Moluccas - Birdtour Asia Reports/Birdtour Asia... Moluccas Buru, Ambon, Seram, Kai 2nd – 15th...

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Transcript of Moluccas - Birdtour Asia Reports/Birdtour Asia... Moluccas Buru, Ambon, Seram, Kai 2nd – 15th...

  • Moluccas Buru, Ambon, Seram, Kai

    2nd – 15th October 2016

    Leader: Rob Hutchinson

    Participants: Michael Frost, Ron & Sue Johns, Pirjo Laakso, John Lobel, Yann Muzika, Richard Rowland

    Salmon-crested Cockatoo, Seram © Rob Hutchinson / Birdtour Asia This tour through the Moluccan islands of Buru, Ambon, Seram and Kai pulls together a surprisingly high number of endemics in relatively comfortable conditions and easy walking throughout. We started on Buru this year which got us off to a great start with Buru Thrush, Buru Green Pigeon, Buru Pitta, Buru Racquet-tail, Buru Grasshopper Warbler, Buru Monarch and Buru Boobook the headliners, but with a fine supporting of other other Buru endemics. After a short stop in Ambon for the near-endemic Ambon White-eye, Seram was the next destination with a host more endemics like the stunning but rare Purple-naped Lory, Salmon-crested Cockatoo, both Bicoloured and Grey- hooded Heleia, Seram Honeyeater, and two rarely seen montane species; Blue-eared Lory and Seram Grasshopper Warbler. In the lowlands we found Seram Boobook and the stunning Lazuli Kingfisher eventually obliged while visits to small islands produced sightings of both Moluccan and Forsten’s Scrubfowl, Olive Honeyeater and the Critically Endangered Boano Monarch. We finished the tour on the Kai islands where we easily found the endemics; Kai Monarch, Kai Leaf Warbler, Kai Spangled Drongo, Kai Fantail, Kai Coucal, and both Kai Kecil and Kai Besar White-eyes. There we also some nice bonuses like Kai Cicadabird, Yellow-crowned Pygmy Parrot, Island Whistler, Pied Bronze Cuckoo and Papuan Pitta.

  • The tour began as we congregated in Ambon, some directly from our Moluccas extension and some from other birding trips, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon catching up on recent birding adventures before boarding the ferry to Buru in the evening. The ferry arrived in the early morning meaning that we were already on the Wamlana logging road in time to enjoy our breakfast just after dawn surrounded by Red Lories, Buru Racquet-tail, Buru Oriole, Buru Friarbird, Buru Flowerpecker, Buru Golden Bulbul, Pale Cicadabird and Claret-breasted Fruit Dove. All of the group seeing at least seven new birds during breakfast! The rest of the morning on the logging road continued in this fashion with several Moluccan King Parrots, Amboina Cuckoo Dove, Buru Myzomela, Buru White-eye, a perched up Pygmy Eagle, and a Buru Warbling-flycatcher warbling its delightful song at close range – proving why it’s actually Eumyias! The afternoon saw some torrential rain which greatly limited our birding but nonetheless we enjoyed perched views of Buru Mountain Pigeon and after dark we eventually teased a Buru Boobook into view and a juvenile Moluccan Scops Owl posed by the roadside.

    Buru Boobook and Buru Grasshopper Warbler

    Buru Green Pigeon and Buru Cuckooshrike

  • We left early up the logging road the next morning making a stop on the way for much improved views of Buru Boobook, a pair of which came nice and low in the surrounding trees. After breakfast we hit on some good bird activity which included our first Mountain Leaftoiler (which was a tailorbird), Buru Fantail, Buru Leaf Warbler, and most importantly Buru Honeyeater. Improved views of Buru Myzomela, Drab Whistler and several Pale Cicadabirds kept us entertained but the real stars of the morning were a pair of very obliging Buru Grasshopper Warblers which sang and cavorted in full view. We finished the morning with a stop for a roadside bird flock which included another Buru Warbling-flycatcher and some cute Red-breasted Pygmy Parrots. In the afternoon we headed westwards along the coast only to be thwarted again by bad weather, even down in the lowlands. We battled on under our umbrellas though and our dedication was rewarded with fine views of perched Buru Green Pigeons which eventually livened up and flew to a nearby tree where there were joined by more, and more, until there was a total of 12 birds gorging on the fruits.

    Seram Boobook and Moluccan Scops Owl

    Grey-hooded Heleia and Bicoloured Heleia Our list of target birds was getting shorter and the next morning up the logging road gave us more, starting with a pair of Buru Cuckooshrikes, the female of which was sitting on a nest. A pair of Tawny-backed Fantails were

  • finally located in a small feeding flock, buruensis Moluccan (Golden) Whistler was a nice insurance bird in case of future splits, and we had point-blank views of Buru Honeyeater feeding on flowers at eye-level inside the forest. Buru Thrush was heard on several occasions while never coming close enough to give views but ‘Buru Pitta’ performed much better, circling us a couple of times and offering some fine views. While watching the pitta two Black-lored Parrots erupted loudly from a tree above us and circled around into the forest but sadly we never relocated them as they settled quietly into the forest again. Our bad luck with the weather continued in the afternoon with another torrential downpour but fortunately it stopped just in time for us to tease out a pair of Buru Monarch, with Peregrine Falcon, Asian Emerald Dove and Pacific Koel new for the trip. We were focused on just one species on that last morning and although it took some time and involved some ‘adventurous’ trails, we finally got a great view of a Buru Thrush which fooled us by appearing almost overhead as we intently watched the nearby forest floor! With this beauty in the bag we could leave Buru satisfied, although we did make one last stop at a lake before jumping on the overnight ferry, and added many trip birds including Australasian Darter, both Australasian and Little Grebes, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant, a surprise Little Kingfisher, and finishing with a migrant Oriental Plover.

    Purple-naped Lory and Lazuli Kingfisher

    Common Paradise Kingfisher and White-bibbed Fruit Dove

  • Another overnight ferry ride bought us back to Ambon where, keen as ever, we headed straight out for more birding! It was a very profitable few hours with multiple sightings of Ambon White-eye and Seram (formerly Ashy) Flowerpecker, excellent views of both Claret-breasted and Superb Fruit Doves, Island and Wallacean Monarchs, a perched Pacific Baza, and two recently proposed splits; Seram Spangled Drongo and Seram Fantail. We then took the fast ferry across to Ambon but rather than rest we were up on the bridge enjoying some seabird action with Bridled and Sooty Terns, Red-necked Phalaropes, Brown Noddy, Brown Booby, and Wilson’s Storm-petrels the bird highlights, although huge pods of Indo-pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphins leaping from the water and Short-finned Pilot Whales were equally thrilling.

    Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher and Streak-breasted Fantail

    Boano Monarch and Kai Monarch Once on Seram we headed north into the vast Manusela National Park and by mid-afternoon were enjoying our first walk through the lush montane forests although things were rather quiet in the drizzly conditions. There were new birds though with Seram Oriole an early highlight, Drab Honeyeater, Seram Mountain Pigeon, then a brilliant pair of Purple-naped Lories that flew in and posed in the ‘scope for us. Salmon-crested Cockatoo frustrated us with

  • two brief flybys before finally sitting up and posing, occasionally raising its beautiful pink crest. In the late afternoon Seram Crow flew in to investigated giving a very animated and distinctive calling display, a bizarre Long-crested Myna posed on top of a dead snag and we logged our first Seram Imperial Pigeon. The next morning was again spent in the highest reaches of the road through the park and although bird activity was surprisingly low we still managed plenty of additions like Seram Leaf Warbler, Seram White-eye, Seram Golden Bulbul, Seram Friarbird, Seram Mountain Pigeon, Drab Honeyeater, and Streak-breasted Fantail. There were also old favourites like Moluccan King Parrot, more Seram Oriole, and examinata Drab Whistler. Our afternoon was thwarted by torrential rain with only a couple of Great-billed Parrots, a Long-crested Myna and a Channel-billed Cuckoo to show for our efforts. The next morning some of the group again birded around the higher parts of the road while others opted for a challenging walk to higher altitudes. Both groups scored with Seram Honeyeater, Grey-headed Heleia, and Blue-eared Lory, although the latter was only seen in flight in both locations. In addition, those making the tough walk up were rewarded with a pair of Seram Grasshopper Warblers and a stunning view of a male White-bibbed Fruit Dove. In the afternoon we visited two offshore islands, the first of which proved difficult in the pouring rain and only half of us saw Forsten’s Scrubfowl, although a Moluccan Scrubfowl perched up in a tree for all was a nice bonus. With Great-billed Heron and Australasian Ibis also added we moved on to a much smaller island which could be walked around in a matter of minutes. This is the favoured habitat of Olive Honeyeater though and we were quickly enjoying at least four individuals. In the late afternoon we managed to squeeze in some more forest birding and that proved a massive success with a Lazuli Kingfisher perched in full view the highlight although atriceps Moluccan Cuckooshrike was interesting. The day finished with Seram Boobook finally responding, giving us several views in nearby tress with wings drooped in threat-display. We spent a finally morning along the high road with Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher posing at the roadside to start