Monday, 11 May 2015

The WPO: Norfolk Island & a little further north.

Arrived off Norfolk Island early on 10th April. This is part of Australia, although a long, long way from the mainland. A former penal colony that has been settled by colonist for a very long time.

Dawn on the 10th April.

Keeping out of the rain!
I awoke on 10th April to a grey dawn, sprinkled with drizzle! Not exactly the welcome to Norfolk Island I had imagined! We were anchored just off Kingston in the south of the island, a difficult swell was running, which made the zodiac landing a little tricky, passing through a rather small hole in the reef!

 The landscape around the reserve.
Me, just after it had stopped raining.

Once ashore, we drove to the Palm Glen section of the Norfolk Island National Park. Our arrival was greeted with more overcast skies & the light was very dim indeed for taking photographs. Birds were plentiful & within an hour the three endemic species were seen:

Norfolk Island Parakeet, yes it is that black dot!

Norfolk Island Gerygone

 Slender-billed White-eye
 This endemic can be tough to see - but not this year!

Pacific Emerald Dove
Pacific Robin

Other great birds included Pacific Emerald Dove & Pacific Robin.

Norfolk Island Golden Whistler - 
surely a good split?

The local race of the Golden Whistler must surely soon be elevated to full species status, with the male & female both sharing the rather drab plumage.

Grey Fantail
The local race of Sacred Kingfisher
Once we finished birding, the sun came out!
Anson Bay.
Norfolk Island is a very scenic place.
 Immature Tasman Boobies

 Red-tailed Tropicbird

We then drove to the extreme north-west of the island, past Anson Bay to an area where Masked (Tasman) Boobies & Red-tailed Tropicbirds were nesting on the cliff top.

Double banded Plover

The birders on the ship.

Our final birding was around the bay at Kingston where we saw 19 Double-banded Plovers on the beach (newly arrived migrants from New Zealand).

Spirit of Enderby.

Late afternoon was spent travelling north away from Norfolk Island.

Short-tailed Shearwaters

 Little Shearwater

Sea watchers were kept busy with hundreds of Short-tailed Shearwaters shooting away north; many Wedge-tailed Shearwaters & an amazing nine Little Shearwaters! A full adult Long-tailed Skua was a welcome addition to the bird list.
 Black-winged Petrel

 Tasman Boobies

Many Black-winged Petrels were also noted.

Short-tailed Shearwaters

The 11th April was another day at sea. The feature of the day were the fast flying flocks of Short-tailed Shearwaters passing north, over 20,000 were seen! Large numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were also seen.

 Wedge-tailed Shearwater

Tahiti Petrel
 Gould's Petrel

 Black-winged Petrel

12 Tahiti Petrels were noted, as were 20+ Gould’s Petrels and at least 10 Black-winged Petrels.
 White-necked Petrel?

 These could be Vanuatu Petrels!

One thing of note was the 2 White-necked Petrels seen. Which after looking at my photographs may indeed be Vanuatu Petrels? Check out the shape of the collar & the under-wing pattern!

 Magnificent Petrel & Wedge-tailed Shearwater

A fish oil slick produced a few petrels including at least one Magnificent Petrel! This was a bit of a bonus this far south.
Short-finned Pilot Whales

In the afternoon we picked up speed in an attempt to out run the fast approaching Typhoon Solo. Hatches were battened down & we went for it! The night was a little rough but nothing too serious & we arrived off New Caledonia in the early hours of the morning.

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