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Papua New Guinea: Bougainville & Louisiade Expedition

On Bougainville, we will be guided by locals who have discovered a new site for Moustached Kingfisher near their remote highland village, and hopefully be able to capture the first wild photographs of this amazing species. There will be plenty of time to chase the many other endemics and near-endemics found on Bougainville, and we will cross our fingers to come across the rare Imitator Goshawk or Fearful Owl! On the far eastern Louisiade Archipelago, we will pioneer new sites where Louisiade Pitta, Rossel Paradise Kingfisher, Tagula Butcherbird, and Tagula Manucode feature among a long list of endemics never before recorded on any bird tour. In fact, most have probably been seen by only three or four birders in the last 100 years!

Next Dates

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Leaders:

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Price: $

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Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

A mixture of basic guesthouses and forest camping. The in-between days will be at comfortable hotels to help us recharge! We will be using a comfortable liveaboard boat for the duration of the Louisiade section.

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 daypacks with water and birding gear, but an excellent level of 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.

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 daypacks with water and birding gear, but an excellent level of fitness is essential.


Day 1: Morning expedition start at Port Moresby Airport (POM). Flight to Kieta on Bougainville, from where we will drive to Arawa. Night in Arawa.


Day 2-3-4-5-6-7: 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 wishlists, 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. Nights camping in the forest.


Day 8: Hike back to the road and descend to Arawa for night in a hotel (and showers!).


Day 9: The lowland forests and wetlands around Arawa hold an array of birds that can be seen only here and in the Solomon Islands, and 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. Night in Arawa.


Day 10: Flight from Buka to Port Moresby. 


Day 11: Flight from Port Moresby to Alotau, the south-eastern tip of New Guinea, and gateway to the Louisiades. We will board our liveaboard dive boat and sail overnight towards Sudest. 


Day 12-13: The 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 promptly to Sudest and then onwards to Rossel for a stay in one of the villages on the west coast. Sudest is the largest island in the region where most of the Louisiade endemics can be found. 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 are all present. 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. Endemic forms of Rufous Fantail and Pinon's Imperial Pigeon are likewise quite distinctive. 


Day 14-15: On the neighbouring island, we will be in search of Rossel Paradise Kingfisher, Louisiade Pitta, and Rossel Cicadabird, being amongst the first birdwatchers to look for these species on this out-of-the-way place, 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 further explore Sudest, Nights on Louisiade islands.


Day 16-17: These are our deisgnated backup days to account for flight or boat delays, but hopefully we will be able to use them for extra time on either Rossel or Sudest before heading back west. There are some small islands we might stop at, where the tramp species like Islet Kingfisher and Louisiade White-eye are more common. 


Day 18: Docking back at Alotau prewdawn, today we take a flight to Port Moresby, where the tour ends this afternoon.

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