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PITCAIRN, HENDERSON & THE TUAMOTUS

Tuesday 3rd October - Tuesday 17th October 2017

Pete Morris

The stunning Tuamotu Sandpiper... our bird of the trip (Pete Morris)

The stunning Tuamotu Sandpiper... our bird of the trip (Pete Morris)

After a three year absence, Birdquest returned to Polynesia this year with a bang! We modified our approach a little to give us an even more comprehensive coverage of the region, and this necessitated splitting the tour into two: this tour and the complementary French Polynesia and the Cook Islands which ran straight afterwards. It has to be said, the two combined produced an unrivalled selection of Polynesian species, with every single target endemic being seen well!

As the tour title suggests, this tour focused on the Pitcairn group (Pitcairn, Henderson and Oeno Islands), and the Acteon and Gambier Islands in French Polynesia’s Tuamotus. These are some of the most remote islands on our planet, that have been visited by relatively few birders, and I am sure that we all felt extremely privileged each time we set foot on another island. Thanks to the skill and determination of Matt, Nigel and their skilled crew, we were able to make landings on all the islands on our cruise itinerary, despite some choppy seas and off-putting swells! It must be said that this was not a tour for those that are after a long bird list. Our tally was a mere 50 species, but as is often the case, it wasn’t the quantity of species we were after. No fewer than seventeen of the species are of conservation concern (with one critically endangered and five endangered species). With top land birds such as Tuamotu Sandpiper, Henderson Crake, Stephen’s Lorikeet and Polynesian Ground Dove, seabirds such as Polynesian Storm Petrel and Henderson, Phoenix and Juan Fernandez Petrels, numerous Bristle-thighed Curlews and plenty of Humpback Whales to keep us company, we were not disappointed.

The critically endangered Polynesian Ground Dove (Pete Morris)

The critically endangered Polynesian Ground Dove (Pete Morris)