SOUTH MALUKU (Moluccas) ISLANDS TOUR
Ambon, Seram, Buru, Kai, Tanimbar
Long known as the spice islands, the Maluku (Molucca) Islands were pivotal research areas in Alfred Russell Wallace's natural history studies which culminated in Darwin's theory of evolution. The part of Indonesia now known as Wallacea (Sulawesi and the Lesser Sunda and Maluku Islands) contains over 700 species of birds, of which at least 39% (275+) are endemic. This level of endemism is extremely high and matched in only a few areas in the world. Wallacea's numerous islands, having been separated from each other for many years, are fertile breeding grounds for evolutionary change. The Maluku Islands have about 100 currently recognized endemic bird species, of which we are likely to see over 50. Our total list for the trip will be about 180 species. Those who have birded extensively in surrounding areas such as Sulawesi, Halmahera, the Lesser Sundas, Irian Jaya (West New Guinea) and Australia should add 50± species to their life-lists. Those who have not birded those areas will add more.
Some of the birds are: Bulwer’s Petrel, Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrel (maybe), Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Abbott’s Booby (maybe), Australian Ibis, Spotted Whistlingduck, Radjah Shelduck, Pacific Baza, Gurney's and Little (maybe) Eagles, Oriental and Australian Hobbies, 2-4 scrubfowl, Red-necked Crake (maybe), 16 pigeons (including 5 beautiful fruit-doves, 5 fine imperial-pigeons and the little-known Long-tailed Mountain-Pigeon), 12 parrots (including 3 lories, Salmon-crested and Tanimbar Cockatoos, Buru Racquet-tail and Moluccan King-Parrot), Channel-billed Cuckoo, Kai Coucal, Lesser Masked Owl (maybe), 2 other owls, 6 kingfishers (including Common Paradise-, Lazuli and Variable), Papuan (Blyth’s) Hornbill, 5 or 6 cuckooshrikes, 2 trillers, Slaty-backed Thrush, Tanimbar Bush-Warbler (described only recently), 5 flycatchers (including Streak-breasted, Rufous-chested and Cinnamon-chested), Rufous-sided Gerygone, 9 monarchs, 7 fantails, 5 whistlers, 3 flowerpeckers, 2 sunbirds, 9 white-eyes, 5 honeyeaters, 2 friarbirds, Tricolored Parrotfinch, 4 munias, 3 starlings, Long-crested Myna, 2 orioles, Green Figbird, and Seram and Tanimbar Crows. Leader: Ben King.