Cocos & Christmas Islands trip Feb/Mar 2007 summary

Subject: Cocos & Christmas Islands trip Feb/Mar 2007 summary
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 17:07:34 +1100
Colin Judkins (CJ), Grant Penrhyn (GP) & I (MC) have just returned from a week 
each on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island. This overlapped with 
two tours involving 20 other birders led by Richard Baxter (see separate 

Cocos (Keeling) Islands from 23 Feb to 2 Mar 2007 produced 35 species of which 
5 were new for the atoll. Four were on South Island on 28 Feb these being 
SAUNDERS'S TERNS (9) (when accepted by BARC also new for any Australian 
territory, - more details in a separate report), Bar-tailed Godwit (2), 
Red-necked Stint (3) & a Great Knot. The fifth was a Striated Heron seen by CJ 
on Horsburgh Is. on 26 Feb. Other birds of note included Black Duck (6), Little 
Pied Cormorant, Black-winged Stilt (Horsburgh), Grey Plover (3), Grey-tailed 
Tattler (22) & Barn Swallow (3). The important introduced population of Green 
Junglefowl remains abundant on West Island. White-breasted Waterhen are 
reasonably common there now and are present and breeding on other islands. 
Among the numerous usual grey and white phase Eastern Reef Egrets were several 
strangely coloured Egrets that may be hybrids with Little Egret or more 
probably Western Reef Egrets Egretta (garzetta) schistacea. A planned visit to 
North Keeling was cancelled, as the surf was too high to allow a safe swim 

Christmas Island from 2-9 Mar 2007 produced only 29 species, some 4 to 8 less 
than on any of my four previous trips. This was partly due to inclement weather 
induced by cyclone Jacob reducing the efficiency of our birding by some 50% and 
photographic opportunities to an even greater extent with probably no 
compensating rarities (that we found) blown in. All the endemics and residents 
were seen but as usual the Christmas Island Goshawk (no longer a 'Brown 
fasciatus Goshawk' incidentally) proved the most elusive. The once reasonably 
conspicuous White-breasted Waterhen was seen only twice but feral cats were 
often observed. Highlights included 2 ASIAN HOUSE MARTINS (well photographed by 
GP) on 4 Mar at the airport, only the second record of Glossy Ibis for the 
island on 7-8 Mar and an impressive 500+ Oriental Pratincoles soaring over the 
plateau like a swarm of mosquitos or flock of swifts on 9 Mar. At one time, 310 
were standing together on the runway (endangering aircraft according to the 
airport manager). This was one day after cyclone George crossed the northern WA 
coast and cyclone Jacob was situated some 200-300 km SE of Christmas Island. 
Prior to this period the largest flock reported here was about 20 (David James 
pers. comm.)We heard the SAVANNA NIGHTJAR, discovered by Richard Baxter at the 
airport on 5 Mar, at that site on each of three visits on 6-7 Mar. Subsequent 
attempts were thwarted by howling winds or/and torrential rain!

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC 3930
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

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