Norfolk Island part two

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Norfolk Island part two
From: "Michael J Hunter" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 00:09:39 +1000
Norfolk Island             Part two.
                  What we saw and where.
Green Parrot. Seen every day. One in the Gardens near or on the aviary established to captive breed the parrots when their population, once thousands, dropped to thirteen. Several seen feeding on African Olives on Old Pitt Rd.[OPR] early, one unbanded on Red Road, another flying over the Mts.Pitt-Bates saddle around midday, four flying over the main gully late afternoon. They have a distinctive duck-like quacking call which carries. Said to be one third larger than the NZ species.
Scarlet Robin. Eight pairs in all, seen daily, from Gardens up OPR to Mt Bates. Very approachable.
Golden Whistler. Upper part of all the tracks, especially OPR and Mt.Bates track off it. No breeding plumaged males seen but individuals with a dirty yellow wash from throat to vent below , and females with very yellow in vent region. Also heard calling early and after a shower.
Grey Fantail. Common, cheeky, recognisably different call to Sydney's birds.
Grey Gerygone.Ex NZ. First seen at breakfast in motel garden on day one, common in National Park [NP] in canopy on trunks and branches or on ground, even hovering. Also in mixed feeding flocks with Long-billed White-eyes and Silvereyes. Very grey,variable white;- eyebrow, eye ring and outer primaries.Nice Gerygone type song.
Long-billed White-eye. Flocks of up to sixteen counted flying through the canopy anywhere in the NP during day, call lower and slower than Silvereye's, which are often in same flock. Long-billed is larger, has pale longer bill, green chin/throat and dark grey belly , no brown on flanks. We had closeups on the final early morning, using the bill to prise up lichens on branches for food beneath, and an interesting technique for unfurling the rolled-up tips of dead palm leaves to access morsels within. They inserted the bill then opened it widely to about 90 degrees, spreading the tube open. Seen on all tracks.
White-breasted White-eye. Not seen by us , but by a Ranger in dense forest in a gully six months ago.sic. Larger than Long-billed, dead white below, solitary, in highest canopy, does not call.
Crimson Rosellas noisy and obvious, along with Australian Kestrels are responsible for holding back the native species by dominating nesting sites and eating the birds respectively.Three Welcome Swallows seen cruising over the summit area along with kestrels, and two kestrels hanging on the wind at Ball Bay.
Mallards, Pacific Black Ducks and everything in between , as well as grey geese common at Kingston near the old and picturesque convict settlement, also Purple Swamp-hen, but dipped on the rail and crake.
Ground Birds. Feral Chickens dotted all over the Island on pastures, mostly motley blackand white, but a superb cock in full Jungle-Fowl plumage on OPR early along with an Emerald dove, also seen in the Gardens and top end of OPR. Eight California Quail  that morning and several other places; usually grassy areas near cover into which they disappear on approach.Quite a few driving to Cooks Monument.Very decorative but quite incongruous.
Blackbirds everywhere ,Song Thrushes very vocal early [from 3am],Goldfinches in weedy pastures and bacgskyards, Greenfinches  frequent around Selwyn Bay Reserve and Cascade Reserve on the coast. Starlings by the thousand. A few House Sparrows around town.
Saw Masked Booby , Black Noddy, Wedge-tailed Shearwater and White Tern from Hunters Point at Kingston , opposite Nepean and Phillip Islands, the latter terribly eroded. A solo Red Tropicbird at Point Ross. Roosting Black Noddies at the Hundred Acre Reserve .
White Terns in pairs, swooping in unison like figure skaters at Ball Bay late one afternoon was one of the great birding sights. The backdrop was Norfolk Island Pines up the cliff-face, black rocks at the base, deep blue water, and the brilliant white birds diving to the water and up together is unforgettable.
They were common all over the Island among taller stands of pines, fluttering in the pines as they settled down to roost.
We could have spent longer looking at seabirds, going out on a boat for Grey Ternlets around Phillip Is., and spending a few days after the White-breasted White-eye, possibly the Owls bred from the last female N.I. Boobook subspp. and closely related NZ males, but it was enjoyable  .and productive for a weekend away.
                      Michael and Penny Hunter
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