Day 1 Fine weather on arrival at Lord Howe Island made the first excursion a treat. Down to Ned¼s Beach for a look at the marine life at low tide. As we walked around discovering the animals in the rock pools, teenage Black-winged petrels wheeled overhead doing their courtship chases. On the rocky seashore Whimbrels probed for crabs and worms, while Sacred kingfishers sat perched on rocks eying off anything that moved, and Welcome swallows swooped around catching insects, Pacific Black/cross Mallard ducks swam around the seashore. A great introduction to the birdlife of Lord Howe.
Day 2 After breakfast a walk south on the report of four Latham’s snipes at the Moseley Park swamp. As we walked along the airstrip, we checked out the shorebirds – four regulars – the Ruddy Turnstone, Bar tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Eastern Golden Plover. We could not sight the snipe, but careful searching along the swamp edge we sighted a Double banded plover, two Red-necked stints and six Little black cormorants.
The afternoon walk to clear Place was equally as rewarding. Here on a grassy flat clearing we looked out over the ocean on the southeast coast and the birds were all around Black-winged petrels over our heads, Red-tailed tropicbirds dancing off the coast and occasionally a visit by Brown Noddies, Sooty terns and a Masked booby. A brief sighting of the LHI Currawong. Around Pinetrees itself the LHI Golden Whistler, Blackbirds, Emerald Ground-dove, LHI White eye, Woodhen and Buff banded rails were regularly seen around the grounds. On Pinetrees boat deck on the lagoon beach we watched Wedge-tailed shearwaters come in at sunset. Several White terns and a Magpie lark were nesting in trees around Pinetrees.
Day 3 The morning was calm weather so it was the time to do the Ball’s Pyramid boat cruise. After breakfast we boarded our vessel the MV Kermadec and motored out through the reef and headed south. Under the 875m high mountains we saw Red-tailed tropicbirds wheeling around the cliffs, Masked boobies sitting on grassy ledges and a few Grey ternlets on the cliffs of Gower Island just off the southern tip. Flesh-footed shearwaters and juvenile followed the boat for a lot of the way, and we had a tiny White-bellied storm petrel fly parallel to the boat for several minutes allowing a very good sighting of this elusive bird. At the Pyramid itself there were Grey ternlets everywhere- feeding over the water, sitting on the rocks. We stopped briefly to throw some berley over, and had a good look at the Flesh-footed shearwaters that came right to the back of the boat, and a very good sighting of Kermadec petrels, including a short glimpse of one of the light- phase Kermadecs. On the return journey we again berleyed and had a great look at Flesh footed shearwaters again. Back north we motored around the Admiralty islets and had good views of Grey ternlets, Masked boobies, Brown noddies and Sooty terns.
We had a late lunch at Old Settlement and here saw Eastern Swamphens, Buff banded rails, a kestrel chased a young landrail across the paddock, and a Starling!
Day 4. A few early risers checked the Moseley park swamp again and did locate the four Latham’s snipes. Well done. Then followed a great day over at North Bay- sighted a Great cormorant sitting on rocks in the lagoon one the way over. Lots of birds at North Bay- juvenile Brown, and Black noddies sitting on the beach, a few juvenile Sooty terns still not flying. And a highlight was to get close to Black noddies nesting, in some places just a metre above the ground – they had eggs and chicks of varying sizes. After a great bbq lunch we climbed Mount Eliza for a close look at the Red-tailed tropicbirds, including two chicks – one small and downy, the other with its black-barred wings sitting under a bush. A brief sighting of an Australian kestrel had everyone jumping.
View from Mt Eliza
Day 5 Last morning and we took a bus south, to walk under the mountains to see Woodhens. They didn’t turn up – but back at Pinetrees they strutted around the lunch tables. Nevertheless the Mountain walk was enjoyable- the grandeur of the mountains unforgettable and we walked under a huge towering banyan some 20 metres high with around 20 trunks, all joined into each other.
By Ian Hutton who as your Guide has been exploring the island researching and recording its flora and fauna for the past 20 years. In that time he researched and photographed all of the natural history of the Island; producing 7 books and a number of scientific papers.
In 1983 he was the first person to be licensed by the LHI Board to conduct guided botanical and reef walks on the Island. Since 1986 he has been leading eight day tours for groups such as The Australian Museum Society, Australian Academic Tours, Friends of Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, and Queensland Ornithological Society.
Contact us for an itinerary for 2006.