Welcome to Birdquest
Tuesday 27th March - Sunday 29th April 2012
From 37°40’S in Tauranga in New Zealand to 35°30N in Yokohama in Japan, this epic voyage of 5,425 nautical miles across the temperate and tropical zones of the Western Pacific gave us a wonderful opportunity to see some of the rarest and least-known sea-birds in the world and visit a succession of remote tropical islands rich in endemic species. We had only one big disappointment – our inability to make a landing on Norfolk Island – and otherwise our voyage was remarkably trouble-free, thanks to the competence of the Heritage Expeditions team and crew on the Spirit of Enderby – our home for 30 days. Given that most of our time was spent at sea, our trip total of 307 species was very impressive and included no fewer than 48 species of tubenoses (nine albatrosses, 29 petrels and shearwaters, nine storm-petrels and a diving-petrel). Seabird highlights included the recently re-discovered New Zealand Storm-Petrel, the recently described Magnificent Petrel, the poorly known Beck’s Petrel and Heinroth’s Shearwater, and the extremely rare Short-tailed Albatross, not to mention Herald Petrel, Pycroft’s Petrel, Christmas Island Shearwater and Polynesian Storm-Petrel. The excellent selection of endemics that we found on land included the extraordinary Kagu and Crow Honeyeater in New Caledonia, impressive Solomon Sea-Eagle and recently described Roviana Rail in the Solomons, and ultra-rare Truk White-eye and Truk Monarch in Micronesia. It was worrying, however, that so many of the species we recorded were under threat. No fewer than 54 of the species that we encountered are currently considered by BirdLife International to be of conservation concern, with three being listed as critically endangered, nine as endangered, 23 as vulnerable, 18 as near-threatened and one as data deficient. In almost all cases, the principal threats come from introduced predators (especially rats) and deforestation.