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NEW CALEDONIA & FIJI including Vanuatu and Samoa

Thursday 4th August - Tuesday 23rd August 2016

János Oláh

Kagu, always the no.1 most-wanted bird on this itinerary and never a problem! (János Oláh).

Kagu, always the no.1 most-wanted bird on this itinerary and never a problem! (János Oláh).

This itinerary targets a selection of special birds in a hidden corner of the world! It is is a superb tour to the South Pacific where, with the help of island-hopping, we encounter a new avifauna from time to time so the excitement never ends – until the very end of the tour anyway! For a split second I was wondering which stunning species to put on the front of the report but very quickly realised it can only be the unique Kagu no matter how many other goodies we saw on this birding tour. This is such a charismatic and amazing bird and the undoubted highlight for most birders on this tour! Nevertheless there is a fine selection of pigeons, doves, whistlers, shrikebills, honeyeaters and parrotfinches on this action-packed tour. Of course island hopping on this large scale (we visited nine different islands on this tour) can cause problems as well, and this year we were unlucky with our flights. While the start of the tour was ultimately not hampered by a cancelled flight, the last destination was affected for most of us. This fantastic region has many interesting birds with comfortable lodging, glorious scenery and a peculiar mix of Melanesian and Polynesian culture. We managed to see most of our targets, doing particularly well on Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji where we cleaned up on all gettable specialties and only two special birds were missed on Samoa – which is a great result for a leaderless party! The total trip list was 141 recorded species with only one ’heard only’. This list included no fewer than 86 Birdquest diamond (?) species and a total of 24 globally threatened birds including a critically endangered species with a population of only 150-300 individuals in the World: the Crow Honeyeater of New Caledonia! Notable highlights were Vanuatu Megapode, Tahiti Petrel, White-bellied Goshawk, Kagu, Tanna-, Many-coloured-, Orange-, Golden, Whistling Fruit Doves, Cloven-feathered Dove, Goliath Imperial Pigeon, Vanuatu and Flat-billed Kingfishers, the trio of Shining Parrots, Ouvéa and Horned Parakeets, Crow Honeyeater, Mao, Silktail, three species of Shrikebills, Azure-crested Flycatcher, New Caledonian Thicketbird, five species of white-eyes and Pink-billed Parrotfinch just to name but a few!

The critically endangered Crow Honeyeater, another New Cali special! (János Oláh).

The critically endangered Crow Honeyeater, another New Cali special! (János Oláh).