27 May 2013

Western Pacific Odyssey 2013 Part 5 - Makira and Guadalcanal

Another day, another tropical island in the Solomons.  Ain't life tough sometimes ?  This time, Makira - formerly San Cristobal.  

Beach Kingfisher
Todiramphus saurophagus saurophagus

A few outrigger canoes dotted the bay.

As with the other endemic bird-laden islands, we had had a briefing the previous evening from the tireless Chris Collins, when he told us what we'd be looking out for.  And we all had a "cheat sheet" which listed the endemics so that everyone could keep track of what they'd seen and what they still "needed".  

As far as the birding was concerned, we had everything we needed and we'd been told everything we needed to know.  Now all we had to do was concentrate and find the birds.

Barred Cuckooshrike
Coracina lineata gracilis

Mottled Flowerpecker
Dicaeum tristrami

Chestnut-bellied Moarch
Monarcha richardsii

Sooty Myzomela
Myzomela tristrami

Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon
Ducula r. rubricera

Long-tailed Triller
Lalage leucopyga affinis

Eclectus Parrot
Eclectus roratus

It's easy to lapse into a "Tropical Island Paradise" way of thinking. But the road we birded along had been built by loggers and the timber abandoned at the waters' edge served as a reminder of the environmental threats these islands still face.

Makira Island, Solomons
As we left Makira, a pair of Beach Kingfishers showed themselves…. so thank to Mike Bell for his skillful driving of the Zodiac in shallow waters...

After the morning's birding we were given an "Island welcome" at Anuta village. It seems that the "Spirit of Enderby" is the only foreign ship that ever calls at Anuta, and the villagers are still happy to give overseas visitors a traditional welcome.

We were garlanded by a line-up of the village girls and seated and given a coconut each.

There followed a short speech (in English) by the village head .  It was all very pleasant.  Jemi's polaroid instant-print camera was a big hit. So much so, that the camera kept overheating when she was trying to produce some photos for the kids.  

Then, we alien invaders sailed away with the next stop being the island of Guadalcanal with Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands.


The catering staff rose to the challenge of providing a 03:30 breakfast, and all the birders were ashore before 05:00hrs.

And, if I haven't mentioned it elsewhere, the food was consistently excellent. 

Inland of Honiara, we arrived at the 410 metre summit of Mt Austen just as dawn broke. 

Mt Austen proved to be a pretty good site with Blyth's Hornbills giving an early morning flypast in ones and twos.

Blyth's Hornbill

Blyth's Hornbill

Steel-blue Flycatcher

Solomons Cockatoo

Any kingfisher being a highlight, this fearless Ultramarine Kingfisher - which stayed put for over half-an-hour - was much appreciated.

Ultamarine Kingfisher

Solomons Sea Eagle

Another "Solomons Sea Eagle" !!

Port of Honiara

So much packed into one morning, and we were away in early afternoon.  

Here a view of western Guadalcanal. As evening drew closer, we could watch the clouds slowly change colour.... 

Next stop; - the volcanic cone-shaped island of Kolombangara !


  1. Looks like an amazing place..............

    1. Stu,

      Like all the best places, we wish we could have had longer there, too !

  2. What an amazing trip. That Eclectus Parrot is incredible. I have long desired to see one. I look forward to your next exciting installment.

    1. John,

      Thanks...despite the depredations of the cage bird trade, Eclectus Parrots were quite numerous, I'm happy to say.

  3. The Odyssey continues... more beautiful pix. I'm sorry I missed the Blyth's Hornbill, it looks to be a most unusual bird.

    1. Thanks Philip,

      We'll be wrapping the WPO accounts up with Part 6 in a day or two. The close views of the Hornbills were a real bonus on Guadalcanal.

  4. Groans of delight and envy. Any nice moths?

    1. I overlooked the moths, but there must be some belters in the Solomons !