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THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

Wednesday 2nd September - Saturday 26th September 2009

Mark Van Beirs

The Bird of the Trip was the magical Solomon Islands Frogmouth, which performed so splendidly in the highland forest of Santa Isabel. Other highlights that we will cherish forever include the very rarely seen Black-faced Pitta, the impressive Solomon Sea Eagle, the secretive Woodford’s and Roviana Rails, the fabulous Crested Cuckoo-Dove, the cracking Solomon Hawk-Owl, the lovely Ultramarine Kingfisher, the attractive Rennell Shrikebill and the cute, different-looking Bare-eyed White-eye. The Solomon Islands comprise Endemic Bird Areas 198 and 199 and the total area of this archipelago is barely larger than Belgium. It has more restricted range species (confined to an area less than 50,000 km²) than any other Endemic Bird Area in the World! Our intrepid group of Birdquesters birded the islands of Malaita, Gizo, Rennell and Guadalcanal by road, cruised into Ranongga and Vella Lavella by boat, and trekked up into the mountains of Makira, Santa Isabel and Kolombangara. The trip involved several hikes into the hardly ever visited highlands of remote and little known islands and our rewards included a great selection and a large percentage of its endemic birds. A total of 148 species were seen (and another 4 heard) and included most of the available endemics, but we also enjoyed a close insight into the lifestyle and culture of this traditional Pacific country, and into the complex geography of the beautiful forests and islet-studded reefs.