Tuesday, 11 November 2014

PAPUA NEW GUINEA 27th June 2000 - 25th July 2000


PAPUA NEW GUINEA     
27th June 2000 - 25th July 2000

David & John F. Cooper



Itinerary

Tue 27th June 2000 : Left Burgess Hill at 17.00 arriving Heathrow at 18.30 for 22.05 Qantas flight QF10 to Singapore. On trying to book our luggage through to PNG the check-in clerk thought Port Moresby was somewhere in New Zealand - a good start ! Flight left at 22.30 for 12 hour flight to Singapore.

Wed 28th June 2000 : Arrived Singapore at 17.30 local time and already evening. In what light remained we saw 2 Pacific Reef Egrets Egretta sacra, c.10 Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis and 25 House Crows Corvus splendens from the Airport terminal. Found a designated ‘Quiet Area’ where we crashed out on comfortable reclining seats (and the floor) for over 3 hours. Left Singapore on time on Qantas flight QF62 to Cairns via Darwin at 22.35.

Thur 29th June 2000 : Arrived Darwin after 4 hours at c.04.00 where we were obliged to visit the terminal for over an hour until being allowed back onto the plane for the 2 hour flight to Cairns.  Arrived at 08.00 having had a good view of the western flank of the Cape York peninsula and of the scenic approach to Cairns from the aircraft. Cleared Customs’ (after a slight hassle being incorrectly told that we had to collect our baggage before leaving the airport) and took a taxi to the Flecker Botanic Gardens arriving at 08.45. Birded along the boardwalk to, and then around, the Centenary Lakes before retracing our steps to the Botanic Gardens. This quick visit yielded 7 new species for DC with highlights being Red-necked Crake and Lovely Fairy-Wren. Not a taxi to be seen as we set out to return to the airport but after a few minutes noticed a taxi approaching. Waving our arms to ensure we stopped the taxi unfortunately did so to such an extent that we made the American lady passenger ‘jump’ as she ‘stuck up her hands’ thinking we were ‘holding her up’ ! We explained that we wanted to look a bit ‘rough’ for our arrival into Port Moresby - in her opinion we had succeeded. Back to the Airport to ‘check-in’ with the Customs and Security staff all questioning why we wanted to visit such a place as PNG and then telling us various horror stories which was all a little disconcerting. Left Cairns on Air New Guinea PX99 on time at 13.45. Arrived Port Moresby 15.10 where we changed £400 for 1,338 Kina.  Our pick-up by the Kokoda Trail Motel had not arrived. Phoned the Motel speaking to Sub (the barman) who explained that they were not expecting to meet anyone from the airport today and that Bob Ward (the owner) was ‘in town’ with the only vehicle, and that it was not known what time he would return. We waited for nearly an hour and then phoned again. Bob had still not returned so Sub told us to get to the nearby Gateway Hotel and wait in the Reception there (as it was a safer option than hanging around at the airport) to be collected on Bob’s return. At the Airport we asked in small cubicle offering ‘tours’ as to how to get to the Gateway Hotel and the lady there kindly called the Gateway to request their ‘free-transfer minibus’. We quickly arrived at the Gateway Hotel and after 45 minutes again phoned the Motel. This time Bob answered and explained that Sub was on his way to collect us. Sub arrived and after a fast drive passing various groups of interesting-looking locals armed with baseball bats we arrived at the Kokoda Trail Motel at c.18.00 just as it was getting dark. Quickly into our basic room and went to the restaurant for ‘Chicken & Chips’ before calling it a night at 20.00.

Fri 30th June 2000 : After a noisy night with locals having some sort of disco and then ‘singing’ for much of the night, we were up at 05.30 and had a breakfast of poached eggs on toast - which was surprisingly good. Sub duly appeared and we were driven up to Varirata National Park arriving at the entrance gate at 06.15 just as it was getting light. The Kokoda Trail Motel had arranged for a Guide, Waksia, and for a Security man, Simon, to accompany us for the day at a cost of 5K each. Walking from the entrance gate into the Park proved quiet so we headed for the Kaori Tree House Trail where we were rewarded with our first BOP - Magnificent Riflebird, quickly followed by a successful taping session for Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher - we felt we had arrived ! We then walked the Varirata Lookout Trail until DC & JFC were lured off the trail by calling Raggiana Bird Of Paradise (seeing a female). On our return to the trail there was no sign of our two ‘friends’. We continued along the trail for around 50m when we were unnerved to see a local carrying a gun appear from the left some 80m ahead of us, continuing along the trail away from us for c.10m, and then walking into the forest to the right - we suspected he was hunting for pigs.  However, as we thought we had not been seen, we decided to retrace our steps and head back down the trail, somewhat in a state of disbelief that we had not encountered anyone all morning until our ‘guides’ had just disappeared !  Having walked rather quickly for around 500m a shout from behind us was from Simon who on trying to find us and had noticed our footprints heading back down the trail. Waksia also quickly appeared on the scene. They had not seen the gunman and understandably seemed annoyed that we had turned back without them. We assured them we had seen a man with a gun but we were far from convinced that they believed us as they reassured us by constantly telling us that they didn’t think there were any ‘criminals’ in the National Park. We headed back to the Kaori Tree House trail where we met Scott, an American from the Smithsonian, working on the poisonous Hooded Pitohuis. He treated us all to a beer and explained that the gunman was Core, who worked for the Park, shooting both pigs and deer. Feeling more relaxed, knowing that Scott had been living in the Park since May and had not encountered any problems, we set off birding the top end of the Circuit Trail until encountering a large snake on the trail which our ‘guides’ would not walk past. We then decided to walk the entrance road before being picked up by Bob at 17.00 and driven back to the Motel. After a quick meal of fish & chips and a pizza we were in bed by 20.00. Unfortunately a really noisy generator started up about midnight making for another poor night’s sleep.


David at the entrance to the Varirata National Park.


View from Varirata National Park.


Kaori Tree House

Sat 1st July 2000 : Up for breakfast at 05.30 - a repeat of yesterday’s eggs but with the addition of sausages. Unfortunately no sign of Sub with the ‘security men’ explaining that he had got drunk the night before. After knocking continually at his door for half an hour he materialised in a really bad state. However, he finally drove us up to the National Park arriving 06.45. We decided against having any guides with us today. We had an attempt at finding the Boundary Trail but unfortunately it has been poorly maintained and we could follow it for only around 50m. We therefore walked to the entrance gate and to our surprise met Core. Scott had kindly told Core that we would be back today and had arranged for Core to take us to see displaying Raggiana Bird of Paradise for a fee of 50K. After collecting Core’s brother enroute we commenced on a tough walk, crossing streams and climbing a steep slope to sit directly below the display tree where a superb show awaited us. By 09.00 the show was over and we returned to Scott’s sweating and tired. Scott treated us to tea and we soon recovered with Core enjoying telling us that he had seen us the day before and could have shot us if he had wanted to (!). Recuperated, we left Scott and Core, to walk the Gare’s Lookout trail and a short way along the Boundary Trail before retracing our steps, meeting first Phil Hansbro birding with a guide, and then Scott out radio-tracking his Pitohuis.  As Bob was attending a Lodge Meeting he needed his vehicle that afternoon, so we had arranged that we would walk the 5km entrance road back to the Motel in the evening. We ran into Core at the Picnic Area and he insisted he would walk with us as he was concerned that we would have to walk through a ‘no good place’. He walked back to the junction and then flagged down a van from the nearby hydro station to take us back to the Motel - Core didn’t look for any payment for his kind gesture of acting as our ‘security’, so we felt for him as it started to rain heavily as he presumably was walking back to the Park - a really nice chap. Another Chicken & Chips and off to bed by 20.00.



Two views from the viewpoint in Varirata National Park.

Sun 2nd July 2000 : A good night’s sleep and across for breakfast at 05.30 - this time poached eggs and spaghetti. No problems with Sub today, so we were at the park entrance by 06.15 just as it started raining. By the time we had walked to the Picnic Area it was raining heavily so we had little choice but to seek cover under a shelter.   Here we met Will Glynn and Chris Eastwood, a couple of Port Moresby birders, doing likewise. By around 08.30 the rain eased so Will and Chris set off along the Circuit trail and we headed back along Gare’s Lookout trail. We met Will and Chris again at the Picnic Area. They had seen little and were returning to Port Moresby.  We headed along the Kaori Tree House trail to say farewell to Scott. Unfortunately he was out so we walked to the entrance gate and a short way along the entrance road before being picked up by Bob at 14.00. A quick meal at the restaurant and then time to settle up noticing we had been charged for 4 nights rather than 3, so getting a K60 refund. Left the Kokoda Trail Motel at 16.00 and after a fast drive arrived at the Granville Motel (K117 for a twin room) in Port Moresby at 17.00.



Butterflies in Varirata National Park.


Locus type in Varirata National Park.

Mon 3rd July 2000 : After a noisy night due to the room backing on to the kitchens we were up at 04.00 catching the courtesy bus to the domestic terminal at 05.00.  We each bought a couple of Picnic chocolate bars for breakfast. Caught the MBA flight CG304 leaving 45 minutes late at 06.45 to Kiunga via Moru. The small airstrip at Moru was surrounded by primary forest but we did not have time to leave the plane seeing just a few Uniform Swiftlets. Arrived Kiunga 09.30 but there was no sign of Samuel who was to act as our guide for the next ten days. Whilst discussing how to get to the Kiunga Guest House, Samuel thankfully appeared. We were soon onto his minibus and off to the Kiunga Guest House to drop off our bags. We then returned to the end of the airstrip  with Samuel to bird the marshy area.   Here we gave Samuel a gift of a pair of our old binoculars.  This gesture was well received and he was never without them for the rest of our time with him.  At midday, Samuel dropped us back at the Guest House for lunch, whilst he went and bought food for the next few days for our trip to Ikame Lodge. We spent the afternoon at Km17 birding the roadside forest until 16.00 when Samuel took us to a Greater Bird Of Paradise display tree. Remained in the vicinity of Km17 until 18.00 when we returned to the Guest House. A good meal in the restaurant was followed by a really good night’s sleep in a very comfortable, quiet room.

 


Orchids at Kiunga airfield.


Pitcher at Kiunga airfield

Tue 4th July 2000 : Up at 05.00 and met Phil Hansbro at breakfast who was joining us for the boat trip to Ikame Lodge. Samuel appeared with the minibus and drove down to the jetty by 05.30. No sign of the boat and a steady drizzle added little to the gloom. Samuel couldn’t understand the lack of the boat as he had sent the boatman ahead of him. After a tour of some riverside roads we returned to the jetty and the motorised boat now waiting for us. Soon aboard we set off down the Fly River in the dark and still raining and on the way we saw some impressive Fruit Bats. It quickly got light and Samuel soon had us mooring up against a muddy bank. He leapt ashore and quickly returned to tell us the Twelve-wired Bird Of Paradise was displaying. All ashore we were soon scoping our quarry with a Glossy-mantled Manucode calling from atop the same display branch. It had even stopped raining. We continued on a memorable boat trip seeing some 25 new species of bird. We picked up a couple of locals from a village and arrived at Ikame Lodge at c.10.30 walking the trails behind the Lodge until 14.00 where a leech managed to enter DC’s mouth.  This was an unwelcome surprise, and took quite a while to remove. We left Phil on the Ikame Lodge trail and headed upstream with Samuel to the ‘far’ end of the trail leading from behind the Lodge and saving a three hour walk to the area. After around 200m we flushed 2 Southern Crowned Pigeons from the forest floor. Samuel expertly tracked one down allowing us to obtain scope views of a bird perched high in a tree. A near-perfect day was only spoilt by male King Bird Of Paradise failing to put in an appearance at its usual display vines, although a Common Paradise-Kingfisher responding to tape proved that all was not lost. On boarding the boat, heavy rain started and continued for the journey back to the Lodge. A bedraggled Phil quickly appeared, not too pleased at his guide’s failure to find him King Bird Of Paradise. The locals cooked a meal and we soon retired to bed leaving Phil attempting some nightbirds despite the rain - no success.


Ikame Lodge


View from Ikame Lodge to the Fly River.

Wed 5th July 2000 : Slept well getting up before dawn. All three of us left with Samuel for a boat trip to try another site for King Bird Of Paradise. On mooring the boat Samuel could hear a King Bird displaying. After some initially frustrating views the bird’s favoured display loop vine was located, when spectacular views were obtained - bird of the trip. Having spent most of the morning with the King, we went back down the river to the Lodge, seeing a Southern Crowned Pigeon walking on the river bank during the journey. In the afternoon we returned by boat to the far end of the Ikame Lodge trail and concentrated on finding Hooded Pitta. The first bird approached the tape, but annoyingly for DC, we failed to locate it. Frustratingly some pigs then appeared on the scene, with Samuel reaching for machete, in case things got hairy ! The best chance at the Pitta seemed to have passed, when a second bird was heard - this one failed to respond to the tape and the pigs made a nuisance of themselves by re-appearing. Samuel said he wished he had his gun. Then a shower of rain stopped proceedings as we sheltered. Walking on, that familiar whirr of wings was heard and Samuel excitedly announced ‘Pitta’.  At last we had prolonged views of a superb Hooded Pitta on the trail ahead of us - DC’s wait for Hooded Pitta was at last over, having missed it on trips to Malaysia and Thailand in the previous couple of years. The rest of the afternoon passed quickly, and relatively quietly, although we got close to seeing a calling Hook-billed Kingfisher - it was to prove an expensive miss. However the tape machine worked wonders for Phil as it again attracted a Common Paradise-Kingfisher. Back to the Lodge and after a meal, off to bed. Phil again went for the nightbirds but failed to locate any.
Thur 6th July 2000 : Heavy rain all night and early morning restricted birding to watching from the veranda. Once it had brightened up we set off along the now flooded trail leading off from behind the Lodge. Having walked for nearly an hour without seeing a single bird, we heard a Southern Cassowary rumbling. After Samuel pointed out some fresh droppings on the trail, we got very close to seeing it, although eventually the only person to glimpse it, was Samuel. We walked on, and another hour passed with the forest seemingly dead. Eventually a group of Rufous Babblers proved to be our only reward. After a quick lunch we boarded the boat and headed out of this superb area back to Kiunga. A fairly uneventful boat ride back with a perched Variable Goshawk our only new bird - quite a contrast to the 25 new species seen whilst heading to Ikame Lodge. Arrived back at Kiunga Guest House at 17.00 where we had been moved to a room next to a noisy generator and next to the public Gents toilet. A quick visit to the office proved worthwhile as we managed to get moved back to our original quiet room.

Fri 7th July 2000 : Awoken at 02.00 by someone knocking on the door expecting to find his friends - the downside of re-arranging our room ! Up before dawn and soon on our way along the Boys Town road missing a Nightjar sp. seen briefly on the road. Arrived at Samuel’s stakeout for Flame Bowerbird before it was light. Committed all morning to the one area and although we were only successful in seeing a female Bowerbird, the area proved good for a succession of Raptors, Pigeons, Parrots etc. Late morning, many men started passing us all in high spirits, shouting and singing - they had found ‘a lost son’ who they feared had got lost or had been killed by criminals - in the event ‘the lost son’ had walked to the site of the former village the day before, spent the night there, before returning the next day. After a break at lunchtime, and another unsuccessful look for Munias at the airstrip, we returned to the Boys Town road visiting a Greater Bird of Paradise display tree during the afternoon. However, with the exception of the displaying Greaters, the area seemed much quieter during the afternoon. Back to the Kiunga Guest House for our last night there.

Sat 8th July 2000 : Met Phil at breakfast where we swapped notes on the previous day, before driving him and dropping him at the airstrip before dawn. Then drove to Km17 where we spent an enjoyable early morning birding from the roadside. We then moved back towards Kiunga briefly birding the Km13 road. Charles had managed to get the minibus stuck so after helping push it back onto the road we drove back to town. Back at the Guest House we negotiated a 10% discount on the bill before driving around town, whilst Samuel sorted our Hotel booking at Tabubil and said goodbye to his family for a few days. We drove 140km to Tabubil stopping at the Golden-backed Whistler at Km120 where torrential rain stopped us walking to the islands in the Ok Tedi River. Booked into the Cloudlands Hotel and straight out to Dablin Creek. The minibus failed to make it far up the hill so we jumped out when it began to slide backwards ! We walked up to a shelter as the rain became torrential. We finally gave up with low cloud moving into the area. On the drive back to the Cloudlands Hotel, Samuel explained that this area suffers the highest rainfall of anywhere in PNG. In the Hotel restaurant we again met Chris Eastwood, the Port Moresby birder we had met at Varirata NP.  He was auditing the tax affairs of the nearby Ok Tedi mine.


Birding along the river at Tabubil



Forest views at Tabubil

Sun 9th July 2000 : Awoke early and the rain had thankfully stopped. Chris joined us for another visit to Dablin Creek where we spent all morning enjoying some good luck locating a perched New Guinea Harpy Eagle and watching Carola’s Parotias feeding in a fruiting tree. Dropped Chris back at the Hotel as he was working the afternoon, and then drove back to Km120 where we walked to the Ok Tedi river. Unfortunately the pollution from the mine had recently killed all the trees on the islands in the river, the favoured habitat of Golden-backed Whistler, so needless to say, we failed to find any. We then returned towards Tabubil visiting the Tunnel road before late afternoon rain again forced us back to Tabubil. The politicians had arrived in town, and whilst trying to avoid the crowds on the streets, the minibus unexpectedly broke-down. After an hour of Charles and Samuel trying to fix the problem the rain eased so we took the opportunity to walk with Charles back to the Cloudlands Hotel passing Chris along the way. Went to dinner, where a smiling Samuel appeared to tell us the minibus was fixed - a faulty fuse.



Views taken at Dablin Creek.


Butterfly at Tabubil


Hawkmoth at Tabubil


Moth at Tabubil


Orchid at Tabubil.

Mon 10th July 2000 : Awoke to steady rain. Negotiated the Ok Ma road where the continuing rain and low cloud spoilt much of the morning. Returned to Dablin Creek for the afternoon where rain again forced an early exit. Back to the Cloudlands Hotel.

Tue 11th July 2000 : Awoke again to heavy rain. Again drove along the Ok Ma road where we spent most of the morning trying in vain for a male Magnificent BOP. Returned to Tabubil where the weather steadily improved so we set out along the Tunnel road visiting the nearby Hydro station with the dry afternoon producing obliging Torrent Flycatchers and a bizarre Vulturine Parrot - the encounters with both species proved the only of the trip. Back for our last night at the Cloudlands Hotel.


David, Charles and Samuel at Tabubil.


John, Samuel and Charles coming out of the forest at Tabubil


John with a Dwarf Honeyeater at Tabubil

Wed 12th July 2000 : Early morning until 09.00 at Dablin Creek, although frustratingly it just started to get lively as we were leaving. Back to the Hotel by 09.30 where we again managed to get a 10% discount on our bill. Left for the airstrip where we said farewell to Samuel who’s next birding would involve leading 38 birders as both VENT and Fieldguides Bird Tour companies had managed to clash their dates ! Met a couple of American anthropologists at the airstrip waiting for the same flight - the poor weather had caused them a three-day wait at nearby Telefomin. They couldn’t believe we were going on to Tari, telling us various stories of tribal warfare and payback killings etc. One of them had planned to spend seven weeks in Tari around 9 months earlier but had left after 5 days - he described it as ‘probably the most evil place on earth’ !  We left Tabubil on flight CG303 at c.11.30, approximately half an hour late. Arrived Mount Hagen at 12.30 where we were met by Keith Wilson who drove us to his office in town, where Thomas took the wheel, and first drove us to the Trans Niugini Office (to collect our tickets for the MAF flight to Tari), before driving on up a narrow muddy road through degraded habitat to the Haus Poromon Lodge arriving at c.15.00 when it started to rain. Enjoying the cool atmosphere we ventured out not expecting to see too much. However, we were soon proved wrong, as we were soon watching the superb display of a male Superb BOP to a female and twice saw an immature male Blue BOP - both proved highlights of the trip. After dark we were served roast lamb in the restaurant. Our time at this Lodge was all too short !

Thur 13th July 2000 : Up at 05.00 for our pre-dawn departure for the airport. Left Mount Hagen on the MAF 4 passenger plane at 09.00 being 45 minutes late. A superb flight low over the mountainous region with spectacular expanses of forest and alpine grasslands below.  Arrived Tari at 09.45 where we were met by Joseph (the Lodge’s bird guide) and Howard (a driver). On leaving the airport we were immediately shocked at how little the men were wearing and the array of weapons they carried. DC caught the eye of a near-naked man carrying a machine-gun who then proceeded to aim it at towards him - never tried to lose eye-contact so quickly ! We then spent 2 hours touring the narrow roads of Tari attempting to find the landowner to ask his permission to go birding on his land - we never found him, so a complete waste of time really. We then stopped at a '‘Stone-Age’ Village where the villagers farm a series of gardens (small fields). We were allowed access where a villager walked with us to allow or deny permission to various forest plots. Unfortunately we failed to see Lawe’s Parotia which would necessitate a return to Tari village. We then stopped at another village where Joseph again arranged access. This meant following the villager along muddy trenches, clambering up the trench walls, walking through flooded fields and finally getting caught in a cloudburst and all for little reward. Quite relieved to be heading for the Lodge when Joseph suggested the weather looked good for a quick visit to Tari Gap. This proved a good move as we quickly saw 5 species of Birds Of Paradise. Arrived at Ambua Lodge just before dark where there were just a few other guests.


Ambua Lodge


Local Warrior



Two views taken from Ambua Lodge.

Fri 14th July 2000 : Spent all morning birding the last stretch of forest before reaching the grasslands of Tari Gap. At lunchtime it began to rain so we drove over Tari Gap to the isolated forest patches the other side where we had lunch. Poor weather then set in with low cloud reducing visibility so we headed back down to the Lodge. A film crew had arrived trying to film snakes. Despite heavy drizzle we headed out and walked half of the River Trail adjacent to the Lodge crossing our first vine bridge. Spent the remainder of the day birding the lodge grounds and Car Park area.


Bamboo trail


David on the Bamboo trail.


Vine bridge over the River trail.


 David on the vine bridge.

Sat 15th July 2000 : Spent a long hour bumping our way back down to Tari Village before the bus got stuck along a muddy section of track. However, we found the landowner nearby who took us onto his land. This turned into quite a trek around the village field system being helped across streams, planks of wood across the ditches etc. We finally reached some forest plots where after a prolonged game of hide and seek we finally obtained views of Lawe’s Parotia and then a superb female Blue Bird Of Paradise. Quite pleased to leave Tari behind and return back to the Lodge for a quick lunch before heading up to the Tari Gap area although making several dashes back to the bus to shelter from heavy rain. However, between the heavy showers the birds seemed really quite active.


Trumpet Flowers at Tari.





Orchids at Tari .

Sun 16th July 2000 : Out before dawn and down to Chalet 29 in the hope of seeing Black Sicklebill displaying at dawn but no success. Walked the River Trail spending a fair time concentrating along the Undergrowth Trail. Late morning it started to rain so we returned to the Lodge where we sat out the afternoon due to the very poor weather.


Wild Goatsbeard near Tari.


Passion Fruit flower near Tari.

Mon 17th July 2000 : Took a bus up to Tari Gap where we were dropped off. Spent the first hour birding the roadsides and then spent much of the rest of the morning along Joseph’s Trail into the first stretch of forest below the Gap. Walked the road back to the Lodge which proved a fairly quiet walk. In the late afternoon we completed the Waterfall Trail although birding proved fairly quiet.






Along the Waterfall trail.


John along the Waterfall trail.

Tue 18th July 2000 : Up and out along the River trail at dawn spending an hour along the Undergrowth Trail seeing virtually nothing. Returned to the Lodge for a quick breakfast and then out along the Waterfall Trail where our luck changed seeing several of the sought-after species which had so far eluded us. All afternoon walking the River Trail and along the Undergrowth Trail. DC started feeling sick and spent most of the evening throwing up.



Two Hercules Moths at Ambua Lodge.

Wed 19th July 2000 : Caught a bus up to the Bailey Bridge concentrating along the nearby trail. DC still throwing up in between attempting to tape-out Chestnut Forest-Rail and Logrunners. At lunch time we walked back to the Lodge spending the afternoon again walking the River Trail. DC feeling much better during the course of the afternoon.




Forest trees with moss at Tari Gap.


David with Joseph at Tari.


Walk back down from Tari Gap to the Ambua Lodge

Thur 20th July 2000 : Again caught a bus to Tari Gap and concentrated along the last stretch of forest and along Joseph’s trail finally connecting with Crested Bird Of Paradise - albeit females. Walked back along the road to Ambua Lodge. Heavy rain all afternoon so we took it easy. JFC starting to feel sick and following DC’s pattern by throwing up for much of the evening.






Five views taken at Tari Gap.

Fri 21st July 2000 : At breakfast said farewell to Joseph etc. with the manager telling us to take care at the Kokoda Trail Motel as an Australian had recently been held up and robbed nearby. Left Ambua Lodge at 07.00 for the bumpy transfer to the airstrip. Amazingly around 1,000 people turned out to watch the plane arrive and then depart. Caught flight PX866 leaving Tari at 10.40 and after a quick re-fuelling stop at Mendi on to Port Moresby arriving at 12.30. Bob Ward was there to meet us and drive us back to the Kokoda Trail Motel. Spent the afternoon birding the around the Lodge and the nearby fields along the entrance road to the Lodge. Only one guest had stayed at the Lodge during our 3 week absence and the surroundings all seemed so familiar that it felt like we had never been away !

Sat 22nd July 2000 : Up before dawn for our breakfast, and pleased to find Sub up and ready to drive us up to Varirata NP. Walked the Varirata Lookout Trail, then Gare’s Lookout Trail and part of the way along the Circuit Trail. Met at 17.00 at the entrance gate and driven back to the Kokoda Trail Motel.

Sun 23rd July 2000 : Back up to Varirata NP for dawn walking the first 400m of the Varirata Lookout Trail, before a walk along the Kaori Tree House Trail where we met Jack (Scott’s replacement studying Pitohuis) who took us along a nearby trail behind the HQ. Then walked Gare’s Lookout Trail before leaving the NP at 14.00 to return to the Motel. We had arranged the be taken to Port Moresby at 16.00 but Sub had taken the vehicle to a local football match. Finally at 18.00 he re-appeared with the truck so we are quickly on our way back to the Granville Hotel.

Mon 24th July 2000 : Leave Port Moresby 09.25 on flight PX90 arriving Cairns at 10.50. Leave Cairns 12.30 on flight QF567 arriving Sydney 15.30. Leave Sydney 16.45 on flight QF1 bound for Bangkok for re-fuelling before on to London.

Tue 25th July 2000 : Arrive Heathrow 06.50 but only one bag arrived. Notified that the other bag had been traced in New Zealand and would be delivered the following day by courier. Back to Burgess Hill by 08.30 with DC into work a little late at 09.30.

Species List (following Beehler, Pratt & Zimmerman 1986) :

Southern Cassowary - Casuarius casuarius
Near Ikame Lodge a single bird was heard making its low rumbling growl on the 6th. Both its footprints and droppings were seen but unfortunately only Samuel glimpsed the bird itself. This species is treated as Vulnerable by Collar et al. (1994) who state that in New Guinea ‘it is vulnerable to hunting wherever access to its habitat is increased by logging activities’.

Little Black Cormorant - Phalacrocorax sulcirostris C
Only seen in flight along the river behind the Kokoda Trail Motel where singles were seen on the 30th and the 21st.

Little Pied Cormorant - Phalacrocorax melanoleucos melanoleucos C
A single bird was seen flying along the river behind the Kokoda Trail Motel on the 21st.

Darter - Anhinga melanogaster novaehollandiae C
A single individual was seen in flight over the Kiunga airstrip on the 3rd and another was seen in flight over the Fly River on the 6th.

Great-billed Heron - Ardea sumatrana sumatrana C
A single individual was flushed alongside the boat just upstream of the Ikame Lodge on the 4th. This species is treated as Near-threatened by Collar et al. (1994).

Great Egret - Egretta alba modesta C
A single individual was seen at Kiunga airstrip on the 3rd and up to 5 were seen daily from the 4th to the 6th along the Fly and Elevala Rivers and in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge.

Intermediate Egret - Egretta intermedia plumifera C
A single individual complete with a black tip to the bill was seen near Ikame Lodge on the 5th.

Cattle Egret - Egretta ibis coromandus C
Only seen near Port Moresby Airport where 15 were seen on the 2nd and 3 on the 21st.

Pacific Baza (Crested Hawk) - Aviceda subcristata C
Singles were seen daily from the 4th to the 8th being therefore seen in the Kiunga, Fly River and Ikame Lodge areas.

Long-tailed Honey-buzzard - Henicopernis longicauda C
Walking along the entrance road at Varirata on the 2nd produced 3 in the air together, 1 was seen near Ikame Lodge on the 4th, 3 were seen along the Boys Town road at Kiunga on the 7th, 1 was seen near Tabubil on the 11th and 1 was seen near Ambua Lodge on the 17th.

Black-shouldered (winged) Kite - Elanus caeruleus wahgiensis C
An immature was seen between Tari airstrip and Ambua Lodge on the 13th.

Black Kite - Milvus migrans affinis C
Only seen at Mt. Hagen where 10 were seen on the 12th and 2 the following morning.

Whistling Kite - Haliastur sphenurus C
A single individual was seen along the Fly River on the 4th.

Brahminy Kite - Haliastur indus girrenera C
Seen on thirteen dates being recorded at the Kokoda Trail Motel, Varirata, Kiunga, Ikame and Tabubil. A daily maximum of 8 was recorded on the 1st.


Brahminy Kite in Varirata National Park.

Eastern (Spotted) Marsh-Harrier - Circus spilonotus spilothorax C
A single female was seen in the alpine grasslands at Tari Gap on the 14th.

Variable Goshawk - Accipiter hiogaster leucosomus C
An adult grey phase with buffy underparts was seen perched alongside the Fly River on the 6th, an adult grey phase with solid rufous underparts (and therefore recalling Black-mantled Goshawk A. melanochlamys) was seen perched and in flight along the Boys Town road at Kiunga on the 7th and an adult grey phase with buffy underparts was seen in flight over the Gare’s Lookout at Varirata on the 22nd.

Black-mantled Goshawk - Accipiter melanochlamys schistacinus C
A single adult was seen in flight over the first patch of forest below Tari Gap on the 17th and another adult was seen in flight and perched just above the Bailey Bridge above Ambua Lodge on the 19th. Superb.


Black-mantled Goshawk over Tari Gap.
Collared Sparrowhawk - Accipiter cirrocephalus papuanus C
Two were seen along the Boys Town road at Kiunga on the 7th and 1 was seen in flight over the Picnic area at Varirata on the 23rd.

Meyer’s Goshawk - Accipiter meyerianus C
A single adult was flushed at close range off the forest floor just after we had crossed the first rope bridge along the River Trail at Ambua Lodge on the 18th.

New Guinea Harpy-Eagle - Harpyopsis novaeguineae C
A spectacular adult was watched for nearly three hours perched in a large tree at Dablin Creek on the 9th. When the bird flew it just dropped into the forest before perching around 50m from its original spot. It remained just a few minutes before dropping again, this time out of view. Surprisingly it was the first time Samuel had ever seen this species alive and similarly it was only the second encounter for Chris Eastwood who has lived in PNG for twelve years. Collar et al. (1994) treat this species as Vulnerable and state that ‘it is hunted for its tail and flight feathers, and this pressure on a naturally small population, combined with habitat destruction, is thought to be a threat, particularly in PNG where firearms are prevalent and where it is now very rare or absent in many places’.

Oriental Hobby - Falco severus C
A single individual was sat high in a large dead tree overlooking the forest at the picnic spot by the river roughly half-way along the entrance road to Varirata during the evening of the 1st. It put on a good display sailing out on a feeding attempt. Our reward for walking the entire entrance road that evening.

Salvadori’s Teal - Salvadorina (Anas) waigiuensis C
A pair of these superb Duck were watched constantly paddling against the torrent in the pool below the first waterfall along the river trail adjacent to Ambua Lodge on the evening of the 19th. This species is treated as Vulnerable by Collar et al. (1994) who state that ‘human disturbance in the watersheds may increasingly pose a threat as will hunting, while trout and other insectivorous fish, which have been introduced to various river systems, may also affect it adversely; the total population seems likely to be in the range 2,500-10,000 individuals, stable or slowly declining’.

Pacific Black Duck - Anas superciliosa C
A party of 3 were seen in flight at Tari Village on the 13th.

Black-billed Brush-Turkey - Talegalla fuscirostris fuscirostris C
A pair allowed good views to be obtained just beyond the mound 350m along the Varirata Lookout Trail on the 30th and similarly singles were seen well in the vicinity of the same mound on both the 22nd and 23rd.

Brown Quail - Coturnix ypsilophora C
Only seen above Ambua Lodge right up to the alpine grasslands at Tari Gap with 4 seen on the 13th, 5 seen on the 14th, 2 on the 17th and 4 on the 19th.

Buff-banded Rail - Rallus philippensis C
A pair were seen crossing the road at the junction with the Banari road just below Ambua Lodge on the 15th.

Chestnut Forest-Rail - Rallina rubra telefolminensis C
A superb male responded to tape playback allowing superb views whilst calling and simultaneously standing upright and holding its wings open in the mossy forest just below Tari Gap on the 20th.


Chestnut Forest-Rail just below Tari Gap.

Bush-hen - Amaurornis olivaceus
JFC was fortunate to see one cross the road in Tari Village on the 13th. Unfortunately DC obtained utv’s of it disappearing into thick roadside vegetation.

Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius dubius C
A pair were seen at Km120 just south of Tabubil on the 9th.

Slender-billed (Brown) Cuckoo-Dove - Macropygia amboinensis C
Singles were seen at Varirata on the 30th and the 1st, singles were seen at Kiunga on the 3rd and the 6th, 4 were seen along the Boys Town road at Kiunga on the 7th, 2 were seen near Tabubil on the 9th and 1 was seen at the Kokoda Trail Motel on the 21st.

Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove - Macropygia nigrirostris C
A single bird was seen perched at Dablin Creek on the 12th and singles were seen on three dates above Ambua Lodge.

Great Cuckoo-Dove - Reinwardtoena reinwardtii griseotincta C
A single bird was seen near the Picnic Area by the river roughly half-way along the entrance road to Varirata on the 1st, another single was seen in flight near Ikame Lodge on the 5th, 1 was seen perched behind the Car Park at Ambua Lodge and 3 were seen in flight along the Waterfall Trail on the 18th and the single bird was again seen perched behind the Ambua Lodge Car Park on the 20th.

 


Great Cuckoo-Dove behind the Ambua Lodge Car Park.

New Guinea Bronzewing - Henicophaps albifrons albifrons C
Samuel kept imitating a single bird along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th until it gradually came closer and eventually obliged by flying low across the road. This species is treated as Near-threatened by Collar et al. (1994).

Peaceful Dove - Geopelia placida papua
JFC saw a single bird near Port Moresby on the 2nd.

Pheasant Pigeon - Otidiphaps nobilis
A single bird was heard from the Picnic Area at Varirata on the 2nd but was unfortunately too distant to make any attempt to see it.

Southern Crowned-Pigeon - Goura scheepmakeri sclaterii C
Excellent scope views were obtained of a single bird watched for several minutes perched high in a tree having been flushed from the ground at the trail reached just upstream from Ikame Lodge on the 4th and another single was seen from our boat walking alongside the river near Ikame Lodge on the 5th. Superb being a highlight of our stay at Ikame Lodge. This species is treated as Vulnerable by Collar et al. (1994) who describe it as ‘a prized, large and easy target for hunters’ and also occurring in forests ‘under threat from logging’.

Wompoo Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus magnificus C
Only seen at Varirata where 3 were recorded on the 1st along the Gare’s Lookout trail and 1 was seen on the 23rd along the Kaori Tree House trail.

Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus perlatus zonurus C
Only seen in the west with 5 seen near Kiunga on the 3rd, 2 seen near Ikame on both the 4th and 5th and 6 seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th.

Ornate Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus ornatus gestroi C
Similar to the previous species only seen near Kiunga with 2 seen along the Boys Town road on the 7th and 8 allowing good views in a fruiting tree at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 8th.

Superb Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus superbus superbus C
At Varirata 4 were seen on the 1st, 1 on the 2nd, 1 on the 22nd and 2 on the 23rd and elsewhere 1 was seen near Ikame on the 6th and 1 near Tabubil on the 10th.

Beautiful Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus pulchellus pulchellus C
Singles were seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata on the 1st and near Kiunga on the 3rd.

Orange-bellied Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus iozonus C
Small numbers were seen daily from the 3rd to the 7th around Kiunga and Ikame Lodge with a daily maximum of 4 seen along the Boys Town road on the 7th.

Dwarf Fruit-Dove - Ptilinopus nanus nanus C
A pair were scoped along the trail which starts just upstream from Ikame Lodge perched fairly high in a dead tree on the 5th.

Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon - Ducula rufigaster rufigaster C
Just 2 seen, both along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th.

Pinon Imperial Pigeon - Ducula pinon rubiensis C
Up to 10 were seen on the three dates spent in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge and 1 was seen along the Boys Town road at Kiunga on the 7th.


Pinon Imperial Pigeon in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge.

Collared Imperial Pigeon - Ducula muellerii mullerii C
Only seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers with 120 seen on the 4th, 20 seen on the 5th and 10 seen on the 6th.

Zoe Imperial Pigeon - Ducula zoeae C
Around Kiunga, 3 were seen at the airstrip on the 3rd, 6 were seen along the Fly River on the 4th and 10 were seen along the Boys Town road on the 7th. Elsewhere 1 was seen near Tabubil on the 11th and 1 was seen along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 22nd.

Papuan Mountain Pigeon - Gymnophaps albertisii albertisii C
Seen on thirteen dates being recorded (often in large flocks in flight) at the Fly and Elevala Rivers, Ikame Lodge, the Boys Town road near Kiunga, Tabubil and daily above Ambua Lodge with a daily maximum of 120 seen in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge on the 5th.

(Greater) Yellow-streaked Lory - Chalcopsitta scintillata chloroptera C
A pair of definitely the form chloroptera were seen in flight along the entrance road at Varirata on the 1st, 1 was seen at Kiunga airstrip on the 3rd, 2 were seen south of Kiunga on the 4th and 10 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th including a pair perched in a dead roadside tree for much of the morning.

Dusky Lory - Pseudeos fuscata C
Only flight views were ever obtained of this species with 2 seen at Kiunga airstrip on the 3rd, 4 seen along the rivers south of Kiunga on the 4th and 4 seen along the Boys Town road on the 7th.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus haematodus C
Up to 12 were seen on three dates along the entrance road at Varirata, 30 were seen along the Tunnel road near Tabubil on the 11th and 3 were seen in Tari Village on the 13th.

Goldie’s Lorikeet - Trichloglossus goldiei C
Having obtained utv’s of a pair in flight near Tari Gap just after dawn on the 20th we were pleased to locate presumably the same pair in a tree adjacent to the road later the same morning.

Western Black-capped Lory - Lorius lory C
Seen daily from the 3rd to the 11th at Kiunga, Ikame and Tabubil but only in small numbers with a daily maximum of 6 recorded on the 4th.

Red-flanked Lorikeet - Charmosyna placentis C
Around 10 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th and 2 were seen at Km17 north of Kiunga the next day. Unfortunately only flight views were ever obtained of this species.

Papuan Lorikeet - Charmosyna papou goliathina C
As expected, only seen above Ambua Lodge where both the red and black colour phases were seen with 6 seen on the 14th, 3 on the 15th, 2 on the 18th and 8 on the 20th.


Black colour-phase of the Papuan Lorikeet at Ambua Lodge.

Plum-faced Lorikeet - Oreopsittacus arfaki grandis C
Only seen in the vicinity of Tari Gap where 4 were seen on the 14th, 3 on the 15th and 1 on the 17th. Much smarter than the illustration in Beehler et al. (1985).

Yellow-billed Lorikeet - Neopsittacus musschenbroekii major C
A flock of around 12 were seen in a fruiting tree in Tari Village on the 13th and 1 was seen on the Waterfall trail near Ambua Lodge on the 16th.

Orange-billed Lorikeet - Neopsittacus pullicauda alpinus C
A party of 8 were seen along the River Trail near Ambua Lodge on the 13th and up to 6 were recorded daily from the 18th to the 20th always above or in the vicinity of Ambua Lodge.

Palm Cockatoo - Probosciger aterrimus C
Seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers and around Ikame Lodge with 10 seen on the 4th, 4 seen on the 5th and 6 seen on the 6th and 1 was seen in flight over the Ok Ma road on the 11th. Very impressive. This species is treated as Near-threatened by Collar et al. (1994).

 
A distant Palm Cockatoo near Ikame Lodge.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - Cacatua galerita triton C
Seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers and around Ikame Lodge with up to 8 recorded daily from the 4th to the 6th, 1 was seen at Km120 near Tabubil on the 9th and 1 was seen from Gare’s Lookout at Varirata on the 22nd.

Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot - Micropsitta keiensis
Several birds seen in flight in the Kiunga area were identified by Samuel as this species. However, only utv’s for us !

Orange-breasted Fig-Parrot - Cyclopsitta gulielmiterti fuscifrons C
Seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers and around Ikame Lodge with 8 recorded on the 4th and 2 on the 6th, 2 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th and up to 3 were recorded on three dates in the Tabubil areas.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - Cyclopsitta diophthalma C
Only seen in the Ikame Lodge area with 4 seen on the 4th and 2 the following day.

Large Fig-Parrot - Psittaculirostris desmarestii C
Just a single bird seen in flight along the Elevala River on the 4th. Thankfully the bird was low and proceeded to fly towards us and over the boat.

Brehm’s Tiger-Parrot - Psittacella brehmii pallida C
Only seen just below Tari Gap where 1 was seen on the 13th and 2 on the 15th.

Painted Tiger-Parrot - Psittacella picta excelsa C
A single individual was seen in the first patch of forest below Tari Gap on the 15th and 2 were seen in the same area on the 20th including a bird ringed on its left leg.



Painted Tiger-Parrot at Tari Gap.

Red-cheeked Parrot - Geoffroyus geoffroyi aruensis C
A pair were seen at Varirata on the 2nd, seen daily in the Kiunga, Fly, Elevala and Ikame Lodge areas from the 3rd to the 8th with a daily maximum of 20 recorded along the Boys Town road on the 7th and 4 seen at the Kokoda Trail Motel on the 21st and 1 at Varirata on the 22nd.


 


Red-cheeked Parrot at Varirata National Park.

Blue-collared Parrot - Geoffroyus simplex buergersi C
Only seen in Tari Village where 4 were seen in fruiting trees on the 13th.

Eclectus Parrot - Eclectus roratus polychloros C
Seen daily from the 3rd to the 10th in the Kiunga, Fly, Elevala, Ikame and Tabubil areas with a daily maximum of 10 recorded on the boat journey on the 4th.

Pesquet’s (Vulturine) Parrot - Psittrichas fulgidus C
A single bird was seen in flight over the Tunnel road near Tabubil on the 11th. Bizarre. Samuel mentioned that this species is becoming more difficult to find in the Tabubil area which he attributes to hunting pressure. This species is treated as Vulnerable by Collar et al. (1994) who state ‘it is absent from many areas owing to hunting for feathers and food, especially in PNG where skins are clearly very much in demand, being used as ‘bride’ price in the highlands and being even more valuable than those of birds-of-paradise. It is also threatened by logging and to a lesser degree by trapping for the bird trade.’

Papuan King-Parrot - Alisterus chloropterus callopterus C
A pair were seen in Tari Village on the 13th and JFC saw 1 along the River Trail near Ambua Lodge on the 18th. An unfortunate bird was also seen in a poor state having been purchased along the road at Tari by one of the Ambua Lodge coach drivers.

Brush Cuckoo - Cacomantis variolosus C
At Km17 north of Kiunga 2 were seen on the 8th and at the Kokoda Trail Motel 1 was seen on the 21st.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo - Cacomantis flabelliformis excitus C
Singles were seen daily above Ambua Lodge on the 17th, 18th and 19th.

Long-billed Cuckoo - Rhamphomantis megarhynchus megarhynchus C
A male was seen at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 17th.

Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoo - Chrysococcyx ruficollis C
Between Ambua Lodge and Tari Gap 1 was seen on the 16th and 3 the following day.

White-eared Bronze-Cuckoo - Chrysococcyx meyerii C
Singles were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th, 10th and 12th.

White-crowned Koel - Caliechthrus leucolophus C
A single individual flew low over the boat along the Elevala River on the 4th.

Australian Koel - Eudynamys cyanocephala subcyanocephala C
A single bird was seen from the Ikame Lodge on the 6th and 4 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga the following day.

Channel-billed Cuckoo - Scythrops novaehollandiae C
A flock of 12 perched in a dead tree alongside the Fly River on the 4th made for an impressive sight and was followed by singles from the Ikame Lodge on the 5th and 6th and by 2 along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th.



Channel-billed Cuckoo near Ikame Lodge.

Lesser Black Coucal - Centropus bernsteini bernsteini C
A single bird was seen at Km120 south of Tabubil on the 9th and 2 were perched roadside drying themselves just south of Tabubil later the same day.

Papuan Boobook - Ninox theomacha
Heard at Ikame Lodge, Cloudlands Hotel and the Kokoda Trail Motel but unfortunately never successfully tracked down.

Marbled Frogmouth - Podargus ocellatus ocellatus C
A single rufous phase bird was flushed along the Varirata Lookout trail and then perched low in a tree for several minutes before again flying on the 30th. Superb. Chris Eastwood mentioned that all birds at Varirata appear to be rufous phase birds.

Large-tailed Nightjar - Caprimulgus macrurus schlegelii C
Heard at the Kokoda Trail Motel early morning on the 30th and 1 seen briefly in flight along the Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata on the 23rd.

Moustached Tree-Swift - Hemiprocne mystacea mystacea C
Around 30 were seen on our trip down the Fly and Elevala Rivers with 2 seen in the vicinity of Ikame on both the 5th and 6th, around 4 were seen along the Boys Town road on the 7th, 4 were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th and 1 there on the 12th and finally 3 were seen at Tari Village on the 13th.


A distant Moustached Tree-Swift at Dablin Creek.

Uniform Swiftlet - Collocalia vanikorensis yorki C
At Varirata around 5 were seen along the entrance road on the 2nd, around 20 were seen at Kiunga on the 3rd, up to 40 were seen daily on our three dates in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge, around 100 were seen along the Boys Town road and an estimated 500 were seen on the drive from Kiunga to Tabubil on the 8th.

Swiftlet sp. - Collocalia sp.
Up to 150 birds were seen on four dates in the Tabubil area. These were most likely Mountain Swiftlets C. hirundinacea although we are not pretending to have eliminated the possibility that they were Uniform Swiftlets C. vanikoensis.

Mountain Swiftlet - Collocalia hirundinaceus hirundinaceus C
Up to 50 were seen on eight dates whilst at Ambua Lodge including birds above the treeline at Tari Gap.

Glossy Swiftlet - Collocalia esculenta C
Up to 6 were recorded on four dates along the entrance road at Varirata, up to 30 were seen on the five dates in the Tabubil area and up to 40 were seen virtually daily whilst at Ambua Lodge.

Papuan Needletail (Spine-tailed Swift) - Mearnsia novaguineae novaguineae C
Around 8 were seen at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 3rd, up to 20 were seen daily whilst in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge, around 50 were seen along the Boys Town road and an estimated 100 were seen at Km17 and then on the drive to Tabubil on the 8th.


Papuan Needletail at Km17 north of Kiunga.

Common Paradise-Kingfisher - Tanysiptera galatea minor C
Singles were tape responsive at the trail starting just upstream of Ikame Lodge on both the 4th and 5th. Superb.


Common Paradise-Kingfisher near Ikame Lodge.

Australian (Buff-breasted) Paradise-Kingfisher - Tanysiptera sylvia C
An immature was seen along the trail starting just upstream of Ikame Lodge on the 5th and an adult was seen briefly along the Kaori Tree House trail at Varirata on the 22nd.

Brown-headed Paradise-Kingfisher - Tanysiptera danae C
Our favourite Paradise-Kingfisher with the puffed-out orange rump of the male having to be seen to be believed. A pair responded to tape playback along the Kaori Tree House trail at Varirata on the 30th, a single bird was seen hunting along the Gare’s Lookout trail itself on the 1st, a male again along the Kaori Tree House trail on the 2nd, and 3 seen along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 22nd.

 


Record shots of Brown-headed Paradise Flycatcher 
along the Kaori Tree House trail at Varirata.

Hook-billed Kingfisher - Melidora macrorrhina
Heard in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge and the Kokoda Trail Motel but unfortunately never seen.

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra - Dacelo gaudichaud C
A single individual was seen along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 30th, 2 were seen near Ikame Lodge on the 5th with 4 seen there the next day and 2 seen along the Boys Town road on the 7th. Very smart.



Rufous-bellied Kookaburra along the Varirata Lookout trail.

Blue-winged Kookaburra - Dacelo leachii C
Only seen behind the Kokoda Trail Motel and along the Varirata entrance road where up to 2 were seen on four dates.

 

Blue-winged Kookaburra along the Varirata entrance road.

Forest Kingfisher - Halcyon macleayii C
A pair were seen along the entrance road to Varirata on the 1st.

Sacred Kingfisher - Halcyon sanctus sanctus C
Seen on eighteen dates recorded at the Kokoda Trail Motel, Kiunga, Ikame Lodge, Tabubil and Ambua Lodge with a daily maximum of 6 in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge on the 5th.

Yellow-billed Kingfisher - Halcyon torotoro C
A pair were seen along the Circuit trail at Varirata on the 30th proving very responsive to tape playback and 1 was seen along the Kaori Tree House trail at Varirata on the 2nd, with a pair seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata on the 22nd and 1 in the same area the following day. Superb.





Yellow-billed Kingfisher along the Circuit trail at Varirata National Park.

Mountain Kingfisher - Halcyon megarhyncha C
A pair proved responsive to tape playback along the Waterfall trail at Ambua Lodge on the 18th. Also superb.


Mountain Kingfisher along the Waterfall trail at Ambua Lodge.

Variable (Dwarf) Kingfisher - Ceyx lepidus solitarius C
JFC saw 1 perched along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 30th with DC obtaining utv’s of it disappearing so was fortunate to get another chance at a perched bird along the same trail on the 22nd although it was only seen briefly before it quickly departed.

Azure Kingfisher - Alcedo azurea lessonii C
Singles were seen along the Varirata Lookout trail on both the 22nd and 23rd.
Rainbow Bee-eater - Merops ornatus C
Up to 12 were seen on four dates at Varirata, 6 were seen at Tari Village on the 15th and a fine party of 6 were seen in the grounds of the Kokoda Trail Motel on the 21st.

Dollarbird - Eurystomus orientalis C
A single bird was seen behind the Kokoda Trail Motel on the 1st and the 21st, up to 40 were seen on the three dates spent along the rivers in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge, 10 were seen along the Boys Town road at Kiunga and 6 were seen north of Kiunga the following day.


Dollarbird near Ikame Lodge.

Blyth’s Hornbill - Rhyticeros plicatus C
A spectacular Hornbill with 5 seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers on the 4th, 18 seen along rivers in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge on the 5th and 6 near Ikame on the 6th and finally 2 were seen near Km120 just south of Tabubil on the 9th.



Blyth's Hornbill near Ikame Lodge.

Blue-breasted Pitta - Pitta erythrogaster
Heard along the Ok Ma road on the 10th but remained distant despite tape playback.

Hooded Pitta - Pitta sordida novaeguineae C
After being heard at Km17 north of Kiunga and close to Ikame Lodge we finally obtained superb views of a single bird hopping around for several minutes on the trail ahead of us just upstream from Ikame Lodge on the 5th. Brilliant.

Pacific Swallow - Hirundo tahitica frontalis C
Seen on ten dates recorded at Kiunga, Tabubil and Tari Village with a daily maximum of 12 recorded on the 21st.

Richard’s Pipit - Anthus novaeseelandiae exiguous C
A single individual was seen on the airfield at Mt. Hagen on the 13th.

Pipit sp. - Anthus sp.
A single individual was seen in flight at Tari Gap which as it towered away from us was probably a Richard’s but on the poor views obtained Alpine A. gutturalis could not be eliminated.

Hooded Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina longicauda C
Pairs were encountered twice along the River trail at Ambua Lodge on the 14th and 19th.

White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracinia papuensis C
Only seen along the entrance road at Varirata where up to 2 were recorded on four dates.

Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracinia novaehollandiae C
Only seen along the entrance road at Varirata where up to 2 were recorded on two dates.

Stout-billed Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracinia caeruleogrisea C
A single bird was seen along the Circuit trail at Varirata on the 30th, 2 were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th, with 1 there on the 11th and 2 on the 12th, 1 was seen in Tari Village on the 13th and 1 was seen along the entrance road at Varirata on the 22nd.

Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina lineata C
A single male seen at the Picnic area at Varirata on the 30th proved to be the only individual seen.

Boyer’s Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina boyeri C
Around 8 were seen at Varirata on the 30th although after that date just 1 was recorded there on the 22nd, 4 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th and 2 were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th.

Cicadabird - Coracina tenuirostris C
A single male was seen at Varirata on the 30th.

Grey-headed Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina schisticeps C
Pairs were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th and near Tabubil on the 10th and 3 were seen at Dablin Creek on the 12th.

New Guinea (Black) Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina melas meeki C
Up to 3 were seen on three dates at Varirata and a single male was seen near Ikame on the 4th.

Black-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina montana montana C
JFC saw a male near the Bailey Bridge above Ambua Lodge on the 13th so DC was relieved when a pair were located along the River Trail at Ambua Lodge on the 19th.

Golden Cuckoo-Shrike - Coracina sloetii C
At Km17 north of Kiunga 2 were seen on the 3rd and 3 on the 8th and at Dablin Creek 2 were seen on the 9th and 3 on the 12th. Very smart.


Golden Cuckoo-Shrike at Dablin Creek.
Varied Triller - Lalage leucomela C
Seen on ten dates being recorded at Varirata, Kiunga and Tabubil in small numbers with a daily maximum of 2 being recorded on three dates.

Long-tailed Shrike - Lanius schach stresemanni C
Only seen at Tari Village where 2 were seen on the 13th and 2 on the 21st.

Pied Chat - Saxicola caprata wahgiensis C
A single bird was seen just below Dablin Creek on the 10th, 2 were seen at Mt. Hagen Airport on the 13th and up to 2 were recorded on four dates whilst at Ambua Lodge.

Island Thrush - Turdus poliocephalus C
Around 4 were seen at Tari Gap on the 14th but surprisingly never seen again.

Logrunner - Orthonyx temminckii C
A pair were taped into view along a track just above the Bailey Bridge above Ambua Lodge on the 19th. Superb.

Painted Quail-Thrush - Cinclosoma ajax
Heard with Samuel whilst at Ikame Lodge and heard along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 22nd but unfortunately never located.

Spotted Jewel-Babbler - Ptilorrhoa leucosticta
Heard with Joseph just above Ambua Lodge but similar to the previous species it eluded us.

Blue Jewel-Babbler - Ptilorrhoa caerulescens C
A stunning individual was taped into view whilst with Samuel close to Ikame Lodge on the 4th. It would quietly walk back and forth along a mossy log.

Chestnut-backed Jewel-Babbler - Ptilorrhoa castanonotus
DC obtained an utv of a bird along Gare’s Lookout Trail on the 1st only for JFC to then see a bird well some thirty minutes later along the same trail.

Lesser Melampitta - Melampitta lugubris C
A single individual was seen very poorly in response to tape playback along a trail just below Tari Gap on the 14th so we were pleased to obtain good views of presumably the same bird on both the 17th and the 20th. On both dates it was first tempted into view by tape playback and conveniently hopped along the trail ahead of us and on the later date it was even seen atop a tree fern tossing dead leaves searching for prey. It held its tail partially cocked unlike a Pitta but in other respects closely resembled one. Superb.

Greater Melampitta - Melampitta gigantea
Heard along the Ok Ma road but access difficulties to the forest denied us the chance of seeing this elusive species.

Blue-capped Ifrita - Ifrita kowaldi C
Seen daily above Ambua Lodge from the 13th to the 19th with a daily maximum of 5 recorded on the 14th. It has been shown that this species is more toxic than Hooded Pitohui.

Rufous Babbler - Pomatostomus isidorei isidorei C
A party of 6 were seen close to Ikame Lodge on the 6th.

Tawny Grassbird - Megalurus timoriensis C
Seen on five dates whilst at Ambua frequenting the roadsides up to Tari Gap with a daily maximum of 6 recorded on the 17th.

Island Leaf-Warbler - Phylloscopus poliocephalus C
Seen at Tari Village and along the Waterfall Trail at Ambua Lodge on four dates with a daily maximum of 5 recorded on the 15th.

Wallace’s Fairy-Wren - Sipodotus wallacii C
JFC saw a single bird with a mixed birdflock along the Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata on the 1st so DC was relieved when we hit a good day for the species at Varirata on the 20th when 3 were seen along the Varirata Lookout trail and 2 were seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail. Very smart.

Emperor Fairy-Wren - Malurus cyanocephalus C
A party consisting of a male and 2 females were seen in roadside vegetation at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 8th and a pair were seen at Km120 just south of Tabubil on the 9th. Another very smart species.

White-shouldered Fairy-Wren - Malurus alboscapulatus C
An obliging pair were seen at Kiunga airfield on the 3rd, 3 males were seen along the Tunnel road near Tabubil on the 11th and 3 were seen in Tari Village on the 13th.

Orange-crowned Fairy-Wren - Clytomyias insignis oorti C
A pair performed well to pishing along the River trail at Ambua Lodge on the 18th.

Rusty Mouse-Warbler - Crateroscelis murina pallida C
At Varirata 2 were seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail on the 1st, with 3 seen along the same trail the next day and 2 seen along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 22nd.

Pale-billed Scrub-Wren - Sericornis spilodera C
At Varirata 4 were seen on the 1st, 1 on the 2nd and 1 on the 22nd with most observations along the Gare’s Lookout trail.

Large Scrub-Wren - Sericornis nouhuysi C
Only seen around Ambua Lodge and in Tari Village being seen on four dates with a daily maximum of 8 recorded on the 15th.

Buff-faced Scrub-Wren - Sericornis perspicillatus C
Only seen around Ambua Lodge and in Tari Village being seen on four dates with a daily maximum of 12 recorded on the 16th.

Papuan Scrub-Wren - Sericornis papuensis burgersi C
Only seen at Tari Gap where it was seen on three dates with a daily maximum of 4 recorded on the 17th.

Yellow-bellied Gerygone - Gerygone chrysogaster chrysogaster C
A pair seen near Ikame Lodge on the 4th.

Green-backed Gerygone - Gerygone chloronotus cinereiceps C
A single bird was seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th.

Fairy Gerygone - Gerygone palpebrosa inconspicua C
Only seen at Varirata where up to 10 were recorded on four dates.

Brown-breasted Gerygone - Gerygone ruficollis insperata C
A party of 3 were seen in an isolated patch of forest at Tari Gap on the 14th.
Rufous-backed Fantail - Rhipidura rufidorsa kubuna C
Just 2 seen near Ikame Lodge in a small mixed birdflock on the 4th.

Dimorphic Fantail - Rhipidura brachyrhyncha devisi C
Seen on four dates in the vicinity of Ambua Lodge with a daily maximum of 3 recorded on the 17th.

Black Fantail - Rhipidura atra atra C
A female was seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th, and around Ambua Lodge up to 6 were seen daily from the 15th to the 19th.

Chestnut-bellied Fantail - Rhipidura hyperythra castaneothorax C
Only seen at Varirata where up to 10 were recorded on four dates.

Friendly Fantail - Rhipidura albolimbata lorentzi C
Up to 8 were seen on seven dates whilst at Ambua Lodge.




Friendly Fantail at Ambau Lodge.

Northern Fantail - Rhipidura rufiventris gularis C
Only seen at Dablin Creek and the Ok Ma road being recorded on three dates but never more than 2 on a day.

Willie Wagtail - Rhipidura leucophrys melaleuca C
Seen on eleven dates being recorded at the Kokoda Trail Motel, Tabubil and Ambua with a daily maximum of 8 recorded on the 21st.

Black Monarch - Monarcha axillaris fallax C
Only seen at Ambua with 3 seen along the River Trail on the 16th and 1 on the 18th.

Black-faced Monarch - Monarcha melanopsis C
A single individual was seen along the trail upstream from Ikame Lodge on the 4th.

Black-winged Monarch - Monarcha frater periophthalmicus C
A single individual was seen at Varirata on the 1st and 4 were seen there on the 22nd.

Spot-winged Monarch - Monarcha guttula C
At Varirata 1 was recorded on the 2nd with 10 seen on the 22nd and 1 on the 23rd and 1 was seen near Ikame Lodge on the 4th.

Frilled Monarch - Arses telescophthalmus C
Up to 4 were seen on four dates at Varirata and up to 4 were seen on two dates at Ikame Lodge. Smart.

Leaden Flycatcher - Myiagra rubecula C
At Varirata 2 were recorded daily from the 30th to the 2nd.

Shining Flycatcher - Myiagra alecto C
A pair were seen along the Fly River on the 4th and 6 were seen along rivers near Ikame Lodge on the 5th.

Yellow-breasted Boatbill - Machaerirhynchus flaviventer C
A single bird was seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata on the 1st with 3 seen at Varirata on the 22nd and 2 were seen near Ikame Lodge on the 4th.

Black-breasted Boatbill - Machaerirhynchus nigripectus saturatus C
Seen on six dates whilst at Ambua with the species seen up to Tari Gap and a daily maximum of 4 recorded on three dates.


Poor record shot of a Black-breasted Boatbill at Ambau.

Torrent Flycatcher - Monachella muelleriana muelleriana C
At least 6 were seen along the Tunnel road near Tabubil on the 11th being ever-present at the hydro scheme there.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher - Microeca flavigaster C
Around 5 were seen along the entrance road at Varirata on the 1st.

Olive Flycatcher - Microece flavirescens C
Only seen at Varirata where up to 2 were recorded on three dates.

Canary Flycatcher - Microeca papuana C
Seen on five dates whilst at Ambua with a daily maximum of 7 recorded on the 18th.

White-faced Robin - Tregellasia leucops C
Only seen at Varirata with 1 along the Gare’s Lookout Trail on both the 1st and 23rd and 1 behind the HQ on the 23rd.

Garnet Robin - Eugerygone rubra saturatior C
A male showed well flicking and holding open its wings in the first patch of forest below Tari Gap on the 15th and a pair behaving similarly were located on the opposite side of the road on the 17th. With so many spectacular species seen its difficult deciding on highlights but these were certainly one.


Female Garnet Robin below Tari Gap.

Ashy Robin - Poecilodryas albispecularis
Heard with Joseph just above the Bailey Bridge but unfortunately not seen.

Black-sided Robin - Poecilodryas hypoleuca hypoleuca C
A single male was taped into view along the trail starting just upstream from Ikame Lodge on the 5th. Very smart.



Black-sided Robin near Ikame Lodge.

Black-throated Robin - Poecilodryas albonotata griseiventris C
Recorded above Ambua at various levels with 2 seen on the 14th, 17th and 19th.

Northern Scrub-Robin - Drymodes superciliaris brevirostris C
At Varirata singles were seen at the start of the Circuit trail on the 1st, along Gare’s Lookout trail on the 2nd, along Varirata Lookout trail on the 22nd and an obliging pair along Gare’s Lookout trail on the 23rd. Superb.

Lesser Ground-Robin - Amalocichla incerta C
In the first patch of forest below Tari Gap on the 17th a single bird was briefly seen hopping across the trail in response to our tape of Lesser Melampitta and JFC was then fortunate to twice see a second individual in response to our tape of Lesser Ground-Robin.

White-winged Robin - Peneothello sigillatus C
Most frequently encountered in the Tari Gap area with 2 seen on the 14th, 6 on the 15th, 2 on the 17th and 1 on the 20th.




Stunning White-winged Black-Robin at Tari Gap.

Blue-grey Robin - Peneothello cyanus C
First seen at Mt. Hagen where 6 were seen in the grounds of the Haus Poromon Lodge on the 12th and then proved to be fairly common around Ambua Lodge with up to 6 being recorded on five dates. Several immatures were seen.


Blue-grey Robin around Ambua Lodge.

Dwarf Whistler - Pachycare flavogrisea C
This impressive species was only seen at Varirata along the Gare’s Lookout trail in mixed birdflocks where 1 was seen on the 1st, 3 were seen on the 2nd and 1 was seen on the 22nd. Brilliant.

Mottled Whistler - Rhagologus leucostigma obscurus C
A single female was seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th.

Sclater’s Whistler - Pachycephala soror C
Up to 5 were seen on six dates whilst at Ambua Lodge including a female that was brought to us having flown against a glass window of the Lodge.


Female Sclaters Whistler at Ambua Lodge.

Regent Whistler - Pachycephala schlegelii obscurior C
Seen at higher elevations than the last species with us seeing a pair at Tari Gap on the 14th, a female just below the Gap on the 15th and 2 males displaying at each other just above the Bailey Bridge on the 17th.

Grey Whistler - Pachycephala simplex C
Up to 2 were seen on four dates at Varirata and 1 was seen along the Ok Ma road on the 11th.

Brown-backed Whistler - Pachycephala modesta C
Recorded on five dates whilst at Ambua Lodge with a daily maximum of 4 seen on the 19th.

White-bellied (Rufous) Whistler - Pachycephala leucogastra C
A single male was seen along the entrance road at Varirata on the 30th.

Rufous-naped Whistler - Pachycephala rufinucha niveifrons C
A pair were seen at Mt. Hagen in the grounds of the Haus Poromon Lodge on the 12th and seen on seven dates whilst at Ambua Lodge with a daily maximum of 4 recorded on the 19th.

Little Shrike-Thrush - Colluricincla megarhyncha C
Up to 2 were seen at Varirata on four dates and singles were seen along the Ok Ma road on the 10th and 1 along the River Trail at Ambua Lodge on the 16th.

Grey Shrike-Thrush - Colluricincla harmonica tachycrypta C
A pair were seen along the Varirata entrance road on the 30th.

Variable Pitohui - Pitohui kirhocephalus C
Birds with greyish-buff heads were seen at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 8th and at Dablin Creek on the 12th.

Hooded Pitohui - Pitohui dichrous monticola C
Up to 12 were seen on all five dates at Varirata where we met a couple of Americans trying to establish the methods this species has to develop its poisons. Black-headed birds Samuel was identifying as Variable Pitohui at Dablin Creek with 4 seen on the 9th and 2 on the 12th appeared to have completely orange rumps so we felt were more likely Hooded Pitohuis.


Hooded Pitohui at Varirata National Park.

White-bellied Pitohui - Pitohui incertus
Only utv’s obtained of a mobile bird in riverside vegetation near Ikame Lodge.

Rusty Pitohui - Pitohui ferrugineus clarus C
At Varirata 15 were seen on the 30th and 2 on the 1st and near Ikame Lodge 4 were seen on the 5th.

Wattled Ploughbill - Eulacestoma nigropectus clara C
We struggled to find this species just seeing 1 along the Waterfall trail and 4 along the River trail, at Ambua Lodge on the 18th. Unfortunately no adult males were seen.


Very poor record shot of a Wattled Ploughbill at Ambua.

Papuan Treecreeper - Cormobates placens C
A single individual was seen along the River trail at Ambua Lodge on the 19th.

Varied Sittella - Daphoenositta chrysoptera C
A party of 7 were seen along the River trail at Ambua Lodge on the 16th.

Black Sittella - Daphoenositta miranda C
A single individual was seen at Tari Gap on the 14th and a party of 6 were seen between Tari Gap and the Bailey Bridge on the 15th.

Obscure Berrypecker - Melanocharis arfakiana C
A single individual was seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th. Collar et al. (1994) treat this species as Data Deficient but do refer to ‘sightings reported from near Tabubil in the late 1980s’ and to ‘an unidentified berrypecker north of Tabubil may be this bird or an undescribed species’.

Black Berrypecker - Melanocharis nigra C
DC saw a female along the Kaori Tree House trail at Varirata on the 30th with JFC seeing a male in the same area the following day and a female was again seen at Varirata on the 22nd.

Lemon-breasted (Mid-mountain) Berrypecker - Melanocharis longicauda C
Up to 2 were seen on four dates whilst at Ambua Lodge with most observations just below Tari Gap.

Fan-tailed Berrypecker - Melanocharis versteri C
Up to 2 were seen on five dates whilst at Ambua Lodge from various elevations.

Papuan (Red-capped) Flowerpecker - Dicaeum geelvinkianum C
Seen on nine dates being recorded at Varirata, Ikame Lodge, Kiunga and Ambua Lodge in small numbers with a daily maximum of 4 recorded on the 7th.

Tit Berrypecker - Oreocharis arfaki C
Only seen on three dates whilst at Ambua with 1 seen on the 13th, 3 seen on the 14th and 3 seen on the 16th with the trails in the immediate vicinity of the Lodge proving the favoured area.

Crested Berrypecker - Paramythia montium C
Seen at Tari Gap in fruiting bushes on four dates with 1 seen on the 14th, 3 on the 15th, 1 on the 17th and 2 on the 20th.



Crested Berrypecker at Tari Gap.

Black Sunbird - Nectarinia sericea C
Seen on six dates being recorded at Varirata, Kiunga and Tabubil with a daily maximum of 3 being seen on the 9th.

Black-fronted White-Eye - Zosterops minor C
At Varirata a flock of 8 were seen on the 30th and at Dablin Creek a party of 6 were seen on the 9th.

Western Mountain White-Eye - Zosterops fuscicapillus fuscicapillus C
Around 4 were seen in Tari Village on the 13th and 3 were seen at Ambua Lodge on the 14th.

New Guinea White-Eye - Zosterops novaguineae C
A party of around 6 were seen in Tari Village on the 13th.

Long-billed Honeyeater - Melilestes magarhynchus C
At Km17 north of Kiunga 2 were seen on the 8th and at Dablin Creek 2 were seen on both the 9th and 12th.

Yellow-bellied Longbill - Toxorhamphus novaeguineae flaviventris C
A single individual was seen with a small mixed birdflock at Ikame Lodge on the 4th.

Dwarf Honeyeater - Oedistoma iliolophus C
At Varirata 2 were seen on the 1st and 1 on the 22nd and at Dablin Creek 1 was caught on the 10th and 2 were seen on the 12th.




Dwarf Honeyeater which was caught Dablin Creek.

Pygmy Honeyeater - Oedistoma pygmaeum C
At Varirata 2 were seen at the start of Gare’s Lookout trail on the 1st.

Papuan Black Myzomela - Myzomela nigrita C
A single individual was seen along the Kaori Tree House trail at Varirata on the 30th.

Red-collared Myzomela - Myzomela rosenbergii wahgiensis C
At Tari Gap singles were seen on four dates. Very smart.

Meliphaga sp. - Meliphaga sp.
As expected a very difficult group with many birds left unidentified. Hopefully we identified some correctly but to be honest we felt less and less confident as the trip went on !

Mountain Meliphaga - Meliphaga orientalis C
A pair were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th and a pair were seen whilst at Ambua Lodge on the 15th.

Scrub White-eared Meliphaga - Meliphaga albonotata C
Singles were seen along the road near Km120 south of Tabubil on the 9th and at Dablin Creek on the 12th.

Puff-backed Meliphaga - Meliphaga aruensis C
A single bird was tentatively identified as this species near the start of Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata on the 2nd.

Mimic Meliphaga - Meliphaga analoga C
Only seen at Varirata where 2 were seen on the 30th and 1 the following day.

Graceful Meliphaga - Meliphaga gracilis C
Singles were recorded at Varirata on two dates.

Yellow-gaped Meliphaga - Meliphaga flavirictus C
A couple were tentatively identified as this species at Dablin Creek on the 9th.

Black-throated Honeyeater - Lichenostomus subfrenatus C
Singles were seen just below Tari Gap on the 15th and 20th.

Obscure Honeyeater - Lichenostomus obscurus C
A single individual was seen at Dablin Creek on the 12th.

Spotted Honeyeater - Xanthotis polygramma C
Singles were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th and the 12th.

Tawny-breasted Honeyeater - Xanthotis flaviventer C
Seen at Kiunga, Ikame Lodge and Tabubil with up to 2 seen daily from the 4th to the 12th apart from a blank day on the 7th.

White-throated Honeyeater - Melithreptus albogularis albogularis C
Only seen at the Kokoda Trail Motel and the Varirata entrance road being recorded on four dates with a daily maximum of 4 recorded on the 30th.

Plain Honeyeater - Pycnopygius ixoides C
A single individual was seen along the Boys Town road at Kiunga on the 7th.

Marbled Honeyeater - Pycnopygius cinereus C
A single bird was seen at Tari Village on the 15th.

Helmeted Friarbird - Philemon buceroides novaguineae C
Seen on ten dates being recorded at the Kokoda Trail Motel, Ikame Lodge, the Boys Town road at Kiunga and the Tabubil areas with a daily maximum of 6 recorded on the 1st.

Yellowish Streaked Honeyeater - Ptiloprora meekiana C
A single individual of this rarely recorded species was seen along the Waterfall trail at Ambua Lodge on the 18th.

Rufous-backed Honeyeater - Ptiloprora guisei C
Up to 4 were recorded on five dates in the vicinity of Ambua Lodge.


Rufous-backed Honeyeater at Ambau Lodge.

Grey-streaked Honeyeater - Ptiloprora perstriata C
Up to 4 were recorded on six dates in the vicinity of Tari Gap.

Belford’s Melidectes - Melidectes belfordi C
Up to 20 were recorded on six dates in the vicinity of Tari Gap.


Belford’s Melidectes at Tari Gap.

Yellow-browed Melidectes - Melidectes rufocrissalis C
Up to 12 were recorded on seven dates in the vicinity of Ambua Lodge. A few birds seen around Haus Poromon Lodge at Mt. Hagen were identified as hybrids between this species and the last although as it was at times difficult to see the white foreheads on Yellow-browed the birds at Haus Poromon may have related to this species.

Common Smoky Honeyeater - Melipotes fumigatus C
Around 3 were seen at the Haus Poromon Lodge at Mt. Hagen and up to 20 were seen on seven dates between Ambua Lodge and Tari Gap.

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch - Erythrura trichroa sigillifera C
Up to 2 were seen at Varirata on three dates and up to 2 were seen whilst at Ambua Lodge on three dates.

Grey-headed Mannikin - Lonchura caniceps C
Around 20 were seen in fields along the entrance road to the Kokoda Trail Motel on the 21st.

Hooded Mannikin - Lonchura spectabilis C
Seen in Tari Village and the grounds of Ambua Lodge on five dates with a daily maximum of 10 recorded on the 13th.


Hooded Mannikin in Tari village.

Mountain Firetail - Oreostruthus fuliginosus C
A group of 3 were seen on three dates feeding along the roadside at the first patch of forest below Tari Gap.

House Sparrow - Passer domesticus C
JFC saw 2 at Port Moresby on the 30th.

Singing Starling - Aplonis cantoroides C
Seen on four dates at the Kokoda Trail Motel or Port Moresby with a daily maximum of 6 at the airport on the 24th.

Metallic Starling - Aplonis metallica metallica C
Up to 50 were seen daily from the 3rd to the 8th in the Kiunga and Ikame Lodge areas but despite scrutinising them no Yellow-eyed Starlings could be located.

Golden Myna - Mino anais robertsoni C
Only seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers with 8 recorded on the 4th and 2 on the 6th.

Yellow-faced Myna - Mino dumontii C
Seen on thirteen dates being recorded at the Kokoda Trail Motel, Kiunga, Ikame Lodge and Tabubil with a daily maximum of 50 recorded on the 4th.


Yellow-faced Myna at the Kokoda Trail Motel.

Brown Oriole - Oriolus szalayi C
Pairs were seen at Varirata, Kokoda Trail Motel, Kiunga, Tabubil being recorded on five dates.

Figbird - Sphecotheres viridis vieilloti C
A single individual was recorded along the entrance road at Varirata on the 1st.

Papuan (Mountain) Drongo - Chaetorhynchus papuensis C
A single individual was seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail with a mixed birdflock on the 22nd.

Spangled Drongo - Dicrurus bracteatus bracteatus C
Seen on ten dates being seen at Varirata, Kiunga and Ikame Lodge with a daily maximum of 10 recorded on the 1st.

Torrent-Lark - Grallina bruijni C
JFC saw a single flying through the forest along the River trail at Ambua Lodge on the 16th just as DC was removing his jumper but then rectified the situation by locating 6 birds displaying to each other along the Waterfall trail at Ambua Lodge on the 18th. An amazing display with birds standing upright facing each other and holding open their wings whilst bobbing up and down.

White-breasted Woodswallow - Artamus leucorhynchus leucopygialis C
Only seen at Kiunga Port where 2 were seen on the 3rd and 1 on the 6th.

Great Woodswallow - Artamus maximus C
Up to 2 were seen on three dates at Tabubil and up to 6 were seen around the grounds of Ambua Lodge on six dates.



Great Wood-Swallow at Ambau Lodge.

Hooded Butcherbird - Cracticus cassicus cassicus C
Seen on ten dates being recorded at the Kokoda Trail Motel, the Varirata entrance road, Kiunga and Ikame Lodge with a daily maximum of 6 recorded on the 7th.

Black Butcherbird - Cracticus quoyi quoyi C
Singles were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th and 10th and 2 were seen at Tari Village on the 13th.

Lowland Peltops - Peltops blainvillii C
A group of 3 were seen at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 8th.

Mountain Peltops - Peltops montanus C
At Dablin Creek 3 were seen on the 8th and 2 on the 9th and at Ambua Lodge 1 was seen on the 16th, 20th and 21st.

Archbold’s Bowerbird - Archboldia papuensis C
A single female was seen along the trail near the Bailey Bridge above Ambua Lodge on the 19th.

Flame Bowerbird - Sericulus aureus C
A single female was seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th. If only it had been a male !

Yellow-breasted Bowerbird - Chlamydera lauterbachi C
A single individual was a welcome surprise find in the grounds of the Haus Poromon Lodge at Mt. Hagen on the 12th.

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird - Chlamydera cerviniventris C
Only seen around the Kokoda Trail Motel where up to 2 were recorded on four dates.

Crested Bird Of Paradise - Cnemophilus macgregorii C
After several days of searching we finally saw 2 females in the first patch of forest below Tari Gap on the 20th. Disappointing not to see a male of which Joseph saw 2 whilst in our presence ! The previous day Joseph had identified several female Loria’s as this species which when questioned he conceded were Loria’s.

Loria’s Bird Of Paradise - Cnemophilus loriae C
Only seen in the vicinity of the Bailey Bridge above Ambua Lodge with a male seen perched high on a dead limb of a tree in the evening of the 13th, 2 females seen on the 14th, 3 females seen feeding in low vegetation on the 19th  and a calling male watched for some time perched quite high in a tree on the 20th.

Manucode sp. - Manucodia sp.
Two birds seen rather distantly at Km 17 north of Kiunga were tentatively identified at the time as Glossy-mantled although with the distribution of Crinkle-collared in the area they perhaps were more likely that species.

Glossy-mantled Manucode - Manucodia atra C
Only seen along the Fly and Elevala Rivers and in the vicinity of Ikame Lodge with 12 seen on the 4th, 3 on the 5th and 4 on the 6th with the most memorable sighting being a calling male atop a dead vertical branch being used at the same time by a displaying male Twelve-wired Bird Of Paradise.

Crinkle-collared Manucode - Manucodia chalybata C
At least 5 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th where the prominent forehead bumps were conspicuous and 3 were seen along the Ok Ma road on the 10th.

Trumpet Manucode - Manucodia keraudrenii C
A pair were seen along the Gare’s Lookout trail at Varirata with the birds dueting and a single bird was watched feeding in a fruiting tree at Km17 north of Kiunga on the 3rd.

Short-tailed Paradigalla - Paradigalla brevicauda C
Up to 3 were seen daily from the 14th to the 17th whilst at Ambua Lodge with the River Trail usually producing this species but also up to Tari Gap. A male was watched calling and simultaneously shivering its wings in front of a female.


Male Short-tailed Paradigalla at Tari Gap.

Magnificent Riflebird - Ptiloris magnificus C
Both vocally distinct populations were encountered with 8 ‘Eastern’ Riflebirds seen at Varirata including a male seen along the Varirata Lookout trail on the 30th but thereafter just a female seen at Varirata on the 2nd. In the west ‘Magnificent’ Riflebirds were seen along the Boys Town road where a male was seen briefly sat atop a dead vertical limb extending up from a Palm on the 7th and 2 females were seen along the Ok Ma road on the 10th.

Twelve-wired Bird Of Paradise - Seleucidis melanoleuca melanoleuca C
A displaying male was seen around half an hour along the Fly River from Kiunga just after dawn on the 4th where it was watched on various display posts for around an hour and JFC located another displaying male the same evening at a display post along the trail starting just upstream from Ikame Lodge. Absolutely brilliant.



Record shots of a displaying male Twelve Wired Bird of Paradise
along the Fly River near Ikame Lodge.

Brown Sicklebill - Epimachus meyeri C
Seen above Ambua Lodge usually between the Bailey Bridge and Tari Gap with a male and 2 females seen on the 13th, a male seen on the 14th, 2 males and 4 females seen on the 15th, a female seen on the 17th and a male and 3 females seen on the 19th. The call being similar to a burst of machine gun fire and the effort the bird puts in to call is impressive as is the vivid emerald-blue mantle which we were unprepared for.




Female Brown Sicklebill above Ambua Lodge.

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia - Astrapia mayeri C
Quite common in the vicinity of Tari Gap with a male and 2 females seen on the 13th, a male seen on the 14th, 2 males and 4 females seen on the 15th, a female seen on the 17th, 3 males and 7 females seen on the 19th and 2 males and 4 females seen on the 20th. The rustle of a male’s wings in flight were often the first indication of a ‘fly-past’. However, males would also feed unwarily close to the road. This species is treated as Vulnerable by Collar et al. (1994) who state it ‘is threatened in some areas owing to hunting for tail plumes which feature in local costumes. Potentially greater threats are forest destruction and modification’.



Female Ribbon-tailed Astrapia at Tari Gap.







Male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia at Tari Gap.

Stephanie’s Astrapia - Astrapia stephaniae C
The same male was seen near the Bailey Bridge above Ambua Lodge on both the 13th and 14th with 2 females being seen in the vicinity of Ambua Lodge on the 16th, 3 females seen on the 19th and 1 female on the 20th. The male’s shimmering green breast and long broad purple tail was very impressive.

Superb Bird Of Paradise - Lophorina superba C
A male and 2 females were seen in the grounds of the Haus Poromon Lodge at Mt. Hagen on the 12th with other males heard in the vicinity. We watched a calling male for around 20 minutes which then joined a female on an exposed branch where it displayed below her for around 15 minutes raising its cape and fanning its shield holding its bill upright at times almost touching the females bill as she perched vertically downwards watching the display - quite breathtaking at times. In Tari Village we saw a male, an immature male and a female on the 13th.

Carola’s Parotia - Parotia carolae C
At Dablin Creek 3 males and 3 females were watched visiting a fruiting tree on the 9th and 1 female was seen in an adjacent tree on the 12th. Brilliant.

Lawes’ Parotia - Parotia lawesii C
After much effort a single male was seen twice in Tari Village on the 15th. It seemed very wary, no doubt due to hunting pressures in this area.

King Of Saxony Bird Of Paradise - Pteridophora alberti C
The Bailey Bridge area above Ambua Lodge seemed to be the favoured site to see this impressive species with 2 males seen on the 13th, a male and 2 females seen on the 14th, a female seen on the 15th and the 17th and a male and 2 females seen on the 19th.



Female King of Saxony Bird of Paradise above Ambua Lodge.


Male King of Saxony Bird of Paradise above Ambua Lodge.

King Bird Of Paradise - Cicinnurus regius regius C
On the 5th a male was watched displaying on and off for over an hour after a boat ride from Ikame Lodge to an area that Samuel knew was favoured by this species. This proved to be the highlight of the trip as this jewel of a bird performed an astonishing display holding its wings open and dancing back and forth along a looped vine. Later the same day a female was seen along the trail which starts just upstream from Ikame.

Magnificent Bird Of Paradise - Cicinnurus magnificus C
At least 3 female-plumage birds were seen at Dablin Creek on the 9th with 1 there on the 12th and similarly a female-plumage bird was seen along the Ok Ma road on the 12th.

Raggiana Bird Of Paradise - Paradisaea raggiana C
At Varirata 3 females were seen on the 30th, 6 males were seen displaying at their display tree on the 1st with 4 females seen later the same day, 4 females were seen on the 2nd, 8 females were seen on the 22nd and finally 1 female was seen on the 23rd. At Km17 north of  Kiunga 3 males were seen sharing their display tree with 4 male Greater Bird of Paradise on the 3rd and 2 females and 1 male were seen flying across the road there on the 8th, 3 females were seen near Ikame Lodge on the 4th with 2 females in the same area on the 6th, and at Tari Village 2 females were seen on the 13th. A quite spectacular display as expected.







Male Raggiana Bird of Paradise  in its display tree at Varirata National Park.

Greater Bird Of Paradise - Paradisaea apoda novaguineae C
At Km17 north of Kiunga 4 males were seen sharing their display tree with the previous species and 2 females were seen roadside there on the 8th, along the Boys Town road near Kiunga we were taken to an impressive display tree attracting 8 males with 7 females being seen in the area on the 7th, at Dablin Creek and the Ok Ma road 2 females were recorded on the 9th and 10th and 1 female was seen on the 11th and 12th.


 

Greater Bird of Paradise near Kiunga

Blue Bird Of Paradise - Paradisaea rudolphi C
A presumed immature male (no tail) was seen twice in the grounds of the Haus Poromon Lodge at Mt. Hagen during the afternoon of the 12th proving not surprisingly to be a highlight of the trip and a female (also very smart) was seen in Tari Village on the 15th with JFC also glimpsing a male there. Stunning. Collar et al. (1994) treat this species as Vulnerable and state that it ‘is rare or absent in certain areas mostly because of loss of habitat’.


One of the highlights of our trip a male Blue Bird of Paradise which
gave a great display at Mt. Hagen.

Grey Crow - Corvus tristis C
Around 8 were seen along the Fly River on the 4th with 2 seen near Ikame Lodge on the 5th, 5 were seen along the Boys Town road near Kiunga on the 7th, with up to 4 being seen on four dates in the Tabubil areas visited.

Torresian Crow - Corvus orru orru C
Only seen at Varirata and the Kokoda Trail Motel where up to 4 were recorded on five dates.

Cairns, Australia

On the 29th June whilst at Cairns we took a taxi to Collins Avenue arriving at the gates of the Flecker Botanic Gardens at 8.45a.m. We walked south along the boardwalk to the Centenary Lakes and then returned to Collins Avenue at 11.15a.m. catching a taxi back to the airport. Species seen :

Australian Pelican - Pelecanus conspicillatus C
A single individual was seen soaring near Cairns Airport.

Darter - Anhinga melanogaster novaehollandiae C
A female/immature was seen in flight over the Centenary Lakes.

White-faced Heron - Ardea novahollandiae C
At least 4 were seen at Cairns Airport.

Cattle Egret - Ardea ibis coromandus C
A group of 4 were seen near Cairns Airport.

Striated Heron - Ardeola striatus C
Along a mangrove-lined creek just north of the Centenary Lakes 2 were seen.

Australian White Ibis - Threskiornis molucca molucca C
At the Centenary Lakes 2 were seen.

Straw-necked Ibis - Threskiornis spinicollis C
A single bird was present on a field adjacent to the Centenary Lakes.

Magpie Goose - Anseranas semipalmata C
A party of 8 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.


Magpie Goose at Centenary Lakes.

Pacific Black Duck - Anas superciliosa rogersi C
Around 15 were seen on the Centenary Lakes.

Brahminy Kite - Milvus indus C
A single bird was seen from the Cairns Airport Terminal.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl - Megapodius reinwardt C
A pair were seen along the boardwalk leading to the Centenary Lakes.

Australian Brush-turkey - Alectura lathami C
A pair were seen along the boardwalk leading to the Centenary Lakes.



Australian Brush Turkey along the  boardwalk leading to the Centenary Lakes.

Red-necked Crake - Rallina tricolor C
An early highlight of the trip was the success of taping 2 of these elusive birds into view along the boardwalk leading to the Centenary Lakes.

Masked Lapwing - Vanellus miles C
At least 4 were seen in the vicinity of Cairns Airport.

Peaceful Dove - Geopelia placida placida C
Around 7 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.


Peaceful Dove at Centenary Lakes.

Bar-shouldered Dove - Geopelia humeralis humeralis
JFC saw 2 at the Centenary Lakes.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - Cyclopsitta diophthalma
JFC saw 2 at the Centenary Lakes.

Australian Koel - Eudynamys cyanocephala cyanocephala C
An immature male was seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Australian Swiftlet - Aerodramus terraereginae C
Around 10 were seen over the Centenary Lakes.

Laughing Kookaburra - Dacelo novaeguineae C
A single individual was seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Forest Kingfisher - Todirhamphus macleayii C
A pair were seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Sacred Kingfisher - Todirhampus sancta C
A single individual was seen at the mangrove-lined creek at the Centenary Lakes.

Rainbow Bee-eater - Merops ornatus C
Around 12 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Welcome Swallow - Hirundo neoxena C
A single individual was seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Tree / Fairy Martin - Hirundo nigricans / ariel
Around 4 were seen from the Cairns Airport Terminal although the poor views denied identification.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike - Coracina novaehollandiae C
A single individual was seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Spectacled Monarch - Monarcha trivirgatus C
A pair were seen along the boardwalk leading to the Centenary Lakes.

Leaden Flycatcher - Myiagra rubecula C
A total of 3 were seen around the Centenary Lakes.



Male Leaden Flycatcher at Centenary Lakes, Cairns.

Willie Wagtail - Rhipidura leucophrys picata C
Around 6 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Lovely Fairy-wren - Malurus amabilis C
A party comprising of 2 males and a female were seen along the boardwalk leading to the Centenary Lakes proving a fine end to our time at the site.


Record shot of a male Lovely Fairy-wren along the boardwalk leading 
to the Centenary Lakes 
Brown Honeyeater - Lichmera indistincta ocularis C
A pair were seen near Cairns Airport.

Nutmeg Mannikin - Lonchura punctulata C
A party of 6 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Metallic Starling - Aplonis metallica metallica C
A single individual was seen in the Flecker Botanic Gardens.

Figbird - Sphecotheres viridis C
Around 10 were seen in the vicinity of the Centenary Lakes.

Australian Magpie-lark - Grallina cyanoleuca C
Around 6 were seen at Cairns Airport.

White-breasted Woodswallow - Artamus superciliosus C
A group of 4 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Black Butcherbird - Cracticus quoyi C

Around 5 were seen at the Centenary Lakes.

Acknowledgements

Many people helped us in various ways during the 13 month planning of this trip as well as during the trip itself. We are especially grateful to Howard & Thais Armstrong for telling us about their trip to PNG (whilst eating with them at Mr. Deang’s Restaurant at Doi Inthanon, Thailand) and then following it up by sending a copy of their trip report and some sound-recordings, Wendy Coe (at Wildwings) for booking our flights and especially for her patience whilst trying to work out the timetables for the ‘little-known’ internal airlines, Chris Eastwood for the time spent birding with him whilst in PNG, Richard Fairbank for loaning us sound-recordings, Will Glynn for some local advice for Varirata NP and for a lift from Varirata NP to the Kokoda Trail Motel,  Ed Hagen for providing various information and who first suggested that we should work on a trip to PNG - but who ultimately was unable to join us due to work commitments, Phil Hansbro for his company at Ikame, Samuel Kepuknai (and Charles, Samuel’s driver) for his organisation and guiding whilst birding in the Kiunga and Tabubil areas, Paul Liss for organising our birding requirements whilst at Ambua Lodge, Steve Mawby for copies of some useful trip reports, Richard Ranft for British Library sound-recordings, Phillip Richardson for help with contacting the Kokoda Trail Motel, Roger Safford for copies of his personal sound-recordings of lowland New Guinea species and for his pre-trip encouragement, Richard Thomas for copies of his personal sound-recordings from Irian Jaya and suggestions for our limited time at Cairns, Steve Webb for much assistance in planning and making suggestions on our proposed itinerary, Keith Wilson for our time at the Haus Poromon Lodge and for alerting us to the unwelcome surprise that our ticketed flight from Mt. Hagen to Tari didn’t exist, to ‘Ken’ (who went as part of Dave Pitman’s group) who also gave us much pre-trip help and advice, to ‘Scott’ and ‘Jack’ for making us so welcome at their Research Station at Varirata NP and finally to Dinah Yambaki for dealing with our queries and making our bookings for Ambua Lodge.

Contacts for Bookings
Ambua Lodge (bird guide’s name is Joseph) Fax 00 675 325 3829
Email: travel@pngtours.com
Website : http://www.pngtours.com/tours.html
Bluff Inn, Varirata Fax 00 675 328 1311
Granville Motel, Port Moresby Fax 00 675 325 7672
Samuel Kepuknai, Kiunga Nature Tours Fax 00 675 548 1195
Bob Ward (owner of) Kokoda Trail Motel, Varirata :   Fax/Ph 00 675 325 4403
Fax/Ph 00 675 325 3322
Keith Wilson (owner of) Haus Poromon Lodge, Mt. Hagen Fax 00 675 542 2207
Email:     hausporoman@global.net.pg  
Trip Report & Field Guide
PNG 28/6 - 19/7/1997 by Richard Webb - very useful - available from Oriental Bird Club http://www.orientalbirdclub.org/

Birds of New Guinea, Beehler, Pratt & Zimmerman. 1986. Princeton.