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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
New Caledonia, July 20-29th 2002,
From July 20 - 29 I did a solo birding trip in New Caledonia as part of a 3-month trip to the region (Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand). It should be noted that this is not the best time to visit, as many birds are quiet during this season, and the seabirds are out to sea (Tahiti, Gould's, Black-Winged Petrels). Some of these pterodromas can be seen from land at night returning to their burrows in breeding season, although I was unable to get specifics. In spite of this, I saw all the mainland and Lifou endemics. I had wanted to try and catch a boat to Lifou and try for a few pelagics, but it did not work out for me, schedule-wise. There is a slow boat that goes once a week, and a faster catamaran that leaves every couple of days. I don't know how much you can see from a catamaran. Seeing the Ouvea Parakeet is tricky. There is little information available. Apparently most of the few remaining birds are on private land, and you need permission from the landowner. Pierre Primot was mentioned as a contact. He works for the Service Veterinaire in Noumea, having recently moved from Lifou, but his number was not listed and I never made contact. In the end I opted not to go to Ouvea.
Lonely Planet has a New Caledonia book for accommodation, etc.
Nigel Wheatley's Where to Watch Birds in Australasia & Oceania
Very helpful were trip reports that I downloaded from several websites, Worldtwitch, Birdtours.co.uk, and others. The following trip reports were used:
Jon Hornbuckle, Phil Gregory, Tony Clarke, and Trevor Quested - also one by some Brits that is combined with a Vanuatu trip. Richard Thomas graciously e mailed his 1992 report that I found mentioned in another trip report. Richard has notes on most of the birds that are possible in N.C.
Birds of The Solomons, Vanuatu & New Caledonia by Doughty, Day & Plant is allegedly full of errors, but it was very helpful since it's the only guide available, to my knowledge.
Yves Letocart of Parc Provincial Riviere Bleu is a very nice man who has been working at the park for 20 years. He is fluent in English, and will be retiring in 2 years. Jean-Marc Meriot is his successor, already working there, and also very pleasant. Write to Yves or Jean-Marc in advance if you want them to show you the birds of Riviere Bleu.
There is a CD of New Caledonia's birds recorded by Yves available in some stores or from Yves himself. It does not have the Grassbird, though. Tony Clarke lists Yves address as: BP 5023 Plum, Mont Dore 98810 New Caledonia
From what I've heard don't expect a reply, but he supposedly has e mail now. Yves is only there Monday through Friday, but the park is closed to the public on Monday.
CARS - I rented a car from Hertz, arranged in the USA before arrival in N.C. Arranging car rentals in your country of origin is highly recommended. I read of fairly high prices in other trip reports. An 8-day rental with Hertz, unlimited mileage, was 50,750 francs, equal to $435 USA. There are cheaper options but beware the charge for extra kilometers. I wanted to drive around the island, so it was worth it. Shorter stays might be more economical with the low daily rate and paying for extra kilometers. Mount Koghi isn't very far, but Riviere Bleu is about 50 km from Noumea, depending on where you stay. Also the airport is about 50 km from Noumea. The other car agencies were out of vehicles when I arrived, so a reservation is recommended. The main highways are in good shape, and you can average 110 km or better on the straight stretches.
Gas is expensive. I forget the exact price, but ¾ of a tank in a compact car was about $25-30 US.
AIR - I got there on a frequent flyer ticket, but it is probably best to get New Caledonia as an additional stop en route to somewhere else in the South Pacific. Air travel is expensive within New Caledonia, essentially controlled by Air Caledonie. They have an airpass for 26,200 Fcfp - with tax about 29,000. This gives you 4 one way tickets, with each additional ticket being 5,460. If you choose to buy individual tickets, note that there are significant differences for the same flights at different times of the day, and not all fly the same routes on a daily basis. A round trip same day ticket to Lifou cost me 19,942 Fcfp, equal to $170 US. If you want to get to both Ouvea and Lifou, be aware that the only flights from Lifou to Ouvea are Monday and Friday afternoons.
The unit of currency is the Pacific French Franc. I received about 111 to the US dollar. I brought traveler's checks, American Express, US dollars, and some cash. The checks can be difficult to change outside major cities or tourist areas. Most places accepted credit cards.
ACCOMMODATIONS & FOOD
This is not a low budget place. I stayed at the Hotel Le Pacifique with a microwave and fridge, part of a 3 hotel complex including the ParkRoyal, in Anse Vata. The price was about 8,000 francs with tax, arranged through a USA travel agent. Cheaper options are available at a youth hostel, the Motel Anse Vata (6,400), and other places. Camping is allowed at Riviere Bleu, excepting Sunday and Monday nights when it's closed, but there is no camping at Mt. Koghi. You can get croissants and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) in most gas station/shops in the morning. Soft drinks, fruit juices, and cookies are also available. There is one a few kilometers before the Mt. Koghi road that opens early - about 6 AM, I think. I ate in restaurants, which you can do for about $10 US or less if you want. Of course it's easy to spend a lot more, which I did at times. For an enjoyable splurge Le Minetti in Anse Vata is an excellent French restaurant, although their half bottles of wine aren't that great. Water is safe to drink and I drank tap water everywhere. Lonely Planet says Ouvea has a problem with drinking water.
TELEPHONE / COMMUNICATIONS
You can buy telephone cards in local shops. Noumea had Internet cafes, with expensive rates - about 250 francs per 15 minutes. Computer speeds were very slow and beware French keyboards, which are substantially different from US ones. I speak French and had little problem, but you might have trouble trying to converse or ask directions in English. MCI did not have a number for New Caledonia - don't know about AT&T.
The two main areas to visit are Parc Provincial Riviere Bleu, about 45 minutes from Noumea, and Mt. Koghi, less than 30 minutes from Noumea. All the endemics can be found here allegedly, although Grassbird is very difficult. The main area at Riviere Bleu is the forested area that starts about 5 km after the Pont Perignon bridge and ends at Pont Germain. Mt Koghi has several trails, not always well marked, that go for miles, but I never walked more than 2 or 3 kilometers from the auberge. There is no admission area, so you can visit whenever you like. There are 2 endemics and 2 more near-endemics on Lifou, easily though expensively reached by boat or plane from Noumea. There is one more endemic on Ouvea, Ouvea Parakeet, but getting accurate information on sites is not easy. I also chose to drive around the northeast coast, where the Crow and the Goshawk were much easier to find. If time allows, I would suggest driving at least to the Col de Amieux / Sarramea area, about 90 minutes drive, which are alternate sites for the Crow, Goshawk, and Cloven Feathered Dove
I saw 57 species, with 30 lifers. I saw all the mainland and Lifou endemics. My biggest miss was Blue-faced Parrot-Finch, which I got a glimpse of on Lifou. The average daily count was only about 20 species or less. A big surprise was NO shorebirds.
Inquiries about specific species will gladly be answered at:
July 20, Saturday - travel day
I caught a direct flight from Brisbane, Australia to Noumea, arriving around 5 PM. I met two American professors, David Wilcott and Scott Robinson, who I would meet at my visits to Riviere Bleu. There was a problem as Hertz did not have an automatic (I don't drive manual), but the very helpful Hertz rep rousted up one from one of their mechanics after 2 hours. The airport is 40 kilometers or more from Noumea, and I arrived on a dark, rainy night at the Hotel Le Pacifique after a few wrong turns.
July 21, Sunday - Riviere Bleu Provincial Park
It's pretty easy to get lost leaving Noumea, especially in the dark. I had read that you look for the Yate road. Actually you follow signs initially towards the international airport at Tontouta, then turn off to Mont Dore. At the Mont Dore roundabout are signs for the Yate Road. Riviere Bleu signs are posted further along the Yate road. Note that after Mont Dore there are no shops at all, so get food and water before this, preferably the night before. Allow at least 60 minutes for the first attempt at Riviere Bleu, and remember it's another 40 minutes from the park entrance to the forest where the Kagu and the other endemics are. I made several wrong turns, and it took a while before I got there. It was a rainy day, fairly miserable most of the time. Nonetheless I saw 11 endemics, including great looks at Kagu. Other endemics were Dark Brown Honeyeater, New Caledonian Friarbird, Fan Tailed Gerygone, Yellow Bellied Robin, New Caledonian Whistler, Streaked Fantail, New Caledonian Cuckoo-Shrike, Striated Starling, Green-backed White-Eye, and Red-Throated Parrot-Finch (after the forest and Pont Germain bridge in the scrub). One Kagu was fascinated by its reflection in the car windows at the Pont Germain picnic area. Good places to look for Kagus are picnic areas. They can be elusive, although some are less skittish than others. I ran into David and Scott, who saw a few other endemics, including the Crow. Drive back to Anse Vata and the Hotel Pacifique. The park is open from 7 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday 7 - 2 (you can stay later than 2 if you arrive before 2PM). Note Riviere Bleu is closed to the public on Mondays.
July 22, Monday - Mt Koghi
Another miserable, rainy morning - it poured all morning. To get to Mount Koghi, initially follow the airport (Tontouta) signs, then on the outskirts of town you will see a sign Mt Koghi 13 km. Stay in your right lane, because 1 km further on is a hidden right turn immediately past a bridge for Mt Koghi. From here it's a short drive on a local highway. Check out the Mobil gas station at about km 10 for croissants and snacks. The My Koghi road is very narrow with sharp curves. Note there are no toilets at Mt. Koghi until the restaurant opens at 9:30. There is an auberge with cabins where you can stay, although it's only about a 20-minute drive from Noumea. There is a pay phone by the auberge at the top, and I called Yves to make arrangements for Riviere Bleu on Tuesday. There is a pay phone next to the Riviere Bleu park admission - 88-88-85. I reached Yves, and I was to meet him at 8 AM the next day. I got thoroughly soaked trying for Grassbird unsuccessfully, and only got Melanesian Cuckoo-Shrike, NC Imperial Pigeon (Notu), and White-Throated or Metallic Pigeon. However, on the way down, after only a curve or two, about 200 meters or so, I was amazed to see a White-Bellied Goshawk adult perched on the telephone wires, the only one I saw in the Noumea area. I returned to the hotel at lunchtime to dry out and use a hair dryer to dry out my Gore-tex boots, which had gotten wet from the inside. I relaxed and dried out the rest of the day, visiting the tourist office in Anse Vata for flight and boat information.
July 23, Tuesday - Parc Provincial Riviere Bleu
This was one of my best days in N.C., with 29 species seen. The weather was nice, with some clouds. I met Yves at 8 AM, along with Jean Marc Meriot, David, Scott, a television crew who were filming New Caledonia's birds, and Hubert Geraux, who is working with the World Wildlife Fund in Noumea. Hubert might be a useful contact for the Ouvea Parakeet and nesting seabirds. Yves doesn't charge anything, but I had read that he likes red wine. I gave him a bottle that I had bought for him in Australia. Yves and Jean Marc used tapes for the endemics in what I thought was a strange approach. They played the CD very loudly from the car with external speakers, playing the Crow Honeyeater and other calls repeatedly non-stop. We saw most of the endemics that day, finally getting Crow Honeyeater, the Horned Parakeet, and Red-fronted/New Caledonian Parakeet, as well as Notu, Barred & Dark Brown Honeyeater, Friarbird, NC Myzomela, NC Flycatcher (by the ticket booth), Southern Shrikebill, and NC Crow. I saw most of the endemics on my own over the next few days, with the exception of Horned Parakeet and Crow Honeyeater. Yves took us to a closed area where he lives during the week, where there is a radio collared Kagu, and we saw a young chick as well as a pair of Kagus literally at our feet. Truly a memorable experience and a highlight of the trip. Night in Noumea after a long, great day, and an excellent meal at Le Minetti in Anse Vata.
July 24, Wednesday - Mt Koghi, Magenta airport area
I drove to Mt Koghi, staying there from 7 - 11:15. On the way I got a couple of croissants and juice from the Mobil station. It was overcast with no wind. I tried the Grassbird tape with no response. There were no new birds, but I saw Notu, White-throated Pigeon, NC Parakeet, NC Whistler, NC Flycatcher, Streaked Fantail, Southern Shrikebill, GB White-eye, the Robin, Myzomela, and Dark Brown Honeyeater. I then drove to the domestic Magenta airport to check prices and schedules for Lifou, deciding on a same day return for 19,942 francs. Although there were extensive mud flats next to the airport, I didn't see a single shorebird. The only Nankeen Night Heron of the trip was seen flying across a lagoon on the Noumea outskirts. Night in Noumea.
July 25, Thursday - Lifou, then drive to La Fou
I drove to the airport for the 6:15 AM flight, which got me to Lifou in about 40 minutes. Dark Brown Honeyeaters and Small Lifou White-Eye were at and just past the airport. I followed advice from other trip reports and walked the 400 meters to a t-junction, birding along both roads up to the coconut grove. I walked the left fork the 3 km (from the airport) to Nathalo/Hnathalo, a small town that does have a shop open until noon - cold beer and soda! Just on the outskirts of town I heard a tsip sound and saw 2 silhouettes of what I think were Blue-faced Parrot-Finches, but they flew down into the scrub. At that moment a few kids decided to "interview" me and I never found the birds again. A pair of Long-tailed Trillers was in the same area just before you enter the "town", before the little church on the left where there is a road that cuts back to the airport. From the coconut grove to the shop is only another 15 minutes or less. Red-bellied Fruit Doves called constantly the whole time I was there, but seeing them proved more difficult, although I finally saw a few. Cardinal Myzomela is listed as being common, but I only saw 3 or 4. They looked quite different from the book illustration, having a red head with dark underparts. There was some clearing of roadside scrub, so one side of the road was mostly bare dirt with bulldozer piles of cleared vegetation. I finally saw one Large Lifou White-Eye about 20 steps into the forest about 100 yards down the right fork, with a flock of Silver-Eyes. This is a tough bird, very unassuming, and not at all like a white eye. The 20-second look was the only one I had. I caught the 3:15 PM flight back to Noumea, and drove about 100 km north to the town of La Fou. I stayed at the Hotel Banu, which had OK rooms for 4,300 francs, where I stayed, and nicer bungalows for 6,300. Their reception area is interesting, with over 4,200 baseball caps from all over the world. They have a good restaurant here and a bar. The place caters mostly to hunters and fishermen.
July 26, Friday - drive from La Fou to the east coast
Yves had told me that Cloven-Feathered Dove was common at Col d'Amieux, on the road across the island. After the Col sign, there is good forest for about 20 km. I heard the doves once or twice, but never saw one. I did see NC Crows, and 3 White-Bellied Goshawks on the wires along the road. After passing through the forest, it gets confusing. There is a road junction where the turn to Poro is painted onto the street - no road signs. I had been advised to look for a Poro sign. There is no Poro on my map, and I don't know if a small group of mining buildings was Poro. The roads become dirt and it's pretty confusing, weaving through the mountains. I stopped the one vehicle I passed to verify I was going towards Kouaoua and the east coast headed north, which I was. This is mined out country, not that scenic, although some views are nice. There is no town of any note, or with a shop until you get to Houailou, a few hours later, and absolutely nothing along the dirt mountain roads. Along the way I passed habitat similar to the Grassbird scrub on Mt Koghi. I tried the tape several times in vain, but it was quite windy at the higher altitudes. Once again there were no shorebirds anywhere along the coast. I did see one Brown Booby off shore not far from Poindimie. I called ahead for the Touho Motel but it was full, so I headed up to the Gite Mangalia, about 15 minutes north of Touho. This is in a lovely location on the beach, with grass-thatched bungalows and a decent restaurant. It was 4,100 with no hot water and a few mosquitoes, the only ones of the trip.
July 27, Saturday - drive from Gite Mangalia to Noumea
I got up at dawn to see a Pacific Reef Heron on the jetty opposite the Gite. I drove towards Touho, catching a brief look at a Buff-banded Rail on the roadside. I took the Transversal road across towards Kone. About 12 km along I stopped at the first, fairly small patch of forest, just past a sharp right turn, and opposite a roadside stall. I heard doves, and finally caught a brief distant look at a female/immature Cloven Feathered Dove in the treetops. Here and along this first 12 km were several groups of Red-throated Parrot-Finches. I walked back east a 100 meters or so, around the curve, to where there was a 4-wheel drive path up a small hill that only went 50 meters or less. After only a few steps I was amazed to hear a Grassbird call, and I got a short but good look at a NC Grassbird in a small tree covered with vines to my left, on the edge of a small ravine. I heard another calling to my right in the grassy scrub. NC Crows were also here, and I saw a WB Goshawk soaring up high. Other birds of note here were the Myzomela, Barred and DB Honeyeaters, Friarbird, and Melanesian Cuckoo-Shrike. Quite a pleasant surprise. I drove out the Transversal, which parallels a river for much of its length. The scenery from Kone south is nothing special, mostly farming country. Further down the west coast I detoured at Bourail for the Roche Perce beach. There was strong surf, with some large driftwood, but no birds at the beach. A few kilometers along the road to the beach I saw a pair of Trillers and Purple Swamphen. I reached Noumea late afternoon and returned to the Hotel Le Pacifique.
July 28, Sunday - Mt Koghi and airport
A last try for a better look at Cloven Feathered Dove at Mt Koghi was unsuccessful. I did see a NC Crow using a twig as a tool to extract grubs, which was very nice. Notu and White-throated Pigeon were seen again, as well as Striated Starling, Friarbird, NC Flycatcher and others. I stopped on the way to the airport via the scenic route at petroglyphs a few km south of Paita. The spot was overgrown and not maintained, and was disappointing. I drove to the airport and flew to Sydney en route to New Zealand. Note there are several gas stations at Tontouta by the airport turnoff, so you can gas up the rental cars here. There is even a fast food stand at one.
ENDEMICS or near endemics (NE) are in capitals and underlined
Brown Booby - One seen near shore on the east coast near Poindimie
Pacific Black Duck - a couple seen in a small pond by the road en route to La Fou
Pacific Reef Egret - one dark morph seen at dawn on the jetty and rocks opposite Gite Mangalia, above Touho on the northeast coast
White-faced Heron - seen on the outskirts of Noumea Tuesday, and en route driving on Saturday from Gite Mangalia
Rufous/Nankeen Night-Heron - one seen Wednesday on the outskirts of Noumea flying into mangroves by a lagoon
Whistling Kite - one seen at Riviere Bleu Tuesday, and many seen Friday and Saturday driving around the island
Brown Goshawk - probable immature Friday at the beginning of the Col, and an adult Saturday along the west coast
WHITE-BELLIED GOSHAWK - One adult seen Sunday on a telephone wire near the top of the Mt Koghi road. 3 seen along the Col d'Amieux road Friday, and 2 seen Saturday - one soaring at the km 12 spot, and the second on a telephone wire in open country
Swamp Harrier - one seen at Riviere Bleu Tuesday, and many seen Friday and Saturday along the road
KAGU - Seen on both visits to Riviere Bleu. Sunday saw a group of 3 at the Point Germain picnic area, and a few others along the road on a rainy day. One of the group of 3 raised its crest and spread its wing. Tuesday saw a few in the main section, and a pair with chick in the protected area near Yves' house. This is one of the world's great birds.
Purple Swamphen - one seen Thursday en route to La Fou, and another Saturday on the Roche Perce road near Bourail
Buff Banded Rail - one seen early morning between Gite Mangalia and Touho on the roadside
Silver Gull - a couple seen Wednesday on the outskirts of Noumea near the terns
Great Crested Tern - a few seen along the main road leaving Noumea that passes by a large lagoon on the west several times
CLOVEN FEATHERED DOVE - A tough one. Several heard at Mt Koghi on Sunday, at Col de Amieux on Friday, and one female/immature finally seen briefly on treetops on the Transversal road a bit west of Touho.
White Throated or Metallic Pigeon - Seen on each visit to Mt Koghi; also on Lifou along the road
Spotted Dove - A common introduction in populated areas in Noumea
Emerald Dove - One seen in Lifou, on the ground by trees on the far side of the field near the airport, where there were large metal awnings
RED-BELLIED FRUIT-DOVE (NE) - Lifou; called constantly during the 7 hours I was there, even at midday, but difficult to see well. Several finally seen from the road
NEW CALEDONIAN IMPERIAL PIGEON (NOTU) - Seen and heard at both Mt Koghi and Riviere Bleu, but easier at Mt. Koghi
NEW CALEDONIAN / RED-FRONTED PARAKEET - A recent split from the New Zealand bird, depending on your taxonomy. A small group seen with the help of Ives' tapes at Riviere Bleu, and a pair seen Wednesday at the edge of the forest on Mt Koghi.
HORNED PARAKEET - One or two seen along the forest road again with the assistance of Ives' tape after hearing their call. Another tough one, for me at least. The Ouvea subspecies is supposedly a separate species, but getting accurate information on their whereabouts is difficult. There are allegedly only a few hundred left, and mostly on private land. I did not go to Ouvea
Rainbow Lorikeet - Common in Noumea - Anse Vata - and the suburbs - Mobil station near Mt Koghi.
Glossy Swiftlet - Seen en route to both Riviere Bleu and Mt. Koghi. I was initially lazy and did not stop to check out swifts. There may have been White-Rumped Swiftlets as well, but all that I checked were Glossy. Also on Lifou.
Sacred Kingfisher - Several en route to Mt Koghi and Riviere Bleu; many along the road on my drive up north.
DARK BROWN HONEYEATER - Probably the commonest endemic. Seen at all forested areas, the trees in Anse Vata / Noumea, and abundant on Lifou.
NEW CALEDONIAN FRIARBIRD - Seen on both visits to Riviere Bleu, and Sunday's Mt Koghi visit. Also seen on the Transversal spot, km 12, & one seen on Lifou.
NEW CALEDONIAN MYZOMELA - Riviere Bleu on Tuesday, only seen on Wednesday at Mt. Koghi, also at the Transversal spot, km 12
CARDINAL MYZOMELA (NE) - 4 or 5 seen on Lifou along the road. I never had a long look at it, and the birds I saw had red heads with dark underparts, not red underneath as pictured in the field guide. Other trip reports said it was fairly common
CROW HONEYEATER - Two separate birds seen with Ives, one tape assisted, at Riviere Bleu, before the giant Kaori spot. I believe I had another flyby near the canoe area. One of the tougher endemics - ask Jon and Phil!
BARRED HONEYEATER - Seen at Riviere Bleu Wednesday near the admission area, Mt Koghi on Sunday, and the Transversal spot. This is easy to mistake for Dark Brown Honeyeater if you don't see it well.
FAN TAILED GERYGONE (NE) - Common in all forested areas; abundant on Lifou
YELLOW BELLIED ROBIN - Another easy endemic at Riviere Bleu & Mt Koghi
Golden Whistler - Lifou only; some believe it's a candidate for a split. The 2 birds I saw were slightly different than the book, having a black head and breast joined with a black collar that went to the wing, and a yellow nape that was broken by black on the side of the neck - not a complete yellow collar as shown in the book.
Rufous Whistler - Seen on 2 visits to Mt Koghi, and several spots Friday and Saturday on the drive around the island
NEW CALEDONIAN WHISTLER - Seen on both visits to Riviere Bleu, but only Wednesday on Mt Koghi
Gray Fantail - Common at Riviere Bleu, but only seen Wednesday at Mt. Koghi; also seen Saturday while driving.
STREAKED FANTAIL (NE) - Common everywhere, including Lifou
NEW CALEDONIAN / MELANESIAN FLYCATCHER (NE) - Seen on 2 Mt Koghi visits and at Riviere Bleu next to the admission booth. A pair was also seen on Lifou on the outskirts of Nathalo, with the Trillers
SOUTHERN SHRIKEBILL (NE) - A skulker, very easily overlooked. One seen Tuesday at Riviere Bleu, and another Wednesday at Mt. Koghi
NEW CALEDONIAN CROW - 3 seen at Riviere Bleu by Pont Germain with Yves, tape assisted. One seen on Sunday at Mt Koghi using a twig as a tool to dig out grubs. They were fairly common in the Col de Amieux area, and also on the Transversal by the km 12 spot
LONG-TAILED TRILLER (NE) - A pair seen on the outskirts of Nathalo on Lifou. I saw one flyby on the Transversal, near the km 12 spot, and another on the Roche Perce road a few km from Bourail. David and Scott saw one at the campsite area just past the Riviere Bleu turnoff on the Yate road
White-breasted Woodswallow - Seen en route to Mt Koghi each time; also en route to La Fou, and frequently along the road on Friday and Saturday
MELANESIAN CUCKOO-SHRIKE (NE) - 3 seen Monday at Mt Koghi; also seen at Col de Amieux and the Transversal spot
NEW CALEDONIAN CUCKOO-SHRIKE - A few seen on the Sunday visit to Riviere Bleu. Some were heard there on Tuesday's visit. Best detected by their call.
STRIATED STARLING - A few seen on each visit to Riviere Bleu and Mt Koghi, but not common; also seen on Lifou and the Transversal
Common Myna - Too common introduction in towns on the mainland - shoot these birds!
Pacific Swallow - 2 seen on Lifou, flying around the field just past the airport
Red-vented Bulbul - a few of this introduced species were seen along the road somewhere before Mont Dore, returning from Riviere Bleu on Sunday, and en route to Mt Koghi Monday
Silver Eye - seen once each at Riviere Bleu and Mt Koghi, Saturday while driving, and the distinct dark-headed race melanops on Lifou
LARGE LIFOU WHITE-EYE - Only one seen briefly on Lifou, about a hundred yards to the right after the road fork, inside the forest. A tough one to find, and drab. It was with or near a flock of Silver Eyes and Small Lifou White Eyes. Sure doesn't look like a white-eye
SMALL LIFOU WHITE-EYE - Abundant on Lifou, starting with the scrub next to the airport and along the roadside
GREEN-BACKED WHITE-EYE - Common everywhere on the mainland
NEW CALEDONIAN GRASSBIRD - Got lucky with this one along the Transversal road, about 12 km from the eastern end, next to a forested area. One seen well in a small vine-covered tree next to a ravine, and a second called from the grassy area nearby. I tried several times with a borrowed tape in scrub areas at Mt Koghi and driving around the island, with no response. When I finally saw it, it was without the tape. After seeing it, I returned to the car to get the tape, but there was no response to the tape - only to my initial vocal imitations of its call. Probably the toughest endemic. Afterwards I received an e mail from Phil Gregory who found one about 50 miles north of the airport, near Farino, which came in to a tape in August 2002
Blue-faced Parrot-Finch - occurs on Lifou. I'm fairly sure I saw 2 birds just before the beginning of Nathalo, flying to the scrub and small trees on the right. Their tsip call sounded different from other birds. Unfortunately they were silhouettes, and some kids started talking to me just after they flew, so I never relocated them. I missed this in 2 other countries, Australia and Papua New Guinea (flyby only)
RED-THROATED PARROT-FINCH - 1 or 2 seen at Riviere Bleu about ½ mile past the Pont Germain bridge, in the roadside scrub near some toilets, with Silver-Eyes. Also quite common on the Transversal road up north, at the eastern end
Common Waxbill - Occasional large flocks of this introduction en route to Riviere Bleu and Mt Koghi, also Saturday further north
House Sparrow - Another common introduction in populated areas