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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Chlidonias' 2010 list of things (1 Viewer)

11 August

this morning as I was walking along the park's main road towards the Grand Kaori trail, a harsh call attracted my attention and a large black bird shot across the road and disappeared. I knew what it had to be because I'd already seen all the other large black birds the island had to offer and this wasn't any of them, and yet at the same time I hadn't really seen anything except a black blur of wings so I couldn't put "crow honeyeater" on my list. Fortunately just two hours later, right near the entrance to the Grand Kaori trail itself, further calls alerted me to the presence of more of the birds and I got a number of good but brief views of a pair of crow honeyeaters as they pursued each other between the trees. Far and away the best bird New Caledonia has to offer in my opinion, exceeding the kagu many-fold. The crow honeyeater is an elusive and very endangered bird and many birders miss it, and I wouldn't have been surprised to have done likewise, so my excitement was running pretty high. Funnily enough I saw a fourth crow honeyeater the next morning while waiting for the shuttle, in a tree on the opposite bank of the river. It was a fairly distant view but the bright facial skin made it easily identifiable.

106) Crow honeyeater Gymnomyza aubryana

a lone fruit bat hanging in a tree on the opposite side of the river in the late morning upped my hopes of it being the endangered endemic, the ornate flying fox Pteropus ornatus, but I had to admit it was instead the more widespread Pacific flying fox

8) Pacific flying fox Pteropus tonganus
14 August

I spent all day at the Noumea Zoo today getting photos of the endemic birds (the wild ones being a bit too unhelpful in this regard). The zoo is also the best place to see the local subspecies of nankeen night heron, which nest plentifully around the lakes in the bamboo and eucalyptus trees. The zoo was also the only place I saw two introduced species, the chestnut-breasted munia and the zebra dove.

107) Nankeen night heron Nycticorax caledonicus
108) Chestnut-breasted munia Lonchura castaneothorax
109) Zebra dove Geopelia striata
15 August

A day-trip to Mt. Koghis (once again: bus then walk/hitch for 8km while trying to avoid vicious dogs...) was my last chance to find two very common endemic birds which had as yet eluded me, the New Caledonian cuckoo-shrike and the white-bellied goshawk, but neither were to be found and I had to leave New Caledonia the next day with them lacking from my tally. I did however see a new reptile, the .....

5) Southern whiptail skink Tropidoscincus variabilis
26 October

well.....I haven't exactly been finding new birds left right and centre since coming back from New Caledonia have I? However this weekend I headed southwards to the little town of Geraldine as I had discovered that there was a resident population of the endemic long-tailed bats living in Talbot Forest on the edge of town. The night-watch revealed no bats unfortunately, but I did (not terribly surprisingly, given their abundance) see an introduced brush-tailed possum in the forest that night.

9) Brush-tailed possum Trichosurus vulpecula
23 November

a bit of a different weekend away for me. Taronga Zoo in Sydney (Australia) has just put a long-beaked echidna on display. I'm very unlikely to ever get to New Guinea where this monotreme is found and there are only three outside of that country. One is in Moscow, which I'm probably even less likely to get to than New Guinea, and the other two are at Taronga. However they have been off-display for the last ten years or so, so when the male was put on show in their nocturnal house I had to book a flight over to see him (Taronga is the only place in the world where one can now see all three types of monotremes in one place). This weekend trip to Sydney was therefore a zoo trip (Taronga Zoo, Wildlife World, Sydney Aquarium and Manly Oceanworld) with only a few birding efforts.

There were no birds in evidence at the airport, and also none from the train on the way into the city. In fact it wasn't till I was at the ferry terminal waiting for the Manly Ferry that I saw my first feathery beasts, namely silver gulls (which I'd already seen this year in New Caledonia) and feral pigeons (which I'd also seen this year; funny that). Walking from the disembarkment point up the road to the Manly Guesthouse where I was staying, I saw rainbow lorikeets (likewise also seen in New Caledonia), an Australian magpie (seen earlier in New Zealand) and finally a new year bird, noisy miners (a type of honeyeater). I was picked up by a zoo friend for the drive to Taronga, seeing greater sulphur-crested cockatoos along the way (sigh, also already seen this year, in New Zealand). There was no active birding at the zoo of course but I did incidentally spot a few birds, as well as a baby water dragon in the enclosure for the De Brazza's guenons. [I did also see the long-beaked echidna and he was amazing!]. On the drive back to the Guesthouse a group of pied currawongs flew past to add to the day's short list.

110) Noisy miner Manorina melanocephala
111) Dusky moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
112) Australian wood duck Chenonetta jubata
113) Common kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
114) White-browed scrubwren Sericornis frontalis
115) Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
116) Pied currawong Strepera graculina

5) Eastern water dragon Physignathus lesueurii
24 November

So today was the designated bird day, but it was a bit of a failure. I was going to the Bicentennial Park on the instructions of a book called "Sydney Birds And Where To Find Them" which said there were often red-necked avocets there. I've never seen a red-necked avocet and its one I would really like to see. And it remains one I would really like to see....

For some reason most of the birds at the park had departed for parts unknown, probably having heard I was coming to look at them. They're crafty like that. There were some birds out and about, such exciting fare as Australian ravens and white ibis...er, right. I was heading for the bird hide on the edge of a big lake, because that's where the avocets were supposed to be seen when they were around. It turned out that, of course, the lake was tidal and it was - of course - low tide so the lake was half empty and there were almost literally no birds there except for a few pied stilts, a couple of chestnut teal and a lone pelican. With nothing to see there I kept on walking. And walking. And walking. Everywhere I went the birds were notable by their absence. Unbelievably, the highlight of the day was a brown quail that ran across the path (new for my Australian list but not for my life list). Back at the hide later in the day the tide was high but the birds were not. The stilts were still there, the chestnut teal had gone, the pelican had been joined by five friends, and a black swan had flown in. That was it. Some passing cyclists said they'd never seen the lake so empty.

I gave up and went to the Aquarium and Wildlife World instead.

On the ferry ride back across to Manly there were lines of flying foxes weaving through the evening sky from their roost in the Botanic Gardens.

117) Australian raven Corvus coronoides
118) Crested pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
119) Red wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
120) Australian white ibis Threskiornis molucca
121) Superb blue wren Malurus cyaneus
122) Australian pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus
123) Chestnut teal Anas castanea
124) Willy wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
125) Brown quail Coturnix ypsilophora
126) Red-browed finch Neochmia temporalis
127) Brown honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
128) Grey butcherbird Cracticus torquatus
129) Australian darter Anhinga novaehollandiae

10) Grey-headed flying fox Pteropus poliocephalus
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25 November

Last day in Sydney. First thing in the morning I caught the ferry across to the Botanic Gardens. There were tree martins flitting around the trees in which the flying foxes were roosting. I was actually looking for powerful owls which can be seen there from time to time (they feed on the gardens' abundant possums). I asked one of the staff but was told none had been reported for a few months, so that was bird number two I wanted out the window. I ended the Sydney list instead with a banded rail, which is a nice bird too.

130) Tree martin Hirundo nigricans
131) Banded rail Rallus philippensis
wrap up for the year:

I didn't see anything new after the Sydney trip -- but then I wasn't really out looking, being a bit more preoccupied with not dying in earthquakes -- so the bird total for the year was a low 131, of which 22 were lifers (all from New Caledonia).

Mammal total was, er, ten; reptiles five; and fish two (but fish were never going to high scorers, what with them living underwater and all!).

Next year's totals for all should be higher

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