PAPUA NEW GUINEA 10-20 July 2020

Spangled Kookaburra - G. Jones - Inala Nature Tours
Spangled Kookaburra - G. Jones - Inala Nature Tours
Tour date: 
Friday, 10 July 2020 to Monday, 20 July 2020
Duration: 
11 days
Price: 
Retained at 2019 price of AU$12,500 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$2,100.
Highlights: 
The island of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has one the richest and most varied avifauna in the world. Over 700 species of birds have been identified here so far, including around 580 land and freshwater species, 40 sea birds and 90 migrants from countries to the North and South.
Overview: 

The island of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has one the richest and most varied avifauna in the world. 

Over 700 species of birds have been identified here so far, including around 580 land and freshwater species, 40 sea birds and 90 migrants from countries to the North and South. The passerines include cuckoo-shrikes and trillers, shrikes, thrushes, logrunners, babblers, warblers, fairy-wrens, fantails, monarchs and robins, whistlers and pitohuis, honeyeaters, finches, starlings, mynahs, orioles, drongos, wood swallows, butcherbirds, bowerbirds and Birds of Paradise. Thirty-eight of the 43 known species of Bird of Paradise are found in Papua New Guinea. The extent of the millinery trade of the last century significantly affected the populations of these beautiful birds and as a result, all species of Bird of Paradise in Papua New Guinea are now protected. The non-perching birds we should see include birds of prey, megapods, pigeons and doves, cuckoos and coucals, owls and frogmouths, lorries and lorikeets, parrots, cockatoos, kingfishers and hornbills.

During this tour we will stay at two renowned birding destinations; Rondon Ridge located in the PNG Highlands, and Karawari Lodge in the lowlands. While predominantly a birding trip, we will also be on the lookout for any mammals and interesting flora (particularly interesting Gondwanan species) including orchids. We may also include a visit to Ambua Lodge in the Tari area (which is currently closed) subject to assessing the situation there closer to the time of the tour departure.

Start Location: 
Port Moresby Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea
Finish location: 
Port Moresby Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea

Inala Nature Tours - Papua New Guinea Tour - Friday 10th - Monday 20th July 2020

The island of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has one the richest and most varied avifauna in the world.

Over 700 species of birds have been identified here so far, including around 580 land and freshwater species, 40 sea birds and 90 migrants from countries to the North and South. The passerines include cuckoo-shrikes and trillers, shrikes, thrushes, logrunners, babblers, warblers, fairy-wrens, fantails, monarchs and robins, whistlers and pitohuis, honeyeaters, finches, starlings, mynahs, orioles, drongos, wood swallows, butcherbirds, bowerbirds and Birds of Paradise. Thirty-eight of the 43 known species of Bird of Paradise are found in Papua New Guinea. The extent of the millinery trade of the last century significantly affected the populations of these beautiful birds and as a result, all species of Bird of Paradise in Papua New Guinea are now protected. The non-perching birds we should see include birds of prey, megapods, pigeons and doves, cuckoos and coucals, owls and frogmouths, lorries and lorikeets, parrots, cockatoos, kingfishers and hornbills.

During this tour we will stay at two renowned birding destinations; Rondon Ridge located in the PNG Highlands, and Karawari Lodge in the lowlands. While predominantly a birding trip, we will also be on the lookout for any mammals and interesting flora (particularly interesting Gondwanan species) including orchids. We may also include a visit to Ambua Lodge in the Tari area (which is currently closed) subject to assessing the situation there closer to the time of the tour departure.

Tour leader: Steve Davidson, Inala Nature tours with local PNG guides at each location

ITINERARY OUTLINE:

Day 0. Thu 9 July 20. Arrive Cairns (recommended)
Day 1. Fri 10 July 20. Fly Cairns to Mt Hagen via Port Moresby. Transfer to Rondon Ridge
Day 2. Sat 11 July 20. Birding around Rondon Ridge
Day 3. Sun 12 July 20. Community-run lodge in Enga Province. Rondon Ridge
Day 4. Mon 13 July 20. Birding around Rondon Ridge
Day 5. Tue 14 July 20. Birding in local villages in the valley. Rondon Ridge
Day 6. Wed 15 July 20. Rondon Ridge to Mt Hagen to Karawari in the Eastern Sepik region.
Day 7. Thu 16 July 20. Birding in the Karawari area
Day 8. Fri 17 July 20. Birding and cultural activities, Karawari area
Day 9. Sat 18 July 20. Birding and cultural activities, Karawari area
Day10. Sun 19 July 20. Fly Karawari to Kum Mountain via Mt Hagen. Rondon Ridge.
Day 11. Mon 20 July 20. Fly Rondon Ridge to Cairns via Port Moresby.

DETAILED ITINERARY:

Day 0. Thursday 9 July 2020. Based on the 2019 tour, the best option is to depart from Cairns, Australia and we recommend arriving in Cairns today so that we can meet tomorrow morning at the Cairns International Airport for our departure to Port Moresby and onto our flight to Mt Hagen.
Accommodation: none (not included in tour price but we would be pleased to organise this for you if required). Meals included: none 

Day 1. Friday 10 July 2020. Cairns to Mt Hagen and Rondon Ridge. Meet at Cairns Airport for our flight to Mt Hagen via Port Moresby (flight cost not included). Meeting time will be around 09:30 based on 2019 flights: Air Nuigini PX93 CNS-POM 11:45-13:10 and PX186 POM-HGU 15:15-16:15). On our arrival at Mount Hagen we will be transferred to our accommodation in the Western Highlands Province of PNG. Rondon Ridge is located at an elevation of 2,164 metres (7,100 feet) above sea level on the outer fringes of the Kubor Range with panoramic views of the Wahgi Valley below where there is some of the oldest evidence of agriculture.
Accommodation: Rondon Ridge (en suite rooms), on Kum Mountain on the outer fringes of the Kubor Range. Guests are accommodated in tastefully appointed rooms with warmed king beds for those fresh highland nights, with modern en-suite bathrooms. The facility has eco-friendly electricity, provided by its own hydroelectric power plant that generates clean, natural energy from a nearby mountain stream. Meals included: D.

Days 2-5. Saturday 11 to Tuesday 14 July 2020 inclusive. Rondon Ridge.  We will spend four full days birding in the high-altitude forests around Rondon Ridge and adjoining ranges.  Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in these rainforests, including ten species of Bird of Paradise. The surrounding area is pristine rainforest and home to numerous orchid species. The lodge has hours of walking trails providing ample opportunity to explore the unique ecology of this area. Close to the lodge we will look for Macgregor's Bowerbird, Brown Sicklebill, Stephanie's Astrapia and the Superb Bird of Paradise amongst many others. Further afield is the Black Sicklebill, the Buff-tailed Sicklebill, King of Saxony Bird of Paradise and the Short-tailed Paradigalla to name a few. We will also spend a day visiting another nearby community-run Lodge, just across the border in Enga Province which is famous for its Bird of Paradise sightings. Species we can see here include Belford’s Melidectes, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Brown Sicklebill and Brehm’s Tiger Parrots. Regent Whistlers, Eastern Crested Berrypeckers, and Rufous-naped Bellbirds can be seen feeding in the trees, and White-winged Robin is also a regular here. On another day we will travel to a local village to look for Raggiana Bird-of-paradise (the national bird of Papua New Guinea and the species featured on the country’s flag).   
Accommodation: Rondon Ridge (en suite rooms) as for night 1. Meals included: B, L, D each day.

Day 6. Wednesday 15 July 2020. Rondon Ridge-Mt Hagen-Karawari in the Eastern Sepik region. This morning after breakfast, we will transfer from Rondon Ridge to Mt. Hagen airport where we will take a charter flight (price included in tour) to Karawari in the Eastern Sepik Province of PNG. Our accommodation is in one of the most remote and unspoilt destinations in Papua New Guinea. Inspired by local architecture and built with traditional materials, the lodge provides modern comforts.  The lodge's private airstrip and the Karawari River are the only way in or out. The transfer from Karawari airstrip to Karawari Lodge is by boat - the only practical means of transport in this extremely isolated part of the world where stilted villages line the edges of flooded waterways and dugout canoes are the primary mode of transport. There are no roads, no shops and no phones. The Sepik River inhabitants live completely off the land, weaving baskets for catching fish; gathering, preparing and cooking their staple food from the Sago Palm. Karawari Lodge is perched on a ridge 300 metres (985 feet) above the Karawari River with a spectacular view over hundreds of kilometres of dense tropical lowland rainforest. This afternoon we will bird in the area around the lodge before settling into our rooms at the lodge.
Accommodation: Karawari Lodge (en suite rooms). Guests are accommodated in cottages built out of local bush materials and inspired by traditional architecture. Despite its remoteness, the lodge has modern en-suite bathrooms, 220V electricity, hot & cold water, comfortable mosquito-netted beds, ceiling fans, and a breezy veranda - all make for a welcome sanctuary after a day's exploration. Meals included: B, L, D.

Days 7-9. Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 July 2020 inclusive. Karawari area. The tropical lowland rainforest around the lodge is one of earth's most complex of habitats, housing an immense variety of flora and fauna including an amazing 229 different bird species. We will spend two full days birding in this area, searching for the area’s three birds of paradise, the King, Twelve-Wire and the Magnificent Riflebird and other lowland, rainforest and freshwater birds - particularly parrots, including lorikeets, Eclectus, Palm Cockatoos and Edwards-Fig Parrot. Papuan frogmouth, owls, birds of prey, bowerbirds, and a variety of honeyeaters are also found in this area. During this time there will also be an opportunity to visit some nearby local villages where we will be privileged see some of the traditional dances and learn about some of the traditional ceremonies and sacred buildings etc. There will also be an opportunity to purchase some hand-made artefacts directly from the villagers. This is a seldom offered and truly memorable experience.
Accommodation: Karawari Lodge (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D each day.

Day 10. Sunday 19 July 2020. Karawari – Mt Hagen and Rondon Ridge. This morning after breakfast we will transfer from Karawari Lodge to the airstrip for our charter flight back to Mt Hagen (cost included in tour price). On our arrival at Mt Hagen we will transfer back to Rondon Ridge where we will have free time to relax or take the final opportunity to search for our last views of Birds of Paradise and other local birds around the lodge. 
Accommodation: Rondon Ridge (en suite rooms) as for night 1. Meals included: B, L, D 

Day 11. Monday 20 July 2020. Rondon Ridge to Port Moresby to Cairns. This morning we will be transferred from Rondon Ridge to Mt Hagen for our International flight back to Cairns. Based on this year’s flights we recommend the group book on the same flight from Mt Hagen to Cairns (Air Nuigini flights PX181 departing Mt  Hagen at 10:00 and arriving at Port Moresby at 11:00 and PX98 departing Port Moresby at 17:00 and arriving at Cairns at 18:25 (flight cost not included in the tour price). We will be transferred to an airport hotel during the waiting period at Port Moresby** where we can relax by the pool and purchase lunch, snacks etc. The tour arrangements finish at Cairns airport.
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B. 

The tour arrangements finish here.

Please note: We have been advised that occasionally due to unexpected Air Nuigini flight schedule changes, it is not possible to return to Cairns on the scheduled day (20 July 2020). We have tried to minimise the possibility of delay by booking the first morning flight from Mt Hagen to Port Moresby (hence the waiting time in Port Moresby**).  However, we recommend that you plan to stay in Cairns both tonight and tomorrow night (21 July 2020) in case the flight schedules out of PNG change. Please do not plan for any international connecting flights during this time.

Group size: 6-8 participants + Inala leader + local guide

Tour Price: Retained at 2019 price of AU$12,500 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$2,100. Additional accommodation can be booked on your behalf in Cairns if required: Please advise

Inclusions: Accommodation for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport for day and night tours as outlined in the itinerary, all meals (B, L, D) and activities outlined in the itinerary and National Park entry fees. Also includes return charter flights between Mt Hagen/Karawari (days 6 and 10).

Exclusions: International Air Nuigini (Cairns-Port Moresby-Mt Hagen flights on days 1 and 11), domestic flights to and from Cairns, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry, tips etc). 

PLEASE NOTE: 

Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline.  Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit. Expect the unexpected!

Charter flights: It is important for you to realize that, for charters a) Departure times (both going and returning) can change at the last minute. b) Your flight may be advertised as non-stop.  However, the operator may legally change the routing and make intermediate stops at the last minute. c) The charter operator may legally substitute types of aircraft at the last minute.  Charter aircraft are generally not as comfortable as the scheduled aircraft. 

Luggage: Due to the size of the planes on the internal charter flights between lodges, the maximum baggage allowance is 10kg (22 pounds) per person check-in and 5kg (11 pounds) of carry-on per person. Large, hard sided suitcases are not permitted on charter aircraft and it is not possible to buy extra weight if the charter is full. The dimensions of the main bag should not be more than 35cm x 81cm or 14 inches x 32 inches and will be carried in the cargo pod. Space in the pod is the main restriction.

Fitness: A reasonable level of fitness is required for this tour, particularly around Rondon Ridge and the highlands where walking can be steep and muddy (depending on weather conditions). However, alternative options may be available for less arduous walks if required. 
For much of this tour we will be in a wonderful yet remote part of the world. Most of the roads are unsealed and rough. If you have medical conditions or health concerns, it is important you make us aware of these in advance of this.

 

 

Trip Report Inala’s Papua New Guinea - Prepared by Bron Scott, July 2019

( BIRD LIST AT THE BOTTOM OF THE REPORT )

DAILY REPORT:

Day 1. Tue 11 June 2019. Cairns – Port Moresby – Mount Hagen – Kum Mountain Lodge. We left Cairns at 11.45 am on our flight to Port Moresby. For those seated on the left of the plane, the flight provided excellent views of the north-east coast of Queensland and the string of ribbon reefs marking the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, before we crossed the northern Coral Sea to Papua New Guinea. We spotted the first bird of the trip as the plane taxied to the gate at Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby – a cattle egret! 

At the airport, customer service officer Lorraine looked after us, showing us the friendliness and kindness that we were to encounter throughout our stay in PNG. She waited with us until we met Mark from our tour company, who shepherded us through the transfer process between international and domestic terminals. We didn’t have long to wait before we boarded our flight to Mount Hagen, Western Highlands Province. At Kagamuga Airport, Mount Hagen, our driver Joseph, with guides Felix and James, took us through the city past the main market where local farmers meet every day to sell fresh fruit and vegetables. We also passed specialist coffee markets where producers trade with wholesalers. Everywhere, small roadside stalls were set up to sell betel nuts, the fruit of areca palm. 

Mount Hagen city is constructed on government land. The land, we were told, was sold to the government in the 1950s for a pittance. (The colonial history of PNG is complex. It was governed by Australia until 1975.). The boundary between government and local land here is the river at the base of the lodge road. 

Local land supports a patchwork of farms growing a huge variety of crops, including sweet potatoes, ‘English’ potatoes, corn, and strawberries. The combination of rich volcanic soil, rain and warm summer temperatures makes the area highly productive. Locals also keep pigs and chickens. Many of the Highland farms have two houses: an airy summer house and a low-roofed thatched house with fires inside for cold winter nights. 

We arrived at our lodge, situated 2,160m (7,100feet) above sea level on Kum Mountain on the outer fringes of the Kubor Range where we were given a quick orientation by our hosts before being shown to our accommodation, spacious split-level apartments with sensational views across the Wahgi valley and of the country’s highest volcanic mountains, Mount Giluwe (4,370 m, 14,330 ft) and Mount Hagen (3,780 m, 12,400 ft). In the evenings, the lights of Mount Hagen city illuminated the valley. In the mornings, cloud rolled down the mountains to settle over the city, leaving the lodge in sunlight. 

Day 2. Wed 12 June 2019. Kum Mountain Lodge. Before breakfast, guide Joseph led us along the montane rainforest trail to see birds of paradise. The first species was the Superb Bird-of-paradise (Lophorina superba) with its iridescent blue collar and lapels. This was the most frequently encountered bird-of-paradise on the trip. We heard its harsh call daily in the Highlands, but, unfortunately, did not observe its ‘smiley face’ dance. We also saw a family of white-shouldered Fairywrens (Malurus alboscapulatus) preening in the sun. Other frequently encountered species in the lodge grounds included Papuan White-eyes (Zosterops novaeguineae), Common Smoky Honeyeaters (Melipotes fumigatus), characterised by the feather-less yellow mask that changes colour depending on mood, Yellow-browed Melidectes (Melidectes rufocrissalis), a type of honeyeater, Island Leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus) and Bar-tailed (Black-billed) Cuckoo-doves (Macropygia nigrirostis). 

Joseph showed us the orchid garden, which was resplendent with local rhododendrons and dozens of species of orchids collected from around the lodge. Many were in flower. We were treated to a display of varied colour and shape. 

The Lodge also has orphaned and rescued animals. A Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) – the world’s largest pigeon species – marched around as if owned the place. One of the pens held two ursine Doria’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus dorianus) and a Common Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus). Other pens held Rusa Deer (introduced to New Guinea from Indonesia) and several species of wallabies. 

After lunch, we returned to the lodge grounds to look for MacGregor’s Bowerbird (Amblyornis macgregoriae). We saw the small yellow-crested bowerbird high in a tree on the track. We then split into two groups, with one heading up the muddy trail to the mountain ridge to look for high-altitude birds of paradise, and the other returning by the (sometimes vertiginous!) loop track, which ran along a creek valley. The Ridge group returned just before dinner with reports of Black Sicklebill (Epimarchus fastuosus), Stephanie’s Astrapia (Astrapia stephaniae) and King of Saxony bird-of-paradise (Pteridophora alberti). 

Day 3. Thu 13 June 2019. Kum Mountain Lodge. We left the lodge at 5 a.m. to drive through the mist to a nearby community-run Lodge, just across the border in Enga Province which Is famous for its Bird of Paradise sightings. When we arrived mid-morning, lodge staff put fresh pawpaw and pineapple on the bird-feeding tables. Immediately, the tables were swarmed by belligerent and excitable Belford’s Melidectes (Melidectes belfordi), Ribbon-tailed Astrapias (Astrapia mayeri), a female Brown Sicklebill (Epimarchus meyeri), and Brehm’s Tiger Parrots (Psitacella brehmii). Regent Whistlers (Pachycephala schlegelii), Eastern Crested Berrypeckers (Paramythia montium), and Rufous-naped Bellbirds (Aleadryas rufinucha) turned up to feed in the trees, while the Melidectes bossed around their frugivorous competitors. Aloof from the frantic activity on the tables, an adult White-winged Robin (Peneothello sigillatus) persistently attempted to feed a worm to a juvenile, who feigned incompetence (very convincingly). The balcony at the Lodge offered an excellent view of the avian proceedings. 

After lunch (ours and the birds’), we returned to our lodge and finished the day by birding around the lodge grounds. 

Day 4. Fri 14 June 2019. Kum Mountain Lodge.  Today we concentrated on bird watching in the immediate vicinity of the lodge, with a group also returning to the rainforest on the ridge on the track of mountain top birds-of-paradise and giant Nothofagus grandis. In the flower beds around the accommodation blocks, we saw tiny Mountain (Elfin) Myzomelas (Myzomela adolphinae), Red-collared Myzomelas (M. rosenbergii) and Hooded Mannikins (Lonchura spectabilis). Just below our rooms, Pied Bush Chats (Saxicola caprata) and Long-tailed Shrikes (Lanius schach) perched on the wooden posts marking the edges of market gardens. These bush chats provided a mellifluous morning chorus. Further down the slope, a tall tree housed a Yellow-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera lauterbachi) and the well-named Ornate Melidectes (Melidectes torquatus), brightly marked in yellow, black and white.

Day 5. Sat 15 June 2019. Kum Mountain Lodge. We left the lodge at 5.30 am this morning to travel to a local village in the Jiwaka Province, to look for Raggiana Birds-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana). The Raggiana Bird-of-paradise is the national bird of Papua New Guinea and is the species featured on the country’s flag. Floods had washed out the road close to the village, so locals had constructed a bridge from timber. Although the bridge was sturdy enough to support a Landcruiser, both driver Joseph and guide Joseph decided that the bus was too heavy. No one argued with their assessment! We crossed the bridge on foot and walked up the road. Children joined us on our (short) trek and adults greeted us with ‘Good Morning’ and friendly handshakes. By the time we got to the site of the Raggiana tree, we had accumulated quite a following.

The birds’ favourite tree was at the edge of a cultural area. Augustine was keen to show us the birds. He was soon joined by Deni and Christopher. We waited in the shade, while flocks of Brown Orioles (Oriolus szalayi) and Metallic Starlings (Aplonis metallica) fed on fruit in the high branches of the Raggiana tree. After several hours, during which we saw a few other birds passing by, including a distant Papuan Eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae) (a.k.a. New Guinea Harpy Eagle) and a closer Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus). We were eventually rewarded with a brief glimpse of a male and slightly longer views of a female Raggiana Bird-of-paradise. Surmising there’d be no more chances of seeing the bird again that day, we headed back to the bus. After saying goodbye to out new friends Augustine, Christopher, and especially Deni, we had lunch in the bus and travelled back to the lodge. 

Day 6. Sun 16 June 2019. Kum Mountain to Mount Hagen to Karawari in the East Sepik region. Today we shifted our birdwatching base to the lowlands, flying from Kagamuga Airport, Mount Hagen, to Karawari in East Sepik Province. This was quite an adventure! We travelled in a 9-seater turboprop flown by pilot George. Because of the relatively low flight ceiling, we had magnificent views as we crossed the mountains that form the spine of New Guinea. These mountains mark the junction of the northward-moving Australian tectonic plate and two microplates (Maoke and Woodlark). The complex geological history of New Guinea has given rise to the high levels of biodiversity and endemism in the island. 

We landed on a grass airstrip at Karawari and met our bird guide Chris. From there, a boat took us upriver to the lodge. Among the first species we saw was a Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) perched on fallen timber at the edge of the river. Our boat captain Julian moored at the makeshift jetty and a Toyota Hilux truck, with its tray replaced by three rows of seats, carried us up the hill to Karawari Lodge, where we were greeted by a female Blyth’s (Papuan) Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus) strolling across the track. 

The main building of the Lodge is constructed in the traditional style of Sepik longhouses, with a steeply raked roof and walls made of sago thatch clipped into wave patterns. Our rooms had thatched roofs and woven walls with fly-screened windows. The beds were draped in heavy cotton mosquito nets, which did an excellent job of keeping out the insects. Later in the trip, we compared notes about the smaller vertebrate visitors to our rooms: apart from the insect-eating white-lined geckos (Gekko vittatus), we also had visits from a rat or melomys, which sampled everything from lip balm to coffee lollies to backpacks. 

From the lodge balcony, we saw Uniform Swiftlets (Aerodramus vanikorensis), spectacular iridescent Black Sunbirds (Leptocoma sericea), and Brahminy Kites. We also saw the Lowland Peltops (Peltops blainvilii), a dapper black, white and scarlet relative of woodswallows and butcherbirds. That afternoon, we birded by boat downstream towards the Sepik River. The trip netted a Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis), as well as flyovers by several species of pigeons and parrots. Birds were everywhere, although they were not always easy to see among the dense riparian vegetation. 

We returned to the lodge just as a tropical storm rolled down from the mountains. We were treated to a spectacular light show, the lightning illuminating the Karawari River and the rainforest beyond.

 

Day 7. Mon 17 June 2019. Karawari area. We spent the day birding by boat. Our two main targets today were Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise (Seleucidis melanoleucus) and King Bird-of-paradise (Cicinnurus regius). Chris spotted the male Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise perched at the top of a naked tree, so Julian moored the boat and we scrambled up the muddy bank (with help!) to watch the bird perform. He moved up and down the tree, flicking his jet-black wings and shimmying his yellow feathers and twelve ‘wires’. We had closer views of the male King bird-of-paradise, but he was more difficult to see among the leafy canopy. Locating him required a short walk through the lowland rainforest. While we waited for a glimpse of the remarkable orange and white bird with its tail feathers like angry bees, we picked up one or two freeloading arthropods.  [A bird sitting on a branch Description automatically generated]

Having seen these two marvellous species, we returned to more leisurely birding in the boat. Species such as Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) and Red-cheeked Parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi), which are rare in Australia and confined to northern rainforests of Cape York Peninsula, were common and easy to see here. We also recorded Golden Myna (Mino anais) and Yellow-faced Myna (Mino dumontii) and witnessed frequent flyovers by Dusky Lories (Pseudeos fuscata), Collared Imperial Pigeon (Ducula mullerii), Glossy Manucodes (Manucodia ater), and Hooded Butcherbirds (Cracticus cassicus). Perhaps the (non-bird-of-paradise) sighting of the day was a pair of Victoria Crowned Pigeons silhouetted in a tree.  [A picture containing tree, sky, outdoor, animal Description automatically generated]

Day 8. Tue 18 June 2019. Karawari area. This was the first of two cram-packed days. We started by birding around the lodge, concentrating on the track to the river and around the helipad. Eucalypts and palms planted near the lodge proved very popular with parrots and in a short time we had racked up excellent views of Double-eyed Fig-parrots (Cyclopsitta diopthalma), Edward’s Fig-parrots (Psittaculirostris edwardsi), with their hot rod-style orange flames on their cheeks, and tiny, almost mouse-like Buff-headed Pygmy-parrots (Micropsitta pusio), the smallest species of parrot. At the helipad, a noisy group of juvenile Grey Crows (Corvus tristis) flew in and entertained us briefly with their antics. 

We travelled by boat to a nearby village, where we visited their spirit house. Inside the spirit house, Chris told us about its role in male initiation and community. Whereas we were allowed into the ground floor, the building’s upper floor was prohibited to anyone except initiated men. 

Chris showed us the stunning Sepik blue orchid (Dendrobium lasianthera), a species first described scientifically in 1932 and then lost to western cultivation during World War II. It was reintroduced by Neptune Beresford Blood, an Australian who first served with the New Guinea Police Force and then became a temporary captain in the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit, rescuing Allied pilots downed behind enemy lines. (Captain Blood also discovered a species of bird-of-paradise.)

After dinner at the Lodge, we boarded the boat again for a night trip to the wetlands. We headed upriver in the moonlight. Spotlighting revealed two young New Guinea freshwater crocodiles (Crocodylus novaeguineae), a species closely related to the Freshwater Crocodile (C. johnstoni) of northern Australia and the Philippine crocodile (C. mindorensis). We also saw nankeen night-herons, which were startled by the sudden appearance by a boatload of birders and Great Flying fox (Pteropus neohibernicus).

Day 9. Wed 19 June 2019. Karawari area.  We returned to the Lake in the morning. The boat cut between floating islands of cordylines and dense stands of Phragmites. Mountains provided a backdrop to the still water. We saw Pied Herons (Egretta picata), egrets, Whiskered Terns (Chelidonias hybrida) and birds of prey, including Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus) and White-belled Sea-eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster). 

After lunch, the boat took us back upstream to the two nearby villages for cultural visits. At the first we learnt how villagers process Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu) for food. Most of this would normally take place in the freshwater sago swamps some kilometres from the village, but the demonstration took place on the riverbank. We sampled sago pancakes, although they were not to everyone’s taste! At the second village, we were welcomed with a fishing dance accompanied by singing and a rhythm beaten out on wooden drums with heads made from two layers of goanna (Varanus) skin. The women wore headdresses made from crowned pigeon and egret feathers, and cuscus fur. Cassowary feathers were also used in adornment and artefacts. More than one of our group could have spent the bulk of their life savings on bilums and carvings. Reluctantly, we had to leave. There was still more to see on Karawari River.

After compiling our last bird list of the trip, we were entertained by a local Band, who had walked up from the riverside village to perform a selection of their songs. Among the instruments they played was a bamboo thongophone, a percussion instrument made from lengths of bamboo that were struck with the sole of a thong (flip flop). The band members were joined by a lot of villagers – possibly all of them – who crammed into the bar and dining area. One of the lodge staff donned a massive woven costume and danced along. The band told us that they didn’t have much chance to perform, which was a great shame. After their performance, they and their entourage walked back down to the village in darkness. It was our last night at the Lodge and we were feeling sad to leave, but happy and energised by our experience of the Sepik region. 

Day 10. Thu 20 June 2019. Karawari to Kum Mountain Lodge. After breakfast, we said goodbye to our friends at the Lodge and clambered aboard the Toyota for the last time to rock our way down to the mooring. The trip downriver to the airstrip seemed to pass quickly. We made the most of it by looking out for birds and waving energetically to everyone on the banks and in canoes. During our time in the Sepik region, staff had made a new landing, cutting spiffy new steps into the bank. We waited in the ‘international terminal’ with some local children. It wasn’t long before the plane arrived. Pilot George flew us safely over the Highlands back to Mount Hagen. On arrival, we had smiles and hugs for and from Joseph and James, and the same from everyone when we returned to our highland lodge. It was like being home. 

Day 11. Fri 21 June 2019. Depart Port Moresby. In the morning, we said our goodbyes and flew from Mount Hagen to Port Moresby. Because our flight back to Cairns did not leave until the afternoon, so we spent the intervening time at a local airport hotel in Port Moresby. We enjoyed a lovely lunch – the last of the trip – in the restaurant on the top floor. We arrived in Cairns in the evening, the end of an amazing tour of Papua New Guinea.  

 

 

Inala Nature Tours -  Papua New Guinea Tour - 11 – 21 June 2019

Tour Leader: Tonia Cochran

TOUR BIRD LIST

  1. Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa): Karawari River
  2. Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora): heard in the vicinity of lodge near on Kum Mountain
  3. Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis): Karawari River
  4. Nankeen Night-heron (Nycticorax caledonicus): Karawari River and associated wetlands
  5. Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana): frequent, Karawari River and associated wetlands
  6. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis): Jacksons Airport, Port Moresby
  7. Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta): Karawari River and associated wetlands
  8. Pied Heron (Egretta picata): wetlands, Karawari River
  9. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta): Karawari River
  10. Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos): Karawari River
  11. Little Back Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris): Karawari River
  12. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo): Karawari River
  13. Papuan Eagle or New Guinea Harpy-eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae): uncommon, Kum Mountain and Jiwaka Province
  14. Variable Goshawk (Accipiter hiogaster): Karawari River
  15. Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus): highlands, Jiwaka Province
  16. Black Kite (Milvus migrans): common, widespread
  17. Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus): common on Karawari River, also seen in Jiwaka Province
  18. Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indicus): common on Karawari River, also seen in Jiwaka Province
  19. White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster): common on Karawari River
  20. Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida): wetlands, Karawari River 
  21. Bar-tailed or Black-billed Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia nigrirostis): frequent in rainforest edges around Kum Mountain lodge
  22. New Guinea Bronzewing (Henicophaps albifrons): Karawari River
  23. Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria): Karawari River
  24. Wompoo Fruit-dove (Ptilopus magnificus): Karawari River
  25. Orange-fronted Fruit-dove (Ptilopus aurantifrons): common, Karawari River
  26. White-bibbed Fruit-dove (Ptilopus rivoli): rainforest on Kum Mountain
  27. Orange-bellied Fruit-dove (Ptilopus iozonus): common, Karawari River
  28. Pinon’s Imperial-pigeon (Ducula pinon): common, Karawari River
  29. Collared Imperial-pigeon (Ducula mullerii): common, Karawari River
  30. Zoe’s Imperial-pigeon (Ducula zoeae): common, Karawari River
  31. Papuan Mountain Pigeon (Gymnophaps albertisii): Karawari River
  32. Ivory-billed (Greater Black) Coucal (Centropus menbecki): Karawari River
  33. Black-billed (Lesser Black) Coucal (Centropus bernsteini): rainforest along Karawari River
  34. Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus): Kum Mountain lodge
  35. Dwarf Koel (Microdynamis parva): lodge on Karawari River
  36. Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae): Karawari River
  37. Rufous-throated Bronze-cuckoo (Chalcites ruficollis): village outskirts, Jiwaka Province, also heard in Karawari River area
  38. Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus): Karawari River
  39. Papuan Boobook (Ninox theomacha): Kum Mountain lodge
  40. Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis): Karawari River
  41. Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta): widespread, seen around Kum Mountain and Karawari River 
  42. Mountain Swiftlet (Aerodramus hirundinaceus): Kum Mountain area
  43. Uniform Swiftlet (Aerodramus vanikorensis): Karawari River
  44. Papuan Spine-tailed Swift (Mearnsia novaeguineae): Karawari River
  45. Oriental Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis): common in lowlands
  46. Rufous-bellied Kookaburra (Dacelo gaudichard): Karawari River
  47. Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayi): Kum Mountain, also along Karawari River
  48. Mountain Kingfisher (Syma megarhyncha): heard on Kum Mountain
  49. Azure Kingfisher (Ceyx azurea): Karawari River
  50. Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus): Karawari River
  51. Blyth’s Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus): Karawari River
  52. Brown Falcon (Falco berigora): farmland near Jiwaka Province
  53. Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus): Karawari River
  54. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita): Karawari River
  55. Buff-faced Pygmy-parrot (Micropsitta bruijinii): in lodge grounds near Karawari River
  56. Papuan King-parrot (Alisterus chloropterus): heard in lodge grounds near Karawari River
  57. Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus): common in lowlands
  58. Red-cheeked Parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi): common on Karawari River
  59. Brehm’s Tiger Parrot (Psittacella brehmii): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  60. Painted Tiger Parrot (Psittacella picta): rare, community-run lodge in Enga Province
  61. Red-flanked Lorikeet (Charmosyna placentis): Karawari River
  62. Papuan Lorikeet (Charmosyna papou): Kum Mountain
  63. Yellow-billed Lorikeet (Neopsittacus musschenbroekii): Kum Mountain
  64. Orange-billed Lorikeet (Neopsittacus pullicauda): Kum Mountain
  65. Black-capped Lory (Lorius lory): Karawari River
  66. Dusky Lory (Pseudeos fuscata): common, Karawari River
  67. Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus): Karawari River
  68. Edward’s Fig-parrot (Psittaculirostris edwardsii): in lodge grounds near Karawari River
  69. Double-eyed Fig-parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma): common in lodge grounds and along Karawari River
  70. MacGregor’s Bowerbird (Amblyornis macgregoriae): in rainforest on Kum Mountain
  71. Yellow-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera lauterbachi): Kum Mountain and Jiwaka Province
  72. White-shouldered Fairywren (Malurus alboscapulatus): common in lodge grounds and rainforest edge on Kum Mountain
  73. Papuan Black Myzomela (Myzomela nigrita): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  74. Mountain or Elfin Myzomela (Myzomela adolphinae): common around Kum Mountain lodge 
  75. Red-collared Myzomela (Myzomela rosenbergii): common around Kum Mountain lodge
  76. Grey-streaked Honeyeater (Ptiloprora perstriata): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  77. Plain Honeyeater (Pycnopygius ixoides): Karawari River
  78. Streak-headed Honeyeater (Pycnopygius stictocephalus): in lodge grounds near Karawari River
  79. Meyer’s Friarbird (Philemon meyeri): common in lowlands
  80. Helmeted Friarbird (Philemon buceroides): Jiwaka Province, also along Karawari River
  81. Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis): in lodge grounds near Karawari River
  82. Common Smoky Honeyeater (Melipotes fumigatus): common in rainforest in Highlands
  83. Yellow-browed Melidectes (Melidectes rufocrissalis): rainforest on Kum Mountain
  84. Belford’s Melidectes (Melidectes belfordi): common at community-run lodge in Enga Province
  85. Ornate Melidectes (Melidectes torquatus): rainforest and farmland on Kum Mountain
  86. Mimic Honeyeater (Meliphaga analoga): in lodge grounds near Karawari River
  87. Mountain Mouse-warbler (Crateroscelis robusta): heard on Kum Mountain
  88. Buff-faced Scrubwren (Sericornis perspicillatus): widespread in Highlands
  89. Papuan Scrubwren (Sericornis papuensis): higher elevations in Highlands
  90. Large Scrubwren (Sericornis nouhuysi): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  91. Brown-breasted Gerygone (Gerygone ruficollis): Kum Mountain
  92. Grey Thornbill (Acanthiza cinerea): frequent, higher slopes of Kum Mountain
  93. Mid-mountain Berrypecker (Melanocharis longicauda): Kum Mountain
  94. Fan-tailed Berrypecker (Melanocharis versteri): Kum Mountain
  95. (Eastern) Crested Berrypecker (Paramythia montium): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  96. Black-breasted Boatbill (Machaerirhynchus nigripectus): Kum Mountain
  97. Great Woodswallow (Artamus maximus): slopes of Kum Mountain
  98. Lowland Peltops (Peltops blainvillii): Karawari River
  99. Hooded Butcherbird (Cracticus cassicus): Karawari River
  100. Hooded Cuckooshrike (Coracina longicauda): Kum Mountain
  101. White-bellied Cuckooshrike (Coracina papuensis): common, Karawari River
  102. Black-bellied Cuckooshrike (Edolisoma montanum): Kum Mountain
  103. Black-browed Triller (Lalage atrovirens): Karawari River
  104. Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera): Kum Mountain
  105. Wattled Ploughbill (Eulacestoma nigropectus): Kum Mountain
  106. Rufous-naped Bellbird (Aleadryas rufinucha): Kum Mountain and community-run lodge in Enga Province
  107. Black Pitohui (Melanorectes nigrescens): Kum Mountain, also Karawari River
  108. Brown-backed Whistler (Pachycephala modesta): Kum Mountain
  109. Sclater’s Whistler (Pachycephala soror): Kum Mountain
  110. Regent Whistler (Pachycephala schlegelii): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  111. Black-headed Whistler (Pachycephala monacha): outskirts of village in Jiwaka Province
  112. Little Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha): around Kum Mountain lodge
  113. Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica): outskirts of village in Jiwaka Province
  114. Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach): common near Kum Mountain lodge
  115. Northern Variable Pitohui (Pitohui kirhocephalus): Karawari River
  116. Brown Oriole (Oriolus szalayi): widespread
  117. Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus): Karawari River
  118. Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys): widespread
  119. Northern fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris): Karawari River
  120. White-bellied Thicket Fantail (Rhipidura leucothorax): Karawari River
  121. Black Fantail (Rhipidura atra): Kum Mountain
  122. Friendly Fantail (Rhipidura albolimbata): Kum Mountain
  123. Dimorphic Fantail (Rhipidura brachyrhyncha): Kum Mountain
  124. Black (Fantailed) Monarch (Symposiachrus axillaris): outskirts of village in Jiwaka Province
  125. Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto): Karawari River
  126. Grey Crow (Corvus tristis): infrequent around lodge on Karawari River
  127. Torresian Crow (Corvus orru): Karawari River
  128. Blue-capped Ifrit (Ifrita kowaldi): Kum Mountain and community-run lodge in Enga Province
  129. Glossy-mantled Manucode (Manucodia ater): frequent, Karawari River
  130. Ribbon-tailed Astrapia (Astrapia mayeri): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  131. Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia (Astrapia stephaniae): upper slopes of Kum Mountain
  132. King of Saxony Bird of Paradise (Pteridophora alberti): upper slopes of Kum Mountain
  133. Greater Lophorina (Lophorina superba): common on Kum Mountain
  134. Black Sicklebill (Epimachus fastuosus): upper slopes of Kum Mountain
  135. Brown Sicklebill (Epimachus meyeri): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  136. King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius): Karawari River 
  137. Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise (Seleucidis melanoleucus): Karawari River
  138. Raggiana Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea raggiana): outskirts of village in Jiwaka Province
  139. Blue Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rudolphi): Kum Mountain
  140. Black-throated Robin (Plesiodryas albonotata): Kum Mountain
  141. White-winged Robin (Peneothello sigillatus): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  142. Lemon-bellied Flyrobin (Microeca flavigaster): Kum Mountain
  143. Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica): Kum Mountain and Karawari River
  144. Island Leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus poliocephalus): rainforest edge on Kum Mountain
  145. Papuan (New Guinea) White-eye (Zosterops novaeguineae): common, Kum Mountain lodge 
  146. Metallic Starling (Aplonis metallica): widespread
  147. Yellow-faced Myna (Mino dumontii): Karawari River
  148. Golden Myna (Mino anais): Karawari River
  149. Island Thrush (Turdus poliocephalus): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  150. Pied Bush Chat (Saxicola caprata): common around Kum Mountain lodge
  151. Red Capped Flowerpecker (Dicaeum geelvinkianum): widespread
  152. Black Sunbird (Leptocoma apasia): frequent around lodge on Karawari RIver
  153. Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis): Kum Mountain
  154. Mountain Firetail (Oreostruthus fuliginosus): community-run lodge in Enga Province
  155. Papuan Parrot-finch (Erythrura papuana): Kum Mountain
  156. Streak-headed Mannikin (Lonchura tristissima): Karawari River
  157. Hooded Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax): common at Kum Mountain lodge
  158. Australian Pipit (Anthus australis): Karawari River

MAMMALS

  1. Great Fruit Bat (Pteropus neohibernicus): Karawari River 

REPTILES

  1. New Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae): wetlands, Karawari River
  2. Asian House gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus): Karawari River
  3. Lined Gecko (Gekko vittatus): Karawari River
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