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22nd Apr 2024

West Pacific Odyssey 2024 update

The West Pacific Odyssey concluded at the end of last week after a highly successful voyage from New Zealand to Japan with an impressive range of seabirds and island endemics being recorded. 

Starting with visits to two of New Zealand’s special islands, Great Barrier and Urupukapuka, a nice selection of endemic landbirds were seen including New Zealand Plover, Morepork, New Zealand Pigeon, Kaka, North Island Saddleback and Whitehead. 

The first of the voyage’s speciality seabirds was also found with fantastic views of the critically endangered New Zealand Storm Petrel (20+ individuals) as well as Black Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater and Little Penguin.

Next up was a landing on the Australian island of Norfolk which has an infamous history from the convict era, however, the birding group concentrated on looking for the island’s endemics and were well rewarded with all the extant species being seen including Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Robin and Slender-billed White-eye.

After a day at sea, the ship reached New Caledonia where there were visits to two of this amazing island’s most well-known birding sites, Mount Koghi and Riviere Bleue, where the group did exceptionally well with some people seeing all or almost all the endemics in just 24 hours !!!  The undoubted highlight for many and arguably one of the ‘birds of the trip’ was the Kagu, a species in its own family and one which is completely unique to New Caledonia. 

As well as enjoying great views of this highly threatened speciality, many of the group also saw the extremely tricky New Caledonian Thicketbird which is only occasionally found at Mount Koghi.  With Horned Parakeet, Cloven-feathered Dove, Crow Honeyeater (critically endangered), New Caledonian Crow and Red-throated Parrotfinch amongst the other endemics which were seen, it was unquestionably one of the best ever WPO visits to this special island.

Back at sea, the seabirds seen over the next few days included Providence Petrel, Gould’s Petrel and Collared Petrel before the ship arrived in the Solomon Islands.  Over five days, landings were made on Santa Ana, Makira, Guadalcanal, Tetepare and Kolombangara resulting in a fantastic selection of endemics and range-restricted species being found including Pied Goshawk, Woodford’s Rail, Crested Cuckoo-dove, Silver-capped, Claret-breasted and White-headed Fruit-doves, Buff-headed Coucal, Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot, Makira Cicadabird, Solomons Rufous Fantail, Kolombangara, Makira and White-capped Monarchs, Solomon Islands White-eye and Midget Flowerpecker.

Next on the list of special seabirds were both Heinroth’s Shearwater and Beck’s Petrel which were well seen before the ship continued on to Chuuk in Micronesia where the specialities seen on the first day included White-fronted Ground-dove, Purple-capped Fruit-dove, Micronesian Myzomela, Oceanic Flycatcher, Carolinian Reed Warbler and Citrine White-eye.

The following day, three options were available with some of the WildWings group joining the 40+ mile round trip excursion to Tol South (another island in this remote archipelago) where an extremely tough climb resulted in finding both Chuuk Monarch and the extremely localised Teardrop (“Great Truk”) White-eye.  Others in the group visited the island of Dublon, a new island for the voyage, where several monarchs were found.

Back at sea, the ship continued onwards to Japan where landings were made on Chichi-jima and Miyakejima with several localised endemics being seen including Owston’s Tit, Izu Robin and Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, however, for many people one of the main highlights of the last few days and indeed the entire voyage was the opportunity to ship cruise around the island of Torishima where the highly endangered Short-tailed Albatross breeds.  This resulted in the opportunity to get some fantastic views of this amazing albatross and a fitting climax to this amazing cruise.

WildWings (and our sister brand Limosa Holidays) are offering the opportunity to join this exciting cruise in 2025.  The itinerary will be somewhat different and allows those with limited time to disembark at Kavieng on New Ireland (part of Papua New Guinea).  For details of this shorter voyage please click here and to see the itinerary and details for the full voyage through to Japan please click here.