A fast-moving and rewarding week in the Indian Ocean with a number of
vagrant species sighted.
First bird was green jungle fowl. In fast succession came white-breasted
waterhen, nankeen night herons, and little egrets. Western and eastern reef
herons were foraging at the tidal flats at north end of runway, along with a
single pied stilt, a single eastern curlew, whimbrels, and striated heron.
Lesser frigatebirds were present in good numbers, with only a few great
Then a run to the quarantine station where we flushed 10+ pin-tailed snipe
(thanks to the detailed tip from Pam Jones from Dory?s café). We were to
see these snipe several more times, and later found a single bird near the
airstrip. Then in fading light we went to the swamp where we immediately saw
a single Eurasian teal. We were to see this bird on several subsequent
visits to the only substantial freshwater body on the island.
Also seen on West Island was a large-hawk cuckoo at the north end of the
quarantine station and several frustrating views of cuckoos/koels around the
Cocos Beach motel area of settlement. A single watercock was flushed at the
lime plantation near the swamp.
A trip to South Island on motorized canoes was a birding highlight, giving
tremendous views of 10+ Saunder?s terns, one gull-billed tern, six
grey-tailed tattlers, 40+ ruddy turnstones, sanderling, red-necked stint,
and both greater and lesser sandplovers. Common noddies were seen on the
trip back to West Island.
The next side-trip was to Home Island, where one member of the group (Scott)
had views of a Hodgson?s hawk-cuckoo. We flushed a single snipe on several
occasions over a two-day period. Notably, this bird did not make any calls
prior to or during flight, in contrast to our experience with the pin-tailed
snipe on West Island.
Next came Horsburgh Island, which gave us feral chicken, Christmas Island
white-eyes, an immature masked booby and white terns.
Special thanks are owed to Rohan Clarke, Mick Roderick, Richard Baxter, Mike
Carter, Lisa Preston and Pam Jones.
Australian Reptile Park & Devil Ark
P. O. Box 737
Gosford, NSW 2250
Phone: (02) 4340 8614
Mobile: 0415 904 710
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