Lord Howe Island - Part 1

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Lord Howe Island - Part 1
From: "Crispin Marsh" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 13:52:02 +1100

Lord Howe Island - Part 1

27 October to 2 November 2005


Arriving by air into Lord Howe Island our first birds were pacific golden plover, bar tailed godwit, blackbird, magpie-lark, whimbrel and masked lapwing on the grass beside the airport terminal.  Away across the sand dune separating the airport from Blinky?s beach masked boobies were soaring.  On the perimeter of the airstrip a pair of buff banded rails with a pair of small black chicks strolled nonchalantly with none of the nervous tension displayed by their mainland cousins. This set the scene for what is a very birdy island though with a limited number of species on the island at any given time.


We were picked up by Cheryl from Somerset Apartments who pointed out the  white tern roosting in the Norfolk Island pines along Lagoon Road. A short stroll along the road to Ned?s Beach showed us the island sub-species of golden whistler, silvereye and currawong. At the beach common noddies were very prominent and sooty terns were nesting on the northern and southern headlands of the beach. A small group of black duck/mallard crosses waited on the beach to scrounge bread brought down for the resident kingfish swimming a few feet out from the beach. A pair of sacred kingfishers were perched on a ?No Fishing? sign on the reserve above the beach and a song thrush pecked around the trees on the reserve. Welcome swallows hawked for insects above the forest.


We waited for dusk to see the flesh footed shearwaters return to their burrows. These birds could be seen flying off the coast. As the late afternoon progressed they flew closer to the beach, eventually just before dusk flying over the forest. Gradually they began to land on the clear ground beside the forest. Being such an efficient flyer they come in at great speed, crash landing on the grass. They skid to a speed slow enough for their wildly scurrying legs to gain traction and propel them headlong into the palms. After dark their loud mating calls and burrow preparation could be observed.


The following day the local guide Jack Shick threw us in at the deep end by proclaiming conditions perfect for climbing the towering Mount Gower at the southern end of the island. Heading along the track towards Little Island we soon saw the lord howe island woodhen calmly pecking through the forest. An emerald ground dove was perched on a low bough nearby cooing quietly. As we climbed the peak Jack pointed out a pair of red tailed tropicbirds cruising past the cliffs of Mt Lidgbird. In the cloud forest on the summit of Mt Gower a pair of woodhens coupled under our feet. The male spreading his wings to reveal the spectacular black barred chestnut primaries, usually hidden beneath the bird?s drab outer colouring. A number of currawongs perched expectantly beside us while we lunched on the summit, obviously hoping for a free feed. The providence petrels had left the summit area and most of their chicks fledged but Jack was able to elicit an answering call from a couple of burrows indicating that fledging was not entirely complete. On our return an Australian kestrel was perched on the cliffs as we sidled back around the side of Mt Lidgbird.


The following morning an early morning walk to Old Settlement showed purple gallinules in addition to masked lapwing, golden plovers and a mother duck with a gaggle of ducklings in tow.

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