Birding in Papua New Guinea-Kiunga and Kivatu Camp – August 3-6, 2012

On the morning of August 3 we were to drive from Tabubil to Kiunga.  The van was 2 hours late, purportedly because there was a gas shortage in Tabubil because of low water on the River and consequent delay of the oil  tankers.  Along the way we stopped at a country-side roadside market for a little lunch.


Boiled eggs and a package of cookies sufficed for me.  After arrival in Kiunga we birded Boystown Road in the afternoon.  The next day we started on Boystown Road and finished the afternoon on K17 Trail.

New birds for the trip seen on the 3rd and 4th were a Little Ringed Plover, Beautiful Fruit Doves, Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon, Zoe’s Imperial Pigeons, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrots, Yellow-streaked Lory, Dusky Lory, Papuan King Parrots, Double-eyed Fig Parrots, Ivory-billed Coucal, Dwarf Koel, Moustached Tree Swifts, Papuan Needletails, Red-bellied Pitta, Flame Bowerbird, Yellow-gaped Honeyeater, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Trumpet Manucode, and Greater Birds-of-paradise in a spectacular display.  A large number of other birds, previously seen, were seen again during these two days.

On the 5th we boarded boats for a trip to the Fishing Camp (Kivatu Camp) by way of the Fly River, the Elevala River and the Kivaki River.  The rivers were all very brown and bordered by jungle.  Very few human habitations were seen.  The mud banks furnish the pervasive color.  The water trip was very pleasant in spite of intermittent sprinkles and the need for umbrellas to buffer the wetness.  We were warned that the Camp was basic-very basic.


Outdoor privies and showers, mosquito netted cots that did nothing to keep out the insects at night and generally poor food were all a part of the price of staying somewhere reasonably close to sites where Twelve-wired Birds-of-Paradise and King Birds-of-Paradise can usually be found. Of course, the local Cassowary took full advantage of the food provided for it at the Camp.


To add to the discomfort, the Camp had overbooked to accommodate a group of Chinese photographers, so we had to double up (triple up in my case) to have a place to sleep that night.

Discomforts aside, the birding was good here.    Birding on the rivers and on the trails near the Camp yielded some very lovely new birds, including Black Bittern (great view), Nankeen Night Heron, Great-billed Heron, a perched White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Goshawk, a New Guinea Flightless Rail (seen from a blind after a long walk in the muck and wait), a Great Cuckoo Dove, several really spectacular Southern Crowned Pigeons, Dwarf Fruit Dove, a large flock of Channel-billed Cuckoos, Long-billed Cuckoo, good looks at Blyth’s Hornbills, Common Cicadabird, Golden Monarch, and, of course the unbelievably brilliant King Bird-of-paradise and the very strange Twelve-wired (I counted them) Bird-of-paradise.

The return trip on the Rivers was not without incident.  We had two boats.  The motor on one of them stopped working.  After much effort, it would start, only to die within minutes.  Consequently we were barely drifting along, for an hour or so.  Then, from the side of the river, appears a long boat with a family.


The man is a motor repairman.  He heard the starting problems from his riverside village, and loaded the household on his longboat to come to our rescue, which he did with dispatch.  Everyone was relieved that we could finally make way on our return to Kiunga.

On the 7th we flew to Port Moresby and enjoyed our last evening dinner together before flying to our separate destinations on the 8th of August.

Birding in Papua New Guinea-Mount Hagen and Tabubil – July 29-August 2

On the morning of July 29 we caught a flight from Tari to Port Moresby, expecting to connect with an early afternoon flight from Port Moresby to Mount Hagen.  That flight was cancelled and we spent the night, once again, in Port Moresby.  Our hotel accommodations were very nice but we had little time to enjoy them.  Except for a few birds seen on our way to or at the Tari airstrip, very little birding was accomplished.

We returned to the Port Moresby Airport early the next morning and arrived at Kumil Lodge about 1:00 p.m. the next day.  Most of the afternoon was spent birding around the Lodge.  The Lodge is located about an hour drive out of Mount Hagen, in beautiful mountainous country.  One of the nice features of the Kumil Lodge was the feeding station located off the balcony.  There we were able to see a number of birds coming and going, and the photography was a little easier for my little camera.

Among the birds coming to or near the feeding station were Brehm’s Tiger Parrot,


Belford’s Melidectes,


Brown Sicklebills,


Ribbon-tailed Astrapia,


Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia, Common Smoky Honeyeaters, Gray-streaked Honeyeaters, Ornate Melidectes, Sclater’s and Rufous-necked Whistlers, White-winged Robins, and Island Thrushes. At the very end of our stay most of us were fortunate to see an Archbold’s Bowerbird slip in under the feeders for a minute of two.

Other birds seen first on the trip during our travels along the roads near Kumil Lodge, much of it near the Lae River,  trying to find an elevation without rain or heavy fog, were Great Cormorant, Nankeen Kestrel, Yellow-breasted Bowerbirds, Ornate Melidectes, a very unusual Sooty Melidectes (a first for our guides in this area), Mountain Mouse Warblers, lovely Crested Satinbirds, Tit Berrypeckers, Regent Whistlers, Torrent-larks, Torrent Flyrobins, and Mountain Firetails.

On the morning of August 1, we drove down to Mount Hagen to take a flight from that airstrip to either Tabubil or Kiunga.  Our destination was Tabubil, but sometimes the plane apparently does not land at Tabubil, and such was the case today.  Our ground transportation assumed we would be at Tabubil and apparently drove from Kiunga to Tabubil to meet us without checking on the flight.  After a couple of hours of negotiation at the Kiunga airstrip, an alternate ground transport was arranged and we left on the long drive to Tabubil, arriving after dark.  No birding today.

On August 2 we birded the Tabubil area, including Davlin Creek in the morning and the Ok Minga area in the afternoon.  One of the highlights of the day was a pair of Salvadori’s Teal in the river by the dam.  Others seen well or first today were Long-tailed Buzzard, Metallic Pigeons, Superb Fruit Doves, Palm Cockatoos, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrots, Pacific Koel, White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, a fascinating Papuan Boobook (Jungle Owl), Spotted Honeyeater, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Obscure Honeyeater, Mottle-breasted Honeyeater, Scrub Honeyeater, Obscure Berrypecker, Black Butcherbird, Mountain Peltops, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, Grey-headed Cuckooshrike, Golden Cuckooshrike, Crinkle-collared Manucodes, Queen Carola’s Parotia, and Magnificent Riflebird.