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Birds-of-paradise Itinerarry

Day 1

You will be collected from the airport in Port Moresby and transferred to a nearby hotel, where you will enjoy comfort and access to all the necessary amenities, including a swimming pool and a well supplied bar. 

In the afternoon, we will explore the Pacific Adventist University campus, attractive parkland with several lakes.  A Papuan Frogmouth has its permanent roost here and our main aim would be to see this cryptic but impressive bird.  The area supports a great variety of waterbirds including Wandering and Plumed Whistling Ducks, Pacific Black Duck, Comb-crested Jacana, Dusky Moorhen, Australasian Grebe, Rajah Shelduck, Green Pygmy Goose and Nankeen Night Heron.  We will also look for a loud New Guinea Friarbird, a striking Black-backed Butcherbird, an attractive Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and more conspicuous Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Torresian Crow, Australasian Figbird and Yellow-faced Myna.  

With such a selection of birds to choose from, we should have a satisfying afternoon before returning to our hotel for an evening meal.

Day 2

We will spend most of the day exploring the Varirata National Park, the country's first national park, situated on 800 metre high hills.  The park encompasses a number of habitats such as dry eucalyptus forest, grassland and evergreen rain forest with viewpoints over the city and the coast.   The park offers superb birding and we will explore several well defined trails in search of birds.

In the eucalyptus forest we might encounter species such as the stunning Busy Black-capped Lory, Coconut Lorikeet and Red-cheeked Parrot, as well as White-shouldered Fairywren, Black Sunbird, White-throated Honeyeater, White- bellied Cuckooshrike, Varied Triller, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin, Leaden Flycatcher, Brown Oriole, Spangled Drongo and noisy Hooded Butcherbird. There are a number of secretive terrestrial birds in the park and a lot of patience will be needed to track them down, including the Pheasant Pigeon, Black-billed Brushturkey, Crested Pitohui, Cinnamon Ground Dove, Painted Quail-thrush, Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler and Northern Scrub Robin. 

Kingfishers are well represented here with Yellow-billed, Forest, Azure and Variable Dwarf Kingfisher.  Most of our attention, however, we be devoted to tracking down the attractive endemic Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher.  The exotic Raggiana Bird of Paradise also finds its home here, and we will visit a well established display site where males adorned with elaborate red and orange flank plumes perform a dance to attract a female.  We are at the right time of the year to witness this spectacle, which, no doubt, will be an unforgettable experience.  

Other species we might find on the trails include White-faced Robin, Black Cicadabird, Barred Cuckooshrike, Sooty Thicket Fantail, inquisitive Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Frilled, Black-faced and Spot-winged Monarchs, Green-backed Honeyeater, Rusty Mouse-warbler with its continuous squeaky-gate call, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, the stunning Goldenface, Grey Whistler, Rusty Pitohui and the poisonous Hooded Pitohui, Pale-billed Scrubwren, Pygmy Drongo, Growling Riflebird with its loud, guttural calls, Fairy Gerygone,  the endemic Black Berrypecker and Dwarf Longbill.

Day 3

Today, we will take a flight to Mount Hagen, the capital of the Papua New Guinea highlands.  We will be collected from the airport and undertake a one-hour drive to our lodge situated in a lush mountain forest at 2,900 m above the sea level.  Our bungalows have their own verandas with a view over the surrounding valleys, but the biggest asset here is the fruit feeders on the lodge’s grounds.  They attract a number of wonderful birds and because the birds are quite tame here and can be watched from only a few metres, the photographic opportunities are superb.   We will spend the rest of the day around the lodge waiting for Belford’s Melidectes, Common Smoky and Grey-streaked Honeyeaters, Brown Sicklebills, Ribbon-tailed Astrapias, Brehm’s Tiger-Parrots and Sanford’s Bowerbirds to visit the feeders.  Two very special birds that occasionally attend the feeders are the elusive Archbold’s Bowerbird and Crested Satinbird, so we will be hoping to see them too.  In addition, Island Thrushes forage around the lawns and Red-collared Myzomelas, Friendly Fantails, White-winged and Black-throated Robins, Crested Berrypeckers and Rufous-naped Whistlers are all common garden visitors.

Days 4-5

As well as the attractive grounds of the lodge, we will spend the next two days exploring the various habitats around Mount Hagen.  Although the area is rather heavily cultivated, the adjacent forest is home to a remarkable array of endemic species including Lawes’s Parotia, Bar-tailed and Slender-billed Cuckoo-Doves, attractive Ornate Melidectes and a rather elusive Torrent-lark.   Some species are particularly easy to find here and we have a good chance to see Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Orange-crowned Fairy-Wren, Papuan White-eye and Ornate Melidectes.   Some birds are highly localised and, with help of our local guide, we are bound to see Yellow-breasted Bowerbird, Brown Falcon, Hooded Mannikin, Mountain Myzomela, Island Leaf Warbler and Long-tailed Shrike.  The Papuan Lorikeet, one of the world’s most beautiful parrots, also occurs here.

But, perhaps the highlight of our visit will be close encounters with birds-of-paradise.  An early morning visit to a known display area of the Lesser Bird-of-paradise may reward us with a fascinating view of the displaying birds.  The Blue and Magnificent Bird-of-paradise can also be found here engaged in their impressive displays as well as the Superb Bird-of-paradise can be seen fanning its strange collar.   However, the star here is the King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise with its fantastically long head-plumes that it waves around while swinging on the branches and producing a strange buzzing call.

We will search the fringe of the forest at lower elevations, where species could include the Black-breasted Boatbill, Loria’s Satinbird, Tit Berrypecker and the stunning Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, while Male Brown Sicklebills will be easy to spot when they use their loud machine-gun like calls to attract attention.   

The heavily mossed trails around our lodge will also provide exciting birding and here we will seek out the secretive Chestnut Forest Rail, Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, Friendly and Dimorphic Fantails, stunning Regent Whistler, Orange-crowned Fairywren, Wattled Ploughbill, Mountain Mouse-warbler and Large Scrub-wren.

The lodge is also excellent for the nocturnal birds and at dusk we have a chance to see New Guinea Woodcocks flying out from their daytime roost to forage close to the lodge.   Mountain Nightjar sometimes perches in the vicinity of the lodge, as well as the Archbold’s Nightjar and Mountain Owlet-Nightjar.  Some mammals occasionally can also be encountered under the cover of darkness, including a Papuan Giant Rat and Mountain Cuscus.

Day 6

We will undertake a long drive through the highlands today to the splendid forests of the Tari Valley, renowned as one of the best birding destinations in the world.  The magnificent moss-encrusted forest, with peaks covered in scrub and wrapped in cloud, grassland, cultivated land and patches of woodlands, create mosaic of habitats which we will explore in the next two days.

Our eco-friendly lodge at 2,100m above the sea level, offers magnificent views of the valley below and provides great birding opportunities in its vicinity.

Days 7-8 

The major attraction of the Tari Valley is its variety of birds-of-paradise, 13 in total.  Our local guide will have up-to-date knowledge of the locations of the displaying birds and we will stand a great chance to top up our list of new species.  In the immediate vicinity of our lodge we will have another chance to see a King of Saxony, Superb and Blue Birds-of-paradise, as well as Loria’s Satinbird.  The odd-looking Short-tailed Paradigalla, Brown and Black-billed Sicklebills are also possible.  On the higher slopes we will look for the beautiful Princess Stephanie’s and Ribbon-tailed Astrapias, whereas at the lower elevation, the velvet black Lawes’s Parotia with its erectile silvery forehead crest, iridescent purple blue nape and golden green breast plumes could take our breath away.  Elsewhere, we might have a glimpse of the spectacular display of the large Black Sicklebill with its largest-plumed tail of all the birds-of-paradise.

Birding along the road above and below our lodge could also be rewarding and here we will concentrate on finding such specialties as Hooded and Black-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, Brown-backed, Regent and Sclater’s Whistlers, Yellow-billed and Orange-billed Lorikeets, the scarce Black and Papuan Sitellas, Papuan Treecreeper, bizarre Wattled Ploughbill, Papuan and Buff-faced Scrubwrens, Black Monarch, Dimorphic and Black Fantails, Black-throated and Slaty Robins, Ashy Gerygone, delicate Orange-crowned Fairywren, Canary Flyrobin, Rufous-backed Honeyeater and Mid-mountain Berrypecker.

We will walk several forest trails in search of other birds including the scarce Rufescent Imperial Pigeon, Black Pitohui, Black-breasted Boatbill, Spotted Jewel-babbler, MacGregor’s Bowerbird, Lesser Ground Robin, Papuan Logrunner and the weird Lesser Melampitta.

A visit to the high Tari Gap, might produce a sighting of a gliding Papuan Harrier and Brown Quail can be heard calling here.  The rare and magnificent New Guinea Harpy Eagle has also been recorded as well as some rarities such as Meyer’s and Black-mantled Goshawks, and Madarasz’s and Modest Tiger Parrots.  A Garnet Robin, Crested and Fan-tailed Berrypeckers, Black-throated Honeyeater, zippy Red-collared Myzomela, Plum-faced Lorikeet, Mountain Firetail and shy Blue-faced Parrotfinch are just a few birds that we will be on the lookout for.

We will also venture down into the Tari Valley in search for several more target species, including Papuan King Parrot, Greater Sooty Owl, Marbled Frogmouth, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Marbled Honeyeater, Capped White-eye, Brown-breasted Gerygone and Collared Sparrowhawk.  The Tari Valley itself is populated by the Huli tribe, best known for their famous wigmen cult.  One afternoon, we will visit a local village where we will see how the Huli prepare themselves for a traditional “ingsing” elaborately painting and decorating themselves before performing their exuberant dancing.

Day 9

Today, we will take a late morning flight back to Port Moresby.  In the afternoon, we will visit the Brown River floodplain.  Walking along the riverine habitat and dense secondary growth we will search for Coroneted and Dwarf Fruit Doves, Yellowish-streaked Lory, the radiant Golden Myna, Dusky Myzomela, Common Paradise Kingfisher, exquisite Emperor Fairywren and many others.  The nearby grassland might produce Great-billed, Grey-headed or Chestnut-breasted Mannikins as well as Papuan Harrier, whereas in the stands of Eucalyptus woodland we might find White-throated Gerygone, Bar-shouldered Dove, Grey Shrikethrush, Black-backed Butcherbird and Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot.  The few flowering shrubs are excellent for Silver-eared and Brown-backed Honeyeaters and we will search for these too.

We will conclude the day, and indeed the tour, with a farewell dinner at our hotel.

Day 10

The morning will be spent relaxing and preparing for the afternoon flight home.  The lift to the airport will be arranged for those who are departing today and those who decide to do the extension will undertake morning flight to Kiunga. 

Extension to Kiunga, in the western PNG, is also on offer.  Please click on the link for details.

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Sorry, pictures will be available after our first trip in July 2017