Cocos-keeling Islands sightings summary for summer 2012-13

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Cocos-keeling Islands sightings summary for summer 2012-13
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Mon, 27 May 2013 18:25:17 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all,
                 Rather than publish trip reports as I’ve done over previous
years, I’ve decided this year to complete a summary of species observed from
October 2012 to May 2013. 
May 2013 brings to an end another season of birding on
Australia’s Cocos-keeling Islands.  I
visited the islands twice this season for a total of only eight days, which was
my least amount of time since 2006.  Our
planned seven day visit in February was thwarted by bad weather when the island
was subjected to 160khr winds and over 800mm of rain in three days, closing the
airport, most roads and restricting residents to indoor activities or the
cyclone shelter. 
Records were provided by the island’s resident birders Pam
Jones and Geof Christie as well as those that visited over summer.  They 
include David James, John Weigel, Bill
& Jack Moorhead, Karen Blake, Damian Baxter , Jenny Spry and Biggles.
There were some exciting finds over the summer, with the
high light being two Tiger Shrike, one of which stayed until late March.  
Several species not observed prior to 2010
returned for their third season, such as Large Hawk Cuckoo and Hodgson’s Hawk
Cuckoo and the island’s regular array of vagrants such as Pin-tailed Snipe,
Saunder’s Tern and Asian Koel all showed well.
The following list excludes many of the more common species,
particularly several species of common waders and seabirds but does include
birds which are rare on Cocos such as Black-winged Stilt and Grey Teal.
Green Junglefowl – Abundant on West Island.
Grey Teal – 1 x
present on West Island all summer.
Eurasian Teal – 1
x present on West Island all summer.
Waterhen – Abundant on West Is and Home Is.
Tropicbird – Seen occasionally flying over atoll and regularly on Home
Masked Booby - Breeds on North Keeling. One bird sea watched in Dec.
Chinese Sparrowhawk – 1 x present on West Island Nov to Feb.
Nankeen Kestrel - 5-6 birds present in Aug -Sept. One bird seen in Dec on Goat 
Saunder’s Tern –
Seen on South Island until late April. 
Bridal Tern – 1 x
Seen from ferry in Jan.
Gull-billed Tern – One bird seen regularly on South Island.
Whiskered Tern –
One bird seen on West Island in May.
White Tern – Seen
daily on most islands.
Pin-tailed Snipe – 4-11 birds seen from Nov to March.
Black-winged Stilt – Three birds present all summer and fourth bird arriving 
mid March.
Common Redshank –
3 birds seen on West Island.
Oriental Plover –
1 x present late Nov to early Dec on West Is.
Oriental Pratincole – 4 x present on runway until 21 Jan 13.
Ruff- 1 x seen on
Horsburgh in April.
Great Egret – 1 x
present on West Island in May.
Western Reef Egret – Occasionally seen in inner lagoon.
Striated Heron –
Seen on DI in January & West Is in Dec.(Asian Race) 
Asian Koel – Seen
on both Home Is and West Is from Nov to Feb.
Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo – Seen numerous times. Possibly as many as six birds 
Large Hawk Cuckoo – 1 x seen on Home Island.
Oriental Cuckoo –
2-3 birds seen on West Is & Home Is Nov to Feb.
Himalayan Cuckoo –
1 x bird (deceased) possibly of this species located on Home Island.
Barn Swallow –3-4
birds present on West Island till late March.
Tiger Shrike – 2
birds present.  One on Home Island from
Nov to Jan and the other on West Island from 18 Nov to late March.
Dollarbird – 1 x
present Nov to Feb. (Asian Race)
Asian Brown
Flycatcher – 1 x photographed on West Island on the 12-13 Nov 2012.
White Wagtail - 1
x present in early March 2013.
Grey Wagtail – 2
x birds photographed in late Oct on West Is. 1 x seen early Dec.
Eastern Yellow
Wagtail – 2-3 birds observed on West Island in late Oct.
All together another great list of sightings with six or
seven new species added to the Cocos-keeling list.
I’ll be returning to the Cocos islands as well as Christmas
Island again in summer 2013-14 with two eleven day tours.  One in Dec 2013 and 
another in March 2014.  There is only one spot remaining on the Dec
2013 trip (1 x Fem) and plenty of vacancies remaining on the March 2014 trip.  
With a boat now available on Cocos, I've added a pelagic trip to the schedule 
from Dec 2013 onwards, in hope of finding some rare Indian Ocean seabirds such 
as Tropical Shearwater, Arabian Shearwater, Barau's Petrel, Round Island Petrel 
In the next few days I’ll publish the season summary for
Christmas Island.
Richard Baxter


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