IMPORTANT: This expedition will be strenuous, with at least 5 days of >8 hour steep treks on uneven and muddy trails far from any professional medical assistance. We will be using local porters so participants are only expected to carry day-packs with water and birding gear, but an excellent level fitness is essential.
Day 1: Morning expedition start at Port Moresby airport. Josh has been planning this departure for six years, so there will be much celebration! Flight to Kieta on Bougainville, from which we will drive to Arawa.
Day 2-3-4-5: Hiking to a remote area of primary forest where the virtually unknown Moustached Kingfisher has recently been discovered by local villagers, this superb species will be at the top of our wish-lists, along with a long list of endemics named for the island – Bougainville Bush Warbler, Bougainville Thicketbird, Bougainville Crow, Bougainville Whistler, Bougainville Honeyeater, and Bougainville Monarch. Other specialties of the area we hope to see include Pale Mountain Pigeon, Meek’s Lorikeet, Black-backed Thrush, Brown Fantail and maybe even the cryptic Imitator Goshawk.
Day 6: Hike back to the road and descend to Arawa.
Day 7: The lowland forests and wetlands around Arawa hold an array of birds which can be seen only here and in the Solomon Islands – we will spend the day searching out whatever we can find. Sanford’s Sea Eagles may glide lazily overhead while we search the coconut palms for gaudy Duchess Lorikeets, and we will focus on any remaining Bougainville endemics (Bougainville Crow, in particular, can be tricky to pin down). The endemic race of Woodford’s Rail frequents marshy areas and is likely to be a future split, and we will attempt to follow up on some old records of the ultra-rare White-eyed Starling from this area. Other interesting species we may see in the lowlands include Pied Goshawk, Cardinal Lory, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Solomons Cuckooshrike, North Melanesian Cuckooshrike, Red-capped Myzomela, Oriole Whistler, Cockerell’s Fantail, Steel-blue Flycatcher, Solomons Monarch, Yellow-throated White-eye, Brown-winged Starling and Long-tailed Myna. We will go spotlighting after dinner in the forest behind town for West Solomons Boobook and, in particular, for the imposing and poorly known Fearful Owl, which is closely related to both the extinct Laughing Owl of New Zealand and, confusingly, the widespread Short-eared Owl.
Day 8: Flight from Kieta to Port Moresby.
Day 9: Flight from Port Moresby to Misima Island, Louisade Islands.
Days 10-11-12-13-14-15: This Louisiade Archipelago is extremely under-travelled, and facilities for tourists do not exist outside of the main town of Liak on Misima. As such, an exact day-to-day itinerary is impossible to ascertain in advance, but we will be aiming to transfer directly upon arrival at Liak to Rossel Island for a stay in one of the villages on the west coast. Here we will be in search of Rossel Paradise Kingfisher and Louisiade Pitta, amongst the first birdwatchers to look for these species on this out-of-the-way island, which is still very well forested. A number of endemic subspecies can also be found on Rossel, the most alluring being the distinct form of White-bellied Whistler, along with a colourful local variant of Louisiade White-eye.
After wrapping up our time on Rossel, we will travel back westwards by boat and begin our exploration of Sudest, the largest island in the region. It is here that most of the Louisiade endemics can be found, and a stay in one of the local villages should allow us to enjoy not only the traditional Louisiade hospitality, but the birding as well! The attractive Tagula Butcherbird, along with Tagula Meliphaga, Tagula Shrikethrush, Tagula White-eye, White-chinned Myzomela, Louisiade Whistler, Louisiade Flowerpecker, Louisiade White-eye and Islet Kingfisher. Undervisited and understudied, many of the subspecies here could well prove to be distinct species in the future. Glossy-mantled Manucodes here have completely different calls to elsewhere in New Guinea, while the plumages of the local Spectacled Monarch and Double-eyed Fig Parrot look nothing like those elsewhere.
Day 16: Flight from Misima to Port Moresby where the tour ends this afternoon. NOTE: If any participants are interested in joining us for just one part of this two-part expedition, we will endeavour to make it possible. The same also applies if any participants wish to add a short extension elsewhere in PNG after the tour.
Cost: $ 8,000 (TBC)
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 500 (TBC)
Accommodation: Mixture of basic guesthouses and forest camping. The in-between days will be at comfortable hotels to help us recharge!
Walking difficulty: This expedition will be strenuous, with at least 5 days of >8 hour steep treks on uneven and muddy trails far from any professional medical assistance (mostly on Bougainville, but also one optional long walk on Sudest in the Louisiades). We will be using local porters so participants are only expected to carry day-packs with water and birding gear, but an excellent level fitness is essential.
Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.
Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.