Re:Solomon Islands

Subject: Re:Solomon Islands
From: Niels Poul Dreyer <>
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 09:14:42 +1000 (EST)
I went to Solomon Islands for 12 days over Easter. The main purpose was
diving, but I also got a chance to see some of the endemic birds (about 20
endemics). Diving highlights were hammerhead shark, yellow-fin tuna, spinner
dolphin, devel ray and spotted-eagle ray and about 400 reef fish.
Additionally I got some tips how to arrange trips up in the moutains. I saw
two groups of 8-10 intersting pygmy parrots on Kendova (western Province)
and another group of 7 on the New Georgia group (Morovo Lagoon), both sites
were in a lowland primary forests. The tiny green pygmy parrots were feeding
on tree trunks and branches about 4 meters to 10 meters above ground and
were tame and approachable. A kind of Nuthach behaviour.  The head was dark
green, bill blackish, feets gray, lower belly lighter green. A few adults
had bronze yellow upperparts while otheres were more uniform green. Forhead
of one bird was bright green contrasting to a more olive green head. There
was no red or orange on any of the birds.  The checklist by Blaber, S.JM.
1990 (issued in Emu) did not mention pygmy parrots, but apparently Finch's
Pygmy Parrot (or another pygmy parrot) is common in the western province?
Other interesting birds seen on a small island Kundu Kundu in the Munda
Lagoon were Megapode, Nicobar Pegion, Stephen's Ground Dove, Beach
Kingfisher, Beach Curlew, (Thicknee). You can hire a boat for 60 solomon
dollars from Agnes Lodge in Munda, but you need to contact the landovner Mr
Faletau B. Leve before going. He knows the birds and would be delighted to
take you to his island. Along the Airstrip in Munda, I saw a almost tame
Pied Goshawk walking in the grass eating insects such as grasshoppers, while
the Solomon Island Sea-eagle (Sandfords Eagle) were soring above the
adjacent secondary forest. I saw 5 pairs of this eagle during the trip and
they were easy to approach. However, the more elusive Pied Mornach was only
seen in primary forest at Movro lagoon and on Kendova Island. Other common
endemics such as Gray-throated White-eye, Steel-blue Flycatcher, Buff-headed
Coucal, Cardinal lory, Red-naped myzomela, Chestnut-bellied Mornach and
Rufous-breasted Goshawk were seen near the Airstrip. I missed  Roviana Rail,
because I did not know about it before it was too late. Mr Leve would be
able to find one for you, but bring a tape recorder.  A flock of Whimbrels
and Golden Plover were feeding in the grass next to the airport building.  I
went up  Hura river by boat one morning and saw the common Kingfisher
together with Cockatto, Red-knob Pigeon, Slenderbill Cicada Bird (the female
was much more red rusty that the Australian counterpart.) The kingfisher was
much less bright and the bill dark not red as on the common kingfisher. The
back was flashy pale blue, the underparts  more rufous not bright orange. I
wonder whether this species is a candidate for a split? 
It is easy to get around by boat from Agnes Lodge and Uepi Dive Resort and
it is not expensive especially if other tourist join. It is possible to
arrange a trek up on Kolombangara for 2 or 3 days, but it is necessary to
bring camping gear and dry frozen food. Agnes Lodge does not provide camping
gear, but guide service and boat transfer. 
The last day I went to Guanacanal and took a taxi up to Betilonga Village to
meet with Mr Luke Lendi. I did not have much time and saw only Yellow-bibbed
Lory & Brown-winged Starling as new birds not seen in the Western Province.
He would be able to guide you up in the mountains inorder to find Mustached
Kingfisher etc. It was very hot and climbing the hills in the afternoon was
no fun. I realized how important it is to be fit in order to do trekking
trips in the Solomons. It is not for people who seek creature comfort in
lodges and resorts, so do not bring your wife. I did not see as much
Malaysian deforestation as I had feared, but the Asians are fishing like
crazy in the Solomon Waters and the live reef fish trade to Hong Kong is a
huge problem. I wonder whether the China takeover of Hong Kong on 1 July
1997 will improve things?
>Niels Poul Dreyer
>07 38708272 (H)
07 32278920 (w)

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