Welcome to Birdquest
Thursday 7th August - Wednesday 27th August 2014
Mark Van Beirs
Our New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa tour offers the best of South Pacific birding with well-behaved flightless, brilliantly-coloured or mega skulking species, comfortable lodging, smooth travelling, glorious scenery, lush lowland and dripping montane forests, turquoise seas, palm-lined white beaches, impressive shield volcanoes and a peculiar mix of Melanesian and Polynesian culture. On our recent tour we visited ten quite different islands in four diverse countries, took dozens of flights and observed most of the extant endemic birds. The Vanuatu lowlands produced the shy Vanuatu Megapode, Tanna Fruit Dove, the cracking Vanuatu Kingfisher and the adorable Buff-bellied Monarch, and an exploration of the middle altitudes gave us Vanuatu Imperial Pigeon. On the mainland of New Caledonia the unique Kagu stole the show. This relic from the days when flightless birds ruled the world performed incredibly well. Other megas included White-bellied Goshawk, the incredibly attractive Cloven-feathered Dove and the very rare Crow Honeyeater. Our short visits to the Loyalty Islands yielded Gould’s and Tahiti Petrels, the unique Ouvea Parakeet and the rarely-seen Large Lifou White-eye. Fiji’s Viti Levu island gave us lovely Golden Fruit Dove, Sulphur-breasted Myzomela, the very vocal Giant Honeyeater, the scarce Black-throated Shrikebill, Azure-crested Flycatcher and the retiring Long-legged Thicketbird. On Taveuni, the Garden Isle, the unbelievable Orange Fruit Dove impressed us most next to the avian wonder of the magnificent Silktail. Bright Maroon Shining Parrots were also much appreciated. Relaxed Kadavu gave us Whistling Fruit Dove and Crimson Shining Parrot while the highlights of our visit to Upolu island in Samoa included Flat-billed Kingfisher, Mao and Red-headed Parrotfinch. The extension to the mountains of Savai’i added Samoan White-eye to the list of a couple of intrepid hikers.