Norfolk Island was great as usual, with lovely sunny weather and nice to catch up with some of the places I have spent a fair bit of time at over the years. Got most of the land birds, but didn't see a parakeet. As we left, we headed around Phillip Island and great to see the revegetation going on there and got great views of boobies, etc.
This was my first visit to Vanuatu, and wow what a place. Of course with a few birds on the list to see at sea, we spent a lot of time on deck between islands. Haven't yet really figured out if I saw any Vanuatu petrel, but I know we saw a number of white-naped types in Vanuatu, and I photographed a few, so need to go back through the images. We had an awesome afternoon on Tanna - what an incredible experience looking down into that volcano! Also saw land-diving on Pentecoste and wow - that just blew my mind. We also got quite a few collared petrel, including a good number of magnificent petrel, but unfortunately none super close. There was a small dark petrel seen and I got photographs, and at one stage it seemed it might be a Fiji petrel, but I need to do some more work on that one also.
Solomons were great - a few nice land birds like buff-headed coucal and midget flowerpecker, and we were so lucky to be in Honiara just a couple of days before the massive storms that really did some damage there. Really felt for the people of Honiara.
On the way through from the Solomons towards Bougainville and Buka we had sightings of both Heinroth's shearwater and Beck's petrel. Two mega birds that have been on my 'want to see' list for some time. Reasonable views of both, but no really decent photos unfortunately.
That storm then built and built behind us as we headed south-west towards Cairns, and eventually formed into Cyclone Ita, which changed plans for us a little and we headed into Cairns a few days early. Had some nice time around Cairns to get up to some of the rainforest and got reacquainted with a few Aussie birds, before I flew home, leaving Cairns just as the Cyclone hit. The Cyclone then bounced across the Tasman and ended up making my first week at home, away on holiday, a very very damp one! Oh well!
|Immature masked booby as we approached Norfolk Island|
|Black-winged petrels were common off Norfolk Island|
|Wedge-tailed shearwater at sea|
|Collared petrel between Norfolk and Vanuatu|
|Providence petrel as we approached Tanna, Vanuatu|
|Cute little girl taking photos with a cellphone on Tanna|
|This little guy was happily running along until he looked up and saw me with my big lens...|
|The beautiful people of Tanna|
|The kids are just so friendly and photogenic, beautiful people|
|The chief on Pentecoste|
|The group that chanted on the land-divers|
|The youngest of the group that dived, aged roughly six years old|
|Jumping from part way up the tower|
|Sorting out the vines that are tied to the ankles of the jumpers|
|Chanting and giving encouragement to the jumpers|
|One of the real showmen who did a dive from most of the way up the tower|
|At the bottom of the jump as the vines arrested his fall|
|Clearly a lot of effort and concentration and bracing for the vines to pull tight|
|Another of the young guys who jumped from near the top, clearly having fun and anticipating the jump|
|On his way|
|Not quite the top, but about 22m off the ground...|
|Too late to pull out...|
|The top jumper, who wore one of the ships GoPros on his chest...|
|The GoPro footage is awesome...|
|Young kids in a canoe off Santa Ana in the Solomon Islands|
|Ship in the background|
|During the performance on Santa Ana, all the locals came to watch too and I think had almost as much fun as we did!|
|I'm guessing that was the father behind...gotta love the T-Shirt!|
|Very very cute kids|
|The marauding mud men|
|Musical instrument of choice...|
|Even the kids gave it a go|
|Waving and rapping from the bulbous bow|
|The old World Discoverer at rest in the Solomon Islands|
|A local fisherman sailing in Papua New Guinea|