Christmas Island Bird'n'Nature Week
29 August - 5 September 2017
Theme: Tropical Seabird Research and Island Endemics
Bird week participants will be invited in small groups to help catch Abbott’s Boobies high in the rainforest canopy, assist to colour-band Brown Boobies and monitor their colonies on the remote and secluded rocky coasts. Participants will work with our guides to study the nesting biology and foraging ecology of Christmas Island Frigatebirds and Red-tailed Tropicbirds. Depending on interest and demand, there will also be opportunities to assist in the colour-banding of Christmas Island Goshawks, a Christmas Island Hawk-Owl survey, seabird identification workshops, territory mapping of Island Thrushes and closer looks at the island’s other wildlife. And of course there will be the chance to search for a few of those rarities for which Christmas Island is so famous. Nightly seminars will showcase the results of all the seabird research (revealing the wanderings of the majestic Abbott’s Booby, CI Frigatebirds and more), the status of the endemic landbirds, the rarities of Christmas Island, and the marine and terrestrial ecology of the island.
David James is a birder and ecologist with 35 years experience. Dave first visited Christmas Island in 2001 to participate in a wide-ranging seabird monitoring program. In 2003 he returned to undertake a population survey of the Christmas Island Frigatebird. In late 2003 he lead the Christmas island Biodiversity Monitoring Program for Parks Australia on Christmas Island. Dave began implementing National Recovery Plans for some of the Island's most threatended species, including Abbott's Booby, CI Fragatebird, CI Goshawk and CI Hawk Owl. Dave was previously the editor of Australiasian Seabird Bulletin, and published works include authoriship of research reports, scientific papers, and 90 chapters in the award winning reference "The Handbook of Australia, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB). Dave is co-author of the recent booklet "Christmas Island Birds: A Review" published as a supplement to Australian Field Ornithology.
Mark Holdsworth was employed within the Tasmanian State government conservation agency for over 30 years. A core component of Mark’s career is the Orange-bellied Parrot recovery program where he is recognised as the global expert on the species’ breeding ecology. He is a specialist in wildlife monitoring and has provided expertise to seabird projects in the Coral Sea, Auckland Islands (NZ) and Christmas Island. Mark also has a passion for birds of prey, and through his involvement with the Australasian Raptor Association, continues the long-term monitoring of the endangered Christmas Island Goshawk. Mark’s work and enthusiasm across a broad range of conservation areas, including his work on Christmas Island, was recognised in 2014 through being selected as one of four Tasmanian finalists for the Australian of the Year.
Dr Sue Robinson has worked as a wildlife biologist for the Tasmanian State government conservation agency for over 15 years and currently works on invasive species projects. She studied the breeding biology of Gentoo Penguins and sub-Antarctic Fur-seals, and has extensive experience in wildlife ecology and vertebrate pest programs, including assistance with cat eradication on Christmas Island. Sue has worked on a variety of seabird research projects including population monitoring of Short-tailed Shearwaters, fairy prions and shy albatross around Tasmania, frigatebirds and boobies on the Herald Islands (Coral Sea) and many of the seabird species on Macquarie Island. Sue has a passion for Christmas Island’s wildlife – especially the island’s diverse and unique crabs.
Liz Znidersic works as an ornithologist and for Parks and Wildlife Tasmania as an environmental educator, while in the midst of doing her PhD with Charles Sturt University ILWS. Her area of expertise is focused on detection and monitoring methods for secretive birds, focusing on the family Rallidae (rails and crakes). She is a member of the advisory team for Endangered Cocos Buff-banded Rail that is restricted to a few islands in the Cocos Islands atoll, Christmas Island’s closest neighbour. Liz has been involved in seabird, shorebird and wetland bird monitoring projects, and pest management projects around the globe including Tasmania, Faroe Islands and South Carolina. Liz will be on the lookout for vagrant species and will share her enthusiasm and insights into the unique natural values on Christmas Island.
Rosie Willacy is a PhD student at the University of Queensland. She is part of the X-ED lab at UQ concerned with solving complex environmental decisions, the National Environmental Science Program’s Threatened Species Hub and is working in collaboration with Parks Australia. Her project Cat control and the ecological consequences for Christmas Island indicator species commenced early in 2017. The focus of the research is to determine whether cat control on Christmas Island could result in increases to rat densities, and whether this has the potential to result in negative outcomes for key indicator species. Rosie will be working specifically with the Christmas Island Emerald Dove and Thrush, the Red-tailed Tropicbird and Brown Booby.
Christmas Island National Park - Cat management is one of several collaborative programs conducted by Parks Australia with other partners on Christmas Island to conserve the islands unique biodiversity, which is the major attraction for nature-based tourists. Other programs in yellow crazy ant control, reptile captive breeding and forest rehabilitation. Here we show Dion Maple (Christmas Island National Park Natural Resource Manager) and Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews, discussing the initiation of the cat eradication program announced in 2014.
For further information on Christmas Island Bird'n'Nature Week, or to enquire about bookings, please email us by clicking here ... Pricing, accommodation options, and a sample itinerary of the week will be forwarded to you via email.
2015 participant Dorothy Gooding had this to say about about Bird'n'Nature Week "Lisa Preston and her helpers, congratulations on a great event, the friendliness, hospitality and organisation was just amazing. Thanks for a great week"
Bird'n'Nature Week is proudly supported by the Christmas Island Tourism Association, Indian Ocean Experiences, and the Christmas Island National Park.
Christmas Island Bird Species
During Christmas Island Bird Week you can expect to see the following:
These birds are common around the fringes of urban areas and small numbers occur well away from habitation. You will see feral chickens near your accommodation.
A common breeding bird on the island, easily seen on the wing. The Birdweek program will include colour-banding of these endearing birds.
A common breeding bird on the island, easily seen on the wing, even over urban areas. Most of the island birds have a striking golden sheen, rarely seen elsewhere. They are iconic birds on the island, known locally as ‘golden bosuns’.
Easily seen flying to and from their nests high in the primary rainforest. You will be helping biologist Janos Hennicke attach tiny tracking devices to these majestic birds. The Abbott’s booby is a primitive species that now breeds only on Christmas Island.
A common breeding bird on the island, easily seen on the wing and perching in trees, even within walking distance from your accommodation. Christmas Island is of global importance as a breeding site for this species, with more than 12,000 pairs breeding.
A common breeding bird on the island, easily seen and very approachable. The Birdweek program will include colour-banding of these endearing birds with Mark Holdsworth.
An easily-seen endemic bird that breeds within walking distance of the resort you will stay in. It is the rarest of the world’s five frigatebird species with an adult population of only 1200 pairs.
A common breeding bird on the island, easily seen on the wing, even over urban areas. As many as a hundred frigatebirds can be seen at once in the skies above the island settlement. When puddles are available they drink from these in large numbers.
Uncommon on the island, but small numbers can be seen on the wing, and at drinking puddles.
Uncommon but regularly sited at various locations including the island tip.
Eastern Reef Egret
A resident breeding bird that is not always easy to see. It feeds below cliffs, often in Flying Fish Cove and sometimes on the golf course.
Two to three are resident on the island, although they do not breed.
Christmas Island Goshawk
A form of the variable goshawk (Accipiter hiogaster), or possibly a distinct species.This raptor is remarkably tame but can be elusive, although birders during birdweek are virtually assured of sightings because of the banding program that will be part of the week's activities.
Common along roadsides and around clearings. Kestrels colonised the island from Australia sometime between 1940 and 1950 and they are now present in remarkably high densities.
Breeding at various sites, including the tip, where birds can sometimes be sighted early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This bird is a recent colonist from Indonesia, first recorded on Christmas Island in 1992.
A common breeding bird on the island; easily seen.
Common in the rainforest. Males of this distinctive subspecies look very different from Australian birds, with a grey crown and broad white eyebrow. Some authorities consider the Asian and Australasian forms of Emerald Dove to be different species, and this is the only subspecies of the Asian form found in Australia.
Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon
This striking pigeon is very easily seen, and its unusual calls can be heard all though the rainforest.
Christmas Island Hawk-owl
Sightings of this elusive and much-sought-after bird are virtually guaranteed.
Christmas Island Swiftlet
Very common and very easily seen along forest edges. A subspecies of the Asian cave swiftlet confined to the island.
A regular migrant to the island, foraging in small numbers on the roads, sometimes requiring some effort to locate.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Common around urban areas.
Confined to near-urban areas where it is restricted in distribution but easily found.
Christmas Island White-eye
An abundant bird, endemic to the island.
Common and easily seen. The island supports a distinctive subspecies, and the only one of three subspecies once found in Australia that still survives.
Other possibilities may include yellow wagtails, barn swallows, waders, and who can predict what else.
Many species are quite inquisitive and those on a birdwatching holiday can be rewarded with some truly special sightings. Highlights include the rarest bobby and frigate birds in the world, the Abbotts Booby and the Christmas Island Frigatebird. With little effort is it quite easy to tick off a full list of residents in a busy week or more relaxed fortnight, though the elusive Christmas Island Hawk Owl keeps many coming back for more!
Other Christmas Island Animal Species
Christmas Island Flying Fox
An unusual bat with a bear-like face, confined to Christmas Island, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands off India, and to Nias and Enggano Islands off western Sumatra. In the absence of predators these flying foxes fly about in bright sunshine.
Tropical Reef Fish
A huge range of species can be seen on the reef in Flying Fish cove, including species confined to the Indian Ocean.
The largest invertebrate in the world to walk on land. With their vivid colours and strange moving parts these crabs are an amazing sight.
One of the specialties of Christmas Island, this endemic crab dominates the rainforest understorey where it consumes fallen fruits and leaves. Because the bird week takes place during the dry season, only relatively small numbers of red crabs will be seen.
Confined to freshwater seepages within rainforest, this land crab is a Christmas Island specialty.