To: birding-aus <>
From: Richard Baxter <>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2010 02:41:13 -0800 (PST)
Part 2 - Cocos
A short drive on our first afternoon produced over thirty White-breasted 
Waterhen and even more GREEN JUNGLEFOWL.   The following morning we started the 
day at the local wetlands and within minutes of entering found Australia’s 
second ever recorded LARGE HAWK CUCKOO chasing a White-phase Eastern Reef Egret 
along the water’s edge before landing amongst the surrounding coconut palms.  
It intermittently flew out across the water over the next hour affording 
everyone reasonable views.  A couple of ID photos were taken.  Whilst we 
scanned the water’s edge, two small accipiters flew over, one of which landed 
on a palm frond.  We quickly took a few photos, perched and in flight and later 
identified it as Australia’s first CHINESE GOSHAWK.  The other raptor would 
remain unidentified for a further four days.
After lunch we located oUr first Barn Swallow of the trip and had closer views 
of WESTERN REEF EGRET feeding on the low tide sandflats that fringe the inner 
lagoon adjacent to West Island.  Our afternoon expedition was to South Island 
where we quickly found 11 X SAUNDER’S TERN resting on a sandbank with both 
Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone,  LITTLE STINT and a 
single Grey Plover.  After returning from our lagoon crossing to South Island, 
we stopped at a disused quarry near the southern end of the runway.  The quarry 
was full of water and not long after we arrived we flushed a Striated Heron.  
Whilst searching for the heron we flushed a YELLOW BITTERN from the water’s 
edge.  It landed on top of the nearby Octopus Bush and we managed a few quick 
photos.  Our group waited while it made its way back to the water’s edge, where 
it remained for another twenty minutes allowing a hundred or so photos to be 
The following day we caught the early ferry to Home Island and walked the 
grounds of the Clunies-Ross Mansion.  During our brief visit we had frustrating 
and brief views of a hobby and a possible Oriental Cuckoo.  A Eurasian Hobby 
was seen on the nearby Horsburgh Island only two days prior and we suspected it 
to be this species.  The remainder of the day was spent walking to the northern 
end of South Island where we were met by Ash and Kylie James with five 
motorised outrigger canoes and two eskies full of refreshments.  After a swim 
in the warm lagoon waters we enjoyed a canoe ride across the lagoon with an 
astonishing sunset to finish the day.
Tuesday morning we visited Horsburgh Island, Direction Island and snorkelled 
the Phaeton Wreck which is sitting in the lagoon’s clear, shallow waters near 
Direction Island.  Not long after starting our boat trip, a huge Manta Ray was 
spotted cruising close to the boat.  Within seconds I had my snorkel gear on 
and was swimming along next to the huge ray.  We managed to arrive back on West 
Island with a couple of hours daylight remaining and opted to search the end of 
the runway for the Watercock sighted there five days previously.  Although 
there was no sign of the Watercock we did manage to flush at least 10 
PIN-TAILED SNIPE.  Our final stop of the day was back to the quarry where we 
had previously seen Yellow Bittern.  A good decision, although there was no 
sign of the bittern we all had close views of PECTORAL SANDPIPER to finish off 
the day. 
We’d been watching the ocean conditions all week in anticipation of our 
Wednesday trip to North Keeling Island.  An early morning check of the swell 
hitting the islands outer reef provided good news.  We were off to North 
Keeling for the day.  The one hour crossing was smooth and easy with nice views 
of the local seabirds including two large feeding flocks.  Three Wedge-tailed 
Shearwaters were the first of the trip and a Golden Morph White-tailed 
Tropicbird proved to be an interesting find. This bird was possibly the first 
record of its species for Cocos.
We all went ashore and walked the inner lagoon for 3-4 hours before arriving on 
the far side of the island where we lunched on one of Australia’s remotest 
beaches.  As we ate our lunch Masked Booby patrolled the skies overhead and  
Red-footed Booby and Lesser Frigatebirds numbered in their thousands. White 
Tern, Common Noddy, White-tailed Tropicbird, Sooty Tern, and Brown Booby were 
also seen cruising over the island.  We visited the shoreline of the inner 
lagoon where we located and photographed a solitary COMMON REDSHANK with four 
Common Greenshank.
Our return trip back from North Keeling proved fruitful as three BULWER’S 
PETRELS cruised past the boat and a lone JOUANIN’S PETREL completed the closest 
approach of the day providing those on the top deck with nice views of this 
elusive species.
Richard Baxter

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