Papua New Guinea - Highlands Highlights - April 15-24 2014

Published by Phil Gregory (info AT

Participants: Phil Gregory & Sandra McNeil


The trip came together when Sandra wanted to make her fourth PNG visit, the last being with the late Ian Burrows of Sicklebill Safaris (UK) back in 2005 with 8 desperate listers, quite a difference to being the sole client and able to take your time! We concentrated on the 3 best Highlands destinations, beginning with Kumul Lodge which was having a terrible time with power cuts, and had no back-up generator at this time; this made the evenings kind of hard but we managed OK, the weather was quite good and we got some fine sightings-Magnificent BoP and Lesser BoP in the valley, a fine male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia at the feeders plus a sub-adult male and a couple of female Brown Sicklebills, 2 female-plumage Archbold’s Bowerbirds, lovely Brehm’s Tiger-Parrots, a beautiful male Wattled Ploughbill at Pigites, 2 female Crested Satinbirds right by the lodge late one afternoon, Crested Berrypecker, a bonus Lesser Melampitta out on the trail in the rain one afternoon and a moulting male King-of-Saxony with plumes still growing from Pigites. Down the valley also gave us Brown Falcons calling noisily, Torrent Flyrobin and Long-tailed Shrike.

We then moved across to much more luxurious Rondon Ridge near Mt Hagen, with lovely big rooms but 40 steps to climb up to the dining area keeping us fit! Thankfully they now have quite a good system of trails in the forest here and we found it a rewarding place, albeit hard to see things well. We lost the first afternoon to a heavy rainstorm, where we briefly lost power- not again!- but it was good thereafter and we were able to spend the key parts of each day in the forest, with the afternoons as always much quieter. Star birds here included Blue and Superb BoP, Macgregor’s Bowerbird, Black Pitohui, Sclater’s and Mottled Whistler, Yellowish-streaked Honeyeater, Blue-faced Parrotfinch and loads of vociferous Goldie’s Lorikeets.

Over next to Ambua Lodge, still a great destination despite the inroads of the logging above the lodge, and thankfully much less road traffic than in the start-up phase of the gasfields over the past 2 years. The grounds gave us Lawes’s Parotia, Short-tailed Paradigalla at the airstrip, Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Superb BoP, delightful Mountain Peltops, a quick look at the elusive Spotted Jewel-babbler, Blue-collared Parrots flying over below the lodge early morning and Blue-grey Robin. The trail at 7-kona was very good one morning, being more or less the first group in this year it was not yet taped out, so we scored nicely with Papuan Logrunner, Chestnut Forest Rail, a brief Lesser Ground-robin and a wonderful male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia whose voice is now on both the Internet Bird Collection (IBC) and xenocanto (XC). The roadside gave us two splendid Painted Tiger-Parrot, very pleasing to get that voice sorted out (see IBC and XC), Red-collared Myzomelas, Crested Berrypecker, and stunning dark-morph Papuan Lorikeet, whilst Michael our driver spotted us a Papuan Harrier.

Thanks to Sue at Sicklebill Safaris for good logistics, to Joseph at Ambua & Rondon, Thomas at Ambua and Max at Kumul. My particular thanks to Sandra for good company and the chance to do the quite relaxed pace trip and get lots of nice recordings (as well as all 7 New Guinea endemic families), but no thanks to Air Niugini who were 3+ hours late in Tari on departure day and played havoc with our connections! It’s not so much the Land of the Unexpected as the Land of the Totally Darn Predictable as far as flight problems are concerned, but at least our arrival and transfer to Mt Hagen went well, and I am so delighted to see the disgraceful health-hazard Mt Hagen Kagamuga airport terminal has been demolished and is now being rebuilt, at last!

Species Lists


* Heard only Bold type denotes endemic to New Guinea XC posted on Xenocanto

Phasianidae (Gamebirds)

BROWN QUAIL (Coturnix ypsilophora) – Three flushed from the wet grassland at Max’s place.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

EASTERN CATTLE EGRET (ASIAN) (Bubulcus (ibis) coromandus) – One at Jackson’s Airport. Split by the IOC from Western Cattle Egret, the breeding dress is very distinct.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans affinis) – Quite common around Mt Hagen and Kumul. Note this taxon is oddly enough NOT a part of Black-eared Kite.
PAPUAN HARRIER (Circus (spilonotus) spilothorax) – One was seen flying over near 7-kona. A good pick up of a scarce species, usually split these days as Papuan Harrier.
VARIABLE GOSHAWK (Accipiter hiogaster leucosomus) – One was perched below Kumul, and it may have been one that flew over us at Ambua but the view was too brief to be sure.
COLLARED SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter cirrhocephalus)- One perched below the Lodge at Ambua for nice scope views on our last morning there.
MEYER’S GOSHAWK (Accipiter meyeri)- Phil saw one fly rapidly past on the last morning below the lodge, carrying prey and showing the dark cap and white on the chest. Quite a rare species and one I’d not seen for a while.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

BROWN FALCON (Falco berigora)- A pair were calling well at Lai-Mambis below Kumul, a shame I missed the chance to record them.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

CHESTNUT FOREST-RAIL (Rallina rubra) – I got an immediate response to my playback at 7-kona and a pair rushed in, with the male eventually scampering right past us literally feet away, just like the old days before over-taping wrecked the experience. What a fantastic little bird.
BUFF-BANDED RAIL (Gallirallus philippensis) – One was feeding on the lawn at Ambua early one morning.
PURPLE SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus) – Seen at Jackson’s Airport, may well be a split as Black-backed Swamphen.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

MASKED LAPWING (Vanellus miles miles) – Seen at Jackson’s Airport, including one hybrid with the race novaehollandiae that has dark patches at the sides of the chest, which may be the first time I’ve seen this in PNG.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers etc.)

COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)- One on the Sepik Headwaters.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

SLENDER-BILLED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia amboinensis) – A few in flight at Ambua and Rondon.
BAR-TAILED (BLACK-BILLED) CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia nigrirostris) – One flyby below Ambua.
GREAT CUCKOO-DOVE (Reinwardtoena reinwardtii) A good flyby down by the Ambua helipad for Sandra and Joseph.
BRONZE GROUND-DOVE (Gallicolumba beccarii) One walked out briefly from beneath the feeder at Kumul late one afternoon.
WHITE-BIBBED FRUIT-DOVE (Ptilinopus rivoli) – One female up at Rondon, at a fruiting tree.
PAPUAN MOUNTAIN-PIGEON (Gymnophaps albertisii) – A nice scope view of one above Ambua.

Psittacidae (Parrots)

COCONUT (RAINBOW) LORIKEET (Trichoglossus haematodus) – New Guinea birds are often now split as Coconut Lorikeet, the plumage is pretty distinct from the Australian birds. We saw them briefly in the valley below Kumul at quite a high altitude.
GOLDIE'S LORIKEET (Psitteuteles goldiei) – Heard at Kumul, then great looks at noisy flocks of 30 or so in flowering trees at Rondon, nice to see this scarce bird so well
PAPUAN LORIKEET (Charmosyna papou) – One dark morph showed nicely up at Ambua, and there were a few flybys, it really is one of the most beautiful of all the parrots.
PLUM-FACED LORIKEET (Oreopsittacus arfaki) – This tiny lorikeet with the husky voice was seen in flight above Ambua, and briefly at Pigites.
YELLOW-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii) – Just a few at Ambua and hard to see well.
ORANGE-BILLED LORIKEET (Neopsittacus pullicauda) – Just a couple up at 7-kona.
BREHM'S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella brehmii) – Good looks at Kumul with up to 5 birds, and heard at 7-kona below Tari Gap.
PAINTED TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella picta) – Two birds up at 7-kona with one being quite vocal and alerting us as to its presence as the call is higher-pitched, less husky ad more disyllabic than the Brehm’s vocalization here. Great to finally get a decent and confirmed recording of this species, as much confusion exists, cuts on XC and IBC.
MADARASZ’S TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella madaraszi)- A brief view of one at Pigites, high in a forest tree.
MODEST TIGER-PARROT (Psittacella modesta) *- Heard close by at the trail above the bailey Bridge, but I missed the chance to record it and it moved off.
BLUE- COLLARED PARROT (Geoffroyus simplex)- There were a couple of flybys below Ambua early morning, I have not recorded them here for some time. They are lovely vocal birds with the evocative sleighbell or wind-chime calls, but as always flying high overhead, if you get to see the short tails you’ve done really well! Cut on XC.
PAPUAN KING PARROT (Alisterus chloropterus) * Heard below Kumul Lodge the first day.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

BRUSH CUCKOO (Cacomantis variolosus) * – Heard below Kumul Lodge.
CHESTNUT-BREASTED CUCKOO (Cacomantis castaneiventris)- Sandra found us a nice one below Kumul at Kopia.
RUFOUS-THROATED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx ruficollis) – One seen briefly at 7-kona, and quite vocal at Kumul but not responsive. The host species is still unknown.
WHITE-EARED BRONZE-CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx meyeri) – A great look at a male at Ambua, the first I have seen at the Lodge itself. The host species is still unknown as well.

Strigidae (Owls)

PAPUAN BOOBOOK (Ninox theomacha) –A fantastic look at one at Ambua, it sat close for ages, but naturally I had neither tape nor camera gear!

Apodidae (Swifts)

GLOSSY SWIFTLET (Collocalia esculenta) – Quite common at all 3 sites.
MOUNTAIN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) – A few at both Kumul and at Ambua.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

SACRED KINGFISHER (Todiramphus sanctus) – An Australian migrant here, we had one at Ambua Lodge.
MOUNTAIN KINGFISHER (Syma megarhyncha) * – Heard by Ambua Lodge where two birds were calling but unresponsive.

Meropidae (Bee-eaters)

RAINBOW BEE-EATER (Merops ornatus) * – Heard at Rondon Ridge.

Ptilonorhynchidae (Bowerbirds)

ARCHBOLD'S BOWERBIRD (Archboldia papuensis sanfordi) – Two female plumage birds at the Kumul feeders, coming so much I wonder if they had young to feed? It's a rare high-altitude species that likes frost pockets in the forest.
MACGREGOR’S BOWERBIRD (Amblyornis macgregoriae)- This was quite forthcoming in the Castanopsis forest by Rondon and we saw several females plus, at long last, a male showing the orange crown streak-amazingly enough this was the first time I had actually seen a male!
YELLOW-BREASTED BOWERBIRD (Chlamydera lauterbachi) * – Heard at Lai-Mambis but not seen, and sadly none from Rondon where I had expected it.

Maluridae (Fairywrens)

ORANGE-CROWNED FAIRYWREN (Clytomias insignis)- Calling at the start of the Pigites trail and we had a glimpse of it there, always tough to see as they skulk so much and move quite fast.
WHITE-SHOULDERED FAIRYWREN (Malurus alboscapulatus) – A couple down in the valley below Kumul, and also seen at Ambua airstrip.

Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)

RED-COLLARED MYZOMELA (Myzomela rosenbergii) – Seen up at Kumul, Rondon and Ambua, the male is an eye-catching thing and I got some decent recordings of various calls.
MOUNTAIN MYZOMELA (Myzomela adolphinae)- Sandra saw this at Rondon and I heard it.
RUFOUS-BACKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora guisei) Seen at Ambua, and also at surprisingly high altitude around 2500m, there is more overlap with Grey-streaked than I had realized, I wonder what segregates them?
GREY-STREAKED (BLACK-BACKED) HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora perstriata) – The Grey-streaked Honeyeater was seen at Kumul and Ambua a couple of times.
YELLOWISH-STREAKED HONEYEATER (Ptiloprora meekiana)- Seen briefly at Rondon where they are hard to find high in the canopy, and I was able to make want may be the first recordings of the call, see XC. A very local and elusive bird.
SMOKY HONEYEATER (Melipotes fumigatus) – The blushing honeyeater was seen well at Kumul, Rondon and Ambua.
BLACK-THROATED HONEYEATER (Caligavis subfrenatus) – Seen well at both Pigites and then up at Tari Gap where they were quite vocal.
BELFORD'S MELIDECTES (Melidectes belfordi) – Bel Mels are liked by clients, being big, noisy and obvious, we saw them very well at all 3 sites.
YELLOW-BROWED MELIDECTES (Melidectes rufocrissalis) – Quite common at Ambua, just as noisy as its cousin.
ORNATE MELIDECTES (Melidectes ornatus)- Two in the valley at Kopia, quick looks only, and heard below Rondon.
MOUNTAIN MELIPHAGA (Meliphaga orientalis) * – Heard below Kumul.
SCRUB HONEYEATER (Meliphaga albonotata) – Seen briefly at Kopia by Sandra.

Acanthizidae (Thornbills and Allies)

MOUNTAIN MOUSE-WARBLER (Crateroscelis robusta) – Heard at all 3 sites and I glimpsed one at 7-kona in the moss forest..
LARGE SCRUBWREN (Sericornis nouhuysi) – Seen nicely at Kumul and Rondon.
BUFF-FACED SCRUBWREN (Sericornis perspicillatus)- Seen nicely at Rondon, the wide buff eye surround is very obvious. This was one Sandra really wanted to see.
PAPUAN SCRUBWREN (Sericornis papuensis) – Good looks at Tari Gap, where they sing late afternoon.
ASHY (MOUNTAIN) GERYGONE (Gerygone cinerea) – Lucky here, as we got one of this scarce species at Rondon. It is now supposedly classified as a thornbill and not a gerygone, a finding I just can’t accept as it sounds so like Brown-breasted Gerygone.
BROWN-BREASTED GERYGONE (Gerygone ruficollis) – Seen nicely below Kumul and at Ambua airstrip; the delightful smoky descending song is the best thing about it.

Orthonychidae (Logrunners)

PAPUAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx novaeguineae)- This very elusive species was singing really well in the forest at 7-kona below the Tari Gap, and we saw it scurry by like a mouse, whilst I was lucky enough to see the male sat on a mossy log; it’s amazing how totally unlike their tame Australian congener these birds are in their behaviour.

Cnemophilidae (Satinbirds)

LORIA'S SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus loriae) – A glimpse of a female at Rondon, now promoted out of bop's and into this fairly new endemic family.
CRESTED SATINBIRD (Cnemophilus macgregorii) This always elusive bird showed nicely with 2 females right by Kumul Lodge late one afternoon.

Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers and Longbills)

FAN-TAILED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis versteri) – Quite good views at Kumul and above Ambua.
MID-MOUNTAIN BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis longicauda)- Sandra and Joseph saw one at 7-kona whilst I was chasing Black Sittellas.
STREAKED BERRYPECKER (Melanocharis striativentris) *- This is one curious bird, with a very strange patchy distribution and one that I barely know. It was heard on two days at Rondon and shot past us calling each time, sadly with no chance to record it or even look at it! It seems to be regular at Rondon.
SLATY-HEADED (SLATY-CHINNED) LONGBILL (Toxorhamphus poliopterus) – Sandra found us one right by the Ambua car park, I think maybe my very first record from here of a species I very seldom see, I suspect I don’t know the call and overlook it.

Paramythiidae (Tit Berrypecker, Crested Berrypecker)

TIT BERRYPECKER (Oreocharis arfaki) – Elusive at Ambua this time, but it was seen above the Bailey Bridge, and also at the new Pigites Trail at Kumul. An endemic family too.
CRESTED BERRYPECKER (Paramythia montium) – Good views at Kumul and Tari Gap, a lovely bird. It's a member of an endemic family, along with Tit-Berrypecker.

Cinclosomatidae (Quail-thrushes and Jewel-babblers)

SPOTTED JEWEL-BABBLER (Ptilorrhoa leucosticta) – Another mega-skulker, we heard it at Ambua and I got it to come in in the dense tangle, where we got a quick look at this striking and rather difficult to see species, the shyest of all the jewel-babblers

Machaerirhynchidae (Boatbills)

BLACK-BREASTED BOATBILL (Machaerirhynchus nigripectus) – Great views of this striking species at Ambua and Sandra saw it at Rondon.

Artamidae (Woodswallows)

GREAT WOODSWALLOW (Artamus maximus) – Great looks at Ambua, huddling in endearing fashion.

Cracticidae (Bellmagpies and Allies)

MOUNTAIN PELTOPS (Peltops montanus) – Great views of 3 at Ambua, and I got a nice recording of 3 call types from right by the kitchen, see XC.
BLACK BUTCHERBIRD (Cracticus quoyi) – Seen at Ambua by Sandra, I heard it.

Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)

BLACK-BELLIED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina montana) – Seen and heard at both Pigites and at Ambua where we had a flock of 5 above the Bailey Bridge.
HOODED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina longicauda) Seen briefly and heard each day near Ambua Lodge.

Neosittidae (Sittellas)

BLACK SITTELLA (Daphoenositta miranda) – A brief look at 12 below the Tari Gap, they quickly flew off.

Pachycephalidae (Whistlers and Allies)

BROWN-BACKED WHISTLER (Pachycephala modesta) – A good look at this rather odd PNG endemic above the Bailey Bridge.
SCLATER'S WHISTLER (Pachycephala soror) – Very nice looks and some neat recordings from Rondon, now posted on XC.
REGENT WHISTLER (Pachycephala schlegelii) – Seen at Kumul with a couple of good looks at the striking male, and both sexes above the Bailey Bridge at Ambua.
BLACK-HEADED WHISTLER (Pachycephala monacha) – Seen briefly near the Mag BoP site in the valley below Kumul.
LITTLE (RUFOUS) SHRIKE-THRUSH (Colluricincla megarhyncha) – Recorded and seen at Rondon, this Not so Little Shrike-thrush group of 28 taxa is reputedly about to become a 6+ way split, just what the world needs. I think the taxon is likely to be C. m. tappenbecki or perhaps maeandrina at Rondon, cut posted on XC and IBC.
RUFOUS-NAPED WHISTLER (Aleadryas rufinucha) – This odd bird that is actually not a whistler at all showed very well at both Kumul and Ambua. Placement in whistlers is incorrect and it is moved to the end of the family sequence pending further work, it is expected to be placed with the Crested Bellbird of Australia in the new family of Oreoicidae.
BLACK PITOHUI (Melanorectes nigrescens)- What was I presume a pair were quite vocal at Rondon, recordings on XC and IBC, but very hard to see, I did get the female on two days and was surprised to note a pale area above and in front of the eye, plus a very stout strong bill. Also heard above the Bailey Bridge. Placement in whistlers is incorrect and it is moved to the end of the family sequence pending further work, it is expected to be placed with the Crested Bellbird of Australia in the new family of Oreoicidae.

Rhagologidae (Mottled Whistler)

Mottled Whistler (Rhagologus leucostigma)- Heard in the Castanopsis forests by Rondon, and I got to see a male but was unable to get the scope on it in time for Sandra. They seem to call very intermittently and I was unable to record it, also unfortunately not very responsive to playback. Always a bit of an oddity, it is to be given family rank as part of an ancient Tertiary radiation revealed by genetic work. Rondon is a good site for it.

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach stresemanni) – Seen well at Lai-Mambis and at Max’s garden, a singularly beautiful shrike. This highland PNG endemic race is a possible split.

Rhipiduridae (Fantails)

WILLIE-WAGTAIL (Rhipidura leucophrys) – Very widespread, we even had them at Ambua at 2200m and Max’s garden at 2500m.
FRIENDLY FANTAIL (Rhipidura albolimbata) – Good looks at all 3 sites, where it lives up to its name.
BLACK FANTAIL (Rhipidura atra) – A female below Kumul Lodge, and heard at Ambua
DIMORPHIC FANTAIL (Rhipidura brachyrhyncha) – Seen below Kumul and then at Rondon

Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)

BLACK MONARCH (Symposiachrus axillaris) * Heard at Ambua but elusive in thick cover.

Paradisaeidae (Birds-of-Paradise)

SHORT-TAILED PARADIGALLA (Paradigalla brevicauda) – Sandra got distant scope views of two at Ambua airstrip.
RIBBON-TAILED ASTRAPIA (Astrapia mayeri) – Great looks at a resplendent male at Kumul, the long tail plume now looking slightly ragged, I think this was “Stumpy” from July last year when he had a very short tail, so he is now due to moult. Another magnificent male was at 7-kona and is now on both XC and the IBC as he called so well, I even got the rustling they make in flight. One of the all-time great birds and a particular favourite of mine.
PRINCESS STEPHANIE'S ASTRAPIA (Astrapia stephaniae) – Good looks at female plumaged birds at Rondon, and one good male at Ambua Lodge, the first adult I have ever seen there, no doubt fleeing the remains of their lek site, which is sadly now being logged. They resemble giant paradise-whydahs in flight!
LAWES'S PAROTIA (Parotia lawesii) – Early morning views of females and imms. at the fruiting tree by Ambua Lodge, they have a singularly flat-headed shape and a violet eye.
KING-OF-SAXONY BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Pteridophora alberti) – A moulting male with quite short head plumes was at Pigites, and we had female plumaged birds at both Pigites and above the Bailey Bridge, though sadly my long-established song post has been destroyed by logging and he was not singing at another site higher up.
SUPERB BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Lophorina superba feminina) – Nice female plumaged birds at Rondon, I got several recordings which are now on XC, also seen at Ambua.
BROWN SICKLEBILL (Epimachus meyeri) – Several females at Kumul and also a subadult male, feeding on fruits and showing the pale blue eye nicely. I was distressed to hear that the fine adult male who has been here for some years was hit by a catapult by a Western Highlander and has now disappeared, the Great War on Nature continues. Heard above the Bailey Bridge too but much harder to see here now. No sign of Black Sicklebill, we checked on a couple of mornings and heard none.
MAGNIFICENT BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Cicinnurus magnificus) – This was a nice surprise at Kopia below Kumul. where a male has his lek in a thicket on the hillside and we got fairly good views of him moving in and out, with several female plumaged birds also around. Very nice to see an adult male.
LESSER BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea minor)- Vocal at a lek at Kopia, and after some initial landowner problems we were allowed to go down and got a fine view of a male near the Mag BoP lek.
BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE (Paradisaea rudolphi) – A fine male was at Rondon and we had a female-plumage bird nearby on two days. This is a quite rare and restricted range species endemic to a narrow and heavily settled height band in PNG.

Petroicidae (Australasian Robins)

LESSER GROUND-ROBIN (Amalocichla incerta) – Another mega-skulker, heard above Ambua where I got a brief glimpse at 7-kona.
TORRENT FLYROBIN (FLYCATCHER) (Monachella muelleriana) – Lovely views below Kumul and at the Sepik Headwaters.
CANARY FLYROBIN (FLYCATCHER) (Microeca papuana) – Seen briefly above Ambua.
GARNET ROBIN (Eugerygone rubra) * – One was calling but unseen at Pigites; it's an odd arboreal robin that is more like a gerygone.
WHITE-WINGED ROBIN (Peneothello sigillata) – Seen very well at Kumul, and along the trail by the wrecked container at 7-kona.
BLUE-GRAY ROBIN (Peneothello cyanus) – A couple near Ambua, they have become shyer here in recent years.
ASHY ROBIN (Heteromyias albispecularis) – Heard as usual above Ambua, this is a hard one to actually see and we both only managed glimpses despite devoting some considerable time to it.

Melampittidae (Melampittas)

LESSER MELAMPITTA (Melampitta lugubris) – One on the path through the moss forest below Kumul as we walked through the rain late one afternoon, a fairly good look albeit brief. I am sure these are incorrectly placed in Paradisaeidae; Incertae Sedis is better till we know what they are, but I now understand genetic studies indicate it is of family rank, part of an ancient Tertiary radiation.

Ifritidae (Ifrits)

BLUE-CAPPED IFRITA (Ifrita kowaldi) – A favorite, we did well for this oddity, which creeps along branches and picks over lichens. No-one knows what family it is among, it has been placed in various groups such as rail-babblers or Incertae Sedis, but I now understand it is to be given family rank as part of an ancient Tertiary radiation. I am not surprised. It is also a poisonous bird a bit like pitohuis, certainly an important species to see on a New Guinea trip and we did nicely for them at 7-kona after hearing it at Kumul.

Eulacestomidae (Ploughbill)

WATTLED PLOUGHBILL (Eulacestoma nigropectus) – A calling male at Pigites showed very well, and it was heard at Rondon. Now about to be placed in its own family after years dumped in Pachycephalidae, another one of the ancient Tertiary lineages now revealed by genetic work.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

PACIFIC SWALLOW (Hirundo tahitica) – A few at Port Moresby and Mt. Hagen, also at Tari.

Phylloscopidae (Leaf-Warblers)

ISLAND LEAF-WARBLER (Phylloscopus poliocephalus) – Seen very well singing at Rondon, and then Ambua.

Megaluridae (Grassbirds and Allies)

PAPUAN GRASSBIRD (Megalurus macrurus) – Now split as Papuan Grassbird, much larger than Tawny, with montane habitat and different song. Sandra had a great view of one at Tari Gap and Phil saw one by the airstrip.

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)

PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata wahgiensis) – Seen below Kumul, at Rondon and the Ambua area, a wide-ranging species in NG, this is one of the highland races.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

ISLAND THRUSH (Turdus poliocephalus) – Seen briefly at Kumul where unaccountably largely absent this time, then quick looks up at the Tari Gap, very reminiscent of Eurasian Blackbird.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes)

NEW GUINEA (PAPUAN) WHITE-EYE (Zosterops novaeguineae) – Seen in the Tari valley and also below Kumul.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

SINGING STARLING (Aplonis cantoroides) – A couple at Mt Hagen.

Dicaeidae (Flowerpeckers)

RED-CAPPED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum geelvinkianum) – We saw this tiny bird at Rondon and Ambua.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A few around Mt Hagen, it has colonized since 1992 and is one of just a couple of introduced species in PNG.

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

MOUNTAIN FIRETAIL (Oreostruthus fuliginosus) * – Heard at Kumul and 7-kona, it's a striking and quite scarce finch of the montane zones.
BLUE-FACED PARROTFINCH (Erythrura trichroa)- A lovely look at one in bamboo at Rondon, and heard at Pigites and Ambua.
HOODED MANNIKIN (MUNIA) (Lonchura spectabilis) – Nice views at Ambua airstrip and below Kumul, then about 20 at Tari airstrip during our enforced stopover.


Dasyuridae – Antechinus, quolls, phascogales
SPECKLED DASYURE (Neophascogale lorentzii) – We saw this one briefly at Kumul, clambering about along mossy limbs. It’s a diurnal carnivorous/insectivorous marsupial in the dasyurid group with quolls, phascogales etc.

Phil Gregory info@sicklebillsafaris or www