So who is this weirdo?

Hi! My name is Liam and I am a beginner birder living in Glen Massey. I first became interested in birds after a 6-month missions trip to Papua New Guinea in 2016, and my interest grew from there! I am now a member of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Young Birders New Zealand (OSNZ and YBNZ respectively ). So now, I'm starting this blog so I can share my birding adventures with anyone who will listen ☺.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Ka kite!

A watery sun dawned on our last day in the Cook Islands. Dad dropped Shoshanah and I off at Takitumu Conservation Area, a carefully trapped and monitored site where we had the chance to nail a few endemic species. Ian, our guide, led us up through a few orchards where some feral Eastern Rosellas called on either side and a pair of Pacific Golden-Plovers kept a close eye on us. As we entered the treeline, the constant cacophony of mynas was gradually replaced with a merciful silence, followed by the harsh scratchy calls of the Rarotonga Monarch! Once down to as few as 25 birds, numbers are up to almost 500 individuals and we saw one or two from a distance, and got closer views later on. A loud, grating, strangely familiar sound met our ears after that - the scream of the Long-Tailed Cuckoo! We were certainly not expecting this bird - to the best of my knowledge, the time of year is wrong! But we heard at least 3, and even saw one fly over. Interspersed with the screams came a deeper, more ominous "ooo" which could only belong to the Cook Islands Fruit-Dove! Another tick! We also heard the melodic calls of Rarotonga Starlings in the canopy - our last bird of the trip.

Spending the afternoon on uber-touristy activities, the total trip list remained on 19 species. While a walk up my road might yield more in terms of numbers, this trip gave us an incredible opportunity to see some really special tropical birds and make some amazing memories. Full species list is below.

Common Myna
White Tern
Red Junglefowl
Brown Noddy
Reef Heron (Eastern Reef-Egret)
Pacific Imperial-Pigeon
Pacific Golden-Plover
Wandering Tattler
White-tailed Tropicbird
Great Frigatebird
Red-tailed Tropicbird
Red-footed Booby
Herald Petrel
Tropical Shearwater
Lesser Frigatebird
Rarotonga Monarch
Cook Islands Fruit-Dove
Long-tailed Cuckoo

Rarotonga Starling

A Pacific Golden-Plover in the orchard
A female Rarotonga Monarch

Finally! A photo of a White Tern

The view from the top of the hill at Takitumu

A blurry male Monarch

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