Birding Downunder 2

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Birding Downunder 2
From: Sue & Phil Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 21:31:13 +1000
Part the second follows
Campbell Island Dec 21

An amazing island, rats were eradicated in a huge 20 day poison bait
drop by helicopters over the winter months 3 years ago, and the
island is now declared rat free, the largest island to date to have
feral pests eradicated, and a shining tribute to NZ conservation

Our star bird here was finding a duckling of Campbell Is Flightless
Teal, which has been recently reintroduced to the main island after
previously having a relict tiny population only on a rocky islet
called Dent Island. This is the first proof of nesting of
reintroduced birds, one of the world’s rarest ducks, which is
flightless and largely nocturnal too.

Subantarctic Pipit common and very tame, already recolonised from the offshore islands.

There are hopes that the newly discovered Campbell Is Snipe will now
build up numbers too, with a sighting on the main island recently.

Campbell Island Shag, Campbell (NZ Black-browed) Albatross, Southern
Royal Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Antarctic Tern.

At sea > Antipodes Is: Little Shearwater 120,  Antipodean Wandering
Albatross 70

Antipodes Is Dec 23

Dense fog, making finding the ship hard after we went along the shore by zodiac, thank heavens for fog-horns (though I’m sure they really had GPS and just wanted to make it more exciting for us!)

Panic time for me as we had about an hour to find the Antipodes
Parakeet and the higher slopes were fog shrouded. Two zodiacs radioed that they had it, resulting in my first ever zodiac twitch, it took
about 2 nerve racking mins to get over to them. Then, I got onto the
local -likely splittable-Red-crowned Parakeet (doh!) and it took me
several agonising minutes to finally get onto the Antipodes Parakeet, eventually a fine view of two of these big entirely green fat-headed
jobs going in and out of a tussock by a waterfall on a rock face. Whew!

The Subantarctic pipits here also look very different, really buff
coloured beneath. Erect-crested Penguin a few hundred, Rockhopper
Penguin a few

Bounty Islands Dec 24

Some of the most barren, plantless and god-forsaken islands and
stacks I’ve ever seen, the colour of the streams was astonishing,
basically liquid guano. Don’t buy Bounty Island Spring Water! Don’t get shipwrecked either.

This is the home for thousands of Salvin’s Albatross, which nest on the flatter tops, in competition with an expanding population of NZ
Fur-seals. We saw (or heard) one fall off the top of the island and
belly flop into the sea with a resounding smack. Also saw several
play penguin skittles as they slipped on rocks and plummeted down.

Erect-crested Penguin hundreds, Bounty Is Shag 140, Fulmar Prion common

Grey Petrel 1 as we got towards the Chathams.

Chatham Is Dec 25

Pyramid Rock was another fantastic sight, with thousands of the very
distinctive Chatham Island Albatross nesting there, the only place I
saw any, as they seem very site faithful at this time of the year.
Pitt Island Shag was also seen there, about 40 birds, and White-
fronted Tern. White-faced Storm-Petrel was common in these waters.

 Rangatira/ South-east Island on Christmas Day was fantastic, with
great looks at two of the world’s rarest waders, we saw 9 adult and 3 young Shore Plover, and 4 Chatham Island Oystercatcher, a much
thicker billed bird than SIPO with a narrow white wing-bar,
unexpectedly distinct.

Star Keys and the 44 Islands Dec 26 : Northern Buller’s (Pacific is a really dumb name!) Albatross hundreds, Southern Royals hundreds

 Chatham Is proper at Awototara Reserve Dec 27 eventually gave us
Chatham Island Gerygone and several of the large and distinctive
Chatham Is Pigeon. Also about 20 Chatham Island Shag as we rounded
the northern tip of the island, and a few Pitt Island Shag there and
at Waitangi Harbour.

Sadly DOC won’t let anyone land except scientists land on either SE or Mangere, so Forbes’ Parakeet, Chatham Is Snipe and the fabled
Black Robin are as yet unattainable.  It would be good to see a more
flexible quarantine-sensible regime in place, as the robin especially is a flagship bird for conservation and would generate great
publicity, awareness and perhaps even funds if they made an
appropriate charge. Seemingly the current lock ’em away policy is up for renewal in 2008 and submissions are invited. (Bet this gets a
thread going)

 At sea back to Dunedin; Buller’s Shearwater 150, Fairy Prion
common, Broad-billed Prion 2, Gould’s Petrel 1, Cook’s Petrel fairly common, possible Pycroft’s Petrel a few, though they always seemed to going into the sun and the lighting can be treacherous, everything we saw in good light seemed to be Cook’s, a cautionary tale if ever
there was one. Even some photos changed identity as the light
changed, one series by Tony Marr morphing from Cook’s to Pycroft’s type as the light worsened! A bizarre record was a Canada Goose
photographed flying high to the south some 240 nautical miles out
from the mainland, bidding to be the first Antarctic record maybe?

 Whales and dolphins;

I.d seems about as theological as prions at times, the at sea i. d of 5% of a Huge Mammal is contentious, especially when views are brief.

We had two great views of Sperm Whales, including 3 right by the ship as we headed out from the Chathams, also two sightings of Strap-
toothed Whale, one of which was right by the bow. It also looks
likely that we saw 4 Gray’s Beaked Whale at one site as we came off the Chatham rise, they have seen them there for the past 2 trips now
and it looked plausible from what I saw. Southern Bottle-nosed Whale
was also seen twice.

Killer Whales (a much more fun name than the highly PC Orca) were
seen off Macquarie and at sea one time.

Hourglass Dolphin 3 of them seen once.

I also saw the fins of what were identified as Sei, Minke and about
10% of a possible Pygmy Right Whale

Phil Gregory, Kuranda FNQ  Jan 06

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