Re: [Birding-Aus] 2015 on Norfolk Island – the year in birds [SEC=UNCLAS

To: "" <>, "" <>
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] 2015 on Norfolk Island – the year in birds [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
From: Peter Ewin <>
Date: Sat, 23 Jan 2016 08:08:58 +0000
Thanks Craig for a great report. Hope we get these over the next few years and 
the news is positive.
The one species that you didn't mention that I am interested in (given this us 
the only place I have seen them) is little shearwater. Any indication of 
population trends on this one - I assume that manly breed on Phillip Island so 
probably OK but would be interested in any comments.

> From: 
> To: 
> Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2016 02:27:27 +0000
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] 2015 on Norfolk Island – the year in birds 
> I thought it might be useful to pen a bit of an update on the year’s bird 
> watching and bird conservation highlights for our often forgotten little part 
> of the world. 2015 was my first full year on Norfolk Island so still plenty 
> to see for me and a few rarities turned up throughout the year.
> Native bushbirds
> It was another great breeding year for our Green Parrots (on the island the 
> Norfolk Island Parakeet and Crimson Rosella are referred to as simply ‘Green 
> Parrot’ and ‘Red Parrot’ and I’ll follow that convention here) with more than 
> 70 fledged young in the predator proof nesting sites throughout the national 
> park. Sightings from outside the park appear to be getting more frequent 
> including far away. I live more than 2km away from the park, across farmland 
> and regularly get green parrots in my yard. Recently a flock of more than 20 
> was seen feeding on peaches in a property close to the park. Hopefully we’ll 
> have some firmer population figures soon, but the disastrous 2013 surveys 
> which showed only about 45 birds seems a fair while ago now after a couple of 
> good breeding years. Red parrots are common over most of the island although 
> they are actively removed from the national park where they compete 
> aggressively for nesting sites with the green parrots.
> For the other native bush birds, anecdotally we are being told there haven’t 
> been this many robins in years (note that the Norfolk Robin has just been 
> elevated to full species status in the latest IOC nomenclature) and they seem 
> to be benefitting from the extra cat and rat control inside the national 
> park. I have seen many, many young birds recently along the Summit Track, the 
> easiest spot to find them, and they are also enjoying the eucalypt 
> plantations where they are one of the more common species. Records outside 
> the national park are still very rare, and they appear to be unknown from the 
> southern half of the island.
> I’m less certain about the status of Slender-billed White-eye with no real 
> inkling one way or the other as to which way it is going. They are still to 
> be seen in good numbers, sometimes in mixed flocks with the abundant 
> Silvereyes, especially along the eastern area of the park, and are in Hundred 
> Acres Wood on the south-west corner of the island, though seeming not over 
> other parts of the island. Another year has passed without anything 
> resembling a good sighting of White-breasted White-eye. It is now about 10 
> years since any reasonable sightings of these birds. Despite being listed as 
> vulnerable, the local form of the Golden Whistler appears to be in very good 
> numbers in the park and in moderate numbers in some other parts of the island 
> where there is forest, native or otherwise. The NI Gerygone is common across 
> most of the island while the fantail is patchier outside the park, it is 
> seemingly secure.
> It was a good year for cuckoos with a sighting of a Pallid Cuckoo (admittedly 
> right at the end of 2014) and an Oriental Cuckoo. Shining Bronze-cuckoo are 
> sparse but present through spring and summer while there were quite a few 
> sightings of Long-tailed Cuckoos through October as the migrated. I didn’t 
> hear of any sightings in April on the way back. They are probably not 
> uncommon but given that they typically don’t call on the island they are 
> probably missed. If the Shining Bronze-cuckoos didn’t call, I doubt I would 
> have seen a single bird on the island yet. Masked Woodswallows still inhabit 
> the island in reasonable numbers with a flock of 26 observed at the airport 
> and a single White-browed Woodswallow was observed in December, the first 
> seen for quite some time. The two colonised the island at the same time in 
> 1996 but neither have flourished, but the Masked appear to have been the more 
> successful of the two. Kestrels appear to maintaining their modest numbers 
> and I observed a cliff-side nest near Cascade jetty while the kingfisher is 
> abundant across the island and the Emerald Dove seems to avoid the feral cats 
> reasonably successfully.
> Seabirds
> Breeding seasons on Phillip Island and Norfolk Island have been steady for 
> Masked Booby and Red-tailed Tropicbird, both seemingly maintaining good 
> numbers. The Black Noddies and White Terns get hammered by feral cats in some 
> areas but with such large numbers of both, they seem to keep their 
> populations steady. The Grey and Brown Noddies seem to be restricted to 
> Phillip Island and costal islets where predation is less and they are in 
> lower numbers. Despite this, I saw winter flocks of 500+ of the Grey Noddies 
> on Green Pool Stone off the northern coast. Black-winged Petrels continue to 
> be the most abundant petrel and are commonly seen all over both islands in 
> summer. They seemed to have great breeding success on Phillip Island but 
> their persistent attempts to re-colonise Norfolk Island are met with failure 
> through cat predation. That said, I think it is only a matter of time until 
> they do establish on Norfolk. There are similar issues with the main island 
> population of Wedge-tailed Shearwater with significant predation and I think 
> there probably needs to be a question mark over the future of this population 
> on Norfolk as a result. The more rarely seen petrels, Providence, Kermadec 
> and White-necked were all observed on Phillip Island this year, and all 
> believed to have bred there this year, but beyond that we know little about 
> their populations.
> The increased regularity of frigatebirds around the island has continued with 
> 12 Great Frigatebirds staying for a few months, roosting but not yet nesting, 
> on the Moo-oo Stone off the northern coast. They disappeared in winter and 
> have returned again this summer, their numbers doubled to a maximum count of 
> 24. Up until just a couple of years they were vagrants bought in by storms 
> but they are now regular. There are no adult males in the birds seen so far, 
> so the dispersal of younger birds could be a factor. Time will tell if they 
> establish here properly, where they could potentially provide another 
> predator issue? To the best of my knowledge there have been no sightings at 
> all this year of Australasian Gannets, that previously bred in small numbers 
> (<5 pairs) on Phillip Island.
> There are also continued concerns about the Sooty Tern breeding population. 
> The 1000+ breeding pairs that used to be on Phillip Island largely up and 
> left for the 14/15 breeding season, and only a couple of hundred pairs 
> returned in 15/16 year, around Moo-oo Beach, though there were smaller 
> numbers in other locations. Most have moved to the northern coast of Norfolk 
> Island, especially around Captain Cook’s monument. This is a concern because 
> here they have to contend with cats and rats where Phillip Island is predator 
> free. Despite this, and clear signs of predation by cats in some areas, at 
> least several hundred young were fledged from Norfolk in early 2015, mostly 
> around The Cord, near the national park. For the 15/16 breeding season, they 
> have spread out a bit more, on both sides of Captain Cook and so far, so 
> good. The likely cause of the desertion of Phillip Island was predation by 
> Purple Swamphen who’s numbers have increased across that island, though other 
> birds they predate upon have remained steady.
> Feral birds
> It has been a bumper year for chooks all over the island and their numbers 
> are at record highs. This poses great concerns for the invertebrate fauna of 
> the island, especially the 5 Critically Endangered land snails that occur on 
> the island. Probably not any noticeable difference in other species, though I 
> know I certainly saw more European Goldfinches as the year went on, but I 
> suspect that was more about them flocking in winter and me getting my eye in. 
> A flock of 40-50 Common Redpoll landed on the Summit Track in the national 
> park through August and September before dwindling to a few, just as 
> discussions were being had over whether they should be eradicated, and then 
> disappearing altogether. A Common Chaffinch was also spotted in December, in 
> a similar location, feeding with California Quail. I wouldn’t say there had 
> been any significant changes in other feral populations on the island, though 
> the number of feral ducks would have to be of some concern on the few 
> waterways. I have not seen any bird here that I would call a genuine Pacific 
> Black Duck.
> Waders and other vagrants
> Norfolk get’s relatively few waders outside of Pacific Golden Plover (records 
> of over 400 at the airport), Ruddy Turnstone (about 100 at the airport), 
> Whimbrel (rarely more than a few) and small numbers of Wandering Tattler 
> around the coast. During winter we had about 20 Double-banded Plovers take up 
> residence in the southern bays, especially Slaughter Bay. Other recorded 
> waders included a flock of 20 or so Red Knots in October, 3 or 4 Bar-tailed 
> Godwits in late 2015, a single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and a snipe, presumably 
> Latham’s, seen in October and December at the Kingston Common. The Whimbrels 
> and tattler appear to overwinter on the island.
> A flock of 3 Oriental Pratincoles was resident at the airport through March 
> and April, about the same time as several White-winged Terns were there as 
> well. We also had a South Island Pied Oystercatcher at Kingston Common for a 
> few weeks in August and September. Oystercatchers seem to turn up every few 
> years and while historically several have been put to the Australian species, 
> I doubt these have been reliably identified and I imagine most visitors would 
> be SIPOs. A single Great Egret has been seen intermittently on the island all 
> year while the usual winter flocks of Cattle Egret turned up briefly before 
> also moving on. Also in winter were a couple of Swamp Harrier, a normal 
> winter visitor to the island, with at least 2 different birds seen over 
> several months. A couple of Little Black Cormorants were observed on 
> Cathedral Rock early in the year. Overall a good year on Norfolk with more 
> good news than bad on the bird front, a pattern that will hopefully continue 
> into 2016.
> Craig Doolan
> <HR>
> <BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
> <BR> 
> <BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:
> <BR>
> </HR>

<BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
<BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU