Our Norfolk Island trip was meant to start with a quick flight from
Melbourne to Norfolk on Norfolk Airways – and then they dropped out and Air
New Zealand took over. Bother. Because our dates could not change we flew
via Brisbane and arrived on the island, somewhat bemused, many hours later.
Wandering dazed through customs we were met by the unexpected sight of
Dougald, who had been on the island for about a week. It was an
electrifying meeting because he had news of a twitch, a Ringed Plover
(currently under discussion as a possible Semi-palmated Plover) at
Slaughter Bay. All thoughts of a restful hour or so vanished as we rushed
for the hire cars.
With the plover safely found we slipped back into our pre-programmed plans
for chasing down the island endemics, most of which we had seen by the end
of the first full day. Palm Glen was the place to go to get them all, with
the Norfolk Parakeets turning up at about 1830 to feed on the fruiting
trees. These trees are a type of guava evidently and we ended up enjoying
the fruit as much as the parrots seemed to. The only wanted bird that we
missed was the Morepork, but we did hear two calling one night, again from
On Monday we did a morning tour with Margaret Christian and, as everyone
says, it is well worth doing. Tuesday was a highlight though as the weather
was deemed good enough to go to Phillip Island and, after a very bumpy and
wet ride over, we pulled into the small sheltered cove. The climb up the
cliffs was not easy but the views and bird life were spectacular with
Black-winged Petrels and Sooty Terns power-flying all around us.
Then, on Wednesday, the weather packed it in with rain and strong
south-east winds. Luckily there is plenty of shelter on the islands and we
enjoyed lots of birding in the sheltered valleys. Even so, one of the prime
birding places for vagrants is at the exposed airport and we cruised its
boundaries every day. While we were watching an Oriental Plover amongst the
Pacific Golden Plovers we even attracted the airport staff and the person
designated to keep birds off the runway when planes were coming in, came
over for a chat. His field guide was a bit out of date but someone had
marked in it all the species that had been seen over the years.
And all the migratory birds were coming into plumage. The Pacific Golden
Plover and Wandering Tattlers were stunning in their finery and even the
Oriental Plover had enough colour to show us what it is capable of.
If the feral ducks and geese are included we ended up with 48 species for
the week. We stayed at Poinciana Cottages, which are right across from the
airport gate and within walking distance to town so they were perfect for
our needs. The owners were particularly nice and could not have been more
All in all our stay was as expected because we had read lots of the B-A
reports before our visit. A few surprises though were: 1) The locals think
that the Grey-headed Blackbird crossed with the Common Blackbird and
finally became extinct. The young blackbirds on the island certainly retain
a brown (grey?) head as they moult into adult plumage but many blackbirds
on the island also have bald heads, so maybe there is a deficiency in their
food. 2) The White-faced Herons have a lot of white down the neck. 3) There
is a small (20 +/-) but growing population of Swamphens on Phillip Island.
They are feeding on petrel chicks and the endangered skinks but it seems
that the birds are deemed “pretty” and a tourist attraction on the main
island so no one is rushing to exterminate them on Phillip Island.
In the B-A reports there are lots of comments as to the best time to visit
Norfolk. This middle to late week in March was certainly good for the
migrating waders and we saw all the resident breeding seabirds, even if the
Kermadec and White-necked petrels were only chicks in the nest. As usual, I
will start putting up some photos next week.
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)