Clearing up the Collared Kingfishers

10,000 Birds

Subspecies juliae , Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. For example only a single subspecies from Vanuatu was sampled. All the way back in 2011 I wrote about the confusing taxanomic enigma that is the Collared Kingfisher , a species that ranges from the Red Sea to Tonga in a bewildering variety of forms. I’m happy to report that an analysis of the species and some relatives has found that, as suspected, it isn’t a single species.

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Confusing Collared Kingfishers

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Vanuatu has five subspecies, Fiji has three, and the far flung Solomon Islands have twelve. Tom Tarrant The extent of buff and rufous on Fijian birds has lead one author to place them with the Sacred Kingfishers instead of the Collared Kingfisher, even though there are none in Vanuatu (which is between New Caledonia and Fiji. Subspecies juliae , Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. I saw this kingfisher on a trip to the largest island in Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo.

Samoa 66

Diving New Zealand – Goat Island

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Diving has taken me to places like Belize, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Egypt, places that coincidentally are fun to bird. In my opinion, if you’re a birder you should diver too. Not because you generally see many birds while diving, although the experience of seeing shearwaters flying underwater while cage diving, as I once did, was one I think most birders would enjoy. But no, the reason I think birders should be divers is because it ticks, figuratively, many of the same boxes.

Armchair Splits in the Pacific

10,000 Birds

I’ve written before about how the Collared Kingfisher is a million splits waiting to happen (not happened yet), and the golden whistlers of the Pacific have been split now (giving me on from Fiji, one in Australia and one in Vanuatu), but I hadn’t really expected the Wattled Honeyeater to be a split. Between my return from Borneo and my week-long (mostly flu-ed up) visit to Sydney in August, my life list on eBird had a total designed to drive those with OCD to distraction.

2014 65

The Long Reach of the Poor Knights

10,000 Birds

I’ve subsequently managed to dive in some spectacular destinations, including Turneffe Atoll in Belize, the Great Astrolabe Reef in Fiji, the kelp forests of Monterey and the wreck of the President Coolidge in Vanuatu. Long before I moved in New Zealand, or visited or even knew much about the wildlife here, way back then I knew about the Poor Knights. I knew about them because I was a scuba diver.

2011 71

The complete guide to Dodo relatives, living and dead

10,000 Birds

’s Birds of the Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia , “nests colonially on small offshore islands, but visits coastal lowlands of larger islands to forage for food.” The Dodo ( Raphus cucullatus ) — that towering icon of modern anthropogenic extinctions — was a pigeon.

2014 87

Birding in a Hellmouth

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The closest I came to exploring a cave was diving in a wreck in Vanuatu a few years ago, and while I found the experience nerve-wracking, a combination of sheer fascination and nitrogen narcosis (the effect while diving of compressed nitrogen acting like alcohol – particularly to the decision making processes) kept me sane.

2014 55

Chasing cuckoos

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While Australian birds migrate to New Guinea, New Zealand birds migrate to the Bismark Archipelago and the Solomon Islands (there are also resident populations in New Caledonia and Vanuatu). While I sometimes complain about the lack of variety of birds in New Zealand, there are at least some birds here that are a) hard to find but b) can be found in many places.

2014 60

Violent Earth

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The aforementioned Kauri in turn used these islands to reach places like Vanuatu. I often like to poke fun at how dangerous the wildlife of Australia is, as ever since the giant man-eating Haast’s Eagle went extinct the land life on New Zealand has been mostly harmless. But the thing is, while the animals may not want to kill you, it sometimes feels as if the land itself does.

2013 65

Meet Suliformes, one of the newest orders of birds

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He is a writer and communicator whose day jobs have taken him to six continents and more than 25 countries, including Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kenya, and Cameroon.

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