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Field Guides Tour Report
Papua New Guinea 2016
Jun 29, 2016 to Jul 17, 2016
Jay VanderGaast

This Lesser Bird-of-Paradise was one of 20 species of birds-of-paradise we saw this year. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

Papua New Guinea is blessed with some of the coolest birds on the planet, and I have one of the coolest jobs on the planet, because I get to lead groups to this part of the world to look for these birds! As is always the case, a trip here isn't without some challenges, but man, there are some great rewards for all the hard work, too. This year, our biggest reward came on our final morning, on a return visit to the Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise (BoP from now on) lek, where we were thrilled to witness the amazing antics of several males displaying to some very interested females. It was a real Attenborough moment, the kind everyone hopes for on a visit to this incredible country. These BoPs were also the unanimous choice for BoP (and bird) of the trip, my vote included. I'm pretty sure that's a tour first for me!

The BoPs alone provided many other memorable moments. Our Lesser BoP show was impressive, with a trio of males flying all around and displaying to several females who'd dropped in for the show. Both Ribbon-tailed and Stephanie's astrapias elicited some gasps of admiration as males of both species showed off their spectacular long plumes. A male of the latter flew directly overhead, long tail streamers rippling beautifully behind him. A male King-of-Saxony BoP dazzled us with his long, antenna-like head plumes waving all about, and a tiny King BoP bounced around on his subcanopy display area in unusually good light. All in all we made acquaintance with 20 species of these amazing birds, with seven of them observed in Ambua's magical fruiting tree alone, including our only Superb and Blue BoPs, and Black-billed Sicklebill, a much-wanted lifer for me!

Among the non-BoPs, there was far less agreement in the voting for best bird. For some, it was the gaudy Southern Crowned-Pigeon perched quietly along the Kwatu River as we waited out a passing shower. For others, it was the bizarre male Wattled Ploughbill with the huge bubblegum pink wattles flapping from his face. These two fought it out for first place, with the ploughbill getting the win by the narrowest of margins. But there were plenty of other wonderful birds that deserve mention. There was our one-two punch of rarely-seen birds to kick off our day on the Elevala River-- a secretive Forest Bittern followed by a Yellow-legged Brush-Turkey-- both seen well by all aboard! There were our many amazing looks at those immense Great Cuckoo-Doves at the Ambua fruiting tree, and our lone view of a colorful Wompoo Fruit-Dove at Varirata. We had superb views of an elusive Hook-billed Kingfisher sitting quietly in the canopy at Kiunga, and a hard-to-find Mountain Kingfisher at Ambua. And there were a dozen or more huge Pesquet's Parrots above Dablin Creek, where we also enjoyed incomparable scope views of a gorgeous male Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot. A wonderful Palm Cockatoo, crest fully extended, and a pair of brilliant Large Fig-Parrots offered a similar size contrast during our boat trip along the Elevala.

Still other standouts included the pair of Papuan Treecreepers hitching up a tree trunk near Ambua, and a quintet of unpredictable Black Sittellas scrambling around in the subcanopy further up towards the Tari Gap. A pair of gorgeous Emperor Fairywrens and an equally beautiful Golden Monarch delighted us along Boystown Road. Striking Red-collared Myzomelas were everywhere in the highlands, where often they are scarce and hard to find. Stunning Regent Whistlers wowed us at Kumul, as did a quirky pair of Blue-capped Ifritas that moved close past the viewing deck. And the mixed flocks at Varirata kept us busy with a whirlwind of small passerines -- Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Pale-billed Scrubwren, Yellow-bellied Gerygone, and Frilled and Spot-winged monarchs among them -- while Zoe Imperial-Pigeon and Dwarf Koel ignored the throngs of noisy campers in the usually tranquil picnic area, posing obligingly for our perusal.

This was such a fun tour for me to guide, and I just want to thank you all for joining me and making it such fun. I also need to thank our excellent local guides for doing such a great job for us: Leonard in Varirata, Sam and Edward in Kiunga, Max at Kumul, and Joseph at Ambua. These guys make my job easier, and our tours better with their skill and knowledge, and it was a pleasure to work with all of them again. And I can't forget Karen at the FG office, who assured a smoothly-run tour with all the arrangements she made before we got there. I hope this trip list brings back some great memories, and I hope to reminisce with each of you on another trip someday soon. Until then, keep well.

-- Jay

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

Megapodiidae (Megapodes)

Brown Sicklebill may be one of the less flashy birds-of-paradise, but the female we saw at Kumul was still a big hit. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

AUSTRALIAN BRUSHTURKEY (Alectura lathami) – Seen during the taxi ride between our Brisbane hotel and the airport.
YELLOW-LEGGED BRUSHTURKEY (Talegalla fuscirostris) – The second of two incredibly difficult birds seen shortly after we started boating up the Elevala River. Sam spotted this bird sitting on a large bare branch and we all had amazing views as it sat in the open for more than a minute! Though this species is common and often heard, this was the first time I've really laid eyes on one. [E]
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
BROWN QUAIL (Synoicus ypsilophorus) – We saw two different races of this widespread species in New Guinea. First we had a trio of birds in the Tari Gap, one of which showed well as it was calling from a slightly elevated perch near the roadside. Near as I can figure, they belong to the highland subspecies lamonti. We then saw a couple of birds dash across the road at Sogeri; they belong to the subspecies plumbeus, I believe. For those that joined me on the long walk on our layover in Brisbane, we also saw the subspecies australis there. Lowland and highland New Guinea forms could be split one day, and perhaps the Australian form as well, so it's good to keep track of where you've seen these birds for some future armchair ticks!
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) – A single bird flew past among a group of Cattle Egrets around the ponds at the nature/amusement park near Port Moresby.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
FOREST BITTERN (Zonerodius heliosylus) – This was essentially the first bird we saw well along the Elevala River. I had stopped the boat to try and point out a Shining Flycatcher, but our attention was quickly diverted when we spotted this bird sitting quietly on a dead log on the bank. Though it dropped behind the log right after we spotted it, it then moved slowly along the bank, showing wonderfully as it crept through several openings in the vegetation. An almost legendary species, and we were extraordinarily lucky to see it.
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – Just a few scattered individuals in the lowlands.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Mesophoyx intermedia) – Our only one was at the pond in the Brown River lowlands, where we had a good comparison between this and the similar Great Egret.
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – In pretty big numbers around the Port Moresby region.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
STRAW-NECKED IBIS (Threskiornis spinicollis) – A lone bird was amid a large flock of Cattle Egrets at the ponds at the nature park near Port Moresby.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
LONG-TAILED HONEY-BUZZARD (Henicopernis longicauda) – Seen on several days in the west, with some super views, including one that soared low over the Cloudlands Hotel in Tabubil one afternoon, showing off it's barred underwings nicely. [E]
PACIFIC BAZA (Aviceda subcristata) – We had several great looks at this striking raptor, including a couple of birds perched atop palm trees at km 17 near Kiunga, and another one perched close to the roadside in the Brown River area.
EASTERN MARSH-HARRIER (PAPUAN) (Circus spilonotus spilothorax) – Two different females were perched on the tree fern stumps in the grasslands at the Tari Gap. Sometimes treated as a separate species, Papuan Harrier, and it could one day be split off. [E]
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster) – Three different birds were seen along the Elevala River during our day long boat trip, and oddly, they were the only records we had of this usually common and widespread species.
BROWN GOSHAWK (Accipiter fasciatus) – One was seen circling up over the Lai River valley.
GRAY-HEADED GOSHAWK (Accipiter poliocephalus) – An uncommon species, and we saw just one perched along the Elevala River. Though the lighting was rather poor, we could easily make out the orange legs of this species. The bird appeared quite dark to me (though it may have been a factor of the poor lighting) and I thought it may have been a rare dark morph individual. [E]
BLACK KITE (BLACK) (Milvus migrans affinis) – Especially common in the highlands around Kumul Lodge and Mount Hagen, where we saw them in numbers daily. We also saw a couple of birds one day near the Port Moresby airport.
WHISTLING KITE (Haliastur sphenurus) – One flying over the Fly River, and a couple of birds in the Port Moresby area.

The cabins at Ambua Lodge have a pretty spectacular view! Photo by participant Sharon Rannels.

BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – Though we saw this gorgeous bird every day of the tour, Karen never lost the love for this kite, and she chose it as her favorite non-BoP of the tour. For the rest of us, the bird that kept the male Twelve-wired BoP from visiting his display perch kind of soured us on the species as a whole.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – A juvenile was seen from the departure lounge at the Brisbane airport, and we also had a couple of great views of perched birds during the river boat trips.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – Sharon was the only one to get an acceptable view of a bird that she spotted walking on a sidewalk in Tabubil. It ran off into the brush before the rest of us were able to spot it. Several of us did catch up with one during our layover in Brisbane at tour's end.
AUSTRALASIAN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio melanotus melanopterus) – Several birds were foraging around the edges of the waterhole in the Brown River lowlands, including one fluffy black youngster.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
MASKED LAPWING (MASKED) (Vanellus miles miles) – Rather local in PNG and the only ones we saw were a pair that flew past near Port Moresby, though we also saw a pair from the departure lounge at Brisbane Airport.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (DUBIUS/JERDONI) (Charadrius dubius dubius) – A couple of birds showed nicely at the usual site along the river south of Tabubil.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – Our only one was a bird flying low over the water along the Elevala River.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Just a few around Port Moresby. [I]
SLENDER-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia amboinensis) – Fewer than usual this year, and we never really got the kind of views we had of the other two species, though we did run into this dove several times around Tabubil and Kiunga, as well as at Varirata.
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia nigrirostris) – Especially good looks at this small cuckoo-dove in the fruiting tree at Ambua. [E]
GREAT CUCKOO-DOVE (Reinwardtoena reinwardti) – At least three of these huge pigeons were present in the Ambua fruiting tree, though our best view was of a bird perched atop a cluster of Schefflera fruits in perfect light along the Varirata entrance road. It was initially mistaken for a kite, and became known as the Brahminy Cuckoo-Dove. [E]

We saw hundreds of Collared Imperial-Pigeons along the rivers around Kiunga during our boat trips. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

STEPHAN'S DOVE (Chalcophaps stephani) – Two quick flybys, which is pretty normal for an encounter with this species. One flew over the Elevala River during our full day boat trip, another flew across Boystown Road near the mound. Each bird was seen only by one or two people.
PEACEFUL DOVE (Geopelia placida) – A few birds seen at close range as we searched for munias at Sogeri.
THICK-BILLED GROUND-PIGEON (Trugon terrestris) – Seen by only a couple of us, though we all saw the nest we flushed it from along the trail at Km 17. The "nest" consisted of nothing more than a single white egg laid between buttresses at the foot of a large tree trunk. [EN]
PHEASANT PIGEON (Otidiphaps nobilis) – At least 3 different birds were heard calling along the trails at Varirata during our final day's visit. I have yet to see this elusive species. [E*]
SOUTHERN CROWNED-PIGEON (Goura scheepmakeri) – While the rest of us were hunkered under our umbrellas and ponchos as we boated through the pouring rain along the Ketu River, Sam managed to spot one of these magnificent birds perched on a large branch above the river. Our soggy spirits were lifted as we all enjoyed long views of this spectacular pigeon. This bird usually gets lots of bird of the trip votes, so I was a little surprised that only Kathy chose it as her favorite non-BoP. [E]
WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus magnificus) – One of the final new birds of the trip. Nick spotted one sitting quietly in the canopy on our final afternoon at Varirata. The scope views were superb and we had to force ourselves to walk away in the end. Sharon's choice for non-BoP of the tour.
PINK-SPOTTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus perlatus) – Generally the most numerous fruit-dove we encounter on the tour, though all of them seemed scarcer than usual this trip, likely due to a lack of good fruiting trees in the areas we visited. Still, we saw these birds a number of times, and eventually well enough to get those pink spots. [E]
ORANGE-FRONTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus aurantiifrons) – A couple in a fruiting tree along the Fly River in the late afternoon were the first I'd seen in the region. [E]
SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus superbus) – Several birds were encountered on our last day at Varirata, but they were pretty flighty and usually disappeared before more than one or two people had seen them.
BEAUTIFUL FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus pulchellus) – Nick spotted this one as it sat up in the sunlight during our lunch break at Kwatu Lodge. We also flushed one from its nest along the nearby trail, though we didn't see that bird very well. The nest was a pretty insubstantial and shallow platform of sticks set atop a low palm frond, with just a single egg. [EN]
WHITE-BREASTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus rivoli) – In contrast to the lowland fruit-doves, this highland species was more numerous than usual, or at least more vocal, and there were quite a number calling in the Ambua region. We also saw several, with especially nice views of a pair near the lodge parking lot early one morning. [E]
ORANGE-BELLIED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus iozonus) – Though we saw this species a number of times around the Kiunga region, it wasn't until Sharon spotted one along the Varirata entrance road late on one of our final afternoons that we finally had one in good light. Amazing how decent lighting transforms these birds from rather dumpy to stunning. [E]
DWARF FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus nainus) – A group of half a dozen flew over the Elevala River on our boat trip, though we really only identified them by their tiny size. [E]
PURPLE-TAILED IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula rufigaster) – Fantastic looks at a single one perched in a dead tree along the Elevala River, though we only really noticed it once the Palm Cockatoo left the tree! The light on this bird was gorgeous, and this was one of the best views I've had yet. [E]
PINON IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula pinon) – Just a few in the Kiunga region, with particularly nice scope views of a pair at km 17 one afternoon. [E]
COLLARED IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula mullerii) – The most numerous imperial-pigeon along the rivers around Kiunga, and we saw a hundred or more on each of our boat trips. [E]
ZOE IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula zoeae) – We heard several around Kiunga, but just couldn't track any down, so it was a relief that we managed to get such good views of a couple around the picnic area on our first visit to Varirata National Park. [E]
TORRESIAN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula spilorrhoa) – Quite a few of these lovely pigeons were gathering in a tree near the Parliament Haus on our first afternoon.
PAPUAN MOUNTAIN-PIGEON (Gymnophaps albertisii) – Usually we see more of these in the lowlands than in the mountains, but they were most numerous at Ambua this trip, and we saw them flying over daily, sometimes in pretty nice light. [E]
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

The big Rufous-bellied Kookaburra is quite common in the lowlands, where its loud calls were a regular part of the tour soundtrack. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

WHITE-CROWNED KOEL (Cacomantis leucolophus) – Heard a couple of times distantly in the Kiunga region. What looked like it might be this species was also seen at Varirata, but it flew off before we could confirm it, and it never responded to playback. [E*]
BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus) – The most oft-encountered cuckoo, seen and/or heard on at least 10 days. First seen at Dablin Creek where there were at least 3 birds calling and chasing each other about for the entire morning.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CUCKOO (Cacomantis castaneiventris) – A pair in the late afternoon atOk Menga played hard to get, but just as we were about to give up, one of them popped out into the open and offered up some great views.
FAN-TAILED CUCKOO (Cacomantis flabelliformis excitus) – Heard distantly at Ambua. [*]
RUFOUS-THROATED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx ruficollis) – We heard several in the Tari Gap region one day, but never close enough for us to actually see them. [E*]
WHITE-EARED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx meyerii) – Super views of a close male gobbling caterpillars next to the viewpoint at Dablin Creek our first morning, and a female in the same tree the following day. [E]
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus) – Good scope views of a singing bird perched above Kwatu Lodge, with another a couple of days later at the Boystown Road mound. Given that the Australian migrant birds would presumably not be singing and territorial here, these birds were certainly of the resident subspecies, poecilurus.
LONG-BILLED CUCKOO (Rhamphomantis megarhynchus) – A rare and poorly known brood parasite; nothing is yet known about which species it parasitizes. Our only one was a male, which gave us excellent scope views as it perched in the canopy next to the Kwatu Lodge. [E]
DWARF KOEL (Microdynamis parva) – Leonard alerted me to this bird that he'd seen at the Varirata camping area earlier in the morning. I played a little recording when we got there, and a male popped up immediately and sat out in the open, allowing us some long scope studies until the Zoe Imperial-Pigeons finally distracted us. [E]
PACIFIC KOEL (AUSTRALIAN) (Eudynamys orientalis cyanocephalus) – Seen daily in the Kiunga region, with especially good views of several along the rivers during our boat trips.
CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO (Scythrops novaehollandiae) – These huge cuckoos flew past several times in the lowlands, and we saw about 8 over 3 days there, with some good close flybys.
GREATER BLACK COUCAL (Centropus menbeki) – As usual, heard only, several times in the lowlands. [E*]
PHEASANT COUCAL (Centropus phasianinus) – Not uncommon in the savanna region around Port Moresby, and we had several sightings at Brown River and en route to Varirata.
LESSER BLACK COUCAL (Centropus bernsteini) – Replaces Pheasant Coucal in wetter lowland regions, though this one is usually tougher to see well. We had pretty good looks at one pair that flew across in front of us as we walked along Boystown Road, but then quickly vanished into the dense scrub on the other side. [E]
Strigidae (Owls)
PAPUAN BOOBOOK (Ninox theomacha) – Heard nightly at Ambua, and we found one near the cabins on our very first try, despite the rain and dense fog. [E]
Aegothelidae (Owlet-nightjars)
FELINE OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles insignis) – A vocally responsive bird at Kumul just wouldn't budge from its roost inside the forest, though I'm sure I was close enough for it to see me at one point. One day I'll see this bird! [E*]
MOUNTAIN OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles albertisi) – Less responsive than the preceding species, but we heard the squeaky calls of one on the same night as we heard the Feline ON. [E*]
BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles bennettii) – This bird had been missing from its usual roosts in the preceding days to our first Varirata NP visit, so I was pleased to find one peeking out of one regular roost site, even if we never saw anything more than the head. [E]
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
PAPUAN FROGMOUTH (Podargus papuensis) – Leonard found a distant bird sitting on a nest in the Brown River area that we could see nicely through the scope. A good find, that eased the pain of missing out on PAU this trip.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus macrurus) – Several folks saw one fly off the roadside on our way to km 17 early one morning.
Apodidae (Swifts)

The gang checks out the habitat along the Dablin Creek road, where a host of great species awaited us. Photo by participant Sharon Rannels.

PAPUAN SPINETAILED SWIFT (Mearnsia novaeguineae) – Seen only in the Kiunga region, where we had excellent looks at some low-flying birds next to the mound at Boystown Road. This blue-backed bird replaces the somewhat similar Glossy Swiftlet in this region. [E]
GLOSSY SWIFTLET (Collocalia esculenta) – Widespread and common, and seen daily except around Kiunga. The birds feeding among the cabins at Ambua gave us exceptionally close views as they sometimes whizzed past our heads close enough for us to feel the breeze from their wings!
MOUNTAIN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) – Replaces the nearly identical Uniform Swiftlet at higher elevations. We didn't see many this trip, but had a few below Kumul Lodge and a handful of sightings in the Ambua area. [E]
UNIFORM SWIFTLET (Aerodramus vanikorensis) – Common at lower elevation sites, where they often occur with Glossy Swiftlets. This species tends to feed higher off the ground than do the Glossy Swiftlets, which are often quite low, and regularly at or below eye level.
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)
MOUSTACHED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne mystacea) – These sleek, elegant birds were seen only in the west, where we had our first sighting of a pair on the power lines near Tabubil, then saw at least 7 birds along the rivers on our full day's boat tour.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
BLYTH'S HORNBILL (Rhyticeros plicatus) – That first encounter with a pair that passed directly overhead with a whoosh of wings near Tabubil was certainly a thrilling introduction to this species! We had some more excellent sightings during the boat trips, though not as many as we often see, and finished up with some good views of two or three at a fruiting tree at Varirata.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
AZURE KINGFISHER (Ceyx azureus) – Steve spotted this brilliant kingfisher on a shady perch along the Ketu River as we started on the return to Kiunga.
BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo leachii) – Kelly, our driver, picked out the first one perched near the road on the approach to Varirata one morning. These huge kingfishers are one of many northern Australian species that occur in the Port Moresby savanna region and a few other areas with similar habitat in the country.
RUFOUS-BELLIED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo gaudichaud) – A spectacular large kingfisher, quite common (by voice at least) in the lowland regions, and seen fairly regularly. Perhaps our best view was of the perched bird in great light just outside Kwatu Lodge. [E]
SHOVEL-BILLED KOOKABURRA (Clytoceyx rex) – Always tough to see, as it is mainly active at dawn and dusk, often when it's nearly too dark to see anything. We heard at least three different birds, and at least one was close enough to see us, near Ok Menga. [E*]

This juvenile Australian Hobby was the highlight of our first afternoon's birding at Parliament Haus. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

FOREST KINGFISHER (Todiramphus macleayii) – Three of these gorgeous kingfishers were actively foraging around the lone waterhole in the Brown River region. These birds showed the blue backs of the resident breeding nominate subspecies, rather than the
SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus) – Usually a common bird, though there weren't many this year. A pair at the spillway at Tabubil were regulars, and we saw a few scattered singles around Kiunga, in Tari, and near Port Moresby.
HOOK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Melidora macrorrhina) – Though very vocal, this species can be incredibly tough to see. So when Edward set off to look for a close calling bird along Boystown Road, my expectations were suitably low. It took him some time, but he eventually tracked one down, and we had excellent scope views of one sitting quietly in the canopy. This is the first one we've seen in several years on this tour. [E]
YELLOW-BILLED KINGFISHER (Syma torotoro) – Wonderful views of a calling bird next to the mound along Boystown Road, though no one saw it fly in, and it took considerable time to locate it despite it being in a not very densely-foliaged tree. This beauty was Barb's favorite non-BoP of the trip.
MOUNTAIN KINGFISHER (Syma megarhyncha) – This was quite a fortuitous sighting, as I'd been scoping a distant flowering tree near Ambua Lodge when this bird flew up and perched right where I had the scope focused! Very similar to the preceding species, but with a dark tip to the bill, and this one only occurs at high elevations. [E]
LITTLE PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera hydrocharis) – This species has been tricky on recent trips, and it didn't seem promising as we walked the trail near Kwatu Lodge for quite a while before we actually heard one. But finally one did call, and we soon spotted it sitting partially hidden in the vegetation, where it stayed just long enough for everyone to get a good look. [E]
COMMON PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera galatea) – Immediately after the Little Paradise-Kingfisher took off, we found a pair of these similar, but larger birds in the same area. This one sat longer for us, though, and we all had plenty of time to enjoy this flashy bird. [E]
BROWN-HEADED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera danae) – This species didn't come quite as easily as it usually does, and the first pair we tried for bested us, but we ultimately had a nice look at one bird near the picnic area at Varirata. [E]
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus) – Oddly absent on our first visit to Varirata, but we picked up some great looks at these colorful birds on our final day and a half at the park.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – Ridiculously common as always along the rivers during our boat trips, but we didn't see any others after leaving Kiunga behind.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AUSTRALIAN KESTREL (Falco cenchroides) – Though they do occur in PNG as migrants, the one we saw was spotted from the departure lounge in Brisbane.
AUSTRALIAN HOBBY (Falco longipennis) – The highlight of our first afternoon's birding at Parliament Haus. At about the time we were ready to leave, Katherine spotted this bird perched nearby, and we enjoyed fantastic views as it allowed us to approach quite closely as we maneuvered to see it in better light. The longer wings and lightly banded tail helped separate this bird from the similar Oriental Hobby, the rufous lores marked it as a juvenile.
BROWN FALCON (Falco berigora) – A single bird was perched in a dead tree at the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird spot near the Lai River.
Cacatuidae (Cockatoos)
PALM COCKATOO (Probosciger aterrimus) – Several sightings in the west, beginning with a distant one perched on the ridge top on our way up to Tabubil. Our best view, as usual, came along the Elevala River, where one sat up in a nearby dead tree with its spiky crest fully extended. It had us so captivated, we barely noticed the Purple-tailed Imperial-Pigeon perched nearby until the cockatoo flew off!
SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO (Cacatua galerita) – Seen in small numbers regularly in the lowlands and at the hill forest sites (i.e. Tabubil and Varirata).
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
PESQUET'S PARROT (Psittrichas fulgidus) – There was some disagreement as to just how many of these we saw at Dablin Creek, with numbers ranging from a dozen on up to 20 or more. Whatever the actual number, it was far more than we usually see of this scarce bird. Though the majority of them were identified by size, shape, and calls, the last bird to fly over did so in good light, giving us good views of the extensively red belly and underwings. [E]

The wonderfully striped Brehm's Tiger-Parrot is the only "easy" tiger-parrot of the trip. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

RED-BREASTED PYGMY-PARROT (Micropsitta bruijnii) – About a half dozen on our first visit to Dablin Creek played hard to get, and we settled for less than satisfactory views. There was no settling the next day, though, as we had incredible scope views at a very cooperative male feeding at about eye level--my best views ever of this bird!
PAPUAN KING-PARROT (Alisterus chloropterus) – Joseph indicated where these birds' favorite fruit tree was along the Waterfall Trail, and sure enough, we could hear the parrots somewhere above in the canopy. Some playback of their calls eventually called a pair into view, though only a couple saw the male and one or two the female before they moved on. Luckily, the next morning, a pair turned up at the fruiting tree by the cabins, allowing most everyone to catch up. [E]
ECLECTUS PARROT (Eclectus roratus) – Regular in small numbers in the lower elevation regions. As usual, there were more males than females seen, and our best views were of males, with a few seen in nice light during the river trips, but we did see a couple of females pretty well, too.
RED-CHEEKED PARROT (Geoffroyus geoffroyi) – A common bird of lower elevations, and we saw good numbers daily around the Kiunga region and at Varirata.
BLUE-COLLARED PARROT (Geoffroyus simplex) – The higher elevation replacement of the preceding species, and a much tougher species to see well. Usually we identify these birds only by their distinctive "sleigh bell" calls, but this year, we actually had a trio of birds fly past low enough over Ambua Lodge that we could see their color. Never had that happen before! [E]
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella brehmii) – The only easy and pretty much guaranteed tiger-parrot. A couple of birds at the Kumul Lodge feeders were fun to watch. Our only tiger-parrot apart from these was a single bird just up the road from Ambua Lodge. [E]
YELLOW-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) – Lots of these were seen around Ambua, including several that sat out nicely for the group. The similar Orange-billed Lorikeet occurs in the area, too, though usually at slightly higher elevations. At least some of the lorikeets flying high overhead in the Seven Corners area were likely that species, but we never saw any well enough to confirm. [E]
ORANGE-BREASTED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta gulielmitertii) – These gorgeous and charming little fig-parrots showed well on several days around Tabubil and Kiunga. [E]
DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta diophthalma) – Seen a couple of times around Kiunga, with superb scope views of a perched pair along Boystown Road. The subspecies found here is aruensis.
LARGE FIG-PARROT (Psittaculirostris desmarestii) – We were scouring the branches of a large riverside tree for a vocal pair of these scarce birds without success until Sam finally located them sitting in a large hollow on the main trunk. They remained there long enough for us to pass the scope around the boat and get everyone a scope view. I've never had a decent view of this species perched before, so this was by far my best look ever. [E]
PYGMY LORIKEET (Charmosyna wilhelminae) – One of a pair of lifers for me this trip, which is not something I expect on this tour nowadays. We had decent views of a pair that flew over the road at Ambua (undoubtedly there were more, but only one pair was seen well enough). The small size was not quite enough on its own to identify them, but we could clearly see the difference between the all green female and the male with its bright red underwings. The only small species to match this pattern is this one. I briefly saw a close perched pair along the Waterfall Trail the next day, but they were gone before anyone else could get on them.
RED-FLANKED LORIKEET (Charmosyna placentis) – Though fairly common in the lowlands around Kiunga, these birds are often only seen in flight, so getting a great scope view of a colorful male next to the Boystown Road mound was a real treat. [E]
PAPUAN LORIKEET (Charmosyna papou) – We saw fewer of these spectacular lorikeets than we usually do, but one of our first was a stunning black morph bird perched with its mate near the Tari Gap. The field guide has split this bird into two species, and calls this form Stella's Lorikeet, though that split has not been widely accepted. [E]
YELLOW-STREAKED LORY (Chalcopsitta scintillata) – Seen daily around Kiunga, though usually just in flight or in poor light. There was one sighting along Boystown Road though, that was outstanding, but the birds took off just before it was my turn to finally have a peek through the scope. [E]
BLACK-CAPPED LORY (Lorius lory) – Seen pretty regularly at the lower elevation sites, but we didn't have a really smashing view until a pair flew past at eye level as we stood at the Varirata Lookout on one of our final days in the country. [E]
GOLDIE'S LORIKEET (Psitteuteles goldiei) – There were loads of lorikeets flying around near Ambua, and undoubtedly there were more of these than we could confirm, but the only ones we saw well enough to be certain of were 4 birds that flew over early one morning. [E]
DUSKY LORY (Pseudeos fuscata) – A quartet of these birds flew over late one afternoon along Boystown Road. If you weren't able to get your bins on them in time, you probably saw nothing of the orange underwings and breast bands, making the name especially apt. [E]

Participant Sharon Rannels got this scenic blue-sky shot of the landscape in the Seven Corners area of the Highlands Highway.

RAINBOW LORIKEET (COCONUT) (Trichoglossus haematodus nigrogularis) – Widespread and quite common though nowhere near as numerous as usual, perhaps due to the dearth of appropriate flowering trees in the lowland regions.
Pittidae (Pittas)
PAPUAN PITTA (Erythropitta macklotii) – Part of the big pitta splitta! Former Red-breasted Pitta was recently split into 16(!) species and this is the remaining PNG mainland bird. We heard one along a trail on the banks of the Elevala River, but it showed no interest in playback. [E*]
HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – A pair heard along the same trail as the Papuan Pitta were equally unresponsive. [*]
Ptilonorhynchidae (Bowerbirds)
ARCHBOLD'S BOWERBIRD (Archboldia papuensis) – Just before we needed to leave Kumul Lodge for the airport, a female of this scarce species flew in and landed ever so briefly above the feeding table before dashing off into the forest again. Those that saw her fly in could see the distinctive shape and small ochre spot near the bend of her wing. [E]
MACGREGOR'S BOWERBIRD (Amblyornis macgregoriae) – A lone female one morning in the Ambua fruiting tree was nowhere near as impressive as the beautifully maintained bower Joseph showed us along the Waterfall Trail. We also heard a male giving an amazing variety of vocalizations and imitations one day on the trails across the Tari Gap. [E]
FLAME BOWERBIRD (Sericulus aureus) – A subpar performance this year, with a male flying past the mound a couple of times, but catching us off guard both times, so that not everyone managed to see his fiery colors. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera lauterbachi) – One male appeared next to the viewing area at the Lesser BoP site, stick in bill, obviously on his way to work on a nearby bower. Another was scoped as it perched obligingly out in the open at the usual site nearer the Lai River. [E]
FAWN-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera cerviniventris) – No fewer than seven or eight birds that first afternoon on the grounds of Parliament Haus, and all quite easy to see as they like to sit up on open canopy perches in the late afternoon. Others were seen elsewhere in the Port Moresby region and at Sogeri.
Climacteridae (Australasian Treecreepers)
PAPUAN TREECREEPER (Cormobates placens) – I've only seen this local species once or twice before, so I was very happy to get good looks at a pair that flew in and began hitching up nearby tree trunks not far above Ambua Lodge. [E]
Maluridae (Fairywrens)
EMPEROR FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyanocephalus) – Unlike many fairywren species, in which the females are quite drab, the female of this species is arguably even more strikingly attractive than the gorgeous blue males. And it was the females that were the more cooperative in each of the two pairs we ran along Boystown Road. [E]

The Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise unanimously nabbed top spot in the "BoP of the trip" competition, thanks to the antics we witnessed at a lek on our final morning. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

WHITE-SHOULDERED FAIRYWREN (Malurus alboscapulatus) – The most widespread of the country's fairywrens, and the only one that is easy to see. We had these charming birds on more than half the days of the tour, and at a variety of sites from the lowlands on up to the montane regions at Ambua. In most areas we saw birds in which the females were just a duller version of the male, though a female (or juvenile?) near Ambua was extensively white below. [E]
Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)
PLAIN HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius ixoides) – Aptly named, as there is very little by way of field marks on this species. We were able to note this lack of field marks during several nice encounters along Boystown Road. [E]
STREAK-HEADED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius stictocephalus) – We had a couple of good sightings of this large and distinctive honeyeater on Boystown Road, with Diane spotting the first for us. We also heard their loud and unmistakeable songs on several occasions. [E]
SCRUB HONEYEATER (Meliphaga albonotata) – Quite a few in the Tabubil area, with best views coming in the scrub behind the hotel, where there always area few of these lurking. One of the easier to identify species in this notoriously tough genus, as it is one of only two that has a whitish ear patch. [E]
MOUNTAIN MELIPHAGA (Meliphaga orientalis) – Also fairly straightforward to identify, but only by range, as it occurs at higher elevations than any other Meliphaga. We saw a few of these in a flowering tree along the Lai River. [E]
MIMIC HONEYEATER (Meliphaga analoga) – We probably saw quite a few more of these than we marked down, as this is one of the more abundant and widespread species in the group. But overall we never really got good views of many Meliphagas, and we let a lot go unidentified, which is safest way to go with these birds. The Mimics we did see well were at Varirata. [E]
ELEGANT HONEYEATER (Meliphaga cinereifrons cinereifrons) – With its dark face, slender bill, and distinctively shaped ear patch, this is perhaps a little more straightforward to identify than most others in the group. Generally quite numerous at Varirata, though we never connected with definitive looks until our final day in the country. [E]
BLACK-THROATED HONEYEATER (Caligavis subfrenata) – There seemed to be far more of these about in the highland forests than I usually encounter, mirroring the situation with Red-collared Myzomela, so I think we hit the highlands during a particularly good flowering period. In addition to hearing these birds pretty much everywhere around Ambua, including lower in elevation than I've had them before, we also had some excellent looks at several in a roadside flowering tree up at the Tari Gap. [E]
OBSCURE HONEYEATER (Caligavis obscura) – Just a single one was heard this year, along the road near km 17 one afternoon, but despite calling several times and seemingly responding to playback, it stayed well out of sight. [E*]
ORNATE MELIDECTES (Melidectes torquatus) – A pair of these fancy honeyeaters showed well as we were enjoying the Lesser BoP performance below Kumul Lodge. [E]
BELFORD'S MELIDECTES (Melidectes belfordi) – Numerous in the highlands, where we saw them in good numbers daily. [E]
YELLOW-BROWED MELIDECTES (Melidectes rufocrissalis) – Occurs at slightly lower elevations than the preceding species. We saw these regularly on the grounds of Ambua Lodge. [E]
YELLOW-TINTED HONEYEATER (Ptilotula flavescens) – A local bird in the country, occurring only in the savanna regions around Port Moresby. We saw at least half a dozen on the grounds of the Parliament Haus our first afternoon.
BROWN-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ramsayornis modestus) – A responsive pair of these at the small roadside pond in the Brown River region were my first for the country.
RUFOUS-BANDED HONEYEATER (Conopophila albogularis) – Our first was a bird seen as we waited for our flight at the Kiunga air strip. Our only other one was a lone bird at Sogeri.
SMOKY HONEYEATER (Melipotes fumigatus) – Common and conspicuous in the highland forests. If it wasn't for its endearing "blushing" response, I reckon people would get pretty tired of this bird rather quickly. [E]
RED MYZOMELA (Myzomela cruentata) – Not a common bird, and I've seen just a few. This trip we had only one, a bird Nick spotted perched atop a nearby tree at Dablin Creek. Too bad it didn't stick around long enough for everyone to see. [E]
PAPUAN BLACK MYZOMELA (Myzomela nigrita) – One of our final new birds of the trip. We'd found some flowers along the Varirata entrance road that looked good for myzomelas, and there was an unidentified one there (possibly an out-of-place Dusky), so the next day we checked the area again, and came up with super looks at one of these, a nice black male that obligingly showed off his white underwings a couple of times. [E]
ELFIN MYZOMELA (Myzomela adolphinae) – A couple of these buzzed actively around in the overhead trees as we enjoyed the Lesser BoPs below Kumul. Formerly called Mountain Red-headed Myzomela, a rather unwieldy name for such a small bird. [E]

A Great Woodswallow made a feast of a big cicada -- and its flockmates kept a watchful eye (and quick beaks) on the falling bits as it dismantled its prey. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

RED-COLLARED MYZOMELA (Myzomela rosenbergii) – Finding a singing male just below the lodge at Kumul was a treat, as this is not always an easy bird to find, and I thought it possible it would be the only one we would see. So I was completely unprepared to see bunches of them, and hear even more, daily along the road above Ambua. Like many of these nectarivorous birds, they are quite irruptive when conditions are right. [E]
RUFOUS-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora guisei) – Replaces the next species at slightly lower elevations. These birds were fairly common along the lower stretch of the road above Ambua Lodge. [E]
GRAY-STREAKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora perstriata) – Right up there with Belford's Melidectes and Smoky Honeyeater as the most numerous honeyeaters (and indeed, birds) in the highland forests. [E]
BROWN HONEYEATER (Lichmera indistincta) – Our only one was in Australia, perched in a palm just outside the window of the departure lounge in Brisbane.
WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus albogularis) – Quite numerous in the eucalyptus trees along the entrance road to Varirata.
TAWNY-BREASTED HONEYEATER (Xanthotis flaviventer) – Seen daily around Tabubil and Kiunga, with especially good looks at two or three that were regular visitors to a cluster of flowering Schefflera at Dablin Creek.
MEYER'S FRIARBIRD (Philemon meyeri) – A smallish, scarce, friarbird, and much darker than Helmeted. We had superb views of a responsive bird one afternoon along Boystown Road, my best view of this species in several years. [E]
HELMETED FRIARBIRD (NEW GUINEA) (Philemon buceroides novaeguineae) – A common and conspicuous large honeyeater throughout much of the country, and we recorded them daily except in the Ambua region. This species is sometimes split into three, with Helmeted Friarbird being the one found in Australia's Northern Territory, Hornbill Friarbird in NE Australia, and New Guinea Friarbird here in PNG.
Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
GOLDENFACE (Pachycare flavogriseum) – We had one quite close with a small mixed flock at Varirata, but we just couldn't locate the bird in the dense tangle of vegetation above us. [E*]
RUSTY MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis murina) – Widespread but elusive at lower elevations. Our only sighting was a bird that popped out in front of us unexpectedly as we tried to lure in another species at Dablin Creek. [E]
MOUNTAIN MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis robusta) – Not uncommon in highland forests, though we heard relatively few this trip. Luckily we also saw a cooperative pair as we walked along the trail between Kumul Lodge and Max's Orchid Garden. [E]
LARGE SCRUBWREN (Sericornis nouhuysi) – Not a very memorable bird, but a small party of these drab birds showed nicely just moments before we saw the Mountain Mouse-Warblers mentioned above. [E]
BUFF-FACED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis perspicillatus) – Quite colorful as scrubwrens go, this species was regularly seen in the forests right around Ambua Lodge. [E]

Red-capped Flowerpeckers were widespread and common. Here, one deposits a "processed" mistletoe berry on a handy twig. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

PAPUAN SCRUBWREN (Sericornis papuensis) – Common in high elevation forests at the Tari Gap. [E]
PALE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis spilodera) – A pair of these distinctive birds were well seen as they traveled with a good mixed flock at Varirata. Besides the pinkish bill and streaky breast, the almost constant tail-wagging as they forage is an excellent ID trait. [E]
GRAY THORNBILL (Acanthiza cinerea) – A little party of 4 of these small birds were encountered along the lower stretch of the road above Ambua Lodge. Until recently, these birds were considered gerygones, but recent work has shown them to belong with the Acanthiza thornbills. [E]
GREEN-BACKED GERYGONE (Gerygone chloronota) – The lilting song was a regular part of the soundtrack at Dablin Creek, and we also had some good views of one there, despite the challenges presented by the fog and terrible lighting.
FAIRY GERYGONE (Gerygone palpebrosa) – A male with a mixed flock on our first visit to Varirata was very vocal, but otherwise quite sneaky, and not everyone managed to see him.
YELLOW-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone chrysogaster) – A common member of mixed flocks, and perhaps one of the nuclear species around which such flocks form, in lowland forests. We saw our first along Boystown Road, then had more, and better, views of several at Varirata. [E]
LARGE-BILLED GERYGONE (Gerygone magnirostris) – Heard only along the Ketu River. [*]
BROWN-BREASTED GERYGONE (Gerygone ruficollis) – The lovely song of this species was heard regularly in the highlands, and we had several good sightings at both Kumul and Ambua lodges as well. [E]
Pomatostomidae (Pseudo-Babblers)
PAPUAN BABBLER (Pomatostomus isidorei) – Fast-moving and quite shy, but I think everyone ultimately wound up with good looks at these birds either near Kwatu Lodge or along the km 17 trail. [E]
Orthonychidae (Logrunners)
PAPUAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx novaeguineae) – A halfhearted response from one bird along Joseph's trails to the east of the Tari Gap. [E*]
Cnemophilidae (Satinbirds)
LORIA'S SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus loriae) – Females were far more regularly seen than males, especially at the Ambua fruiting tree, but our first was a jet-black male that we scoped from the clearing along the trail at Murmur Pass near Kumul Lodge. [E]
Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers and Longbills)
OBSCURE BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis arfakiana) – Dense fog and general indifference of the bird to playback kept us from seeing this poorly known species, one or two of which were quite vocal at Dablin Creek. [E*]
BLACK BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis nigra) – A beautifully woven cup nest with an attendant pair at Varirata was a nice find. [EN]
MID-MOUNTAIN BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis longicauda) – A few brief sightings, primarily of female birds, were had along the road above Ambua Lodge. [E]
FAN-TAILED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis versteri) – A fleeting pair that popped out then blasted across the road and out of sight at the Tari Gap were the only ones we saw. [E]
SPOTTED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis crassirostris) – I saw this species for the first time last year at Ambua, but only the male was present, so I was really happy to see both sexes this year, as the spotted female is much more distinctive. A pair were regulars in a small fruiting tree below the main fruiting tree at Ambua. [E]
SPECTACLED LONGBILL (Oedistoma iliolophus) – As is often the case, this species was only heard several times at Varirata. [E*]
PYGMY LONGBILL (Oedistoma pygmaeum) – A very small, very active bird, but we managed some very good views of a pair that hung around for much of the morning at the Boystown Road mound. [E]
Paramythiidae (Tit Berrypecker and Crested Berrypecker)
TIT BERRYPECKER (Oreocharis arfaki) – Though a few were frequent visitors to the fruiting tree at Ambua, they were surprisingly difficult to see there, so we were pretty happy to see these gorgeous birds a few times up near the Tari Gap as well. [E]
CRESTED BERRYPECKER (Paramythia montium) – Seen by a couple of folks just before we left Kumul Lodge, while the rest of us eventually caught up when we found a pair feeding in a fruiting Schefflera along the roadside up near the Tari Gap. [E]
Cinclosomatidae (Quail-thrushes and Jewel-babblers)
PAINTED QUAIL-THRUSH (Cinclosoma ajax) – As luck would have it, a responsive bird at Varirata walked in close, but came in right behind a large mossy log where it was completely out of sight. A few lucky folks got pretty good views when it briefly popped up on the log then flew off across the clearing and out of sight, but we were unable to get another look after that. [E]

We had no long-tailed male Ribbon-tailed Astrapias at the feeders this year, but did catch up with some at Tari Gap. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

BLUE JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa caerulescens) – We enticed this wonderful bird across the trail at km 17 a couple of times, but it flew, rather than walked across, and views were rather fleeting, though apparently a few of you were able to make out the colors, so that was good. [E]
CHESTNUT-BACKED JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa castanonota) – Another one that really just ran and/or flew past in response to playback at Varirata. Not a truly satisfying experience, but satisfying views are rare where jewel-babblers are concerned. [E]
Machaerirhynchidae (Boatbills)
BLACK-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus nigripectus) – We saw these delightful little birds, reminiscent of some of the tody-flycatchers on the Neotropics, several times in the highlands, starting with a cooperative male in the clearing at Murmur Pass. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) – We finally picked up this boatbill with a mixed flock along the creek at Varirata, seeing it very well.
Artamidae (Woodswallows)
GREAT WOODSWALLOW (Artamus maximus) – First seen at Tabubil, but best at Ambua, where a dozen or more are regular around the lodge grounds. The coolest thing was watching one bird fly in to the roosting area with a huge cicada gripped in its feet like it was a bird of prey. The loud buzzing of the cicada attracted us to this sight, and it continued to buzz for quite some time as the bird began to take it apart, while other woodswallows swooped down below to grab bits that were falling apart during the cicada's dismantling. [E]
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – Smaller and paler gray than the highland Great WOodswallow. These were fairly common around Port Moresby.
Cracticidae (Bellmagpies and Allies)
MOUNTAIN PELTOPS (Peltops montanus) – The two peltops species are very similar, told apart most easily by range and call, though there is some difference in the extent of the white patches on their faces. On this one, the white extends higher on the face (higher than the eye) than on Lowland. We saw this species first at Dablin Creek, then also had one early in the morning at the Ambua Lodge parking lot. [E]
LOWLAND PELTOPS (Peltops blainvillii) – A fitting name, as it really is a lowland species, with Mountain Peltops replacing it as low as at Tabubil (at about 600m). We saw these birds only around Kiunga. [E]
BLACK-BACKED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus mentalis) – The common butcherbird of open savanna regions. We saw one at Parliament Haus the first afternoon, then a few others on our last day in the Port Moresby region.
HOODED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus cassicus) – More of a forest bird than the preceding species, though they do overlap in some transitional areas such as along the entrance road to Varirata. This was the most commonly seen butcherbird, and we had them daily pretty much everywhere but in the highlands. [E]

Jay negotiates a wig purchase. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi) – We saw this species only around Tabubil, but had good looks there, and everybody really got into their musical calls. Oddly, that particular song seems to be specific to the Tabubil region, and I've not heard it anywhere else.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
STOUT-BILLED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina caeruleogrisea) – We saw only one of these massive cuckooshrikes, a single bird with a small mixed flock at Dablin Creek. [E]
HOODED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina longicauda) – We finally tracked down a quartet of these striking large cuckooshrikes on our final afternoon in the highlands, getting super looks at a group that flew across the road just above the lodge. [E]
BARRED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina lineata) – Seen on two different visits to Varirata NP, though we never got good views of a barred female. Unlike in the subspecies found in Australia, in which both sexes are barred below, only the female of this race (axillaris) is barred.
BOYER'S CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina boyeri) – Quite a common cuckooshrike, especially so at Varirata, where there was almost always a small party hanging around the picnic area. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina papuensis papuensis) – Just a few seen along the entrance road to Varirata, and a couple near the Lai River below Kumul Lodge.
GOLDEN CUCKOOSHRIKE (Campochaera sloetii) – Heard only along the Fly River, but the birds remained frustratingly unresponsive and out of view. [E*]
VARIED TRILLER (Lalage leucomela) – Good views of this bird a couple of times at Boystown Road and along the Varirata entrance road.
BLACK-BELLIED CICADABIRD (Edolisoma montanum) – Fairly common in highland forests, and we had decent views first at a pair at Murmur Pass, then much better looks at several along the road above Ambua. [E]
PAPUAN CICADABIRD (Edolisoma incertum) – Formerly known as Black-shouldered Cuckooshrike (or Cicadabird); not sure which name is less fitting. We had good views of a singing male of this uncommon, dark species on each of our visits to Dablin Creek. [E]
GRAY-HEADED CICADABIRD (Edolisoma schisticeps) – The male is considerably lighter than the male of the preceding species, which we saw well as they were seen close together at Dablin Creek. The rusty, gray-headed female is far more distinct, and we had numerous good views of her as well. [E]
BLACK CICADABIRD (Edolisoma melan) – Our only one was a rusty female perched above the trail on our fist visit to Varirata. [E]
Neosittidae (Sittellas)

It's a kite, it's a pigeon, it's the Brahminy Cuckoo-Dove! In actuality, it's a Great Cuckoo-Dove, but -- thanks to its huge size and rich colors -- it was initially mistaken for the similarly-plumaged kite. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

BLACK SITTELLA (Daphoenositta miranda) – These birds move around considerably, and you really just need to be lucky to find them. We were very lucky this trip, finding a group of 5 or 6 next to the road late one afternoon near the Tari Gap. [E]
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
WATTLED PLOUGHBILL (Eulacestoma nigropectus) – What a crazy bird! Everyone was blown away by the enormous pink wattles on the male we had above Ambua! Too bad it had just been raining and cameras were back on the bus, as I think someone could have gotten a nice photo of this cooperative bird. This bird won top honors as non-BoP of the tour overall, and was both Nick's and Diane's favorite of the tour. [E]
RUSTY PITOHUI (Colluricincla ferruginea) – Elusive as always, though we had a quick look at a vocal bird at Ok Menga, then slightly better views of a couple at Varirata. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED PITOHUI (Colluricincla incerta) – We just couldn't get on these fast-moving birds that passed by overhead just after our two paradise-kingfishers near Kwatu. [E*]
LITTLE SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha) – Oddly, it took us until our last day at Varirata to finally see this common and widespread species.
GRAY SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica) – We also waited until the last day to see this one, though it is far more local in the country so it's not as surprising. We had fine views of one in the open country at Sogeri.
REGENT WHISTLER (Pachycephala schlegelii) – This gorgeous whistler was a regular sight at both Kumul Lodge and the Tari Gap, though we'd been seeing one for days prior to that on the front of Nick's cap! [E]
SCLATER'S WHISTLER (Pachycephala soror) – Found at slightly lower elevations than the Regent Whistler. We had a couple of these along the roadway just above Ambua Lodge. [E]
BROWN-BACKED WHISTLER (Pachycephala modesta) – Pretty common and easy to see in the forests between Ambua and the Tari Gap. [E]
GRAY WHISTLER (GRAY-HEADED) (Pachycephala simplex griseiceps) – This nondescript whistler turned up in a mixed flock at Varirata on our final day.
WHITE-BELLIED WHISTLER (Pachycephala leucogastra) – Quite a local species, an only found along the Varirata entrance road on this tour route. It took us some work to track down a singing male, but when we finally found him, we had some beautiful views. [E]
BLACK-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala monacha) – Quite common in highland valleys, especially where there are lots of Casuarina trees. We spent very little time in this type of habitat this trip (owing partly to tribal tensions around Tari) and so only saw a single one of these birds near the Lai River. [E]

Participant Steve Rannels created this fabulous poster of some of the many moths he photographed during the tour.

MOTTLED BERRYHUNTER (Rhagologus leucostigma) – Several birds were incredibly vocal at the Murmur Pass trail near Kumul, but they remained very tough to see, despite responding quite well. We all hd decent flight views of them, at least. A couple were also singing quite vigorously above Ambua, but they were even shyer, and not so much as a rustle of wings was seen here. [E]
Oreoicidae (Australo-Papuan Bellbirds)
RUFOUS-NAPED BELLBIRD (Aleadryas rufinucha) – Formerly classed as a whistler, now part of a three member family that includes Australia's Crested Bellbird and the former Crested Pitohui (now Piping Bellbird). Common in the highlands, and we had especially nice looks at one feeding around on of the lights along the path to the cabins at Ambua. [E]
PIPING BELLBIRD (Ornorectes cristatus) – The distinctive, long. monotonous song was heard distantly at Varirata our final day. [E*]
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (NASUTUS GROUP) (Lanius schach stresemanni) – Excellent views of our first ones, a pair near the Lai River, followed by several other sightings in the highlands. This is the only shrike species that is resident on the east side of Wallace's Line, though Brown Shrike sometimes occurs as a vagrant to the island.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
HOODED PITOHUI (Pitohui dichrous) – One of the true toxic pitohuis, the toxins building up in the skin and feathers as a result of their regular consumption of Choresine beetles. We saw our first with a mixed flock at Dablin Creek, but then had far better views of several during our visits to Varirata. [E]
VARIABLE PITOHUI (Pitohui kirhocephalus) – Very vocal at km 17, but incredibly shy and we never got even a hint of movement from these birds. [E*]
BROWN ORIOLE (Oriolus szalayi) – Generally common, though it seems to me they weren't as evident as usual. Still, we saw quite a few of these birds, which look amazingly similar to friarbirds, both at Kiunga and around Varirata. [E]
AUSTRALASIAN FIGBIRD (Sphecotheres vieilloti) – Quite local in the country, and we saw our only one on our first afternoon at Parliament Haus, though most of you saw several the same morning around Brisbane.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
SPANGLED DRONGO (Dicrurus bracteatus) – Seen daily in the Kiunga region, but these were the only ones we encountered.
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
PYGMY DRONGO-FANTAIL (Chaetorhynchus papuensis) – Heard by all on our final morning at Varirata, but only a couple of folks had decent views of it. Sounds like they had very good looks, though, as they even noted the usually concealed white patch at the shoulder. [E]
BLACK FANTAIL (Rhipidura atra) – One flew across the road at Dablin Creek on our first morning, and was seen by a few, but otherwise it remained out of sight. [E]
NORTHERN FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufiventris) – Good views of one sitting high above the clearing at Dablin Creek.
WHITE-BELLIED THICKET-FANTAIL (Rhipidura leucothorax leucothorax) – Heard often, but as is typical, they were all nearly impossible to see. Only Katherine saw one of these birds as it flew across the shortcut creek between the Fly and Elevala Rivers as we were working to see Shining Flycatchers. [E]
WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys) – Not a day went by that we didn't see these common, endearing birds.
RUFOUS-BACKED FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufidorsa) – A couple of distant ones were heard along Boystown Road, but we never got close enough to even have a chance. [E*]
DIMORPHIC FANTAIL (Rhipidura brachyrhyncha) – We saw just two of these, but happily, we had one of each form. Our first was a rufous morph bird at the Murmur Pass trailhead as we were trying to see the berryhunters. Our pale morph bird came a couple of days later up at the Tari Gap. [E]
FRIENDLY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albolimbata) – Common and easy to see in the highlands, and much friendlier than most of the other fantails on this trip. We saw them daily around Kumul and Ambua, and even found one on a nest above the lower vine bridge on the Waterfall Trail. [EN]
CHESTNUT-BELLIED FANTAIL (Rhipidura hyperythra) – These gorgeous fantails are regular members of mixed feeding flocks at Varirata, and are usually one of the easier flock members to see well. We had good views on a couple of our visits to the park. [E]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)

Like the pitohuis, Blue-capped Ifritas have been found to have toxins in their skin and feathers. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

BLUE-CAPPED IFRITA (Ifrita kowaldi) – One of my favorite PNG species, not just for their good looks, but also their quirky calls and charming behavior. We saw these wonderful birds almost daily in the highlands, with especially nice close views from the balcony at Kumul. Like the pitohuis, these birds have also been found to have toxins in their skin and feathers. Taxonomically they have been bumped around quite a bit, appearing here in the Monarchidae, but sometimes treated as the sole species in a monotypic family, Ifritidae. [E]
GOLDEN MONARCH (Carterornis chrysomela) – A pair of these little stunners finally turned up late one afternoon near the mound at Boystown Road, and we all enjoyed incredibly views of the flashy male, and for some, decent looks at the more subdued female, too. [E]
BLACK-FACED MONARCH (Monarcha melanopsis) – Barb spotted our only one high above the trail at Varirata as it moved on the outskirts of a small mixed flock. This species breeds in Australia, showing up here in PNG as a winter visitor.
FANTAILED MONARCH (Symposiachrus axillaris) – Up until recently known as Black Monarch. One bird was feeding around a light near the cabins at Ambua one morning, and another was along the trails east of the Tari Gap the next day. [E]
SPOT-WINGED MONARCH (Symposiachrus guttula) – A few of these were mixed in with some of the multi-species feeding flocks we encountered at Varirata, and they generally were one of the easier species to see in these flocks. [E]
FRILLED MONARCH (Arses telescopthalmus) – The most oft-encountered monarch in the lowlands, this lovely species showed off beautifully numerous times. [E]
MAGPIE-LARK (Grallina cyanoleuca) – A couple on the edge of the runway, seen from the Brisbane departure lounge.
LEADEN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra rubecula) – A very excited male along the Varirata entrance road exhibited the characteristic tail quivering behavior of this genus of monarchs.
SHINING FLYCATCHER (Myiagra alecto) – Common along the rivers in the Kiunga region, where we had several nice encounters. The first pair we stopped for eluded us, but led directly to our spotting of the Forest Bittern, making this bird even more popular than it otherwise would have been!
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY CROW (Corvus tristis) – Widespread in the lowlands, and we saw them several times around Kiunga and Varirata, with a high count of 9 in one flock at the later site. [E]
TORRESIAN CROW (Corvus orru orru) – Quite common in the savanna region around Port Moresby.
Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-Paradise)
TRUMPET MANUCODE (Phonygammus keraudrenii) – Whoever named this species has no idea what a trumpet sounds like! Manucodes are pretty drab as BoPs go, but they have these incredibly long looped (genus Manucodia) or coiled (this species) tracheas that serve as amplifiers for their calls, probably the real source for this bird's name. We heard these regularly around Kiunga, and had a few good views, including one calling and displaying bird at km 17.

Though we inexplicably managed to miss the colorful Rainbow Bee-eater on our first visit to Varirata, we did find some on our final day and a half in the park. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

CRINKLE-COLLARED MANUCODE (Manucodia chalybatus) – This is the large one with the bumps on its head. We saw a couple in the Kiunga lowlands. A distant manucode seen at the Lesser BoP site was most likely this species as well (though we were leaning towards Glossy-mantled). It is apparently regular in highland valleys. [E]
GLOSSY-MANTLED MANUCODE (Manucodia ater) – The one with the tuning fork call. Heard pretty regularly at Kiunga and Varirata, and we had a few decent views as well. As usual, there were plenty of unidentified manucodes seen flying across the rivers during the boat trips. [E]
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Pteridophora alberti) – The newly cut trail at Murmur Pass was a bit tricky to walk, but it sure was worth it, as we had great close looks at a spectacular male of this BoP displaying in a tree just in front of us. Later we also saw a distant male at the Tari Gap, along with several females. [E]
CAROLA'S PAROTIA (Parotia carolae) – The dense fog at Dablin Creek was a hindrance in finding this bird, but it didn't help that there only seemed to be one around either. We heard one the first morning but it was too foggy to see anything. The next morning was clearer, and we managed to spot a lone male perched up for just long enough for everyone to get a quick scope view before it took off never to return. [E]
LAWES'S PAROTIA (Parotia lawesii) – Females were a common sight at the Ambua fruiting tree, with up to 3 at a time there, but I've never seen a male come in to feed there. [E]
TWELVE-WIRED BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Seleucidis melanoleucus) – We had a couple of flybys on our first day along the Elevala River, a female first, followed a short while later by a male. But this species was a main target of ours on our second boat trip, and Edward took us to a display post along the Fly River, only for us to find a Brahminy Kite perched there. We heard the male, and he eventually did come close to his display perch, allowing us all a look, but it seemed the kite's presence was enough to keep him away, and we never got to see it display, sadly. [E]
BLACK-BILLED SICKLEBILL (Drepanornis albertisi) – Excellent views of a couple of different females as they put in repeat appearances at the Ambua fruiting tree. This was a long-awaited lifer for me, so I was particularly pleased to finally see this bird. [E]
SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Lophorina superba) – Lots of females were frequenting Ambua's fruiting tree, and a beautiful male also put in an appearance one morning, with most folks getting a nice view of his glittering turquoise shield. [E]
MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (Ptiloris magnificus) – A vocal bird along Boystown Road was just never near enough for us to have a chance. [*]
MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (GROWLING) (Ptiloris magnificus intercedens) – I'm not sure why it's taking so long to split this form off from other Magnificent Riflebird populations, but their growling calls are so different that there is no way these are the same species. We heard them often at Varirata, and with patience, had some of my best views ever at a calling male along the trail next to the creek. [E]
BROWN SICKLEBILL (Epimachus meyeri) – The female at the Kumul feeders was a big hit as always, but we also had pretty good looks, and heard the machine gun rattle, of a male at Murmur Pass. [E]
SHORT-TAILED PARADIGALLA (Paradigalla brevicauda) – One turned up in the Ambua fruiting tree one morning, and another male was seen calling from a display perch up at the quarry above the lodge. This was the first time I've actually heard this species singing, and I was pretty happy to be able to record his call. [E]
STEPHANIE'S ASTRAPIA (Astrapia stephaniae) – We had incredible encounters with both astrapia species this year, seeing each multiple times. But easily our best sighting of this one was of a male chasing several females around in the treetops above Ambua, then flying directly over our heads, long tail rippling behind him. Just awesome! [E]
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia mayeri) – No long-tailed males were at the Kumul feeders this time, but we still had some good up close looks at these birds there. And long-tailed males were seen and seen beautifully up at the Tari Gap, with one particularly memorable bird flying from dead tree to dead tree with those impossibly long white tail streamers quivering along behind. The astrapias (both species) were runners-up in the BoP of the tour voting, though most of you refused to choose one over the other. [E]
KING BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus regius) – The tiny size of this bird and its habit of displaying from thick vine tangles in the subcanopy can make this a tough bird to see well, especially as the display perches are often backlit as well. But we had really nice lighting this year, and wound up with better than usual scope studies of this little stunner along the km 17 trail. [E]
MAGNIFICENT BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus magnificus) – I've often had trouble with this BoP though we do her them regularly at Dablin Creek. This year we had somewhat better luck than usual with the Mag BoP, and we all had reasonable views of a female, with several folks also getting decent views of a golden-backed male as well. [E]
BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea rudolphi) – Females were pretty regular visitors to the Ambua feeding tree, with up to three at a time present there. At one point a young male also showed up, and spent some time hanging upside down in a nearby tree-- a little practice for when he's ready to try and impress the females. [E]

We saw Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds in several places this year, including 7 or 8 in the slanting late afternoon light at Parliament Haus. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

LESSER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea minor) – Right up until the last day, this was in the running for the BoP of the trip, and why not? We arrived at the site below Kumul and almost immediately were enjoying great views of the single male calling there. He flew over a couple of times, and then, he was suddenly joined by a couple more males and several females, and the calling and displaying intensified. We spent the better part of a morning watching this display, which was the best I've ever seen from this species. If it hadn't been for the final morning's spectacle from the next species, this would probably have been voted BoP of the trip. [E]
RAGGIANA BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea raggiana) – Never before, on any previous trip in my 15+ years with Field Guides, have I had a unanimous pick as bird of the trip, and that includes my vote as well. Our final morning at Varirata gave us arguably the best show I've ever had from any BoP. Our first visit came up short, but that final morning, we arrived at the lek to find at least 4 or 5 males sitting close together, calling loudly and waving their bustles about. Shortly thereafter, a handful of females dropped by, and the displays heated up. It was pretty obvious these females were ready to mate, as they came right onto the dominant male's perch and he went crazy. The phenomenal display was as impressive to the female as it was to us, and she soon invited him aboard, and a brief copulation followed. Highlight of the trip, no question about it! As close to an Attenborough moment as one can hope to get on a 2-week tour! [E]
GREATER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea apoda) – Not a bad showing at the Km 17 lek near Kiunga, but the displays pale in comparison to those of the other Paradisaea we enjoyed. There were plenty of hybrids around as well, and Steve also photographed one bird there that looked to be a pure Raggiana. Could the days of pure Greater BoPs be numbered in this region? Hope not. [E]
LESSER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta lugubris) – I doubt this is actually going to remain a BoP for long; the new field guide has already split the melampittas into their own family, Melampittidae. As always, these were tough to see, and they weren't terribly vocal this year, either. Some folks managed to get looks at a close responsive bird late one afternoon up the road from Ambua. [E]
Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)
LESSER GROUND-ROBIN (Amalocichla incerta) – We heard the lovely song of this skulking species just up the road from Ambua, where the lack of access to the forest squashed any hope of seeing it. [E*]
TORRENT FLYCATCHER (Monachella muelleriana) – Some fleeting and distant views of this lovely little bird at Ok Menga were bettered when we found a cooperative roadside pair at the Lai River. [E]
LEMON-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Microeca flavigaster) – Not uncommon in the savanna along the Varirata entrance road.
PAPUAN FLYCATCHER (Microeca papuana) – I'm not enamored with the new name of this species, as I much prefer Canary Flycatcher, but I am quite enamored with this cute little bird. We saw them regularly in the highland forests. [E]
WHITE-FACED ROBIN (Tregellasia leucops) – Most people missed this one on our first visit to Varirata, but we made good on our final morning when we found a very cooperative group of 4 birds along the Border Track.
BLACK-SIDED ROBIN (Poecilodryas hypoleuca) – Always tricky, and even worse than usual this year, as the bird just wouldn't cooperate. I think only Katherine managed a quick view along one of the Elevala River trails. [E]

There are roughly 6000 species of butterfly and moth known from Papua New Guinea -- and some of them are pretty spectacular! Unfortunately, I don't know what it is. Photo by participant Sharon Rannels.

BLACK-THROATED ROBIN (Poecilodryas albonotata) – Just one sighting of a bird with a little flock of other small species along the roadside above Ambua. [E]
WHITE-WINGED ROBIN (Peneothello sigillata) – Quite tame and easy to see in the gardens at Kumul. We also saw a single bird along the road near the Tari Gap. [E]
WHITE-RUMPED ROBIN (Peneothello bimaculata) – Heard along the road at Dablin Creek, but not at all cooperative. [E*]
BLUE-GRAY ROBIN (Peneothello cyanus) – Not uncommon around Ambua, and seen several times feeding around the edge of the parking lot and up along the driveway. [E]
ASHY ROBIN (Heteromyias albispecularis) – Another one of the super skulkers in the highland forests. We heard this species (which I've seen well exactly once) both at Murmur Pass and the Tari Gap. [E*]
PAPUAN SCRUB-ROBIN (Drymodes beccarii) – Heard a few times at Varirata, but we never found a responsive one. [E*]
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – The default swallow throughout the country. Widespread and common.
TREE MARTIN (Petrochelidon nigricans) – Seen only at the Brisbane airport while we awaited our flight to PNG.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
ISLAND LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus poliocephalus) – A few birds were seen along the road just up from Ambua Lodge. Thankfully the only Phylloscopus in the country!
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
TAWNY GRASSBIRD (Megalurus timoriensis) – Seen regularly in grassy clearings in the highlands around the Tari Gap.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
GOLDEN-HEADED CISTICOLA (Cisticola exilis) – Long views of a bird with an evidently very itchy head as it sat atop a shrub scratching its cranium at Sogeri on our final day.
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor) – Several of the black-fronted form were seen at the large Schefflera fruit cluster that we scoped at Dablin Creek. We also saw the green-fronted form, which the field guide splits out as a separate species, at the Lesser BoP site. This form is easily recognized, and told apart from New Guinea White-eye, by its lack of a white eye ring. [E]
CAPPED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops fuscicapilla) – The second group of white-eyes that turned up in the fruiting Schefflera at Dablin Creek were all this species; these are all yellow below in comparison to the preceding species. We also saw a couple of these in the highlands at Ambua. [E]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)

The Greater Flying Fox, as might be surmised from its name, is one of the world's largest bats. We saw plenty in flight, and some impressive trees full of roosting hundreds. Photo by participant Steve Rannels.

PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata) – Pretty common and seen regularly in open areas, primarily in the highlands.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ISLAND THRUSH (Turdus poliocephalus) – A couple of these were regular visitors to the Kumul Lodge feeders.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
METALLIC STARLING (Aplonis metallica) – Some big groups along the rivers during the boat trip, with several flocks bathing/drinking on the wing in the late afternoon.
YELLOW-EYED STARLING (Aplonis mystacea) – Quite scarce, and easy to overlook among the large numbers of Metallic Starlings in the Fly River lowlands. We found a group of 9 along the Elevala River, and by passing the scope around the boat, each person was able to get clear looks at the yellow eyes and less elongated tails of these birds. [E]
YELLOW-FACED MYNA (Mino dumontii) – Numerous in the lowlands, especially around Kiunga, where 50-100 of these birds gathered together in the trees across from the trailhead at km 17 in the late afternoons-- the largest gatherings I've ever encountered here. [E]
GOLDEN MYNA (Mino anais) – We saw at least 10 of these colorful mynas along the Elevala River, with some very nice views of several perched in dead branches in the canopy. Particularly nice were the ones teed up right above Kwatu Lodge. [E]
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) – Widespread and common. We only missed these birds on a single day. Biggest event was a half dozen or more at the fruiting Schefflera at Dablin Creek.
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
BLACK SUNBIRD (Leptocoma sericea) – Common in the Kiunga region, though as always getting any color on them was a bit difficult.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AUSTRALASIAN PIPIT (AUSTRALIAN) (Anthus novaeseelandiae australis) – A single bird strolled along the edge of the runway at the Tari airport.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A few birds around Port Moresby. [I]
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – This bird has exploded across the country in the past few years, since first arriving here in about 2003. Even as little as 3 years ago, only 5 birds were recorded on this tour. Now we're seeing them almost daily. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
BLUE-FACED PARROTFINCH (Erythrura trichroa) – A few birds along the road just up from Ambua Lodge, though they weren't easy to see, and it was real difficult to see much color.
GRAND MUNIA (Lonchura grandis) – At least 4 were among the many Gray-headed Munias at Sogeri on our second attempt, and we all had good scope looks at these scarce birds. [E]
HOODED MUNIA (Lonchura spectabilis) – Few this year, with just two encounters, a fair-sized group of fairly white-bellied birds near the Lai River, then a small flock of buffier-bellied individuals near Ambua. [E]
GRAY-HEADED MUNIA (Lonchura caniceps) – A few birds at Sogeri on our first visit, then large numbers, with many feeding right on the gravel road, the very next day. [E]

DORIA'S TREE KANGAROO (Dendrolagus dorianus) – Joseph had one of these in a cage at his house below Ambua. All the tree kangaroos in PNG (and there are a lot of them) are heavily hunted and highly unlikely to be seen in the wild anywhere we go.
GREATER FLYING FOX (Pteropus neohibernicus) – Large numbers along the Fly and Elevala rivers, mostly in flight, but with a couple of roosting trees teeming with them, too.
BLACK-TAILED GIANT RAT (Uromys anak) – A couple of these huge rats were nocturnal visitors to the Kumul Lodge feeders, I was happy to see, as I hadn't seen them here in my past several visits.


Totals for the tour: 292 bird taxa and 3 mammal taxa