Rediscovery of the New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar

Subject: Rediscovery of the New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar
From: "Tony PALLISER" <>
Date: 20 Nov 98 10:25:07 +1100
This mail note was forwarded my way this morning so I thought it might
be of interest to the group. We will all have to try harder next time
we visit New Caledonia.

Tony Palliser

Subject: Rediscovery of the New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar

Dear All - this is a general release from Project Diadema 98, concerning
the recent rediscovery of the NC Owlet- Nightjar. Further information can
be obtained from this email address or from: Jon Ekstrom, Project Diadema,
Chez Degott, 18 Rue Millot, Ouemo, Noumea, NC.  Fax: + 687 249407; email

The rediscovery of the New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar (Aegotheles Savesi) on
Bonfire Night

An Owlet-Nightjar was observed at 18.40 on 5th November 1998 in the Rivihre
Ni Valley in the west of the Massif de Kouakoui in Province Sud of New
Caledonia. The bird flew across a dirt road and hawked for insects in and
out of the canopy of riverine forest, disappeared, possibly perching, and
then reappeared again to continue hawking (total c. 30 seconds) before
disappearing, seemingly further downstream. The appearance of the bird
immediately at dusk suggests it may have just emerged from a roosting hole
further upstream. The bird was stocky, with broad but quite short rounded
wings. In size it appeared around 30cm.  No calls were made and the bird
was not relocated that night, despite searching for many hours. This is the
first sighting by ornithologists of the New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar since
the type was collected from the bedroom of a house in the village of
Tonghoue (near Paita) in 1880, representing its rediscovery after 118
The observations of this species were made by two ornithologists on Project
Diadema, Jonathan Ekstrom and  Joe Tobias.
Subsequent searches at this site in the following week for five days and
nights provided no further records of this bird, either aural or visual,
despite the use of playback and intense fieldwork by five ornithologists,
four from Project Diadema and Yves Letocart from the Direction des
Ressources Naturelles. Trees possibly containing holes used as roost sites
were beaten with sticks in the surrounding area and adjacent river valleys
to attempt to disturb roosting birds. This lack of further records suggests
the individual observed did not hold a permanent territory in the immediate
area. Other equally suitable but relatively inaccessiblre areas of forest
remain to be surveyed along the Ni Valley and all over the Massif de
Following the closure of a logging operation in the Ni valley in 1993, 7500
hectares of this massif were designated 'Reserve Speciale de Faune et de
Flore de la Ni-Kouakoue' in 1995.  The area receives no on-the-ground
protection at present.  A Noumea-based NGO, the Association pour la
Sauvegarde de la Nature Neocaledonienne (ASNNC), recently began lobbying
for the Ni-Kouakoue area to be considered for Biosphere Reserve or World
Heritage Site status, principally for the important Kaori (Agathis
lanceolata) stands found in one of the folds of the Massif.

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