Welcome to Birdquest
Monday 7th November - Friday 2nd December 2011
Mark Van Beirs
This was the first ever organized bird tour to these little-known specks of land situated between mainland Sulawesi and the Moluccas, just to the west of Weber’s zoogeographical Line. We visited the little known island groups of Talaud, Banggai, Sula, the Togians and Sangihe and came away with excellent views of the majority of the extant endemics. The logistics went unexpectedly smooth and although we had to work quite hard at times to get to the habitat of some of the specialities, we got rewarded with some exceptional observations of some of the least known and rarest species on the planet. The bird of the trip was the modestly-clad Sangihe Shrike-Thrush, not only because we will long remember the long hike on steep, slippery trails to get to its beautiful, montane forest habitat, but mainly because of the terrific views we had of this extremely rare species. Other mega highlights included the cute Sangihe Scops Owl, the remarkable Togian Boobook, the seriously weird Banggai Crow, the smart Bare-eyed Myna, the terrific Helmeted Myna and the unpretentious Sula Scrubfowl. We recorded 205 species on our travels. Mammals were not very obvious but both the Peleng and Sangihe Tarsiers conquered our hearts with their enormous eyes. Other interesting animals included Peleng Cuscus, Sulawesi Crested Macaque and Short-finned Pilot Whale.