Norfolk Island Trip

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Norfolk Island Trip
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2013 17:47:37 +1000
Norfolk Island January 26-29 2013

Phil & Sue Gregory

Two hours and one minute flight from Brisbane on Air New Zealand Boeing 777, 
(their “Lord of the Rings” themed safety video is a classic, Air Middle Earth 
indeed!) We stayed at Cumberland Resort and Spa in Burnt Pine just 5 min from 
the airport, with car included in the $915 flight and accommodation package, 
though $23 a day insurance is extra. Internet service was fair, seemed slow and 
dropped out at night at times, $20 for 5 hours when it’s free in Cambodia, 
Ghana etc!

Weather quite good throughout, fairly sunny and warm at 24-26°C, but very windy 
as the remains of Cyclone Oswald passed over, rising to gale force on Jan 27 
and sabotaging my attempts for the Morepork x Boobook that night, though 
despite similar conditions next night we did manage to locate one calling.

Life birds were Norfolk Island (Tasman) Parakeet, Slender-billed White-eye and 
Norfolk Island Gerygone, whilst Oz ticks were Feral Chicken, California Quail 
and Pacific Robin, though why Feral Greylag isn’t included on the national 
checklist is mystifying. The Norfolk Island Golden Whistler must be a strong 
candidate for a split, and work on what currently constitutes Pacific Robin 
might yield up another as these sure don’t look or sound like the Fiji birds. 
Trip List total ended up at 45 plus one large raptor sp. I missed Goldfinch and 
Nankeen Kestrel and had no sign of Shining Bronze Cuckoo, and think we are 
maybe just too early for Little Shearwater (though they say two taxa breed 
here, one in summer and one in winter), whilst White-necked Petrel again eluded 
me despite seeing so many Black-winged from shore.

I used a couple of Internet trip reports from Dave Torr and Tim Bawden as a 
primer but it all seemed pretty easy. I was amazed at how good the 
infrastructure was, at how beautiful the island is, and how at good were the 
trails and facilities in the national park, it is really easy to do and even 
the unfit should manage quite well. The Botanic Garden was amazing with a great 
trail and boardwalk system that must have cost a fortune, and it has most if 
not all of the endemics. Mt Pitt at just 219m and with a paved road up it is my 
kind of mountain. Be aware that shops and cafes seem to be erratic in opening, 
but there was always somewhere and also a good choice of places to go eat or 
buy food. The Chinese Restaurant and Takeaway opposite Cumberland Resort was 
very good as is the Olive Cafe. I really should have contacted the resident 
local birder Margaret Christian, who offers part-day tours and would be a mine 
of information, but somehow we just never got round to it, I recommend her 2005 
book “Norfolk Island…the birds” as the standard reference anyway and also the 
excellent “Norfolk Island’s Fascinating Flora” by Peter Coyne.

Species List

Bold type denotes a lifer, italic an Oz tick

 Feral Chicken Gallus gallus

Common around the north, even seen on the airstrip and very well-established, 
we saw about 40 on Jan 26 and 90 on Jan 27 including some males in very fine 
wild type plumage, though most seem to be grey-backed or very dark derivatives. 
An Oz tick no less.

 California Quail Callipepla californica

5 up the Mt Bates Track and 5 near Puppies Point on Jan 26, covey of 15 near 
Point Howe and 7 near Capt. Cook Lookout turn-off Jan 27, 5 at Rocky Point Jan 
28 and 6 along Capt. Cook Road Jan 29. Also an Oz tick.


Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus

Dozens offshore from Point Howe Jan 26-27. 70+ W off Cascade Jetty Jan 28


Black-winged Petrel Pterodroma nigripennis

About 20 on Jan 26 around the Point Howe area where they are clearly nesting, 
with burrows visible in the long clifftop grass, and then dozens next day 
heading S past Point Howe and off the Capt. Cook lookout. 100+ W off Cascade 
Jetty Jan 28 1530-1600. Very vocal and often heard, the call a shrill “whik 
whik whik whik” but sadly too windy to be able to tape it.


Masked Booby Sula dactylatra tasmani

30-50 offshore from Point Howe and Cook’s Lookout, with a small colony on Green 
Pool stack, next to the delightfully named Moo-oo (a kind of Cyperus sedge or 
grass) stack. 18 there on Jan 29.


Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda roseotinctus

Quite common with 30-50 each day off the north, most without red tail 
streamers. One in the bushes at Rocky Point Jan 28 was amazingly tame and just 
sat there.


Little Pied Cormorant

1 flying over Kingston Beach Jan 27.


Little Black Cormorant

1 flying past Rocky Point Jan 28.


Great Frigatebird Fregata minor

One past Point Howe Jan 26 and 2 off Capt. Cook Lookout Jan 27, no doubt the 
remnants of Cyclone Oswald have caused the very strong winds these two days 
which favour frigatebirds.


Feral (Greylag) Goose

21 at Mission pond and 25 at Kingston pond, clearly long-established and should 
be on the Australian list as such, a puzzling omission.



A few around Kingston were of the farmyard duck persuasion


Pacific Black Duck

6 on Mission Pool and 7 at Kingston pond, 10 there next day, though some 
hybridization with Mallard looks likely.


Royal Spoonbill

1 at Mission Pond Jan 26-27


White-faced Heron

1 at Mission pond Jan 26 and 3 at Kingston Jan 27 and Jan 28.


Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus

Two along Mission Road and 1 at Kingston Jan 27, 1 Kingston Jan 28.


Raptor sp.

I over Burnt Pine Jan 26, which looked quite like Whistling Kite, but I did not 
see it well enough to be sure and they are not known here.


Pacific Golden Plover

5 Slaughter Bay, Kingston Beach Jan 27, 1 Jan 28 and 1 at airport.



1 Slaughter Bay, Kingston Beach Jan 27


Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

1 Slaughter Bay, Kingston Beach Jan 27


Grey-tailed Tattler

1 Slaughter Bay, Kingston Beach Jan 27, distant, then flew closer and called. 
Again on Jan 28 with 2 tattler sp.


Wandering Tattler

1 Slaughter Bay, Kingston Beach Jan 27 and Jan 28


Ruddy Turnstone

5 Slaughter Bay, Kingston Beach Jan 27, 27 there Jan 28.


Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus kermadeci

A few in the north around Cook’s Lookout where they were on the little stack to 
the E in the original landing bay, where you could hear them calling the nasal  
“wideawake’, and small number <10 seen at Point Howe and Cascade Jetty


Black Noddy Anous minutus

Quite common, with several hundred both days. A nesting colony in the pines at 
Rocky Point Jan 28 had around 80 birds.


Brown Noddy Anous stolidus pileatus

Very scarce, just a couple off Cook’s Lookout Jan 27


Grey Noddy Procelsterna albivitta albivitta

Two distant singles off Point Howe Jan 26, 4 off Capt. Cook’s Lookout Jan 27 
and one of Pint Howe same day. 1 W past Cascade Jetty Jan 28 and 1 on the stack 
E of at Cook’s Lookout Jan 29.


White Tern Gygis alba candida

Quite common in the N with over 100 both days, evidently nesting in the Norfolk 
Pines, and a colony at Rocky Point in the pine forest there with the Black 

 Feral Pigeon

About 30 on Jan 27, many quite dark coloured and all seemingly descended from 2 
birds from Brazil and South Africa which arrived in 1790 on the Sirius, which 
was wrecked here.

 Pacific Emerald Dove Chalcophaps longirostris rogersi

1 juv. Jan 25 near Point Howe, and 2 at Mt Bates Jan 27, much more 
golden-bronze above than mainland birds and pinker less rich below, with grey 
and blackish rump bands and yellow bill. Heard at Rocky Point Jan 28 and one 
over Mission Road Jan 29.

 Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sanctus norfolkensis

One on Jan 26 and 5 on Jan 27 and Jan 28 with few heard, seems quite 
widespread. Most were very whitish below with buff loral spot and bluish rump, 
also quite well angled lower mandible on a fairly big bill. Call much as Sacred 

 Crimson Rosella

5 on Jan 26 and 10 on Jan 27, inc. one subadult with green feathering on wings. 
Small nos. Jan 28-29. Seems like a good plan to cull them even on the chance of 
competition with the native Parakeet.

 Norfolk Island (Tasman) Parakeet Cyanoramphus cookii

One flying over and one heard Mt Bates Jan 26, a brief view but the short harsh 
call gives it away, sort of quadrisyllabic quite harsh flat “kek” notes. 
Another fly-over calling en route to Capt. Cook’s Lookout Jan 27, and then had 
a terrific flyby near eye level, seeing the red crown. This one landed and 
began calling, so I was able to get some recordings of it. Also heard twice at 
the Mt Bates track late pm. Seems pretty darn rare, this 200 birds population 
estimate may be a tad optimistic, but they are easily overlooked. Available 
habitat does not seem all that large to me either, and no doubt the rosellas 
compete for nest holes. I think Norfolk Island Parakeet is more precise than 
the horribly generic Tasman Parakeet, with the name Tasman being used for 
species on both Lord Howe and here, whereas the parakeet was not on Lord Howe. 
The IOC’s Norfolk Parakeet is even more misleading and really requires the 
Island modifier.


Norfolk Island Boobook x Southern Boobook Ninox novaezelandiae undulata x Ninox 
boobook. We tried along the Mt Bates track at dusk on Jan 28 but the wind was 
so strong it was hopeless. Next day we tried around 2030 at Red Road NP car 
park, where it was again way too windy, then once more up Mt Bates but only 
near the main road area, both unsuccessfully. I then made a final try from the 
Display platform at the Botanic Gardens where there was broad vista across a 
valley and potentially good soundlines in a more sheltered spot, and this got a 
quick response from at least one bird, way down across the valley. It sounded 
much like Southern Boobook and was interested in both that tape and the 
Tasmanian taxon, calling for several minutes. I did not brave the trails and 
steps in the dark and was content to just hear it, maybe 0.5 of an Oz tick?

 Welcome Swallow

About 30 on wires near Burnt Pine both days, small numbers at Kingston and 2 at 
Capt. Cook’s Lookout.

 (Norfolk Island) Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta

Two at Mt Bates Jan 26 and one near Capt. Cook Lookout Jan 27, hen plumaged and 
very distinctive, has dull whitish chin and throat and a diffuse buffy breast 
band with brown upperparts and tail. Voice typical Pachycephala but short 
phrases were all I heard. 2 in Botanic gardens Jan 28, with a pale mark at bend 
of wing and pale yellowish vent and belly. One at Mt Bates Jan 29 but I was 
unable to get any calling birds close enough to tape and they were very quiet, 
just giving short song phrases. Must be a good candidate for a split as very 
distinctive, if Rennell Whistler is a split then so is this one.

 Masked Woodswallow Artamus personatus

2 males and a female along New Farm Road near the airport Jan 29, one of the 
more surprising colonists here and in very low numbers as yet.

 (Norfolk Island) Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa pelzelni

Small numbers on Mt Bates and near Cook’s Lookout, surprisingly distinctive 
with pale grey upperparts, buff wing bars (juvs and subadults), not much white 
in tail and very buffy underparts, reminded me of Mangrove Fantail. Vocally 
some notes like Grey Fantail, but also a tinkling silvery trill quite like 
Mangrove Fantail, which sadly I failed to record.

 Eurasian Blackbird

Quite common

 Song Thrush

Fairly common, far more so than in the UK these days!

 Norfolk Island Gerygone Gerygone modesta

Quite common at Mt Bates, it was the first endemic we heard with its short 
sweet typical Gerygone-type song. Lacks an eyestripe, very brown above, dull 
below with whitish chin and belly, pale tail tips and a broad diffuse dark bar 
when it fans its tail. Bill black, legs dark brownish, diffuse pale area just 
above eye and thin broken white eye ring. A presumed juv. had pale yellow chin 
and throat and seemed paler below with a faint eye-ring. Also heard in the 
gardens in Burnt Pine at the Golden Orb Café and Cumberland Resort.

Pacific Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor

Seems very scarce, but likes dense gully forest and thickets so you need to be 
in or near deep cover. A F at Mt Bates Jan 26 had a red breast, small black 
stripe behind eye and a very quiet high-pitched drawn out call, also looked 
quite large for a Petroica. A pair at the Botanic gardens in Ferny Gully Jan 
28, male singing well, and 2 F in the Rainforest Gully, then a fine male just 
past “Lindisfarne” in the forest on the bend on Capt. Cook Road en route to 
Capt. Cook Lookout, with 2 others singing close by. Legs browny, bill blackish. 
One call is a distinctive harsh scolding series not unlike the parakeet call, 
and the song is a quiet dry rattly sequence. An Oz tick anyway and an 
interesting taxon, be good to know what others in the assemblage sound like, 
these seem big to me with longish tails, and I don’t recall the Fiji birds 
singing or calling like this one.

 Common Starling

Common, saw c. 100 Jan 27 and good numbers in the more open country to the 
south on Jan 28 and 29.

 Silvereye Zosterops lateralis lateralis

Common, one of the most frequently seen or heard birds, but hard to see well, 
looked big billed with a pale flesh-pinkish lower mandible.

 Slender-billed White-eye Zosterops tenuirostris tenuirostris

Uncommon, saw 2 Jan 26 at Mt Pitt, 3 or 4 Jan 27 in the NP there and a couple 
on Jan 28 at the Botanic Gardens, the bill looked very long and slightly 
decurved when seen close but not so obvious at distance. Upperparts greenish 
tinged grey-green on mantle chin, throat and upper breast yellow. A presumed 
hybrid at the Botanic gardens had greyish-green mantle, quite extensive yellow 
chin and throat, dirty greyish underparts and yellow undertail coverts, with a 
Silvereye-type stout bill. I was unable to distinguish any obviously 
distinctive calls amongst the general Zosterops notes, but it was hard to see 
what was actually calling

 House Sparrow

Quite common in the towns


Rare, just 2 by the airstrip Jan 28.















Field Guides / Sicklebill Safaris / Cassowary House / Cassowary Tours
P.O. Box 387
QLD, 4881 

Phone: +61 (0)7 4093 7318
Fax: +61 (0)7 4093 9855

Website 1: Http://
Website 2: Http://


To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Norfolk Island Trip, Phil & Sue Gregory <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU