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BEST OF SULAWESI & HALMAHERA

Sunday 9th August - Saturday 22nd August 2015

Dave Farrow

The fine Red-backed Thrush (Dave Farrow)

The fine Red-backed Thrush (Dave Farrow)

Another great Birdquest tour to Sulawesi and Halmahera. This was the first of two this year, a shorter tour that took in most of the avian highlights and better habitats. It is obviously a drought year – the weather was dry and sunny throughout and indeed it had not rained in the region for two months, while at Tangkoko strong winds were a feature. Despite ever-increasing slash-and-burn at some sites, we enjoyed good fortune and many successes with a fantastic range of colourful endemics. Of the 12 species of Kingfisher recorded on the tour, on Sulawesi we saw Green-backed, Lilac-cheeked, Sulawesi Dwarf and Great-billed Kingfishers. Nightbirds are always pleasing and we saw Ochre-bellied, Speckled and Cinnabar Boobooks, Sulawesi Scops Owls, and five Nightjar species that included a pair of Great Eared at roost, a Satanic on its nest and a Sulawesi Nightjar. We saw Knobbed Hornbills, Red-eared Fruit Doves, Sulawesi Serpent Eagles, Sulawesi Hawk Eagles, Spot-tailed and Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawks, Purple-bearded Bee-eaters, Purple-winged Roller, Piping Crow, Malia, Hylocitrea, Red-backed and Sulawesi Thrushes. We enjoyed a stroke of luck on the Anaso track with a lengthy view of Geomalia on the path ahead of us, and Maroon-backed Whistler and Great Shortwing showed well. On Halmahera we saw Beach, Common Paradise, Blue-and-white and Sombre Kingfishers, and had good views of Halmahera Boobook and Moluccan Scops Owl. Its a great place for Pigeons and Parrots, and we found Blue-capped, Grey-headed and Scarlet-breasted Fruit Doves, Spectacled and Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeons, Moluccan King Parrot, White Cockatoo, Great-billed, Red-cheeked and Eclectus Parrots, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Chattering and Violet-necked Lorys. Also we found Gurney’s Eagles, Goliath Coucals, Paradise Crow, Halmahera Leaf Warbler, Moluccan and White-naped Monarchs. We visited the dawn lek of Standardwing and were fortunate in getting wonderful eye-level views in good light, a fine display that earned it ‘Bird-of-the-Trip’ for our group. The other iconic bird of Halmahera is Ivory-breasted Pitta, and we had a superb close encounter with this beauty.

The amazing Ivory-breasted Pitta showed superbly (Dave Farrow)

The amazing Ivory-breasted Pitta showed superbly (Dave Farrow)