Participants: Peter and Angela Clement, Barry Cooper, Gail Mackiernan and Sally Wechsler.
Barry Cooper and Gail Mackiernan
216 Mowbray Road, Silver Spring, MD 20904 USA
Where did you say the Kagu was?
This was our fourth seabird-orientated voyage on a commercial cruise ship. We have learned that these large vessels offer many opportunities for the serious sea-birder. Not the least of which is a completely stable platform from which one can comfortably use one’s scopes, covered decks in wet weather, and a vast array of possible routes. Downsides are of course that one cannot choose the exact course, there is no chasing or chumming, nor Zodiac rides. Rather, these represent what oceanographers call “ships of opportunity” – vessels which provide a platform for one’s work whilst their actual purpose differs. The various shipboard amenities are mere icing on the cake for the committed sea-birder! Another big advantage for the budget-minded birder is the very competitive pricing compared with typical “ expedition” Eco-tour cruises.
The ship for this cruise was the ms Statendam
of the Holland-America Line with a carrying capacity of about 1,200 passengers. The Statendam
lacks multiple covered decks at the rear of the ship. However this proved no obstacle, as we found that the birds were better observed from the bow, as relatively few followed in the ship’s wake. As we cruised north to the equator the weather, not surprisingly, became increasingly hot. We were unable to spend as much time in the bow and then spent most of the time birding from the promenade deck that provided shade.
In general, sea bird diversity and numbers were quite good from New Zealand to just south of the Equator. North of the Equator sea bird numbers and activity slowed dramatically, with a few noticeable exceptions such as around Iwo Jima.
Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World, 2007, Derek Onley and Paul Scofield, published by Helm Publishers, London.
Birds of the Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, Doughty, Day and Plant, published by Helm Publishers, London.
The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific, Pratt, Bruner and Berrett published by Princetown University Press.
The New Guide to Birds of New Zealand by Sibson and Turbott published by Collins.
Several internet trip reports also gave good information on New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Finally, we would not have had as successful a trip without the considerable help of Chris Collins, who leads the Western Pacific Odyssey for WildWings, and from Douglas Pratt – many thanks to both for their invaluable tips and contact names!
For Parc Rivere-Bleue, guide Jean-Marc Meriot; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For car/driver hire: Flore Marchisio, Coordinator, Arc en Ciel Voyages, Phone # 687 27 19 80 Email: email@example.com (very reliable agency).
Wilson Maelaua, Destination Solomons Travel & Tours; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Wilson can arrange guide, car and driver, etc. for Mt. Austen.
Bruce Alexander, Rabul Hotel, email: email@example.com
Tilas Alfonso, ESA Family Group, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Radley; email: email@example.com (Paul is not a guide but an ornithologist working on endemic birds, he gave us a number of tips and should be contacted by anyone planning a trip to Saipan or Tinian.)
We were aboard ship for all of the trip except the days in New Zealand; there we stayed at the following two places:
Auckland: Arena Hotel – 131 Beach Road – Jireh Trading Ltd. T/A Auckland Stay. Phone # 0064 9 303 2463 , Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,nz Relatively inexpensive and we were able to walk to the dock for the TiriTiri trip, as well as close to downtown for money exchange etc.
Kauri Coast Holiday Park, Trounson Park Road, Kaihu, RD9 Dargaville, NZ. Phone # 64 9 439 0621; Email: kauricoasttop10.co.nz Very convenient to birding sites and they arranged the night walk for Kiwi at Trounson Kauri Park.
We hired cars in New Zealand through Avis at Auckland airport and also, on Guam and Saipan though a local agency, Cars Unlimited, www.carsultd.com. They delivered to the dock at Saipan but we had to pick up in town on Guam.
Tiri Tiri Matangi Island transport: Book trip out to the island via the 360 Discovery on their web site: www.360discovery.co.nz
The cruise included day stops at a number of Pacific islands and Japan. This gave us a great opportunity to look for island endemics and other species. Additionally, we spent four days in New Zealand prior to the cruise and our sightings for this part of the trip are also included.
Arrived in Auckland in early morning, rented a car at the airport and drove to the Miranda Wetland Reserve. BC.GM & SW birded this area and the Seacoast Highway for most of the day. Overnight Arena Hotel - Beach Road. Best birds seen included New Zealand and Banded Dotterels, Wrybill, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Black-billed Gull and Little Tern.
Early morning ferry to TiriTiri Matangi Island and birded there most of the day, seeing many NZ endemic species including N.Z. Pigeon, Red-crowned Parakeet, North Island Robin, Whitehead, Stitchbird, N.I. Kokako, N.I. Saddleback, Bellbird and Tui. Also, very impressive numbers of sea birds seen from the ferry including Fluttering and Buller’s Shearwaters, and Parkinson’s Petrels. Overnight Arena Hotel - Beach Road.
Drove to Northlands with stops at Waipu Reserve and Trounson Kauri Park. Night walk at Trounson Kauri Park. Star bird was a North Island Brown Kiwi seen on the night walk. Also, the rare Fairy Tern was well seen at Waipu. Overnight at Kauri Coast Holiday Park.
Drove [in heavy rain] back to Auckland with stop at Tawharanui Park. Boarded Statendam
in mid-afternoon and departed Auckland at about 6.00 p.m. south to Tauranga, [N.Z.] The departure time plus rainy conditions only allowed for about an hour’s sea-birding which was unfortunate as there was quite a lot of action. Pelagic species during this time included two Cook’s Petrels, plus thirty Buller’s and one hundred Fluttering Shearwaters.
Docked at Tauranga at 8.00 a.m. in light rain. We rented a car at the dock and spent an interesting day land birding in fairly good natural forest at the Rotoma Scenic Reserve about an hour’s drive from Tauranga. Native birds seen included New Zealand Pigeon, Whitehead, Fernbird, North Island Tomtit, Bellbird, Tui, Grey Gerygone and North Island Fantail. NZ Dabchick and NZ Scaup were seen at roadside stops en route overlooking a river and several lakes.
departed Tauranga at about 8.00 p.m and headed north towards Bay of Islands in overcast and light rain.
Arrived Bay of Islands at about 9.00 a.m., unfortunately entering the harbour in fog and rain which limited viewing. Booked onto an enjoyable three-hour scenic cruise through the harbor to the “Hole in the Rocks”. Spectacular scenery and some good sea birds including our peak count of Parkinson’s Petrels, five species of shearwaters including our only (definite) Hutton’s and nominate Little Shearwaters of the trip, as well as several Little Blue Penguins. The Statendam
departed at around 5.00 p.m. and about six Penguins were also seen as we cruised out of the Bay.
Our first full day at sea heading north towards New Caledonia had very good pelagic birding with many species close and providing excellent viewing. In excess of one hundred each of Grey-faced and White-necked Petrels were recorded. Also our peak count of Kermadec Petrel, and our only White-chinned Petrels of the trip. Other notables included good numbers of Black-winged Petrels, a single Kerguelen Petrel, our first Grey Ternlet and our maximum count of Long-tailed Skuas. A Grey-faced Petrel was found onboard the ship and released safely.
Another full day at sea heading towards New Caledonia. The first Tahiti and Herald Petrels were seen. The last two Parkinson’s Petrels that had been a permanent feature in the wake finally departed. Also we had a trip peak count of Red-tailed Tropicbirds.
March 6 :
docked at Noumea [New Caledonia] at about 8.00 a.m. A 5.00 a.m walk around the deck prior to docking had revealed that several seabirds had come aboard during the night. These included six Gould’s Petrels that were successfully released.
We had arranged through Arc en Ciel for a mini-bus with driver to pick us up at the dock and drive us to Parc Rivere-Bleue. We arrived at the Parc and were met by the manager Jean-Marc Meriot who guided us for the day. A brilliant day’s birding seeing all but one of the endemic and specialty species that occur in the park. Many thanks to Jean-Marc – who is a superb guide -- for a very memorable day. Top birds must, of course, include the Kagu but also the very beautiful White-bellied Goshawk, multiple Crow Honeyeaters, Cloven-feathered Dove, and, at the very last minute, good views of Red-throated Parrotfinches.
departed Noumea at 5.00 p.m. allowing for late afternoon sea-watching as we crossed the island’s very productive in-shore waters and over its barrier reef. This approximately one hour of viewing produced some of the most exciting pelagic birding of the trip and included peak numbers of both Black-winged and Gould’s (New Caledonia) Petrels plus an additional 100 cookileria sp..
Also about five hundred Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were seen. Unfortunately, the light became poor (rain again!) leaving us wishing for more time in these productive waters.
A full day at sea en-route from New Caledonia to Guadalcanal. Another productive day with Tahiti and Providence Petrel numbers peaking with about fifteen birds of each species. Single Herald, Kermadec and Black-winged Petrels [the latter the last of the trip] were seen and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters peaked at about 1000 birds. A single tiny Heinroth’s Shearwater was well watched through the scope as it flew close across the bow and a party of about ten Madeiran Storm Petrels provided extended close scope views which confirmed this unexpected species. All three species of Booby [Masked, Red-footed and Brown] cruised around the ship and Sooty Terns were seen flying high in large flocks. Lastly two Grey Ternlets were recorded.
Another full day at sea heading towards Guadalcanal. Noticeably smaller numbers and less diversity today. An additional three Providence Petrels were seen. “Wedgies’ had declined to the low hundreds and the standout species was a Lesser Frigatebird, our first of the trip.
arrived at Honiara, Guadalcanal at about 8.00 a.m. and departed around 5.00 p.m..
Land birding was very good. We had arranged with Wilson Maelaua for a bird guide, Samson, as well as a car with driver. Samson had a very good knowledge of where to find the various endemics although he was a bit hampered by not having binoculars (nevertheless, superb eyes!) Probably the most memorable sighting was an incredible fourteen Blyth’s Hornbills. Other standout species included Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon, White-billed Crow, Buff-headed Coucal, Ducorp’s Cockatoo and three species of cuckoo-shrike. Unfortunately our day ashore was cut short by extraordinary heavy rain in early afternoon which sent everyone scrambling for the ship and thoroughly drenched many ship excursion participants! Consequently we failed to visit some lowland sites, as well as the Sea-eagle overlook, as originally planned and ended up missing a few expected species.
At sea from north of Guadalcanal heading north-west to the north end of Bougainvillea Island. An unexpected Black-browed Albatross was seen by PC. The ship stopped to investigate some apparent flotsam – sending out a ship’s boat – that proved to be a fish-aggregating device. This device had attracted a very large school of fish that in turn was being visited by a number of seabirds, mostly Wedgies but also fifteen Tropical Shearwaters and eight Heinroth’s Shearwaters. All were well-examined in our scopes as the ship sat motionless.
We arrived in Rabaul, New Britain at about 8.00 a.m and departed around 5.00 p.m.
Land birding was unfortunately rather disappointing. We had arranged to hire Bruce Alexander [owner of the Rabaul Hotel] as driver/guide. Our ship was late docking due to another ship occupying its spot, and Bruce was not there to meet us as arranged. We eventually had to have a local policeman ring him at the hotel, so we had a late start. It also soon became apparent that Bruce has only a vague knowledge of where to bird. This resulted in some aimless driving around poor cultivated habitat near Warangroi (where we had been told there were some good remnant forest patches, unfortunately we did not find them). In the end we did manage to see a few birds including excellent views of multiple Moustached Treeswifts and two brilliant Pacific Bazas. Other excellent birds seen included many Electus Parrots, Blue-eyed Cockatoos, Forest Kingfisher and New Britain Friarbird. However a lot more homework re sites would be needed if one visits Rabaul.
A day at sea from north of New Britain crossing the Equator heading generally north-west towards Carolina Islands and Yap. Sea birds included our first Bulwer’s Petrels and Leach’s Storm-Petrels of the trip and Lesser Frigatebirds peaked at fifteen birds. A staggering number of pelagic terns were seen today with an estimated seven hundred Grey-backed Terns plus five hundred Black Noddies and one hundred and fifty plus of Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies – quite an amazing sight as they streamed by in front of the ship.
March 13 :
Now in the Northern Hemisphere with the Statendam
continuing a north-west heading towards Yap Island [Micronesia]. The most interesting birds were ten Bulwer’s Petrels, six Leach’s Storm-Petrels, three White-tailed Tropicbirds and both Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaegers.
Our fourth consecutive day at sea. Generally low numbers of pelagic species although our first Streaked Shearwaters and Matsudaira’s & Wilson’s Storm-Petrels plus our last Herald Petrel of the cruise. We also had our daily maximum count for Bulwer’s Petrels [fifteen birds].
docked at Yap Island at about 8.00 a.m. and we had approximately eight hours of very productive birding on the island. This island has a suite of endemics, and we had previously arranged for a local birding guide Tilas Alfonso (email: email@example.com) to guide for us. Tilas was waiting for us outside the port gate with a mini-bus. While not having any binoculars he was an excellent birder and knew all of the good birding sites. The most productive site was the Tamilyog Stone Path. We managed to see all the endemics except the Cicadabird, which we heard and managed to record in Sally’s camcorder [possibly the first recording ever of this species]. The superb Yap Monarch particularly impressed us. Even more impressive were the vast numbers of White (Fairy) Terns breeding on the island and numbering in the thousands.
March 16 :
At sea heading towards Guam. Another slow day for seabirds although we did record our only Short-tailed Shearwaters and Great Frigatebird of the trip.
docked at Guam at about 8.00 a.m giving us the whole day to explore the island. The island is virtually devoid of land birds except Drongos and Pacific Doves, thanks to the brown tree snake. Despite this we had rented a car and decided to tour around and see what birds we could find. We had a surprisingly enjoyable day seeing a good variety of migrant shorebirds and other wetland species. Yellow Bitterns were very common in the coastal marshes. We managed to find ten species of waders including beautiful spring plumage Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Long-toed Stints. Most of these birds were on a small tidal creek that is part of the Sasa Bay Reserve and only a short drive along the coastal road south from the dock.
March 18 :
Overnight the Statendam
had cruised to Saipan and dawn saw us entering the inshore waters. Another very enjoyable day looking for island endemics and Micronesian specialties. We had rented a car and first headed north out to the Korean War Memorial (just before the Last Command Post) and found the small trail that leads into the woodland at the base of Suicide Cliff. Once along the trail, we almost immediately came across a Micronesian Megapode walking ahead of us on the trail. Another was heard. From there we explored a grassy area behind the golf course (for Nightingale Reed-warbler) and also, the Laderan Tangke Nature Trail for the Fruit-Dove and other species. We scored with great views of all the other endemics including star birds such as the Nightingale Reed Warbler and the beautiful Golden White-eye (which looks more like a tanager than a white-eye.) (We would like to thank Paul Radley the local U.S. Fish & Wildlife officer for his help on this island.)
All day at sea heading towards Iwo Jima. Pelagic species included the first Buller’s Shearwaters in over two weeks, our first Sooty Shearwaters of the trip, Tropical Shearwater, a small increase in Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrels, all three booby species and a small movement of four tern species.
At first light the Statendam
was cruising past Minima Iwo Jima en route to Iwo Jima which we arrived at later in the morning. This whole area was alive with seabirds including scores of Bonin Petrels and Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrels, at least one Black-footed Albatross, an impressive 1500 Streaked Shearwaters, ten Bannerman’s Shearwaters, seven Bulwer’s Petrels and, our last tropicbird [Red-tailed] of the cruise. The ship had permission to cruise within a quarter of a mile of the island and it was fascinating to see many old WW II landing craft rusting away on the beach. The ship held a very moving ceremony attended by the WW II veterans on board, all in their dress uniforms – wreaths were laid for the 1000s who gave their lives on this bitterly-contested island.
In the afternoon the ship departed heading for Okinawa and we left most of the birds behind.
All day at sea heading towards Okinawa with very little seabird activity and no stand-out species seen.
docked at Naha [Okinawa] at about 8.00 a.m. We had not been able to arrange car hire and so spent some while driving around in a taxi until we located an available rental car. We eventually headed out of Naha north towards Yambura Forest, which took a very long time – although we had been warned about this in several trip reports. It was a very hot day with minimal birds seen, although we did score with a few endemics such as Ryuku Minivet. Most of the interesting species such as the rail and the robin were heard-only. Quite a disappointment.
Our last full day in the open ocean with heavy rain and wind with the Statendam
heading towards Nagasaki. Only two pelagic species seen [Streaked Shearwater and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel]. The day was enlivened by the presence of several land birds on the ship no doubt due to the stormy conditions. These included a European Woodcock that was seen huddled in a corner and a couple of times flying around the ship. Other birds included a Eurasian Kestrel perched in netting watching closely a Grey Wagtail feeding on the deck. We also had small parties of White Wagtails and Grey Starlings and a Hoopoe was present for several hours.
The ship arrived in Nagasaki at about 8.00 a.m. We could see a large wooded hill just a short walk from the dock. [Observatory Hill which is just above the Glover Gardens.] This turned out to be an excellent birding spot. There was a great migrant flock of about twenty Rustic Buntings, still in winter plumage, as well as other buntings and a good number of migrant thrushes. Other good birds included Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Daurian Redstart, Red-flanked Bluetail, Brown, Pale and Dusky Thrushes, Varied and Long-tailed Tits, Japanese Bush-warbler, Yellow-throated Bunting and Oriental Greenfinch. Asiatic gulls at the dock included Black-tailed and Slaty-backed.
Our final day on board was disappointingly birdless with the Statendam
cruising the inter-coastal waters between Nagasaki and Osaka. We arrived at Kobe docks the following morning a couple of hours late but still made it to the airport in time to catch our flight back to the USA, using the excellent (and inexpensive) airport limousine bus service from Kobe to Kansai AP.
In addition to the species listed below, the following introduced birds were seen in New Zealand: American Turkey, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Eurasian Starling.
A total of 270 species were seen during the trip plus 2 species heard only.
Little Blue Penguin
Six birds seen briefly swimming and diving as the ship departed Bay of Isles, as well as two fairly close in the water on our Bay cruise.
Our only sighting was of an adult Diomeda albatross on our first full day at sea.
Just a single bird seen in the morning of March 10th when the ship was in the Slot between the islands of Vella Lavella and Treasury Islands in the Solomons.
One or possibly two birds seen while the ship was cruising off Iwa Jima.
This distinctive species was recorded on three dates with a daily maximum of fifteen birds on March 7th. On this date the ship was heading north from New Caledonia to Guadalcanal. - Excellent value
Recorded on just one day [March 4th] when about 120 birds were seen. This was our first full day at sea. The grey facial area was very distinctive on birds crossing close to the bow. A single bird found on the deck was released safely after being photographed by PC.
A single bird seen briefly close to the ship on March 4th.
All sightings concentrated over two consecutive days with daily maximum of fifteen birds on March 7th. On this date the ship was heading north from New Caledonia to Guadalcanal. The birds all appeared to be in fresh plumage with [at close range] obvious pale feather edgings to upperparts.
Recorded on three dates with the daily maximum of five birds on March 4th , our first full day at sea after leaving Bay of Isles.
Single birds recorded on three widely separated dates as follow: March 7th, 9th and 14th. Both light and dark phases.
White-necked Petrel We had multiple brilliant scope views of this large and impressive cookileria
petrel on our first day at sea with an estimated one hundred birds seen. Recorded again the next day but not subsequently - Superb!
Three birds seen briefly crossing the bow on our first evening at sea as the Statendam
was heading out into the Haruaki Gulf from Auckland, in steady rain and poor light (which undoubtedly reduced our sightings success this evening!)
Recorded on three dates with the daily maximum of fifteen birds seen on March 6th. About six birds were found by us prior to dawn on board ship and successfully released (the ship’s crew had also released about another dozen). Additionally, more Gould’s were seen in the late afternoon as the Statendam
crossed the inshore waters and barrier reef of New Caledonia, again in rain and fading light. The actual numbers on this day were probably much higher as we also recorded 100 Cookileria sp.
According to Olhey & Scofield, the New Caledonian race of Gould’s caledonica
may well be a separate species [ “New Caledonia Petrel”] from the nominate form luecoptera
which breeds in S.E. Australia.
Excellent scope views obtained of about sixty birds over a period of about three hours as the Statendam
was scenic cruising close by Iwo Jima Island.
Recorded on four dates with maximum counts of fifteen birds on March 4th and thirty birds on March 6th. On the first date we were heading north towards New Caledonia and at midday were about 200 miles north of North Island of New Zealand. On March 6th we were crossing the inshore waters of New Caledonia. As with Gould’s Petrel, our numbers on this day were likely under-estimated.
Unidentified birds seen on six dates with the daily maximum of one hundred birds on March 6th. Included in this were at least two apparent all-dark or darkish birds that were not identifiable due to distance and briefness of view. Also, brief but not confirming views were made of several distant birds which appear to be Collared Petrel (otherwise, surprisingly unrecorded) but which also could have been faded or molting Gould’s.
A badly decomposed prion was found on board the ship. Opinions differed as to its identification with some considering it to be Fairy whilst others Fulmar. Additionally, we had been told by passengers that large numbers of “pale birds” were flying around and landing on the deck at about midnight at the beginning of the cruise. These birds were almost certainly Prions. Unfortunately the birders were all in bed after a long, hard day!
Recorded on five dates with the daily maximums of ten birds [March 13th], fifteen birds [March 14th] and seven birds on March 20th.
Two birds feeding in the wake for some while on March 4th when, at midday, we were about 200 miles north of the North Island of New Zealand. This provided excellent comparison with Parkinson’s Petrels that were also present.
At least ten birds seen from the ferry to Tiri-Tiri and fifteen from our Bay of Islands cruise. Also, a party of about twenty birds were in our wake as the Statendam
headed north from New Zealand. The numbers steadily declined during the following days and the last two birds were seen in the wake on March 5th off New Caledonia.
Not recorded until March 14th when it replaced Wedge-tailed Shearwater as the most numerous species. In all seen on six dates with the daily maximum of fifteen hundred on March 20th when the Statendam
was scenic cruising around Iwo Jima. Aside from this, the largest daily count was only fifty birds.
The most numerous and widespread pelagic species being seen on ten days with a daily maximum of one thousand on March 7th when the Statendam
at noon was about two hundred miles north of New Caledonia heading towards Guadalcanal. Our last sighting was of twenty-five birds on March 14th
Common in inshore waters of New Zealand with the maximum count of one hundred birds seen from the Bay of the Islands cruise. Also at least forty birds seen from the Tiri-Tiri ferry. Aside from around New Zealand, our only sighting was of two birds on March 19th.
2-3 birds seen in the Bay of Islands on March 3rd and 1-2 birds seen in the Coral Sea on the following two days.
Surprisingly scarce with our only sighting being three birds on March 19th followed by a single bird the next day.
Another unexpectedly scarce species being recorded just once that of three birds seen on March 16th.
We estimated at least a thousand birds seen from the Tiri Tiri ferry. Recorded in much smaller numbers on three other dates from inshore waters of New Zealand.
About thirty-five birds well seen from the Bay of Islands cruise was our only definite record. This species is more difficult to separate at sea from the preceding than might be expected from the field guides, as light conditions can greatly affect apparent mantle and underwing color. In general, marginally larger and browner than Fluttering, but the darker underwing is not always as apparent as expected. Dull light (which we had most of the first few days) also makes Fluttering look darker underneath,
Six birds seen on the Bay of Islands cruise was our sole record.
Recorded on two days with fifteen birds seen March 9th prior to arriving at Guadalcanal. Also, a single bird March 19th when the Statendam was heading towards Iwa Jima from Yap Island.
Up to ten birds seen on our cruising to & around Iwo Jima. Good scope views obtained of several birds as they crossed the bow.
In all a total of nine birds as follows: A single bird was very well seen on March 7th while we were en-route from New Britain to Guadalcanal. At the time we were scoping a party of storm-petrels when this very small dark shearwater with light center of underwing and lower belly entered the view of the scope and crossed in front of the bow. The remaining two sightings were on the afternoon of March 10th when the Statendam
was close to Bougainvillea Island. The first involved a party of seven birds seen by PC. The second was of a single bird seen well through the scope as it flew into investigate a fish aggregation device that had attracted a number of sea birds.
Unexpectedly scarce with just two sightings that of ten birds seen on March 14th and a single bird on March 23rd.
A party of ten birds seen on March 7th with two more the following day. The birds on the first day were watched for quite an extended period of time at very close range through the scope. Their flight was steady with frequent low banking turns on slightly bowed wings. This is quite different from the typical flight of either Leach’s or Wilson’s Storm-Petrels but similar to the flight of Madeiran (Band-rumped) Storm-Petrels we have seen off North Carolina. The white on the rump was narrower than it was wide, and only extended very slightly onto the sides of the body. The legs were short and did not reach the end of the square tail. According to Olney & Scofield there are no records of this species in the western Pacific south of the equator. At the time of the first sighting we were about 270 miles north of Guadalcanal and about 300 miles south of the equator.
A total of fourteen birds recorded on three dates with with six each on March 11th and 13th.
Our only sightings were of six birds on March 3rd as the Statendam sailed into the Bay of the Islands.
Recorded on three dates including impressive seventy-five birds seen on March 20th when the Statendam
was scenic cruising around Iwa Jima.
[Tristram’s Storm Petrel]
Not identified for certain although a couple of birds suspected as being of this species also seen on March 20th.
Common Diving Petrel
One in the Bay of Islands on March 3rd.
50+in the Inland Sea between Kyushu and Shikoku on March 25th.[PC]
Recorded on three dates with the daily maximum of three birds on March 5th.
Recorded on three dates with the daily maximum of three birds on March 13th. Additionally five birds were seen on Yap and one on Saipan.
Fairly common in New Zealand waters being seen daily with a maximum of fifteen birds seen from the Tiri Tiri ferry.
A total of thirteen birds seen over three dates with a maximum of five birds on March 19th. As was the case with many of the boobies they would arrive and circle the ship for up to several hours.
Thirty-eight birds recorded during the trip including thirty-five on March 7th.
The most widespread of the boobies being recorded on seven dates with a daily maximum of twelve birds.
About a dozen birds seen at Miranda and the Seacoast Highway.
Just two birds seen in New Zealand.
Little Pied Shag
Common and widespread in New Zealand. Also two birds on New Caledonia.
Fairly common at Tauranga and in the Bay of Islands.
Two birds seen at Miranda Wetland Reserve, N.Z.
Japanese [Temmink’s] Cormorant
30+ seen in the Inland Sea between Kyushu and Shikoku on March 25th [PC].
Just a single record on March 16th on which date the Statendam was heading towards Guam.
Recorded on three dates including fifteen birds on March 11th. On this date the frigatbirds were associated with a very large tern movement. Surprisingly, none were seen on any of our island visits.
Up to two were seen over six widely separated dates.
Most sightings concentrated in New Zealand waters. In all a total of eight birds recorded over five days.
In all about forty birds seen over four days with the peak of twenty-five on March 4th. On this date the Statendam
at noon was about 250 miles north of the North Island of New Zealand.
A few birds seen as we docked at Nagasaki.
A few birds were seen as we docked at Nagasaki.
Common and widespread in New Zealand.
A few birds seen at the dock in Nagasaki.
Fairly common at the dock at Nagasaki.
Common and widespread in New Zealand.
Six birds seen at Miranda Wetland Reserve.
Fifteen birds seen on New Caledonia.
Common Black-headed Gull
Two birds recorded on Yap.
Recorded on three dates including thirty birds on March 8th at Guadalcanal.
Up to thirty birds recorded daily in New Zealand.
Recorded in very small numbers in the coastal waters of New Caledonia, Guadalcanal and Yap.
Twelve birds at Mirianda Reserve and another twelve seen elsewhere in New Zealand.
A single bird seen well through the scope at Waipu Reserve, N.Z.
Two birds seen at Miranda Reserve.
An staggering number estimated at seven hundred seen on March 12th when at midday the Statendam
was about 300 miles north of New Britain. This was the main species in a very large tern movement involving the following three species, Aside from this, only three other birds seen.
The most widespread pelagic tern being recorded at sea on six dates with the daily maximum of 250 on March 7th. Also, 200 associated with the March 12th movement.
Recorded on just one day at sea when an amazing five hundred were seen during the large tern movement on March 12th. Additionally, very common on Yap where about another five hundred were seen including several hundred birds returning to the island at dusk from feeding offshore.
Recorded on nine dates at sea and daily numbers less than twenty birds, again, with the exception of March 12th when an estimated 150 birds were seen. Also, about 100 birds seen around Yap and ten on Saipan.
Five birds recorded over four days at sea including brilliant looks at our first individual on March 4th.
This beautiful tern was seen in generally low numbers at sea. In all recorded on eight dates with daily maximum of just thirty birds. However, spectacular numbers recorded on Yap with birds apparently breeding in many wood-lots. Our evening departure across the island’s inshore waters saw the memorable sight of huge numbers returning to the island to roost from feeding at sea. In all we estimated total numbers in the thousands. Also hundreds recorded on Saipan and much smaller numbers on New Caledonia. – Brilliant !
A single bird well seen at a small wetland on Yap was quite a surprise.
A party of about ten birds seen on March 11th was our only sighting.
An impressive eight-hundred birds at the Miranda Wetland Reserve.
Up to fifteen birds recorded daily in New Zealand [although some of the black-phase birds appeared indistinguishable from Black Oystercatcher].
Three birds seen on a small wetland on Yap.
Very common at Miranda where we estimated six hundred birds.
Widespread in small numbers in New Zealand.
Pacific Golden Plover
Recorded on all three Micronesia Islands that we visited and most common on Yap with about fifty birds seen.
New Zealand Dotterel
About ten birds seen in New Zealand including at least four at Miranda.
Recorded on two dates in New Zealand including about forty birds at Miranda
Lesser Sand Plover
Two birds seen on Guam was our sole record.
Greater Sand Plover
Five birds seen at Miranda and a single bird on Yap.
Two birds seen at a small wetland on Yap.
A single bird seen on Guam.
Four birds at a small wetland on Yap and six more on a tidal creek on Guam.
Up to two birds seen on each of New Britain, Yap and Guam.
Five birds seen at Miranda plus a single bird on Yap and six on Guam. Several birds were in beautiful spring plumage.
Two birds recorded on Guam.
Two beautiful spring plumaged birds were well seen on Guam.
A single spring plumage bird at Miranda.
Recorded in small numbers on all three Micronesian Islands with a maximum of six birds on Saipan.
An estimated two thousand birds were at the high tide roost at Miranda were an early trip highlight.
About 150 birds at the high tide roost at Miranda, also a single bird on a tidal flat as the ship left Yap – per Douglas Pratt, the first record for that island.
Eastern Bar-tailed Godwit
About 350 birds at Miranda plus about 30 elsewhere in New Zealand.
Our only sighting was of about fifteen birds seen on Guam.
A single bird spent several hours on the ship during the stormy weather of March 23rd.
North Island Brown Kiwi
Tied with the Kagu as being the most bizarre bird of the trip. A single bird seen at close range by GM and SW [but not BC] on a night-walk at Trousan Kauri Park.
New Zealand Dabchick
About ten birds seen in N.Z.
Common in suitable habitat in N.Z. with 150 birds on February 27th and 100 on March 2nd.
This handsome duck was seen virtually every day in N.Z. with a daily high count of 100 birds.
Pacific Black Duck
A pair seen in New Britain.
Common at Miranda Wetland Reserve.
A total of eight birds seen in N.Z.
A pair in a small wetland in Yap.
New Zealand Scaup
About thirty birds seen on two roadside lakes outside Tauranga.
A pair on the small wetland in Yap.
Five birds seen flying over the docks at Nagasaki, Japan.
About 25 birds at the Miranda Wetland Reserve.
Pacific Reef Heron
Three birds seen during our stay in N.Z. Also, birds seen in New Caledonia  Yap  and Guam .
Two birds on Yap and a single bird seen on Guam.
Fifteen birds recorded in N.Z and ten on Yap.
A common bird in the coastal wetlands of Guam with about twenty-five birds seen. Also two birds recorded on Yap.
Two birds seen on Guadalcanal.
A single bird briefly flying around the ship in stormy weather between Okinawa and Nagasaki on March 22nd.
Three birds seen on New Britain.
Fairly common and widespread in N.Z. being seen daily with the daily high count of 12 birds.
Two birds recorded on New Caledonia.
Up to six birds recorded on New Britain and Guadalcanal.
Common in Nagasaki.
Several birds seen on Okinawa on March 22 as we drove north, some perched on roadside poles.
Three birds seen on Guadalcanal.
Excellent views of a beautiful adult bird perched on a low tree on New Caledonia. Without doubt one of the top birds of the trip.
A single bird seen on New Britain.
Another very attractive raptor which we obtained very good scope views of two birds in New Britain. – Superb.
A single bird on New Caledonia.
A female seen arriving on the Statendam
in stormy conditions on March 23rd. It was later seen perched in the rigging closely watching a Grey Wagtail feeding on the deck.
We were both surprised and delighted to see a single bird strolling along a narrow wooded trail ahead of us on Saipan, close enough to see the reddish face. The bird was found on the very small trail behind the Korean War Memorial at the base of Suicide Cliffs. This location has been mentioned in several trip reports as being a reliable site for the Megapode.
This was of course our most-wanted New Caledonian bird and we had been assured by Jean-Marc that it would be “no problem.” Nevertheless we worried until we actually saw one, and then another, eventually we saw at least a dozen birds, both adults and youngsters. Several displayed to one another, showing their plumy crest and barred inner primaries. Kagu make a strange hissing noise when annoyed or disturbed and a loud contact call (from which they get their name) within family groups. A very strange but rather lovely bird!
Two birds heard calling in the woodland on Saipan.
This introduced species was quite common on TiriTiri [N.Z.]
About 200 birds seen on lakes outside of Bay of Islands, N.Z.
Two birds seen on a small wetland on Yap.
This native Purple Swamphen was common and widespread in N.Z.
This large impressive flightless rail was introduced to TiriTiri where it is extremely tame. In all about five birds seen.
A single immature seen by BC at the small pond just above the dock at Tiri Tiri.
None seen but several birds heard calling on March 22nd.
Not at all common with just two birds seen in N.Z.
Just a single bird seen in N.Z. and six birds seen in New Caledonia.
Philippine Turtle Dove
One of the very few common land birds on Guam with about thirty birds seen. Also seen in smaller numbers on Saipan.
Oriental Turtle Dove
Five birds seen at Observation Hill, Nagasaki.
New Zealand Pigeon
This large attractive pigeon was more numerous than expected being recorded on three of the five days in N.Z. with a maximum of 20 birds seen in native forest at the Rotoma Scenic Reserve.
Pied Imperial Pigeon
Two birds of this very impressive pigeon were seen in flight on New Britain.
Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon
Just one bird seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal perched in a fruiting tree.
New Caledonia Imperial Pigeon
Excellent views of two birds seen perched in trees [discovered while we were searching for the Cloven-feathered Dove !] at Parc Rivere-Bleue.
Micronesian Imperial Pigeon
A single bird viewed from a distance through the scope on a tree high up on a ridge on Yap.
Extended close scope views of a perched bird at Parc Rivere-Bleue, New Caledonia. – Brilliant bird!
Mariana Fruit Dove
Another brilliant dove. Fairly common, although not that easy to see. In all we saw about eight birds and heard others on Saipan – best views were along the Laderan Tangke Nature Trail.
A single bird seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, New Caledonia.
White-throated Ground Dove
Three birds seen on Yap including good views of a female feeding on the ground. More numerous on Saipan with about ten seen and others heard. Most birds were seen in flight.
Fairly common at Tiri Tiri with about fifteen birds seen.
Eight birds seen around the entrance gate at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
Heard but unfortunately not seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C. where it always seemed to be behind obscuring foliage from us!
Four birds seen in N.Z.
Common on New Caledonia with about 15 birds seen.
Three individuals of this brilliantly colored parakeet were seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
About twelve birds seen feeding in fruiting trees at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
– Single bird perched in a fruiting tree (in front yard of a house!) on the road up Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot
This tame and engaging miniature parrot was fairly common at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal where we saw a flock of about ten birds clambering about the branches like little green nuthatches.
The female is one of the most brilliantly colored parrots we have ever seen and remains common on New Britain with at least 25 birds seen. Also seen in smaller numbers on Guadalcanal.
Common at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal with about 20 birds seen.
Appeared identical to the prior species and quite common and widespread on New Britain where we saw at least fifteen birds.
Shining Bronze Cuckoo
A single bird seen on Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
A single perched bird seen briefly by GM, and another heard at Mt Austen, Guadalcanal.
Extended good views of about seven birds both in flight and perched in trees on New Britain. – Superb.
Very common in both New Britain and Guadalcanal [where we saw several hundred birds].
Common in New Britain and about forty birds seen on New Caledonia.
About thirty birds seen on Saipan.
Three birds seen at roadside stops in New Britain.
Fairly common and widespread in N.Z. being recorded on four of the five days with a daily maximum of five birds. Also a single bird in New Caledonia.
Quite a common bird on Saipan with about ten birds seen mainly perching on roadside power lines. This was the white-headed form.
A single bird arrived on the Statendam
during stormy weather on March 23rd.
Great views of an amazing fourteen birds at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal. Without doubt one of the top birds of the trip.
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
Two birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
About six birds seen in the Customs House gardens, New Cal., just where the ship was docked.
The most common native bird on Yap with an estimated 50 birds seen in our seven hours of birding the island. Smaller numbers seen on Saipan [about ten birds].
New Caledonia Myzomela
Probably the most numerous forest bird at Parc Rivere-Bleue where we estimated at least 25 birds seen.
New Caledonia Friarbird
About ten birds seen at to Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
New Britain Friarbird
Fairly common and widespread with at least ten birds seen.
We were lucky enough to have multiple sightings of this very large impressive honeyeater at Parc Rivere-Bleue. At least four birds seen and others heard. – Great value.
At least four birds of this attractive honeyeater seen in Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
The most numerous N.Z. endemic with about 45 birds seen at Tiri Tiri and at least twelve at Rotoma Scenic Reserve.
Another numerous endemic with about forty birds seen at Tiri Tiri and at least ten at Rotoma Scenic Reserve.
Another common forest bird with at least ten seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue.
Grey Warbler [Gerygone]
Six birds seen at the Rotoma Scenic Reserve [N.Z.]
As with many of the N.Z. endemics this species was quite common and tame on TiriTiri with about twenty birds seen. A single singing bird also in native forest at the Rotoma Scenic Reserve.
North Island Kokako
A party of six individuals of this large impressive endemic was seen at TiriTiri.
North Island Saddleback
Another common endemic on TiriTiri where we saw about twenty birds.
Common at Tiri Tiri with an estimated twenty birds seen.
[introduced] Recorded on three dates in New Zealand with a maximum of ten birds, all the white-backed form.
Three birds seen whilst driving to Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
We managed only a single male at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Three birds seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C,
New Caledonia Whistler
Four birds seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
North Island Fantail
Fairly common at Tiri Tiri with eight birds seen. Even more numerous in the native forest of Rotoma Scenic Reserve with an estimated 15+ birds recorded.
Just a single bird seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Fairly common at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C. with at least six birds seen.
Two birds of this attractive fantail were seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
Fairly common on Yap with about ten birds seen and abundant on Saipan with an estimated fifty birds seen.
Just about the first bird we saw after docking in New Britain. Turned-out to be quite a common and widespread species on this island.
Four individuals of this large attractive flycatcher were seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Two birds seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
We had great views of this superb Yap Island endemic flycatcher where it was surprisingly common. We estimated about 12 birds seen including both sexes and juveniles. - Great value!
New Caledonia Flycatcher
At least four birds seen at Parc Rivere Blue, N.B.
A pair seen well at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Two birds seen at Parc Rivere Blue, New Britain.
About ten birds seen on New Britain.
Common and widespread in Nagasaki.
A single bird provided close flight views at Mt. Austen, N.C. This allowed an excellent opportunity to see its large white bill. – Very good value. Several others heard.
New Caledonian Crow
A party of five or six of these tool-using crows seen at Parc Riviere-Bleu. Unfortunately we did not see any of them actually using tools (sticks selected and modified by the bird to pry insects from bark and so forth.)
North Island Robin
Five birds seen at TiriTri Matangi Island
Three birds seen and others heard at Parc Rivere-Bleue.
North Island Tomtit
Our only sighting was a single bird in a mixed bird flock at the Rotoma Scenic Reserve.
Solomon’s Island Drongo
Two birds seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Fairly common on Guam with about ten birds seen.
Heard calling along the Tamilyog Stone Path but unfortunately the birds remained unseen.
A single bird seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
A single bird seen on New Britain.
A pair found at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
Yellow-eyed [Melanesian] Cuckoo-Shrike
More numerous than expected with two birds seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C. and eight at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
Six birds seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
New Caledonia Cuckoo-Shrike
Just two birds seen at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
Solomon’s Island Cuckoo-Shrike
Two birds seen at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal.
– several small flocks seen flying over the road in the Yambura Forest, none seen well “on the deck” however.
Two birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
The common thrush in Nagasaki with about twelve birds seen at Observatory Hill.
Five birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
A single bird seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
Two birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
Fairly common on Okinawa and several birds seen on Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
Grey [White-cheeked] Starling
A party of six birds arrived on the Statendam during stormy conditions on March 23rd. Also, a fairly common bird in Nagasaki.
Common and widespread in New Britain and a small number seen on Guadalcanal.
Common and widespread in New Britain.
Fairly common on both Saipan and Yap and still hanging-on in Guam where we saw two birds.
A common forest bird at Mt. Austen where we recorded about twenty birds.
Common and widespread in New Britain and ten birds seen on Guadalcanal.
Common and widespread in New Zealand.
About ten birds seen in Nagasaki.
A single bird considered to of the race simillima
seen at a small wetland on Yap.
A single bird arrive aboard the Statendam
during stormy weather on March 23rd.
A party of five birds spent some while aboard the Statendam
on March 23rd.
Three birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
Seven birds seen at Observatory Hill. Nagasaki.
Seven birds seen at Observatory Hill. Nagasaki.
Common and widespread in both Okinawa and Nagasaki.
Several individuals of this small attractive species was seen on Okinawa.
Two birds seen on New Caledonia at the Customs House gardens.
Common and widespread on New Britain and Guadalcanal.
Common and widespread on both New Caledonia and Guadalcanal.
Common in native forest at Rotoma Scenic Reserve, N.Z.
– Single bird seen by GBM in degraded forest near Warangoi, New Britain.
Common at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C.
The most numerous forest bird on Saipan with an estimated 75 birds seen during our approximately seven-hour visit.
This large, extremely attractive species does not at all resemble other white-eyes either in plumage [generally bright yellow] and song which is a loud warbling. Quite numerous on Saipan where we saw about fifteen birds. The dirt road behind Suicide Cliffs and immediately above the golf course and the Laderan Tangke Nature Trail were good spots for seeing this interesting bird. – Very good value!
We struggled with this bird, hearing several but not connecting until the last stop -- finally seeing a family party of three birds in a fruiting tree along the Tamilyog Stone Path on Yap
Common on Yap with about 25 birds seen and other heard.
Common in the woodlands at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
Nightingale Reed Warbler
We obtained good views of a single bird in brush adjacent to the dirt road behind the golf course on Saipan. Like a very large, slim reed warbler with an incredibly long thin bill. Also three other birds heard singing both there and along the Laderan Tangke Nature Trail. Great value!
Just a single bird seen at Observation Hill, Nagasaki.
Great views of this small attractive finch at Parc Rivere-Bleue, N.C. where four birds were seen by the entrance gate.
Three birds seen on Yap.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Common and widespread on all three Micronesian Islands and also common in Japan.
Fairly common at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki with about fifteen birds seen.
An unexpected surprise was finding a nice flock of about twenty birds at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
About eight birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki.
At least ten birds seen at Observatory Hill, Nagasaki on March 24th.
A single male and female seen at Guadalcanal.
A common forest bird at Mt. Austen, Guadalcanal with about fifteen birds seen during our five hours of birding.