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ULTIMATE SULAWESI & HALMAHERA

Dave Farrow

Knobbed Hornbills (Dave Farrow)

Knobbed Hornbills (Dave Farrow)

This year’s second Birdquest tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera this year was one of the most successful yet, despite difficulties arising from the prolonged drought conditions and deepening El Nino event, as well as the ever-increasing habitat destruction at some sites. On Sulawesi we enjoyed many superb endemics such as Scaly-breasted, Green-backed, Lilac-cheeked, and Great-billed Kingfishers, daytime roosting Ochre-bellied and Speckled Boobooks, Cinnabar Boobook, Sulawesi Masked Owl, plus we had great views of a perched Sulawesi Nightjar in addition to day-roosting Satanic and Great Eared Nightjars. We were thrilled by that marvel of evolution the Maleo (seen in three stages of its life), plus Knobbed and Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbills, Red-eared and Oberholser’s Fruit Doves, Sulawesi Serpent Eagles, Sulawesi Hawk Eagles, Spot-tailed and Dwarf Sparrowhawks, Purple-bearded Bee-eaters, Purple-winged Roller, Piping Crow, Malia, Hylocitrea, Red-backed and Sulawesi Thrushes, Maroon-backed Whistler, Great Shortwing, and the demure Matinan Flycatcher. On the Anaso track we were surprised to be kicking Geomalias off the path in front of us, with three seen in a single morning. On Halmahera we enjoyed great looks at Ivory-breasted Pittas, and Azure, Beach, Common Paradise, Blue-and-White and Sombre Kingfishers provided more thrills. We cleaned up on the nightbirds with great looks at Moluccan Owlet Nightjar, a very vocal Barking Owl, Halmahera Boobook and a fierce little Moluccan Scops Owl. We got very close to some very vocal Invisible Rails (they stayed invisible!) and found a freshly emerged Moluccan Scrubfowl chick. We also saw Gurney’s and Pygmy Eagles, Moluccan Goshawk, Goliath Coucals, had walk away views of Purple Dollarbird performing in the early morning sun, and enjoyed the dawn lek of Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise. Its always a great place for Pigeons and Parrots, and we had great looks at Moluccan King Parrot, plus White Cockatoo, Great-billed, Red-cheeked and Eclectus Parrots, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Chattering and Violet-necked Lorys, a wonderful displaying Great Cuckoo-Dove, Blue-capped, Grey-headed and Scarlet-breasted Fruit Doves, Spectacled and Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeons. Add in the odd Paradise Crow, Halmahera Leaf Warbler and White-naped Monarch, Halmahera is one very birdy place.

Lilac Kingfisher (Dave Farrow)

Lilac Kingfisher (Dave Farrow)