birding-aus Lord Howe I & Ball's Pyramid trip

To: mikeLa "@" compuserve "." rgkemp "@" hotmail "."
Subject: birding-aus Lord Howe I & Ball's Pyramid trip
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1999 17:18:46 -0500 (EST)
Jane and I have just returned from ten days on Lord Howe Island.  In that time 
I managed to get out to Ball's Pyramid on a fishing boat.  On Lord Howe itself, 
things of note included:
*    the biggest change I noticed since my previous visit there nearly seven 
years ago was the increase in Buff banded Rails.  Last time we had to seek them 
out on our last day by walking through long grass.  This time they were all 
through the settled parts of the island.  One morning I saw six as I cycled 
*    The Black Noddy colony can now be found in the tall pine trees behind the 
beach at North Bay.  There were at least thirty on nests.  They could also be 
seen off Ned's Beach flying around the bay, particularly in the evenings.
*    As well as seeing Grey Ternlets at Ball's Pyramid I saw one perched on 
cliffs near the Old Gulch and quite a few could be seen off Ned's Beach late in 
the day with a telescope.  They were a long way out though.
*    On our final evening, 2 November, at least three Black winged Petrels were 
seen around the headland at the southern end of Ned's.  This is slightly 
earlier than they are apparently normally seen there.
*    Woodhens could be seen easily on the Little Island track.  In two visits I 
saw at least five.  They were quite curious and eventually came quite close to 
*    In a seawatch off Blinky Beach I saw one Wandering Albatross fly past.  
According to the list in Ian Hutton's book they have not been recorded on LHI 
since before 1940.  Has anyone seen them there since the book was published?
*    As well as the usual summer waders for Lord Howe (Bar tailed Godwit, 
Whimbrel, Pacific Golden Plover and Ruddy Turnstone) I saw one Red necked 
Stint, a Lesser Sand Plover, and three Wandering Tattlers.  The tattlers were 
at the southern end of Ned's Beach on 3 November.  I could clearly see the 
brown cap separating the supercilia, the supercilia faded to nothing behind the 
eye and the call was similar to that described for the Wandering in HANZAB 
(pity their call isn't on the BOCA tape series).  Also they gave the impression 
of being very dark birds compared to tattlers I have seen in the past.
*    I had no luck finding Little Shearwaters.  I don't know if it was because 
they are hard to find or because I was right at the tail end of the season for 
them.  I suspect mainly the latter.  The skipper of the boat that took me to 
Ball's Pyramid said he couldn't recall seeing any for several weeks.
*    Based on the number of rats I saw near Kim's Lookout, the success of the 
rat eradication programme may have peaked.  If anyone wants to find something 
else to eradicate out there, Blackbirds would be a good candidate.  They seem 
to be everywhere.  Some have white splotches all over them, and I saw one with 
a very deformed beak.
*    Speaking of eradication programmes, does anyone know the current status of 
the (Tasmanian) Masked Owls on Lord Howe Island?  I know a lot were shot a few 
years ago.  Is this still happening?
Unlike some other people who have posted to birding-aus I had no trouble 
getting someone to take me to Ball's Pyramid.  In the end I went with Jack 
Shick (who leads the Mt Gower walks) aboard the Sea Raider.  He would be a good 
choice for other birders as he only takes a maximum of four people on his boat, 
and will go with three.  Also he concentrates on Ball's Pyramid trips whereas 
some of the other operators only go there when they can fit it in around their 
normal schedule.  But nevertheless I agree with other people who have suggested 
on birding-aus that you should put your name down with all the boat operators 
as soon as you get there.
I was charged $80 for the trip (it would have been $100 if I fished).  There is 
also a high speed catamaran, the Blue Peter, which goes out there too but as 
the whole trip only takes about three hours the birding opportunities would be 
more limited.
Full details of the Ball's Pyramid trip are as follows:
27 October 1999
Departed Lord Howe Island at 8 am; travelled to within about 1km of Ball's 
Pyramid.  Returned at 4pm.
Seas 1m or less.  A southerly change came through at about 1pm and it was quite 
windy after that.
Species seen (maximum number seen at once in square brackets)
Black browed Albatross  1
Providence Petrel  12  [4]
Kermadec Petrel  4  [1]
Wedge tailed Shearwater  80  [50]
Fleshy-footed Shearwater  500+  [150]
White-bellied Storm Petrel  60  [17]
Masked Booby  6  [1]
Sooty Tern  25  [5]
Common Noddy  10  [3]
Black Noddy  1  (may have been a couple more; could not always tell if they 
were Black or Common)
White Ternlet  5  [2]
Grey Ternlet  100  [15]
Red-tailed Tropicbird  5  [2]
Humpback Whale  2
Bottle nosed Dolphin  5
The Black browed Albatross is not listed in the checklist of Hutton's book.  Is 
this the first LHI record?  I suspect they actually occur reasonably often - 
apparently a couple of albatrosses were seen there the day before.
The Kermadecs were clearly four separate birds; one dark phase, two 
intermediate and one pale.  Like so many petrels they just came in, circled the 
boat once (if that) and kept going.

The total number of White bellied Storm Petrels was difficult to estimate.  
Every time we stopped we seemed to have at least half a dozen around us, but 
they never seemed to be following us when we weren't moving.  One bird was of 
the totally black bellied form.  Unlike the black bellied bird illustrated in 
HANZAB it had a clearly defined white rump.  Also it was noticeable that it had 
chocolate coloured greater and median coverts (particularly on the inner part 
of the wing) and therefore looked quite different above to the normal birds.  
At least two of the birds were of the intermediate form, with a bit of white on 
the belly and underwings, and only a bit of white on the rump.
Murray Lord

Get free personalized email at
To unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to

Include ONLY "unsubscribe birding-aus" in the message body (without the

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • birding-aus Lord Howe I & Ball's Pyramid trip, murray_lord <=

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