Morotai, Obi, Boano, Seram, Kai and Buru


Morotai, Obi, Boano, Seram, Kai and Buru


Morotai, Obi, Boano, Seram, Kai and Buru


Morotai, Obi, Boano, Seram, Kai and Buru


Morotai, Obi, Boano, Seram, Kai and Buru


Morotai, Obi, Bacan, Boano, Ambon, Buru, Kai and Seram

3rd - 23rd October 2020
+ Tanimbars extension to 27th October 2020

Leader: Carlos Bocos

Tanimbar Islands are an optional extension. Please contact us for details.

Wallacea is the fascinating zone of transition between Oriental and Australasian faunal zones in eastern Indonesia, named after the famous explorer Sir Alfred Wallace. While areas such as the Lesser Sundas and Sulawesi are frequently visited, much of the Moluccas or Spice Islands have rarely attracted birders and it is these we will explore in search of some of the lest-seen endemics in Indonesia. We concentrate on five major island groups; Obi, Morotai, Seram, Buru and the Kai islands, with site trips to smaller islands including Boano and Bacan.An optional extension to Tanimbar makes this the most comprehensive tour to the Moluccas available.

Seram and Boano
The long island of Seram still supports vast forests, particularly along its mountainous spine within the huge Manusela National Park. It is here that we will spend much of our time, since the vast majority of the islands endemics can now be found from a road which cuts through the park without the need for expedition-style treks into the mountains as used to be the case! Prime target here is the delightful pink-hued Salmon-crested Cockatoo but there are many others to find including Streaky-breasted Fantail, Grey-hooded and Rufescent Heleia, Seram Honeyeater, Seram Oriole, Seram Friarbird, Seram Golden Bulbul, Seram Imperial Pigeon and with a great deal of luck, the rare Purple-naped Lory. Also within the forest we will keep a look out for two likely splits; Seram Leaf Warbler and the Skulking Seram Grasshopper Warbler. Overhead we might find soaring Gurney's or Pygmy Eagles or catch sight of a Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk passing by, meanwhile both the stunning Lazuli Kingfisher and wacky Long-crested Myna prefer to survey their areas from high, exposed branches. A visit to some offshore islands will hopefully produce the locally abundant, be seemingly nomadic Olive Honeyeater and Forsten's Scrubfowl. Night-time explorations should locate the recently split Seram Boobook, and possibly even a recently described endemic taxon of Tyto owl.

As an exciting side trip we were the first  bird tour company to visit here for the Critically Endangered Boano Monarch, endemic to the small island of Boano adjacent to Seram which we refound here in 2011, more than 17 years since the last sighting. Also on the island is an endemic race of Common Paradise-kingfisher and Seram Fantail (a split from Northern).

This little-visited island hosts more than 20 endemics including highlights such as Buru Racquet-tail, Tawny-backed Fantail, Buru Warbling-flycatcher, Buru Golden Bulbul, Buru Cuckooshrike, Buru Fantail (split from Northern), Buru Friarbird, Buru Oriole, Buru Monarch and Buru Green Pigeon among others, and by driving high into the mountains we will hope to find some of the islands rarities like Buru Thrush, Buru Honeyeater, Buru Myzomela, Buru Leaf Warbler, Buru Grasshopper-warbler, Buru Mountain Pigeon and even a very slim chance of three of the most little-known species in all of Indonesia - Black-lored Parrot, Buru Lorikeet and Madanga Pipit, all of which we've seen in the past here. The excitement again continues after dark with Lesser (or Australasian) Masked Owl and Buru Boobook, the latter we recently sound recorded for the first time and found it to be highly distinct from its Seram counterpart.

Kai Islands
The islands of Kai Kecil and Kai Besar lying far to the southeast of Seram, form the major part of the Kai archipelago. Most of our birding will be on Kai Kecil where most of the endemics can be found in the remaining scraps of forest; Kai Coucal, Kai (White-tailed) Monarch and Kai Kecil White-eye. A side trip to the hillier Kai Besar is required to find Kai Besar White-eye, plus Kai Leaf Warbler which like the Buru and Seram Leaf Warblers still languishes within Island Leaf Warbler despite their very distinctive appearance and songs.

The gateway to the Moluccas, this relatively small island is the regional hub and we will be transiting through the island each time we take a boat or flight to the more exciting, endemic-filled islands. What extra time we have on this island will be spent looking for the islands single endemic, Ambon White-eye. Other possibilities here include a few endemics shared with the surrounding islands, notably Seram Flowerpecker, Seram Fantail, Red Lory and Seram Golden Bulbul.

Currently, Obi has just the three endemics Carunculated Fruit Dove, Obi (Cinnamon-breasted) Whistler, and Obi Golden Bulbul, according to the IOC checklist. However, with forthcoming taxonomic alterations this number will soon jump up to at least seven that includes a drongo, fantail, white-eye, paradise-crow all of which we hope to find. It's not only the endemics we'll be looking for, but also some really special birds, with the most exciting being Moluccan Woodcock, known from Obi and a single specimen from Bacan, along with a few North Moluccan endemics like Blue-and-white Kingfisher, Violet-necked Lory (of the endemic race, obiensis and split as 'Scaled Lory' along with the West Papuan race), Chattering Lory, 'Bacan Myzomela' and North Moluccan Leaf Warbler.

Bacan holds a distinctive white-eye, that will undoubtably be split from the Cream-throated White-eye complex (and already is the regional field guide), and yet another interesting drongo - Bacan Spangled Drongo!

Leading the way, we were the first bird company to visit this island. The will also visit Morotai, a small island to the north of Halmahera. With forthcoming taxonomic arrangements, the island will have three endemics - Morotai (Dusky) Friarbird, Morotai Spangled Drongo and the not-so-easy Morotai White-eye. In addition, the island holds a number of endemic subspecies, including Ivory-breasted Pitta, Chattering Lory, Paradise-crow and Dusky Myzomela. There are several other species possible, including Violet-necked Lory, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Halmahera Swiftlet, Varied and Halmahera (Moluccan) Goshawks, Moluccan Scops Owl, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Drab Whistler, Moluccan Cuckooshrike, Halmahera Golden Bulbul and Halmahera Flowerpecker.

Tour details

Cost: £ 5,150 or $ 6,695

Tanimbars is an optional extension

Deposit: £ 500 or $ 700

Single room supplement: £330/$430

Maximum group size: 7

Tour cost includes: all accommodation, main meals, internal flights (between Ternate arrival and Ambon departure), overland transport, entrance fees, drinking water, tips to local drivers and guides, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: international flights, flights to start point; Ternate and departure point; Ambon, visa, travel insurance, drinks, tips to tour guides, and other items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: onboard our privately chartered Liveaboard boat for 13-nights, in twin-sharing cabins, each cabin with private facilities. On land (5 nights) comfortable twin, and single, rooms with private facilities.

Walking difficulty: easy to moderate.
On one morning, at least, on both Seram and Buru, opportunity to trek to the higher reaches of the island, on steep, slippery trails.
Maximum altitude is 1,400m, though those trekking up can reach up to 1,900m.

Expected number of species: 210-260 species

Number of endemics and range-restricted species: 95-110 Moluccan endemics possible.
On Tanimbars an additional 13-16 endemics possible, depending on taxonomy.

Map of the tour

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