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BEST OF SULAWESI & HALMAHERA

Sunday 5th August - Saturday 18th August 2018

Mark Van Beirs

Purple-bearded Bee-eater (Mark Van Beirs)

Purple-bearded Bee-eater (Mark Van Beirs)

The highlight of our recent ‘Best of Sulawesi and Halmahera’ tour was the amazing spectacle of displaying Wallace’s Standardwings deep in the jungle of Halmahera, where the intrepid Alfred Russell Wallace himself had witnessed it c160 years ago. Seeing these incredible birds-of-paradise perform so well at close range sure made a lasting impression. The fabulous Sulawesi Pitta that foraged unconcernedly in the open only meters away in Sulawesi’s Tangkoko National Park provided another incredible experience. Also at Tangkoko we loved the uniquely coloured Lilac Kingfisher that came to sit above our heads and the party of adorable Sulawesi Hornbills that travelled through the canopy below us. The most unusual observation of the tour was a Sulawesi Woodcock that we flushed high up in the Lore Lindu National Park in central Sulawesi. Nightbirds were definitely a feature of this tour and the magnificent Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar that posed for ten minutes in front of us took the prize, although Eastern Grass Owl, Halmahera, Cinnabar and Ochre-bellied Boobooks, Moluccan and Sulawesi Scops Owls and Satanic and Sulawesi Nightjars also showed brilliantly at very close range. This is a fantastic tour for kingfisher aficionados as we enjoyed perfect views of Green-backed, Great-billed, Ruddy, Blue-and-white, Sombre, Beach and Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfishers. The variety of pigeons and doves was out of this world and included quality observations of White-faced Cuckoo-Dove, Red-eared, Grey-headed and Black-naped Fruit Doves, White-bellied, Cinnamon-bellied and Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeons and the rarely-seen Sombre Pigeon. This part of Wallacea gave us some splendid members of the parrot family, like White Cockatoo, Moluccan King Parrot, Great-billed and Blue-backed Parrots and Chattering and Violet-necked Lories. Other crackers seen on this short version of our classic tour (we have been visiting this corner of Indonesia for 28 years!) include Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle, Gurney’s Eagle, Dwarf and Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawks, Rufous-winged Buzzard, Goliath Coucal, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Purple-winged Roller, Azure Dollarbird, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Blyth’s and Knobbed Hornbills, Ashy Woodpecker, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Caerulean, Pygmy and Pied Cuckooshrikes, Paradise-crow, the unique Hylocitrea (in its own family), Malia, White-necked Myna, Grosbeak Starling, the fantastic Red-backed Thrush and the skulking Great Shortwing. Mammals are not really a feature of this part of the world but the adorable Spectral Tarsiers and the splendid Celebes Crested Macaques were great to watch.

Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar (Mark Van Beirs)

Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar (Mark Van Beirs)