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This October Birding Ecotours tour leader and guide Andy Walker led a custom Pacific Tour around New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. This custom tour followed our scheduled departure Pacific Tour itinerary, and the 2017 itinerary can be viewed here. The trip report is now online and can be found here. Below, Andy summarizes the trip and provides a few photos. Please visit our tour page for many more photos.

 

We had a great tour around several Pacific Islands this October. First stop was Grande Terre, the largest island in New Caledonia and home to plenty of endemics, several of which are totally astonishing, like Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, Horned Parakeet, and the tool-using New Caledonia Crow. These are some of the most interesting, beautiful, and bizarre birds on our planet, and we enjoyed taking pictures and observing them all at length.

birding ecotours kagu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kagu

Cloven-feathered Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloven-feathered Dove

We also enjoyed spending time with numerous other endemics, such as New Caledonian Whistler, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, Crow Honeyeater, White-bellied Goshawk, New Caledonian Myzomela, and Red-throated Parrotfinch.

Our second destination was Fiji. We spent time on three islands: Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, and Kadavu. Here we experienced real Fijian culture and weather and an assortment of exciting birds. Endemic parrots were a big draw with Masked Shining Parrot, Maroon Shining Parrot, Crimson Shining Parrot, and Collared Lory all spectacular birds. However, the shining parrots were outshone by the totally outrageous fruit doves with the following all seen well: Golden Fruit Dove, Orange Fruit Dove, Whistling Fruit Dove, and Many-colored Fruit Dove.

Orange Fruit Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Fruit Dove

It wasn’t all about the doves and parrots, though, with loads of other endemics seen well: Azure-crested Flycatcher, Vanikoro Flycatcher, Fiji Whistler, Sulphur-breasted Myzomela, Black-throated Shrikebill, Fiji Goshawk, and of course one of the main Fijian targets – Silktail.

Our final stop was a brief one on Upolu, Samoa, where we found some very nice birds during our short stay. Flat-billed Kingfisher was a big target, and we got good views of several birds. Other highlights included the showy Crimson-crowned Fruit Dove, Cardinal Myzomela, Blue-crowned Lorikeet, Pacific Robin, Mao, Samoan Whistler, and Red-headed Parrotfinch. It was also hard not to enjoy the sight of Buff-banded Rails walking around gardens and roadside verges out in plain sight and totally abundant!

Also while on Upolu we saw the graceful White-tailed Tropicbird and White Terns displaying over forests we were birding in along with a constant stream of Brown Noddies passing overhead taking a shortcut across the island. All very spectacular!

Cardinal Myzomela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardinal Myzomela

This Pacific Tour gives the perfect introduction into the region. Some great food, scenery, and people also accompany the wonderful birds and make for a great experience. A final word from Andy:

There is a lot of work to do on the taxonomy of many species in the region. Recent updates from BirdLife International hint at many proposed splits; however, we used the IOC taxonomy for our tour and so will have to wait whether any of these are accepted by the IOC.

We saw several subspecies across different islands in Fiji or the wider region, and many of these may be elevated to full-species status in the near future. Examples that spring to mind include the Fiji Whistler complex – we saw at least three very different subspecies on the Fijian islands we visited (these looked and sounded very different to each other – see the photos below of two of the three subspecies we encountered, one from Vanua Levu and one from Kadavu). Similarly, the Streaked Fantail on Grande Terre (New Caledonia) looked and sounded very different to those seen on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu (Fiji)… just some food for thought.

The trip list in the Trip Report is broken down to subspecies level so that we can keep track of any potential armchair ticks that may arise in the future!

Fiji Whistler – (aurantiiventris) from Vanua Levu, Fiji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiji Whistler – (aurantiiventris) from Vanua Levu, Fiji

Fiji Whistler – (kandavensis) from Kadavu Island, Fiji.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiji Whistler – (kandavensis) from Kadavu Island, Fiji.

 

 

 

Tours by destination



Austria

Long-eared Owl

Austria is a landlocked country of roughly 8.5 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square kilometres (32,377 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austria’s terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 metres (12,461 ft). Austria has six national parks, almost 60 nature preserves and „nature parks“, about 35 „hot spots“ for bird-watching, 20 Alpine gardens and many other opportunities to admire nature in its undisturbed, pristine beauty. With 425 bird species, it is a wonderful destination for bird watchers to enjoy the exciting Central European avian riches.

 

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Bulgaria

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker

Despite being a relatively small country, together with Spain Bulgaria boasts the highest biodiversity in Europe, with the birds contributing greatly to this. Bulgaria’s biodiversity is conserved in three national parks, 11 nature parks and 17 biosphere reserves. The vast tracts of different habitats make it a pleasant country to bird, and the country plays host to several scenically beautiful areas, adding to its splendor. 

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Finland

Boreal Owl - Jari Peltomäki

Finland is a land of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and the winter darkness, urban and rural, east and west.  As you look out from the plane, the first impression you may have is that there are a lot of trees, an endless carpet of forest, with many lakes and small towns in between. It’s kind of a surprise when you land in Helsinki to find that the airport is so modern and efficient: not a polar bear in sight. It’s truly amazing how uniquely exotic each season can be. Four times a year, nature changes its uniform completely, color, light, temperature, sounds and smells. Everything changes in a way that happens nowhere else.

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France

European Crested Tit - Thomas Hochebner

France  is a country located in Western  Europe.  Clockwise from the north, France borders  Belgium, Luxembourg, and  Germany to the northeast,  Switzerland to the east, Italy to the southeast, and Spain to the southwest across the Pyrenees mountain range (the small country of Andorra lies in between the two countries). The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south of France, with the Principality of Monaco forming a small enclave. To the west, France has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline, while to the north lies the English Channel, across which lies the last of France’s neighbors, England (part of the United Kingdom).

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Greece

Rock Partridge

Greece lies in the south of the Balkan peninsula and is part of the European East Mediterranean Region. Its territory expands in approximately 132.000 km2, its coast line is 15.000 km long, and has a great variety of geomorphological formations and rocks. In general, the climate can be regarded as Mediterranean, with mild and wet winters, and hot and dry summers. The country’s geomorphology is diverse. Greece is primarily a mountainous country, with seventy per cent of its territory covered by mountains. It has a very long coastline, with a plethora of peninsulas and islands. The fauna consists of a rich mixture of European, Asian and African species, including a considerable number which are endemic. Greece has one of the highest bird densities in Europe and is a fascinating country ornithologically: About 407 bird species have been recorded, of which 240 nest in Greece (59% of the total). Some species (e.g. the Dalmatian Pelican, Pelecanus crispus) nest only in Greece of all EU countries.

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Hungary

White-tailed Eagle

 

Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. Slightly more than one half of Hungary’s landscape consists of flat to rolling plains of the Pannonian Basin: the most important plain regions include the Little Hungarian Plain in the west, and the Great Hungarian Plain in the southeast. The country is well established as one of the very best birding nations in Europe. With 416 species, including such treasures as Saker Falcon, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Great Bustard, Corncrake, Ural Owl, Aquatic Warbler, and nine species of woodpecker, it certainly deserves a place on any world birder’s wish list to enjoy the exciting Central European avifauna.

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Iceland

Atlantic Puffin - Jari Peltomäki

Iceland, thanks to its remote location and harsh winters, has a relatively small population, leaving vast parts of this island nation untouched. Some amazing scenery of glaciers, volcanic peaks, steep cliffs, waterfalls, and steaming geysers make this an amazing panorama for a birding destination.

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Italy

Wallcreeper

Italy is a “must-visit” country to most travelers, this is where both the Roman Empire and the Renaissance began, and no other Western country can quite compete with the incredible historical depth of this one. Even if you are not a history buff, your jaws will still drop when you first set eyes on the beautiful cities of Florence, Venice, and Rome. Combined with its art and history, Italy also has some of Europe’s most magnificent scenery.  We acknowledge the fact that many people will want to visit Italy at some stage or another, and we hereby present you with the opportunity of combining birding with seeing the main sights and also experiencing the culture of modern Italy.

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Norway

Ivory Gull © Erwin Vermeulen

Scenically spectacular Norway, with its famous fjords, rugged coastline, and thousands of islands, has some vast wilderness areas. Denizens of these vast tracts of boreal forest, tundra, and coastline include ptarmigans, sea ducks, sea eagles, northern owls, <strong>Ivory Gull</strong>, polar bears, walruses, narwhales, orcas, and various huge baleen whales, along with a great many others.

While the whole of Norway is well worth a visit if you enjoy nature, probably the most world-renowned part of Norway is incredible Svalbard (also commonly known as Spitsbergen, which means “pointed mountains”, the Dutch name that a lot of people still use even though the area is no longer Dutch territory). This is where many people go to find and photograph polar bears, but it’s also teaming with a large number of other charismatic species, including some sought-after birds. Svalbard is midway between continental Norway and the North Pole and gives easy access to the Arctic Circle, with international flights available to the world’s northernmost city, Longyearbyen.

We arrange spring and early summer cruises to Svalbard, and we also include Norway as part of our Finland-focused birding tour. By request, it is also very easy for us to arrange cruises and land-based tours to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in the Tromsø area. It’s probably the warmest place in the world to observe the Northern Lights, because it’s degrees warmer than expected for its latitude because of the warm Gulf Stream.

Do join us on a Norway birding tour or wildlife cruise.

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Romania

Western Yellow Wagtail

Romania is a country very rich in biodiversity. It contains 98% of Europe’s bird species, a large majority of them found the Danube Delta. In this delta alone, over 320 species of birds are found during summer, of which 166 are hatching species and 159 are migratory. Over one million individuals (swans, wild ducks, coots, etc.) winter there. The last three days of Birding Ecotours’ Bulgaria and Romania tour are spent in this magnificent birding wonderland.

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Spain

White Stork - Ian Merrill

Spain has long been an extremely popular destination for birders, offering as it does a wide range of typical Mediterranean habitats, along with easy, safe, and excellent birding. Many sites are in beautifully scenic settings, featuring Romanesque architecture and ancient, fortified hilltop villages.  Much of interior Spain is very rural and way off the tourist trail. This is the finest region to sample a large array of southern European species and is especially good for raptors, with 23 species possible.

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Sweden

Hazel Grouse - Birding Tour Sweden

Sweden’s Taiga forests and wetlands around Svartådalen make for fantastic birding in the springtime. The Black River Valley of Västmanland hosts waves of migrating birds that arrive from late April, the number of species increase around the wetlands and in late May, and even the speciality species become common. Sweden in spring truly boasts an abundance of birdlife and photographic opportunities. One thing is for sure: Sweden will leave a lasting impression on you with its scenic beauty and serenity, and for the fantastic birding encounters you will enjoy.

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Turkey

Brown Fish Owl

Turkey is a richly historical land with some of the best cuisine you will ever taste, one of the world’s greatest cities and scenery from white-sand beaches to soaring mountains and fairy-like natural formations. With a checklist of approximately 500 birds, it should also be on any world birder’s wish list.

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We can run any of our tours privately any time and we can also arrange custom itineraries - send us your wish-list and we'll put the itinerary together! See more here.



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