In Search of the Fiji Petrel - dates to be confirmed
The Pacific Ocean is home to many unique and poorly known seabirds, however, there is one species which is critically endangered and which remains an almost complete enigma and that is the Fiji Petrel. Thought to number less than fifty individual birds, it has probably been seen by even fewer birders and WildWings plans to return there in the next couple of years. On this exciting itinerary, we not only intend to look for this special seabird but several others which whilst having larger populations remain rarely seen.
Fiji Petrel is arguably the least known of the world's seabirds which are known to still be extant and whilst numbers remain critically low, WildWings clients had some great views on our last visit to this region and we hope to see it again when we return there © Chris Collins
As well as spending time chumming offshore from Gau, the island where the birds are believed to breed, we will also land on a number of strategically selected islands as there are many very special land bird endemics in this islands nation. Birds we hope to look for include both Orange and Golden Doves, Azure-crested Flycatcher and Taveuni Silktail.
Vanuatu Petrel was described less than twenty years ago and whilst some have suggested it should be regarded as a subspecies of the more widespread White-necked Petrel, there are good reasons for regarding this tropical seabird as a good species © Chris Collins
We will then sail to Vanuatu where once again we will combine our time looking for speciality seabirds and island endemics. Our plan includes spending time off the coast of Vanua Lava, the only known where the cryptic Vanuatu Petrel breeds. Another special seabird which is known to nest on this island is Magnificent Petrel, and as work continues on this interesting taxa, there is a view that it too should be regarded as a highly localised endemic, rather than a subspecies of the more widespread Collared Petrel.
Our island landings in Vanuatu will also concentrate on searching for special island endemics and those we hope to see include Vanuatu Megapode, Vanuatu Kingfisher, Buff-bellied Monarch and Vanuatu White-eye.
We will certainly hope and expect to see other interesting seabirds during our expedition and whilst some, such as Tahiti and Kermadec Petrels, are reasonably widespread, we will also hope to see trickier birds such as Polynesian Storm-petrel, a species which seems have to declined markedly across its entire range. Another storm-petrel we will be on the lookout for is the "New Caledonian Storm Petrel" which was first seen on the West Pacific Odyssey in 2008. It has now been confirmed that this bird is actually a long lost species which was first collected in Samoa 200 years ago, so there is every reason to assume it could also occur in the waters of Fiji and Vanuatu.
With its incredible combination of mega seabirds and range-restricted island endemics, we have already received considerable interest for this potentially one-off expedition cruise, so if it is a trip you are interested in joining, do contact us to register your details as we fully expect demand to exceed the number of berths available.
Potential Seabirds (selected species only)
Tahiti Petrel, Fiji Petrel, Providence Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Herald Petrel, Magnificent Petrel, Collared Petrel, Vanuatu Petrel, Gould’s Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, ‘New Caledonian’ Storm Petrel, Polynesian Storm Petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Masked, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Grey-backed Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Great Crested Tern, Brown Noddy, Black Noddy and White Tern.
Potential ‘Island’ Birds (selected species only)
Vanuatu Megapode, Many-coloured Fruit-Dove, Orange Fruit-Dove, Golden Fruit-Dove, Whistling Fruit-Dove, Barking Imperial Pigeon, Fiji Goshawk, Vanuatu Kingfisher, Crimson Shining Parrot, Maroon Shining Parrot, Collared Lory, Blue-crowned Lorikeet, White-bellied Honeyeater, Yellow-billed Honeyeater, Polynesian Wattled Honeyeater, Fiji Wattled Honeyeater, Kadavu Honeyeater, Fiji Woodswallow, Fiji Whistler, Kadavu Fantail, Taveuni Silktail, Buff-bellied Monarch, Fiji Shrikebill, Black-throated Shrikebill, Azure-crested Flycatcher, Vanuatu White-eye, Fiji Parrotfinch and Royal Parrotfinch.
Potential Cetaceans (selected species only)
Sperm Whale, Dwarf and Pygmy Sperm Whales, Cuvier’s, Longman’s, Ginkgo-toothed, Deraniyagala’s and Blainville’s Beaked-Whales, Short-finned Pilot Whale, False Killer Whale, Pygmy Killer Whale, Melon-headed Whale, Striped, Pantropical Spotted, Eastern Spinner, Bottlenose, Short-beaked Common, Rough-toothed and Fraser’s Dolphins.
The "New Caledonian Storm Petrel" was 'discovered' off New Caledonia on the West Pacific Odyssey in 2008, however, it now seems almost certain that this bird is the same as a specimen which was collected and described c.200 years ago and then forgotten about. Given the original bird was taken in Samoa, there is ever reason to suspect that this mysterious bird could be found in the waters around Fiji and Vanuatu © Chris Collins