Lord Howe Island

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Lord Howe Island
From: "Peter Madvig" <>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 15:05:39 +1100
Hi birders,

Returned from a family trip to Lord Howe a couple of weeks ago. I have 
hesitated in writing anything about this lovely trip, as it seemed rather 
flippant at the time......we went over there on Saturday 7th, and only heard 
about the awful fires on the Monday!!

However, I now think I should pen a few words.
This was our first "summer trip", as we'd visited in July 2000. My hopes of now 
seeing the summer birds was amply fulfilled. Gorgeous White Terns, some still 
with chicks on their vertical branches around the settlement and flying about 
the pines; Sooty Terns, including lots of equally handsome juveniles,at roosts 
on Ned's Beach (our favourite), Blinky Beach off the eastern end of the 
airstrip, and North Bay, as well as up Mt. Eliza - where you only go so far so 
as not to unduly disturb nesting birds (but, high enough to enjoy wonderful 
views south over the Lagoon towards Mts Lidgbird and Gower). First experienced 
at Ned's Beach were stunning Black-winged Petrels flying in pairs in sweeping 
arcs over cliffs and beaches and water and ME, calling out!

Up to Malabar lookout and along the cliff face, with wonderful views of soaring 
Red-tailed Tropicbirds, seen close up at Old Gulch and later off Blinky Beach, 
as well as beautifully framed from Clear Place Point, towards Balls Pyramid 
mystically beckoning in the distance, as they performed their aerial courtship 
manoeuvres. Indifferent Masked Booby passed by very close.

A magical seabird cruise one afternoon (the first permitted by weather and wave 
conditions for nearly two weeks - phew) with Ian Hutton and Jack Shick, took us 
clockwise around the Island, past the Admiralty Islets and close below the 
towering cliffs of Lidgbird and Gower, and out to Ball's Pyramid. Just 
awesome!!! We were treated to dainty White-bellied Storm Petrel; Kermadec 
Petrel in variable phases, and lots of Grey Ternlet. A call went up: 
White-necked Petrel, but I just couldn't get a good enough view of it. 
Wedge-tailed and Fleshy-footed Shearwater came readily round the boat, and the 
latter were amazing to watch later at dusk off Ned's Beach, as they came flying 
in past you to their burrows and roosts, flopping down under the palms and 
setting off a mournful, wailing greeting from their young!

You don't need to climb Mt. Gower to see Lord Howe Woodhen, the most noteworthy 
of the land birds. Two talks by Ian Hutton at the Museum, and one by postmaster 
Phillipps (mainly aviation), emphasised the superb "back from the brink" 
conservation efforts taken to preserve this species.

There is a wonderful plant life on the island and splendid fish and turtles on 
the corral reefs, but that's another story. Travelling round on bicycles and 
just walking allows you to enjoy superb views while getting in some exercise.

Feel free to contact me for any information required, off list.
Peter Madvig

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