Christmas & Cocos Islands trip January 2010 - report

Subject: Christmas & Cocos Islands trip January 2010 - report
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 16:41:43 +1100
 Andrew Silcocks & I spent from 4-11 January on CHRISTMAS ISLAND. Frank 
O'Connor & Grant Penrhyn joined us there on 6th and Geoffrey Jones & Brian 
Johnston arrived on the 8th. We saw a less than average total of 32 species but 
all the endemics were seen well and photographed. Migrant & vagrant highlights 
included a PEREGRINE of the Siberian race calidus, a SNIPE we claim on shape 
and call to be a PIN-TAILED, up to 11 GREY WAGTAILS, 5 BARN SWALLOWS and an 
ASIAN KOEL heard by MC. Further evidence that the Koels occurring on this 
island are indeed Asian in origin has materialised in the form of photographs 
of one seen in 2007. Also seen were single Intermediate Egrets and a 
White-winged Black Tern, neither of which are commonly seen there. The chief 
ranger, Max Orchard, asked us to identify a Snipe stored in his freezer that 
died soon after being found alive on 9 December 2009. It was a SWINHOE'S SNIPE, 
the first specimen of this species to be collected on the Island.  This means 
that it can no longer be assumed that any Snipe seen there is a Pin-tailed. The 
often-elusive VARIABLE (CHRISTMAS ISLAND) GOSHAWK was seen almost daily and at 
six different sites. ABBOTT'S BOOBIES can be hard to connect with and see well 
but this time they were very evident. However, unluckily, we failed to find any 
Java Sparrows. Judging from our experience and those conducting other 
ornithological surveys in recent times, White-breasted Waterhen is now extinct 
on Christmas Island, presumably the result of the proliferation in feral cats 
that seems to advance unabated.

All the above moved to COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS for the period 11-15 January 
where we were joined by Tony Palliser. Here we saw 32 species the highlights 
being 14 SAUNDERS'S TERNS (many photographs), 2 WESTERN REEF EGRETS, 2 
DOLLARBIRD of the N Asian race abundus. Also of note were 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 
1 Great Knot, 1 Red Knot, 6 Sanderlings, 2 Red-necked Stints & a Curlew 
Sandpiper. The important introduced population of GREEN JUNGLEFOWL continues to 
flourish on West Island. WHITE-BREASTED WATERHENS were seen on three islands 
and are abundant on West Island where we counted 27 in a 20-minute drive. A 
possible WATERCOCK could not be confirmed. Also disappointingly, we didn't get 
a glimpse of our other target species following recent sightings, Common 
Moorhen, Javan Pond Heron and Pin-tailed Snipe.

More detailed reports are available should anyone wish to see them.

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

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