To: birding-aus <>
From: richard baxter <>
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 23:31:56 -0700 (PDT)
Christmas Island and Cocos-keeling Update 6 (FINAL)
After a fortnight on both CI and Cocos, I returned to Cocos for a week of more 
relaxed birding, spending 4 days on Cocos and 3 days on CI.  I ended up 
spending more time under water than I did birding with some great diving on 
both islands.  I can highly recommend the 1500ft drop offs around Christmas 
Island.  Swimming out over the crystal clear reef and slowly cruising down to a 
depth of 10m before the wall drops nearly straight down into darkness for 500m  
is amazing diving and highly recommended.  Best dive spot was West White Beach. 
 Anyway back to birding!
Highlights of week 3.
1. The Saunder's Terns were still on South Island on the 12th March.
2. Pin-tailed Snipe still on West Island on 14th March.
3. Chinese Pond Heron still at Rubbish Tip on CI on 16th March.
4. 1 x Lesser Noddy seen well flying from West Island across Cocos lagoon to 
Horsburgh Island on 13 March 2008.
5. 2 x Bulwer's Petrel seen (1 photographed) between Horsburgh Island and Nth 
Keeling Island on 12 March 2008.
The birding highlight of my third week was undoubtedly a day trip to North 
Keeling Island.  Situated 24km north on the main island group, Nth Keeling is a 
closed National Park with entry only by permit and accommpanied by Park 
Australia staff.  I was lucky enough to spend an entire day on the island on 
the 12 March and was able to walk most of the perimiter of the lagoon. We were 
only the second group to walk the island in the last twelve months.  I saw no 
rare species, although there were Pin-tailed Snipe on the island at the time, I 
didn't see any. The endemic Buff-banded Rail is numerous and easily seen.  The 
island is 2km x 1.3km, with a large lagoon in the centre.  The lagoon used to 
be open to the sea but has been closed for several years and the water is 
fairly fresh.  
The highlights were many and mainly involved huge numbers of breeding boobies, 
frigatebirds, terns and tropicbirds.  As you walk the island the sky is 
constantly full of tens of thousands of soaring birds and every bush and tree 
is loaded with roosting Red-footed Boobies and frigatebirds.  The closest 
comparison I can give is Middle Island on Ashmore Reef except 10 times larger 
and with far more vegetation.  

After visiting on the 12th I've decided to organise two trips to North Keeling 
Island over the next twelve months on the largest ocean going vessel on the 
islands.  Getting ashore will be weather dependant and its pretty much a full 
day.  The days are the:

4 December 2008
12 March 2009

After three weeks on these islands I'm off to NW WA for another two weeks of 
birding and will post anything I see of interest.

Richard Baxter

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