51 posts in this topic

Love the tree kangaroos but I didn't realise there were sub-species of those!

 

the hornbills are just spectacular. the flights are quite a challenge!

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I am too occupied with my African safaris,but looking at this trip report reminded me that long ago I dreamt of visiting Papua New Guinea. I have long dreamt of seeing the gathering of the tribes around Mt.Hagen,the scenery, and of course the incredible birds.

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@pault thanks for reading along

 

@Kitsafari we have Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo in northern Queensland and there was a report of one in PNG by another group. In PNG we saw Doria's, Goodfellows, Huon and Grizzled Tree Kangaroos and there were some other species that we didn't see.

 

@optig more photos of the shows will be along by the weekend.

 

This morning we leave at 6 am in search of the 12 Wired BoP. Sure enough, a male and female bird appear at the display site which is high in a tree and quite far. However, we have good views thru' binoculars and can see 4 wires on the tail. This bird is a strange insect shape with a bright yellow body that allows us to follow the dance ritual from a distance.

 

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We were still high from this colourful sighting when Glen spotted a Southern Crowned Pigeon perfectly perched for photos. These large birds are a special of the area and have the most amazing bouffant comb. This bird is very similar to the Victoria's Crowned Pigeon, although its hair-do is not as exotic. We wondered how it managed such a great look after the rainy night!

 

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I opted to stay on the river while some people braved the rain, mud, chiggers and leeches and went in search of the Flightless Rail. We spent a pleasant 2 hours checking out the Blyth's Hornbills that flapped overhead, saw a Little Kingfisher, Ruddy-breasted kingfisher, Ruddy babbler,  Great-billed Heron, numerous Dollarbirds and parrots before returning to the group who were waiting at the trailhead after their muddy trek.

Mud, glorious mud

 

 

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Back on the river we saw more weird hair-do, these Palm Cockatoos were screeching and preening high up in the treetops.  They are very noisy,  second only to the garrulous Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and usually travel in pairs.

 

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Back at the lodge we are surprised to see a pair of distant Pesquet's Parrots, aka Vulturine Parrots.

 

After an early lunch of warm bread, tinned spaghetti, scrambled egg, spreads, peanuts and biscuits we make our way carefully down the muddy, slippery track to the boat. Some of the camp staff join us for a lift downriver where once again the locals are out and about. One of the guys is holding a glutinous pink pancake which he said was the staple food of taro with small white fish inside, similar to whitebait.

 

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We return to Kiunga Guesthouse for hot showers and to re-pack our bags ready for the flight to Mt Hagen tomorrow. Before completing this day I should mention that we saw a pair of brilliant orange Flame Bowerbirds high up in the trees along the Elevala River where their plumage contrasted sharply with the dark green leaves.

 

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Some people opt to return to kilometre 14 on the BoysTown Road to maybe catch the fly past of the Flame Bowerbird.

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Another early morning sees us on the track to the Greater BoP Lek, the same site as used by David Attenborough. We walk into the jungle from Kilometre 17 on a good track, with the birds calling from the treetops. There are several resplendent males displaying to at least 2 females. They sit quietly for a while and go into overdrive when a female gets close. There's a lot of dancing, hopping along branches, feather ruffling, calling and swinging upside down before mating occurs. After about 45 minutes we are off back to town and the flight to Mt Hagen. This flight will be trouble free as we are flying with PNG Air rather than Air Niugini.

 

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We saw this young cassowary at checkin for Port Moresby where it will be raised for food and eaten when about 12 months old.

 

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Thank goodness that the sweaty part of the trip is over and we are leaving behind leeches, mosquitoes, mud, heat and humidity to fly to Kumul Lodge which is 2800 m above sea level. Low cloud obscures the view for most of the flight, however I do catch glimpses of green-cloaked mountains and valleys before large areas of cleared and cultivated land appear. Neat raised garden beds grow a huge variety of crops including, potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, taro, bananas and sugar cane. This area is the food bowl of the country. Kim from Kumul Lodge met us at the airport and drove back to the lodge over the cratered Highlands Highway where traffic from both directions weaves in and out to avoid the deep pot-holes in the road.

 

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There is a police border post between Western Highlands and Enga Provinces which we are waved through.

 

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The lodge is very attractive and built in the local style using some local materials.

 

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I have been looking forward to the famous feeders and am not disappointed because the first bird I see is Ribbon-tailed Astrapia! The young males are yet to develop the long white tail streamers that flutter lazily when in flight.

 

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The feeders here attract a range of good birds with regular visitors being Brehm's Tiger Parrot, Smoky Honeyeaters, Belford's Meledictes and the Ribbon-tailed Astrapias.

 

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The Smoky Honeyeater's yellow eye patch changes to red when the bird gets excited or agitated. 

 

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Ben showed us the main birding areas around the lodge and on our walk we saw White-winged Robin, Stella's Lorikeets and scrub wrens. The food here merits a special mention because it is so good. We enjoyed a late lunch of marinated pork chops with fresh veg and dinner was curried beef, stir-fried chicken with rice and veg. Both meals were followed by a platter of fresh fruit with possibly the sweetest pineapple I have ever eaten.

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Posted (edited)

The day we saw 3 BoPs! (All scope views)

 

The lodge put on a hearty cooked breakfast  before an early start to see King of Saxony (KOS) BoP at a smallholding on the Murma Pass. This morning we are birding in a garden clearing amongst the cabbages when the landowner turned up.

 

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He said he was pleased that visitors came to his garden to see the birds which he also enjoys. This landowner is paid 12 Kina per head per visit and for this morning he will earn enough to feed his family for a month, buy 72 betel nuts or a case of beer.

 

The walk into the garden took about 15 minutes along an OK track, from which we had distant views of a Brown Sicklebill. This traditionally built shelter was handy when a slight shower blew over.

 

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Both male and female KOS BoP were calling, as was the Brown Sicklebill which made a harsh, rat-a-tat-tat machine gun call. The female KOS BoP showed first, a plain brown-gray bird with a spotted chest. Max the lodge guide spotted the male high in a tree. It was a young male that hadn't developed the head plumes yet, so more of a Prince of Saxony. 

 

The third BoP of the morning was Princess Stephanie's Astrapia, which briefly shared a tree with a pair of Brown Sicklebills. Brightly coloured Regent Whistlers, Glossy Swiftlets, Rufus-throated Bronze Cuckoo and Red-collared Myzomela flitted around in the tree tops.

 

The landowner and our local guide Max enjoy a quiet chat, the bush knife that Max has is typical of that carried by many PNG men.


 

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When the birding dropped off in the garden, Ben suggested to Max that we bird from the road. Max said that he didn't know the people further down and that we could only go if the landowner accompanied us, otherwise it may not be safe.

 

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We didn't get far down the road before the lodge bus returned to take us back to Kumul Lodge, the daylight revealed the countryside we had passed through in the darkness this morning.

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This photo shows how the people make stockade fences to protect their property. Branches, sometimes with sharpened points are lashed together with vines and fibres collected from the surrounding area to provide a fence.

 

Later in the afternoon we birded some trails around the lodge, but it was quite slow so we headed for Max's orchid garden.

 

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Max has collected wild orchids from the surrounding area and transplanted them into a maze-like garden close to his house.

 

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This is Max's house, where we stopped for a short visit while he flushed a Brown Quail and we admired a Long-tailed Shrike whilst eating freshly picked passion fruit from Max's vine.

Edited by Treepol
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This day is a red letter birding day for me because I saw 3 species of BoPs and managed photos of 2 species! I can't think of another day from  my own birding experiences that comes near to this achievement, maybe the closest would be the hummingbirds of South America at Tandayapa Lodge or Chaparri Reserve. If I count the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia at the feeders, I saw 4 different species of BoP and the memory of this day thrills me as I write up my notes and I expect it will remain vibrant for many years to come.

 

Another early morning, and we are off to Kama Village in search of Lesser Bird of Paradise.

 

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This is a tidy, friendly village where the headman came to say hello.

 

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The ground around the huts is swept clean and the gardens neatly laid out.

 

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The site has a tremendous view over the surrounding countryside.

 

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A pop-up market appeared and we were able to buy bilums at reasonable prices. Bilums are traditional bags made from fibres that the women use to carry heavy loads of just about anything - produce, firewood, even pigs. The handle is a wide strap that goes around the forehead to take the weight of the load.

 

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After the shopping we set off down the road in search of Superb BoP, a bird I was particularly keen to see. Max eventually located a Superb BoP more than half a kilometre from the road, high up in a tree and back in the shadows - I have no idea how he saw it. Through the scope I saw the blue cravat and the black plumage of this dazzling BoP that bobbed and bounced, dipped and swayed as it danced along the branch. A truly memorable sighting.  An entourage of villagers followed along behind us.

 

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Nights in the Highlands are very cold and families, including livestock and maybe some dogs take refuge inside the huts where cooking fires provide both warmth and hot food. We saw a number of huts early in the morning that looked as though they were on fire, however there was really no cause for alarm.

 

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This Long-tailed shrike was perched high up in the morning sun.


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After such a successful morning at Kama Village with the Lesser BoP, we drove back towards Kumul Lodge and stopped to climb a steep trail in search of the Blue Bird of Paradise.

 

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Jimmy the headman bought his family out to say hello, the little kids loved their puppy which had a shoestring collar.


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Some of the children followed us downhill to the next stop at a river for Torrent Fly-Robin, where our arrival coincided with the end of the school day. School's out!

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This was an absolutely top morning's birding, and a great day for photos. Moreover, the birds all turned up on time and perched in the open, except for the shy Superb BoP.  After such a successful morning, we returned to the lodge and I took the afternoon off and sat at the feeder.

The mature Ribbon-tailed Astrapia turned up after lunch - the long white tail ribbons ae just visible through the tree.

 

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Other visitors to the feeder during the afternoon were an Island Thrush

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Immature Island Thrush, Kumul Lodge

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Female and immature male Ribbon-tailed Astrapias

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Brown-backed Whistler

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Immature Rufus-naped Bellbird

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Ribbon-tailed Astrapia

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White-winged Robin

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Land ownership and land owners were a recurring theme during this trip. Given that up to 70% of land in PNG is privately owned, that up to 82% of the 7,000,000 population live outside urban areas and that 40% of the population live a subsistence lifestyle landownership and access to land for nature tourism are important issues. Privately owned land is usually conspicuously fenced, often with sharpened stakes, although the fence may not totally surround the property.

 

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Most people live in villages and they may own land near the village or some distance away. Some landowners opt to live on their land away from the village, however they are still part of the village social structure. The village headman no longer 'rules' the village, however he has a role in resolving local disputes and negotiating on behalf of the villagers with commercial and government representatives. Some landowners may have several hundred acres whilst others may have a plot just large enough for a house and to grow enough food for their family. 

 

Landowners don't welcome strangers on their land, and in PNG where most men carry bush knives and axes it is advisable to always be accompanied by a local. Whenever we were birding on private land, the landowner turned up,  welcomed us and seemed knowledgeable about birds in the area. Each landowner was paid 12 Kina per head for our group of 6. The Lesser Bird of Paradise we saw at Kama Village was the last of a group of 5 or 6. The village obviously does well out of per capita payments and sales from the pop-up market that result from visiting groups and if this last individual Lesser BoP disappears there will no longer be a reason for groups to visit and a valuable revenue stream will be lost. Avitourism is big in this area of PNG - Kumul Lodge just down the road is a birder's lodge and arranges for visiting groups to visit the known sites of BoPs.  Whilst we were a relatively small group of 6, there was a large Rockjumper group of around a dozen participants in the area, Tropical Birding had 3 people at the lodge the same time as us and a large Australian group of 19 clients arrived to attend  the Mt Hagen Show, beforehand they went to see a BoP. During the time we were at Kumul Lodge the headman at Kama Village and Jimmy the landowner where we saw the Blue BoP received around 480 kina or $240 AUDeach for providing access to these sites - this is a significant source of external revenue and hopefully a strong incentive to protect both the birds and the habitat.

 

Kumul Lodge is instrumental in providing access to the BoPs in the area as the staff manage transfers to and from Mt Hagen - here is a photo of Kim our driver (far right).

 

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This upmarket birder's lodge is located close to the border between Western Highlands and Enga provinces. It is a successful community-owned lodge built of local materials.  The en-suite accommodation is constructed of woven fronds on a local wood foundation. Hot water heated by a donkey system is available and there is (intermittent) electricity in the rooms. The food at Kumul deserves a special mention as the kitchen turns out 3 cooked meals a day. There is an extensive choice of cereals at breakfast, followed by bacon, eggs, sausage and toast. Lunch and dinner are similar with one meat dish (2 at dinner), potato, sweet potato, fresh mixed veg sometimes cooked in coconut milk, maybe a salad. The kitchen staff are very clever with marinades. Dessert is usually a platter of fresh pineapple and papaya. Food in the highlands generally is very good and is grown in plots like these that are called gardens, with raised beds to facilitate drainage.

 

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PNG has 26 varieties of sweet potatoes and the local guide told me that surplus crops are sold at the local market to people who grow different types of sweet potato. Carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peanuts and sugar cane all grow prolifically in the rich highland soil.


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Produce from the highlands is taken by road down the Highlands Highway to Lae and then shipped to Port Moresby by barge. Starvation doesn't seem to be an issue in PNG and interestingly we didn't see any beggars.

 

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What a great selection of birds you saw - and the BoP are spectacular.

Fascinating to see the countryside and some insights into the local way of life.

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Posted (edited)

The birds-of-paradise are certainly enigmatic, and I am thoroughly enjoying your insights as to the culture in PNG. Thanks for showing us a remote part of the world that many will never have the opportunity to visit. 

 

Edit: Spellcheck changed "culture" to "couture"  the first time. Uh, not quite. Glad I proofread.  :lol:

Edited by Alexander33

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@TonyQ and @alexander33 thanks for your comments. I am off to the beach for a week, and will resume with photos and comments on the cultural shows when I get back.

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While birds are spectacular, what I enjoy even more is your description of places and people! And related photos.

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What a fascinating report! PNG is on our bucket list for birding but its always seemed so daunting, even with a tour (as it would need to be.) Just catching up a bit late but I look forward to the continuation.

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My apologies for taking such a long break, I have been recovering from whooping cough that I picked up in PNG.

 

Before I begin the final sections on the Highland Shows where the many cultures of PNG are on display I wanted to add a bit about birding in PNG.

PNG has a reputation as one of the most difficult birding spots in the world and I wish I had realised how different birding in PNG would be to birding in Africa and South America and adjusted my expectations accordingly. I hoped to see as many BoPs as possible and to get OK photos, not BBC standard but OK as I have achieved on other safaris. However, this is no Pantanal or Peru with a bird on every dead tree that will perch obligingly for photos. I discovered during this trip that I have a birding comfort threshold. I won't slog through mud, sweat, leeches and chiggers for promises of maybe sightings, give me the riverside perches of the Pantanal or the open savannah birding in Africa any day!

 

There are hundreds of beautiful birds in PNG, with the fabled BoPs at the top of the list. Parrots, parotias, satin birds, bowerbirds, flowerpeckers and berrypeckers are highly sought after and scope and binocular views are usually possible, however it was taking decent photos that I really missed. A guy joined us for a day at Tonga village and he had a 400 mm lens, however his shots of the Blue Bird of Paradise were about the same as those I took on my Panasonic Lumix FZ200. One guy in our group left his 800mm lens at home because he was afraid it would be damaged in the difficult travelling conditions.

 

The tropical rainforest is dark and the birds are hard to see, and when a bird is spotted it usually flies into the thickest part of the tree.

 

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The bird life is usually high up - the BoPs can be 30-50m high in the trees (out of arrow or trap range?)

 

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and sometimes the walk to the lek or perch is uphill or through ankle-deep mud or out in the blazing sun. Trails might also be infested with leeches or chiggers.

 

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Further, overcast skies fail to light up the bright colours making identification even more difficult.

 

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Ben, the Sicklebill guide and the local guides were good at identifying them from size, bill shape, flight pattern etc., but I found it hard to stay interested in silhouettes flying high above. Whilst waiting for the BoPs, we saw lots of other small birds, but views were fleeting and photography well nigh impossible due to foliage, poor views and light conditions. These difficulties result from the challenging landscape, lack of infrastructure and climate. The Sicklebill and local guides were always professional and very knowledgeable. The scope was always carried on each outing to allow for distant views.

 

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Posted (edited)

This morning I decided against an early bird walk and slept in until 6.30. After breakfast I spent a last half hour at the feeder where the Ribbon-tailed Astrapias chased among the trees. A Regent Whistler bobbed about in a tree top but didn't stop for a photo and a pair of White-winged Robins flitted and flirted around the garden. This Friendly Flycatcher lived up to its name and posed perfectly.

 

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The next 2 days are a frenzy of face paint, feathers, finery and photos for today we attend the mini-show at Paiya village and tomorrow the singsing at Mt Hagen. Singsings are tribal get-togethers initiated by district patrol officers in the 1960s to bring together hostile tribes in an organised event that emphasised cultural diversity and provided a forum for peaceful social interaction. The singsings have moved on, and many performers now sport mobile phones and one group at Mt Hagen used nail polish and liquid paper for facial decoration. However, the gatherings are still important events on the PNG calendar and showcase the extravagant colours, tribal finery and bizarre headgear of unique tribes such as the Huli Wigmen and the Asaro Mudmen, a visual feast that is all the richer because such celebrations are rapidly disappearing from our world.

 

At Paiya village we walked through the garden to get to the performance area.

 

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The pigs were housed in wooden shelters

 

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and this poor cassowary was being fattened to eat.

 

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The mini-show is a taster for the famous Mt Hagen singsing where about 60 ethnic groups come together to sing, dance and socialise.  These people were applying make-up, with the help of an old rear view mirror

 

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note the headpiece that includes the plumes of 3 BoPs, King-of-Saxony, Superb and Lesser - enough said.

 

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Photography was a major focus of both days with the performers holding poses good-naturedly and mostly enjoying the attention. Well there is always one exception!

 

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Visitors with oversized cameras and mobile phones weave between performers, adopting some strange poses to get the best angle, snapping selfies – and screaming at other tourists to get out of the way.

 

These guys had a grandstand seat.

 

 

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There were some good quality handcrafts on sale and I was accompanied by Win who advised whether the billums were made of natural or synthetic fibres and the quality of the baskets.

 

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Win

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The guys from Mt Garawe were ready quite early.

 

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The Hagen ladies receive a final dust-off before the show begins

 

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whilst the Enga girls have a mud treatment.

 

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The Asaro Mudmen are popular participants, they make sharp clacking noises with the bamboo "fingernails" and perform a high, slow step, twisty dance.

 

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The Huli Wigmen are crowd favourites and were the first performers once the show got underway, leaping and chanting around the parade-ground to the primal beat of kundu drums.  I had been looking forward to seeing these wig-makers and warriors and whilst my pursuit of the hirsute was finally rewarded, I was dismayed at the number of Raggiana BoP head-dresses worn by this group and the number of hornbill necklaces.

 

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Hairdos are an important status symbol to the Huli, who take 18 months to grow hair which is made into wigs and modelled at singsings, complemented by egg-yellow face paint and plumed head-dresses.  The price of a wig for sale at the Mt Hagen show was 80 Kina or about $40 AUD.

 

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The Huli have an apprentice along this year.  Next came the Chimbu, dancing around a headman.

 

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followed by the graceful Enga ladies

 

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The Hagen ladies with the heavy shell necklaces danced in a circle and were followed by the Hagen men.

 

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Next came the Hagen Wigmen, a separate group from the Huli.

 

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The final act was the Skeleton Men from Chimbu. The ghostly, ghastly skeletons are moving - shuffling and twisting. As this group draws closer it becomes clear that they are not ghosts but tribesmen painted in black with a vivid white paint outlining the head and body to give the impression of a skeleton. They crept around the ground, twisting and grimacing for the crowd.

 

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 After lunch the show closed with a make-believe war which is resolved by a marriage between the two tribes.

 

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At the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom agree to get married and the families negotiate a dowry of Kina shells and pigs. First the Kina shells are displayed and the pigs are bought out. In this society, land, pigs and women (in that order!) are symbols of wealth.

 

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The bride's family

 

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The groom's family.

 

The locals enjoyed the performance and their numbers increased once school was over for the day. Some visitors also got into the spirit of the day.

 

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This guy from Spain had a great day.

 

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Driving back to Mt Hagen we once again negotiated the continuous potholes before arriving at the Shine Inn. The town is heavily fortified, most shops having both bars and grills.

 

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There are a lot of people around, long queues at the BSP ATM and a lot of mud at the market where an escaped pig was running around. I'll finish up with a few last photos from the mini-show.

 

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Edited by Treepol
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Wow, that looks absolutely fascinating. Although your description of the difficult birding (not to mention mud and leeches) is discouraging on the birding front. Still...it is worth going for the cultural aspects alone, I'd think.  The birds are icing on the cake :)  But I too would be very frustrated if I couldn't get at least some decent photos!

 

Distressing about the feather headdresses and hornbill accoutrements. I was just reading yesterday about a new population of hornbills discovered in a remote area of Borneo--which isn't being revealed to safeguard them---but it was mentioned that the casques were very desirable by poachers. I had no idea!

 

 

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@Treepol Wow, excellent TR. Fascinating stuff.

 

@janzin I have a few friends that have done birding trips to PNG & west Papua. It's bloody hard to get good images. It is really roughing it and tough going with the mud, leeches & mozzies  as well as some other nasty creatures to deal with too. Just consider some highly camouflaged lethal snakes that are lie in wait predators and won't move off the path. You're almost certain to be bitten when you step on them. The locals are terrified of them and so would I.

 

One friend has some images of an as yet described species of flycatcher from this region. I did consider posting it in the 'Name that Bird' thread but then decided it was not in the spirit of the game.  

 

 

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6 hours ago, Geoff said:

 

@janzin I have a few friends that have done birding trips to PNG & west Papua. It's bloody hard to get good images. It is really roughing it and tough going with the mud, leeches & mozzies  as well as some other nasty creatures to deal with too. Just consider some highly camouflaged lethal snakes that are lie in wait predators and won't move off the path. You're almost certain to be bitten when you step on them. The locals are terrified of them and so would I.

 

One friend has some images of an as yet described species of flycatcher from this region. I did consider posting it in the 'Name that Bird' thread but then decided it was not in the spirit of the game.  

 

 

 

Lethal snakes on the path! Well that clinches it :) 

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What an amazing place! Stunning photos from the sing song. You description of the difficulty of birding confirm that I am too much of a softy for such a trip- but I have really enjoyed reading about your  adventures.

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@janzin@Geoff@TonyQ thanks for your kind comments and your understanding regarding the difficult birding conditions. Now, on with the show, literally!

 

Today we were attending the Mt Hagen Show (the maxi one). We had to collect our tickets which turned out to be a metal badge, and on the way we had a look around uninspiring Mt Hagen town.  I noticed that there were a lot of trainers tied together and slung over power lines – strange that in this country where so little is wasted, one of the most common forms of rubbish is 10 metres overhead. At the show we had time for a quick look around the sale area

 

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before crossing the road to where hundreds of performers were in various states of dress (or undress?)  - these Mt Hagen women using nail varnish and liquid paper to colour their faces.

 

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Flamboyance comes naturally in this country where shells, pig tusks, cassowary quills, feathers, human hair, moss and even a whole possum are included in the regalia on display, along with generous tankets. Bodies are coloured and covered by mud, clay and charcoal.  Kundu

drums are used extensively at the shows, made from local woods and lizard skin these produce a sonorous, intense drumbeat.

 

 

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Others are arranging tankets, feathers, body painting and primping in hand-held mirrors.

 

 

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About 60 groups participated in the show, although some cultures from the Mt Hagen area were repsented by multiple groups in the same costume. The Fire hat people and another group from Cillimulli with mossy green hair decorations made notable performances.  

 

 

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The Huli are red today and the Skeleton Men were accompanied by a devil.

 

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This guy has a possum head-dress.

 

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No show is complete without the Asaro Mudmen.

 

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However, my favourite photos are the ones I took after the show had finished when everyone was tired, hot and relaxed.  These are the apres show photos, like when Miss America peels off her gloves, removes the tiara and kicks off her shoes before reaching for a glass of wine at the end of the day.

 

 

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Again, some visitors entered into the spirit of the day.

 

 

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We left about 2 pm, making our way slowly through the crowd to the bus park, where the Mudmen were packing for home. 

 

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The driver took us to a bottle shop on the way back to the hotel, so I took opportunity to look around the supermarket where a whole aisle was devoted to myriad varieties of tinned fish, another to 'square meat' (bully beef) and a third to cooking oil. These signs give a fair indication of the local diet.

 

 

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Closer to the hotel, these signs in pidgin (say it phonetically) are good fun.

 

 

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Electioneering, is it the same all over the world?

 

 

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Today we are returning to Port Moresby from Mt Hagen. The mini-bus is pre-booked for another job so we are driven in a Landcruiser with protective mesh over the windows and windscreen.

 

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Unfortunately the security guard at the airport gate didn't like the look of the vehicle and wouldn't it into the airport precinct, so we are decanted outside the airport and make a short walk to the entrance where our bags are manually searched because there is no security screening after which we finally get to checkin.

 

Once again the Air Niugini plane is late and as we listen to a succession of updates we watch the smart people who booked PNG Air lining up and taking off. Eventually we fly at 3.30 pm having lost another half day's activity because of Air Niugini's poor performance. Some passengers were dismayed to see 2 fire engines spraying water on the plane as it taxied to take off - a retired fireman was leaving Mt Hagen and this was his farewell from former colleagues!

 

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Here are some aerial photos I took on the flight back to Port Moresby.

 

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We were supposed to spend the afternoon in the grounds of the Pacific Adventist University, known locally as PAU. We arrived close to 5 pm as the light was fading, however we did see Purple Swamphen, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Intermediate Egret, a solitary Hardhead, Sacred Kingfisher, Australian Figbird and Pied Heron. A Black-backed Butcherbird is sitting on a nest, which was a bonus sighting as we searched unsuccessfully for the Papuan Frogmouth.

 

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Pacific Black Ducks

 

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Comb-crested Jacana

 

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Intermediate egret

 

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Purple Swamp-hen

 

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Little cormorants

 

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 Hardhead

 

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Plumed Whistling Ducks

 

I'm sorry that the PAU excursion was so short and late with fading light not conducive to good photos. It's a pleasant campus, clean, green and peaceful from which we set out to return to the Citi-Serviced Apartments. The trip seems to end suddenly at dinner as we complete a final bird call and make arrangements for airport transfers next morning. All up, we have seen a total of 234 birds and the bird of the trip is a tie between Blue Bird of Paradise and the Flightless Rail.

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Posted (edited)

My last day in PNG begins with a leisurely breakfast with LeslieAnn. The adventure has a sense of coming to an end with a sudden change of pace, leisurely breakfasts and the anticipation of a couple of lazy, light days at the Mantra Esplanade in Cairns.  Our happy travelling band quickly scatters as onward journeys take shape. Ben and I are booked on the 5 pm flight from Port Moresby to Cairns, so we have some time to fill in and where better than the Nature Park. Michael (our Port Moresby driver) accompanies us to the walk through aviaries at the Nature Park where I hope to take some close shots of the colourful birds we have seen flying high above during the past fortnight. The aviary is constructed from some leftover World War 2 scrap metal which is ideal for the purpose.

 

Spectacled Flying Foxes roost in the trees near the entrance.

 

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The Black-capped Lory seen in the wild in Varirata NP is a real stunner,

 

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as are the male and female King Parrots.

 

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The Eclectus Parrot is a friendly fellow, and the Crinkle-collared Manucode flies close to check us out.

 

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The Golden-headed Myna stays in the treetops whilst the Victoria's Crowned Pigeons strut their stuff, showing off elaborate hair-dos.

 

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A Raggiana BoP darts amongst the greenery before settling on a high perch.

 

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The exhibits include Northern and Dwarf Cassowaries. 

 

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The Spotted Cuscus was very handsome, but too snoozy to turn around for a photo. This young Saltwater Crocodile is also taking things easy.

 

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The Vulturine Parrot was enjoying a shower from the overhead sprinklers.

 

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There were Doria's, Huon and Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroos that shared a space with a pair of Blue-winged Kookaburras.

 

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Doria's Tree Kangaroo

 

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Huon Tree Kangaroo

 

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The last mammals we saw were the Agile and Grey Darcopsis Wallabies and a small Dusky Pademelon.

 

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 Agile Wallaby

 

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Grey Darcopsis Wallaby

 

This dainty Trobriand yam house is located near the exit.

 

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We hurry back to the Citi  Serviced Apartments for a hasty lunch, final pack and trip to the airport. However, we needn't have rushed as the flight is delayed by 45 minutes - we know from experience that it could have been much longer. Duty free has some interesting goods from PNG and I stock up on coffee, tea, Bougainville cocoa, chocolate and locally made soap to complement the baskets and bilums I bought at the mini-show.

After the short flight (1 hour 45 minutes) I was pleased to arrive in Cairns and checkin to the Mantra Esplanade for a 2 night stay.

Edited by Treepol
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Posted (edited)

The last 2 days of my holiday were spent relaxing in Cairns, a very laid back coastal city. I wandered along the boardwalk on the esplanade a few times and managed varied sightings of bush, garden and sea birds. I'll finish this TR with a few shots from the Boardwalk and around the Mantra.

 

Rainbow Lorikeets

 

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Peaceful Dove

 

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Black-fronted Dotterel

 

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Sacred Kingfisher

 

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Curlew sandpipers

 

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White-breasted Woodswallows

 

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Australasian Figbird

 

B70Rv0WKoNwLPOrZzsfeMqDjW9W30FrwwO-EO3iE

 

 

Mistletoe Bird

 

mkouiCefzooOlq0c21eIZ7sbcbcfprWjpcwVieDk

 

Varied Honeyeater

 

pclR5lR_0_nhtfogMsYQ9DKhLZn71XsJLXNuJxQ3

 

Gull-billed Terns

 

sjdjFxwRkrYDU3PFmfFKPbSyAukGY_nw6xqGvZtF

 

Eastern Curlew

 

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IbGaXnBzows9m9HDJYsCzg2ft856B2z2jF9VUcd6

 

 

Australian Pelicans0nAp-tKhvJ5wj1V363mvVTES921m10gUFXemZEth

 

 

Edited by Treepol
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Thank you for a wonderful report. Fascinating throughout, lovely photos and you end up with some beautiful birds in Cairns. It looks like an excellent trip!

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@TonyQ it was a different sort of trip for me, and one that I am definitely pleased to have done.

 

Now my focus is turning to Africa in 2018, the booking for which are mostly in the bag.

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Thank you Denise, I really enjoyed this report. Always wondered about the logistics for Birds of Paradise, and now we have a very thorough How-to-Do-it - perfect!

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@michael-ibk the how-to-do-it is to book with a reliable operator who can get you into the villages where the birds are regularly seen, to say nothing of getting you around the country. Otherwise an awful lot of time and money can be spent with not much to show for it.

 

I was very fortunate to have booked with Sicklebill who have excellent in-country guides and operators and allowed us to pack so much into just 2 weeks.

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