high elevation endemic. Not as visible as usual, and I had to resort to playback to get a couple of them into view. [E]
YELLOW-FACED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus chrysops) – The common honeyeater in the dry eucalyptus woodland below O'Reilly's. [E]
VARIED HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus versicolor) – A few birds were encountered in the parkland areas along the Cairns Esplanade. [E]
MANGROVE HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus fasciogularis) – Replaces the very similar Varied Honeyeater along the coast southward from Cairns. They were pretty easy at Lota this year, and we had several excellent views in the mangroves there. [E]
YELLOW HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus flavus) – Four day records in the Cairns region, with especially good views at Centenary Lakes and Cattana Wetlands. [E]
FUSCOUS HONEYEATER (Lichenostomus fuscus) – Seen only at Wondecla, where they were fairly common, and we saw a pair feeding recently fledged youngsters. [EN]
BELL MINER (Manorina melanophrys) – I love the sound of these birds, and being in the middle of a breeding colony is quite a fun experience. We spent some time in a colony below O'Reilly's where we got the full chiming treatment from these birds, and Patsy was certainly charmed, as she chose it as her favorite Australian bird. [E]

Red-browed Firetail (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala) – A few up on the tablelands, but much more numerous further south in the Brisbane and Sydney areas. Not to be confused with noisy mynahs;-) [E]
LITTLE WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera chrysoptera) – Fair numbers in the flowering trees around the cafe at Audley. [E]
BROWN-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ramsayornis modestus) – A few of these small honeyeaters were seen in the pondside trees at Yorkies Knob. [E]
RUFOUS-BANDED HONEYEATER (Conopophila albogularis) – Quite common around the ponds at PAU. [E]
DUSKY MYZOMELA (Myzomela obscura) – This large drab myzomela was seen regularly in the Cairns region.
MOUNTAIN MYZOMELA (Myzomela adolphinae) – We picked out a couple of gorgeous red-headed males among the many Red-collared Myzomelas in a flowering tree at the Blue BOP site. In the new field guide this one is now called Elfin Myzomela.
SCARLET MYZOMELA (Myzomela sanguinolenta) – Excellent views of a handful of these in a flowering tree across from the liquor store in Yungaburra, then again at the water hole below O'Reilly's, where we got scope views of one glowing in the late afternoon sunlight. [E]
RED-COLLARED MYZOMELA (Myzomela rosenbergii) – We hit the jackpot with these birds, finding up to half a dozen males and a couple of females in a popular flowering tree near the Blue BOP display site. [E]
TAWNY-CROWNED HONEYEATER (Gliciphila melanops) – Honeyeaters were scarce in the heathland at Royal NP, though we did luck out when one of these elusive birds flew overhead then landed next to the track briefly before disappearing. It was the only one we recorded. [E]
BROWN HONEYEATER (Lichmera indistincta) – The drab, default honeyeater in many areas of the east coast.
NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) – This strikingly marked honeyeater can be numerous in places, but there were very few around Royal NP on this visit. We had great looks at one along the Lady Carrington Track, however, then had glimpses of a couple more in the heathland. [E]
WHITE-NAPED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus lunatus) – Nice views of a couple, red eye crescent and all, bathing at the water hole below O'Reilly's. [E]
WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus albogularis) – Very similar to the preceding species, but with a bluish gray eye crescent. We saw a few of these in the eucalyptus/savannah zone along the approach road to Varirata NP. [E]
BLUE-FACED HONEYEATER (Entomyzon cyanotis) – This large gaudy honeyeater was seen first at Granite Gorge, then regularly in the next few days on the tablelands, primarily in the drier areas. We also saw a couple in the vicinity of Brisbane. [E]
LITTLE FRIARBIRD (Philemon citreogularis) – A lone bird perched on a roadside wire in Mareeba was our only one until a couple of birds turned up in the trees next to the Walnut Road wetland. [E]
HELMETED FRIARBIRD (NEW GUINEA) (Philemon buceroides novaeguineae) – This New Guinea form may best be split from the ones found in Australia, though they are currently still considered conspecific. We saw a few in the Port Moresby region, including one that we sadly hit with the bus. [E]
HELMETED FRIARBIRD (HORNBILL) (Philemon buceroides yorki) – Quite common around Cairns. Best were the nesting pair near the botanical gardens; what a great little woven nest, though it seemed a bit too small for this large honeyeater! [EN]
NOISY FRIARBIRD (Philemon corniculatus) – A few up on the tablelands then seen regularly in the Brisbane region. [E]
SPOTTED HONEYEATER (Xanthotis polygrammus) – A rather scarce and rarely seen honeyeater, and only Geoff and I got on this attractive bird in our super mixed flock along the creek at Varirata.
MACLEAY'S HONEYEATER (Xanthotis macleayanus) – An Atherton tableland endemic, and a common visitor to the sugar water feeders at Cassowary House [E]
SMOKY HONEYEATER (Melipotes fumigatus) – Numerous in the PNG highlands, with plenty at the Kumul Lodge feeders. I always thought these birds "blushed" in response to agitation, but we noted their faces turning red as they approached the fruit on the feeder, and then deepening as they began eating, even when no other birds were near them. So maybe they're just excited by food. [E]
BELFORD'S MELIDECTES (Melidectes belfordi) – Large, common, aggressive, obnoxious, but still pretty cool, in the highlands of PNG. [E]
YELLOW-BROWED MELIDECTES (Melidectes rufocrissalis) – Occurs at slightly lower elevations than the Bel-Mel. We saw several at the Blue BOP site below Kumul. [E]
ORNATE MELIDECTES (Melidectes torquatus) – Ornate is a good description for this beautifully marked honeyeater, three of which showed wonderfully for us at the Lesser BOP spot at Yaramanda. [E]
BLACK-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora perstriata) – A few of these were at various flowering bushed at and around Kumul Lodge. The new field guide continues to call this one Grey-streaked Honeyeater. [E]
Pardalotidae (Pardalotes)

Female Australian Koel (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

SPOTTED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus punctatus) – Quite common in the dry eucalypt forest along Duck Creek Road, though a bit tough to see as they prefer to stay high in the treetops. Still we had some good looks there, and saw a couple more at Royal NP as well. [E]
STRIATED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus striatus) – Fantastic close views of a couple of birds in some low shrubs right next to us at the wallaby rock at Granite Gorge. [E]
Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
GOLDENFACE (Pachycare flavogriseum) – Formerly called Dwarf Whistler. A wonderful bird, but unfortunately we never could track it down, though we heard it calling a lot with our great mixed flock at Varirata. [E*]
ROCKWARBLER (Origma solitaria) – The only species that is endemic to the state of New South Wales, this bird is restricted to sandstone and limestone outcrops in a small area of southeastern NSW. We had to walk quite a ways to find one, but eventually got superb looks at a responsive pair at Royal NP. [E]
MOUNTAIN MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis robusta) – Patti M. found this one first, photographing one that was skulking on the ground outside her cabin at Kumul. Another was seen beneath the feeders by several of us the next afternoon.
YELLOW-THROATED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis citreogularis) – Incredibly tame along the main trail at O'Reilly's, where they have obviously received a few handouts from walkers. We saw one at Mt Hypipamee too, though it was considerably harder to see that one. [E]
WHITE-BROWED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis frontalis) – Likewise common and easy to see at O'Reilly's. [E]
ATHERTON SCRUBWREN (Sericornis keri) – As the name suggests, this species is restricted to the Atherton tablelands, where it replaces the very similar Large-billed at higher elevations. We saw several in the forests around Mt Hypipamee. [E]
LARGE SCRUBWREN (Sericornis nouhuysi) – Fairly common in the highlands of PNG, and seen several times around Kumul, including in the parking lot. [E]
LARGE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis magnirostra) – Pretty common on the tablelands, with good numbers seen around Cassowary House. [E]
PALE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis spilodera) – This distinctive scrubwren was seen pretty well with our large mixed flock at Varirata NP. [E]
CHESTNUT-RUMPED HEATHWREN (Hylacola pyrrhopygia) – I was surprised by how many we heard in the heathland at Royal NP, perhaps the lack of wind helped out in that regard. The birds were pretty skulking, but I think most of us had acceptable (or better) views of at least one. [E]
BUFF-RUMPED THORNBILL (Acanthiza reguloides) – The rather pale thornbill with the plain underparts that we saw in the dry eucalypt forest along Duck Creek Road. [E]
MOUNTAIN THORNBILL (Acanthiza katherina) – Another Atherton endemic, this one has a pale eye and a wonderful bubbling song. We saw a couple at Mt Hypipamee. [E]
BROWN THORNBILL (Acanthiza pusilla) – Quite common and seen daily at O'Reilly's. [E]
YELLOW THORNBILL (Acanthiza nana) – A couple of these were hanging around the waterhole where all the honeyeaters came to bathe below O'Reilly's.
STRIATED THORNBILL (Acanthiza lineata) – Small numbers along Duck Creek Road and again along Lady Carrington Track in Royal NP. [E]
MOUNTAIN GERYGONE (Gerygone cinerea) – Patsy and I saw a couple of these as we hiked up to the King-of-Saxony BOP site along the Pigites Track. The new field guide notes that DNA evidence has proved this to be a thornbill rather than a gerygone, and calls it Grey Thornbill, Acanthiza cinerea. [E]
FAIRY GERYGONE (Gerygone palpebrosa) – A male and two females of the northern Queensland race personata were seen in creekside vegetation along Black Mountain Road, then we also saw a male of the race inconspicua (with its very dark throat) at Varirata, with the big mixed flock. [E]
WHITE-THROATED GERYGONE (Gerygone olivacea) – One of the prettiest of the gerygones, and one of my favorite of all Australian bird songs. We had great looks at a very responsive one as we awaited the appearance of a platypus near Yungaburra. [E]
YELLOW-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone chrysogaster) – Nice looks at three or more among our big mixed flock at Varirata NP. This species seems to be one of the flock leaders here. [E]
LARGE-BILLED GERYGONE (Gerygone magnirostris) – Heard in the mangroves at Cairns. [E*]
BROWN GERYGONE (Gerygone mouki) – Fairly common at all the forested sites in Australia. [E]
MANGROVE GERYGONE (Gerygone levigaster) – It took a bit of work, and the strong winds made it tricky, but we finally got a nice view of a single birds in the mangroves at Lota. [E]
Pomatostomidae (Pseudo-Babblers)
GRAY-CROWNED BABBLER (Pomatostomus temporalis) – A pair of these false babblers put in an appearance below a flowering tree at Granite Gorge. [E]
Orthonychidae (Logrunners)
AUSTRALIAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx temminckii) – Generally a shy bird, but the boardwalk trail at O'Reilly's is a great place to observe these birds. We saw a few there, doing their strange sideways kick to move leaves out of the way. All our birds were males, save for one orange-throated female on our final morning. [E]
CHOWCHILLA (Orthonyx spaldingii) – Shortly after we'd been told by a local that we wouldn't find this species at Mt Hypipamee, I spotted a pair feeding on the forest floor. Though I managed to get most of the group on them, a couple of folks didn't really see them. The fact that they just weren't vocalizing at all made it much trickier to locate them. [E]
Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers and Longbills)
BLACK BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis nigra) – A couple of black males and a drab female were in the big mixed flock at Varirata. [E]
FAN-TAILED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis versteri) – A couple of sightings at Kumul Lodge and near the Pigites track, but none that were really cooperative. [E]
SLATY-CHINNED LONGBILL (Toxorhamphus poliopterus) – One popped into view very briefly at the flowering tree with all the myzomelas near Anji village; a nice surprise for me as I had never seen one before. I think Peter and Beth were the only other ones to lay eyes on this scarce species though. Now called Slaty-headed Longbill in the new field guide.
Paramythiidae (Tit Berrypecker and Crested Berrypecker)
TIT BERRYPECKER (Oreocharis arfaki) – A fantastic bird, and usually present in quite large flocks where suitable fruit is available. We had several great looks at them below Kumul Lodge. [E]
CRESTED BERRYPECKER (Paramythia montium) – Probably the same individual was seen on three consecutive days in the fruiting trees by the upper cabins at Kumul, giving us both members of this small endemic family. [E]
Psophodidae (Whipbirds and Wedgebills)
EASTERN WHIPBIRD (Psophodes olivaceus) – Vocal at Chambers, but tough to see there, though a few folks had some quick views. Much easier to see at O'Reilly's, where "Mr. and Mrs Whippy" and some of their friends have become very accustomed to people, and follow groups around on the trails. [E]
Machaerirhynchidae (Boatbills)
YELLOW-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) – A stunning little bird, very reminiscent of the New World tody-flycatchers. We had fantastic looks at one along Black Mountain Road (race secundus) and another in the big mixed flock at Varirata NP (race xanthogenys). I noticed that the Australian birds sound quite different from the ones in PNG. [E]
Artamidae (Woodswallows)
GREAT WOODSWALLOW (Artamus maximus) – A larger version of the next species, and found at higher elevations than it. We saw a few at Yaramanda. [E]
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – Widespread from the Philippines and Malaysia south to Australia. We saw them regularly in the Cairns region and the lowlands of PNG, with a few down around Brisbane and Sydney, too.
DUSKY WOODSWALLOW (Artamus cyanopterus) – One or two were flying over the woodland at Wondecla. The white in the wing is a good mark to separate this one from the very similar Little Woodswallow.
Cracticidae (Bellmagpies and Allies)
BLACK-BACKED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus mentalis) – Our only ones came on our last afternoon in PNG, when Peter spotted one sitting quietly nearby as we looked through the hordes of waterbirds around the ponds. [E]
GRAY BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus torquatus) – Beth and Geoff saw one at the Brisbane Botanical gardens, while the rest of us caught up the next day at Luke's Farm below O'Reilly's, where we found a pair, one of which was on a nest, right near the Tawny Frogmouth nest we found there. [EN]
HOODED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus cassicus) – Just a couple of sightings of this butcherbird along the approach road to Varirata NP, where it overlaps with the Black-backed Butcherbird, though this species is more of a rainforest bird, while the Black-backed prefers savanna habitat. [E]
PIED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus nigrogularis) – We only had a couple of this widespread species, with Peter finding our best one as we looked for mangrove specialties at Lota. [E]
BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi) – A couple of birds at Centenary Lakes on our first morning, then one that came in early to the Cassowary House feeders, but then never showed up again.
AUSTRALASIAN MAGPIE (Gymnorhina tibicen) – Surprisingly few in the Cairns region, with just a couple of sightings at the crane fields near Atherton. Seen more regularly around Brisbane and Sydney. [E]
PIED CURRAWONG (Strepera graculina) – A few up in the tablelands, usually during the drives then big numbers hanging around the guest house at O'Reilly's. [E]
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
BARRED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina lineata) – Seen in both Australia and PNG. In Australia, we saw 4 birds feeding in fruiting trees around the parking area at Chambers early one morning. These birds belong to the nominate race, in which the sexes are similar. In PNG, we saw a single female at Varirata NP. In the subspecies found here, axillaris, males are all gray, with unbarred bellies, while females are barred below. [E]
BOYER'S CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina boyeri) – A group of 4 was hanging around the picnic clearing at Varirata, though they usually did a good job of landing out of view. We did ultimately get a perched one in the scope though. [E]
BLACK-FACED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina novaehollandiae) – Generally quite common throughout Australia during the breeding season, with a northward movement in the Austral winter, which includes some crossing over to winter in PNG (where there is also a small breeding population). We saw this species fairly regularly in Australia, and also had a single along the Varirata approach road. [a]
WHITE-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina papuensis) – A couple of birds in Cairns were our only ones in Australia, but we had them pretty regularly in PNG, including along the Varirata approach road, at PAU, and around Yaramanda.
WHITE-WINGED TRILLER (Lalage tricolor) – Not regularly seen on this tour as they generally prefer drier inland country over the areas we visit, so two separate birds were a nice surprise. We found a male in an agricultural field behind the Atherton service station, then had another male, singing enthusiastically, at the Walnut Road wetlands.
VARIED TRILLER (Lalage leucomela) – A few records in the Cairns region, including a male at Centenary Lakes our first morning.
BLACK-BELLIED CICADABIRD (Edolisoma montanum) – A trio of these highland cuckooshrikes was seen nicely along the road near the start of the Pigites Track. There had been some the previous day, too, but the discovery of the male King-of-Saxony BOP in the same tree diverted everyone's attention away from them! [E]
COMMON CICADABIRD (Edolisoma tenuirostre) – The taxonomy of this species is rather complex, and there may be more than one species involved, so best keep track of where you saw them! We had great views of at least one pair, perhaps two, at Centenary Lakes on our first morning, then saw a female along the Varirata approach road. This latter bird was probably a late winterer, as I don't believe there are any known breeding populations in the Port Moresby region. [a]
Neosittidae (Sittellas)
VARIED SITTELLA (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) – Duncan heard the calls of one along Duck Creek Road, and we soon had it in our sights. Uncharacteristically, the bird sat still for a long time, allowing scope views; according to Duncan, the bird's behavior was an indication that it may have been about to build a nest there. [E]
VARIED SITTELLA (PAPUAN) (Daphoenositta chrysoptera wahgiensis) – A group of at least 5 birds fed actively with a large mixed flock along the road below Kumul Lodge, giving loads of great looks as the flock lingered nearby for a long time. The PNG birds are sometimes treated as a separate species from Australian forms, and are then known as Papuan Sittella. [E]
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
WATTLED PLOUGHBILL (Eulacestoma nigropectus) – PNG has more than it's share of bird oddities, but this one is one of the oddest. It is sometimes placed with the next species in a two species family, Falcunculidae, or alternately in its own monotypic family. Those of us that took the afternoon walk down into Max's Orchid Garden were treated to amazing views of a male, pink, petal-like wattles absolutely brilliant even in the dim light. This was my favorite bird of the trip, and only the second time I'd seen a male. [E]
CRESTED SHRIKE-TIT (EASTERN) (Falcunculus frontatus frontatus) – We lured a rather reticent one into view at Wondecla, but only Eugenia and Pati R. got on it before it moved off. Before we could get another chance at it, a Brown Goshawk swooped in, scaring off all the birds, and spoiling the party. [E]
RUFOUS SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha) – Widespread and variable with about 28 recognized races. A couple of birds were among the early morning regulars around the parking area at Chambers and we heard this species at Varirata NP as well.
GRAY SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica) – Patty M. and I saw one in the same tree as the Black-capped Lories along the Varirata approach road (race superciliosa) and then we saw the nominate race regularly at O'Reilly's.
BOWER'S SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla boweri) – An Atherton tableland endemic; we had a great pair of them at Mt Hypipamee. [E]
REGENT WHISTLER (Pachycephala schlegelii) – A gorgeous male turned up over the Kumul Lodge feeders shortly after our arrival, and put on a nice show for us there. A few others were seen during the rest of our stay. [E]
GOLDEN WHISTLER (Pachycephala pectoralis) – Pretty common and seen daily in the Australian rain forests.
BROWN-BACKED WHISTLER (Pachycephala modesta) – Seen daily in the Kumul Lodge area, with some good looks at one near the upper cabins, and another along the road near the start of the Pigites Track. [E]
GRAY WHISTLER (GRAY-HEADED) (Pachycephala simplex peninsulae) – A rather nondescript whistler, easily confused (especially this race) with female Golden Whistler. We had brief views of one at Chambers, then another along Black Mountain Road near Cassowary House. [E]
BLACK-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala monacha) – One along the Varirata approach road showed well, coming close in response to my playback of White-bellied Whistler. Another was seen at the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird site below Kumul. [E]
RUFOUS WHISTLER (Pachycephala rufiventris) – We all saw a female beside the hide at Hasties Swamp, and a couple of folks got on a male next day at Wondecla, but we didn't get a good, cooperative male for everyone until our last afternoon, when we found a very friendly and beautiful male in the Royal NP heathland. [E]
RUFOUS-NAPED WHISTLER (Aleadryas rufinucha) – Eugenia spotted the first one next to the Kumul Lodge parking lot, and over the next few days there were various sightings by various people, with everyone, I think, getting a look at one at some point. Note that this bird is no longer considered a whistler, and is now known as Rufous-naped Bellbird and is placed in a small family with Crested Pitohui and Crested Bellbird. [E]
CRESTED PITOHUI (Ornorectes cristatus) – We heard the wonderful piping call of this species at Varirata. The new field guide calls this one Piping Bellbird. [E*]
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach stresemanni) – Is this really a Long-tailed Shrike, or should this endemic race be elevated to species status? Another taxonomic question waiting to be resolved! We saw three of these beautiful shrikes around the Mt Hagen airport, and singles a couple of times below Kumul.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
HOODED PITOHUI (Pitohui dichrous) – The true pitohuis, which is a group now limited to just a couple of species, are some of the only birds known to be toxic, the toxins supposedly coming from the birds diet which includes toxic Choresine beetles. We had nice views of several of these at Varirata NP. [E]
BROWN ORIOLE (Oriolus szalayi) – Just a couple along the Varirata approach road and a single singing bird at PAU. [E]
OLIVE-BACKED ORIOLE (Oriolus sagittatus) – We had nice looks at a couple of these around the reception area at Granite Gorge, then saw a single along Lady Carrington Track at Royal NP. [E]
GREEN ORIOLE (Oriolus flavocinctus) – Peter found one at Centenary Lakes our first morning, but a few of us missed it as we were already further ahead looking for Lovely Fairywrens. We had to make a return visit to the botanical gardens on our final morning in Cairns, in order to catch up a few folks, and we were successful, getting nice looks at several of them singing and chasing each other around. [E]
AUSTRALASIAN FIGBIRD (Sphecotheres vieilloti) – Pretty common, along the coast particularly, in Australia (nominate race). In PNG we saw a handful at PAU (race salvadorii). [E]
Dicruridae (Drongos)
SPANGLED DRONGO (Dicrurus bracteatus) – Surprisingly few, with just a handful of sightings around Cairns and a pair of bird seen along the Varirata approach road.
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys) – The only species that was recorded on every single day of the tour. [N]
DIMORPHIC FANTAIL (Rhipidura brachyrhyncha) – Occurs in two color morphs, hence the name. We saw presumably the same pair on two consecutive days along the road below Kumul, both birds with the black and rufous tail. [E]
RUFOUS FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufifrons) – Patty M. was the only one to see this species in the Cairns region, but the rest of us caught up with it at O'Reilly's where one feeding over a stream alongside a Gray Fantail on our first afternoon was our first.
FRIENDLY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albolimbata) – A cheery and easily seen bird which we encountered daily around Kumul Lodge. [E]
CHESTNUT-BELLIED FANTAIL (Rhipidura hyperythra) – A couple of these were in our Varirata NP mega flock- another one of the flock leaders, it seems to me- and we had some very nice views of this bird that the field guide just doesn't do justice to. [E]
GRAY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albiscapa) – Pretty common in the rainforests on the tablelands and around O'Reilly's, with a couple also at Royal NP. [E]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLUE-CAPPED IFRITA (Ifrita kowaldi) – Another of PNG's avian oddities. This one is reminiscent of a nuthatch in behavior, but it's kind of rotund with a bright blue crown and a squeaky toy voice. Patsy was shown one by a local as she was warming up by the fire one wet afternoon, and the rest of us caught up with them around the lodge over th next couple of days. Always one of my favorites in PNG. [E]
WHITE-EARED MONARCH (Carterornis leucotis) – A walk on a recently cut trail off of Black Mountain Road got us superb views of this striking monarch, which always seems to me the hardest of the Australian monarchs to see. [E]
BLACK-FACED MONARCH (Monarcha melanopsis) – Singles were seen daily in the tablelands, then quite a few at O'Reilly's and Royal NP. Though some of these birds winter in NE Queensland, a lot of them cross the Torres Strait to spend the winter in PNG. [a]
BLACK-WINGED MONARCH (Monarcha frater) – Similar to the preceding species, though the black on this species' face goes right back to the eyes (at least in PNG). We had great views of one with our big flock at Varirata, giving us a sweep of the possible monarch species for this trip.
SPECTACLED MONARCH (Symposiachrus trivirgatus) – A pair of these attractive monarchs showed very well at Lake Barrine. [E]
SPOT-WINGED MONARCH (Symposiachrus guttula) – One or two showed pretty well in our big flock at Varirata. [E]
FRILLED MONARCH (Arses telescophthalmus) – Three pairs of these beauties gave us a wonderful show at Varirata. One pair was particularly excited and we were treated to the sight of both the male and female with their frills erected. Note that the birds in Cape York, Australia are now split off as Frill-necked Monarch, leaving this as a PNG endemic. [E]
PIED MONARCH (Arses kaupi) – A good showing from a cooperative pair just up the road from Cassowary House. This is another of the Atherton tableland endemics. [E]
MAGPIE-LARK (Grallina cyanoleuca) – Loads of these flashy birds were seen daily in the Cairns region, fewer in the south, though we stills aw them most days there. Some folks saw an active mud nest along the Cairns Esplanade. [N]
LEADEN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra rubecula) – A few female plumaged birds were seen at several sites in the Cairns region: Cattana Wetlands, Yorkies Knob, and Granite Gorge. [a]
SATIN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra cyanoleuca) – A shiny male turned up around the cabins early on our second morning at Chambers, likely newly arrived from its PNG wintering grounds. This species is mainly a passage migrant in the Cairns region, as most of them breed in SE Australia and Tasmania. [a]
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY CROW (Corvus tristis) – A pair of these odd crows flew by well below the Varirata Lookout viewpoint. [E]
TORRESIAN CROW (Corvus orru) – Only a couple were seen around Cairns, then a few birds in the Port Moresby region and lots around Brisbane.
AUSTRALIAN RAVEN (Corvus coronoides) – Quite a few at Royal NP. Though they look pretty much the same as the Torresian Crows, the bawling baby voice is quite distinctive from the flat, staccato calls given by the crows. [E]
Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-Paradise)
GLOSSY-MANTLED MANUCODE (Manucodia ater) – A couple of these gave pretty good looks as they fed in a fruiting tree along the Varirata approach road. Easily the least exciting of the BOPs we saw. [E]
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Pteridophora alberti) – I think folks were pretty close to mutiny as we struggled up the steep and muddy Pigites Track in the rain, but the sudden appearance of a fantastic male turned everyone's frowns upside-down and made the descent all that much more pleasant!. We got scope views of distant males over the next couple of days, but nothing could top that first view. Beth chose this as her favorite PNG bird, due in part to what she had to go through to get to it! [E]
SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Lophorina superba) – A couple of females below Kumul on our first attempt were okay, but on our final morning there, we managed to track down a brilliant male, turquoise breast shield fully extended and glowing, for a much more satisfying encounter. [E]
PARADISE RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris paradiseus) – A few males were heard at O'Reilly's, but it has gotten tough here, and none of the birds were close enough for us to see. [E*]
VICTORIA'S RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris victoriae) – Our first was a male we scoped on a song perch in the canopy at the Curtain Fig. Then each morning at Chambers we saw a couple of females and a male, and finally several birds at Cassowary House, including a male visiting the feeding trays for bits of cheese. [E]
MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (GROWLING) (Ptiloris magnificus intercedens) – This subspecies, with its growling call that is very unlike the calls of other populations, is almost certainly a good species on its own. We heard them all over at Varirata, but, as always, laying eyes on them proved difficult. [E]
BROWN SICKLEBILL (Epimachus meyeri) – A couple of females were regular visitors to the Kumul feeding tables. Sadly the male that used to visit had recently disappeared after sustaining a fractured wing, according to Max. Still, the female is a stunning bird in her own right, and both Patty M. and Peter chose it as their top PNG bird, and it took second spot in the voting, beat out by only the astrapia. [E]
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia mayeri) – The overall favorite PNG bird and Patsy and Pati R's choice for the best PNG bird. In addition to a couple of females and a young bird that was still being fed by the parents, one male with pretty long white tail plumes was a regular at the feeders. Believe it or not, those tail plumes can get to about twice the length we saw on that male, so they can be even more spectacular! [E]
BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea rudolphi) – Nothing like a good strenuous hike to make you appreciate a bird all the more! Not that we wouldn't have appreciated this stunner, given the great performance he put on for us. I'm still waiting though, for one to do the hanging upside down display for me. [E]
LESSER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea minor) – They were calling just too far from the road this time. [E*]
RAGGIANA BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea raggiana) – I was a bit concerned when these birds were not at the usual lek when we arrived, though we could hear them well below the road. So, we birded along the road for a while, notched a paradise-kingfisher, then came back to the display area to find a couple of males chasing each other around. They didn't stay long, sadly, so the views weren't quite up to what we usually experience there, but still, we saw them! [E]
LESSER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta lugubris) – A rather dubious BOP, this species will likely get moved into a different family at some point. We heard this one several times at Kumul. [E*]
Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)
TORRENT FLYCATCHER (Monachella muelleriana) – Up to half a dozen of these dapper birds were hanging around the bridge at the Lai River crossing, giving us plenty of nice views. [E]
JACKY-WINTER (Microeca fascinans) – One perched on a roadside fence at Wondecla was a bit unexpected. [E]
LEMON-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Microeca flavigaster) – A nice performance, including an aerial song display, from a couple of birds along the Varirata approach road.
CANARY FLYCATCHER (Microeca papuana) – A pair of these charming little flycatchers were with a small flock in Max's Orchid garden. In the new field guide, this one is being called Papuan Flycatcher. [E]
ROSE ROBIN (Petroica rosea) – A lovely songster with a very tuneful song. We heard them regularly along the main trail at O'Reilly's, and most of us managed pretty good looks at them, though their tendency to stay high overhead where they are usually backlit does make it a bit tricky to make out the colors. [E]
WHITE-FACED ROBIN (Tregellasia leucops) – A trio of these adorable clown-faced birds chased each other around, but fortunately paused often and long enough for great looks. It was these birds that kicked off our awesome flock at Varirata, though I don't think they were really part of the flock.
PALE-YELLOW ROBIN (Tregellasia capito) – A few individuals in the tablelands, though we never really had a good one for the whole group. The most cooperative one was upstaged by the Emerald Dove that strolled out into the road at Chambers. [E]
EASTERN YELLOW ROBIN (Eopsaltria australis) – Very common and friendly along the trails at O'Reilly's. [E]
MANGROVE ROBIN (Eopsaltria pulverulenta) – Easy this trip, with a pair of them feeding at the edge of the mangroves at the north end of the Cairns Esplanade. [E]
BLACK-THROATED ROBIN (Poecilodryas albonotata) – I had been regretting carrying the scope along to Max's Orchid Garden until I spotted this bird sitting on a fencepost next to Max's house. Without the scope, it would have been pretty hard to see. [E]
WHITE-WINGED ROBIN (Peneothello sigillata) – A couple of little family groups were regular around the main lodge and the cabins at Kumul. [E]
BLUE-GRAY ROBIN (Peneothello cyanus) – Heard at the Blue BOP site. [E*]
GRAY-HEADED ROBIN (Heteromyias cinereifrons) – Another of the Atherton tableland endemics. A couple of these were regulars around the parking area at Chambers, and we also saw them well at Mt Hypipamee. [E]
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
WELCOME SWALLOW (Hirundo neoxena) – The common swallow in Australia. Pati and Patty had a pair nesting above their door at O'Reilly's. [EN]
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – Replaces the similar Welcome Swallow in PNG, where it is likewise common.
FAIRY MARTIN (Petrochelidon ariel) – Just a couple of these rusty-capped martins were seen as we birded the mangroves at Cairns. [E]
TREE MARTIN (Petrochelidon nigricans) – Seen first as we waited for our shuttle at Brisbane airport, then small numbers were also noted at Lota and the Walnut Road wetlands. [a]
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus) – A single bird on a roadside wire in Sydney. I forgot to mention this during our list session, but I think a few folks saw it as we drove by. [I]
Phylloscopidae (Leaf-Warblers)
ISLAND LEAF-WARBLER (Phylloscopus poliocephalus) – A heard only bird for most of us, but Pati R. saw one at the Lai River bridge after the rest of us were already back on the bus.
Acrocephalidae (Reed-Warblers and Allies)
AUSTRALIAN REED-WARBLER (Acrocephalus australis) – Heard calling from dense scrub at Hasties Swamp. [*]
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
TAWNY GRASSBIRD (PAPUAN) (Megalurus timoriensis macrurus) – Though still lumped with the Australian form, this PNG highland race is a very different bird, and is a likely future split. We saw them regularly in grasslands around Kumul.
Zosteropidae (Yuhinas, White-eyes, and Allies)
BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor) – The lovely song was heard a lot at Varirata, but we never did see them. [E]
NEW GUINEA WHITE-EYE (Zosterops novaeguineae) – We saw these commonly during our outings below Kumul Lodge, where it is the only white-eye present. [E]
SILVER-EYE (Zosterops lateralis) – Quite numerous in the Cairns region, but further south we only heard them once at O'Reilly's.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata) – Fairly common in the highland grasslands around Kumul, with a couple of birds also seen near the Port Moresby airport.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
OLIVE-TAILED THRUSH (Zoothera lunulata) – The two Zoothera in Australia are pretty tough to tell apart; voice is the best way, but there are some very subtle visual clues as well. We saw this one very well next to the parking area at O'Reilly's, then even better at Royal NP, where the next species is absent. [E]
RUSSET-TAILED THRUSH (Zoothera heinei) – A thrush along the top of the Border Track at O'Reilly's appeared to be this species, and playback confirmed it, as it responded strongly and perched in the open for all to see. The "Scaly" Thrushes found in PNG are treated as this species too, but are possibly another species altogether.
ISLAND THRUSH (Turdus poliocephalus) – Fewer than usual at Kumul, and I don't recall seeing any actually on the feeder this time.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
METALLIC STARLING (Aplonis metallica) – Seen regularly around Cairns, including the big colony outside the liquor store, noted in passing as we drove up to Cassowary House. Also seen at PAU, where there were a few among the many Singing Starlings. [N]
SINGING STARLING (Aplonis cantoroides) – The first PNG endemic for some of the group, as there were a couple of birds perched on the jet bridge as we exited the plane on landing for the first time at Port Moresby. We saw a few more at the Lesser BOP site, than far more than usual at PAU, where about 98% of the birds were juveniles. [E]
YELLOW-FACED MYNA (Mino dumontii) – A lovely myna with a rather grotesque sounding call. We saw a couple each along the Varirata approach road and at PAU. [E]
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) – Pretty common around the Cairns region, with a few birds each at Brisbane and Sydney. [I]
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) – Generally heard and/or seen flying over far more often than seen well, but we did have a scope view of a lovely male during lunch at the Varirata picnic area. [E]
MISTLETOEBIRD (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) – Australia's only flowerpecker. We had several in the Cairns region, with our best one coming at the crater lake viewpoint at Mt Hypipamee where we had scope views of a singing male. [E]
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis) – Quite common in the Cairns region, with several nice encounters with close birds.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AUSTRALASIAN PIPIT (AUSTRALIAN) (Anthus novaeseelandiae australis) – One in a cultivated field near Mareeba in the Atherton tablelands, and a couple in the short grass along the runway at Mt Hagen.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A few at select sites in the Cairns region (especially Gallo Dairyland farm), Port Moresby, and Brisbane. [I]
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – Since the first PNG records in 2003, this species has exploded in population and they are quite common around Port Moresby now, and seem more numerous than House Sparrow, which has been present in PNG much longer. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
MOUNTAIN FIRETAIL (Oreostruthus fuliginosus) – Our lone bird was a calling juvenile at the parking area at Kumul Lodge. [E]
RED-BROWED FIRETAIL (Neochmia temporalis) – Reasonably good looks at a little party along Black Mountain Road, then much better views at O'Reilly's, where, like so many other species, they have become quite accustomed to people. Also seen at Royal NP, where a couple seemed to be building a nest along Lady Carrington Drive. [EN]
NUTMEG MANNIKIN (Lonchura punctulata) – A small flock of these was noted a couple of times along the Cairns Esplanade. [I]
HOODED MUNIA (Lonchura spectabilis) – These lovely little finches were seen regularly in high elevation grasslands around Kumul. [E]
GRAY-HEADED MUNIA (Lonchura caniceps) – I estimated about 60 of these at PAU, where we saw them exceptionally well, but I suspect I underestimated pretty significantly. In any case, there were far more present than we usually see there. [E]
CHESTNUT-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura castaneothorax) – A couple of birds at Yorkies Knob were only seen by part of the group before the flew off. We had much better encounters in PNG where we had a flock of 15 along the roadside en route to Varirata, then a half dozen or so mixed in with the hordes of Gray-headed Munias at PAU. [E]

PLATYPUS (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) – A late afternoon stake out along a creek near Yungaburra came good when one swam into view several times before disappearing upstream. Jun's game of "I've seen a platypus in this stream" would have been far less amusing if we'd missed this cool critter! [E]
SPECKLED DASYURE (Neophascogale lorentzii) – One paid a brief visit to the Kumul Lodge feeders on evening, and we had excellent looks at another scrambling around in the trees on the way to Max's Orchid Garden. [E]
RAFFRAY'S BANDICOOT (Peroryctes raffrayanus) – The long-nosed bandicoot that someone saw with me below the Kumul Lodge feeders was this endemic species. [E]
KOALA (Phascolarctos cinereus) – Apart from the Daisy Hill Koala Center's captive animals, this is an easily missed species, so we were thrilled to have an alert looking one below eye level at a view point along Duck Creek Road. The two others Duncan spotted further along the road (also both below eye level, but much sleepier) were icing! Incidentally, our tour group that visited a couple of weeks after us saw no koalas here. [E]
SHORT-EARED POSSUM (Trichosurus caninus) – The new name for what we used to call Mountain Brushtail Possum. This is the one that showed up at the feeders outside of the O'Reilly's restaurant after dark. [E]
SUGAR GLIDER (Petaurus breviceps) – Up to three of these gorgeous little animals were regulars at the feeding station at Chambers. [E]
COMMON RINGTAIL POSSUM (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) – Beth spotted one that was just visible peaking out of its leaf nest in the mangroves at Lota. [E]
STRIPED POSSUM (Dactylopsila trivirgata) – I had long wanted to see this striking possum, but had mixed feelings when it showed up at the feeding station on our first night at Chambers, since I was the only one there. Thankfully it turned up again the next night when several of you were there to see it. What a gorgeous little animal! [E]
MUSKY RAT-KANGAROO (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus) – Up to 5 of these, the smallest of the macropods, were feeding on fruit below the balcony at Cassowary House. [E]
RED-NECKED PADEMELON (Thylogale thetis) – Common and quite habituated at O'Reilly's. [E]
RED-LEGGED PADEMELON (Thylogale stigmatica) – Just a few remain of what was once a big group at Chambers, and they seemed pretty skittish there. Some of us also saw one with a large joey at O'Reilly's. [E]
CALABY'S PADEMELON (Thylogale calabyi) – The dark little macropod that Eugenia spotted behind the cabins shortly after our arrival at Kumul Lodge were this species according to Max. This was the first time I've seen these animals here.
MAREEBA ROCK-WALLABY (Petrogale mareeba) – Charming and amazingly tame at Granite Gorge, where we enjoyed close encounters with several including a couple of mothers with joeys in their pouches. [E]
LUMHOLTZ'S TREE KANGAROO (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) – A local photographer alerted us to the presence of this animal, roosting in a tree above the trail at Mt Hypipamee. Another creature I had long hoped to see, so I was pretty pleased with this one! [E]
AGILE WALLABY (Macropus agilis) – A couple of these large wallabies were feeding in the grassy verges around Hasties Swamp. [E]
RED-NECKED WALLABY (Macropus rufogriseus) – A small group of these were in a grassy clearing at Daisy Hill. [E]
WHIPTAIL WALLABY (Macropus parryi) – Also known as Pretty-face Wallabies. We had a group of 8 of these feeding right on the roadside on our way up to O'Reilly's, than a few more on the way back down. [E]
EASTERN GRAY KANGAROO (Macropus giganteus) – A couple of these that were loafing under a tree on the Mareeba golf course were pretty distant, but we did see them well enough to count them. [E]
SWAMP WALLABY (Wallabia bicolor) – One of these very dark wallabies (aka Black Wallaby) was DOR (dead on road) at Royal NP.
SPECTACLED FLYING-FOX (Pteropus conspicillatus) – Great hordes of these were roosting in the trees around the Cairns library, despite the horrible tree trimming that had been done to try and convince them to roost elsewhere. [E]
GRAY-HEADED FLYING-FOX (Pteropus poliocephalus) – A huge roost of flying foxes along a stream on our way back down from O'Reilly's was likely this species, though Black and Little Red flying foxes are also possibilities (or maybe all three were there). Any of these three could also have been the ones we saw at dusk along the Brisbane River. [E]
BLACK-TAILED GIANT RAT (Uromys anak) – A couple of these huge rats paid nocturnal visits to the Kumul Lodge feeders.


Totals for the tour: 379 bird taxa and 22 mammal taxa