Suva, FijiMeet at the Holiday Inn Suva before your transfer to the Spirit of Enderby berthed at the Port of Suva. Sail for the waters off Gau. The island of Gau is famous amongst seabird aficionados as it is suspected to be the only breeding ground of the critically endangered Fiji Petrel. This is an extremely rare and elusive bird and sightings are far from certain, but your crew will be making every effort possible to locate this bird during your time off Gau. Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Greater and Lesser Frigatebirds, Sooty and White Terns and Black and Brown Noddies are all likely to be seen today and throughout your time at sea during this South Pacific voyage.
Ogea Levu, FijiThis morning make a chumming effort for Fiji Petrels and hope to see them after they depart their breeding grounds. This afternoon depart the Gau region for Ogea Levu, home to the extremely localized Ogea Monarch which occurs on only two small islands within the Lau Archipelago.
Ogea Levu, FijiYour main target this morning is the Ogea Monarch. Very few birders or ornithologists have ever managed to visit this island but it is thought that this species is still fairly common here so you should have a good chance of locating it and perhaps also assessing its status. You may also be able to observe the near endemic Blue-crowned Lorikeet. Late this afternoon depart for the island of Kadavu.
Kadavu Island, FijiKadavu offers excellent birding and has four endemics: Crimson Shining Parrot, Kadavu Honeyeater, Kadavu Fantail and Whistling Dove and we hope to see all of these. This island also offers a chance to see a good selection of more widespread Fijian birds.
At SeaAt sea between Fiji and Vanuatu. These waters are essentially unknown ornithologically but this is likely to be an interesting crossing. Several species of petrel and other tropical seabirds are likely to feed in these waters and it could be good for cetaceans.
Efate Island, VanuatuVanuatu has many islands and you will explore some of these, they are rich in culture and surrounded by colorful coral reefs, deserted beaches and crystal blue waters. Hopefully see your first Vanuatu endemic, the Yellow-fronted White-eye and other species that you may be able to find are Dark-brown Honeyeater and the elusive Blue-faced Parrotfinch.
Tongoa, Shepherd IslandsFew birders get the chance to visit the Shepherd Islands, and you will be visiting the largest island of Tongoa. In addition to the more common Vanuatu birds, be looking for the Royal Parrotfinch, a striking and very poorly known bird that occurs widely in Vanuatu but is rarely seen outside the Shepherd Islands. It is very elusive but you have all morning to search for it. In the afternoon continue north.
At SeaHave the entire day at sea today as your expedition vessel heads northwards. This provides a great opportunity to look out for seabirds, including the Vanuatu Petrel, as well as cetaceans.
Espiritu Santo, VanuatuThe island of Espiritu Santo is home to all of Vanuatu’s endemic birds, including the Santo Mountain Starling, a species restricted entirely to Santo. Spend the day birding the Vatthe Conservation area. You should see a good selection of the endemic Vanuatu birds here including Tanna Fruit Dove, Chestnut-bellied Kingfisher and Buff-bellied Monarch, and hopefully the mound-building Vanuatu Megapode. You should also see a good range of more widespread birds.
Banks Islands, VanuatuThese islands hit the birding headlines a few years ago when the Vanuatu Petrel was not only rediscovered here, but its nesting grounds were found. Even more recently, a distinctly dark subspecies of Collared Petrel, dubbed the Magnificent Petrel, has also been found. Both species are apparently regularly seen at sea off the islands and you will have the whole day to search for them.
Banks Islands & Sola, VanuatuContinue your birding in the Banks Islands this morning. If you still have not seen the Vanuatu and Magnificent Petrel continue your search for them. If you have seen them there will be an option for an exploratory landing to search for some of the endemics. This afternoon call briefly at Sola in Port Patterson, the capital of the Torba Province.
Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon IslandsThis morning is at sea as you steam north towards the Santa Cruz Islands. On arrival once formalities are completed and if time permits there will be an opportunity to land and have an evening’s birding.
Nendo Island, Solomon IslandsSpend the day birding on Nendö Island. Stand a good chance of seeing the three endemic birds, Santa Cruz White-eye, the bizarre looking Sanford’s White-eye and the Santa Cruz Shrikebill which is seemingly very rare. You also have a chance of seeing Rusty-winged Starling here.
Vanikoro Island, Solomon IslandsArrive at Vanikoro Island in the early morning. Today search for the two endemics on Vanikoro Island, the Vanikoro Monarch and the Vanikoro White-eye, the latter species described as recently as 2008. Very few birders have had the opportunity to explore this remote island so it is something of an expeditionary day.
At SeaHave a final day at sea to reflect on your experiences and enjoy the sunshine and tropical seabirds that have been your companions throughout this expedition.
Honiara, Solomon IslandsArrive at Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands where you will anchor offshore and after breakfast you and your luggage are transferred ashore by Zodiac. There will be a complimentary shuttle to a local hotel or the airport.