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Solomon Islands

Magnificent, but often skulking birds. Mud, sweat, extended slippery treks, steep mountains, shaky logistics, and constant battles with land access. This is what a Solomon Islands tour is all about, but these sleepy, forgotten islands in the southwest Pacific hold some glorious, very rarely observed birds that very few birders will ever have the privilege to see. Although the total area of this archipelago is smaller than Belgium, these rich islands have more range-restricted species than any other Endemic Bird Area in the world! With a lot of hiking, a bit of cursing, and a pinch of luck, we have a chance to record up to 85 endemics. On the Guadalcanal Highlands Extension, we will be attempting to trek up Mount Popomanaseu to target Moustached Kingfisher and a handful of other poorly-known endemics.

Next Dates

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

7

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Guadalcanal Highlands Extension

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Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

7

Deposit: $

TBD

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

7

Deposit: $

TBD

Guadalcanal Highlands Extension

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Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

7

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

The town-based hotels in Honiara, Santa Isabel, Malaita and Gizo are of good standard, but we will otherwise be staying in a mix of basic guesthouses and huts, usually with cold water and shared facilities. There is only one night of actual camping, and only for those who choose the make the very tough hike up Kolombangara. The optional Guadalcanal Highlands Extension will be all camping.

Walking difficulty:

This is a strenuous tour, probably more so than any of our other tours. To ensure full participation, participants should be prepared for regular hikes (often on consecutive days) exceeding 4 hours on steep and muddy trails. In particular, the walk from Na’ara to the ridge at Hauta on Makira is tough (some participants often opt to remain at Na’ara) and the ascent of Kolombangara is extremely tough (most participants should not attempt the final summit walk).

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

International flights and departure taxes to and from Honiara Airport, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

GUADALCANAL

The capital city of Honiara acts as our base for the tour, and we will be flying in and out of here to go between islands. We will often take the opportunity to switch out our luggage at the hotel, depending on the requirements for each leg of the trip. There are several access points to good forest, which will allow us to see our first of the multi-island endemics, such as Sanford’s Sea Eagle, Pied Goshawk, Solomons Cockatoo, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Cardinal Lory, MacKinlay’s Cuckoo-Dove, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Woodford’s Rail, Buff-necked Coucal, White-billed Crow, Solomons Cuckooshrike, Solomons Monarch, Chestnut-bellied Monarch, Steel-blue Flycatcher, Oriole Whistler, cockerelli White-winged Fantail, Midget Flowerpecker, and Brown-winged Starling. More widespread Melanesian endemics include Song Parrot, Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot, Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove, and Melanesian Kingfisher. In terms of the island’s true endemics, we will target Guadalcanal Boobook, Guadalcanal Dwarf Kingfisher, Black-headed Myzomela, and White-eyed Starling (strictly speaking, also shared with Bougainville, but extremely rare there). Anyone wishing to attempt the tougher highland endemics will have to join the extension…


SANTA ISABEL

After a two-hour walk from the coast up to Tirotogna Village, we will get settled in before an initial spotlighting session will hopefully already provide us with Solomons Frogmouth. Now placed in an endemic monotypic genus, the species is very far removed from all others across Australasia! West Solomons Boobook is usually fairly easy, but only good luck will allow us to see the amazing Fearful Owl (which is often heard but typically remains out of sight unless our excellent local team can find us a roost). The other main drawcard here is Black-faced Pitta, the easternmost representative of this excellent family of birds. It is sometimes tricky to see, but we will have several days to maximise our chances. Other specialties include North Solomons Dwarf Kingfisher, Red-capped Myzomela, Yellow-throated White-eye, and the endemic subspecies of Woodford’s Rail.


RENNELL

The most relaxed island on our tour, this entirely flat atoll offers largely unafraid endemics and thus excellent opportunities for photography, which are not regular elsewhere in the Solomons! The island’s endemics include the stunning Rennell Shrikebill and Bare-eyed White-eye, alongside the imaginatively named Rennell Whistler, Rennell Fantail, Rennell Gerygone, Rennell White-eye, and Rennell Starling. The endemic forms of Australian White Ibis, Song Parrot and Island Thrush may all be considered future splits, and the striking Silver-capped Fruit Dove is a near-endemic. Much of the other avifauna here has a decidedly Vanuatuan influence, so we can also expect Pacific Kingfisher, Pacific Imperial Pigeon, Cardinal Myzomela, and Melanesian Flycatcher. We will also see the endemic Rennell Flying-fox among the more numerous Pacific Flying-fox.


WESTERN ISLES

Aided by island-hopping speedboats, we will be birding across five different islands in this beautiful province. First on Tetepare, the paradoxically-named Dark-eyed White-eye and threatened Solomons Nightjar will be our primary goals, alongside our first Western Isles endemics like the gorgeous White-capped Monarch and Crimson-rumped Myzomela, with plenty of albina White-winged Fantail. This is the best site for Melanesian Megapode and Beach Kingfisher, plus we may also see Little Kingfisher, Island Imperial Pigeon, Moustached Treeswift, and potentially Dugong. 


Crossing to Kolombangara, we have our first chance for Heinroth’s Shearwater. This poorly-known species is thought to breed inside the crater rim, and we can usually expect to see at least one over the subsequent days while moving between islands in this area. On the island itself, we will search out the flightless endemic Roviana Rail, along with Western Isles endemics like New Georgia Dwarf Kingfisher and Solomons White-eye. This is also the best place to see a particularly stunning Solomons endemic, the Duchess Lorikeet, as well as North Melanesian Cuckooshrike. Those who are able to hike up to the summit of the volcano will hopefully be rewarded with the enigmatic Kolombangara Leaf Warbler, plus Kolombangara Monarch, Kolombangara White-eye, pallescens Island Leaf Warbler, kulambangrae Island Thrush, centralis Oriole Whistler, plus a chance for both Meek’s Lorikeeet and