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  • Photograph of Short-tailed Albatross

    A Short-tailed Albatross off Torishima by Nigel Voaden.

    WESTERN PACIFIC ODYSSEY

    Best Wildlife in the Western Pacific

    Mammals
    Sperm Whale, Bottlenose, Risso’s, (Eastern) Spinner, (Pantropical) Spotted and Striped Dolphins, and Rennell Flying Fox. Also a chance of Blue, Humpback, Killer, Bryde’s (Omaru’s), False Killer, Pygmy Killer, Dwarf Sperm, Pygmy Sperm, Ginko-toothed, Blainville’s Beaked, Cuvier’s Beaked, Gray’s Beaked, Hubb’s Beaked, Longman’s Beaked, Long-finned Pilot and Short-finned Pilot Whales, and Fraser’s and Rough-toothed Dolphins.

    Birds
    Seabirds including Little Penguin, Wandering (Snowy), Short-tailed, Laysan, Black-footed, Gibson’s (Wandering), White-capped, Campbell and Black-browed Albatrosses, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Beck’s, (Parkinson’s) Black, Bonin, Cook’s, Gould’s, Kermadec and Tahiti Petrels, Atoll (Audubon’s), Bannerman’s (Audubon’s), Heinroth’s and Tropical (Audubon’s) Shearwaters, New Zealand and White-faced Storm Petrels, Common Diving Petrel, Grey-backed and White Terns, Grey Ternlet and Japanese Murrelet, as well as Black-winged, Bulwer’s, Collared, Great-winged (Grey-faced), Providence, White-chinned and White-necked Petrels, Fairy Prion, Buller’s, Flesh-footed, Fluttering, Little, Short-tailed, Sooty, Streaked and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Leach’s, Matsudaira’s, Tristram’s and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Australasian Gannet, Brown, Masked and Red-footed Boobies, Japanese Cormorant, South Polar, Pomarine, Arctic and Long-tailed Skuas, Black-billed, Black-tailed, Kelp, Red-billed, Silver and Slaty-backed Gulls, Black-naped, Bridled, Great Crested, Lesser Crested, Sooty and White-fronted Terns, and Black and Brown Noddies. Also a chance of Wandering (Snowy), Antipodean (Wandering), Northern Royal and Northern Buller’s Albatrosses, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Herald (off North Island, New Zealand), Fiji-type, Magnificent (Collared), Mottled, Providence (north of Norfolk Island), Pycroft’s (Hauraki Gulf), Vanuatu and Westland Black Petrels, Christmas Island Shearwater, Band-rumped, Polynesian, White-bellied and a possible new species (‘New Caledonian’) of Storm Petrel, Red-necked Phalarope, Aleutian and Fairy Terns, Ancient Murrelet and Rhinoceros Auklet.

    Landbirds including Kagu, Solomon Sea Eagle, Ducorp’s Cockatoo, Ultramarine Kingfisher, fruit doves, honeyeaters, Roviana Rail, Blyth's Hornbill and Moustached Treeswift, as well as Rufous Night Heron, Yellow Bittern, Osprey, Brahminy Kite, Pacific Baza, goshawks, Australian (Purple) Swamphen, Grey-tailed and Wandering Tattlers, Emerald Dove, Cloven-feathered Dove, Metallic Pigeon, imperial pigeons, parakeets, parrots including Eclectus and Singing, Rainbow Lorikeet, Cardinal and Yellow-bibbed Lories, Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, swiftlets, Dollarbird, myzomelas, gerygones, White-breasted Woodswallow, cuckoo shrikes, Long-tailed Triller, Golden Whistler, fantails, monarchs, Rennell Shrikebill, Oceanic Flycatcher, Pacific (Scarlet) and Yellow-bellied Robins, Varied (Owston’s) Tit, Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, Japanese Robin, Island and Izu Islands Thrushes, white-eyes, Yellow-faced Myna, starlings, Midget and Mottled Flowerpeckers, and Blue-faced and Red-throated Parrotfinches. Also a chance of Beach Kingfisher, Truk Monarch, Bonin Island Honeyeater and Caroline Islands Ground Dove.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Western Pacific

    Best Times for Wildlife in the Western Pacific

    Cruises usually operate in April-May.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Western Pacific

    The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by B Heather and H Robertson. Penguin, 2015 (Fourth Edition).

    The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by H Robertson and B Heather. Penguin, 2015 (Second Edition).

    Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide by P Scofield and B Stephenson. Auckland University Press, 2013.

    Birds of New Zealand: Locality Guide by S Chambers. Arun Books, 2014 (Fourth Edition).

    Field Guide to the Wildlife of New Zealand by J Fitter. Helm, 2010.

    Bradt Travel Guide: New Zealand Wildlife by J Fitter. Bradt, 2009.

    Birds of Melanesia by G Dutson. Helm, 2011. (covers New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands).

    Birds of the Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia by C Doughty, N Day and A Plant. Helm, 1999.

    A Field Guide to The Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific by H D Pratt, P L Bruner and D G Berrett. PUP, 1987.

    Birds of East Asia by M Brazil. Helm, 2009.

    A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Japan and North-East Asia by T Shimba. Helm, 2007.

    550 Birds of Japan by M Kirihara et al. Bun'ichi Sogo Shuppan, two volumes, 2000 and 2004.

    Whales, Dolphins and Seals: A Field Guide to the Marine Mammals of the World by H Shirihai. Helm, 2006.


    Apps etc.

    Birds of New Zealand.

    Trip Reports for the Western Pacific

    Many trip reports, some for the Western Pacific, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Western Pacific. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Western Pacific' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Western Pacific

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in the Western Pacific

    Some Organized Tours to the Western Pacific

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Western Pacific in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.