PAPUA   NEW   GUINEA

 

ALBUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click above to watch a short VIDEO Compilation

 

The photographs below were taken during our 2015 tour by Phil Palmer.

Following these you can see pictures taken during his previous visit in 2014.

 

First stop was Port Moresby and a visit to the National Park where we would see our first Bird of Paradise, the Raggiana.

Raggiana Bird-of-paradise      The most iconic member of this family, we stood entranced as seven gaudy males called and shook their ‘booty’ above us at Varirata National Park

 

 

 

 

Barred Owlet-nightjar at Port Moresby

 

 

Forest Bittern at Port Moresby - most of the few, scattered observations throughout 20th century come from the extreme west of Irian Jaya.  There have been just c.30 records within the last 15 years  and no recent sightings near Port Moresby.

 So with this in mind, we were massively lucky to enjoy superb views here. A bird flew up from a stream and we were able to see it hiding in a tree. Our guide has since reported that he had failed to relocate it with other birders subsequently, so it has melted back into the forest.

 

 

 

Papuan Frogmouth   

It was a joy to see two roosting birds so well at the University. They are big birds that take large prey items; these are carried back to a perch and bashed or crushed before being swallowed.

 

 

Plumed Whistling-duck    

It isn’t until one has a good look at these birds, that you realise how strange they are. Their flank plumes curl up high above the back like big creamy spikes that are greatly exaggerated when swimming.

 

Pied Heron

 

Masked Lapwings

 

 

 

Forest Kingfisher

it's a shame they wont let Ken swim at the university lake. I hope he understands Pidgin English

 

 

Fawn-breasted Bowerbird

 

a couple of bowerbird nests

 

The HIGHLANDS

Mount Hagen & Tari Gap

 

Crested Bird-of-paradise 

 

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia   

One of the most spectacular birds in the world and such a shock the first time you see one flash across the road in front of you. Indeed astrapia means “flash of lighting.”

The male’s tail is almost 1m long while the female’s tail is 90% shorter. This bird is probably a young male

 

This is a rare hybrid Ribbon-tailed Astrapia crossed with  Stephanie's Astrapia - both are Birds-of-Paradise

 

Belford's Honeyeater

 

the Brown Sicklebill ate fruit with us at breakfast time; another Bird-of-Paradise

this is a female Brown Sicklebill

White-winged Robin

 

Common Smoky Honeyeater

Many had red or yellow facial patches with some being bicoloured with areas of both intense yellow and bright red.

This skin is said to flush bright red when the bird is agitated or when hanging upside-down.

 

 

Blue-capped Ifrit are like nuthatches

 

Brehm's Tiger-parrot

Blue Bird-of-paradise calling

 

with two strange blob-tipped tail streamers, the Blue Bird-of-paradise is a special bird in the highlands

 

 

 

 

Tari Gap & Mnt Hagen are both superb places for birding. There are open areas and forest edges that allow us to see the birds that dwell in them

 

 

 

Black-breasted Boatbill

 

Short-tailed Paradigalla, a fruit-eating Bird-of-Paradise that has a face like a moorhen!

 

 

 

 

 

Stella's Lorikeet

 

 

 

 

 

Tari Gap

 

spot the Papuan Harrier

 

 

 

 

Great Woodswallows huddle together in early mornings

 

 

 

this pair of Willie Wagtails saw off the Black Butcherbird

 

at last, a male Ribbon-tailed Astrapia with a full tail and only half of it is visible here.

 

      

Salvadori's Teal   -  Look at the 2 yellow blobs in the bottom right hand corner or look at the photo below

Found on high mountain streams and lakes, this bird is rarely seen well as they are nervous due to hunting. Population estimates state that there may be as few as 2500 mature adults left – all are in New Guinea.

 

 

 

 

night-time near our lodge

Archbold's Nightjar   

Only found in the highlands of New Guinea, little is known about this species which has never had its young or call described.

 

Black-billed Cuckoo-dove

 

Superb Bird-of-paradise  We saw and heard several and when the metallic blue shield caught the sun it was just amazing. Sadly, the Blue Bird-of-Paradise kept chasing them off from ‘his’ tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise

screaming from high in a forest tree, it was incredible to see the long eye-brows blowing in the breeze

 

 

 

the highlands near Mnt Hagen

 

 

the local tribes here are friendly and interesting

The ghostly mudmen have a fearful reputation but are really nice guys

 

 

 

Once again, we visited the Huli wigmen

 

 

 

 

 

returning from the market, this person had a lot in his pocket! Pigs are an indication of wealth here.

 

The LOWLANDS

Karawari River

sunset near our lodge

We flew over forests that no Westerners had ever penetrated to reach our remote river lodge.

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wisps of smoke indicated homes of tribes yet to be discovered

 

 

an orphaned hornbill would great us each morning to remove the tea bags from our cups!

Papuan Hornbill

 

the unbelievable view from our balcony in the morning

there are a few houses along the river

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Our journeys along the Karawari River each day brought new surprises. The river is the only way to reach many places as there are no roads, and the best way to view the dense jungle.

Large-billed Heron is not common, but easily seen due to their massive size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise has a brilliant display - dancing on top of a tree stump.

You can see the 'wire' feathers near its tail

 

 

King Bird-of-paradise   - Very hard bird to see despite its hi-Vis jacket!

Red is a difficult colour to see when not lit up by the sun. It appears dark blackish in deep shade and, as this bird is so small, it is a devil to locate when going round and around inside the canopy of a display tree. However, once seen in bright sunlight, it has all the hallmarks of a Vivian Westwood designed, fashion model - a punkish yellow Mohican, that begins on the nostrils, continues over the crown, and blends into a blood-red jacket, all set off by a big bottle green dicky-bow.

Wedgewood blue legs lead the eye towards two emerald curls at the end of a couple of long wires that protrude from its tail. These can be raised above his shoulders and shaken during a tango that would win Strictly.

So it is difficult to believe that this finch-sized glam-rocker failed to impress the Plain Jane that dared to step onto ‘his’ dance floor! Maybe he was just too full of himself as she returned to her girlfriends dancing around their handbags nearby.

 

 

White-bellied Sea-eagle - a pair live on the lake by our lodge

 

 

Brahminy Kite

Rainbow Bee-eater

 

can you believe that this was the view from the back of our boat at the end of a river cruise!!!

 

 

Sunsets are superb here on the Karawari River. A perfect end to watching parrots and mynas flying to roost

 

 

As we flew from our lodge, we passed families living in the jungle. The lake in the distance was where we found a rare seabird.

This is a Grey-backed Tern, a highly pelagic tropical species that lives far out in the Pacific, nesting on coral sand-bars.

They are most closely related to Sooty and Bridled Terns, but little is known about their plumages.

We found this one perched on a floating log, in the middle of the lake in the photo above; a long way from the sea. Although we new what it was, it took a while for it to be accepted as PNG's first record.

 

 

 

This was the sky as we returned for dinner that night.

 

 

Double-eyed Fig-parrot,  A tiny little bird as big as a fig!

 

 

Another misty morning in paradise

 

The COAST

 

Victoria Crowned Pigeon.

 

We took a short ride to a tropical island that resembled Thunderbird's Tracey Island.

This was where we spent our last day relaxing and enjoying the Crowned Pigeons and many wallabies that live there.

The view from the top allowed us to look for migrants.

 

 

Butcherbirds took locusts

 

the giant pigeons are like turkeys!

Working their way through the mangroves, they take kitchen scraps

 

Because the island is protected from hunters, the Torresian Imperial Pigeons fly here each night to roost.

As the tide dropped, Lesser and Great Crested Terns would rest on the reef

 

 

 

 

Eastern Reef Egret is common along the coast

low tide

Pacific Black Ducks are common around Port Moresby

Australian Ibis & Spoonbills can be found along the south coast

 

those that stayed on the island for a few days found three species of frigatebird

the wallabies would find food under the mangroves as the tide dropped

 

 

the crowned pigeons would sunbathe on the quiet beach

 

Pacific Baza displayed by the road as we ventured inland one day

 

 

 
     

 

PAPUA   NEW   GUINEA   ALBUM  Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few shots by Chris Br

 

The pictures here were taken during Phil's recce to Papua New Guinea.

This tour has been a long time in the making as we needed to ensure that it would suit our tour portfolio and not be an expedition-style trip. We found comfortable clean lodges with Birds of Paradise in the gardens! Of course, these are the star of the show and a dream for most birdwatchers but tracking them down is no mean feat. Seeing them display is even harder, but it is possible in the right place at the right time.

We visited remote  mountain regions where the climate is cool and comfortable.  Blue and Superb Birds of Paradise were raved about by Sir David Attenborough but to my mind were not in the same league as the King Bird of Saxony. These were joined by noisy Sicklebills and Astrapias; also part of the Bird of Paradise family. As it darkened, each  night was filled with the sounds of a Boobook or nightjar, while the lodge lights were crowded with the most beautiful of moths.

In the lowlands, our birding was undertaken on modern boats to allow us close-up views of several kingfisher species. With short forest walks to see the King Bird of Paradise, Frogmouths and Victoria Crowned Pigeon, it was made all too easy here. Not at all like the TV would have us believe. There were no leeches, no tummy troubles and barely a mosquito. Away from the Capital City, the people are shy but friendly and helpful. So these days it is possible to hear the tales of cannibalism from a comfy chair rather than the inside of a cooking pot!

 

 

 

the landscape......

                the people......

                  and the birds are all superb here.

 

The Raggiana Bird of Paradise is the iconic Papuan bird. 

This one was calling to other nearby males

 

 

 

 

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia - one of the birds of paradise,  it is rarely featured on TV but  has the longest tail of any bird, in relation to its size.

 

 

V

Comb-crested Jacana occur in Australasia so many of the water birds in Papua also occur in OZ. These were common on lowland pools.

 

 

Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher. Now why would a kingfisher need such a long tail?

 

Sacred Kingfisher

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra

Azure Kingfisher

 

 

an eyebrow stuck out above this small stump. As we scratched at the tree, an eyeball appeared.......and then a bird

the eyeball belonged to a Barred Owlet Nightjar and this was its mate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papuan Lorikeet

 

 

Double-eyed Fig Parrot

Twelve Wired Bird of Paradise displaying - you can see the wire-like plumes below him

 

The male flies in to a canopy perch pre-dawn and calls to attract females

 

                    He then walks down his stick.........                                                               ................and then back up again

 

He begins to sway at the top

 

then dances a little lower down

then he opens his neck feathers to form a large ruff and waves his twelve 'wires'

 

 

 

 

The King Bird of Saxony has incredible plumes from the rear of each eye-brow, This male got his feathers in a twist when he turned his head while perched in a bush.

He had to pull his plumes free after they got wrapped around a stick.

 

 

   

White-bellied Sea-eagle

our fine boat was perfect for birding

Pied Heron is an Australasian species not uncommon in the Papuan lowlands

 

this was the view from my bedroom window at dawn in the lowlands

 

enormous Palm Cockatoos flew out of the mist and by my window

 

and even more enormous Blyth's Hornbills !

 

 

a Variable Goshawk patrolled the grass airstrip which is situated beside our jungle lodge in the picture below

this is probably about as remote as you can get when birding. A small clearing in the photo above shows exactly where it is and why we chose it.

There is no road and we had to fly in by the private plane owned by the lodge, then travel each day by boat searching for birds by the banks of the river.

It is such a peaceful place without the problems associated with large cities, but with the amenities of the best birding lodges.

lodge roofs are perfect for bird perches and it was possible to whistle a Wood Swallow (below) before throwing it an insect.

 

   

 

The terrain made exploration here very difficult and so Papua New Guinea was the last wilderness to be explored.

It wasn't until the 1930's that the first explorers headed inland.

As well as the paradise birds, this land has the only poisonous bird species (only dangerous if you stroke them) and the largest moth species in the world.

 

   
   

Brown Sicklebill

Papuan Frogmouth

 

there are 3 species of Sicklebill here. The Brown is very noisy and so easiest to locate

 

 

 

Canary Flycatcher

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OUR LODGES

 

This is Ambua in the highlands where Birds of Paradise come to the garden

 

the landscape above Ambua in the hills at Tari Gap  is outstanding

 

 

 

Ambua from the air

Karawari from the air

 

 

breakfast at Karawari (or a G&T later) is so peaceful

 

the view along the Karawari River from our boat where friendly tribes fish

 

our boat and favourite guide who specialises in finding the King Bird of Paradise

Karawari at dawn

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THE PEOPLE

Papua New Guinea is famous for its tribes.

In the remote areas visited, we found the people cheerful and charming. Not at all warrior-like.

 

They would have appeared quite intimidating had we not seen them  before they put their make-up on and made friends first.

 

It was fascinating to learn how each Bird of Paradise was valued for its plumes.

Thankfully, imported feathers (see the pheasant's tail above) are being used more frequently as they learn the value of conservation. But sadly this is not all over PNG.

 

   

 

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more birds & animals.......

 

 

 

originally there were no fish or mammals on Papua new Guinea and so birds assumed many of their roles.

Some families have made it from Australia, like this possum

 

the tiny Garnet Robin is a special bird found in the highlands near Ambua

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a Bowerbird's bower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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