Welcome to Birdquest

MICRONESIA

Wednesday 24th November - Thursday 16th December 2010

Derek Scott

The third outing of Birdquest to the forgotten islands of Micronesia was undoubtedly the best so far. Not only did we see all of the possible surviving endemic species except Pohnpei Mountain Starling (which may, in fact, be extinct) and record an exceptional total of 118 species (four more than the total of the two previous tours combined), but we also had an unexpected bonus in the form of an Abbott’s Booby, well outside its normal range. Of the 49 endemic species (including some still controversial recent splits) that we recorded, many are pleasingly common and obviously doing well, but sadly many of the others are under threat from the continuing destruction of their native vegetation and introduction of exotic species. No less than 19 (almost 40%) of the Micronesian endemics are of conservation concern and listed by BirdLife International in the categories Critically Endangered (3), Endangered (5), Vulnerable (3) and Near Threatened (8). Highlights of our island-hopping journey included superb views of Mariana Megapodes and Nightingale Reed Warblers on Saipan, three pairs of Tinian Monarchs within minutes of our arrival on Tinian, great views of Mariana Crows and the unexpected Abbott’s Booby on Rota, the peculiar Long-billed White-eyes and elusive Pohnpei Cicadabirds on Pohnpei, the Great Truk White-eyes and Truk Monarchs after a stiff climb up Mount Winipot in Truk Lagoon, our close encounters with Palau Megapodes, Palau Ground-Doves and Giant White-eyes in the Rock Islands of Palau, and excellent views, eventually, of Yap Cicadabird and Olive White-eye on Yap. We also turned up a few Micronesian rarities along the way, most notably a Horned (Slavonian) Grebe on Rota, and had great views of all five possible species of flying fox.