Christmas Island Trip Report

12 — 18 March 1997

Participants: Maureen Mott, Jim Standing, Fran Standing, Jillian Warner
Tour leaders: Philip Maher, Patricia Maher

Taxonomy follows Christidis and Boles (1994)

Feral Chicken Gallus gallus: many seen, mainly near areas of habitation. Some birders believe these birds are Red Jungle Fowl but there seems too much variation in the population for this to be the case. Some males did resemble the ancestral Red Jungle Fowl but it is obvious that much interbreeding occurs.

Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda: moderately common around coast, nesting in cavities, e.g., Greta Beach. One fully grown young on the road near Settlement was rescued by Jim and taken to the National Park headquarters. We were told that most that fall from nests do not survive, even those fully grown.

White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus race fulvus (Golden Bosunbird): this delightful bird was quite common and seen everyday. Pairs were seen doing spectacular tail chases above the rainforest canopy and elsewhere, no nests seen. Approximately eight of the white phase seen in various locations.

Abbott’s Booby Papasula abbotti: c20 in trees nesting and flying along road SW of Poon Saan on March 14, a small number seen flying and nesting in trees in the vicinity of LH4 lookout on March 16. Fairly localised, not seen elsewhere.

Red Footed Booby Sula sula: Common all around the island; nesting in rainforest, e.g., behind golf course.

Brown Booby Sula leucogastera: Moderately common around coast, some probably nesting at Margaret Knoll.

Great Frigatebird Fregata minor: Common, seen throughout the island. Many dipping into a small pool of rainwater near The Dales turnoff; also at the casino pool - spectacular!

Lesser Frigatebird Fregata minor: Uncommon, few seen at various locations, e.g., casino, golf course, The Dales area.

Christmas Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi: Common, seen at many localities, also seen dipping into a pool of rainwater with Great Frigatebirds near The Dales turnoff. Nesting colony in rainforest behind golf course.

White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandise: two only, seen at golf course.

Eastern Reef Heron Egretta sacra: Two or three dark phase birds Flying Fish Cove. Two dark phase birds at Dolly Beach

Nankeen Night-heron Nycticorax caledonicus: One bird at springs on track to Greta Beach.

Pied Heron Ardea picata: One bird seen feeding at pool near fountain in the casino grounds.

Christmas Island Goshawk Accipter fasciatus natalis: This distinctive race is awaiting elevation to full species status. One pair seen with nesting material about one kilometre west of LB4 Lookout. Less barring and paler on breast than Brown goshawk, fairly square tail. One beautiful, immature bird seen near Grant’s Well, incredibly tame.

Nankeen Kestrel Falco cenchroides: moderately common, seen at various locations. About 10 seen near airport.

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus: This species proved quite difficult to locate (possibly because they had finished breeding and it was becoming drier) and not seen until the 4th day. An adult pair with a large juvenile was eventually located feeding around steel grinders at a mine pit site at the road junction, about one kilometre SW of N.P.H.Q. A lovely chestnut colour around vent area. A downy juvenile (different bird) was seen in the same area on the previous day .

Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura: Possibly heard this species calling near the airport at night.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Two at Flying Fish Cove.

Common Noddy Anous stolidus Moderately common, seen in various locations - Dolly Beach, near golf course. About 10 pairs nesting at Greta Bay and about 30 seen at Fly Fish Cove.

Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica: Moderately common in rainforest

Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon Ducula whartoni: Common, in all areas of rainforest. Their distinctive call is synonymous with this habitat.

Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis: This delightful owl is now rightfully elevated to full species status, [J.A Norman, et al (1998), Emu 98 (3):197-208] Excellent view of one bird at golf course at night, two or three others calling nearby, smaller than Boobook and more chestnut; a particularly small head. Also one calling near the airport at night.

Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta: Common throughout the island; white in outer tail feathers.

White-wagtail Motacilla alba: Two adult males which appeared to be of the race leucopsis seen in a defunct quarry beside the airport runway. The birds were calling to each other. Their plumage blended in with the black and white stones in the quarry. These birds were possibly on migration because when I returned 20 minutes later they were not to be found (much to my group’s annoyance) despite an extensive search. This appears to be the first record of White Wagtail for Christmas Island.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus: Moderately common around Settlement area.

Java Sparrow Lonchara oryzivora: Moderately common around areas of habitation, about 50 seen in various locations around Settlement and golf course.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica: Maximum of 14 sitting on power line near conveyor belt, smaller numbers at rubbish tip and airport

Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus: Maximum of 15 seen on the 17th March at the airport, not seen prior to this. Only seen in flight but believed to be this species. Very white rump, grey breast band (difficult to see), dirty white belly, white throat and chin contrasting with dark cap.

Christmas Island White-eye Zosterops natalis: Very common in all forested areas.

Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus: Common, seen in most rainforest areas, e.g., The Dales area and road to Greta Beach.

Brown Shrike Lanius cristata: This species was shy and secretive and only one brief view was had. It was seen in a thicket opposite the golf course where it had been located by R Farnes, and others, in early January 1997.

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