I've just returned from Lord Howe, after an uneventful trip. Big
disappointment was that the winds were very strong all week and no-one was
willing to take me out to Ball's Pyramid?so I missed the White-bellied
Storm-petrel and the Kermadec Petrel.
However I did see all the other island specialities, in most cases exactly
where they were supposed to be: Black Noddies breeding in Norfolk Island
Pines at North Bay (but also visible in most spots as the occasional bird
flying by); Black-winged Petrels were very visible at various spots,
including Ned's Beach and the Old Gulch, at any time of day; Grey Ternlets
were to be seen in small numbers from various points about the island,
passing far out to sea (though they were easy to pick once you got your eye
in); Tropicbirds were common along the north coast, and Masked Boobies
common off Muttonbird Point and along the west coast; the Woodhens were
easily found in the big patch of palm forest along the Little Island Track;
the LH Silvereyes, Golden Whistlers, White Terns and Emerald Doves were
common everywhere, and the LH Currawongs were common at the Stephens
Reserve, and anywhere south of the Airport.
Probably the best bird I saw, though not a tick, was a Little Shearwater,
seen towards evening between Muttonbird Point and Muttonbird Island. Murray
Lord's Wandering Tattlers had moved down from Ned's Beach to Middle Beach.
I also saw Buff-banded Rails in various places and in numbers.
One thing I noticed was that the Purple Swamphens there seemed to be very
large. I note that Pizzey gives their length as 43cm, and the Falla et al
NZ Guide gives it as 50cm. Are NZ Pukekos larger, and if so are LH
Swamphens more like their NZ cousins in that regard? One bird-watcher I met
there told me that he had just that morning seen a Swamphen pounce on a
Black duckling and carry it off, fending off the parents' furious pursuit!
It was also interesting to see the LH Silvereyes seeming to fill many more
ecological niches that their mainland cousins. I saw them taking nectar
from the Coral Tree outside the Stores, also do hovering to catch insects,
hopping after things on the ground and so forth!
John Leonard (Dr),
PO Box 243,
Woden, ACT 2606,
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