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Field Guides Tour Report
PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2017
Jul 6, 2017 to Jul 23, 2017
Jay VanderGaast & Doug Gochfeld


Brown Sicklebill was one of the 21 species of Bird-of-Paradise that we encountered on this year's Papua New Guinea tour. Hearing their loud, machine gun-like rattles echoing through the lush highland forests near Tari Gap was a real thrill. This spectacular adult male put on an especially excellent show for us on our very first morning birding in the region. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

This year’s full Papua New Guinea (PNG) tour went about as smoothly as any PNG tour could run. All flights were on time, we didn’t run into any issues with the various local populaces (despite it being during a tense national election), everybody stayed healthy, we managed to dodge major rain or wind the entire time, and last but not least: we saw a lot of birds and had a ton of fun!

We arrived in PNG’s capital city, Port Moresby, midday on Saturday, July 8, and were very quickly and smoothly transferred over to the Rain Tree, our HQ while in Port Moresby. After a late lunch, we headed out for an afternoon of birding along the coast to the west of the city, heading towards Lea Lea with our excellent local guide, Leonard. We didn’t make it all the way out to the village, but this was because we kept running into things to look at along the way, starting with an adult Brown Booby plunge diving just off shore. We also ran into Whimbrel, Pacific Reef-Egret, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Golden-headed Cisticola, a surprise Orange-footed Scrubfowl, and plenty of Blue-winged Kookaburras, Brown Goshawks, and Torresian Imperial-Pigeons.

Sunday morning saw us getting up well before it was light out, and after an early breakfast, we met Leonard again and were on the way to Varirata National Park, one of the real birding gems of PNG. The eucalypt forest along the entrance road gave us an overwhelming hit of birds as light broke over the surrounding forests and valleys, with Black-capped Lory, White-throated Honeyeater, Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise (BoP), and two dozen other species under an umbrella of flocks of Papuan Mountain-Pigeons flying to and fro. We also had a nice treat in the form of quite a few Hooded Butcherbirds and Spangled Drongos perching out in the open and hawking insects. We continued into the park proper, and quickly ran into a male Raggiana BoP showing off at its lek site. After this we walked a couple of trails, as we spent the better part of the day inside the National Park itself. Highlights were awesome views of a Barred Owlet-Nightjar on an open branch, Dwarf Koel calling, and calling, and calling, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, excellent views of Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher and Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove, the sparsely distributed Green-backed Honeyeater, three species of cuckooshrike, Spectacled Longbill, and of course the Hooded Pitta which everyone was able to get a scope view of!

In the afternoon we made our way over to Pacific Adventist University (PAU), where we enjoyed a slew of waterbirds, many of which we would only see this once. The birds here included Wandering and Plumed Whistling-Ducks, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants, Comb-crested Jacana, Rufous Night-Heron, Straw-necked Ibis, Australasian Swamphen, a family of Pied Heron, and a big surprise in three Gray Teal. Other special birds that we picked up here were Common Kingfisher, Singing Starling, Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove, the ever-awesome Papuan Frogmouth, and several species of honeyeater, including Scrub, Yellow-tinted, and Rufous-banded. We also got looks at the bower of a Fawn-breasted Bowerbird.

Our journey through the more remote parts of PNG began on Monday, as we flew into Tabubil, a mining town in the foothills not far east of the Indonesian border, and eventually met up with Glen, our local guide throughout our time in this region. We stayed at the Cloudlands Hotel in Tabubil for just one night, but we managed to pick up a great deal of species while there. We made both an afternoon/evening and a morning trip to Dablin Creek, where we were treated to atypically excellent weather, especially notable in that there was no fog! Dablin Creek delivered Carola’s Parotia, Papuan Cicadabird, Long-billed Honeyeater, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot, Orange-breasted Fig-Parrot, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Mountain Peltops, Black Butcherbird, Obscure Berrypecker, Yellow-bellied Longbill, and an abundance of Gray-headed Cicadabirds. The morning visit was especially notable in that it furnished a dozen Carola’s Parotia, which put on a fantastic show sending their alien-like antennae this way and that as they fed overhead. Monday evening included a dusk visit to Ok Menga, where we heard very well, but didn’t see, Shovel-billed Kookaburra, Hook-billed Kingfisher, and Marbled Frogmouths, but where we DID see a pair of Papuan Boobooks very well.

After our morning visit to Dablin Creek on Tuesday, we drove down to Kiunga, along the mighty Fly River. Our first extensive birding in the Kiunga wasn’t until the next morning, when we started out along the legendary Boystown Road, where had around 70 species, mostly from one spot! The highlights here were several Flame Bowerbirds, a surprise Southern Crowned-Pigeon, Blyth’s Hornbill, Lowland Peltops, Varied Triller, all three species of Manucodes, a cooperative Dwarf Fruit-Dove, and a spectacular pair of Golden Monarchs. Our afternoon outing was to the KM 17 trails at the Greater BoP lek. The interesting thing about this lek, though, is that in addition to the Greater BoPs, it includes a couple of rogue Raggiana BoPs, as well as a couple of hybrids between the two! The trek down to the lek also gave us Variable Pitohui, some neck-breaking views of a beautiful male King BoP, and spectacular scope views of a male Frilled Monarch for all. The lek itself also featured perhaps our best “Attenborough moment” of the tour, with several male Paradiseas (the genus of Greater and Raggiana BoPs) engaging in an all-out display battle. The cacophony alone would have been worth the visit, but we also had clear looks at the display perches in the canopy, and the long and colorful show they put on was tremendous!

Thursday, July 13, was the day of our all-day boat trip up the Fly and Elevala Rivers. This was one of the highlights of the tour for several in the group. Before we even got to the Elevala River, we ran into what was our biggest surprise of the day, an immature BROWN NODDY, more than 200 miles from where the Fly River drains into the ocean! This was the first record of any species of noddy in the Kiunga region. Once we got over that shock, we made it way up to the Ketu River, and all the way to Watame Lodge (which is Glen’s lodge). The day was a wonderful one, filled with several species of imperial-pigeon (including a good number Pinon’s, several Zoe’s, and many Collared), multiple encounters with Blyth’s Hornbill, Palm Cockatoo, Golden Myna, and Southern Crowned-Pigeon. We also encountered Channel-billed Cuckoo, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, skulky White-bellied Pitohuis and Emperor Fairywrens, Gray-headed Goshawk, Long-billed Cuckoo, Black-sided Robin, and saw all three of the special trio of kingfishers: Common and Little Paradise-Kingfishers, and Hook-billed Kingfisher. After getting off the boat at the end of the long day, we also encountered Streak-headed Munia and Crimson Finch in a weedy lot right near the boat launch!

The next day was our final day in Kiunga, but before our afternoon flight it was once more back on the boats. Our aim this time was to get to a Twelve-wired BoP display site at dawn. On the way, we were treated to a big flock of 39 Channel-billed Cuckoos flying over the river, as well as some more Blyth’s Hornbills. Unfortunately, we were joined at the display site by another birding group, and the newly cleared viewing site was probably too close to the display perch for the bird to be completely comfortable. We saw the male come in several times, but it only went to the display perch very briefly, and didn’t do much showing off there (though a few folks got stellar looks at it while it was there). We did get reasonable looks at it while it was feeding nearby, and the female came in to give great views on the display perch as well, before we moved along to try and pick up our last few birds for the region, which ended up including Emperor Fairywren, Golden Cuckooshrike, and an eleventh hour Large Fig-Parrot. We got to the Kiunga airport for what we assumed would be a routine waiting period before our flight. However, while we amused ourselves with the Australian Pratincoles that were running around the airstrip, an airport employee walked in carrying a noddy on his hand. What’s more, it was a young BLACK Noddy, which he had found an hour prior at the base of an airport fence. It was still feisty (it bit my hand), which was heartening, and after telling him that it ate small fish he walked away promising to take care of it. Never a dull moment!

The Highlands of PNG are legendary as one of the last places of human habitation to be “discovered” by modern society. We spent the next week in these fantastically well-preserved forests looking at the truly incredible avifauna. We arrived in Mt. Hagen on Friday evening, but didn’t do any birding until the next morning. We birded the morning with local guide Wilson, and started out at Kama (the Lesser BoP site), and then made a brief pit stop at the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird site, and another brief stop at the Lai River, before returning to Kumul Lodge for lunch and to bird the feeders and surrounding trails. It was a great day, with Lesser BoP, Pygmy Eagle, Superb BoP, Yellow-breasted Bowerbird, Papuan Grassbird, many Rainbow Bee-eaters, Torrent Flycatchers, Elfin Myzomela, and Ornate Melidectes in the morning alone. Our evening walk was down to Max’s Orchid Garden, which was a big treat. He has done some truly amazing work to amass such an impressive collection of orchids in his yard. Blue-capped Ifrita, Rufous-naped Bellbird, White-breasted Fruit-Dove, and a surprise Painted Tiger-Parrot were the avian highlights of the evening, the latter being a lifer for Jay!

The next day we birded the Tonga Trail with Max, before heading back to Kumul to do some more trail and feeder birding there. The highlights from our Tonga Trail outing were spectacular views of Blue Bird-of-Paradise, Madarasz’s Tiger-Parrot, Streaked Berrypecker, more good views of Superb BoP, Black-breasted Boatbill, Slaty-chinned Longbill, and Mid-mountain Berrypecker. That was a hard morning to beat, but our afternoon and evening at Kumul did its best to try and top it, with Papuan Lorikeet, Crested Satinbird, good views of Wattled Ploughbill, Lesser Melampitta, and Crested Berrypecker, and an absurdly confiding Mountain Mouse-Warbler. Then the evening walk produced Plum-faced Lorikeet, several New Guinea (Dusky) Woodcocks, and an awesome Feline Owlet-Nightjar, which we walked away from after looking at for twenty minutes! It was a pretty spectacular way to say good-bye to Kumul.

Monday saw us taking a charter flight from Mt. Hagen to the Ambua airstrip, an incredible time-and-effort-saving convenience. We stayed in the Ambua area until Friday, July 21, spending about four days in total birding the area. We typically birded the Highlands Highway east of Ambua, heading to the elevations between Ambua Lodge and the Tari Gap. We also did a loop of the Ambua Lodge waterfall trail, and spent one late morning heading down into the Tari Valley for some lower elevation birds and a cultural excursion where we were given a viewing of a Sing-sing put on by the Huli Wigmen. The avian highlights during our time around Ambua were many, and it seemed that every walk, even to places where we’d been already, added another special species. Our Bird-of-Paradise list was an impressive 9 species: Brown Sicklebill (including a stunning male), Black Sicklebill, Lawes’s Parotia, Superb BoP, Short-tailed Paradigalla, Blue BoP, the incredibly long-tailed Ribbon-tailed and Stephanie’s Astrapias, and the incomparable King-of-Saxony BoP. We also ran into some secretive forest birds such as Papuan Logrunner, Lesser Ground-Robin, and more Lesser Melampittas. We also had a couple more encounters with the bizarre Wattled Ploughbill, with the final individual being absurdly cooperative. In addition to these obvious headliners, other highlights were multiple Mottled Berryhunters, Mountain Firetail, Black-throated Robin, Dimorphic Fantail, more Blue-capped Ifritas, Spotted Berrypecker, Black-headed Whistler, Loria’s Satinbird, Black Sittella, Gray Thornbill, Brown Quail, Papuan Harrier, Rufous Owl, awesome aerial shows by Great Woodswallows and Mountain Peltops at the lodge itself, and of course our Papuan Treecreeper.

We finally had to pry ourselves away from the wonderfully unique highlands of PNG, but we didn’t have to pry ourselves away from birding quite yet. We were able to get into Port Moresby with enough time to drive all the way out to Lea Lea on Friday afternoon. In addition to an interesting suite of waterbirds which we don’t always encounter on the tour (Great-crested and Gull-billed Terns, Far-eastern Curlew, Lesser Frigatebird), we also picked up Varied Honeyeater and the real prize, the endemic mangrove-dwelling Silver-eared Honeyeater.

Saturday rolled around and saw us facing the sad prospect of our final birding day of the tour, but it turned out to not be all that sad, since it entailed almost a full day back at Varirata with Leonard. We started out at the Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise lek, and were treated to multiple males doing their full plumes-up display. The rest of the morning was spent walking the entire trail from below to the lookout down to the picnic area. Highlights here were Wompoo Fruit-Dove, male Growling Riflebirds, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Fairy Gerygone, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike (it was a great tour overall for this species), Chestnut-bellied Fantail at a nest, Little Shrikethrush, Papuan (Variable) Dwarf-Kingfisher, and a stupendous encounter with a pair of always skulky Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babblers. After a lunch complete with beautiful views of Beautiful Fruit-Doves, we split up into two groups, with the combined highlights being Ruby-throated Myzomela, Pale-billed Scrubwren, Azure Kingfisher, Pygmy Drongo-Fantail, Black-faced Monarch, and Pygmy Longbill, among others. The eucalypt forest along the exit road delivered once again, with Australian Hobby, White-bellied Whistler, and Black-faced Cuckooshrike. Our final birding stop of the tour was at the small town of Sogeri, adjacent to the Kokoda Track monument. Here, in addition to absurd views of a pair of Pheasant Coucals in the road, we connected with our main target, and the final endemic we would see: Grand Munia, which was an appropriate ending to what was a truly grand trip!

Jay and I are ecstatic that we got to share this adventure with such a fine group of people, and we're excited to enjoy some more avian exploration with each and every one of you in the future!

-Doug


KEYS FOR THIS LIST
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



The grasslands at the Tari Gap offer a unique landscape within the generally forested highlands. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BIRDS
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
PLUMED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna eytoni) – We counted 43 of these on one pond at PAU, a formerly unfathomable number for here, but the species has become much more common in the country over the last decade or so.
WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna arcuata) – We had 14 of these scattered around three different ponds at PAU.
PACIFIC BLACK DUCK (Anas superciliosa) – This species is abundant around the ponds at PAU.
GRAY TEAL (Anas gracilis) – A roosting group of three of these on one of the PAU ponds, on the afternoon of our first full day, was a big surprise, and they were actually Jay's first in the country!
Megapodiidae (Megapodes)
YELLOW-LEGGED BRUSHTURKEY (Talegalla fuscirostris) – Heard raucously calling from inside the forest at a couple of places along Boystown Road, and then below the lookout on our final trip to Varirata. As with all large ground-dwellers whose ranges encompass both New Guinea and Australia, this species is exponentially harder to lay eyes on in New Guinea. [E*]
ORANGE-FOOTED SCRUBFOWL (Megapodius reinwardt) – Whoa! A big surprise on our first afternoon birding along the coast to the west of Port Moresby was one of these usually secretive (on New Guinea) Megapodes running through the mangroves.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
BROWN QUAIL (Synoicus ypsilophorus) – We had a couple of these calling in the grasslands at the Tari Gap, and managed to flush one for a very close flyby.


This Silky Owl Butterfly (Taenaris catops) entertained us on our first morning at Varirata. These large butterflies utilize dark areas of the forest in tandem with mimicry (check out those "eyes") to avoid becoming lunch for the insectivorous birds that share their home. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
LESSER FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata ariel) – We saw a few distant Frigatebirds on our first afternoon birding in the country. We were able to make out enough detail on at least two birds to ascertain that they were this species, rather than Greater. We then saw a couple of adult males at Lea Lea two weeks later, which provided better views than the first ones had.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
BROWN BOOBY (Sula leucogaster) – Another nice addition to the trip list was an adult actively feeding off shore along the coast west of Port Moresby.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE PIED CORMORANT (Microcarbo melanoleucos) – A couple of singletons were on the PAU campus, not associating with the much more numerous Little Back Cormorants.
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo) – We had a brief look at one of these as it flew down the river well below us while we were on the Tonga trail.
LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) – Big numbers were at the PAU campus.


These stately Plumed Whistling-Ducks were two of more than 40 individuals that we encountered at PAU. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta) – One of these was perched in a bare tree at the PAU campus, and we were able to examine it closely in the scope and compare it to nearby Intermediate Egrets. We also had a few flying by during our Kiunga river trips.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Mesophoyx intermedia) – Several on the PAU campus, and at least one seen at the Tabubil airport.
PACIFIC REEF-HERON (Egretta sacra) – We saw two of these coastal saltwater specialists along the coast west of Port Moresby on our first afternoon in the country, and then we had another one flying by at Lea Lea towards the end of the tour.
PIED HERON (Egretta picata) – A family of 5 of these (2 adults, 3 interesting looking, mostly white-headed immatures) were on the backmost settling ponds at PAU.
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) – Many around the fields just outside the gates at PAU, and then seem later in the trip at the Port Moresby airport and at Sogeri.
RUFOUS NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus) – Several of these were day roosting in the canopy of a large tree next to the main lakes at PAU, and the second boat had one during our all-day river cruise.

Here is a compilation of video clips from the tour (excepting some Bird-of-Paradise clips, which can be seen below). From the breathtaking landscapes, to the wonderful birds, and the interesting culture, our time in Papua New Guinea was an absolute blast! Video clips by guide Doug Gochfeld.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
AUSTRALIAN IBIS (Threskiornis moluccus) – Five of these were at PAU, including four foraging together on the bank of the final large pond we checked.
STRAW-NECKED IBIS (Threskiornis spinicollis) – We had two of these on the ponds across the road from PAU as we were heading back to town after our first visit to PAU, and then again on the way back from our final visit to Varirata.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (AUSTRALASIAN) (Pandion haliaetus cristatus) – We had a couple of these as we headed back to Port Moresby from Lea Lea.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
LONG-TAILED HONEY-BUZZARD (Henicopernis longicauda) – One of the most common large raptors at the lower elevations along our route, we found them especially common between Tabubil (our first encounter was shortly after arriving at the airport) and Kiunga. [E]
PACIFIC BAZA (Aviceda subcristata) – Some had a brief and poor view of one of these flying away that Betsy spotted from the bus along Boystown Road, but we remedied those poor views the next day, with at least 3 pairs seen along the Elevala River, including a pair doing a display flight as it crossed right in front of us.
PYGMY EAGLE (Hieraaetus weiskei) – One of these flew into a tree just above where the Lesser Bird-of-Paradise was at Kama, and all songbird activity at the site promptly died down. The BoP froze in a horizontal alert position and didn't move for 20 minutes while we got frame-filling scope views of this very buteo-like "Eagle." Within a minute of the Pygmy Eagle departing this perch, birdsong started again. It left with a purpose, glided down into the valley and dove into a tree full of songbirds (perhaps?) a half a mile away, and we never saw it again. [E]
EASTERN MARSH-HARRIER (PAPUAN) (Circus spilonotus spilothorax) – Fran spotted what was probably a female from the first charter plane from Mt. Hagen to Ambua, as it was taxiing at the Mt. Hagen airport. Within a couple of days we cleaned up our experience with the species, as we saw an immature dark-morph male at the grasslands at the Tari Gap on two separate days, both times at very close range as it hunted the fields. Our final sighting of the species, and our only one for the lowlands, was of a transitional-plumaged female hunting in the savannah as we returned from Lea Lea on the next-to-last evening of the tour. [E]
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster) – We had these at multiple locations, including twice at Dablin Creek, where our best views were.
BROWN GOSHAWK (Accipiter fasciatus) – The Accipiters in this region can be very difficult to tell apart, but excellent views of several birds along the coast on our first afternoon allowed us to be certain of multiple Brown Goshawks, which is the go-to species in that coastal savannah area.


This Papuan Harrier (still classed as a taxon of Eastern Marsh-Harrier by some) gave us phenomenal views as it coursed over the grasslands at the Tari Gap. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BLACK-MANTLED GOSHAWK (Accipiter melanochlamys) – A brief encounter with one of these along the Highlands Highway during our first morning in the Ambua area. It flew up and over the trees twice, and those that saw it noticed its tiny, Sharp-shinned-Hawk-like size. It had slightly more pointed wings than its North American relative, with obvious black tips and orangey underwings. [E]
GRAY-HEADED GOSHAWK (Accipiter poliocephalus) – We had a great view of one of these along the Elevala River during the morning of our first boat trip. It flew across the river, and then teed up high on an exposed perched right on the edge of the river, allowing us all extended views of this elegant, all gray accipiter. We even could see the orange eye-ring and dark eye. [E]
BLACK KITE (BLACK) (Milvus migrans affinis) – Very common in open areas around Mt. Hagen, we saw a couple of dozen during our stay at Kumul.
WHISTLING KITE (Haliastur sphenurus) – A few here and there around Varirata and Port Moresby on our first full day in the country.


Comb-crested Jacana was one of the waterbirds we were treated to on our trip to PAU early on in the tour. Photo by particpant Myles McNally.

BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus) – Widespread and common. We had ten or more of these on our first afternoon birding expedition along the coast to the west of Port Moresby, and then we continued to run into them daily except in the highlands (though we did see them down in the Tari Valley). Perhaps the highlight was seeing two birds at an active nest along the Elevala River.
WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – Great scope views of an adult on our first evening's birding, near Port Moresby. This bird was repeatedly using a bare snag from which to hunt, and eventually flew off with a very small fish that didn't look like it would make a very full meal. We also saw the species a couple of times in passing during our boat trips along the Fly River.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
FORBES'S RAIL (Rallina forbesi) – We heard one of these down the slope at the King-of-Saxony trail during our first morning of birding at Ambua, but it seemed to stay far away in forest cover. [E*]
AUSTRALASIAN SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio melanotus melanopterus) – Abundant at PAU, and Francesc saw one perched on the side of the road on our second drive out towards Lea Lea.
DUSKY MOORHEN (Gallinula tenebrosa) – A few of this region's Moorhen were around a couple of the ponds at PAU.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
MASKED LAPWING (MASKED) (Vanellus miles miles) – Several pairs at PAU, including a couple of fluffy youngsters. We also saw quite a few along the runways at the Port Moresby airport as we were waiting on the plane and then taxiing to fly to Tabubil.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
COMB-CRESTED JACANA (Irediparra gallinacea) – A bunch around PAU, including some downy young that looked like big fluffballs on stilts.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (SIBERIAN) (Numenius phaeopus variegatus) – We encountered this unexpected non-breeder on a rather nondescript mudflat as we headed west from Port Moresby on our first afternoon. This was a bonus bird after we stopped because of the much more conspicuous Reef-Heron that was also utilizing the flats. We saw it fly once, and the white wedge up the back confirmed that it was of the expected variegatus subspecies. We also had several during our second-to-last evening, at the river mouth at Lea Lea.


We saw several female Crested Satinbirds around Kumul, but only Claudi was fortunate enough to connect with this male over the feeders one afternoon. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

FAR EASTERN CURLEW (Numenius madagascariensis) – We had at least five of these, including a group of four, flying around the river mouth at Lea Lea.
NEW GUINEA WOODCOCK (Scolopax rosenbergii) – A really cool experience with this species on the trails below Kumul. We heard these as they started calling all around us at dusk, and then as their bizarre buzzy calls reached a crescendo, we watched as four of them flew out for the night together. We figured we saw five individuals in total. [E]
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
AUSTRALIAN PRATINCOLE (Stiltia isabella) – Our first encounter was upon our arrival at the Tabubil airport, where we saw two or three after getting off the plane. We then saw at least thirteen at the Kiunga airport while waiting for our flight to Mt. Hagen, and then finally we saw at least five at the Tari airport as we waited in the up-scale open air departure lounge for our flight to Port Moresby.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BROWN NODDY (Anous stolidus) – Talk about a surprise!! This was a shocking encounter along the Fly River just before we were to turn off onto the Elevala River. We saw a small brown bird-shaped lump on a stationary snag sticking out of the river, and when we put binoculars on it, not only did it resolve into a bird, but it resolved into a noddy! We circled this wayward immature Brown Noddy a couple of times, taking some photos and video of this first record of this species for the Kiunga area. This was over 200 miles in straight-line distance from the coast, where the Fly River drains into the Coral Sea.
BLACK NODDY (Anous minutus) – One species of noddy in Kiunga seemed completely insane, so two would seem legitimately unreal. That said, our noddy sweep was very real. As we were waiting in the departure lounge, an airport employee came into the building with an immature Black Noddy standing on his hand. He had apparently picked it up next to a nearby airport fence an hour prior. There were reports of a very large storm along the coast during the preceding few days. We never did get even a whiff of the inclement weather during our travels, but these two noddies were almost certainly remnants of that storm.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – We had at least 7 of these foraging and roosting on the mudflats at the river mouth at Lea Lea.
GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii cristatus) – Several of these were around the mouth of the river at Lea Lea during our next-to-last afternoon.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Incidentally as we drove through Port Moresby on multiple days, and also some seen in Mt. Hagen, and one flock seen perched on a roof in Tari as we drove to the airport. [I]
AMBOYNA CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia amboinensis) – A few were flying around Varirata NP on both of our visits, especially along the entrance road first thing in the morning on our first visit. We also encountered them periodically throughout the rest of our trip, including in the highlands where they overlap with Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove.
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia nigrirostris) – More common at higher elevations, we got great scope views of the species at Kama, and then again during our first afternoon birding the road above Ambua. We also did, of course, have many briefly seen "cuckoo-dove sp." in areas where either this or the previous species could occur. [E]


We were graced with the first record of Brown Noddy in the Kiunga region during our first boat trip on the Fly River, starting the lowlands part of our tour with a big rarity bang! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

GREAT CUCKOO-DOVE (Reinwardtoena reinwardti) – Leonard and a few other lucky folks saw one of these monsters fly across the road as we were birding the entrance road into Varirata on our first morning in country. We then had flyover views at both Dablin Creek and along the Elevala River, which allowed most people to catch up with the species. [E]
STEPHAN'S DOVE (Chalcophaps stephani) – Brief views for Doug's boat of this emerald dove as it flew across the river during the full-day boat trip up the Elevala River. This is how just about all encounters with this species play out on the main island of New Guinea, where they are especially secretive.
PEACEFUL DOVE (Geopelia placida) – Several around PAU, at least one near the domestic departures lounge at the Port Moresby airport, and then finally a couple around Sogeri during our final birding stop of the tour.
BAR-SHOULDERED DOVE (Geopelia humeralis) – We had reasonable looks at one or two on our first afternoon driving towards Lea Lea, and there was a brief sighting the next day at PAU.
SOUTHERN CROWNED-PIGEON (Goura scheepmakeri) – We got this one a full day earlier than we had expected to, when one of the local guides, Jimmy, spotted one perched on the lower boughs of a nearby tree in the forest along Boystown Road. It was only the second time Jimmy had ever seen one at the site, and the first time Jay had seen one there. We got to see it call, display, and preen, and it stuck around for everyone to get multiple scope views and photos. We then saw at least two more individuals well along the rivers during our longer boat trip the next day. What an animal! [E]


Out of the 22 species of dove which we saw on this tour, Southern Crowned-Pigeons would probably be voted the best. They simply are incredible birds! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus magnificus) – Glen miraculously found one of these largest of the fruit-doves while we were on the trails behind Watame Lodge, and most people were able to get frame-filling scope views of this spectacular looking bird as it sat still in the subcanopy. We then got to see a pair that Leonard found on our final day at Varirata, which also posed for scope views.
PINK-SPOTTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus perlatus) – We had these a couple of times at Varirata, including some spectacular views of a feeding bird in a fruit tree at the picnic area. We also ran into them on the drive between Tabubil and Kiunga, and at various places around Kiunga, including having more scope views at Boystown Road. One of the most common species of fruit-doves everywhere we encountered it. [E]
ORANGE-FRONTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus aurantiifrons) – Yes! We connected with this gorgeous lowland species twice on our afternoon at PAU, getting great scope views of this spectacular bird. A few people also may have seen this species flying over on one of our boat trips around Kiunga as well. [E]
SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus superbus) – Some brief views on consecutive days along the rivers around Kiunga. We had one high up in a tree near where the Common Paradise-Kingfisher was, and then most people finally caught up with the one the next day at the Twelve-wired BoP site.


This colorful Large Fig-Parrot was a fantastic pickup on our final morning birding the Elevala River. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

BEAUTIFUL FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus pulchellus) – After some near misses and heard onlys, we finally caught up to this (beautiful) fruit-dove on our final trip to Varirata, where a pair wowed us as they sat out in the open overhead at the picnic area. Many of the fruit-doves are beautiful, but we all agreed that there's certainly good reason for this to be the one to bear that species moniker. [E]
WHITE-BREASTED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus rivoli bellus) – This is essentially the only high elevation fruit-dove possible on the route, and this taxon is split out by many authorities as the appropriately named "Mountain Fruit-Dove." We encountered this species at least five times during our time in the highlands, seeing them in both the Kumul and Ambua regions, and seeing both males and females.
ORANGE-BELLIED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus iozonus) – Almost ten of these small fruit-doves were in a mixed flock with three Pink-spotted Fruit-Doves early on in our first morning at Varirata. Thankfully, they landed in a nearby fruiting tree, where at least three of them foraged out in the open, moving around and allowing us to see them from all angles. They were also the most common fruit-dove in the Kiunga region, though we mostly saw them there flying over along the rivers. [E]
DWARF FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus nainus) – Excellent views of one of these smallest of the fruit-doves along the trail near the bowerbird mound near Boystown Road. We also encountered it at Watame Lodge the next day, and we heard its distinctive calls around the fruiting tree that we parked the boats during our final Elevala River birding expedition. [E]
PURPLE-TAILED IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula rufigaster) – We saw one of these do a display flight across the road at close range while we were on the bowerbird mound along Boystown Road. Jay's afternoon group also heard it on the final day at Varirata, but it flew off before anyone was able to get good looks at it perched. [E]
PINON'S IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula pinon) – Another Kiunga specialty for us, we saw them on Boystown Road, as well as on both of our boat trips. We even got multiple views of these big pigeons perched up along the river, and everyone ended up getting views of them "on the deck", which isn't always a guarantee. [E]
COLLARED IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula mullerii) – One of the more common large pigeons along the Elevala River, though seemingly not nearly as many as there are most years. [E]
ZOE IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula zoeae) – We had these flying around on Boystown Road and over the rivers on our full-day boat trip, and they were also very vocal on both days, so we heard far more than we saw. We also heard them on our final day at Varirata. [E]
TORRESIAN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula spilorrhoa) – A few of these flying around and perching as we drove out towards Lea Lea on our first afternoon. We also encountered a couple of these the next day at PAU, and again on our next-to-last evening at Lea Lea.
PAPUAN MOUNTAIN-PIGEON (Gymnophaps albertisii) – We saw several very large flocks of these flying around over the entrance road to Varirata on our first morning, and the 140 that we counted even tripped the eBird filter for the region. We also saw them in the lowlands to the west, with dozens spread between KM 17 and Boystown Road, and dozens in the highlands as well, especially around Ambua. Funnily enough, it wasn't until our final morning, at Varirata, that we got our best looks at the species perched, when we had scope views of a group of ten or so in excellent light below the overlook, showing off their fancy plumage complete with their red facial skin and plum-colored cheeks. [E]


King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise was one of the fan favorites, and with good reason. This one is mid-"song", so its antennae are obediently draped behind it. However, when it wasn't calling, and instead was moving around, those head ornaments got tossed around every which way! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GREATER BLACK COUCAL (Centropus menbeki) – We first heard this monster coucal at the location where we stopped to check out a snake that some locals had captured and put in a large barrel on the way from Ok Menga down to Kiunga. Then we heard it along the kingfisher trail near the Elevala River, and then most finally laid eyes on the species during our morning-only boat trip along the Fly and Elevala Rivers. [E]
LESSER BLACK COUCAL (Centropus bernsteini) – Heard along Boystown road, and then seen multiple times on our full-day boat excursion through the Elevala River. [E]
PHEASANT COUCAL (Centropus phasianinus) – We heard multiples during our first morning at Varirata, and a few people saw one perched up as we drove away from the park. Then we had a couple of absurdly tame birds at Sogeri, allowing us to seriously ask the question "Why is the coucal crossing the road?", followed immediately by "Why are the coucals crossing the road?"
DWARF KOEL (Microdynamis parva) – We had an exceptionally vocal and showy bird at Varirata on our first morning there. This is a very cool looking cuckoo indeed. [E]
PACIFIC KOEL (AUSTRALIAN) (Eudynamys orientalis cyanocephalus) – We had this in the Kiunga area on three days in a row. It is always more readily heard than seen, but we saw at least one male, and several distinctive-looking females on our boat trips.
CHANNEL-BILLED CUCKOO (Scythrops novaehollandiae) – We had several encounters with birds flying over the rivers during both of our boat trips out of Kiunga. One of these encounters, that the trail boat on the second morning got to experience, involved 39(!!) individuals flying across the river in a loose stream, apparently departing a communal roost somewhere nearby.
LONG-BILLED CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx megarhynchus) – Two of these were seen during our boat trip, apparently both young males. We heard this pair very well a lot, and we did see them fairly well when they finally perched up and out in the open on top of a vine tangle across the narrow Ketu river. [E]


This distinctively patterned White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo was part of a fantastically cooperative pair during our morning at Dablin Creek above Tabubil. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

RUFOUS-THROATED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx ruficollis) – We were hearing these at a couple of places around Kumul, but we didn't lay eyes them until we got to Ambua, where the group saw them at both the lodge and the King-of-Saxony trail. [E]
WHITE-EARED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx meyerii) – Excellent views of a pair of these during our morning visit to Dablin Creek, where they were fairly vocal as well. [E]
LITTLE BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx minutillus) – We had at least two of these flying back and forth across the Elevala River early on in the first boat trip, and we did see at least one perched a couple of times as well.
WHITE-CROWNED KOEL (Cacomantis leucolophus) – We usually hear this very widespread species somewhere on the tour, but seeing it is another story. This year, we were fortunate to have an exceptionally responsive bird at Dablin Creek during our morning excursion there, and it teed up high in a tree and allowed us to watch it through scopes at our leisure, while it belted out its distinctive call. The plumage of this one was very interesting, with the white on the head restricted to a crescent around the nape or back of the head, rather than including the entire cap. [E]
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CUCKOO (Cacomantis castaneiventris) – We heard this species on both of our visits to Dablin, and saw it well in the late afternoon of our first visit there.
FAN-TAILED CUCKOO (Cacomantis flabelliformis excitus) – We had an immature perched below eye level at Kama, and then we had an adult along the highway above Ambua.
BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus) – We heard this distinctive-sounding species repeatedly on our first morning on the road into Varirata, some caught up with it visually at Dablin Creek, and then everybody got plenty of views at Boystown Road. We also heard it during our late morning down in the Tari Valley.
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)
SOOTY OWL (GREATER) (Tyto tenebricosa arfaki) – We did see one of these large dark owls flushing out of a day roost and flying away from us, but we couldn't see well into the dense, dark, tree that it seemed to disappear into. [E]


Our group enjoying the fantastic view from Kama in the legendary highlands of New Guinea. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Strigidae (Owls)
RUFOUS OWL (Ninox rufa) – A nice surprise for the entire group was one of these teed up in the rain in the evening at Ambua. We then had it in the same spot the next night, but we couldn't make it a hat trick on our final night there.
PAPUAN BOOBOOK (Ninox theomacha) – We had a very vocal pair during our dusk and post-dusk vigil just before the tunnel entrance at Ok Menga, and got very nice "walk away" scope views. We also heard these at both Kumul and Ambua. A couple of folks came out on a drizzly night to view them at Ambua, where the most memorable Boobook moment was when a branch with two owls perched on it broke, sending the birds unexpectedly tumbling from their high perch (they were able to quickly recover and fly off to other branches, so no boobooks were hurt during the making of that observation). [E]
Podargidae (Frogmouths)
MARBLED FROGMOUTH (Podargus ocellatus) – We heard these during our evening at Ok Menga, on our arrival day in Tabubil.
PAPUAN FROGMOUTH (Podargus papuensis) – Three of these "Where the Wild Things Are" lookalikes were roosting in a large tree at PAU, and seemed to be a family, though all were fully-grown birds. Their camouflage is completely mind boggling!
Aegothelidae (Owlet-nightjars)
FELINE OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles insignis) – A great bonus for those who did the dusk woodcock walk was finding one of these in the forest. It only vocalized once, but we were then able to see it multiple times as it changed perches. It stayed on the final perch for at least 20 minutes, and it could have been much longer, since we left it sitting right there. Watching it preen, fluff, and repeatedly yawn was great (I still don't know how such a large mouth can fit on such a small head!). This was a real special treat! [E]
MOUNTAIN OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles albertisi) – We heard this on a couple of night expeditions around Kumul, including during our woodcock walk. Over the last few years they have become very difficult to lay eyes on at Kumul, and so we had to leave this one as a heard only. [E*]
BARRED OWLET-NIGHTJAR (Aegotheles bennettii) – A very cooperative bird perched on a branch for us at Varirata, allowing us to examine it at leisure from very close range. What bizarre birds are the owlet-nightjars! [E]


The camouflage of Papuan Frogmouths is simply mindboggling. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Apodidae (Swifts)
PAPUAN SPINETAILED SWIFT (Mearnsia novaeguineae) – A treat to see this distinctively shaped swift on multiple days while in the Kiunga area, which is the only place along the route that they regularly occur. [E]
GLOSSY SWIFTLET (Collocalia esculenta) – The first ones were on our first day at Varirata, though it was only a handful. We really ran into numbers of these once we got to the highlands, especially around Kumul, though there were a few nesting around the grounds at Ambua as well.
MOUNTAIN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) – The higher elevation dark swiftlet of PNG. We had these in the Mount Hagen region, as well as over the Tari Gap and Ambua, where we could also hear the flocks calling way up high. [E]
UNIFORM SWIFTLET (Aerodramus vanikorensis) – The common all-dark swiftlet of the lower elevations of PNG, we had these every day during the Tabubil through Kiunga portion of the tour.
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)
MOUSTACHED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne mystacea) – The very first birding that we did along Boystown Road was a stop for a couple of these impressive swifts perching up on some dead snags pre-sunrise. Some also had views of this species flying over the Fly River the next morning, but that initial experience was clearly the most fulfilling.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
BLYTH'S HORNBILL (Rhyticeros plicatus) – Our first was already perched up in a distant bare tree upon our arrival at Boystown Road. We then had multiple excellent flyovers by the species during both of our river expeditions, and we got to hear its loud grunt-like vocalizations on multiple occasions as well.


Blue-winged Kookaburra was the most common kookaburra along the coast to the west of Port Moresby. This one was captured excellently by participant Myles McNally.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis) – We had two of these towards the very end of our birding jaunt to PAU on our first full day in the country.
AZURE KINGFISHER (Ceyx azureus) – The group that went with Jay on the final afternoon finally caught up with one of these.
PAPUAN DWARF-KINGFISHER (Ceyx solitarius) – We got excellent views of a pair of these tiny but beautiful kingfishers during our final day, at Varirata.
BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo leachii) – A common roadside sight in the Port Moresby area, from Lea Lea to Varirata.
RUFOUS-BELLIED KOOKABURRA (Dacelo gaudichaud) – This standout kookaburra was a fairly common sight and very common sound in the lower elevation areas of our trip, notably at Varirata and around Kiunga. [E]
SHOVEL-BILLED KOOKABURRA (Clytoceyx rex) – We heard a pair of these loudly dueting at dusk at Ok Menga, but they never came out tot he edge of the road. [E*]
FOREST KINGFISHER (Todiramphus macleayii) – A brief sighting along the Elevala River during our full day boat trip, this austral migrant from Australia was spotted by Francesc as we moved up-river in the morning. We then had at least 3 more of these, much more cooperative this time, on our final day of birding, along the Varirata entrance road.
SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus) – Our first was perched on a wire between the two main ponds at PAU. We also had several in our full day trip down the Elevala River, and we had two of these buffy-breasted birds around the mangroves at Lea Lea on the afternoon of our next-to-last birding day.
HOOK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Melidora macrorrhina) – Excellent views of this difficult-to-see canopy dwelling kingfisher near the Elevala River, after Glen quickly spotted a bird that had just started vocalizing. We also heard one of these the next day at the Twelve-wired Bop site, though that one didn't make itself visible. [E]
YELLOW-BILLED KINGFISHER (Syma torotoro) – Good scope views of an individual spotted by Betsy along the trail near the lookout at Varirata during our first trip to the park. This is one good looking kingfisher.
MOUNTAIN KINGFISHER (Syma megarhyncha) – We got great scope views (both front and back) of one of these along the waterfall trail at Ambua. [E]
LITTLE PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera hydrocharis) – After some effort, we finally got looks at a very skittish individual that would perch in view long enough for one or two people to see it, before flying to a new location where it would be hidden by the jungle. We did eventually get looks for everyone who took the kingfisher hike though, and it was all the more rewarding because of the initial difficulty. [E]
COMMON PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera galatea) – An interestingly plumaged immature bird along the kingfisher trail near the Elevala River afforded a nice opportunity to study a seldom-seen plumage. [E]
BROWN-HEADED PARADISE-KINGFISHER (Tanysiptera danae) – Excellent views of a bird calling away at Varirata NP on our first full day. It's awesome to watch them as they vocalize: their entire body vibrates, from the head all the way down to the long, white-tipped tail. [E]


The breathtaking landscape from Ambua Lodge, our home for four nights in the highlands. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus) – We encountered these flying around and calling each time we were in the lowlands of the Port Moresby area. We also had them along Boystown Road, and then we had several groups totaling over 90 (!!) individuals at Kama.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis) – What a funky bird. We started seeing them on our first morning, and one of the first interactions was of one squabbling with some Yellow-faced Mynas. They were also especially common along the rivers around Kiunga.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AUSTRALIAN KESTREL (Falco cenchroides) – Good views of multiple individuals as we drove the road towards Lea Lea on our first afternoon, and then a number encountered along the same stretch of road on our next-to-last afternoon, when we made it all the way to Lea Lea. We also had one high on a utility line as we drove towards Ok Menga.
AUSTRALIAN HOBBY (Falco longipennis) – We had a distant one perched at the Tari airport as we waited for our plane back to Port Moresby, and then we had another the next evening, as we pulled into the White-bellied Whistler spot along the Varirata exit road.
Cacatuidae (Cockatoos)
PALM COCKATOO (Probosciger aterrimus) – Good looks at a few individuals along the Fly River, and then the Elevala River, early in the morning during our first boat trip out of Kiunga.
SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO (Cacatua galerita) – A few of these loud, conspicuous Cockatoos were flying around the entrance road to Varirata during our first morning, and a bunch of them between Tabubil and Kiunga, where they were very conspicuous around the rivers.


This male Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrot was a great find by one of our local guides during a drizzly afternoon above Ambua. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
YELLOW-CAPPED PYGMY-PARROT (Micropsitta keiensis) – Scope views of a couple of individuals perched over the road at Dablin Creek, and then flyovers around Kiunga, including at Boystown Road. [E]
RED-BREASTED PYGMY-PARROT (Micropsitta bruijnii) – We had a couple of flyovers, at Dablin Creek and along the highway above Ambua, before we finally caught up to this wonderful little parrot perched. Joseph found a pair of these beauties using a newly excavated tree cavity along the King-of-Saxony trail above Ambua, and we were able to get great views of these cuties as they got ready to roost for the evening.
PAPUAN KING-PARROT (Alisterus chloropterus) – We heard this twice near the picnic area at Varirata on our first full day in the country, then again around Ambua. We did finally see this bird during our final trip to Varirata, where a couple of folks got to see it perched, and most everyone else got to at least see it flying by at fairly close range. [E*]
ECLECTUS PARROT (Eclectus roratus) – We had several flybys of these on our first full day, both at Varirata and at PAU. We then had many in the Kiunga area, especially loudly flying back-and-forth over the river. We finished up with a few more on our final day at Varirata.
RED-CHEEKED PARROT (Geoffroyus geoffroyi) – Common in the lowlands, we had quite a few of these charismatic guys flying around the Port Moresby area. Mostly picked up by vocalizations, we did see a few well as they flew past, or perched up. Our best views were at the Varirata picnic area, and at Boystown Road in Kiunga.
BLUE-COLLARED PARROT (Geoffroyus simplex) – A group of them serenaded us with their sleigh-bell like calls as they flew over us at Dablin Creek during our first morning there. [E]
PAINTED TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella picta) – This is the high-elevation specialist of the tiger-parrots, and we were exceptionally lucky to have Max spot one for us at dusk while we were all looking in the opposite direction at birds coming in to various fruiting trees below Kumul. After initially flying off, it responded to playback and ended up supplying us with full-frame scope views in the fading light. This was a lifer for Jay! [E]
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella brehmii) – Seen around Kumul Lodge on a couple of days, including at the fruit feeder and the garbage pile, and also seen in roadside primary forest just below the Tari Gap. [E]
MODEST TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella modesta) – Myles spotted one of these while the group was staking out the fruiting trees below Kumul in search of satinbirds. Several people got pretty good looks at the bird before it departed shortly thereafter. [E]
MADARASZ'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella madaraszi) – We had at least 3 of these on the Tonga Trail, which was most excellent. Most folks then saw one feeding on a clay wall on the way up from the waterfall at Ambua. [E]
YELLOW-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) – We had good scope views of some of these during our visit to Max's, and then we had them every day around the Highlands Highway above Ambua, as well as a few from the lodge itself. [E]
ORANGE-BREASTED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta gulielmitertii) – We had these scattered all around the Kiunga area, as well as during our morning at Dablin Creek, the latter of which being where most people got their best scope views of the species. [E]
DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT (Cyclopsitta diophthalma) – The most common Fig-Parrot in the Kiunga area, we got some fairly good looks along the rivers, and also had them in the scope at Boystown Road.


Black-capped Lorys were seen in multiple locations, but these absurdly colorful and very vocal parrots never got old. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

LARGE FIG-PARROT (Psittaculirostris desmarestii) – A really nice 11th hour pickup at the large fruiting tree along the Elevala River. We had heard them and poorly seen them flying over at the same spot on the previous day's boat trip, but this time one called, flew in, and teed up on the very top of a tree for a minute or so, allowing us all to drink in its red and orange face and blue collar. [E]
PLUM-FACED LORIKEET (Oreopsittacus arfaki) – This was a nice bonus on our evening woodcock walk on our final night at Kumul Lodge. We heard them come in over our heads and cavort for a while, and with the help of Max we were able to re-find them and get the scope on them in the waning light, which allowed us to see the characteristic facial pattern of these great little lorikeets. We then got a couple at a fruiting tree at the Tari Gap, which allowed for those people who hadn't come on the woodcock walk to see the species, in addition to getting more well-lit looks for all. [E]
RED-FLANKED LORIKEET (Charmosyna placentis) – This was the common small lorikeet during our morning at Boystown Road. [E]
PAPUAN LORIKEET (Charmosyna papou) – We had these gorgeous lorikeets at Kumul, as well as around the Tari Gap. At Tari, we encountered the snappy looking black morphs more than once, which was a real treat. [E]
YELLOW-STREAKED LORY (Chalcopsitta scintillata) – Several encounters with them in the Kiunga area, always flying over. [E]
BLACK-CAPPED LORY (Lorius lory) – We got phenomenal views of these stunning parrots on our first morning of birding along the entrance road to Varirata, and we also had good views during our land-based birding around Kiunga and again during our second visit to Varirata. During our second visit we had a couple of them perched out in the morning sun below the lookout, and several people were blown away by the looks we obtained at those individuals. [E]
GOLDIE'S LORIKEET (Psitteuteles goldiei) – We had at least three flocks of these flying over us at Kama, totaling up to around 80 individuals. [E]
RAINBOW LORIKEET (COCONUT) (Trichoglossus haematodus nigrogularis) – Widespread and common in the lowlands around Port Moresby, and we also had a couple of these at Cloudlands.


Tiger-Parrots can be amazingly hard to track down in the forest, and yet we had a very unusual Tiger-Parrot sweep on this tour. Brehm's Tiger-Parrot was the most frequently seen species, especially around Kumul, where they regularly give amazing point-blank views which are atypical for this often-shy group of birds. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Pittidae (Pittas)
HOODED PITTA (Pitta sordida) – Yes!! After hearing a couple of birds calling at Varirata, we finally came upon one that was close to the trail. Even after some cajoling, it hadn't come to a place where it was readily visible to us, nor was it showing any interest in moving, let alone crossing the path. However, it stayed in one place in the dense dark understory long enough for Leonard to use his otherworldly spotting abilities to repeatedly re-find it and put it in a very low-to-the-ground scope, and after a few episodes of this, we were somehow able to get everyone a scope view of this striking Pitta.
Ptilonorhynchidae (Bowerbirds)
ARCHBOLD'S BOWERBIRD (Archboldia papuensis) – We heard one grunting very loudly just down from Tari Gap, and then saw it flying by on a couple of occasions, when its distinctive shape and large size could be seen quite well. [E]
MACGREGOR'S BOWERBIRD (Amblyornis macgregoriae) – Some saw a pair of these around the Tonga Trail with Max, and Claudi had a female the next day. Along the waterfall trail at Ambua we found three of their unique maypole bowers, but not bird in attendance. [E]
FLAME BOWERBIRD (Sericulus aureus) – We had 5-6 individuals flying across the road at Boystown Road, including a couple of stunning males. We also had one flyby at the Twelve-wired BoP (non-) lek site. [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera lauterbachi) – We picked up several of these mid-elevation specialists during our excellent morning at Kama. [E]
FAWN-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera cerviniventris) – Common in the lowlands around Port Moresby, with many excellent views. We also got to see one of their avenue bowers on the PAU campus.
Climacteridae (Australasian Treecreepers)
PAPUAN TREECREEPER (Cormobates placens) – Our one encounter with this species was during our second afternoon birding the highway above Ambua. This was high on our list of wants, and we were all ecstatic when one fortuitously flew into a tree right in front of us! [E]
Maluridae (Fairywrens)
EMPEROR FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyanocephalus) – Brief views of a skulky pair during our full day boat ride along the Elevala River, and then a few more less brief views of a slightly less skulky pair the next day at the Twelve-wired BoP site. [E]
WHITE-SHOULDERED FAIRYWREN (Malurus alboscapulatus) – Excellent views on our fist evening along the coast west of Port Moresby. [E]
Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)
PLAIN HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius ixoides) – We caught up to several of these during our last visit to Varirata, with the highest concentration being around the fruiting trees at the picnic area. [E]
STREAK-HEADED HONEYEATER (Pycnopygius stictocephalus) – We picked up a couple of these endemic coastal mangrove specialists on our second-to-last afternoon, at Lea Lea. [E]
SCRUB HONEYEATER (Meliphaga albonotata) – We were mildly surprised to find our first of these at PAU at the end of first full day in the country. [E]
MOUNTAIN MELIPHAGA (Meliphaga orientalis) – We had these higher elevation meliphagas at Kama, the Lesser BoP site. [E]
MIMIC HONEYEATER (Meliphaga analoga) – We had some birds that may have been this species at Varirata, and then we had better views of a couple at Boystown Road. [E]
YELLOW-GAPED HONEYEATER (Meliphaga flavirictus) – Good views of these scarce meliphagas at Dablin Creek. [E]
ELEGANT HONEYEATER (Meliphaga cinereifrons cinereifrons) – We had several of these dark-faced meliphagas around Varirata on our first full day in country. [E]


Belford's Melidectes is one of the common high elevation honeyeaters along our route, and are at no place more common than at Kumul, where several patrol the feeding station throughout the day. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

BLACK-THROATED HONEYEATER (Caligavis subfrenata) – We heard and then briefly saw some of these at Kumul, but we had really good looks at this contrasty honeyeater repeatedly along the Highlands Highway above Ambua. [E]
OBSCURE HONEYEATER (Caligavis obscura) – We heard this one along Boystown Road, but we never did get any kind of a look at it. [E*]
ORNATE MELIDECTES (Melidectes torquatus) – This fancy-looking melidectes was the go-to at lower elevations of montane forests, and we had them at Dablin Creek, Kama, and along the Tonga Trail. [E]
BELFORD'S MELIDECTES (Melidectes belfordi) – The high elevation Melidectes, and exceptionally common and vocal right around the lodge at Kumul, where you often have to sort through the "BelMels" to find the other less common birds that you're searching for. [E]
YELLOW-BROWED MELIDECTES (Melidectes rufocrissalis) – This is the melidectes that tends to occupy the zones between Belford's and Ornate Melidectes. We saw them at the Tonga Trail, and they were the go-to melidectes at Ambua. We also saw several birds that appeared to be potential hybrids between Yellow-browed and Belford's, but these hybrids are often difficult to identify with 100% confidence. [E]


Lemon-bellied Flycatcher was one of the open eucalypt forest specialties that we found during our time on the outskirts of Varirata. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

VARIED HONEYEATER (Gavicalis versicolor) – We had scope views of a very vocal and conspicuous individual at Lea Lea.
YELLOW-TINTED HONEYEATER (Ptilotula flavescens) – A pair on the PAU campus at the site of the bowerbird bower was a good pickup, as the species is a very locally occurring one in PNG.
RUFOUS-BANDED HONEYEATER (Conopophila albogularis) – These distinctive looking and sounding honeyeaters were common as could be around the PAU campus.
SMOKY HONEYEATER (Melipotes fumigatus) – Overall the most common honeyeater during our full week in the highlands, truly abundant in the areas around both Kumul and Ambua. [E]
LONG-BILLED HONEYEATER (Melilestes megarhynchus) – We attained scope views of this during our first visit to Dablin Creek, ad then heard it on each of the next four days as well, with Francesc and Claudi laying eyes on one during our all-day boat trip. [E]
RUBY-THROATED MYZOMELA (Myzomela eques) – Brief scope views for some at Dablin Creek, and then heard the net day at Boystown Road. A closer encounter was had by the group that did the circuit track on the final trip to Varirata, though this adult male stayed in the canopy and was a real neck-breaker to see. [E]
PAPUAN BLACK MYZOMELA (Myzomela nigrita) – Excellent views during our final visit to Varirata. [E]
ELFIN MYZOMELA (Myzomela adolphinae) – We had these little red-headed ones at Kama, Tonga, and then along the entrance road at the end of our second trip to Varirata. [E]
RED-COLLARED MYZOMELA (Myzomela rosenbergii) – We had a female feeding two youngsters at Tonga, and then we also connected with the species a couple of days later, at Ambua. [E]
GREEN-BACKED HONEYEATER (Glycichaera fallax fallax) – This was a nice surprise on our first afternoon at Varirata. Its body plumage is not very distinctive, being olive-gray above, and dull white/gray below, but it has a very noticeable whitish iris. Most people even got to look at it through the scope.
RUFOUS-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora guisei) – Good views of this along the lower elevations of the road above Ambua, and a couple of times around the lodge itself. [E]


Here the group birds the lush highland forest outside Mt. Hagen. Somewhere around there is a Wattled Ploughbill! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

GRAY-STREAKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora perstriata) – Common at the high elevations, especially so around Kumul and the areas around the Tari Gap. [E]
SILVER-EARED HONEYEATER (Lichmera alboauricularis) – We got this coastal specialist endemic on our next-to-last day in country, out at Lea Lea. [E]
WHITE-THROATED HONEYEATER (Melithreptus albogularis) – The commonest small bird along the entrance road to Varirata, which was the only place we saw it.
TAWNY-BREASTED HONEYEATER (Xanthotis flaviventer) – Our first was a view for only a couple of folks (Ivan was perhaps the only one to see it in the scope) in with a mixed feeding flock along the trail below the lookout at Varirata during our first visit there. After fleeting observations of the species at Dablin (heard only) and along the rivers of Kiunga (flybys), we had much better experiences with it on our final trip to Varirata, where we saw multiples.
MEYER'S FRIARBIRD (Philemon meyeri) – We heard this small friarbird along the Boystown Road, but we never did lay eyes on it. [E*]
HELMETED FRIARBIRD (NEW GUINEA) (Philemon buceroides novaeguineae) – Common and fairly widespread at all but the highest elevations. We saw more than our share during our days around Port Moresby, but we did see quite a few at various locations around Kiunga as well.


Mountain Mouse-Warblers are skulky birds, and are typically easier to hear than to see, but this one obliged us by hopping around on the ground at the forest edge at Kumul. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)
GOLDENFACE (Pachycare flavogriseum) – The circuit track group heard these in a couple of places on the final day at Varirata, but the only glimpse was had briefly by Leonard. [E*]
RUSTY MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis murina) – We heard these on all of our days at Varirata and at Dablin Creek. [E*]
BICOLORED MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis nigrorufa) – A very brief view of this by Jay, and a fleeting glimpse by Ivan, as this bird very loudly chattered from the brush next to the waterfall trail at Ambua. [*]
MOUNTAIN MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis robusta) – We heard them several times around the Tari Gap, but we had already seen one exceptionally well along the Kumul driveway before that. [E]
LARGE SCRUBWREN (Sericornis nouhuysi) – These high elevation scrubwrens were around both Kumul and the Tari Gap. They were especially confiding at Kumul, where they were often the most conspicuous small bird in the forest. [E]
BUFF-FACED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis perspicillatus) – We saw these first along the Tonga Trail, and then we found them again along the lower stretches of the Highlands Highway right around Ambua Lodge. [E]
PAPUAN SCRUBWREN (Sericornis papuensis) – We had these along the Highlands Highway just below the Tari Gap on three days in a row, where in some places they overlap with the very similar Large Scrubwren. [E]
PALE-BILLED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis spilodera) – We finally caught up with this very most distinctive of scrubwrens during our last day at Varirata, when the group that did the circuit track encountered them a couple of times. [E]
GRAY THORNBILL (Acanthiza cinerea) – We had a noisy group of at least five of these along the Highlands Highway above Ambua. [E]
GREEN-BACKED GERYGONE (Gerygone chloronota) – It's beautiful run-on song was first heard at the Raggiana BOP lek during our first morning at Varirata, and we heard it several more times there, an then again at a couple of locations around Tabubil, including Dablin Creek.
FAIRY GERYGONE (Gerygone palpebrosa) – We had looks at several of these canopy dwellers, including some fancy looking males, on the final day at Varirata.
YELLOW-BELLIED GERYGONE (Gerygone chrysogaster) – Singing a lot at Boystown Road, and we even saw a couple of them in the treetops across the road from where we held our Bowerbird vigil. We also got good at looks at them overhead on the trails behind Watame Lodge, and the circuit track group on the final trip to Varirata also had looks at several. [E]
LARGE-BILLED GERYGONE (Gerygone magnirostris) – We heard this loud song coming from inside the forest while we were in the boats along the Elevala River on our final morning's boat trip. [*]
BROWN-BREASTED GERYGONE (Gerygone ruficollis) – This is one of the more physically distinctive gerygones, with its buffy underparts and conspicuous white tail spots. We had them at Kama, and a couple of times along the Highlands Highway above Ambua. [E]


Papuan Logrunner was a big hit with everyone, and we found an exceptionally cooperative pair at the Tari Gap. Here, the male of that pair sings its little logrunning heart out. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Pomatostomidae (Pseudo-Babblers)
PAPUAN BABBLER (Pomatostomus isidorei) – We heard these along both Boystown Road and at the KM 17 trails just north of Kiunga. [E]
Orthonychidae (Logrunners)
PAPUAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx novaeguineae) – Wow! What a phenomenal experience with these usually secretive high elevation forest birds. We found a particularly vocal and showy pair along the upper reaches of the Highlands Highway during our stay at Ambua. This was another of the birds that was a top 3 bird of the tour for both Doug and Jay, and Betsy had it in her top 3 as well. [E]


We had an amazing show by the Greater BoPs just outside the Kiunga, as they danced in the treetops in perfect afternoon light. This flight photo was ably nabbed by participant Myles McNally.

Cnemophilidae (Satinbirds)
LORIA'S SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus loriae) – Females around Ambua lodge, and then some of the group caught up with very good views of a shiny iridescent black male around one of the fruiting trees on our last morning there. [E]
CRESTED SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus macgregorii) – The undoubted winner of the Satinbird lottery was Claudi, who got blistering photos of a male perched over the feeders at Kumul just before one of our afternoon outings. The rest of the group did catch up with at least 3 female-types around fruiting trees on trails below the lodge, but Claudi's experience would turn out to be the only encounter with an adult male during our tour. [E]
Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers and Longbills)
OBSCURE BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis arfakiana) – Very good views of this poorly known (as the name implies) species right over our heads at Dablin Creek, which is one of the few locations that it is known from. [E]
BLACK BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis nigra) – We heard one or two on the trail behind Watame Lodge, but we all caught up to them visually on our last outing at Varirata. [E]
MID-MOUNTAIN BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis longicauda) – Brief views of one flitting around the exterior of the forest along the Tonga Trail. [E]
FAN-TAILED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis versteri) – Seen every day we were birding around Ambua. The males resemble large, shiny gnatcatchers. [E]
STREAKED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis striativentris) – A surprise at the very end of our morning at Tonga, we saw one or two of these coming in and feeding in some dense, low, forest edge vegetation right as we approached the bottom of the trail. This uncommon and nomadic bird was a lifer for Jay!
SPOTTED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis crassirostris) – Seen on three of our days around Ambua. The first ones were a pair in a fruiting tree at very close range, and most everyone agreed that in this species the female was a lot more interesting looking than the male. [E]
YELLOW-BELLIED LONGBILL (Toxorhamphus novaeguineae) – We had one of these at Dablin Creek, and it came in very well, and was vocalizing very loudly close to us, but most people still only glimpsed it. [E]
SLATY-CHINNED LONGBILL (Toxorhamphus poliopterus) – Good views of one of these at one of the switchbacks along the Tonga Trail. [E]
SPECTACLED LONGBILL (Oedistoma iliolophus) – We had an atypically responsive bird at Varirata on our first full day in the country. [E]
PYGMY LONGBILL (Oedistoma pygmaeum) – The group that did the circuit track at Varirata heard a group of these tiny-billed longbills calling across the river from them, and then had a single bird come in multiple times for good looks right overhead. [E]


Crested Berrypecker is an outstanding looking bird, and one of only two species in its family. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Paramythiidae (Tit Berrypecker and Crested Berrypecker)
TIT BERRYPECKER (Oreocharis arfaki) – Atypically scarce this time around. Our only looks at this species were some brief views of a bird behind the cabins at Kumul. [E]
CRESTED BERRYPECKER (Paramythia montium) – Really nice looks at this elegant and colorful bird multiple times during our final day at Kumul Lodge, and then seen just below from the Tari Gap at least twice. [E]
Cinclosomatidae (Quail-thrushes and Jewel-babblers)
PAINTED QUAIL-THRUSH (Cinclosoma ajax) – Heard, and heard, and heard during both of our trips to Varirata. A few of us saw it shoot across an opening in the undergrowth on the first Varirata day, but it was basically just a dark blur going along the forest floor. That experience was par for the course for this widespread but extremely difficult to see species. [E*]
BLUE JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa caerulescens) – Heard singing away at Boystown Road, and then heard again behind Watame Lodge, where we predictably failed to see this exceptionally shy forest-floor bird. [E*]
CHESTNUT-BACKED JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa castanonota) – Heard giving scold calls and then singing during our morning at Dablin Creek. Luckily, we were able to see one exceptionally well on our very last day of birding, at Varirata. Due to the atypically good visual experience we had with that last one, this species was one of the top three birds of the trip for Francesc, Susan, and both of your guides. [E]


Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler! After a fairly long wait, our patience was rewarded when a couple of these hopped down the hill and into the open (any view of a whole Jewel-Babbler qualifies as "in the open"), and we were all able to see this exceptionally skulky species. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Machaerirhynchidae (Boatbills)
BLACK-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus nigripectus) – We heard one or two of these vocalizing along the path to Max's Orchid Garden, but they played coy and we never saw them. The next morning, however, we had a very obliging bird at Tonga. We also saw them above Ambua a couple of times. This is an excellent little bird once you're finally able to lay eyes on it! [E]
YELLOW-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) – Brief views of an immature in a mixed flock of small birds for the group that did the circuit track on our last afternoon at Varirata.
Artamidae (Woodswallows)
GREAT WOODSWALLOW (Artamus maximus) – Our first encounter with these was at the Tabubil airport, and we continued to see them here and there in small numbers throughout our 24 hours around Tabubil. We didn't see them again until our time at Ambua, where they spent the mornings hawking insects off the top of the lodge buildings. [E]
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW (Artamus leucorynchus) – The Woodswallow in the Port Moresby area, we saw a few of these species scattered around during our first day and a half in the country.


We encountered Mountain Peltops at both Dablin Creek and Ambua, but the birds at Ambua were especially confiding, sometimes sallying for insects at knee level between people in our group. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

Cracticidae (Bellmagpies and Allies)
MOUNTAIN PELTOPS (Peltops montanus) – We first encountered these at Dablin Creek, where we had no less than 5 individuals, and we got to watch (and listen to) them at length in the scopes as they sallied forth for insects. While this would have been plenty memorable on its own, it was overshadowed by our experience with the species at Ambua, where there were a couple that were so confiding that we were able to essentially hand-feed them. [E]
LOWLAND PELTOPS (Peltops blainvillii) – We saw two of these during our morning along Boystown Road. These are the Peltops in the lowlands, and they sound different, as well as having less extensive white patches on their faces. [E]
BLACK-BACKED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus mentalis) – We had these on the road out to the west of Port Moresby, as well as at PAU.
HOODED BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus cassicus) – We had a great experience with these on our first morning in the Eucalypt forest on the entrance road to Varirata. There were a half dozen birds perching up and doing lots of sallying forth as they foraged for aerial insects all around the valleys on either side of us. Some of these were also heard and briefly seen along the Elevala River, and again during our second visit to Varirata. [E]
BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi) – Good experiences with a number of these at Dablin Creek where we got good views of them perched. We also had them sporadically around the lodge at Ambua, and on our final day at Varirata. We especially enjoyed the ones at Dablin Creek that serenaded us with their musical local dialect of song, which is really quite conspicuous.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
STOUT-BILLED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina caeruleogrisea) – This was an atypically fantastic tour for these. We saw them briefly on our first trip to Varirata, then during our morning at Dablin Creek, on our hike up the Tonga Trail, on multiple days around Ambua, and then finally a couple more times during our final day at Varirata. These are the monsters of the Cuckooshrikes, being substantially larger than the rest, with massive bills to match. [E]
HOODED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina longicauda) – These were sporadically around the grounds of the lodge at Ambua, and some of us got scope views of them around lunchtime right after we finished up the waterfall trail. [E]
BARRED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina lineata) – We had these being very conspicuous at the Varirata picnic area on our first visit there, and then along the exit road on our second visit there.
BOYER'S CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina boyeri) – Common at Varirata, where we even got to see their orange/chestnut wing linings. We also saw at least one of these at Boystown Road before encountering quite a flew flying around on the boat trips. [E]
BLACK-FACED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina novaehollandiae) – One of the last new species we picked up on the tour, we finally connected with these while we were watching the White-bellied Whistler pair along the road out of Varirata.
WHITE-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina papuensis papuensis) – Conspicuously flying around one of our stops west of Port Moresby, then also seen at both Varirata and PAU. We also encountered a very vocal and cooperative pair of these at the overlook at Kama, and then saw them again upon our return to Port Moresby.
GOLDEN CUCKOOSHRIKE (Campochaera sloetii) – We heard some of these during our afternoon trek to the KM 17 Greater BOP site near Kiunga, and then the next day we had a frustrating pair flying circles around us back and forth over the river on our full day boat trip. Luckily, on our final morning on the Elevala, we encountered a trio of these near the Brahminy Kite nest, and those three eventually played nice and perched in the open in the top of a large tree easily visible from the boats. [E]
VARIED TRILLER (Lalage leucomela) – A couple of these were conspicuously flying around the trees at Boystown Road, and then we had another pair at the picnic area at Varirata on our second visit there.
BLACK-BELLIED CICADABIRD (Edolisoma montanum) – We had this sharp cuckooshrike on our first two days along the Highlands Highway above Ambua, including great views on our second day there. [E]
PAPUAN CICADABIRD (Edolisoma incertum) – Views of males teed up in the tops of trees on both of our visits to Dablin Creek. These are much paler, with much less extensive black feather edging, than the male Gray-headed Cicadabirds that overlap with them in many areas. [E]
COMMON CICADABIRD (Edolisoma tenuirostre) – Leonard pointed out one of these at Varirata in the first mixed foraging flock of birds we ran into on the trails below the overlook, and a few folks were able to get on this dark cuckooshrike before it moved on. We then had the species again on our final day in the park.
GRAY-HEADED CICADABIRD (Edolisoma schisticeps) – Common at Dablin Creek, where we got to see raucous groups of up to four at a time flying around and chattering. We also ran into a few at Boystown Road, including some prolonged scope views of the beautifully bicolored females. [E]
BLACK CICADABIRD (Edolisoma melan) – Especially good views of a couple of females during our final trip to Varirata. [E]
Neosittidae (Sittellas)
BLACK SITTELLA (Daphoenositta miranda) – We had a distant group of 3-5 of these all black nuthatch wannabes on our first afternoon birding above Ambua. [E]


The wattles on a Wattled Ploughbill have to be one of the most bizarre manifestations of sexual selection in a land that is already rife with examples of this type of evolution. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Eulacestomatidae (Ploughbill)
WATTLED PLOUGHBILL (Eulacestoma nigropectus) – Whoa, what a bird!! A male started spontaneously singing while we were waiting at the Crested Satinbird tree, and we were able to bring him in quickly, where he showed very well, dangling red wattles and all. Our second experience with the species involved brief views during the first full day birding above Ambua. Then, as an encore, we got some excellent views of a ridiculously cooperative male during our last full day birding around Tari Gap. [E]
Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)
RUSTY PITOHUI (Colluricincla ferruginea) – We had these rusty colored, pale-eyed, Pitohuis at Varirata with the mixed feeding flocks that we had, both times we hiked the trail below the overlook. [E]
WHITE-BELLIED PITOHUI (Colluricincla incerta) – We had a flock of 5 of these along the Elevala River gregariously calling and then moving back and forth through bushes, but still being really hard to get good looks at. This experience is fairly typical for this loud but shy species. [E]
LITTLE SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha) – Seen briefly and heard well at Dablin Creek, then also heard only at Watame Lodge, Kama, and Tonga. We finally got good looks at the species along the driveway at Ambua, as well as during the final morning at Varirata.
GRAY SHRIKETHRUSH (Colluricincla harmonica) – Several around the PAU campus.
BLACK PITOHUI (Melanorectes nigrescens) – We got looks at this sparsely distributed and uncommon bird at Ambua. This really should be called a shrikethrush, rather than a pitohui, as its taxonomic order indicates. [E]
REGENT WHISTLER (Pachycephala schlegelii) – Fairly common right around the cabins at Kumul, where the males consistently wowed us with their regal black-and-gold attire. We also saw them a couple of times along the highway near the Tari Gap. [E]


Brown-backed Whistler was a common sight in both of our highlands regions, but our best views were above the feeders at Kumul, where we were able to view it at and below our eye level. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

SCLATER'S WHISTLER (Pachycephala soror) – We had great views of this smart looking black-and-yellow whistler along the Ambua driveway. [E]
BROWN-BACKED WHISTLER (Pachycephala modesta) – We had great views from the deck of a bird at eye level over the feeders at Kumul on our first feeder-watching foray there, then quite a few of them throughout our time around Ambua. [E]
GRAY WHISTLER (GRAY-HEADED) (Pachycephala simplex griseiceps) – Views of at least two of these on the final day at Varirata.
WHITE-BELLIED WHISTLER (Pachycephala leucogastra) – We had excellent looks at a confiding pair along the entrance road to Varirata on our final afternoon. [E]
BLACK-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala monacha) – We had some fleeting glimpses of the species at Kama, where it was calling intermittently throughout the morning. Then we had a really cooperative pair along the road adjacent to where the Huli Wigmen performed their sing sing for us, and then we got another pair in the scope the next day at the Tari Airport. [E*]
Rhagologidae (Mottled Berryhunter)
MOTTLED BERRYHUNTER (Rhagologus leucostigma) – Despite being of such average appearance that it is often initially difficult to know if you're definitely looking at it, this bird is so taxonomically unique that it comprises its own monotypic family, Rhagologidae. We saw males on both of our first two days along the Highlands Highway above Ambua, including scope views of a male quietly perched in the subcanopy on our second day there. [E]
Oreoicidae (Australo-Papuan Bellbirds)
RUFOUS-NAPED BELLBIRD (Aleadryas rufinucha) – A couple of these were around Kumul, and everyone got on a young male near the fruiting tree down the driveway. We also had them on most days around Ambua, with pretty good views along the Highlands Highway on a couple of occasions. [E]
PIPING BELLBIRD (Ornorectes cristatus) – We heard its run-on song along the entrance road into Varirata, and then a differently pitched version perplexed us for quite a while during our first afternoon at Dablin Creek. [E]


The Great Woodswallow sentinels at Ambua. Their vigilance was a bad deal for all the local aerial insects, especially any moths that were unlucky enough to still be flying by the time dawn rolled around. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (NASUTUS GROUP) (Lanius schach stresemanni) – Scattered around open areas in the highlands, we got our first good looks at a bird along the roadside at Kama, which stayed fairly close and allowed good scope views. The Tari grasslands were another good place for the species.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
HOODED PITOHUI (Pitohui dichrous) – Several people saw this black-headed, rusty-bodied guy on the trail below the overlook during our first visit to Varirata, and then it was seen briefly in the distance during our morning at Dablin Creek. We saw a couple of additional birds on our final Varirata outing as well. [E]
VARIABLE PITOHUI (Pitohui kirhocephalus) – We heard this in the forest during our hike to the paradisea lek site at KM 17 in Kiunga. [E*]
BROWN ORIOLE (Oriolus szalayi) – Several seen at Varirata, and a few seen around Kiunga (especially at Boystown Road) as well. [E]
AUSTRALASIAN FIGBIRD (Sphecotheres vieilloti) – Very common at PAU, where we saw some very spiffy-looking males. We also had a couple of double-digit flocks flying around Lea Lea when we went out there on our next-to-last evening of the tour.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
SPANGLED DRONGO (Dicrurus bracteatus) – We saw bunches foraging on winged insects as we birded along the Varirata entrance road on our first morning in the country, and then we also saw them every day in the Kiunga region, where we saw several at Boystown Road and many along the rivers. We also had a few on the final day of birding, again at Varirata. This one may one day be split from other Spangled Drongos, and may end up as its own New Guinea-endemic subspecies.


This Feline Owlet-Nightjar was an unparalleled bonus bird during our final night at Kumul. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
PYGMY DRONGO-FANTAIL (Chaetorhynchus papuensis) – Seen briefly but well by most of the people that did the circuit track on the final afternoon at Varirata. [E]
BLACK FANTAIL (Rhipidura atra) – One flew across the road during our morning at Dablin Creek, and then we worked on one a bit farther down the road, that most people got a look at. We then had a brief encounter with a trail-crossing bird at Tonga, where we also all got looks at a female, which is all rufous with the exception of black central tail feathers. [E]
NORTHERN FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufiventris) – Our only one was a bird up in the treetops seen from near the top of the road at Dablin Creek.
WHITE-BELLIED THICKET-FANTAIL (Rhipidura leucothorax leucothorax) – We encountered this species on three separate days in the Kiunga area, but unsurprisingly it was heard-only every time. This is par for the course for this species which is very difficult to lay eyes on, even when you know right where they are. [E*]
WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys) – Will-ie or won't he? He almost always will, as we found out when we achieved it on almost every day of the tour. Only one other species (Red-capped Flowerpecker) was seen on as many days of the tour as Willie was.
RUFOUS-BACKED FANTAIL (Rhipidura rufidorsa) – We heard this species during our morning along Boystown Road, but never could get it to come out into the open. [E*]
DIMORPHIC FANTAIL (Rhipidura brachyrhyncha) – We got some good views for all of a female as it flew back and forth across the Highlands Highway between Ambua and the Tari Gap on our final full day there. [E]


Friendly Fantail is a common sight in the highlands, and this one was gathering nesting material just below Kumul Lodge. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

FRIENDLY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albolimbata) – Compared to most of the forest birds in the Highlands of New Guinea these are indeed friendly. They are the most conspicuous understory birds in the forest, and so it often seems like they are the commonest as well. [E]
CHESTNUT-BELLIED FANTAIL (Rhipidura hyperythra) – During our final day of birding at Varirata, we had a great experience with a pair of these tending a nest with young that were so small that they couldn't even be seen over the rim of the nest. The circuit track group also saw several more later that afternoon. [EN]
Ifritidae (Ifrita)
BLUE-CAPPED IFRITA (Ifrita kowaldi) – We had great views of three exceptionally responsive individuals in the rain along the entrance road at Kumul, and then Betsy and Roy had an obliging one near their cabin the next day. We had one more view of a fairly shy individual before we finished our stay Kumul. We also ran into them on four days in a row along the Highlands Highway above Ambua Lodge. [E]
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
GOLDEN MONARCH (Carterornis chrysomela) – Whoa, what a stunning-looking bird! Even the spiffy female gave us some enjoyment, but the in-your-face golden-yellow plumage of that male is something else. He even stayed perched in one place long enough for all of us to have great views in the scope. This was along Boystown Road, and then we also had a couple of brief encounters during our all-day boat trip, including a couple of brilliant males chasing each other around and across the river right in front of the first boat. [E]
BLACK-FACED MONARCH (Monarcha melanopsis) – The group that did the circuit track on the final afternoon at Varirata got good looks at one of these in the first mixed feeding flock that they encountered.
FANTAILED MONARCH (Symposiachrus axillaris) – Also known as Black Monarch, we had these briefly on a couple of outings around Ambua. [E]
HOODED MONARCH (Symposiachrus manadensis) – Francesc was the only one to get eyes on this species at Watame Lodge. [E]
SPOT-WINGED MONARCH (Symposiachrus guttula) – The group that did the circuit track on our final afternoon at Varirata had a couple of these flighty guys among the mixed flock action along the trail. [E]

Here are some selected clips of a few of the many wonderful Birds-of-Paradise which we encountered during our time in PNG. Video clips by guide Doug Gochfeld.
FRILLED MONARCH (Arses telescopthalmus) – We heard this species along Boystown Road, and then saw one exceptionally well along the trail to the Greater BOP lek. This latter bird even sat still and allowed everyone to get scope views of it on a nearby mid-story perch. We also had a couple of males and females around Varirata on our last birding excursion of the tour. [E]
LEADEN FLYCATCHER (Myiagra rubecula) – A male briefly popped into the fruiting tree that the Twelve-wired BOPs were occasionally visiting along the Fly River, and a few people got good looks at it before it moved along.
SHINING FLYCATCHER (Myiagra alecto) – Some good looks at two or three pairs worth of birds along the Ketu River on our full day marine excursion.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY CROW (Corvus tristis) – We saw one bird very high up just as we arrived in Ok Menga and were still in the bus, and then got two more during our morning on Boystown Road the next day. Our best views, however, were birds flying over the Elevala River during our two boat trips. [E]


This young male Superb Bird-of-Paradise was in a very interesting plumage, with a black head and a full adult-like breast shield, but otherwise having female-like body plumage. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

TORRESIAN CROW (Corvus orru orru) – The only black crow in PNG, and widespread along the most coastal lowlands. This was the crow we saw commonly around the Port Moresby and Varirata area. .
Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-Paradise)
TRUMPET MANUCODE (Phonygammus keraudrenii) – Great views of a bird singing its crest off at KM 17 just as we arrived in Kiunga after our drive down from Tabubil. The species was also fairly common along the rivers near Kiunga, where we saw multiple individuals doing slow-flapping display flights from shore to shore.
CRINKLE-COLLARED MANUCODE (Manucodia chalybatus) – A distant view of one of these along the entrance road to Varirata on our first full day, and then some more prolonged and closer views of these bumpy-headed manucodes along the Boystown Road. [E]
GLOSSY-MANTLED MANUCODE (Manucodia ater) – We had these at several places, including scope views along the Varirata entrance road. Their tuning fork-like call was also heard along Boystown Road and along the nearby rivers. [E]
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Pteridophora alberti) – What a cool bird! From its unreal mechanical bacon-sizzle song to its fancy head plumes masquerading as antennae longer than the entire length of its body, this is a really special bird even within the already special BoP family. We had excellent views of several males flying around and displaying on our first morning of birding above Ambua. Myles, Ivan, Claudi, Ed, Doug, and Jay all voted it as one of their top 3 BoPs of the tour, both because of how good-looking it is, and how good a show we got from them. [E]
CAROLA'S PAROTIA (Parotia carolae) – We had our first male during our evening visit to Dablin Creek, and then had an incredible experience there the next morning, with around a dozen, including several males waving around their alien-like antennae in the trees above us. They were around for so long that eventually people were having to look through them to find other birds. [E]
LAWES'S PAROTIA (Parotia lawesii) – We saw female Lawes's Parotia on a couple of different days around the fruiting trees at Ambua Lodge, with the best views being on our last morning there. [E]


We saw Blue Bird-of-Paradise in a couple of locations, but never closer than the female which was being very loyal to a couple of the fruiting trees on the grounds of Ambua. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

TWELVE-WIRED BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Seleucidis melanoleucus) – A male called on and off for a couple of hours near a display perch along the Fly River, but it only came onto the perch once, and briefly (and those that had a window to see it got an eyeful). It did come into a nearby tree to feed, and we saw the female around several times, including up on the display perch (perhaps searching for her handsome hubby). There seemed to be a bit too much disturbance in the very early morning at the site for this wary bird to put on a full display show. [E]
SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Lophorina superba) – We had a great trip for this sometimes difficult to track down species. We had the species on 6 out of 7 days in the highlands, including males in at least four different locations. Those blue breast shields are really something else! Betsy, Roy, and Ed put this into their top 3 BoPs of the trip, and with good reason! [E]
MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (MAGNIFICENT) (Ptiloris magnificus magnificus) – We heard these while at the bowerbird mound along Boystown Road. The vocalization is much different than the next, and these two taxa are split my most authority, with this one staying a part of Magnificent Riflebird.


Male Ribbon-tailed Astrapias have the longest tail in relation to body length of any bird in the world, and we saw several adult males with their fully grown white tails. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

MAGNIFICENT RIFLEBIRD (GROWLING) (Ptiloris magnificus intercedens) – We heard these in multiple locations within Varirata, but a bonus was getting to watch one singing and doing a partial display in the scope during our early morning birding along the entrance road on our first morning in country. This is split out by many authorities as Growling Riflebird. [E]
BLACK SICKLEBILL (Epimachus fastosus) – We saw a female at Ambua on two different occasions. This bird eventually gave pretty good views on the final morning at the lodge, showing its dark throat and darker eyes, and it gave good enough views that it was one of Jay's top 3 BoPs owing largely to how rarely seen it is. [E]
BROWN SICKLEBILL (Epimachus meyeri) – The machine gun of the forest. We got good views of both males and females in the forests above Ambua. Immediately upon our arrival at the King-of-Saxony trail we got to see a young male sicklebill giving its loud call reminiscent of a machine gun. Later in the morning, an adult male flew in and landed overhead, and we got wonderful views of it perched up right overhead, and then got to see it trailing its astrapia-like tail tail behind it as it flew back-and-forth across the large clearing. [E]
SHORT-TAILED PARADIGALLA (Paradigalla brevicauda) – We had nice views of one perching up in the scope the second time we went into the King-of-Saxony trail along the Highlands Highway above Ambua. We went in looking for the Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrots that Joseph had just tracked down, and while we were looking at those show-stoppers, Joseph found this beauty teed up in the treeline. [E]
STEPHANIE'S ASTRAPIA (Astrapia stephaniae) – We saw them around Ambua on multiple occasions, but the most memorable experience with the species was our first one. We got some spectacular looks at a group of these along the highway above Ambua on our first afternoon in the area. One of them was an adult male with a full set of its resplendent tail streamers, and it put on quite a show, posing for us and bickering with one of the younger males whose shorter tail would've been impressive in any other situation. Myles voted this as one of his top 3 BoPs of the tour, perhaps largely due to the great show put on by this first group! [E]
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia mayeri) – A slew of these large BOPs were around the grounds at Kumul Lodge, including a couple of young males that had reasonably long tail streamers. Then we had some along the higher reaches of the Highlands Highway between Ambua and the Tari Gap, including a couple of spectacular adult male with full-length tail streamers, one of which was doing a slowly bounding display flight across the valley adjacent to the grasslands. It was voted as five people's top-3 BoP of the trip, coming in a strong second in the balloting. Male Ribbon-tailed Astrapias have the longest tail-to-body ratio of any bird species in the world. [E]
KING BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus regius) – We were able to track down one of these boldly plumaged males way up high in the top of a tree at the KM 17 trail, and we even got neck-breaking scope views for all of this canopy dweller. [E]
MAGNIFICENT BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus magnificus) – We saw 4-5 females feeding in the tall fruiting tree over the road at Dablin Creek, and we heard a male intermittently "singing" at Kama while we were drinking in our first male Superb BoP. [E]
BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea rudolphi) – Multiple great views of one or two males as we hiked up and down the Tonga trail. When you see one of these up close and personal they're really mindbogglingly beautiful, and we were fortunate enough to have plenty of scope views of these stunners. We then encountered a very cooperative female feeding on the fruiting trees on the lodge grounds at Ambua on at least two occasions. Iris, Ivan, and Susan all voted for Blue BoP as one of their top 3 BoPs of the trip. [E]
LESSER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea minor) – One of these males was already on site in a Casuarina upon our arrival at Kama, and we watched it calling inside the tree for quite a while. Eventually, a Pygmy Eagle flew into a large tree up above it, and the BoP froze in place and immediately quieted down. It stayed frozen in position this way until the eagle flew away to look for quarry across the valley. Within a minute of the eagle's departure, the Lesser BoP was again loudly calling. [E]


It wasn't until our final morning at Ambua that everyone got good looks at the eerily pale eyes of Lawes's Parotia, but when we did finally all connect, we did so in a big way, with excellent close-up views. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

RAGGIANA BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea raggiana) – Great experiences with this species on both of our visits to the lek at Varirata, and we also saw plenty of females or young males during our general birding around the park. We also had the species twice around Kiunga: there was at least one pure male Raggiana at the KM 17 Greater BoP lek, and we had a nice male pop up briefly during our boat trip the next day. [E]
GREATER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea apoda) – In a trip with several "Attenborough quality" moments, our experience with the Greater BoPs at the KM 17 site on the outskirts of Kiunga may have been the most memorable episode. We heard a bunch of these loudly calling as we walked through the forest towards the lek site, and upon our arrival the birds were in full-on display mode. At least five individual males were jumping around and fluffing their tails and bussles out all over the place. In the area, there were a few Greater BoPs, at least one pure Raggiana BoP, and multiple BoPs that looked like hybrids between the two. This was a truly phenomenal experience. [E]
Melampittidae (Melampittas)
LESSER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta lugubris) – We actually got the entire group on one of these at the end of one of our morning walks below Kumul Lodge. Some people got fairly good looks at it as it hopped around near the trail and then crossed. There were a few brief incidental sightings while there as well, including one that Francesc saw briefly under the feeders. Though we didn't go out of our way to try to see these skulkers around Ambua, we also had one along the King-of-Saxony trail, which several people got excellent views of. [E]
GREATER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta gigantea) – Heard by the first group up the hill at Dablin Creek during our morning visit. [E*]


Our Greater Bird-of-Paradise show was truly a proper "Attenborough moment". Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)
LESSER GROUND-ROBIN (Amalocichla incerta) – We found a singing bird along the roadside of the Highlands Highway during our second-to-last afternoon around Ambua. We were able to entice it to come closer and it was seen very briefly by a couple of people as it made 3 very furtive passes. This is a very difficult to see species, and getting any kind of a look at it is an achievement. [E]
TORRENT FLYCATCHER (Monachella muelleriana) – We had at least four of these cute monochrome fast river specialists at at the Lai River bridge on the way back from Kama, and then the next morning we had a couple along the river below the Tonga trail. [E]
LEMON-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Microeca flavigaster) – These were in the Eucalypt forest along the entrance road to Varirata on our first birding morning, with a couple of them perching up in the tops of fairly close trees and conspicuously flycatching. We then got even more good views in the same area on our final afternoon, on the as we left Varirata.
PAPUAN FLYCATCHER (Microeca papuana) – We had these conspicuous orange-legged flycatchers on 3 out of 4 days around the Tari/Ambua area. Formerly called Papuan Canary-flycatcher, they really are a striking bird when viewed through the scope. [E]
GARNET ROBIN (Eugerygone rubra) – We saw flashes of this bird going between canopies a couple of times, but we couldn't visually nail it down, despite it singing near us along the Highlands Highway near Tari Gap for more than half an hour. It seemed unfathomable that we couldn't get eyes on a bird that was so close and so loud for such a long time, but sometimes that's birding. [E*]
WHITE-FACED ROBIN (Tregellasia leucops) – The group that did the Circuit Track during the final afternoon at Varirata ran into a very skittish and fairly uncooperative pair of these distinctive looking robins.
BLACK-SIDED ROBIN (Poecilodryas hypoleuca) – A really nice pickup for those who did the kingfisher trail along the Elevala River, we had really nice views of a singing male after we had finished up our kingfisher sweep. [E]
BLACK-THROATED ROBIN (Poecilodryas albonotata) – This is typically even shyer and harder to see than its lookalike cousin Blue-gray Robin, with which it broadly overlaps in range and habitat. We did eventually find one that stayed on a couple of different perches for 30 seconds or more each, atypically allowing everyone to get scope views! [E]
WHITE-WINGED ROBIN (Peneothello sigillata) – Fairly common around Kumul, where they are exceptionally friendly and confiding. This was a big difference from how we saw them around the Tari Gap, where they were much shyer, and our sightings of them were much briefer, often being just fleeting glimpses. In any context, however, it is a very striking bird! [E]
WHITE-RUMPED ROBIN (Peneothello bimaculata) – This one was heard only at Dablin Creek, and we weren't able to entice it into view. [E*]
BLUE-GRAY ROBIN (Peneothello cyanus) – We encountered these somewhat shy Robins on every day around Ambua, and we eventually got good looks for all. There were especially good views at the top of the Ambua driveway, and in the Seven Corners area of the highway, towards the Tari Gap. [E]
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – The only Hirundo that we can reasonably expect to encounter on this tour, they are very widespread from the lowlands to the highlands.


The White-winged Robins at Kumul Lodge were exceptionally confiding, offering an interesting contrast to the ones along the Highlands Highway above Ambua, which could be tricky to see sitting still. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
ISLAND LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus maforensis) – We picked up a bunch of these tiny denizens of the canopy in the treetops along the Tonga trail. We also had them along the Ambua driveway. This is the only Phylloscopus that occurs on mainland PNG.
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
TAWNY GRASSBIRD (Megalurus timoriensis) – Around Mt. Hagen, we encountered these at both Kama and Tonga. We then had them frequently between Ambua and the Tari Gap, where we often had very good viewing opportunities as they perched up right alongside the road. This is already split out as Papuan Grassbird (different from the Australian Tawny Grassbird currently considered conspecific) by many authorities, and we anticipate Clements eventually following suit as well.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
GOLDEN-HEADED CISTICOLA (Cisticola exilis) – We had some great views of this vocal but often skulky species during our first afternoon drive to the west of Port Moresby.
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor minor) – This is the taxon that is now split off as "Green-fronted White-eye" by most authorities in the region. We had birds matching this description at the Lesser BoP site at Kama, accompanied by some other Zosterops that are still eluding identification. Zosterops taxonomy in New Guinea is still far from settled, and more study is needed to fully hash out what is going on with them, especially in the highlands. We also had some interesting-looking White-eyes around Ambua, mixed in with Capped White-eyes, but we're not sure which taxon they fit in best with (options could include New Guinea White-eye, one of the duller forms of Black-fronted White-eye, or something else entirely).


The Huli Wigmen gave us an excellent demonstration of a traditional sing sing, and ended up sending us off with an animated farewell dance. Photo by participant Myles McNally.

BLACK-FRONTED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops minor delicatulus) – This is the form of Black-fronted White-eye with the very obvious and extensive black on the lores, and an extremely thick white eye-ring. We saw and heard these around Varirata NP on both of our trips, but much better and for more prolonged periods on our second visit.
CAPPED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops fuscicapilla) – A flock of White-eyes that contained at least a few of this species flew in over the first group to arrive at Dablin Creek on our morning visit there. Alas, being white-eyes, they didn't stick around very long before departing. We had a much better luck with the species on the road a little bit up from Ambua Lodge, where we encountered a nice mixed flock of these, with their completely yellow underparts, and a couple of Black-fronted White-eyes, which have pale gray separating the yellow throat and vent. [E]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata) – Commonly seen sitting up on conspicuous perches in open and disturbed areas in the Highlands. Also a few seen around Sogeri.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
ISLAND THRUSH (Turdus poliocephalus) – The birds around the Kumul feeders were the only ones that most people saw, but luckily these individuals are exceptionally easy to see, and we even saw juveniles feeding side by side with their parents on the feeding platform. Our only one away from the Mt. Hagen area was spotted by Francesc at the Tari Grasslands.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
METALLIC STARLING (Aplonis metallica) – The common starling around the rivers near Kiunga, with flocks of up to fifty flying around, and at least one large tree playing host to a raucous nesting colony. We also saw a collection of them at PAU earlier in the trip.
SINGING STARLING (Aplonis cantoroides) – We saw a few of these short-tailed Aplonis during on our afternoon at PAU, where we were even able to compare them to some of the more common, but longer-tailed, Metallic Starlings. We also had a few at the Tari airport and at Lea Lea.
YELLOW-FACED MYNA (Mino dumontii) – We saw them at all of our lowland sites, starting with Varirata and PAU. They were fairly common in the Kiunga region, where their bizarre vocalizations were the background noise during much of our birding. [E]
GOLDEN MYNA (Mino anais) – The first few fleeting observations on the boat were frustrating, but we did eventually have a couple of instances where we saw them perched up on dead snags right alongside the river, and got very good views for all of this snappy looking endemic. [E]
Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)
RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) – The group didn't see any of these on the trip out to the west of Port Moresby on the first birding day of the tour. This was the only day in which we didn't record this widespread and very active bird, and the species tied Willie-Wagtail for highest number of days seen on the tour.


We were able to check out the massive honkin' bills on these Grand Munias on our very final evening of the tour. This was the final endemic we picked up, in what was indeed a grand ending to our exploration of Papua New Guinea! Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.

Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
BLACK SUNBIRD (Leptocoma sericea) – Fairly common in the treetops around Kiunga, and seen every day around there, though they were usually high enough or in bad enough light that we only got to appreciate the "black" part of the name, rather than the "sunbird" portion.
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis) – We bookended the tour with this species. We had brief views on our first day's drive out to the west of Port Moresby, and didn't catch up with the species again until our very last birding outing, when we had much better views of the species at Sogeri.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AUSTRALASIAN PIPIT (AUSTRALIAN) (Anthus novaeseelandiae australis) – A few of these were seen by some at a couple of the airstrips we used, mostly while we were aboard and taxiing. We did eventually get one in the scope for all as it foraged around the runway while we awaited our flight from Tari to Port Moresby.


Mountain Firetail is endemic to only the highest of the highlands of New Guinea. The species was apparently quite difficult to track down this summer, so this one was a great pickup just below the grasslands at the Tari Gap. Photo by participant Claudi Racionero.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A very few along the route, as Eurasian Tree Sparrow is now the dominant Passer in much of urbanized New Guinea. We had a flyby around the mangroves west of Port Moresby, a female at PAU, and a few around the charter lounge at the Mt. Hagen airport. [I]
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus) – The common Passer sparrow in PNG, we encountered them in the highest abundances around Port Moresby and at Tabubil and Kiunga. [I]
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
MOUNTAIN FIRETAIL (Oreostruthus fuliginosus) – Yes! A tricky bird this year, we found a very confiding adult feeding alongside the road just before the Tari Gap. Great point-blank views were had by all of this high elevation specialist. [E]
CRIMSON FINCH (Neochmia phaeton) – A nice surprise on our walk back from the boat ramp to the Kiunga Guesthouse after our full day boat trip. We had two of these feeding along with a Streak-headed Munia in some fenced in long grasses
STREAK-HEADED MUNIA (WHITE-SPOTTED) (Lonchura tristissima leucosticta) – We had one of these smart-looking Lonchuras with our Crimson Finches in the long grasses near the boat ramp in Kiunga. This is already split by many authorities from the not-very-similar Streak-headed Munia, and it is called White-spotted Munia. [E]
GRAND MUNIA (Lonchura grandis) – A great cap on an already great final day around Varirata. We had roughly a dozen of these endemics with larger numbers of Gray-headed Munia at our last birding stop of the tour, in Sogeri. [E]
HOODED MUNIA (Lonchura spectabilis) – The only munia in the highlands, we had these boldly patterned ones in most places in the Mt. Hagen and Tari regions where there was seeding grass. [E]
GRAY-HEADED MUNIA (Lonchura caniceps) – We roughly bookended the tour with this species. A very large flock at PAU was our first encounter with this species, and our only other encounter was at Sogeri, at the end of the tour. [E]


What a merry band or birders (and orchid-hunters!) we were. Here we are with Max Mal, at Max's wonderful orchid garden. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.


MAMMALS
GREATER FLYING FOX (Pteropus neohibernicus) – We had a couple of these flying over our night-bird spot at Ok Menga, with Papuan Boobooks as an audio backdrop. We also passed a colony of them roosting along the Elevala River during our first boat trip.
SUNDA SAMBAR (Cervus timorensis) – This is also known as Javan Rusa, or simply Rusa Deer. It has been introduced to Papua New Guinea, though we don't encounter them that much. We saw a few of them down below us the distance from the overlook at Varirata during our final visit to the park. [I]


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

We had unidentified Water Dragons along the road between Tabubil and Kiunga and then again along the Elevala River. We also had what was apparently a Water Monitor of some variety along the Elevala River. We had a brief view of a Parrotfinch flying across the road up to the Tari Gap, which Jay and Ed saw, but we didn't see it again, so we couldn't figure which of the two very similar possibilities it was.


Totals for the tour: 331 bird taxa and 2 mammal taxa