Day 1   Arrival in Cairns - 3rd October
Following our arrival in Cairns we will transfer to a nearby hotel where we will spend the night. 

Day 2   Cairns - Musgrave
Travel from Cairns to Musgrave birding along the way for dry country birds such as Great Bowerbird. The late afternoon will be spent searching for Golden-Shouldered Parrot. 

Day 3   Lakefield National Park
Full day birding in Lakefield National Park. There are a number of lagoons with waterbirds, and the grasslands hold many finches including the Star Finch. If we are lucky the Red Goshawk may show itself.

Day 4    Musgrave - Portland Roads  
Early morning birding around Musgrave before traveling to Portland Roads via Iron Range National Park. Chances for Palm Cockatoo and other local specials on the way.

Days 5 - 6    Iron Range 
Birding the tropical rainforest and woodlands around Iron Range. Visit the nesting tree of the Eclectus Parrots, and should see many other of the New Guinea specials such as Trumpet Manucode and Yellow-billed Kingfisher.

Day spent birding around Iron Range National Park with visits to a number of different sites in search of Green-backed Honeyeater, Northern Scrub-robin and other skulkers

Day 7   Portland Roads – Chilli Beach
Start the day around Portland Roads, where we can see the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and Mangrove Robin. In the afternoon a visit to Chilli Beach should provide a good selection of new species and we can observe the spectacular swirling flight of thousands of Metallic Starlings coming in to roost on dusk. In the evening we can try some night spotting with chances of Marbled Frogmouth and Rufous Owl.

Day 8   Lockhart River - Cairns 
After breakfast we bird the local area before making our way to the Lockhart River airport for the flight back to Cairns

Day 9   Cairns - Noumea
After breakfast we will head to the airport and fly to Noumea in new Caledonia. 

Day 10   Parc de Rivière Bleue
We will spend all day in the magnificent forest of the attractive Rivière Bleue reserve. The reserve preserves the finest remaining forests in New Caledonia and is home to the incomparable Kagu.

The Kagu is an extraordinary bird: like much of the flora and fauna of New Caledonia, it seems to belong to another age, having evolved in isolation during the millions of years since the island broke away from Gondwanaland and drifted eastward into the Pacific Ocean. The Kagu is a little larger than a domestic chicken. It is flightless, the only member of the family Rhynochetidae, and is thought to be most closely related to the rails and cranes. The Kagu is endemic to New Caledonia and is the island’s national bird, but due to deforestation and predation by dogs the species is now in serious danger of extinction: estimates put the remaining population around 1500 individuals. A puppy-like yelping echoes though the forest as the Kagu gives its far-carrying call. With some persistence we should all be able to observe this intriguing and unusual bird, and with luck we will even witness the bird’s spectacular display, in which the wings are spread wide and moved in a fanning motion.

Another high priority species is the critically endangered, crow-sized Crow Honeyeater, whose rather dull name belies the beauty of both its melodious song and its striking appearance, complete with large red facial wattles. We should also happen upon the strange and rare endemic Horned Parakeet, a beautiful parrot with a wispy crest.

Other species seen regularly within the reserve include a series of additional endemics: White-bellied (or New Caledonian) Goshawk, Goliath (or New Caledonian) Imperial Pigeon (the world’s largest arboreal pigeon), New Caledonian Parakeet (split from Red-fronted), New Caledonian Myzomela, Barred Honeyeater, New Caledonian Friarbird, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, New Caledonian Whistler, New Caledonian Cuckooshrike, Striated (or New Caledonian) Starling, Green-backed White-eye and the superb Red-throated Parrotfinch.

We should also see a variety of more widely distributed species such as Coconut Lorikeet (now treated as a different species from Rainbow Lorikeet), Glossy and White-rumped Swiftlets, Grey-eared (or Dark-brown) Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Gerygone, Streaked and Grey Fantails, Melanesian (or New Caledonian) Flycatcher, White-breasted Woodswallow and Long-tailed Triller. Night in Noumea.

Days 11   Ouvea, Loyalty Islands 
one of the more remote islands in the Loyalty group. The island, which is surrounded by pristine white sand beaches, is covered in low scrubby forest which is home to the beautiful Ouvea (or Uvea) Parakeet (now split from Horned). Some seawatching here may produce Tahiti Petrel (and perhaps also Gould’s Petrel), Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Brown and Red-footed Boobies, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, and Brown and Black Noddies

Day 12  Lifou
On another day we will take a short flight over to the beautiful, unspoilt island of Lifou (or Lifu), the largest of the Loyalty Islands. Here we shall search for two species of white-eyes which are found nowhere else in the world, the exceedingly common Small Lifou (or Small Lifu) White-eye and the aberrant Large Lifou (or Large Lifu) White-eye, which is quite scarce. In addition, we can expect to find Red-bellied Fruit Dove and Cardinal Myzomela, the first being rare on Grande Terre and the latter completely absent.

Day 13   Farino 
We will also visit the forested Farino area, which is better than Rivière Bleue for such endemic species as the exquisite Cloven-feathered Dove, the famous tool-using New Caledonian Crow and the rather elusive New Caledonian Thicketbird (or New Caledonian Grassbird), as well as the more widely distributed Metallic Pigeon, Pacific Emerald Dove, Rufous Whistler, Southern Shrikebill and South Melanesian Cuckooshrike.

Amongst New Caledonia’s open savanna woodland or at small ponds or coastal habitats we should find such additional species as Little Pied Cormorant, Pacific Reef Heron, White-faced Heron, Nankeen (or Rufous) Night Heron, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Eastern Osprey, Whistling Kite, Swamp Harrier, Brown Goshawk, Buff-banded Rail, Australasian Swamp-hen (split from Purple), Dusky Moorhen, Pacific Golden Plover, Eurasian Whimbrel, Wandering Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Silver Gull, Greater Crested and Black-naped Terns, Sacred Kingfisher and Silver-eye, plus the introduced Wild Turkey, Spotted Dove, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Myna, Common Waxbill and Chestnut-breasted Munia.

Day 14   Pelagic
We are also researching the possibility of undertaking an exploratory pelagic for species such as Tahiti Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Gould's Petrel, and hopefully New Caledonian Storm-Petrel. Who knows what we will find?

All photos copyright Nick Bray/Zoothera Birding unless otherwise stated
1st row - White-bellied Goshawk, Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove
2nd row - Magnificent Riflebird, White-faced Robin, Noisy Pitta all copyright Jun Matsui
3rd row - Star Finch, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Frill-necked Monarch all copyright Jun Matsui
4th row - Melanesian Cuckooshrike, New Caledonian Myzomela, Yellow-bellied Robin