Christmas Is.

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Christmas Is.
From: Peter Milburn <>
Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2001 17:59:37 +1000
Hi Ausbirders

Christmas Island is actually quite large and much of it has been affected
by human activity (eg phosphate mining) which has resulted in fragmentation
of the tall forest on the plateau.  This is the habitat critical for the
continued survival of Abbott's Booby.  It is fair to say that in recent
years signifiacant storms have led to a number of trees which support AB
nests falling.

The local support includes National Parks staff who are outstanding, in my
opinion, who organise volunteers that search the island for fallen chicks
and adults of varioius species including AB.  Rehabilitatiion success seems
to be high, at least to the point of release.

My casual impression is that AB is extremely vulnerable as a result of a
continuing loss of breeding sites (emergent trees on the plateau).  The
only hope for a reversal is a very serious attempt to consolidate and
re-establish tall forest on the island.  It may be possibly to coax a few
pairs onto artificial nest platforms in the short term.

I am unaware of the proposed launching site.  My guess is that it would be
at the south end of the island which is already badly degraded due to prior
mining activities.  This habitat is a good place to look for migrant
species but not critical for the endemics.  The launching activities would
probably constitute nothing more than insult to prior injury if conducted
in this area.  It is possible that sporadic extreme noise may pose a
problem e.g. causing chicks to panic and fall from the trees.

I seriously doubt that anything other than this option has been considered
but I never cease to be horrified.....


Dr P.J. Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
ACT 0200

+61 2 6125 4173 'Phone
+61 2 6125 4326 FAX

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