December 1999 - Christmas Island

In December 1999 I participated in a tour of Christmas Island with Coate's Tours led by Kevin Coate and 6 other participants.  The following is a brief trip report highlighting the main birding sites that we visited and the species that we recorded during the trip.  I recommend buying Barry J. Reville's book A Visitor's Guide to the Birds of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean.  This is readily available at the post office or at the information centre on the island.

We flew from Perth International airport to Christmas Island (refuelling at Learmonth and a stopover at Cocos Keeling Island) on the weekly flight by National Jet, and returned with another stopover at Cocos Keeling Island.  We stayed at the Christmas Island Resort which is the old casino.  We ate at the resort for breakfast and various restaurants for lunch and dinner.  Kevin organised the hire of a 4WD.  The 4WD is necessary to get to some sites which are along sandy or muddy roads.

The weather was very dry compared to my previous trip a few years earlier.  Our trip was timed to coincide with the mass spawning of the Red Crabs, which was a very memorable sight on our last morning with about 500,000 females making their way back from the beach through the resort.  However, there is an introduced ant that is posing a very serious threat to the crabs and the birds.

Birding Sites
(Christmas Island Airport Terminal Sxx xx xx.x" Exxx xx xx.x")

Cocos Keeling Island - We stopped over for refuelling on the way there and on the return.  I saw ~15 Green Junglefowl along the runway each time (a lifer).  There were quite a few Eastern Reef Egrets, and there was one Great Frigatebird on the way to Christmas Island.

 

Species

Red Junglefowl - One at the T junction at the top of the hill above the resort.  There were none on the golf course where I saw them on the previous trip.

Red-tailed Tropicbird - Fairly common.

White-tailed Tropicbird - 'Golden' very common in small numbers.  A few 'Silver' seen in the bay and near the tourist bureau.  Several advanced nestlings seen.

Abbott's Booby - A number of advanced nestlings seen along the Murray Hill Road and one other site.  Several adults seen flying in.

Red-footed Booby - Very common.  Several advanced nestlings seen.

Brown Booby - Fairly common. One nearly fledged seen.

Great Frigatebird - Very common.

Lesser Frigatebird - One at Margaret's Lookout.  I didn't see this on my previous trip.

Christmas Frigatebird - Very common.

White-faced Heron - About 12 along the runway.  A couple near South Point. Kevin saw one at the beach below the resort.

Eastern Reef Egret - A few seen.

Brown Goshawk - About 6 or so seen.  Excellent photos of one.

Nankeen Kestrel - Very common.

White-breasted Waterhen - About 8 all up.  Two at the rubbish tip, two near the oval, three near the Phosphate plant.  Another somewhere.

Common Sandpiper - One at the beach below the resort.

Ruddy Turnstone - One on the headland above Lily Beach.

Pacific Golden Plover - One at the airport.  18 on the headland above Lily Beach.  I didn't see this on my previous trip.

Common Noddy - Fairly common.

Emerald Dove - Fairly common.

Christmas Island Imperial-Pigeon - Very common.

Moluccan Hawk-Owl - Only heard at the golf course.

Glossy Swiftlet - Very common.  The cave was closed off.

Yellow Wagtail - Two near the phosphate plant most times that we looked.

Grey Wagtail - One or two near the phosphate plant when we looked.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Small numbers in the settlement down the bottom.

Barn Swallow - Seven near the tip and oval.  Two at the school oval.  I didn't see this on my previous trip.

Christmas Island White-eye - Very common.  Excellent photos of some feeding on the Japanese cherry.

Island Thrush - Common.  Several old nests found, one with an old egg.  Excellent photos.

This is a total of 28 species seen this trip. We missed Java Sparrow (but we didn't look very hard).  There were reports of a 'brown hawk' near The Dales, and of a possible Eurasian Hobby but we didn't see anything different.  I didn't see Red-rumped Swallow or Fork-tailed Swift which Mike Carter saw a little more than a week earlier.  There were very few waders compared to my previous trip.

There are few reptiles on Christmas Island but I did manage to see Blue-tailed Skink (Cryptoblepharus egeriae) , a few Brown Skinks (Emoia navitatus), a gecko (Cyrtodactylus sadlieri) that lives under the bark, quite a few Asian House Geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus), and there was a road killed Malayan Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus).

Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2002 Visits Last Modified 31st January 2002