Christmas Island Trip Report 1-8 Dec 2006

To: <>
Subject: Christmas Island Trip Report 1-8 Dec 2006
From: "Alan Rogers" <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 16:14:58 +1100

                                    1/12/06 - 8/12/06

I organised a one week birding trip to Christmas Island from 1-8 Dec 2006. The 
other participants were Margaret Cameron, Liz Crawford, Julie Frecklington, 
Chris Herbert, Ann Lindsey, Mike Newman, John Reidy, Alan Stuart and Bruce 

We stayed at VQ3 Lodge which proved very satisfactory and hired three RAV 4 
vehicles to get around. Apart from heavy rain on the day of our departure our 
visit coincided with a long dry period. This made for easy travel and many 
parts of the island were visited more than once. Multiple visits were made to 
the Refuse Tip (unproductive apart from a few Barn Swallows), the Sports 
Ground, the Airport, the Plantation, Flying Fish Cove and the area between VQ3 
and the CI resort. Because of the dry weather only limited numbers of Red Crabs 
were on the move except for the last morning when there were some thousands 
around the school area at Drumsite and near the Plantation. With the sighting 
of a Common Kingfisher on our second last morning two members of the party 
(AL,AR) achieved their 700th species for Australia.

31 species were recorded. This included all 23 resident species and 8 migrants 
or visitors. We had an early highlight with the discovery on the first morning 
of a first winter male Blue and White Flycatcher on a remote 4WD track 1.7 km 
NE of Grant's Well. Then to our great surprise we found a second but different 
first winter male the following day at the Sports Ground (see species list for 
differences). This follows on from two further recent sightings of this species 
on the Island, an apparent adult male seen near the Settlement by Lisa Preston 
in late October and another (per Ian McAllan but not seen by him) near the new 
Detention Centre.

Species List

Red Junglefowl Many sightings of feral chickens but few, if any, pure bred Red 

Red-tailed Tropicbird Seen daily in small numbers. Regularly seen from 
Margaret's Knoll and along the coast from Rumah Tinggi.

White-tailed Tropicbird Commonly recorded in many areas, mostly of the golden 
form. A couple of pairs appeared to be nesting either side of VQ3 Lodge

Abbott's Booby Only occasional birds seen away from the nesting areas in the 
centre and west of the island. Visits to LB4 lookout around 4pm were productive 
for viewing the adults returning to feed their young.

Red-footed Booby Abundant and widespread with many young birds observed.

Brown Booby Common around much of the coast but in much smaller numbers than 
the above.

Great Frigatebird Common and widespread.

Lesser Frigatebird Scarce. Single birds on 4-5 occasions

Christmas Island Frigatebird Common and widespread. This and the Great 
Frigatebird were seen swooping to drink at Waterfall Cove at the CI Resort.

White-faced Heron Seen daily in ones and twos but with up to 5 at the Refuse 
Tip and 10 at the Airport on our departure.

Eastern Reef Egret Up to 3 seen daily, all grey phase apart from two white 
phase on the last morning.

Striated Heron Two separate sightings at Waterfall Cove were of different birds 
and may have included two other observations a few kms to the north.

Nankeen Night Heron Two adults seen at Hugh's Dale Stream. This seems to be the 
only regular site for the species, cf one immature 3/02 and one adult 11/04.

Christmas Island Goshawk Seen on 6 of the 7 days with up to 6 birds on the 
first day. Tame and confiding.

Nankeen Kestrel Common in most open habitats with 20-40 seen daily.

White-breasted Waterhen Seen at only two locations, a pair near the Chinese 
Cemetery and a single at the Golf Course on the seaward side of the road.

Common Sandpiper Seen daily with 1-2 at several beaches.

Black-winged Stilt One seen regularly near the terminal building at the Airport 
was reported to have been resident there for up to 15 months.

Common Noddy Seen in small numbers around the coast with breeding birds at 
Greta Beach. The main concentration with c. 150 birds was around the loading 
facility at Flying Fish Cove.

Emerald Dove Common in wooded areas with up to 20 daily.

Christmas Island Pigeon Very common in forest and open habitats, often feeding 
on Japanese Cherry. Max. at one location c. 50 at the Refuse Tip.

Christmas Island Hawk Owl On three consecutive evenings a pair were seen at the 
rear of the Golf Course near the Club House. A further bird was heard calling 
further up the escarpment. Also heard calling on the hill behind VQ3 Lodge.

Christmas Island Glossy Swiftlet Very common and widespread. One bird seen at 
Grant's Well displayed a whitish rump and was scaly white on the back. 
Otherwise in size, behaviour, flight and jizz it was exactly as the others and 
it was concluded to be a leucistic variant of this species.

Common Kingfisher One seen at the northern end of Flying Fish Cove at 5.45am on 
7th Dec. was watched for 15 minutes and photographed before it flew off. It 
could not be relocated later that day or the next. BARC submission required.

Tree Sparrow Common in all built-up areas.

Java Sparrow Up to 12 seen regularly near VQ3

Grey Wagtail The owner of the plantation advised that none had been present 
there this season but that he had observed a single bird near the traffic 
lights at Flying Fish Cove. This bird was duly located and seen on two days.

Barn Swallow Up to 4 at the Refuse Tip but not seen daily. Only other sightings 
were 2 at Flying Fish Cove and 3 at VQ3 Lodge.

Christmas Island White-eye Abundant throughout the island

Blue and White Flycatcher A first winter male located on an isolated track 1.7 
km NE of Grant's Well at 11am on 2nd Dec was still present later that 
afternoon. It was watched for over 2 hours and photographs taken. At the end of 
the observation period the bird was attacked by a CI Goshawk and was within a 
metre of being seized before escaping into some low shrubs. Although searched 
for on the 7th Dec it could not be re-located. Remarkably, a second first 
winter male was found next day 3rd Dec at the rear of the Sports Ground and was 
seen regularly until we departed. It was considered to be a different bird and 
this was subsequently confirmed by comparing photographs of each bird. There 
were at least four areas of difference. The initial bird had brighter blue 
upperparts, a much smaller throat patch, a browner head and nape and a slightly 
reduced area of paler colouration on the lower breast and belly. Viewed from 
behind the second bird had a greyer crown and nape and duller blue upperparts 
apart from the area around the carpal joint. >From the front it had a larger 
creamy throat patch and the breast band was less extensive. Both birds 
exhibited very prominent white patches at the base of the tail in flight. A 
large flycatcher with a distinctly upright posture.  BARC submission required

Island Thrush Abundant throughout the island


Green Junglefowl About 10, including several males, at the airstrip on West 
Island in the Cocos Group

Eastern Reef Egret One feeding on the grass edges of the airstrip as above.

Alan Rogers


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