The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Australia & The Pacific Islands

PAPUA NEW GUINEA WITH A DIFFERENCE – D’Entrecasteaux, New Ireland, Tench, Mussau, Dyaul and Manus Islands, Huon and Madang

Monday 4th May – Tuesday 19th May 2026

Leaders: Birdquest leader to be announced and local bird guides in some areas

16 Days Group Size Limit 7
Huon Peninsula Extension

Tuesday 19th May – Sunday 24th May 2026

6 Days Group Size Limit 7
Madang & Adelbert Range Extension

Sunday 24th May – Friday 29th May 2026

6 Days Group Size Limit 7

PAPUA NEW GUINEA WITH A DIFFERENCE: OVERVIEW

Birdquest’s Papua New Guinea with a Difference birding tours will allow you to experience a very different and rarely seen side of this island nation. Our Papua New Guinea with a Difference birding tour features the alluring islands of D’Entrecasteaux, New Ireland, Tench, Mussau and Manus, as well as the remote Huon Peninsula and the Madang area and Adelbert Range on the mainland of New Guinea, as we go in search of numerous endemic specialities including some truly gorgeous birds-of-paradise, bowerbirds and pittas that cannot be seen on ‘standard’ tours to Papua New Guinea.

Our classic ‘Ultimate Papua New Guinea’ tour offers a splendid itinerary that visits some rich, well-birded habitats on this huge island and the neighbouring island of New Britain, but there are a lot of exciting endemic birds, including a series of wonderful restricted-range birds-of-paradise, to be seen off the beaten track.

Much of Papua New Guinea is still primitive and undeveloped, but tourism-level facilities are spreading and, with the use of very comfortable liveaboard dive boats in some areas, this special tour no longer has any nights at all in basic conditions! In fact, almost the entire tour enjoys very comfortable accommodations. What is more, this is nowadays a tour with mostly easy walking conditions, owing to improvements in access. Indeed, Papua New Guinea with a Difference is the physically easier of our two longer ‘PNG’ tours.

Probably the main reason for the birder to travel to Papua New Guinea is the occurrence of what is, without a doubt, the most amazing bird family in existence, the birds-of-paradise. No other bird family shows such an incredible variety of nuptial plumages and such elaborate courtship displays. On this unusual tour, as well as widespread species, we are going to observe no fewer five of the least-known members of this family, none of which are seen on regular PNG tours!

On the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, off the eastern tip of New Guinea, the gorgeous Goldie’s Bird-of-Paradise with its golden back and red plumes and the bizarre Curl-crested Manucode with its crinkled feathers and unusual twisted tail will be our targets.

On the Huon Peninsula on the north coast we will search for three very restricted range species: the glorious Huon Astrapia with its superb glossy-purple tail, the magnificent Emperor Bird-of-Paradise with its white plumes and green bib, and the striking Wahnes’s Parotia with its brassy-coloured ‘pompom’.

The bowerbird family is also well represented in New Guinea and one of its most exquisite members is the fabled Fire-maned Bowerbird, a mega-species which we should find in the remote Adelbert Range.

Our Papua New Guinea with a Difference tour starts at Port Moresby, the capital city of PNG, but soon we head off for the remote town of Alotau at the southeastern extremity of New Guinea. Among many widespread New Guinea birds, we will be particularly on the lookout for the restricted-range Silver-eared Honeyeater.

From here, we will explore the remote D’Entrecasteaux archipelago by liveaboard dive boat. Here, on Fergusson Island, we shall encounter both Goldie’s Bird-of-paradise and Curl-crested Manucode. A small island along our route holds Louisade White-eye as well as Island Imperial Pigeon.

New Ireland holds nine endemics and shares many other Bismarck endemics with New Britain. In the densely forested mountains and in the grassy lowlands, we will search for White-naped Lory, New Ireland Boobook, New Ireland Dwarf Kingfisher, New Ireland Myzomela, the marvellous Paradise Drongo, Forbes’s and Hunstein’s Mannikins, the still-undescribed Bismarck Flyrobin and many more widespread Bismarck endemics including the superb Bismarck Pitta. Bismarck Hanging Parrot is easier on New Ireland than on New Britain.

While based in New Ireland we also plan to visit the remote islands of Tench and Mussau by liveaboard boat. First, we will explore the splendid island of Tench with its enormous seabird colonies and the rare Atoll Starling, Bismarck Black Myzomela and much-wanted Nicobar Pigeon. Subsequently, we will visit the even more remote Mussau Island with its four endemics; Mussau Fantail, White-breasted Monarch, Mussau Flycatcher and Mussau Triller.

Nearby Dyaul Island, which we also plan to visit, is home to the endemic Dyaul Flycatcher.

Our final port of call during the main tour will be rarely-visited Manus Island in the Admiralty Group, which holds ten (or maybe only nine surviving) endemics and near-endemics, of which the near-legendary Superb Pitta will be our most-wanted quarry. The other major targets are Meek’s Pygmy Parrot, Manus Boobook, Manus Dwarf Kingfisher, Manus Cuckooshrike, Admiralty Cicadabird, Manus Friarbird, Manus Fantail and Manus Monarch.

One of the optional extensions will see us travelling to Madang and the Adelbert range, situated on the northern coast of PNG, where the magnificent Fire-maned Bowerbird will be waiting for us, along with such additional restricted-range specialities as New Guinea Scrubfowl, Edwards’s Fig Parrot, the stunning Banded Yellow Robin, Brown-headed Jewel-babbler and Forest Honeyeater.

We will spend the other optional extension visiting the remarkable Huon Peninsula with its three endemic or near-endemic birds-of-paradise (Emperor Bird-of-paradise, Huon Astrapia and Wahnes’s Parotia) and endemic Spangled Honeyeater and Huon Catbird. Not to mention a host of other more widespread birds.

Of importance for family listers, the Huon is by far the best place in all New Guinea (both PNG and West Papua) for the cryptic Mottled Berryhunter (a monotypic bird family), which we usually see multiple times in a day in the Huon!

Birdquest has operated Papua New Guinea birding tours since 1986.

Important: Flight schedules in Papua New Guinea change frequently, so participants need to be aware of this and have a flexible and relaxed approach. Changes to the order in which the localities are visited may occur and minor changes to the amount of time in each area may also occur. The itinerary has some built-in safety margin to allow for such eventualities.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good or medium standard. While visiting the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, Tench and Mussau we will travel on comfortable ‘liveaboard’ boats (that usually cater for scuba divers) with twin/double cabins (limited single occupancy may be available depending on final group size). The small lodge in the Adelbert Range is fairly simple but pleasant. During the Huon Peninsula extension, we will stay for three nights in a comfortable, safari-style camp with large walk-in tents and great food that has replaced the basic village house accommodations that we once had to use there! Road transport is by minibus or 4×4 vehicle. Roads are rather poor and few and far between, but then we mostly do not have to travel long distances on them.

Walking: The walking effort during our Papua New Guinea with a Difference tour is mostly easy, occasionally moderate. Two steep but fairly short trails are optional and only involve two birds: Louisiade White-eye and Mussau Triller.

Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, but cooler in upland areas. Overcast weather is quite regular and there is very likely to be some rain, perhaps heavy at times. It will be humid.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Papua New Guinea with a Difference tour are worthwhile.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • See dozens of remarkable species, which few birders have ever seen, at some truly untamed locations on the fringes of Papua New Guinea
  • Once a challenging tour, mainly owing to the frequency of basic accommodations, this exciting itinerary is physically easy, with good accommodations almost everywhere. A great option for those wanting to explore PNG without much effort
  • Travel on a liveaboard dive-boat to the D'Entrecasteaux Islands where the endemic Goldie’s Bird-of-paradise and the bizarre Curl-crested Manucode are to be found
  • Based at a pleasant surf resort on the long island of New Ireland we will search out 10 rarely-seen endemics such as Paradise Drongo and White-naped Lory
  • Several Bismarck endemics which are hard or inaccessible on New Britain are common here, such as the undescribed 'Bismarck Flyrobin', White-backed Woodswallow and Bismarck Pitta
  • Hop on a second luxurious liveaboard dive boat and sail to the tiny island of Tench where restricted-range Atoll Starlings live alongside an abundance of Nicobar Pigeons!
  • Continue west to the island of Mussau, visited so rarely that the three endemics have so far been seen by less than 20 naturalists ever!
  • Mussau Fantail is a real stunner, the white Mussau Monarch is very different to similar species in Melanesia, and we will work hard to find the Mussau Triller
  • Marvel at and photograph thousands of breeding seabirds completely unafraid of humans, and see Melanesian Megapodes seemingly oblivious to our presence
  • Being among the select few to have seen the endemic Dyaul Flycatcher.
  • The lovely Superb Pitta is found only on Manus Island, alongside another eight endemics and near-endemics we are likely to see
  • Fly in a small plane over the Huon Mountains to access a remote but high-quality safari-style camp in the hill forest, a huge upgrade from the accommodation of our early visits!
  • Huon Astrapia, Wahnes’s Parotia and Emperor Bird-of-paradise are the big stars in the Huon, and we should easily find all three of these awesome, restricted-range birds-of-paradise
  • Watching the pretty Edwards's Fig Parrot and the poorly-known New Guinea Scrubfowl around Madang
  • Visiting Keki Lodge where Fire-maned Bowerbird, certainly the least-known of this family, is found in the lodge gardens
  • Restricted-range species found in the Adelbert Range also include Banded Yellow Robin, Brown-headed Jewel-babbler and the unassuming Forest Honeyeater

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • MAIN TOUR
  • Day 1: Morning tour start at Port Moresby airport. Flight to Alotau.
  • Day 2: Board liveaboard boat. Sail towards Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago.
  • Day 3: Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago.
  • Day 4: Fergusson Island, then depart for Alotau.
  • Day 5: Disembark at Alotau. Late morning flight to Port Moresby and onward flight to Kavieng on New Ireland.
  • Days 6-11: Exploring New Ireland, Tench, Mussau and Dyaul islands. Stay both on land and on a liveaboard boat.
  • Day 12: Fly to Manus island.
  • Days 13-15: Manus island.
  • Day 16: Morning flight to Port Moresby and end of tour.
  • HUON PENINSULA POST-TOUR EXTENSION
  • Day 1: Fly to Lae for overnight.
  • Day 2: Morning flight to Wasu in the Huon Peninsula. Drive to village in mountains.
  • Days 3-4: Huon Peninsula. Overnights at village.
  • Day 5: Return to Wasu and fly to Lae.
  • Day 6: Morning flight to Port Moresby and extension end.
  • MADANG & ADELBERT RANGE PRE-TOUR EXTENSION
  • Day 1: Flight to Madang.
  • Day 2: Madang, then drive to Adelbert Range.
  • Days 3-4: Adelbert Range.
  • Day 5: Return to Madang.
  • Day 6: Morning flight to Port Moresby and extension end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

PRICE INFORMATION

Papua New Guinea Tour Prices: Prices in Papua New Guinea are high by any standards, but there are reasons for this. In the first place accommodations in Papua New Guinea, whatever their standard, are mostly expensive, as is transport for tourism purposes. Papua New Guinea is a country with only a thin ‘meniscus’ of development that sits on an otherwise very undeveloped part of the world. The very limited but often comfortable layer of infrastructure that tourism uses is also used by oil and gas development staff, miners, lumber extractors and many other expatriates, with the result that prices have risen very high. Furthermore, the liveaboard boats used during this unusual tour cost a huge amount to charter. This combination makes for high prices.

Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers, boatmen and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights:

Port Moresby-Alotau-Port Moresby

Port Moresby-Kavieng

Kavieng-Manus

Manus-Port Moresby

Port Moresby-Lae

Lae-Wasu-Lae

Lae-Port Moresby or Lae-Madang-Port Moresby.

Flight schedules change regularly in Papua New Guinea, so routings may change. These flights cover a large amount of air miles between them and flights in PNG are costly, so the total cost is correspondingly great.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2026: provisional £7710, $9890, €8990, AUD14930. Port Moresby/Port Moresby.
Huon Peninsula Extension: £2800, $3590, €3260, AUD5420. Port Moresby/Port Moresby.
Madang & Adelbert Range Extension: £2020, $2590, €2350, AUD3910. Lae/Port Moresby.

Single Supplement: 2026: £480, $620, €560, AUD930.
Huon Peninsula Extension: £200, $260, €230, AUD390.
Madang & Adelbert Range Extension: £150, $200, €180, AUD300.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

On the ‘liveaboard’ boats, there may be one or more cabins available for single occupancy, depending on the final group size. The single supplement does not include the nights on the boats and any available singles will be provided at no extra charge. Priority will, so far as is practicable, be given to those who have paid the single supplement elsewhere and who have booked on the tour earliest.

There are a limited number of tents in the Huon Peninsula and limited rooms at the lodge in the Adalbert Range during the extensions, so there may not be enough for all those wanting single occupancy. There is no single room supplement at these locations.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA WITH A DIFFERENCE TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 1  Our tour begins this morning at Port Moresby airport, from where we will take a flight to the town of Alotau, situated at the extreme southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea, for an overnight stay.

Here we will explore an area of pandanus savanna interspersed with patches of rainforest. Raggiana Birds-of-paradise can often be observed here and another species of note is the range-restricted Silver-eared Honeyeater.

A good selection of widespread New Guinea birds can be found in the vicinity of Alotau and should include Eastern Cattle, Great and Intermediate Egrets, Black, Whistling and Brahminy Kites, Masked Lapwing, Amboyna Cuckoo-Dove, Orange-fronted, Pink-spotted and Orange-bellied Fruit Doves, Pheasant Coucal, Glossy and Uniform Swiftlets, Forest and Sacred Kingfishers, the impressive Blyth’s Hornbill, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Purple-bellied (or Eastern Black-capped) Lory, Coconut Lorikeet, Red-cheeked and gaudy Eclectus Parrots, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Streak-headed and Scrub Honeyeaters, New Guinea Friarbird, White-breasted Woodswallow, Hooded Butcherbird, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Grey Shrikethrush, Willie Wagtail, Brown Oriole, Torresian Crow, Pacific Swallow, Singing and Metallic Starlings, Yellow-faced Myna and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

More uncommon possibilities include Orange-fronted Hanging Parrot, the unobtrusive Green-backed Gerygone, Australasian Figbird and Glossy-mantled Manucode.

Just before dusk, we may hear the distinctive calls of the crepuscular Hook-billed Kingfisher and we may be able to spot this spectacular species as it hides in the mid-storey. When it gets even darker, Large-tailed Nightjars may appear.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 2  This morning we will set sail on our comfortable ‘liveaboard’ boat that is generally used by scuba divers, where we will spend three nights. Our destination is rarely-visited Fergusson Island in the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago.

While at sea over the next few days we may well encounter Black Noddy and Greater Crested and Bridled Terns.

Later today we will visit a small island in the Goschen Strait where we should find the Louisiade White-eye at the western limit of its limited distribution, as well as Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Islet Kingfisher, Varied Honeyeater and Mangrove Golden Whistler. There is even a first chance for the sought-after Nicobar Pigeon and Island (or Grey) Imperial Pigeon.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 3  BirdLife International’s EBA 196 covers the D’Entrecasteaux and the Trobriand Islands, to which two birds-of-paradise are restricted. These little-known archipelagos are situated to the north of the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea and comprise islands with curious names like Goodenough, Normanby, Kiriwina and Woodlark. We will focus on the largest and the most central island, Fergusson, whose highest mountain reaches 2073m. It is covered in extinct volcanoes and there are lots of active geothermal areas, including hot springs, spouting geysers and bubbling mud pools. Deepwater channels between D’Entrecasteaux and the mainland betray a very old geological separation.

There are two almost unknown endemic species of birds-of-paradise to be found here. The endemic Curl-crested Manucode is the largest of the five species of manucodes and is fairly common in the woodlands and forests. This subtly-plumaged, glossy blue-black bird-of-paradise, which has a very peculiar tail, often sits in the open and betrays its presence by its mourning, rolling calls. The other endemic is Goldie’s Bird-of-paradise, which belongs with the classic birds-of-paradise and resembles the better-known Raggiana Bird-of-paradise. It favours both lowland and hill forests and displays noisily in groups in the lower canopy. This species is less shy than most of its congeners and only occurs on Fergusson and on nearby Normanby Island. It is named after the botanical collector Andrew Goldie, a Scotsman who lived in the 19th century.

Other species we should find in this remote outpost of Papua New Guinea include the distinctive, red-naped, D’Entrecasteaux-endemic forbesi race of the Papua Black Myzomela (a potential split) as well as Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon, the antediluvian-looking Channel-billed Cuckoo, Rainbow Bee-eater, Tawny-breasted and Puff-backed Honeyeaters, Grey Whistler, Little Shrikethrush, Spangled Drongo, Northern Fantail, Spot-winged and Black-faced Monarchs, the eye-catching Golden Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Red-capped Flowerpecker and Black and Olive-backed Sunbirds.

More uncommon possibilities include Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Grey-headed Goshawk, Yellow-bellied and Azure Kingfishers, the glorious Papuan Pitta, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Dwarf Longbill and Yellow-bellied and Fairy Gerygones.

[Note: The recently refound Fergusson form (insularis) of the Pheasant Pigeon, which could be split in the future, is inaccessible without a long-duration hiking and camping expedition as the rediscovery team took ages to find any and they occur in a remote area of the island. Likewise, the Oya Tabu White-eye, which is endemic to the D’Entrecastaux islands, is only known to occur above 900 metres in altitude (around 3000ft) and cannot be reached without a long and difficult climb and camping as the local roads only reach to around 250m.]

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 4  After some final birding on Fergusson Island we will head back towards Alotau.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 5  A morning flight from Alotau will take us back to Port Moresby, from where we will fly northeastwards to the town of Kavieng on New Ireland. We will spend a total of seven nights in total on New Ireland itself and on our liveaboard boat during our visit to remote Tench and Mussau islands.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Days 6-11  The long, narrow, oceanic island of New Ireland is very mountainous and is dominated by a high spine of peaks, which fall away precipitously to the sea along the southwestern coast. For most of its length of 350 kilometres (or 217 miles), it is less than 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide! On the east side, the island is bordered by a narrow coastal strip with magnificent broad white sand beaches. There are, strangely enough, no active volcanoes on the island. The central Schleinitz range is still covered in thick forest, where rivers of crystal clear water tumble down the slopes.

New Ireland in northern Papua New Guinea holds nine endemics and shares many others with the island of New Britain. From our resort near Silom, we will have access to the nearby highlands of the Lelet Plateau. At an altitude of about 750m (or 2461ft), we should find the uncommon endemic New Ireland Myzomela in flowering trees and the gorgeous but rather shy endemic Paradise (or Ribbon-tailed) Drongo, surely the smartest-looking member of this generally drab group. With just a bit of luck, we will also encounter the endemic White-naped Lory, perhaps watching some feeding in a flowering vine and the lovely New Ireland Dwarf Kingfisher.

Fruiting trees should hold an excellent selection of doves and pigeons, including Bismarck endemics like the spectacular Pied Cuckoo-Dove, Knob-billed Fruit Dove and Finsch’s, Black (or Bismarck) and Yellowish (or Yellow-tinted) Imperial Pigeons.

Other Bismarck endemics should include White-necked (or Pied) Coucal, the splendid Bismarck Pitta (although seeing one rather than hearing one usually requires persistence), Bismarck Whistler, the adorable Bismarck Fantail, the lovely Black-tailed Monarch, the bashful Velvet (or Lesser Shining) Flycatcher, Bismarck (or Island) Crow, the striking White-backed (or Bismarck) Woodswallow and Red-banded Flowerpecker, while the dainty Bismarck (or Black-headed) White-eye is restricted to the Bismarcks and to Manus Island and travels around in small flocks. With a bit of luck, we will also find Bismarck Hanging Parrot, a species which is more common here than in New Britain. Much more tricky is New Britain Sparrowhawk.

At night we will go out, armed with a powerful spotlight, to find the vocal endemic New Ireland Boobook.

An as-yet-undescribed endemic form of Microeca flycatcher, known as ‘Bismarck Flyrobin’, lives here and we shall definitely try to get to grips with it.

The endemic New Ireland Friarbird usually favours higher altitudes than we can access, but we will keep our eyes peeled for this endemic as it sometimes wanders lower.

Other species in this interesting area are likely to include Black Bittern, Variable Goshawk, Pacific Baza, Buff-banded Rail, Bar-tailed (or Black-billed) Cuckoo-Dove, Stephan’s Emerald Dove, White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Pacific (or Australian) Koel, Brush Cuckoo, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Moustached Treeswift, White-rumped Swiftlet, Melanesian and Common Kingfishers, Finsch’s (or Green) Pygmy Parrot  (found only in the Bismarks and Solomons), Red-flanked and Red-chinned Lorikeets, Song (or Singing) Parrot, Red Myzomela (or Red-tinted Honeyeater), Barred Cuckooshrike, Grey-capped Cicadabird, Varied Triller, Golden-headed Cisticola and Long-tailed Myna.

Grassy areas in the lowlands hold the endemic Forbes’s (or New Ireland) Mannikin, often accompanied by the Bismarck-endemic Buff-bellied Mannikin.

The pleasant town of Kavieng is surrounded on three sides by the sea. In the surrounding secondary growth habitat, we should encounter the endemic Hunstein’s Mannikin (or Mottled Munia) and Pale-vented (or Rufous-tailed) Bush-hen.

From New Ireland, we will travel by comfortable liveaboard boat to the very remote Tench and Mussau islands.

First, we will visit the distant island of Tench (or Enus Island), situated about 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the north of Kavieng in the Pacific Ocean. At sea, we will hope to encounter Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Black-naped Tern and some Indo-Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Birdquest pioneered visits to Tench and Mussau many years ago and although we have travelled this route multiple times without success, we still live in hope of an encounter with either Heinroth’s Shearwater or the even rarer Beck’s Petrel. Both are conceivable additions to the checklist.

The island itself covers less than one square kilometre and holds a small village as well as a large seabird colony. The main species are Red-footed Booby, Great Frigatebird and Black Noddy. The elegant White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Noddy and the dazzling White Tern nest in small numbers.

One of our main targets will be the localized Atoll Starling, which only occurs here and at just a few other localities. It is a specialist of extremely small islands and is only known from eight islands, which together cover under 50 square kilometres! The total population is less than 2500 birds.

Another important and luckily fairly common species is the tiny Bismarck Black (or Ebony) Myzomela, which only occurs on islets in the Bismarck Archipelago.

Other interesting species include Brown Booby, Lesser Frigatebird, Pacific Reef Heron, Melanesian Megapode (or Melanesian Scrubfowl), the cute Yellow-bibbed Fruit Dove, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, Island Monarch and notably the spectacular Nicobar Pigeon (this declining and hard-to-get species is still deliciously common here!). We will also have another opportunity to see Bridled Tern and there are usually some lingering shorebirds present, with the most likely candidates including Pacific Golden Plover, Eurasian Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Sandpiper and Grey-tailed Tattler.

After Tench, we will visit the even more remote and rarely-visited Mussau Island, where there are no fewer than four endemic birds; Mussau Fantail, White-breasted (or Mussau) Monarch, Mussau Flycatcher and Mussau Triller. Mussau Fantail and the White-breasted Monarch inhabit secondary growth close to the shoreline, but to get to grips with the little-known Mussau Triller we will have to penetrate further inland. We should also encounter Island Leaf Warbler, Russet-tailed Thrush and Blue-faced Parrotfinch.

During our visit to New Ireland, we will also visit nearby Dyaul (or Djaul) Island, home to the endemic Dyaul Flycatcher.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 12  Today we will travel by air to the isolated island of Manus. We will fly to the airstrip of Momote, on the offshore island of Los Negros – a relic of WWII – and then transfer to the main town of Lorengau, the provincial capital, for a four nights stay. Providing the flight schedule allows, we will arrive in time for some initial exploration.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Days 13-15  Manus is the main island of Papua New Guinea’s Admiralty Archipelago, which forms the western end of the Bismarck Islands. It is 104 kilometres (65 miles) long and 28 kilometres (17 miles) wide and consists of limestone hills that are still mainly covered in primary forest. The highest summit on the island is Mount Dremsel (720m or 2362ft). Manus Island is a steamy, sleepy place situated within a few degrees of the equator and is defined by BirdLife International as the main part of Endemic Bird Area 193, which holds eight endemics (although perhaps only seven survive) and two near-endemics (one of which also occurs outside the Admiralty Islands).

Endemic, noisy Manus Friarbirds (or Chaukas) and handsome Manus (or Admiralty Pied) Monarchs will accompany us on our walks. The near-endemic Meek’s Pygmy Parrot, which also occurs on the Saint Matthias Islands, feeds on lichens and behaves a bit like a nuthatch. The endemic Manus Dwarf Kingfisher is a secretive bird but by being alert we should add it to the tally. The endemic Manus Cuckooshrike and Admiralty Cicadabird favour open country and forest edge.

At night we will be wanting to find the endemic Manus Boobook, which should betray its presence by its throaty, guttural calls. The other nightbird on Manus is the endemic Manus Masked Owl, but nothing is known about this bird and the last reliable sighting was in 1934!

The endemic Manus (or Admiralty Rufous) Fantail used to be common on the island but is nowadays only known from several offshore islets, so we will travel by boat to one of these to add this lovely little endemic to our tally.

Our most spectacular endemic target species on the island is the Superb (or Black-headed) Pitta, which is locally known as Cou Cou or Ku Ku, an obviously onomatopoeic name. The pittas (family Pittidae) are amongst the most wanted and most valued of tropical birds, and the Superb Pitta is one of the least known of this gorgeous assemblage. The total population is probably around 1,000 and virtually nothing has been written on the ecology of this species, which is treated as Endangered by BirdLife International. We have a good chance of locating this magnificent creature in the dense bamboo thickets it favours. Nonetheless, it is much the most difficult of the endemics and there is a real element of unpredictability. If birds are calling regularly, finding one is not too difficult, but if they are both silent and unresponsive it is nigh on impossible in the very dense forest. Predicting in advance when the birds will be calling regularly seems to be impossible. Even the breeding period is conjectural. Calling may well be stimulated by recent rain.

Other species which we should observe on Manus include the islet-favouring Mackinlay’s Cuckoo-Dove, Superb and Claret-breasted Fruit Doves, Island (or Grey) Imperial Pigeon and Beach Kingfisher.

Papua New Guinea with a Difference: Day 16  Today we will return by air to Port Moresby where our tour ends between mid-morning and midday (depending on flight schedules).

 

HUON PENINSULA EXTENSION

Huon Peninsula: Day 1  Afternoon tour start at Port Moresby airport followed by a flight to Lae on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea for an overnight stay.

Huon Peninsula: Day 2  This morning we will take a flight to the little town of Wasu on the north coast of the Huon Peninsula. Upon arrival, we will drive into the mountains for a four nights stay in a small village. This afternoon we will begin our exploration of the surrounding area. The track above the village reaches 1950m (6398ft) at the pass and it is here that we will enter the submontane and montane forests of the fabled Huon peninsula.

Huon Peninsula: Days 3-4  On the map the Huon Peninsula looks like a giant wart on the back of Papua New Guinea. It is dominated by three impressive mountain ranges, which are separated from the central spine of New Guinea: the Finisterre, Saruwaged (or Sarawaget) and Rawlinson Ranges. These consist of coral limestone and reach an amazing 4212m (13,820ft) at their highest point. They are still mainly covered in montane and subalpine forest, with alpine grassland occurring above the treeline at about 3000m (9843ft).

The Huon forms part of BirdLife’s Endemic Bird Area 177, which also encompasses the nearby Adelbert Range. Five species of birds are endemic to the Huon and another is shared with the Adelbert Mountains. The gorgeous Emperor Bird-of-paradise belongs with the ‘classical’ birds-of-paradise and displays in noisy groups in the forest canopy of the lower hill forest. Witnessing the bizarre display of these splendid creatures will be one of our main targets here. The marvellous Huon Astrapia is a more montane species in which the males are adorned by a long and beautiful purplish tail. They display quietly in the treetops and often gather at favourite fruiting trees. The third localized bird-of-paradise, the marvellous Wahnes’ Parotia, also occurs in the nearby Adelbert Range (although it is very rare there). It is a mid-montane species that builds its dance court on the ground. This is the rarest and shyest of the three restricted-range birds-of-paradise, but we will definitely put in the necessary amount of effort to get good views.

The large endemic Spangled Honeyeater, with its striking yellow-orange facial wattle, is another frugivore that is fairly common in the area. The endemic Huon Catbird is a retiring species that can be hard to see as opposed to hear. [The last of the six Huon endemics and near-endemics is the high-montane Huon Melidectes, which sadly only occurs well above the altitudes we are able to reach on the tour.]

Mottled Berryhunter, a species which used to be considered a whistler but which is now placed in a New Guinea-endemic monotypic family, is easier to see in the Huon than anywhere else in New Guinea. We have even had multiple sightings in a single day!

Other species occurring regularly in these epiphyte-laden and moss-encrusted forests include Black-mantled Goshawk, Brown Falcon, Forbes’s Forest Rail, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Ornate Fruit Dove, Rufescent and Zoe’s Imperial Pigeons, Mountain Swiftlet, Mountain Kingfisher, Brown Falcon, the inscrutable Pesquet’s (or Vulturine) Parrot, the smart Papuan Lorikeet, Orange-billed Lorikeet, Dusky Lory, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, the retiring Macgregor’s Bowerbird, White-shouldered Fairy-wren, Red-collared and Mountain Myzomelas, Marbled, Rufous-backed, Long-billed, Black-throated and Mountain Honeyeaters, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Buff-faced Scrubwren, Brown-breasted Gerygone, Fan-tailed Berrypecker, the superb Tit Berrypecker, the endearing Black-breasted Boatbill, Great Woodswallow, Mountain Peltops, Hooded and Black-bellied Cuckooshrikes, Common Cicadabird, Regent, Sclater’s and Brown-backed Whistlers, Hooded Pitohui, White-bellied Thicket Fantail, Friendly and Black Fantails, the unique Blue-capped Ifrita (a monotypic family), Lesser Melampitta (hard to see as opposed to hear), Greater Lophorina, the shy Growling (or Eastern) Riflebird (whose harsh calls emanate from the forest interior), Black-throated and Slaty Robins, Canary Flyrobin and Black-fronted and Papuan White-eyes.

More uncommon possibilities include White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, White-crowned and Chestnut-breasted Cuckoos, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Fairy and Yellow-billed Lorikeets, Mountain Mouse-warbler, Mid-mountain and Spotted Berrypeckers, Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, Black Cicadabird, Rufous-naped Bellbird, , the nuthatch-like Papuan Sittella, Black Monarch, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin and Garnet Robin.

Huon Peninsula: Day 5  After some final birding we will return to Wasu and fly back to Lae for an overnight stay.

Huon Peninsula: Day 6  Morning flight to Port Moresby where the tour ends.

 

MADANG & ADELBERT RANGE PRE-TOUR EXTENSION

Madang & Adelbert Range: Day 1  Morning extension start at Port Moresby airport. We will take a morning flight to the town of Madang on Papua New Guinea’s northern coast where we will overnight.

In the afternoon we will explore a small offshore island where New Guinea Scrubfowl can normally be found. Coroneted Fruit Dove and Mangrove Golden Whistler also inhabit the island.

Madang & Adelbert Range: Day 2  Early this morning we will visit a nice stretch of lowland forest near Madang where we have a good chance of encountering the snazzy-looking Edwards’s Fig Parrot. This beautiful bird is restricted to northeastern New Guinea and favours large fig trees.

Afterwards, we will board the 4×4 vehicles that will take us along a rough track deep into the mountains of the Adelbert Range to our small guesthouse for a three nights stay. We will start our exploration of the area this afternoon.

Madang & Adelbert Range: Days 3-4  The fabled black, red and yellow Fire-maned Bowerbird is one of the rarest and one of the most dazzling and baffling birds of New Guinea and is restricted to altitudes between 900 and 1450m in the Adelbert Range. Its small bower was only described in 1986 and its display behaviour and nest remain largely unknown. One or two of these special birds regularly visit the fruiting fig trees near our guesthouse, so we stand a very good chance of adding this dramatic species to our life lists.

The unobtrusive Banded Yellow Robin leads a quiet life in the forest understorey and is usually first detected by its mellow trill. We will also want to observe the timid Brown-headed (or Brown-capped) Jewel-babbler. Like the other members of its genus, it is secretive and we will need to work a bit to entice one into view.

A display tree of Lesser Birds-of-paradise is situated nearby and there are usually several adult males in attendance. The fabulous Magnificent Bird-of-paradise is not uncommon here and with a modicum of luck, we will see a male in a fruiting tree or even at his display court.

Other species that we may well encounter during our stay include Long-tailed Honey Buzzard, Oriental Dollarbird, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, the magnificent Palm Cockatoo, (Western) Black-capped Lory, the secretive Tan-capped Catbird, Plain, Forest and Mimic Honeyeaters, the sneaky Rusty Mouse-warbler, Black and Obscure Berrypeckers, Boyer’s Cuckooshrike, Black-browed Triller, Sooty Thicket Fantail, Chestnut-bellied Fantail, Papuan (or New Guinea) White-eye and Grey Crow. We will also hear the raucous calls of the Collared (or Brown-collared) Brush-turkey on our wanderings in the area, but seeing this retiring forest denizen is another matter.

More uncommon possibilities include Beautiful Fruit Dove, Dwarf Koel, Slaty-headed Longbill, Northern Variable Pitohui, Ochre-collared Monarch and Crinkle-collared Manucode.

At night we will try to get good views of Marbled Frogmouth and Papuan Boobook.

Madang & Adelbert Range: Day 5  After some final birding in the Adelbert Range we will return to Madang for an overnight stay.

Madang & Adelbert Range: Day 6  Morning flight to Port Moresby where the extension ends.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA WITH A DIFFERENCE TOUR REPORT 2018

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