Duration: 6 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Date Start: December 10, 2019
Date End: December 15, 2019
Tour Start: Nouméa (La Tontouta International Airport)
Tour End: Nouméa (La Tontouta International Airport)
This tour visits Grande Terre, New Caledonia, and focuses on the many exciting endemic birds found across the island.
Grande Terre is part of an ancient archipelago of Gondwanan (continental) origin. Most of the island is covered in tropical evergreen forest in the higher elevations, while savanna and maquis dominate the lower elevations. Most famous for being the home of the unique Kagu, Grande Terre hosts a total of 18 island endemics as well as about a dozen more Melanesian endemics. We will spend time at the following areas: Parc de la Rivière Bleue, Mt Koghi, and the Farino area. The prime target will be finding the endemic star bird of New Caledonia, the charismatic Kagu.
Most endemics found on Grande Terre should be encountered during the time we have, and these include White-bellied Goshawk, Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, Goliath Imperial Pigeon, Horned Parakeet, New Caledonian Parakeet, New Caledonian Myzomela, Barred Honeyeater, New Caledonian Friarbird, New Caledonian Whistler, New Caledonian Crow, New Caledonian Cuckooshrike, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, Green-backed White-eye, Striated Starling, and Red-throated Parrotfinch. Two species, the Critically Endangered Crow Honeyeater and increasingly rare New Caledonian Thicketbird, are becoming more difficult year on year but we will still try to find them in suitable areas in which they may still be hanging on.
Itinerary (6 days/5 nights)
Day 1: Arrival in New Caledonia
Arrival at La Tontouta International Airport, Grande Terre, New Caledonia, and transfer to our hotel in Nouméa. Afternoon at leisure.
Days 2 – 3: Full day birding at Parc de la Rivière Bleue
We will travel to Parc de la Rivière Bleue in search of endemic birds over these two days, including the star endemic, the flightless and extremely rare Kagu. We will focus our attention on finding this great bird and getting the best views, and hopefully photographs, possible.
While searching for the Kagu we are likely to come across many other endemics and regional specialties, such as New Caledonian Parakeet, New Caledonian Myzomela, Barred Honeyeater, New Caledonian Friarbird, Green-backed White-eye, Fan-tailed Gerygone, Metallic Pigeon, Goliath Imperial Pigeon, Sacred Kingfisher, South Melanesian Cuckooshrike, Crow Honeyeater, New Caledonian Cuckooshrike, Horned Parakeet, Southern Shrikebill, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, Red-throated Parrotfinch, White-bellied Goshawk, Cloven-feathered Dove, and New Caledonian Crow.
Day 4: Morning birding at Mount Koghi and transfer to Sarraméa
We will spend the morning birding Mount Koghi and the surrounding area for a range of endemic birds, such as the simply-spectacular endemic Cloven-feathered Dove, which is a real assault on the eyes, and the endemic White-bellied Goshawk. This area was once a stronghold for the declining, and now quite rare New Caledonian Thicketbird, so we will be checking suitable habitat for that species. We will also look here for the unique, ‘tool-using’ New Caledonian Crow, and we may also get our first look at the humongous Goliath Imperial Pigeon.
In the afternoon we will transfer to the Farino area for a couple of nights’ stay in the central section of Grande Terre.
Day 5: Full day birding the Farino area
We will spend the full day birding around Farino and the surrounding area, such as Parc des Grandes Fougères. Again we will target the rare New Caledonian Thicketbird while in suitable habitat, where we may also find Red-throated Parrotfinch. Other special birds here may include Cloven-feathered Dove, New Caledonian Crow, and Horned Parakeet among many other species such as Southern Shrikebill, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, New Caledonian Whistler, and Striated Starling. The forests here also have a population of Kagu that is increasing in size due to predator control, so we may again bump into this unique species.
Day 6: Transfer from Sarraméa to La Tontouta International Airport, departure
We will have time for some morning birding around our hotel grounds, seeking out any more endemics or regional specialties, such as Red-throated Parrotfinch, Melanesian Flycatcher, and Cloven-feathered Dove before we transfer back to La Tontouta International Airport, where the tour concludes in the mid-afternoon.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.
Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!
Janice — Kent, UK