Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Blow Ins

The wind is still blowing strongly from the north east, and bringing some welcome rain ashore; always welcome from October on into the dry summer months.

I had a call last night from recent arrivals on the island, John and Sue O'Malley, reporting the sighting of a Pectoral Sandpiper near the Kingston pier. They also reported the Pied Stilt at Kingston, which we had previously seen at the Mission Pool last week. It is presumably the same bird as it's been absent from the Mission Pool site for a few days.

Friday, October 29, 2010

From the North

The wind is blowing onto Norfolk's northern coast today, laden with moisture from warmer seas, the rapid rise when it meets the cliffs creating the fog we are so accustomed to in November.

The northerly winds no doubt assist the Long-tailed cuckoos, as they are coming to us from somewhere in the north; maybe Papua New Guinea or anywhere across the Pacific as far as the Marquesas Islands. These cuckoos don't rate much mention in Australian bird books, and are recorded as an 'irregular visitor" to Lord Howe Island. In New Zealand they are expected in October each year and a list of the species they trick into raising their young is provided, showing that they are well known there and have been observed over a substantial period of time.
Long-tailed cuckoos have now been reported as having crashed into windows at two houses on the island. The first survived and was held overnight in a cage adjoining that of some very nervous canaries, enabling us to visit and photograph the bird in some detail (Thanks Archie.) It yelled at us quite a lot and by the time it was released, shooting off like an arrow as soon as it had the opportunity, it was being mobbed by small birds that emerged from the surrounding trees, waiting to see it off their property.

The second bird is waiting in a freezer to assist science.
(All bodies gratefully accepted!)

It would appear that a mob of these birds arrived together as there were two sightings at widely separated locations on one day, followed by the stunning of the temporarily caged one on the same afternoon. Others have been sighted in the last week that are more window-wise.
If you see a strange brown bird it might be a Long-tailed cuckoo. In size and colour they bear a passing resemblance to a kestrel, but their markings are more striking with the striated breast and barring that is typical of cuckoos across their long tail. When they are flying they have an undulating flight and their back appears dark brown.

Shining Bronze-cuckoos are also evident around the island now, more often heard than seen. Their iridescent green and striped breast plumage provide perfect camouflage in the forest, but their loud whistle announces their presence from a long way off. At first sounding like someone whistling a dog (a little slowly) the tell-tale descending note at the end of the call identifies this much smaller bird readily. Fantails and Gerygones (Peurties) beware of strange eggs in your nests!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Welcome to the first post of this new blog.
Look forward to improved quality and lots of images as I learn along the way.

Why a new blog for Norfolk Island? I hear you ask.

MANY people in the local community as well as visitors to the island and researchers, are interested in keeping abreast of what's happening around Norfolk Island in the natural world, on land and sea.
This blog is being created to provide a focal point for observations, and  provide answers to questions, or at least help readers take the right direction to find  their  answers.
Websites already exist to provide lists of species etc, but it is intended that this site will provide regularly updated current information about the many interesting happenings in and around the island group.

I welcome any observations or questions and hope that together we can all learn more about our wonderful and unique environment through sharing our experiences and observations.

... will be a feature as I spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, in the forest and by the wetlands keeping an eye on the comings and goings of migratory species as well as the resident ones. I have the good fortune to often be accompanied by visitors in search of the island's unique species, and we discover new  and unexpected things all the time.

In just the last week we have seen at least one (and possibly 3) Long-tailed Cuckoos, 2 black cormorants, a Pied Stilt, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, heard Shining Bronze-cuckoos and seen an increasing number of Ruddy Turnstones (17) and Golden Plovers (44). One Tattler was also seen but not identified to species.

Some of the regular breeding seabird migrants are already feeding chicks; Tasman boobies, White terns and White-capped Noddies in particular are obvious. We heard the first returned Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Ghostbird) on 19 October, the Red-tailed Tropicbirds have acome ashore and it won't be long before the Frigatebirds turn up while these chicks are being fed around the coast.

have been under observation for the last 2 months especially, with the annual visit of our whale researchers from Brisbane and Byron Bay. Some new species records for the area have been identified in that time. Their research is mainly concentrating on Humpback Whales, but all sightings of whales and dolphins are of interest.
At this time of year the whales are returning from their calving grounds in the warm waters to the north, and travel slowly back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica while the calves put on enough weight to save them from freezing in the cold Southern Ocean waters.

Until next time.