The Bismarck Islands, July/August 2016

 Markus Lagerqvist, Roger McNeill and myself spent just over a week on the Bismarcks visiting Big Tabar Island, New Ireland and then Walindi Lodge on New Britain. Our main objective on Big Tabar was to find the recently split Tabar Pitta, to our knowledge this distinctive species had not been seen by visiting birders before. It took us a while but we finally found its prefered habitat and over the course of several hours managed to get better and better recordings and eventually found a more cooperative pair which allowed some views but generally they were shy and very skulky and usually in thick cover. On New Ireland we had a day and a half on the Lelet Plateau, this site is becoming very degraded with lots of gardens either side of the road and birding was generally slow.

Walindi Lodge on New Britain was a fantastic place to finish of our PNG trip with many of my target birds being seen. We found 2 Golden Masked Owls on our first evening, they were about 500m away from each other and both sitting on small posts next to one of the many tracks that go through the oil palm plantations. What a start! these were the first sightings here for over a year, there had been a more reliable bird closer to Walindi for a few months last year but it has long since disappeared, that was the first opportunity ever for visiting birders to see this enigmatic bird. New Britain Pitta gave us a great deal of trouble, not difficult to hear but stubbornly difficult to get a view but with a lot of persistence and mosquito bites we were rewarded with some views. New Britain Dwarf Kingfisher was also regularly heard zipping through the forest and seemed impossible to get a glimpse of until x-ray eyes David found a perched bird which sat in full view for ages – a real beauty. We done two pelagic trips hoping for Beck’s Petrel but the sea conditions were so benign we failed to find it but we did have a nice selection of other seabirds as well as a visit to Restoff Island for Sclater’s Myzomela. Thanks to the staff at Walindi for accommodating our demands and making our stay there a great success.


Species seen

Pacific Black Duck
Melanesian Scrubfowl
Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Heinroth’s Shearwater
Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrel
Wilson’s Storm-petrel
Lesser Frigatebird
Brown Booby
Little Pied Cormorant
Black Bittern
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Rufous Night-Heron
Black Honey-Buzzard
Variable Goshawk
New Britain Goshawk
Brahminy Kite
Buff-banded Rail
Rufous-tailed Bush-hen
White-browed Crake
Australasian Swamphen
Common Sandpiper
Wandering Tattler
Red-necked Phalarope
Black Noddy
Bridled Tern
Great Crested Tern
Mackinlay’s Cuckoo-Dove
Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove
Stephan’s Dove
Nicobar Pigeon
Superb Fruit-Dove
Knob-billed Fruit-Dove
Red-knobbed Imperial-Pigeon
Finsch’s Imperial-Pigeon
Island Imperial-Pigeon
Bismarck Imperial-Pigeon
Yellowish Imperial-Pigeon
Brush Cuckoo
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Violaceous Coucal
Pied Coucal
Golden Masked-Owl
New Ireland Boobook
New Britain Boobook
Glossy Swiftlet
White-rumped Swiftlet
Uniform Swiftlet
Moustached Treeswift
Blyth’s Hornbill
Common Kingfisher
New Ireland Dwarf-Kingfisher
New Britain Dwarf-Kingfisher
White-mantled Kingfisher
Ultramarine Kingfisher
Beach Kingfisher
Black-headed Paradise-Kingfisher
Rainbow Bee-eater
Blue-eyed Cockatoo
Buff-faced Pygmy-Parrot
Finsch’s Pygmy-Parrot
Red-chinned Lorikeet
Red-flanked Lorikeet
Cardinal Lory
Coconut Lorikeet
Tabar Pitta
New Britain Pitta
Ashy Myzomela
Red Myzomela
Sclater’s Myzomela
Black-bellied Myzomela
New Britain Friarbird
Bismarck Woodswallow
Barred Cuckooshrike
White-bellied Cuckooshrike
Varied Triller
Common Cicadabird
Bismarck Whistler
Mangrove Golden Whistler
Paradise Drongo
Spangled Drongo
Northern Fantail
Bismarck Fantail
Golden Monarch
Black-tailed Monarch
Shining Flycatcher
Dull Flycatcher
Torresian Crow
Bismarck Crow
Pacific Swallow
Australian Reed-Warbler
Golden-headed Cisticola
Black-headed White-eye
Metallic Starling
Long-tailed Myna
Red-banded Flowerpecker
Black Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
Hooded Munia
Bismarck Munia
Hunstein’s Mannikin