Norfolk Island 10 - 17 March 2012

To: Carl Weber <>, birding-aus <>
Subject: Norfolk Island 10 - 17 March 2012
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2012 20:39:12 +1100
Hi Carl,

No, I'm not newly wed, that was another life time ago. I am a very young 65
(smile). There were some very old 65 year olds on the island though. Age is
all about how you feel as far as I am concerned, not how old you are



On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 8:22 PM, Carl Weber <>wrote:

> Jenny,
> Thank you for a very informative report. You have helped me to choose March
> next year for a visit. The tone of your report suggests that you must be
> "newly wed", as opposed to "nearly dead". Is that correct?
> Carl Weber
> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
>  On Behalf Of jenny spry
> Sent: Tuesday, 27 March 2012 4:19 PM
> To: birding-aus
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Norfolk Island 10 - 17 March 2012
> Hi all,
> Below is a more complete report of our recent Norfolk Island trip with some
> more details and thoughts for people thinking of going to the island.
> Also, as you may have heard I am moving slowly into the electronic 21st
> Century. Following my iPod and iPad acquisitions I have now started a blog.
> I think blog is a lumpy sort of name but seeing that Google has provided
> the
> format and location free I will go with their name. Personally I would
> prefer to call it an online birding diary but hey, what the heck. So if you
> want to see a longer version of this report with photos please go to:
> Tomorrow I will add a short report on my very wet Townsville visit.
> cheers
> Jenny
> Norfolk Island
> Norfolk Island is small. Very small. The drive from our accommodation to
> the
> Jetty at Kingston took about 5 minutes and there, on the rocks, right where
> it should be, was the ringed plover. With the bird safely found,
> photographed and oohed and aahed over we slipped back into our
> pre-programmed plans for chasing down the island endemics. Our normal trip
> technique is to quickly reconnoitre sites as soon as we can, to learn the
> terrain, and then come back for a proper look later. So that was what we
> did
> on Saturday; we found Slaughter Bay and the wetlands at Kingston, the
> supermarket, likely dinner spots, the airport runways and Palm Glen. We
> were
> set for Sunday, our first full day.
> With a late start and a tourist map all scribbled on with notes from my
> pre-trip research we headed for Rocky Point Reserve and Hundred Acre [the
> only place we found the emerald dove, just as we walked in, and an
> excellent
> spot for the slender-billed white-eye], then Puppy's Point [excellent for
> black noddy, white tern and sea watching], then Captain Cook Monument [more
> sea watching, grey ternlet, black-winged petrel, white tern, masked booby
> and great frigatebird] and back past the airport runways. The day finished
> with a supermarket visit to stock our kitchen with breakfast and lunch
> food.
> Fresh items such as milk depend on what the plane brought in that day.
> While speaking of food I will quickly mention dinner options. There are 30+
> eating places on the island, we were told, but because we didn't want to
> dress up we were limited to a few places in town. The prices compare to
> mainland prices and the Italian restaurant was excellent. We were going to
> try the Chinese restaurant but the first night we chose it was closed and
> the second night it was only serving take-away. The Bowls Club had basic
> food that was edible. The Leagues Club, I thought, was a bit better but it
> was very popular with the rugby-watching crowd.
> Back with the birding, Palm Glen was the place to go, with the Norfolk
> parakeets turning up most evenings at about 1830 to feed on the fruiting
> trees. These trees are a type of guava evidently and we ended up enjoying
> the fruit as much as the parrots seemed to. According to the rangers, there
> are meant to be some 200 + parakeets on the island and this is quite
> possible, but recent reported counts from B-A visitors have been in the
> range of 2 to 20 birds sighted per trip. Our high count, seen at one time,
> was 8 birds at Palm Glen.
> Palm Glen is also a comfortable and reliable spot for all the other
> endemics
> and they can easily be ticked off in few hours. It even has a toilet block
> and picnic tables. The morepork was heard there one evening but as it blew
> and rained for most of our stay we could never track one down. The feral
> species are everywhere and don't need to be chased, we tripped over them
> everywhere.
> On Monday we did a morning tour with Margaret Christian and, as everyone
> says, it is well worth doing. She drove us all over the island and we heard
> about some of the history, and a bit of the island news. We finished the
> trip at her place out on Point Howe. She and a few neighbours have worked
> on
> eradicating cats and rats and the Black-winged Petrels were nesting around
> and under her house and boobys were nesting along the cliff edge.
> Magic.
> More magic came that afternoon when we stopped on Captain Quintal Drive and
> peered over the airport's waist-high, barbed wire and mesh farm fence-like
> security fence. Helen had her scope up and said, "What's that?" First
> thought was a pratincole but the head shape and chest colour were wrong. It
> was an oriental plover. While we were watching we attracted the airport
> staff and the person designated to keep birds off the runway when planes
> were coming in came over in his ute for a chat. He got out with a large
> manila-coloured book and our first thought was, "now what, are we going to
> be chased off?" But no, he was absolutely lovely and the book was an early
> edition of the *Readers Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds*. The page
> with the oriental plover was marked so maybe our bird was not the first to
> be seen on the Island, but it seems it is the first to be reported.
> On Tuesday the weather was deemed good enough to go to Phillip Island
> [named
> after Governor Arthur Phillip of Sydney, Norfolk being first settled the
> same year that Sydney was] and, after a very bumpy and wet ride over, we
> pulled into the small sheltered cove. The climb up the cliffs using ropes
> and foot holes was not easy but the views and bird life were spectacular
> with Black-winged Petrels and Sooty Terns power-flying all around us. We
> had
> to have a local guide with us and she did a brilliant job of showing us all
> the plants and the endemic skink as well as the birds.
> The birds seem almost segregated by altitude with the terns and boobys
> nesting around the cliffs, the noddys, kermadec petrels and wedge-tailed
> shearwaters using the upper slopes in the protection of the trees and then
> the white-necked petrels further up the slope again. The couple of hours we
> had on the island were not long enough but the boat owner said he would
> consider longer trips if the weather permitted and people asked.
> The weather is all important. There is no harbour on Norfolk Island and the
> boats are lowered off the wharf using a crane, the hoisting and lowering
> being powered by a truck hooked to the long hoist-cable. Getting the boats
> in and out of the water is a work of art and the owners handle it
> masterfully, especially as the swell lifts and lowers the tethered boat
> from
> below as the truck pulls from above. On Phillip Island one gets off onto a
> wave-washed rock shelf and makes for higher ground as fast and carefully as
> possible.
> On Wednesday, the weather packed it in with rain and strong south-east
> winds. Luckily there is plenty of shelter on the islands and we enjoyed
> lots
> of birding in the sheltered valleys. The Bridle Path walk and extension out
> to Bird Rocks is well worth doing. Make sure you start from the east end,
> at
> Red Road, though because the Bird Rock track is nearly vertical and walking
> up it would be very painful.
> All the other roads on the island are worth exploring but some are very
> steep and our little hire car with four people on board really struggled.
> We did not do the track/road to Point Ross and Bumbora Reserve because we
> were told our car would not get out again. If you want to get to these
> places and there are four of you think about something other than the
> bottom
> end car rental.
> After Wednesday we decided that if all you wanted on Norfolk were the
> endemics, and you could get out to Phillip Island early on, then three full
> days would be plenty. HOWEVER, there are lots of other things to see and do
> and there are vagrants to chase.
> The airport runways at high tide are well worth cruising and if you get out
> and walk to the fence there are not many bits of it that can't be seen. We
> had 137 Pacific golden plover [many in near-full breeding plumage] at one
> visit, and amongst them were some double-banded plover, and of course the
> oriental and ringed plovers. The paddocks need to be checked too,
> especially
> those along Middlegate Road and Rooty Hill Road above Cemetery Bay. We
> found
> a whimbrel, and other grass-loving vagrants and migrants are possible. Even
> bristle-thighed curlew has evidently been reported from the island; well,
> yes, rarely, but they are on the list.
> If the feral ducks and geese are included we ended up with 48 species for
> the week. We stayed at Poinciana Cottages, which are right across from the
> airport gate and within walking distance to town so it was perfect for our
> needs. The owners were particularly nice and could not have been more
> helpful. There is no ocean view but who is in the house during daylight
> anyway? Duty free prices are advertised on the island but everything I
> looked at cost more than back home. Petrol when we were there was $2.70 a
> litre and we used more than one tank full. Food is not cheap but if you
> allow for a bit extra in your travel budget and sacrificed some birding
> time
> I think there would be some excellent meals on the island.
> In the B-A reports there are lots of comments as to the best time to visit
> Norfolk. This middle to late week in March was certainly good for the
> migrating waders and we saw all the resident breeding seabirds, even if the
> Kermadec and white-necked petrels were only chicks in the nest.
> Finally, there is an oft-repeated saying on the island that all the
> visitors
> are either "newly wed or nearly dead". Apart from the birdwatchers we met
> this saying is eerily, scarily, accurate.
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