07 August 2006. We departed from Madang, changed planes in Port Moresby and continued our journey to Tabubil. We landed at noon with no issues (low cloud can often cause difficulties landing planes) and on time. We checked into the comfortable Cloudlands Hotel and used their bus to take us to Dablin Creek where we spent a rather wet afternoon. Despite the weather birding was good and we saw female Carola’s Parotia, Mountain and Yellow-billed Kingfishers, Red-breasted Pygmy-Parrots, Orange-breasted Fig-Parrot, and Mottled Whistler.
|approaching Port Moresby|
|aerial view of river near Tabubil, presumably the Ok Tedi?|
|aerial view of hill forest as we prepared to land at Tabubil (nice not for it to be covered in cloud)|
|me and Jon on the pipeline catwalk at Dablin Creek, we'd seen Mountain Kingfisher sat on the hand rail on the way up|
|female Grey-headed Cuckoo Shrike at Dablin Creek|
09 August 2008. We left Cloudlands in the Hilux before dawn, arriving at the Ok Ma Road at first light. There were three Shovel-billed Kingfishers calling and one flew across the road twice. Most of us went into the forest and Ash found one that appeared to be nesting 20m up in a big tree. We twice watched it take a beak full of food (small reptiles or amphibians) to the tree but could not see a nest hole that was undoubtedly there. Nearby a Greater Melampitta was calling and this time I had good but brief views as it moved down a hillside. Back on the road Nick found a White-eared Catbird feeding in a fruiting bush that we all saw. Other highlights were small flocks of Golden and Grey-headed Cuckoo-Shrikes and two Golden Mynas. We returned to town for lunch then drove on to Km 121 and quickly found the local form of Little Ringed Plover. We continued to Ok Menga hydro station where Ash spotted a distant Salvadori’s Teal that disappeared round the bend of the river before the rest of us saw it. We had a long walk around the dredging works before locating the Teal stood on a rock. On the river we saw six Torrent Flycatchers but failed to find the trickier Torrent-Lark. Back at Tabubil Jon had arranged for us to have a meal as guests of the Golf Club, he is good at that sort of thing. Even I enjoyed fish and chips and apple pie!
|Shovel-billed Kingfisher on the Ok Ma road|
|Shovel-billed Kingfisher at nest hole|
|with unspecified prey item|
|displaying Greater Bird of Paradise at Kiunga|
|Pink-spotted Fruit-Dove at Kiunga|
11 August 2006. We drove to “Manucode Mound” on the Boystown Road leaving before dawn and seeing White-throated Nightjars on the road on the way. Our main target was Flame Bowerbird. We saw four males, mostly in flight, and Kwiwan found a bower near the mound. Other good birds were somewhat frustrating with White-bibbed Ground-Dove (sadly not me), Hooded Pitta (five heard), White-eared Catbird (heard) and Blue Jewel-babbler (also heard only) although we had excellent views of a male and two female Emperor Fairy-Wrens and again saw Trumpet Manucode displaying and more Greater Birds of Paradise. We returned to the hotel for an early lunch after which we headed to the river and climbed aboard an outboard powered long-boat which was carrying us, our luggage and food for two days. We set-off up the Fly River at 13:30, turned off onto the Elevala River and arrived at Ekame Lodge three hours later. The journey was rather quiet although we did see a Great-billed Heron, Channel-billed Cuckoo and a crocodile. The lodge was very basic (candles, no running water) but in a superb location, on the river well into apparently untouched forest. We birded around the lodge till dark, seeing a pair of Yellow-eyed Starlings, our only Ornate Fruit Dove, Collared and Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeons, Stephan’s Ground Dove and Greater Streaked Lory. As the light started to fade we heard several Hook-billed Kingfishers and a nightjar, almost certainly Papuan flew over the clearing. We returned to the boat and took a 90 minute cruise on the Elevala River were we spotlighted one (in my case) or two Southern Crowned Pigeons roosting in a large tree, followed by a superb perched Marbled Frogmouth and two others in flight. We also heard Sooty Owl.
|early morning Trumpet Manucode|
|Kiunga port, the Fly River is still navigable here (but not much further) 840km from the sea|
|although a canoe our boat was fortunately bigger than these|
|Great Cuckoo Dove|
|Elevala River from Ekame|
12 August 2006. We were late heading up river from the lodge and as a result arrived too late at a display tree to see the resident male Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise performing, only seeing it fly across the river. We then left the canoe and followed narrow forest trails searching for Hook-billed and Little Paradise Kingfishers but only heard them, as we did Black-billed Brush Turkey and Hooded Pitta. Not a great start but two Southern Crowned Pigeons and a displaying male King Bird of Paradise improved things significantly and we also saw Common Paradise Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Beautiful Fruit Dove on its nest, Palm Cockatoo, White-bellied Thicket-Fantail and Hooded Monarch. After a quick lunch I birded along a trail behind the lodge seeing two Blue Jewel-Babblers before we returned to the river to try again for Hook-billed Kingfisher. It had been notoriously difficult to find on my previous visit and was proving no easier this time although after a considerable effort we found two immatures. Other good birds were a male Flame Bowerbird which flew across the river, Large, Orange-breasted and Double-eyed Fig-Parrots and six White-bellied Pitohui (a species I’d only seen poorly before). We stayed out on the river until 19.30, seeing a Great-billed Heron feeding at dusk, a better view of Papuan Nightjar in flight, two perched Marbled Frogmouths and a White-bellied Sea Eagle flying in the dark. Again we heard a distant Sooty Owl.
|Southern Crowned Pigeons at Ekame|
|Elevala River at Ekame|
|Marbled Frogmouth at night on the Elevala River|
|Golden Myna at Ekame|
|Pacific Baza over the Elevala River|
|Greater Bird of Paradise at Kiunga|
|male Raggiana Bird of Paradise at Kiunga|
|Kiunga Airport, Stephanie and Mike rear left|