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WESTERN PACIFIC ODYSSEY

Sunday 17th April - Friday 20th May 2011

Pete Morris

Our bird of the trip - Short-tailed Albatross (Pete Morris)

Our bird of the trip - Short-tailed Albatross (Pete Morris)

Wow! We crossed the whole Pacific and barely saw a wave! And what a diverse tour. From the weird New Zealand endemics, right through the tropics and on up to Japan where more familiar Palearctic species awaited. In total we recorded 300 species. Not a huge list, but considering we were mostly at sea or on islands with pretty impoverished avifaunas, it’s not bad, and they came from an amazing 66 different families of birds!! Of these, no fewer than 44 were tubenoses (eight albatrosses, 26 petrels and shearwaters, nine storm-petrels and a diving-petrel!). Amongst these were some of the rarest and least known birds in the world including the recently re-discovered New Zealand Storm-Petrel, the poorly known Beck’s Petrel and Heinroth’s Shearwater, and the ultra-rare Short-tailed Albatross which ended up as our bird-of-the-trip. But there were landbirds too! The bizarre Kagu was our second favourite and Caroline Islands Ground-Dove our fourth favourite bird. Indeed we were treated to an excellent selection of endemics on Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, the Solomons and Micronesia with other highlights including Solomon Cockatoo, Solomon Sea-Eagle, numerous colourful fruit-doves and pigeons and bizarre island specialist such as the attractive Rennell Shrikebill. Also of interest is the number of species recorded that are of conservation concern! No fewer than 47, with three being listed as critically endangered, a further ten endangered, 18 vulnerable, 15 near-threatened and one data deficient.

Kagu was a close second! (Pete Morris)

Kagu was a close second! (Pete Morris)