Monday, December 26, 2016

NORFOLK ISLAND - Part 2




The island is a top place for some sea-bird watching, with numerous cliff edge viewing spots and hundreds of birds of various species vying for our attention.


View from lower lookout, Captain Cook Monument




We saw a total of ten sea-bird species all up, six of which were lifers for me. Many of the birds were into their breeding seasons including some boobies that were nesting on the rocky islets (pictured above) along the north coast.



Masked Booby



Masked Booby




From the lower viewing platform at Capt Cook monument , we sighted a striking Black-winged Petrel circling before flying into its nest burrow out of sight in the cliff below.




Black-winged Petrel - image courtesy of  Ian Mongomery:
http://www.birdway.com.au/index.php



A lone female frigatebird was spotted but too distant to identify as Great or Lesser.



Frigatebird sp.




Anson Bay




One of the highlights was observing the tropicbirds and their spectacular nuptial aerial displays. A group of eight of these surprisingly bulky birds were seen hovering, fluttering, gliding and even flying backwards over Cemetery Bay.



Red-tailed Tropicbird




Red-tailed Tropicbird




R.T. Tropicbird on nest




Our favourites were the ethereal White Terns, beautiful birds to observe, especially in an aerobatic display of tandem flying, twisting and turning in perfect unison above the blue waters. They have the unusual habit of laying and incubating their eggs on the bare branches of Norfolk Pines. It seems to work fine although stormy weather would have to cause some casualties.   



White Tern & chick








Scoped views were had of a close relative, the Grey Ternlet, roosting and possibly nesting on a rocky islet along the north coast.



Grey Ternlet - image courtesy of Ian Montgomery:
http://www.birdway.com.au/index.php




Walking through the Hundred Acres forest in Rocky Point Reserve was a surreal experience as we watched a Black Noddy flitting only metres above our heads, possibly searching for a suitable nesting place in a tree. The individual in the photo below was probably searching for some nesting material. These birds were much more numerous than the very similar Common Noddies, which differ in being a ground nesting species.



Black Noddy




Sunset from Puppys Point




Distant rafts of shearwaters were seen on the water from Puppys Point before flying in on dusk, back to their individual burrows along the open grassy banks above the cliffs. On a more sobering note, some headless carcasses of these ocean wanderers were seen besides burrows at Rocky Point Reserve. Probably the depredations of one or more of the feline inhabitants here, this phenomonen was hopefully being investigated by the appropriate authorities.   



Wedge-tailed Shearwater



A few Pacific Golden Plovers, a northern hemisphere migrant, were loafing around the airport looking for a feed in the grassy verges along the road and runway. It's always worth looking out for the various wader species or vagrants that visit Norfolk Island, especially over summer.   



Pacific Golden Plover




For more information on this fascinating island, visit this excellent and informative nature blog by an anonymous author who is currently residing there: http://naturalnorfolk.com/wp/

Our accomodation, peaceful, spacious and central was self booked through:

A list of the birds we saw and identified during our stay on the island is shown at the end of this post.  



Quality Row




Crank Mill











Cheers & Happy Birding





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Monday, December 12, 2016

NORFOLK ISLAND - Part 1





Clare and I had the opportunity of spending some time on Norfolk Island last month, two hours flying time east of Brisbane, but a world away from the hustle and bustle of that metropolis. My main focus (as always) was birdwatching on this Pacific Ocean gem and we had a week to enjoy the beauty of its seascapes and natural features, as well as contemplating its rich but sometimes brutal, colonial history.


Upper lookout at Captain Cook Monument



Cresswell Bay


We had agreeably mild weather during our stay and the birding started from day one in the backyard of our comfortable holiday house Fe-awa (Forever) with views to match.







When I wasn't looking up to watch the White Terns and Sooty Terns flying overhead, the bush birds were keeping me entertained with their antics.


Silvereye


Norfolk Gerygone (endemic)


Grey Fantail



Grey Fantail



Crimson Rosella


A wander down the road next morning after awakening to the beautiful dawn chorus, had me onto the more open country birds, including some of the many introduced species on the island.


Sacred Kingfisher


Red Junglefowl (Feral Chicken)

Song Thrush

Eurasian Blackbird



Crimson Rosella



The Botanic Gardens were well worth a look, with a good little visitor centre (un-manned) and excellent walking tracks.



Emerald Dove



Golden Whistler



We did a several walks in the National Park over successive days, an outstanding area of remnant forest and a great example of what much of the island must have resembled, pre-European settlement.



Norfolk Island National Park




Norfolk Robin - female (endemic)



We observed the female above feeding her young charge below, and had good views of a brilliantly coloured male along another track. Alas no photo. 



Norfolk Robin - juvenile




We did sight the endemic and endangered Slender-billed White-eye here too, with small groups working their way through the mid to high canopy.



Slender-billed Whiteye - image courtesy of Ian Montgomery:
http://birdway.com.au/index.php




The highlight on our second visit to the National Park was observing the elusive Norfolk Parakeet.



Norflok Parakeet (endemic)



After first hearing the distinct call of this much sought after bird, one flew over our heads displaying it's emerald green plumage and red crown. Not long after, while walking a different track, we came across this character feeding nonchalantly on pine seeds beside the walkway. Having been on the brink of extinction a few years ago, there is now a healthy population of 250 plus, after some concerted conservation efforts. Still, they were the only two we saw during our visit.









While walking the Mt Pitt to Mt Bates track we crossed paths with a pair of these introduced but charismatic quail, fairly common throughout the island but quite wary. 



California Quail




Moreton Bay Figs, New Farm Road










Cheers & Happy Birding